Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
"The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,”
"Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim this word, and say, Hear
the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at the gates to worship
Having warned the rebellious
people of the judgment about to overtake them, and of the character of the
nation that would be His instrument for their chastisement, God proceeded to
warn them that their continuing with an empty ritualistic worship of Him would
be no protection from the threatened judgment.
Since that worship centered
in the temple, it was at its entrance that Jeremiah was to deliver his message
as the people went in and out. The futility of their trust was to be declared
in the gate of the very building in which all their false confidence rested.
God would have them learn that an empty religious ritual couldn't appease Him
who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, Hab 1:13. That lesson, however,
goes far beyond the people of Jeremiah's day, and is as applicable to an
apostate church as to an apostate Judah. Only spiritually blind eyes will
fail to see Israel's history being repeated by today's professing but apostate
church. She too, as guilty as Israel and Judah, like them, deludes herself
that an empty profession and an equally empty religious ritual is all that is
needed to ward off the judgment of a holy God. The coming terrible
Tribulation judgments which will engulf her after the true Church has been
raptured home to heaven, will reveal the folly of her reasoning, and the
futility of that ritual. To believe that the God before Whom all men must one
day stand for judgment, requires nothing more than a lip profession of faith
linked to an empty religious ritual, is to display abysmal ignorance of His
character, and of the significance of Calvary.
The fact that they entered
in at the gate "to worship the Lord," reminds us that Judah, in spite of her
idolatrous worship of the gods of the nations, hadn't abandoned the worship of
Jehovah; but by that concurrent empty ritualistic worship through which she
sought to appease Him, she had reduced Him to the status of being merely one
of many gods. A professing but apostate church subjects Him to the same
dishonor, for the money, pleasure, ease, sports, education, art, literature
etc., to which she sacrifices time, talent, and money, are no less idols than
were the images to which idolatrous Israel and Judah offered sacrifice long
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your
doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place."
As noted already, it is
clear that there would be no repentance on the part of Judah, yet God, fully
aware of that fact, continued to warn and plead. Why? The obvious answer is
that His messages were, as always, for "him that hath an ear," i.e., the few
individuals amongst the unbelieving majority, who would heed the warning, and
respond to His pleading, and thereby save themselves, not from the Babylonian
captivity, but from hell. It is the same today. The Gospel, rejected by the
majority, is believed by individuals here and there, not (as the new spurious
"friendship gospel" teaches) to save them from adversity here on earth, but
from hell. The Biblical Gospel warns men to save themselves, not from
adversity on earth, but from hell, and to fit themselves for heaven, by
believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
It is noteworthy that He
presents Himself, not as the God of the rebellious Judah addressed by the
prophet, but as "the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel." Judah, meaning he
shall be praised, had refused Him as their God, for He is praised, not by
the charade of an empty religious ritual, but by the presentation of an
obedient life, 1 Sa 15:22. Israel means he shall be prince of God.
Only those who obey Him are His sons, i.e., His royal princes.
His presenting Himself as
"the Lord of Hosts," ought to have had a message for them, as it should also
for us. Their idolatrous worship was clearly meant to court the favor and
protection of those things which were no gods, and which were therefore
incapable of giving the desired help; but that idolatry, and their ritualistic
worship of the One they esteemed as just another in the pantheon, cut them off
from the saving power of the only One who could have delivered them,
not just from Babylon, but from every enemy. It is no different today. An
apostate church, offering to God an empty ritualistic worship, thereby
reducing Him to the level of the gods mentioned above, has cut herself off
from the only One Who is able to save her from hell and fit her for heaven.
"Amend your ways and your
doings...." It is instructive to note that one of the meanings of ways
is "an eastward road," a fact which confirms what we have noted often
in our studies, i.e., that in Scripture the east is always associated with sin
and departure from God. In the present context ways speak of a mindset
that was completely opposed to God, while doings refer to the evil
deeds resulting from that mindset, as we read in Pr 23:7 relative to man, "For
as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” (the ancients believed the
heart to be the seat of the intelligence), hence Paul's command, "Be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind," Ro 12:2.
"... and I will cause you to
dwell in this place." For Israel and Judah the place was literally Canaan,
but as also noted in our studies, Canaan represents, not heaven, but the
spiritual sphere into which one is brought here on earth by conversion. It is
a state rather than a literal place, so that by obedient acceptance of God's
will, the believer may enjoy all the spiritual blessings that are his in
Christ, even though his literal state may be anything but conducive to the
enjoyment of anything, as for example, the actual state of Paul and Silas in
Ac 16:22-25. Bleeding backs, feet bound in the stocks, a late hour
(midnight), a cell in the heart of an eastern prison, were little calculated
to produce singing, but that is exactly what those two believers did, "At
midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God...."
He is a wise man whose
desire is to dwell in the enjoyment of the riches of the sphere represented by
Canaan, for that man lives beyond the power of outward circumstances to either
give or take away his peace.
"Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of
the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these."
The Temple had become a mere
fetish; their vain thought, encouraged by their false prophets, being that
since His temple was in Jerusalem, God would never allow either the city or
the Temple to be destroyed, or its inhabitants carried into captivity.
An apostate church slumbers
under similar delusion, believing that the preservation of an outward
ritualistic form which it calls worship, combined with a mere lip profession
of faith, is all that is needed to enable her members to enjoy the pleasures
of sin, and still enter heaven when they reach the end of life's journey.
Encouraging them in their blind folly are their hireling clerics (the modern
counterparts of Israel's false prophets), who are as ignorant of God as are
the dupes they profess to teach.
Nor should those in the
"assemblies" feel complacent. In all too many of them the Lord's table has
become a mere shibboleth, and the emblems a fetish, their perception of the
Lord's supper rising no higher than to believe that they have kept that most
sacred ordinance just by taking the emblems. To believe that they have eaten
the Lord's supper just because they have eaten a piece of bread and swallowed
a sip of wine, is to be guilty of the same delusion as lulled rebellious Judah
into believing that just because God's temple stood in Jerusalem nothing could
touch them. What Israel failed to realize was that their desecration of the
Temple had rendered it unclean so that God must destroy it and them.
"For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute
judgment between a man and his neighbor;"
Throughly is an archaic form
of thoroughly, and in His requiring that the reformation be thorough,
we learn the truth that God doesn't deal in half
measures. He will accept nothing less than the total commitment of the life
to Him. Just as there can be no such thing as anything less than a complete
salvation, neither can there be anything less than complete obedience, for
what isn't total obedience is disobedience, and the measure in which we
disobey is the measure in which we diminish our blessing.
is literally a road or course followed. It refers here to the general manner
of life. If our way is to be pleasing to God it must be walked according to
what is written in His Word.
on the other hand, refers to the deeds which make up the life. It is by our
deeds that our obedience, or lack of it, is displayed. The profession of the
lips must be confirmed by the deeds of the life. This is the truth declared
by Paul and James, the former assuring us that salvation is by faith alone;
the latter reminding us that good works are the outward evidence of that
inward faith. The two cannot be separated.
The reference here to the
need of fairness in their relations with others is the OT declaration of the
Lord's command in Lk 6:31, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye
also to them likewise."
"If you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not
innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:"
conveys the thought of doing wrong by defrauding another of what is rightfully
his, and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow were those most
vulnerable, for they had little means of securing redress. As in much of
Scripture, however, there is also a spiritual significance which transcends
the literal. The stranger is used figuratively to describe the
unconverted (he is estranged from God); and the fatherless is another
term used to describe the unbeliever (he is not a child of God); and the
widow likewise pictures the unbeliever (he doesn't have God as his
Protector and Comforter).
With Judah, the sins
mentioned were literal; but we "defraud" the unbeliever when we fail to preach
the Gospel, for our negligence robs him of the opportunity to believe and be
saved, as Paul reminds us, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have
not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Ro 10:13-14.
The innocent blood
obviously refers symbolically to those who belong to God, so that the shedding
of their blood speaks of the persecution and killing of those who belong to
Him. Relative to God's earthly people Israel, the prophet declares, "He that
toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye," Ze 2:8; and in regard to those
who comprise the Church, the Lord, referring to Saul's persecution of them,
asked, "Why persecutest thou me?" Ac 9:4. The price He paid for their
redemption declares clearly the value God sets upon His own. He who harms
them makes himself the object of God's wrath.
The warning not to walk
after other gods cannot be dismissed as having relevance only to another age.
The literal idols may have gone, but the gods worshiped today are no less real
in spite of that. Money, pleasure, sport, education, art, literature, ease
are but a few of the gods upon which, not only the unconverted, but professed
believers also, squander time, talent and money that belong to God; and to
give to anyone or anything else what belongs to Him is to be guilty of
"Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your
fathers, forever and ever."
For those addressed by the
prophet, the land was Canaan, but since that land represents the spiritual
sphere into which we are brought at conversion, the lesson for us is that
obedience will ensure our dwelling in the enjoyment of all the spiritual
blessings that are ours as men and women in Christ, and disobedience will just
as surely result in our being expelled from that sphere of blessing. (This is
not to be confused with loss of salvation, which can never be lost).
Since Jeremiah was
delivering this message in the gate of the Lord's house, "this place" may
perhaps refer to Jerusalem, which means dual peace shall be taught: lay
(set) ye double peace, so that the promise may have a dual character:
obedience would result, not only in their dwelling in the land, but in their
dwelling there in peace.
Canaan's having been given
to their fathers "forever and ever," is to be understood in the context of the
fathers' lives being perpetuated in succeeding generations of their children.
