For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

9:1.  "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.


9:2.  "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.


Treacherous 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 Him.


9:3.  "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.


9:4.  "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 slanders."


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 .


9:5.  "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 iniquity."


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.


9:6.  "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.


9:7.  "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.


9:8.  "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.


9:9.  "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 wantonly polluted.


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.


Dragon 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!


9:15.  "Therefore 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.


9:17.  "Thus 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 us out."


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, plundered.


"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 lamentation."


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.


9:22.  "Speak, 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 them."


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.


9:23.  "Thus 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 for sin.


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 into hell.


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.


Significantly 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 spurned.


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.


9:25.  "Behold, 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 Savior.

Israel, circumcised 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.


9:26.  "Egypt, 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.

[Jeremiah 10]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough