Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might
weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!"
The extent of Jeremiah's
grief indicates the magnitude of the judgment that was about to overtake rebel
Judah, and as already noted, that judgment was itself a foreshadowing of the
judgment that overtook the nation in AD 70, the anticipation of which caused
the Lord also to weep over them, "And when he was come near, he beheld the
city, and wept over it," Lk 19:41. As also already noted, however, both of
these past judgments are but foreshadowings of the still greater impending
Tribulation judgments, of which Israel will be the vortex, but that will
affect all nations, bringing out of Israel and of the nations a believing
remnant that will inherit millennial blessing.
"Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I
might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an
assembly of treacherous men."
This reference to the
wilderness lodging place for wayfaring men recalls the words of Isaiah, "And
an highway shall be there (in the wilderness), and a way, and it shall be
called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall
be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein,"
Isa 35:8. There are two general interpretations of the latter part of this
verse. One is that the wayfaring men, i.e., travelers on the way to heaven,
though fools in the eyes of an unbelieving world, will not go astray following
that road. The other also sees the wayfaring men as believers, but takes the
words, "though fools, shall not err therein" to be the assurance that no
"fool" (unbeliever) will walk that road. Apart from which is grammatically
correct, both are true. As he traveled that path of obedience through the
wilderness of this evil world, the prophet longed for a lodging place into
which he might withdraw from the ungodliness all around him. Many a believer
has found himself in a similar situation.
His likening the people to
adulterers reminds us that as literal marital infidelity is adultery,
so is unfaithfulness to God spiritual adultery.
in this context has the basic thought of covering with a garment: acting
covertly, and the propriety of the term lies in the fact that Judah sought
to hide her sin of idolatry by covering it with the "garment" of continued
adherence to the outward form of the worship of Jehovah by means of an empty
religious ritual, which apart from faith, was, and still is, an abomination to
"And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant
for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they
know not me, saith the Lord."
Like a bow bent to propel an
arrow, so were the tongues of the people ever at the ready to speak lies; and
in proportion as lies prevailed throughout the land, so had truth languished.
And as lies accomplished their evil designs, the more they continued to employ
lies, with the result that they had long since lost the knowledge of Him Whom
the Psalmist calls "Lord God of truth," Ps 31:5. And as it was then so is it
today both in the world and in the professing but apostate church. The lie of
man has superseded the truth of Scripture, with the result that even of those
professing to be Christians, many have not the knowledge of God. Like Judah
of old, they are God's people in name only.
"Take ye heed every one of his neighbor, and trust ye not in any brother: for
every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with
The treachery governing
relationships in Judah was very different from the trust that ought to exist
amongst God's people, as exemplified in the loving relationship between
Priscilla and Aquila, and Paul, who declared that they, "have for my life laid
down their own necks," Ro 16:4. When a man's relationship with God isn't
right, it can't be right with any other. Where truth is abandoned mistrust
reigns, as it did in the Judah of Jeremiah's day, and as it does in both the
world and the professing church today. Avarice is the lubricant, not only of
the wheels of business, but of the ecclesiastical machinery controlling
Christendom. Only the naive will fail to see that the conditions described by
the prophet prevail for the most part amongst professed believers today, the
remark being heard with increasing frequency that it is safer doing business
with unbelievers than with professed Christians, for with unbelievers you at
least know to be wary .
"And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth:
they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit
Deceit and lies are no less
prevalent in today's professing church, nor is iniquity any less rampant. It
is not only in the likeness of these days to those of Noah and Lot, that we
find assurance of the imminence of Christ's return: the similarity of the
present to that of the time of Jeremiah, sounds the same warning.
"Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to
know me, saith the Lord."
The first clause appears to
be the Lord's comment to Jeremiah. It was the prophet who dwelt in the midst
of a deceitful people, as had also his predecessor Isaiah, who declared, "I am
a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips,"
Isa 6:5. Neither the passage of time, nor the Assyrian captivity of the ten
tribes, had brought any improvement to Judah: she had continued to plunge
deeper and deeper into sin. An apostate church has been equally indifferent,
not only to the examples of Israel and Judah in the OT era, but also to that
of Israel in AD 70. She too plunges on heedlessly to her fast approaching
doom. She too has wantonly rejected the knowledge and authority of God.
"Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try
them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?"
For rebellious Judah the
harvest was past, the summer ended, the day of grace gone, their revolt
leaving God no alternative but to execute judgment, as declared in the words
"how shall I do for the daughter of my people?" lit., "What else can I do with
this rebellious daughter, except destroy her?"
That the chastisement was
for their ultimate good, however, is declared in the fact that it is described
as being an assaying, a refining process, that would separate the precious
from the vile, and that would eventually, as other Scriptures inform us,
produce a repentant people whom God could bless. Their impending Babylonian
captivity was but the OT foreshadowing of the coming Tribulation, which will
be also a refining process, by means of which God will produce a believing
remnant of Jews and Gentiles to inherit millennial blessings.
This is always God's
objective relative to chastisement, as we are assured in He 12:11, "Now no
chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless
afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are
exercised thereby." But there is solemn warning associated with that
qualifying phrase, "unto them which are exercised thereby." He who refuses to
be exercised by Divine chastening makes himself “the dross” to be separated
from the precious metal, and cast away. It must never be forgotten that
refining is a separating process, and is used throughout Scripture as a symbol
of the ultimate separation of faith and unbelief that will see the unbelievers
cast into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
It is necessary to note that
each generation of Israel was simply a representative of the nation that will
eventually emerge from the Tribulation judgments as the repentant and
converted nation in which will be fulfilled all God’s promises to Abraham,
there being preserved in every generation a similar small believing remnant in
which the life of the nation has been preserved for her continuation. While
therefore the generation of Jeremiah’s day, like many such preceding
generations, must literally perish because of their refusal to repent in God’s
time, the nation would be preserved in the small believing remnant that would
also be carried captive into Babylon with their unbelieving fellows. That
tiny remnant found within the apostate mass in every generation of Israel is
like a seed preserved to produce yet another generation in which the process
will be repeated until the end of the Tribulation from which that remnant will
pass into millennial blessing.
"Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh
peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait
(lays a trap)."
Their words were as deadly
as arrows because they were deceitful, smooth words meant to disguise the evil
designs in the hearts of the speakers, as they sought opportunity to take
advantage of their neighbors. The same deceit marks men today, and not just
the men of the world, but many of those also in the professing church. Nor is
the deceit confined to their business and social lives: it characterizes their
religious lives also. Note, for example, the smooth, polite social “gospel”
preached today. Inasmuch as it is designed to offend none, so that the
numbers may be multiplied and the finances increased, it has been expunged of
any reference to man's ruined state, his need of a Savior, the imperative of
faith in a crucified and risen Christ to save him from hell and fit him for
heaven. The words of such a "gospel" are the most deadly that can be uttered,
for they deceive multitudes into believing that they are on the way to heaven,
when in fact they are still on the road to hell and the lake of fire.
As Judah's false prophets
and rulers preached peace even as judgment approached, so do the false
teachers and "pastors" of today's professing but apostate church also preach
peace, even though the signs everywhere point to the imminence of the Lord's
return, and the following terrible Tribulation judgments. The same sinister
spirit Satan, who impelled the deceitful words of the men of Judah long ago,
is no less active today in impelling the deceitful speech of men who also
claim to belong to God, but who are in reality the agents of the arch fiend
himself. Of him Christ has declared, “He was a murderer from the beginning,
and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he
speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of
it,” John 8:44.
"Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be
avenged on such a nation as this?"
Rebellious Judah, rejecting
both entreaty and warning, had made herself the heiress of judgment, and the
God whose patience she had exhausted, was now about to execute that judgment.
How quickly she had forgotten the warning declared in the Assyrian captivity
of her equally rebellious sister Israel! Nor did a later generation of the
same rebellious nation profit by these experiences of their fathers. They
had magnified their sin by killing God's prophets, but she crowned her infamy
by crucifying God's Son, and to this day is experiencing His wrath.