Nor are Israel's expulsions from the land to be construed as God's breaking
His promises relative to her perpetual possession of Canaan. In spite of
those expulsions occasioned by her disobedience, the land is hers by an
unbreakable covenant, and the day is not far off when she, represented by the
repentant and converted Tribulation age remnant, will be gathered back into it
from the four corners of the earth, to enjoy its superlative millennial
blessings during God's great Sabbath - the thousand years of rest, peace and
plenty which will conclude earth's turbulent history. The spiritual picture,
however, is of the eternal blessings to be enjoyed by all believers,
including those of past ages, in spite of all our failures symbolically
portrayed in Israel's many lapses.
"Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit."
The lying words were those
of their false prophets who assured them that since God's house, the Temple,
was there in Jerusalem, He would never permit the enemy to enter the city. As
they were warned of the folly of trusting such false assurances, so is an
apostate church being warned not to delude herself that a mere empty
profession of faith, and adherence to an empty religious ritual, will deliver
her from judgment. Apart from genuine repentance, she, like the unrepentant
rebels found in ancient Israel and Judah throughout her long history, will
also be destroyed.
"Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn
incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;"
There is no question that
they were guilty of literally committing the sins listed, but the spiritual
instruction for us lies in seeing what equivalent spiritual evils are
also represented by these sins. There is no question that believers today may
also be guilty of literal theft, but clearly the warning goes beyond the
literal. Our guilt is largely in the spiritual realm. We have stolen from
God time, talent, money: time that should have been given to study, prayer,
meditation, worship, ministry to believers, and to the unconverted by the
preaching of the Gospel; talent that ought to have been given to study and the
teaching of others, and the spread of the Gospel; money squandered on
ourselves that should have been given to God for the advancement of His
kingdom here on earth, to minister to the temporal needs of both saint and
We are to be charged
also with murder, because for all practical purposes I am guilty of
murder when I allow a man to die by withholding from him what would have saved
his life, e.g., withholding food when he is dying of hunger; clothing or
shelter, when he is dying from cold; refusing to save him from drowning, fire,
etc., when it is in my power to save him. But again our guilt is in the
spiritual realm. It is by our refusal to preach the Gospel that we cause men
to die, for by that dereliction we withhold the Bread of life from men dying
of spiritual hunger. By refusing to preach the Gospel we allow men to go out
into eternity without the garment of Christ's righteousness, without a shelter
from the anger of God against sin. By refusing to preach the Gospel we allow
men to sink spiritually under the waters of God's wrath, to enter into the
eternal torment of the terrible lake of fire.
By our delinquency we make
ourselves just like the callous priest and Levite who refused to aid the dying
man on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, Lk 10. The truth we refuse to
face is that we are as much murderers as were the rebels addressed by God
Nor are we any less
adulterers than they, for that literal violation of the marriage vow is
duplicated in the spiritual realm when we give to anyone or anything else the
love that belongs to God.
The false swearing or
witnessing has also its spiritual counterpart in our lives, e.g., when our
morality isn't accompanied by a verbal confession of faith in Christ, we are
testifying falsely because we're deluding men and women into believing that
mere morality is all they need to save them from hell, and fit them for
heaven. And we make ourselves false witnesses when we ignore open sin in the
assembly, and when we tolerate wrong doctrine.
Their burning incense to
Baal, and walking after other gods, finds also a spiritual counterpart in our
own lives, for though we may not have set up the actual idols, we are as much
idolaters as were those rebuked by the prophet. Look, for example, at the
time, talent and money sacrificed, by professing Christians, to business,
pleasure, sport, education, literature, art, music, fashion, etc. Eyes,
however, blinded by the glitter of the world's baubles, and ears deafened by
its distracting clamor, fail to perceive the evil of it all, to realize that
it is idolatry.
7:10. "And come
and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are
delivered to do all these abominations?"
Their brazen effrontery
would be unbelievable were it not that it is duplicated by an equally apostate
professing church. The people of Judah would turn from their busy occupation
with all the sins listed in the preceding verse, to offer token acknowledgment
of God, believing the He was thereby appeased; and multitudes today,
professing to be God's people, are guilty of the same hypocrisy. They turn
from the literal and spiritual counterparts of Judah's crimes, to offer the
same hypocritical token worship, and with the same ulterior motive: hoping to
Exegetes disagree as to the
exact meaning of "We are delivered to do all these abominations," but there is
much merit in the view which takes it to be literally, "By the discharge of
this religious formality we free (deliver) ourselves from blame, we have made
amends," - and with hardened consciences thus salved, they returned to
continue the same evil lifestyle. The practices of an apostate church
substantiate this view, for this is exactly what she does. Token
acknowledgment of God's claims is made by her members through a quick visit to
"church" on Sunday; and with their seared consciences thus salved, they, like
ancient Judah, return immediately to their evil living.
