Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
15:1. “Then said
the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could
not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.”
The intercession of Moses is
recorded in Ex 32:11-14; Nu 14:13-20; Dt 9:18-29; and that of Samuel in 1 Sa
But the Lord here assures
Jeremiah that even if Moses and Samuel interceded for rebellious Judah He
would not grant their petition to spare the guilty nation. Their wickedness,
unrepented of, had made them so abhorrent that He wanted them cast out of His
sight, i.e., destroyed.
A wicked, unrepentant
Christendom has brought itself into the same awful position. It has passed
irrevocably beyond hope of mercy. It too is to perish, the only exceptions
being the very few who will confess their sinful state, repent, and trust in
the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior while it is still the day of grace.
This is the dreadful
position in which every unbeliever will ultimately find himself. Though once
so much the object of Divine love that God had given His Son the Lord Jesus
Christ to die a terrible death at Calvary for that same sinner’s redemption,
rejection of that sacrifice will transmute the love into hatred, and he whose
entrance to heaven had been bought at such cost, will be cast out of God’s
sight, first into hell, and following the resurrection of damnation, into the
eternal torment of the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.
15:2. “And it
shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then
thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death;
and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine,
to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”
The Lord’s utter rejection
of that wicked generation of Judah continues in His instruction to Jeremiah
relative to the answer to be given by the prophet when the guilty people would
ask, Where shall we go? As the answer makes clear, there was no place they
might run to in order to escape God’s fierce wrath. He had passed the
sentence of death upon them, and now instructed His servant to inform the
rebels as to how the sentence would be executed. Some were to die by
pestilence; some, by the sword; some, by famine; the remainder being led
captive into Babylon to die there, except for the small godly remnant who
would also be carried into Babylon, but some of whom God would preserve, and
eventually restore again to the land.
The same fate awaits every
unrepentant sinner. Death in all its varied forms will terminate their
earthly lives and sweep them down to hell, and ultimately into eternal torment
in the terrible lake of fire.
Since Babylon is synonymous
with the world’s false religious systems, those who would die in Babylonian
captivity represent those who live their lives in bondage to some earthly
religion. They too will die and plunge into hell. Men are saved, not by
adherence to the teaching of a religious system, but by repentant confession
of their sinful state, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, as it is
written, “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby
we must be saved,” Ac 4:12.
15:3. “And I
will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord; the sword to slay, and the
dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to
devour and destroy.”
“... four kinds” is
literally “four agents of destruction.” First was the sword. Their enemies
would slay them. Then the dogs would devour the flesh of the unburied bodies,
and what the dogs left would be food for the birds of prey and the wild
beasts. A more grisly portrait couldn’t be painted. It is indeed a terrible
fate to fall unsaved into the hand of the living God!
15:4. “And I
will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of
Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in
Their being dispersed among
“all kingdoms of the earth” indicates that this looks beyond the then imminent
captivity in Babylon, to the scattering that occurred in AD 70; and the
severity of their punishment is better conveyed in Taylor’s translation of
this verse, “... I will punish you so severely that your fate will horrify the
peoples of the world.” The wonder with which the nations have witnessed this
world-wide scattering that has lasted for two thousand years, testifies to the
accuracy of God’s Word.
The account of the evil
committed by Manasseh in the early years of his reign is preserved in 2 Chr
33, which records also his being delivered into the hand of the king of
Assyria, from which captivity God eventually restored him following his
genuine repentance and apparent conversion. In the years of his restoration
as king of Judah he undid all the evil of his earlier reign, a fact which
would suggest that the fate about to overtake Judah was not literally for the
evil done by Manasseh, but for their greater offense in having duplicated his
sins, but without duplicating also his genuine repentance.
As Manasseh had been the son
of a good father, Hezekiah, so was Judah the son of a better: God Himself.
15:5. “For who
shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall
go aside to ask how thou doest?”
No one can sin against God
without injuring himself, the terrible nature of that injury being revealed in
the ultimate end of the man who dies unrepentant, passing thereby from time
into eternal torment. Israel had sinned very grievously, and was now about to
die, with no one to pity her, or regret her demise, or even to care what
happened to her.
In the final analysis the
only thing that matters is our relationship with God, for if that isn’t right
nothing else can be either. His favor is to be desired above all else, for
unlike the brief relationships of earth, that with Him endures for ever.
15:6. “Thou hast
forsaken me saith the Lord, thou art gone backward; therefore will I stretch
out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.”
Foolish Judah had forsaken
her only Friend, and having tired of walking with Him, had reverted to her
former evil ways, and had thus destroyed herself. The hand that had been
stretched out to deliver her from Egypt, that had brought her into the
enjoyment of Canaan’s milk and honey, was now stretched out to destroy her!
“I am weary with repenting”
is translated by Taylor, “I am tired of always giving you another chance.”
God’s patience is great but not infinite, and he who exhausts it by continuing
in sin and refusing to repent, inevitably makes himself the object of God’s
destroying anger. Judah had been guilty of that very folly, and so has
Christendom. She too will be destroyed in the Great Tribulation.
15:7. “And I
will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of
children, I will destroy this people, since they return not from their ways.”
The metaphor used here is
based on the winnowing or separating activity of the threshing floor, where
after the threshing is finished, the grain is thrown up into the air where the
worthless light chaff is blown away by the wind, while the heavier grain drops
back on to the threshing floor. So was God about to winnow guilty Judah, she
by her evil deeds, of which she refused to repent, having made herself as
worthless as chaff in His sight.
Since one’s life is
perpetuated in the lives of his children, their being bereaved of children is
simply another of saying that their lives were going to be cut off. God was
about to destroy them because of their refusal to abandon their evil ways and
return to Him.
widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon
them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused
him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.”
The coming slaughter is
graphically depicted in the phenomenal number of women who would be widowed,
and bereft, not only of husbands, but also of their sons; and the eager
ferocity of the invaders is portrayed in that they would continue to kill and
plunder even in the noonday heat when men usually rested. The latter part of
the verse may be paraphrased, “I will cause the enemy to fall upon the city
suddenly, causing anguish and terror.”
“... the mother of the young
men” is taken by some to be Jerusalem.
15:9. “She that
hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone
down while it was yet day; she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the
residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the
“Seven” is used here as a
synonym for “many sons.” Such women would sit in hopeless anguish and
despair, their own lives having been virtually cut off in the death of their
sons through whom their own lives would normally have been perpetuated. “...
she hath given up the ghost;” doesn’t mean that the woman was literally dead,
but that she might as well be; ”her sun is gone down while it was yet day”
meaning that while she might have been relatively young, in the midst of her
days, i.e., middle aged, the cutting off of her sons rendered impossible the
perpetuation of her life through them, so that for all practical purposes she
was dead. Her being “ashamed and confounded (disgraced)” is related to the
fact that it was considered a disgrace for a women to have no children.
In addition to the virtual
death of those bereft of their children, there would be the actual death of
the others: they would be slain by the enemy.
15:10. “Woe is
me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention
in the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on
usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.”
The speaker here is Jeremiah
expressing bitter regret that his position as Jehovah’s spokesman had caused
him to be hated by the very people whose welfare he sought. Taylor has
translated the second sentence of this verse, “I am neither a creditor soon to
foreclose nor a debtor refusing to pay - yet they all curse me.” Such was the
perversity of the people that they hated him simply because he spoke the truth
when he warned them that they were doomed to destruction. And so is it
still. He who faithfully declares God’s word, and warns men of coming
judgment, is universally hated, but he is in good company, for it was for the
same reason that the Lord Himself was hated and crucified.
15:11. “The Lord
said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy
to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.”
The Lord responded by
assuring His discouraged servant of His protection and care, “it shall be well
with thy remnant” meaning literally, “it shall be well when I set thee free,”
i.e., when the foretold destruction would come, freeing him, i.e., ending his
ministry, validating his words, and vindicating him before all his enemies.
While the Babylonians would
be merciless to all the rebels of Judah, God would put it into the heart of
Nebuchadnezzar to be kind to His faithful prophet; nor did His promise fail:
Jeremiah was well treated, being given the choice of going to Babylon
to be courteously treated, or of remaining with the remnant left in Judah, see
No man should fear to be
faithful to God, for the reward of that faithfulness is assured, if not here
on earth, certainly in heaven.
iron break the northern iron and the steel?”
Other translators have
rendered this, “Am I of iron to withstand them (the Babylonians)?” Moffatt;
“Can a man break bars of northern (Babylonian) iron or bronze?” Taylor.
It is generally understood that this question was asked by Jeremiah, the
implication seeming to be that he could see no way whereby he himself could
induce the Babylonians to treat him differently from the rest of the people.
substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that
for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.”
The ambiguity of the KJ
translation is removed by the Amplified rendering, “Your [nation’s]
substance and your treasures will I give as spoil without price, and that for
all your sins, even in all your territory.” It was all the substance and
treasures of Judah that would be given to the Babylonians, because of all her
15:14. “And I
will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not,
for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.”
God continues to address His
words to rebellious unrepentant Judah. She would be carried into slavery by
her enemies the Babylonians, because her failure to repent of her many sins in
God’s time had carried her beyond His mercy, and had made her the object of
his fierce wrath which He likens to a fire that would destroy her.