It might have been supposed
that these multiplied warnings and examples would have deterred the rebellion
of others, but they haven't. A godless world, and an equally godless apostate
church, have ignored all these warnings preserved for their instruction, and
having also filled their cup of iniquity to overflowing, are about to reap the
awful harvest of their rebellious sowing. But like the rebels of the past,
they also are unaware of their danger, deaf to God's warnings, and ignorant of
the truth that responsibility is in proportion to light given. The dreadful
character of the impending Tribulation judgments will be the fitting
recompense of rebellion against more numerous warnings, and greater light than
have been given to any other generation.
9:10. "For the
mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the
wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass
through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of
the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone."
Unquestionably the reference
is to the literal devastation that would follow the Babylonian incursion, but
it would be foolish to presume that there isn't also a spiritual lesson being
symbolically presented, as there is in so much of Scripture. Mountains are
the Biblical symbols of kings and/or kingdoms, so that the message announces
the Divine sorrow occasioned by His having to remove Judah's princes and
rulers. Sadly, it was they who had been foremost in rebelling against Him.
"Habitations of the
wilderness" is literally "pastures of the wilderness," but since
shepherds are those normally employed in pastoral pursuits, the reference may
be to Judah's "shepherds" i.e., her spiritual leaders, the prophets and
priests. They too had led the people astray, but though He must punish their
sin, God lamented their folly that had made His judgment necessary. A truth
declared repeatedly in Scripture is that God must punish sin, but He takes no
pleasure in what is described as "His strange work," Isa 28:21.
Since cattle represented
wealth, the absence of cattle declares the impoverishment of the people, the
bitter irony being that had they been obedient they would have been enriched.
Inasmuch as fowl almost
invariably have a bad connotation in Scripture - the Lord Himself declaring
them to be the representatives of Satan's evil hordes - the reference to the
absence of fowl would declare the departure of the evil spirits which had
swarmed in the land during the years of the people's idolatry. With the
people gone there was no reason for the demons to remain.
The beast here
appears to denote the wild animals, and in Scripture they appear to be used to
portray those who are opposed to God and His people, see e.g., Paul's
reference to having fought with beasts at Ephesus, 1 Cor 15:32, where clearly
the reference is not to literal beasts but to human adversaries. The people,
by their gross idolatry and deliberate rejection of Jehovah, had reduced
themselves to the level of beasts which have no knowledge of God.
9:11. "And I
will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of
Judah desolate, without an inhabitant."
Its past hallowed
association as God's earthly dwelling place in the midst of His people,
couldn't save Jerusalem from destruction. Since Judah's wickedness had made
it impossible for Jehovah to continue in their midst, He would remove what had
been physically associated with His presence, and the propriety of the
judgment becomes apparent when it is remembered that Judah, by her idolatry,
had virtually discarded God, her multitudinous altars to heathen gods
advertising her rejection of the one true God Who had redeemed her from
Egyptian bondage, and given her the land she, in base ingratitude, had so
A godless world, and
apostate church, have followed all too faithfully in the rebellious footsteps
of Israel and Judah, and also like them, are about to reap the harvest of
their evil sowing. Everything in the world points to the fact that the
Tribulation judgments are as near today as was the Babylonian captivity of
Judah at the time when a weeping Jeremiah declared her doom. Sadly, they too
are as blind and deaf as she.
is literally sea monster: sea serpent: jackal, with whale as a
possible, but doubtful fourth meaning. Jackal is undoubtedly the literal
meaning, but clearly this reference to dragons is not to be taken literally.
There are no such actual creatures, but significantly Satan is referred to in
Re 12,13,16 and 20 as a dragon, and a careful study of the OT references to
dragons makes it clear that they are related to the constellations described
in Job 38:32 as Mazzaroth, i.e., the twelve signs of the Zodiac, a
careful study of those twelve star groups leaving not a shadow of doubt that
in His arrangement and naming of those constellations, God has displayed in
the heavens as clear a presentation of the Gospel as is to be found in the
written Word. (Those interested in pursuing this most interesting and
instructive study are referred to The Gospel in the Stars, by Seiss,
published by Kregel, and God's Voice in the Stars, by Kenneth C.
Fleming, published by Loizeaux Bros. I highly recommend Fleming's book for
its clarity and conciseness).