It is instructive to note
what has spawned this attitude. It has its origin in the diabolic "friendship
gospel" so popular with today's false preachers and their deluded followers,
that "gospel" requiring nothing more of the "convert" than an intellectual
assent to the historicity of Christ. And the imaginary new life which
begins with such an easy formality, continues to be governed by the same easy
formality relative to the "forgiveness" of the so-called believer's sins.
Mere lip profession of faith is all that is required, not only to guarantee
immunity from punishment, but to extend license for the indulgence of every
lust of the flesh.
The closer we scrutinize
Israel's history, the more clearly we see in it the prewritten history of the
professing but apostate church.
7:11. "Is this
house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?
Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord."
Continuing to address the
rebellious people through His prophet, God asks whether they are foolish
enough to believe that He is ignorant of their doings, or deceived by their
assembling in His house. If so, they are very much mistaken. He Who discerns
the thoughts and intents of the heart can't be deceived by an empty religious
ritual, but today's apostates are as foolish as were their fellows of
Jeremiah's day. They too think that by means of a vain empty religious form
they can deceive God into believing they are righteous, when in fact they are
7:12. "But go ye
now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and
see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel."
Shiloh was the religious
center of Israel from the days of Joshua until the end of the era of the
Judges, but because of the wickedness of the people, particularly the evil
sons of Eli, the ark and the people were delivered into the hand of the
Philistines, and it doesn't appear that God ever again returned to the place
that had for so long been associated with His name. And now a priesthood as
dissolute as Eli's sons, and a people as vile as their priests, were commanded
to consider what God had done to the place once sanctified by His presence.
As He had done to Shiloh, so would He do also to Jerusalem, past hallowed
associations being no protection from the wrath of Him whose patience the
people had exhausted.
And so is it today. These
things are written for the instruction of a professing but apostate church
which has also exhausted God's patience, her villainy being compounded by
reason of the fact that she has had the warning, not only of an abandoned
Shiloh, of a Jerusalem delivered into the hand of the Babylonian, but of the
rebuilt Jerusalem and temple delivered up to the sword of the Roman, and the
people scattered among the nations for two thousand years. But as with the
Judah of Jeremiah's day, the warnings have fallen upon deaf ears, and an
apostate church plunges on to her merited doom with the same reckless
abandonment as did her Jewish sister long ago, and with the same hypocritical
cant on her lips, We are God's people! We have done no wrong!
7:13. "And now,
because you have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you,
rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye
Judgment was about to fall,
but the rebels couldn't say that there hadn't been ample warning. God,
through His prophets, had warned them repeatedly, but they, in their stubborn
determination to continue in evil, had refused to listen, and when He had
called to them (presumably to reason together) they had ignored Him. The
wonder is that God's patience had lasted as long as it had.
will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and
unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to
As He had done to Shiloh so
would he do also to Jerusalem, the association of His name with the place
providing no immunity for those who had desecrated that place and dishonored
His name. Their attitude towards the Temple was exactly the same as had been
that of an earlier generation towards the Ark. It too had become a mere
fetish in which they placed all their trust until it was taken by the
Philistines, and they themselves slain, see 1 Sa 4. They were about to learn
the folly of trusting in a religious ritual divorced from faith and obedience;
and an equally apostate church is soon to learn the same lesson.
Relative to "the place"
given to them and to their fathers, it seems that the reference is to the
whole land of Canaan, and not just the city of Jerusalem.
7:15. "And I
will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the
whole seed of Ephraim."
"The whole seed of Ephraim"
refers to the ten northern tribes carried into Assyria about a hundred and
thirty years before. That captivity ought to have warned Judah against
trifling with God, but obviously it hadn't. Nor have all God's chastisements
of Israel and Judah conveyed any warning to an apostate church. She too has
ignored every admonition, and like ancient Judah, foolishly trusts in an empty
religious form to protect her from God's judgment.
pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them,
neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee."
God forbade the prophet to
mingle intercession and warning. They had exhausted His patience. Nothing
could avert His judgment.
It is a fearful thing when a
man or a nation exhausts God's patience, and passes for ever beyond the hope
of mercy, as it is written, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck,
shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy," Pr 29:1. The people
addressed by Jeremiah had taken that fatal step and passed irrevocably over
the invisible line that separates God's mercy from His wrath; and in spite of
abundant warnings against such madness, an apostate church has followed in
thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?"
Here God calls upon the
prophet to acknowledge that wickedness filled the land from the remotest town
even to Jerusalem itself, the temple being no deterrent to the flagrant evil
of the rebellious people. Honest men today are called upon to make the same
acknowledgment relative to apostate Christendom.
children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead
their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink
offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger."
None was exempt from
censure. Men and women, children and parents, were united in the idolatry.