15:15. “O Lord,
thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors;
take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered
The speaker is Jeremiah
pleading with God to save him from the murderous hatred of his own countrymen,
and reminding God that it was the faithful deliverance of His word that had
provoked their hatred.
“... in thy longsuffering.”
Jeremiah prayed that God’s patience with Judah might not result in their being
allowed to execute their desire to kill him.
words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and
rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”
His plea continues with the
reminder that he had gladly and eagerly received all God’s words, those words
filling his heart with joy, his additional pleasure lying in the fact that he
was owned by God as one of His own.
Inasmuch as eating is
synonymous with satisfaction, the thought expressed here may be that the
prophet found complete satisfaction in God’s Word.
15:17. “I sat
not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy
hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.”
The prophet never
participated in the activities of those who mocked God and engaged in feasting
and revelry. He sat alone under God’s hand, i.e., obedient to God’s will,
filled with the same anger as that felt by God because of the wickedness of
It would be well if all
God’s people had the same attitude, but the sad truth is that many of them
have as their close friends those who are God’s enemies. They know little of
sitting alone under His hand in prayer or meditation or the study of His Word,
nor are they concerned, much less angry, at the defiance of God demonstrated
in the wicked activity of a world that has made itself the object of His
15:18. “Why is
my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt
thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?
The prophet continues to
complain that his pain is ceaseless, like that of an incurable wound; and
unbelievable as it sounds, he even accuses God of being untrustworthy, like a
winter brook that dries up in the heat of summer when the water is needed
most. His fear and distress resulting from the murderous hatred by which he
was surrounded because of his faithful delivery of the message God had given
him, he likened to the distress of a man dying of thirst in
unbearable summer heat, who coming to what in winter had been a brook, finds
only the dried up bed. In this dramatic language he portrayed himself as
having been abandoned in his greatest hour of need, by the God he thought he
could depend on.
When adversity overwhelms
us, and it seems that God doesn’t care, that He has abandoned us, the remedy
is to remember that every circumstance of life is ordered or permitted by Him,
and is for His glory and our ultimate blessing, as it is written, His will is
“good, and acceptable, and perfect,” Ro 12:2, and “all things work together
for good to those who love God,” Ro 8:28.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again,
and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the
vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not
thou unto them.”
“If thou return” implies
departure on Jeremiah’s part, the prophet’s complaint being a further evidence
of departure, for no man walking in harmony with God would ever use such
language. The evidence of an obedient walk in the midst of every seeming
adversity, is revealed in the words of the Lord Himself in Gethsemane, “Not my
will, but thine, be done,” Lk 22:42.
But “If thou return” implies
also willingness on God’s part to take back His errant servant, and restore
him to his former place of honor as His spokesman.
“... if thou take forth the
precious from the vile,” is translated also, “If you utter what is precious,
and not what is worthless,” Revised Standard Version. What Jeremiah
had been saying was “vile” for it impugned God’s character; whereas the
warnings he had formerly proclaimed faithfully were precious, for they were
God’s words, the fulfillment of which would confirm His righteous character,
and bring Him glory. But they would do more: they would also vindicate God’s
servant and bring him glory which would far outweigh all the shame he had
incurred by being God’s faithful messenger.
Every servant of God - and
every believer is such a servant - would do well to take this lesson to
heart. Whatever shame and mockery we may have to endure for His sake here on
earth will be abundantly recompensed by a corresponding measure of eternal
glory, our vindication being announced by the Lord Himself in His approving,
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” Mt 25:21.
“... let them return unto
thee; but return not thou unto them,” is translated by Moffat, “Let
other men come over to your side, but go not over to join them,”; and by
Taylor, “You are to influence them, not let them influence you!”
15:20. “And I
will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall: and they shall fight
against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to
save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.”
God would make His servant
like an impregnable wall of bronze that would render him impervious to every
effort on the part of the people to harm him, for they would be fighting
against Jehovah, not just against His servant. Every obedient servant enjoys
the same protection, as it is written, “If God be for us, who can be against
us?” Ro 8:31.
15:21. “And I
will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked (evil men), and I will redeem
thee out of the hand of the terrible.”
God would not only deliver
His servant out of the hand of the wicked (evil men), i.e., out of the hand of
the men of Judah, but also from “the terrible,” i.e., the cruel, ruthless,
violent Babylonians. None can harm those whom God protects! It is necessary
to note, however, that His protection doesn’t always necessarily include
deliverance from physical death. Some of His choicest servants have died
violent, terrible deaths, but we have to remember that death simply transports
the believer from earth to eternal joy and bliss in heaven, as Paul declared,
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain ... for I am in a strait
between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far
better,” Php 1:21-23, and again, “... while we are at home in the body, we are
absent from the Lord ... we are confident ... and willing rather to be absent
from the body, and to be present with the Lord,” 2 Cor 5:6-8.