God's promise to destroy
Jerusalem and make it a den of dragons is particularly fitting. Inasmuch
as Satan, the old dragon ruins everything he touches, it is appropriate that
the city which had preferred his dominion to God's, should display in its
ruined condition the spiritually ruined state of the evil master it had chosen
to serve. Nor is this the only time we find a parallel between the state of
the king and that of his kingdom. Note, for example, that when Satan fell,
his kingdom, the earth, became a dark, water-covered ruin, reflecting the
ruined state of its fallen prince. And again when earth's human prince, Adam,
fell, his kingdom reflected his fallen state: it brought forth thorns and
thistles (symbols of God’s curse upon the earth).
The promise to make the
cities of Judah desolate and without inhabitant, has a significance which goes
beyond the literal, for Judah, meaning he shall be praised, speaks
obviously of worship. True worship had long since ceased in Judah, all that
remained being an empty ritual, and God was going to put an end even to that.
It is no different in today's professing church, and He Who ended the mockery
in Judah long ago, is about to end it also in the travesty of which apostate
Judah is the OT type.
9:12. "Who is
the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the
Lord hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is
burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?"
The implication behind the
Lord's question is that for the most part there were no such men to be found,
the majority of the nation being deaf to God's voice, and blind to all the
signs of His displeasure.
The few who did understand
were responsible to sound warning, reminding us that we have the same
responsibility today. We who hear God's voice speaking from the pages of the
Bible, and who, by the Holy Spirit's enlightenment, are able to discern from
the signs all around us, that the day of judgment is almost here, are
responsible to preach the Gospel, never forgetting that a Gospel expunged of
warning is not the Gospel at all.
There seems little question
that the land was already showing the effects of God's judgment in the form of
blight, drought and diminished crops, for we must remember that these were
always the evidence of Divine chastisement. With the removal of the people to
Babylon the desolation would be complete, the seventy years of that captivity
being referred to in Scripture as "the desolations of Jerusalem," Dan 9:2.
Only blind eyes will fail to
see that polluted water and
air, harvests diminished by
blight and drought in many places around the world, and the devastation caused
by war, are but the evidence of God's displeasure on a world-wide scale, and
are just as surely precursors of judgment as were conditions in Judah in the
days of Jeremiah.
9:13. "And the
Lord said, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have
not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;"
God Himself supplies the
answer to His own question. The land blighted, and soon to become completely
desolate, was because of the people's disobedience.
9:14. "But have
walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their
fathers taught them:"
The previous verse describes
the negative side of their disobedience - what they had failed to do, but here
we have the positive side of their rebellion - the evil they had done. Having
first neglected God's Word, they had then proceeded to formulate their own
standards of conduct; and having abandoned the worship of Jehovah, they had
turned eagerly to worship the gods of their heathen neighbors. Baalim,
incidentally, is the plural of Baal. They had replaced the one true God with
a multitude of gods conceived by their own darkened minds.
Nor had the wickedness begun
with the generation addressed by the prophet. They had learned this evil from
their fathers, the enormity of whose guilt is declared in that they had been
commanded by God to teach their children the knowledge of Him, see, e.g., Dt
4:9, "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou
forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy
heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons."
Few will fail to discern
that a rebel world and an apostate church have chosen to repeat Judah's
folly. They too have replaced God's commands with a standard of their own
invention, designed to accommodate their evil lusts, and capable of adjustment
to meet every vagary of their depraved minds. And they too have been taught
this evil by the fathers who ought to have instructed them in the knowledge of
God. It is small wonder that the judgment of that same God is about to break
on such a world and church!
thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them,
even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink."
His being the Lord of hosts
declares that He is omnipotent, so that it is the height of folly to oppose
Him, but His being "the God of Israel" assures us that He is the One Who is
worshiped by those who are obedient, for Israel means he shall be prince of
God, and only the obedient are His royal sons.
"... even this people"
emphasizes the strangeness of God's act, and reminds us that these were the
very same people He had redeemed, and then fed with manna, and refreshed with
water from the smitten rock, for forty years in the desert. What tragedy that
their folly should have made it necessary for Him now to feed them with
wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink!