The queen of heaven is generally understood to have been Ashtoreth, a
fertility goddess worshiped by Assyria and Babylon, or the moon, and inasmuch
as the moon is a biblical symbol of united testimony (as the moon reflects the
light of the absent sun, so was OT Israel to be a witness for God, but since
the end of Jewish autonomy in AD 70, a new "moon" the Church has been invested
with that privilege and responsibility), Judah's idolatrous worship of the
moon would remind us that the spiritual equivalent is true in regard to the
apostate travesty which calls itself the church. The evil system centered in
Rome (and working through the equally evil ecumenical movement to bring
apostate Protestantism back under her control), has exalted Mary to the place
of intercessor, in spite of the fact that God has declared, "There is one God,
and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim 2:5.
(Space precludes a detailed
discussion of it here, but it should be noted that the Roman Catholic system
is simply the ancient Babylonian mystery religion dressed in Christian garb.
That idolatrous worship centered on Semiramis - the vile wife of the rebel
Nimrod - and her infant son. She was the original "queen of heaven," the
worship of the mother with the infant in her arms, quickly spreading over the
whole ancient world, only the names changing with the country, e.g., Ashtaroth
and Tammuz in Phoenicia; Isis and Horus in Egypt; Aphrodite and Eros in
Greece; Venus and Cupid in Italy; and with the alleged conversion of
Constantine, the idolatry was "Christianized" with Mary and the infant Jesus
replacing the original Semiramis and her infant son.
Only the spiritually blind
will fail to see in Judah's worship of the queen of heaven a foreshadowing of
the evil Romish system which rules Christendom today).
7:19. "Do they
provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the
confusion of their own faces?"
Their rebellion did more
than provoke the Lord's anger: it would bring shame upon themselves, and this
is more than the record of Israel's folly: it is the annunciation of a
principle governing the lives of all men. We cannot dishonor God without
laying up dishonor for ourselves, the believer suffering that shame at the
Bema, and the unbeliever reaping the eternal reward of his folly at the great
thus saith the Lord God; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out
upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field,
and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be
God is patient, but His
patience isn't limitless, and it is impossible to measure the misery which
must be the lot of the one who exhausts that patience, and makes himself the
heir of Divine wrath. Some idea of His fury may be gathered from the
judgment visited upon the antediluvian world; the Egyptians on the night of
the Passover and at the Red Sea; the cities of the plain in the days of Lot;
Jerusalem in BC 586 and AD 70, etc.
Something of man's high
position may be gauged from the fact that here, as almost always, the animals
and the earth share in the judgment visited upon him for rebellion against
God, the reason being that from the beginning man has been invested with the
power of rule over all the earthly creation, and it is a sad commentary on the
character of his rule when it is such that he and the things placed under him
must suffer judgment instead of enjoying blessing.
"... it shall burn, and
shall not be quenched" reminds us that once a man's rebellion carries him
beyond the pale of God's mercy, he becomes the heir of eternal
punishment, just as the believer’s faith makes him the heir of eternal
saith the Lord of hosts; the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your
sacrifices, and eat flesh."
This continues to emphasize
the folly of trusting in a mere empty religious ritual divorced from obedient
faith, for a literal translation would be, "Offer all the sacrifices you
please, and eat the flesh of the burnt offering yourselves, for it is
unacceptable to Me." This must be understood against the background of the
offerings which God Himself had appointed for Israel. All of the Burnt
offering (except the skin) was to be burnt. It was all for God. The
offerings were known generally as God's food, for just as a man is satisfied
with food, so was God satisfied with the offerings as long as they were linked
to obedient faith. The communion existing between Him and an obedient people
is portrayed symbolically in that in the Peace offering, for example, there
was a part for God, a part for the participating priest, and a part for the
offerer. Minus obedient faith, however, the offerings were an abomination to
God as is emphasized in His now telling them to eat the Burnt offering, and
all the flesh of the others themselves, His refusal of what should have
been His part declaring that He could no longer have communion with such
The lesson is easily read.
The empty ritual maintained by today's professing but apostate church is
equally abominable to God, and those who shelter behind it make themselves the
heirs of wrath just as surely as did the Judah of Jeremiah's day.
The reference to His being
"the Lord of hosts (armies)" is to remind us of His omnipotence, and of the
folly of contending with Him. His being "the God of Israel" is related to
what is associated with the name Israel rather than Jacob. The former speaks
of obedience, the latter of self-will. He is the covenant God only of those
who obey Him, but the implacable Foe of all others.
7:22. "For I
spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them
out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:"
This isn't meant to imply
that God hadn't given them any instructions concerning the presentation of
offerings: He had given very specific instructions, but the offerings were far
from being His principal concern. It was obedience that He desired, and for
Israel to present offerings apart from obedience was to affront Him, and rob
the offerings of all spiritual significance.
But apart from the small
believing remnant within the apostate mass of the nation, Israel failed to
comprehend that truth, and in her blindness imagined that as long as the
outward ritual was kept up all would be well, that same spiritual blindness
leading her to attribute to the offerings a sanctity God had never given
them. Apart from obedient faith they were as much an abomination to God as
were the sacrifices which the heathen offered their idols.