Since literal food and water
are used throughout the Bible as symbols of the written Word, it is clear that
the present language is also to be understood in its symbolic sense, i.e., the
reference is to something deadly which will be substituted for the life-giving
Word. That deadly thing is the lie of Satan which induced deluded Judah to
believe that Jehovah was little different from the gods of the heathen. It
is, in fact, the same deadly philosophy which governs the thinking of a rebel
world and an apostate church, the deadly lie that will be believed in the
Tribulation by those who will have rejected the Gospel during this age of
grace, see 2 Th 2: 11-12, "And for this cause God shall send them strong
delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who
believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
As with virtually all the OT
judgments, the one we are now considering is but the foreshadowing of the
still more terrible judgments that will fall upon a rebel world in the
Tribulation, see, e.g., Re 8:10-11, "And the third angel sounded, and there
fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the
third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of
the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood;
and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." This third
trumpet judgment is generally recognized as being the symbolic announcement of
the corruption of the Word in the Tribulation.
It is interesting to note
that wormwood is the name of a species of plant having a strong aromatic odor,
and bitter taste, and from some of which absinthe (a bitter licorice-flavored
liqueur) is made, and in regard to which Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible
says, "It first leads to greater activity and pleasant sensations and fills
the mind with grandiose ideas (Lam 3:15). The habitual use of it, however,
brings on a stupor and gradual diminution of intellectual faculties, ending in
delirium and even death." Only those who refuse to recognize the truth will
refuse to acknowledge that this is a virtual description of what drugs are
doing in our world today.
Unquestionably the reference
is not to literal wormwood and gall (a poisonous drink), but to the written
Word so corrupted that instead of being spiritual food and drink, it will
become that which at first will seem to afford greater license, but which will
ultimately bring spiritual delirium and death. That this is already happening
must be obvious to every spiritual mind. Consider, for example, the wild
emotional excesses which masquerade today as worship; and the "license"
supposedly found in Scripture by depraved, deluded minds, for the
establishment of homosexual "churches," the "ordination" of homosexual
"ministers," and the joining in "marriage" of those who pervert nature,
the laws of a degenerate society making it illegal to call them perverts.
That this is occurring
already while the Holy Spirit is here as Restrainer, gives some idea of what
it will be like in the coming Tribulation when His ministry of restraint will
have ceased, and iniquity will be permitted free course.
9:16. "I will
scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have
known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them."
The Babylonian captivity,
and the Diaspora were a partial realization of this threat, but like virtually
all such past fulfillments, they were but the precursors of a more terrible
scattering yet to occur in the Great Tribulation. Nor should anyone miss the
significance of the word consume. It means to destroy utterly, but
since a believing remnant of Israel is to emerge from the Tribulation as the
new nation that will enter the Millennium, the reference can only be to the
professing, but apostate mass of the nation. It will be banished into hell
when the Lord returns to end the Tribulation, judge the nations, and
inaugurate His Millennial kingdom.
saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider ye, and call for the mourning women, that
they may come: and send for cunning women, that they may come:"
It was the omnipotent God
Who spoke, commanding rebel Judah to call for the professional mourners, and
His command to call for "cunning women" i.e., the most expert of the
professional mourners, indicates something of the terrible nature of the
judgment about to fall upon the guilty people. It would produce mourning more
bitter than anything they had ever known. Since, however, the Babylonian
captivity is itself a foreshadowing of the Diaspora, which is in turn the
foreshadowing of the yet more terrible coming Tribulation judgments, we are
being shown something of the awful nature of that fast approaching seven-year
era that will see, not just Israel, but the whole world, devastated by the
judgments of an angry God Whose laws have been flouted, and Whose grace has
been spurned by that same world.
9:18. "And let
them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with
tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters."
The reference to haste
declares the imminence of the judgment, while the allusion to the profusion of
the tears continues to signify the catastrophic nature of the judgment. The
terrible Tribulation judgments are as imminent now as was Babylon’s
destruction of Judah in the days of Jeremiah.