An equally blind apostate
church has adopted Israel's false reasoning, and has invested baptism and the
Lord's supper with virtue they don't possess, and the result is that, like
Israel, she places a false confidence in the outward forms to protect her from
judgment, when only obedient faith can secure that protection.
7:23. "But this
thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye
shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you,
that it may be well unto you."
Before He gave any
commandment concerning the offerings, God had commanded the people to be
obedient, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God,
and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his
commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases
upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that
healeth thee," Ex 15:26. The imperative of obedience is stressed again in 1
Sa 15:22-23, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and
sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better
than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the
sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."
It is to be noted that it
isn't mere tyrannical caprice that impels God to demand obedience. Far from
it! It is because He desires to bless; but to bless disobedience would be to
violate the integrity of His own holy nature, and thereby make Himself less
7:24. "But they
hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the
imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward."
Not only had the people
refused to obey, but they wouldn't even listen to God's entreaties when He
sought to plead with them. With stubborn determination they choose to live as
they pleased, their own corrupt minds furnishing the only direction they
desired. And so is it with an equally stubborn and rebellious apostate
church, her well-merited judgment being as close as was Judah's when Jeremiah
wrote the words we are now considering.
7:25. "Since the
day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have
even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and
Israel's sin wasn't of
recent development: it had begun virtually from the moment of their
emancipation from Egyptian bondage, and had continued until the very day in
which Jeremiah addressed them. Throughout all those years God had continued
to warn them and plead with them through His prophets, but to no avail. Their
stubborn necks refused His easy yoke, their corrupt minds quickly forgot His
many blessings, and in their obdurate self-will they plunged on to their
richly deserved punishment. Such was their spiritual blindness, that even
with the enemy at their gates, they still ignored the warnings of God's
prophet, and listened instead to the false assurances of Satan's servants, the
false prophets, that the maintenance of an empty religious ritual was
protection from any judgment.
7:26. "Yet they
hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they
did worse than their fathers."
Who can begin to measure the
folly of man estranged from God! Worms of the dust dare to ignore the voice
of their Creator, the One, Who by a word, has called the universe into
existence, and Who holds in His hand the very breath drawn by those who rebel
Nothing has changed over the
centuries. An equally apostate professing church has been just as
self-willed, and just as ready to believe the lies of the false teachers who
have arisen - as God has foretold they would - to take the place of the false
prophets, 2 Pe 2:1, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even
as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in
damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon
themselves swift destruction."
thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken unto
thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee."
One truth being declared in
Jeremiah's being commanded to continue speaking unto them - even though God
knew that His words would go unheeded - is that the Word rejected will become
the instrument of judgment, as the Lord Himself declared, "He that rejecteth
me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I
have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day," Jn 12:48.
"... thou shalt also call
unto them; but they will not answer thee," indicates that there would be, not
only rejection of the word heard by the rebels, but also the refusal even to
listen, and it is no different with an apostate church. She too rejects not
only what she hears, but refuses even to read God's Word or listen to those
who minister that Word in truth.
7:28. "But thou
shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord
their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from
It might have been expected
that God, foreknowing their continued disobedience, would have bidden Jeremiah
discontinue preaching to them, but He didn't. On the contrary, the prophet
was commanded to continue, and the lesson being taught is that neither
outright rejection of the Word, nor indifference to it on the part of an
apostate church, is to silence the mouths of God's servants. His truth is to
be declared, no matter how adamant man's rejection of it may be.
A further reason for God's
willingness to continue the declaration of His truth is that just as He
foreknows the rejection of it by the masses, so does He also foreknow the
reception of it by the few who will believe it and repent, and for their sakes
"... truth is perished, and
is cut off from their mouth," is the announcement that the people were not
only guilty of lying to one another, but also of never even discussing God's
Word among themselves. They never mentioned it, which was another way of
saying that they never thought upon Him.
7:29. "Cut off
thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high
places; for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath."
A man's shaven head was a
biblical sign of mourning; and a woman's, of shame, for only harlots and
female slaves had their heads shaven. The figure therefore should probably be
understood in the latter sense, since Jerusalem is almost invariably presented
as a woman. Her spiritual harlotry was to result in her becoming a Babylonian
slave; and inasmuch as the woman's hair is her glory, the command to Jerusalem
to "Cut off thine hair, and cast it away" declares that since she herself was
to do the shaving and the casting away of the hair, it was she herself who was
responsible for her coming slavery and lost glory. Had she been obedient to
Jehovah, these calamities would never have come upon her. Had it not been for
her idolatry in the "high places" there would have been no need for her to
She had finally exhausted
God's patience, and was now without hope of deliverance; but it is significant
that the emphasis is upon the destruction of “the generation of his
wrath,” for that very emphasis implies the salvation and blessing of another
generation of that same rebellious people, i.e., the generation represented by
the repentant obedient remnant that will emerge from the Tribulation judgments
to inherit millennial blessing. The same truth is declared relative to the
rebellious generation that was delivered into the hand of the Gentiles in AD
70, see Ro 12. The believing remnant brought to salvation through the
Tribulation judgments, will be the new generation that will enter the
Millennium. God's word relative to the blessing of His earthly people Israel
will yet be fulfilled, for it is on that repentant remnant that will pass
alive out of the Tribulation into the enjoyment of millennial blessing, that
He has always had His eye.
This, however, continues to
be more than the record of Israel's folly: it is the prewritten history of the
professing, but apostate church. She too has exhausted God's patience, and
like her harlot Jewish sister, is about to pass into the equivalent of
Babylonian slavery. Following the rapture of the true Church she will be left
on earth to reign like a queen for the first half of the Tribulation era, that
brief reign being brought to a sudden end by the Roman Beast ruler who will
seize her wealth and power, and for the final half of the Tribulation, reign
supreme religiously, politically, militarily and economically, but then to be
himself destroyed by the Lord, returning in power and glory to establish His
millennial kingdom, see Re 17-19.
7:30. "For the
children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set
their abominations (idols, images) in the house which is called by my name, to
It might have been expected
that Judah, meaning he shall be praised, would have been the last to be
guilty of evil, particularly in view of the fact that they had had the example
of the Assyrian captivity of the other tribes as dramatic warning against
disobedience. But obviously the effect of that warning had quickly worn off,
for their sin, compounded by that warning, was therefore even greater than
that of the ten northern tribes.
The utter vileness of the
nation represented by Judah is disclosed in Eze 8 which lists some of the
abominations practiced in the Temple, e.g., verse 16, "... behold, at the door
of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five
and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and
their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the
east." Their backs toward the temple declares their complete rejection of
God, while their faces toward the east speaks of having set themselves to do
evil, for as noted throughout our studies, the east is always indicative of
sin and departure from God. Nor was this the sin of only the common people!
Eze 8:11-12 makes it clear that the leaders of the nation were foremost in the
evil which was about to be visited with the outpouring of God's wrath.
The spiritual lesson will be
missed, however, if we fail to see its application to the present day apostate
church. The Judah of Jeremiah's day had mingled idolatry with the worship of
Jehovah, and only blind eyes will fail to see that the so-called worship of
Christendom is also an admixture of Judaism and heathenism dressed in
Christian garb. Where, for example, do we find Scriptural authority for the
hierarchical form of government that has ruled the professing church for
almost two thousand years; for the clerical system; the pompous titles; the
clerical robes, to name but a few of the abominations which abound in the
system governing the professing church?
Spiritual minds will have no
trouble discerning the significance of its being said that "they worshiped the
sun toward the east."
The sun is the source of
mere natural light, and speaks of man's wisdom in opposition to God's.
Can anyone deny that the professing church has turned her back "toward the
temple" i.e., rejected Scriptural order, and has given herself to the worship
of man's wisdom? Look, for example, at the extent to which she is ruled by
that "wisdom." Spiritual gifts are rejected, a theological education being
deemed a necessity for those counted fit to be "ministers" within the system,
while the methods of the business world have replaced the Word of God for the
government of the so-called churches.
They had dared to set up the
images of their false “gods” in Jehovah’s Temple, and one has only to look at
the interior of the average Roman Catholic “church” to see the brazen affront
repeated in the form of statues and paintings of Mary.
As judgment was then about
to break upon the head of guilty Judah, so is it also about to break upon the
head of an even more guilty apostate church, for she has had the history of
both Israel and Judah to warn her of the madness of her folly.
7:31. "And they
have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of
Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded
them not, neither came it into my heart."
The "high places of Tophet"
were the altars they had erected for the worship of Molech (alt. spelling
Moloch), an Ammonite god whose worship involved the sacrificial burning of
infants, a monstrous crime of which Judah was guilty, in spite of the fact
that, as the prophet reminded them, God had never given any command to do such
a thing, nor is there even a hint in Scripture that He desires such
sacrifices. Only a grossly depraved mind sees such instruction in Abraham's
being commanded to offer his son Isaac.
Tophet means a spitting
(as object of contempt), i.e., literally shame, and as Jackson points
out in his Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names, the name Molech,
meaning the king, "is vocalized the same as bosheth, which some
think is to denote shame." It is also instructive to note that Ammon,
meaning tribal (peoplish), one of the sons incestuously fathered by
Lot, appears to speak, not only of the lusts of the flesh, but particularly of
mere religious profession, with strong emphasis on intellectualism or
rationalism. No spiritual mind will fail to see in Judah's worship of this
Ammonite god, another characteristic of today's professing church. The
apostate system, characterized by empty profession, and governed by
rationalism, has brought shame on the name of Christ, and on the true Church;
and she too sacrifices her children to the intellectualism which Ammon
represents. Note, for example, that the great majority of professing
Christians evince more desire for their children to excel academically than
spiritually; to achieve success professionally, rather than to grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of God.