9:19. "For a
voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, How are we spoiled! we are greatly
confounded, because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings have cast
It is instructive to note
that Zion (though designating specifically the south west hill of Jerusalem on
which the Temple had been built, but generally being synonymous with the whole
city), means parched place, a strange name surely for the earthly
dwelling place of God. The mystery is explained, however, when we remember
that blessing is contingent on obedience, and since Israel, with a few rare
and fleeting exceptions, had never rendered that obedience, Zion could be
nothing but a parched place, rather than a place of blessing. It was
their disobedience that had caused them to be spoiled, i.e., ruined,
"Confounded" is literally
"ashamed," and relative to their forsaking the land, and being cast out by
their dwellings, the KJ version here is misleading: it was the Babylonians who
were about to lead them captive out of the land, and out of their houses, the
cause, of course, being their own disobedience.
9:20. "Yet hear
the word of the Lord, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his
mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbor
The women addressed here
appear to have been the professional mourners. So great would be the
devastation that there wouldn't be enough such mourners to adequately express
the appropriate lamentation, so they would have to teach their daughters and
neighbors the dirges. They who ought to have instructed their daughters in
the knowledge of Jehovah, and in songs to His praise and glory, would now be
compelled to teach them the lamentations of the cursed rather than the songs
of the blessed. And so will it be world-wide in the now imminent Tribulation.
9:21. "For death
is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the
children from without, and the young men from the streets."
The reference is literally
to the entry of the Babylonians through the windows of the houses, to
slaughter both young and old, including even the young children, but since
windows are used symbolically in Scripture to speak of the entry of light,
i.e., knowledge; and of the ability to see out, i.e., spiritually to see
things from the Divine perspective, we must look here for a meaning which goes
beyond the literal.
We are being pointed to what
will be in the coming Tribulation. Since Babylon represents the world's false
religious systems, which in the Tribulation, will be headed up by the great
apostate system now centered in Rome, the truth being declared is that during
those seven years the deadly error of Rome (itself the perpetuation of the old
Babylonian religious system) will be the only "light" given to those who will
have rejected the Gospel preached in the present Church age. That doctrine is
deadly, bringing destruction to all who accept it. Since young men are used
symbolically in Scripture to represent spiritual strength, the cutting off of
the young men announces the cutting off of the spiritual strength which is the
endowment only of those who understand and obey the Word of God. Acceptance
of Rome's error sounds the death knell of spiritual life.
Death's entering into the
palaces speaks of the acceptance of Rome's error by those in high places, the
rulers of the people. The ecumenism which is even now drawing Protestantism
back into the fold of Rome, is simply another proof that we are living in the
closing days of the Church age, and it is to be noted that it is those who
pose as leaders in the professing church, who are foremost in promoting
acceptance of this evil ecumenical doctrine.
Thus saith the Lord, Even the carcasses of men shall fall as dung upon the
open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather
This announced the wholesale
slaughter that would accompany the Babylonian invasion. As manure is spread
on the field to fertilize it, so would the bodies of the slain lie on the
ground to rot, because there would be none to bury them. But the second
picture, of cut grain left ungathered, does more than repeat the announcement
of widespread carnage: it points to another aspect of death. The bodies lying
like dung on the field speak of physical death, but the ungathered grain is
the symbolic picture of spiritual death. Since believers are likened to good
grain gathered into God's garner (heaven), this cut, but ungathered grain,
represents those who die in unbelief, and who will therefore enter the lake of
fire rather than heaven.
Babylon's rapacious invasion
of Judah is but a foreshadowing of the far more terrible judgments that will
devastate the whole world in the coming Tribulation era.
saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the
mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:"
The wisdom here is that of
the world, and invariably it works in opposition to all that is of God. Its
worthlessness is revealed in that the worldly wisdom of Judah's so-called wise
men was unable to deliver her from the judgment of the God Whose wisdom she
had rejected. The unbeliever will likewise find that the worldly wisdom in
which so many trust has no power to deliver from the wrath of God Who has
declared that He will accept only the precious blood of His Son as atonement
The worthlessness of earthly
wisdom is clearly declared in 1 Cor 1-2.