It is also instructive to
note that the valley of Hinnom means to make self drowsy: behold them.
The professing church's worship of what Molech represents, has induced a
spiritual torpor which is nothing less than the sleep of death. She has long
since lost the capacity to hear, much less understand, God's voice, the
spiritual content of Scripture being totally incomprehensible to her drugged
The location of the valley
of Hinnom is also instructive. It was immediately south of the city, but 19:2
informs us that it was also "by the entrance of the east gate."
Inasmuch as that gate appears to have been the direct means of access to
this valley, the spiritual message is easily read. Its being south (the
Biblical direction of faith) points to it as being representative of the
sphere of profession, but inasmuch as one could go there literally only by
going through the east gate (the direction of sin and departure from God), the
spiritual lesson is that it portrays the condition of today's professing but
apostate church. Those who comprise her are where they are today only because
they too have gone spiritually "eastward," i.e., away from God, while
professing to be walking within the realm of faith.
Nor should anyone fail to
consider the lesson being taught in that this terrible valley was the place
where the refuse of the city was burned. What was then practiced literally by
Judah in the name of worship, and is now practiced spiritually under the same
name by an apostate church, is as refuse in the eyes of God, and fit only for
burning. For apostate Judah that "burning" wasn't far off, nor is it any
farther off today for an equally apostate church.
We might note incidentally
that the Greek name for the valley of Hinnom was Gehenna, the Greek word for
our English hell, and Hebrew Sheol.
Christendom is guilty of
similar infant immolation today, but cleverly disguised under the euphemism
"Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be
called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of
slaughter; for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place."
For the apostate Judah
addressed by Jeremiah, that day of slaughter wasn't far off, nor is it for
today's apostate church.
Nebuchadnezzar was God's
instrument then, and the Roman beast emperor of the fast approaching
Tribulation era will be His instrument for the affliction of the harlot church
that will be left on earth following the rapture of the true Church. Where
they callously immolated their own infants was about to become the place where
they themselves would fall by the sword of the Babylonian, their carcasses
being left unburied to be food for the birds and animals, that slaughter being
but a foreshadowing of the still more terrible carnage that occurred in AD 70,
and which is itself a preview of that which will occur at the end of the Great
Tribulation in the terrible Armageddon conflict.
Taylor’s translation of this
verse reads, “The time is coming, says the Lord, when that valley’s name will
be changed from ‘Tophet’ or ‘the valley of Ben-Hinnom,’ to ‘the valley of
slaughter’; for there will be so many slain to bury that there won’t be room
enough for all the graves and they will dump the bodies in that valley.”
7:33. "And the
carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for
the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray (frighten) them away."
This reference to the
carcasses of the slain being left as food for bird and beast, leaves no doubt
that we are meant to see in that Babylonian destruction of Judah a
foreshadowing of the coming Tribulation. Note, for example, what is written
in Re 19:17-21 relative to the destruction of earth's rebels by the Lord Jesus
Christ returning in power and glory to end the Tribulation, and inaugurate His
millennial kingdom. There too the carcasses of the slain will be food for the
birds and beasts.
There being none to frighten
off the creatures of prey declares the terrible extent of the slaughter.
There would be neither enough room to bury the dead, nor enough men left to do
the burying even if room did exist.
The fact that the present
spiritual condition of the professing church is identical with that of
apostate Judah in the days of Jeremiah, sounds the clear warning that the
Rapture, and the ensuing Tribulation are perilously close.
7:34. "Then will
I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem,
the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom,
and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate."
If anyone still entertains a
doubt that apostate Judah is a type of the apostate church he has only to
compare the language of this verse with that of Re 18 relative to the
destruction of that harlot church.
As for the desolation of the
land, that desolation was designed by God to permit the land to enjoy the rest
of which it had been robbed by the cupidity of the people who refused to allow
it to lie fallow during each seventh year, even though God had promised to
give them in the sixth year, not only enough for the seventh, but also enough
to sow for the eighth year, "... in the sixth year ... it shall bring forth
fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old
fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old
store," Le 25:21-22.
For approximately 490 years
greedy Israel had ignored that command, but now the land was to enjoy those 70
sabbatical years of which she had been robbed, as we read in 2 Ch 36:21, "To
fulfil the word of the Lord ... until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for
as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten
years," 2 Ch 36:21. The 70 years of rest for the land were the 70 years of
Babylonian captivity for the rebellious people. It may seem sometimes that
God takes a long time to balance the books, but no one should doubt that they
will be balanced. For every man, as for rebellious Israel, there is an
appointed day of reckoning, and he who comes to that day without having had
his sins blotted out through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is of all fools