Earthly strength and power
are equally worthless things, as was demonstrated by the inability of Judah's
mighty ones to stop the Babylonian invasion. Earth's riches likewise are
worthless things. The combined wealth of Judah's rich men had no power to buy
off the invaders. The worthlessness of human might, and worldly riches will
be fully demonstrated when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in power and glory at
the end of the Tribulation to judge the nations and banish every unbeliever
9:24. "But let
him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I
am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the
earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
As it is written in Pr 9:10,
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the
holy is understanding." Only he who has that reverential fear of God which is
the hallmark of faith, has any ground on which to glory, and his glorying is
not in himself, but in God Who alone is worthy of glory. To know God through
faith is the highest wisdom. Lack of that knowledge is the ultimate folly.
lovingkindness comes first in God's description of Himself, Calvary being
the incontrovertible proof of that claim. The sin of Judah, and of all men,
therefore, is the more reprehensible, coming as it does against Him Who has
given His creature every reason to love and obey Him, His holy nature
requiring Him to execute judgment only when His lovingkindness has been
That He is a God Who will
execute judgment, however, is also indisputably declared by Calvary, for there
His wrath and judgment were poured out upon the head of the Lord Jesus Christ
when He took our guilty place, and made Himself accountable for our sins.
God's absolute righteousness forbade mitigation of the punishment even though
the Sin-bearer was His own well beloved Son.
That that Son was willing to
take your guilty place and mine, and that the Father was willing to accept
that substitutionary Sacrifice, are to all but those whose minds are darkened
by Satan, proof of His lovingkindness.
In regard to His
righteousness, Calvary is again the proof that God is governed by an absolute
standard which even He can't set aside. Every redeemed man will be in heaven
on the basis, not only of a love that passes understanding, but also on a
basis of absolute righteousness. We will be there because the life forfeited
by the rebellion of the first Adam, was willingly yielded up by the last Adam
to meet all the claims of God's violated holiness.
"... in the earth" reminds
us that however much its present state may seem to declare otherwise, this
earth is still governed by the standards of heaven, a fact that will be
demonstrated both in the judgment of the nations at Christ's return at the end
of the Tribulation, and in the Millennium that will follow, that
thousand-year reign of the Prince of peace being God's answer to the prayer
that has gone up for so many weary centuries, "Thy will be done on earth, as
it is in heaven." As Nebuchadnezzar had to learn, so will the nations also
learn, "that the heavens do rule," Da 4:26. Man's rebellion is permitted for
a while by the God Whose patience is great, but not infinite.
the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are
circumcised with the uncircumcised:"
The Judah of Jeremiah's day,
like the Israel of Christ's, trusted in the outward forms of Jewish religion,
failing to understand that apart from faith, all such forms were worthless.
Both trusted in circumcision, the outward sign of a covenant which, however,
required faith and obedience, the evidence of which was not the literal
cutting off of the flesh, but of its deeds, the circumcision acceptable to God
being, as Paul says, "that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter:
whose praise is not of men, but of God," Ro 2:29.
Judah's adherence to a
religious ritual couldn't save them from the judgment of the God Whose
patience they had exhausted by their idolatry. Nor will mere religious forms
save anyone. God accepts only those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as
physically but not spiritually, were as much an abomination to God as were the
nations around them, many of whom also practiced circumcision.
The fact that this verse
clearly takes us beyond the Babylonian captivity, and on to the final terrible
judgments of the Tribulation, serves to reinforce the view that virtually all
of the judgments that have befallen Israel, are themselves foreshadowings of
that final great catastrophe that will bring out of her, and out of all
nations, a repentant remnant that will inherit millennial blessings.
and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in
the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are
uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart."
Some, if not all of these
nations, in fact, did practice circumcision, yet all of them were an offense
to God, because there was no circumcision of the heart. That Judah was no
different spiritually, is declared in her being listed among them.
It is generally agreed that
the phrase "and all that are in the utmost corners" has no reference to
geography, but to the practice of rounding the corners of the hair of their
heads and beards by clipping or shaving, a practice forbidden by God, see Le
19:27. And significantly, all of them are described as wilderness dwellers:
nomads, wanderers, that wandering being symbolic of the spiritual state of the
unconverted, whose journey through the wilderness of this world is an aimless
wandering that will end in hell rather than heaven.
Such were Israel and Judah,
and such are all who trust in religion, but who don't know the Lord Jesus
Christ as Savior.