Jeremiah Chapter 6

Jun 22nd, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 6

Jer. 6:1     O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of

Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Beth-haccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.

Chapter 6 ties in with chapter 5.  In centering his comments on the capital, Jeremiah included the Benjaminites in this prophecy as sharing the same guilt as Judah, which was an area almost as large as the territory of the ten tribes.  The tribes of Benjamin and Judah both flanked Jerusalem, but Benjamin had a greater influence over the city.  (The city was supposed to be neutral, but this administrative influence existed.)

“O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem.”  Jeremiah advised the children of Benjamin to flee, for when the large host came down from Babylon, the chief prize would be the capture of the capital.  Therefore, Nebuchadnezzar and his host would concentrate their energy on destroying Jerusalem.

At that time, when the Jews would actually see the enemy coming, fear would take hold of them.

They would then assemble as families to flee out of the city.

“Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Beth-haccerem.”  Tekoa and Beth-haccerem were town on the hills south of Jerusalem that were visible to the inhabitants of the city.  (Tekoa was six miles southeast of Bethlehem.)  The “sign” was a “signal”; hence a signal fire, which was comparable to Indian smoke signals, was to be given on the top of these hills.  Warnings were also to be proclaimed in Dan, the northernmost point in Israel, and from Mount Ephraim in the middle of the nation (Jer. 4:15).  Sentinels were to be placed because evil was coming from the north(east).  The people were being advised to flee for their lives.

We have a suspicion that Tekoa is a conical hill south of Jerusalem toward Hebron now known as the Herodian hill.  It is bare except for a citadel on the top.  Of course Herod did not come along until long after the Book of Jeremiah was written, so we think the original name was obscured by a more modern name.  The same is true of Beth-haccerem.

“For evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.”  Jeremiah was envisioning that which had not yet taken place.  The scene was so vivid in his mind that he dramatized it with words, and he was excited, being under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  With power and strength, he would have looked toward the south as he instructed the people of Judah to blow the trumpet and flee out of Jerusalem.  Then he would have turned around and looked toward the north as he said, “An enemy is coming and great destruction.”  His actions, accompanied with powerful words, attracted attention.  As more and more people heard, they, in turn, spoke to others.  Thus Jeremiah’s actions helped to circulate his message outside of just the immediate hearers and, accordingly, advertise it to the two-tribe kingdom.

In the past, we gave little discourse on the format of the early chapters of Jeremiah.  Some of the prophecies happened during the reign of King Josiah.  Years later, when Jeremiah wrote this summary of what he dad done back there, his messages were still apropos, for the impending destruction was yet to come from Babylon.  He envisioned the situation as if the destruction were imminent.  In other words, he demonstrated a future event as if it were already a reality, using the information supplied by God to instruct the people of Judah.

Q: Since the enemy was coming from the north, why did the Lord select two cities (Tekoa and Beth-haccerem) that were south of Jerusalem?

A: The people in Tekoa and Beth-haccerem would look to the north and see the enemy coming, whereas the inhabitants of Jerusalem would be unaware.  Those of Tekoa and Beth-haccerem knew that smoke signals were to be sent only when an enemy was coming.

For the inhabitants of Jerusalem to obey Jeremiah’s advice to flee would require faith and a struggle against the desires of the flesh to stay and keep their means of earning a livelihood.  The prophet’s message was thoroughly unpopular.

Jer. 6:2     I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.

How does verse 2 relate to verses 1 and 3?  Jeremiah often used the term “daughter of Zion” for Jerusalem, and here he likened the capital to a beautiful and delicate woman.  “Delicate” suggests weakness.  Just as Ezekiel warned that the people will seem to be safe but that their “cattle and goods” will become a booty to Gog, so Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day, just prior to 606 BC, was a desirable booty for King Nebuchadnezzar, especially since the city was weak and unable to defend itself (Ezek. 38:11,12).

Not only were the people of Jerusalem soft, self-indulgent, and satisfied with conditions, but also they thought that God would never allow His Temple to be destroyed.  Thus they were so unprepared for the brutality of war that they were like a “comely and delicate woman,” who is more interested in cosmetics and beautifying herself than in getting ready for war.  Jeremiah used sarcasm here.  He was saying that of all places, the capital, the information center of the two tribes, should be prepared.

Jer. 6:3     The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.

Jeremiah prophesied that the invading armies, like shepherds with “flocks” of men, would encircle Jerusalem and take booty; that is, there would be a siege, and God would not defend the city.  Without His help, which the people of Judah would get only if they hearkened to Jeremiah’s advice, they were truly defenseless.

Since Jerusalem was naturally fortified, the siege lasted a long time.  From a military standpoint, the north was the only weak point.  Therefore, the enemy simply surrounded the city and fed off the land and environs of Jerusalem.  Other Scriptures tell that the Babylonians entered local houses and plundered goods and raped the women.  Babies, particularly the males, were slain.  In other words, this time the objective of Nebuchadnezzar was to utterly destroy Jerusalem.

The plundering took place in a leisurely fashion because the Babylonians wanted to smother Jerusalem.  Jews inside the city were hungry, and not knowing what to do, they experienced confusion, fear, and tumult.  Jeremiah had told them in advance that if they repented, God would be with them, the enemy would be stayed, and these things would not happen.  But the people would not listen.

Later, way down the road, when the people passed the point of no return, Jeremiah’s message changed from “repent” to “submit.”  He then told the people not to fight but to go out and surrender.  They were to go peacefully to Babylon and build houses, for they would be there for 70 years.  But at this earlier date, Jeremiah was saying, “If you repent now, the threat from the north will be removed entirely, and God will be with you.”  However, the people’s attitude, encouraged by the false prophets, was, “God is already with us.  There will be peace.”

Jer. 6:4     Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon.  Woe unto us! for the  day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.

Speaking through Jeremiah, God was telling the Chaldean army to “prepare” for war.  The enemy would respond, “Arise, and let us go up at noon.”  Back in Judah, the people would say, “Woe unto us! for the daylight is fading, and the shadows of evening lengthen.”  In other words, the enemy would attack at night.  The prophet was like a narrator, envisioning this scene of the future and making it as dramatic as possible.

Jer. 6:5     Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.

At night, the enemy would pull the siege towers up to the city walls and attack.  The enemy would say, “Let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.”  Nebuchadnezzar’s armies would let nothing distract them.  They were saying, “We will not deviate from our initial intent to destroy Jerusalem.  Let us concentrate our energies and get this over with, even if the battle goes into the evening hours.”  Usually armies rested and regrouped at night, but this attack would be relentless, coming night and day in the form of a ferocious siege.  The earlier reference to a lion, a wolf, and a leopard also shows the night aspect of the attack (Jer. 5:6).  The term “palaces” referred to the Temple and ornate residences and buildings.  All would be burned and destroyed.

It was as if God were encouraging the attackers.  In directing the warfare, He was on the side of the enemy.  The antitype is the Lord’s Great Army, who will speak a hard language and plunder and destroy Christendom (Joel 2:11).

Incidentally, Isaiah spoke of the restoration of Jerusalem and Israel, whereas Jeremiah was speaking of the destruction, saying that the only survivors would flee from the city and submit to the enemy.

Jer. 6:6     For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount   against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.

Jeremiah continued the dramatization, telling the enemy what to do: “Prepare for war, set a siege, plunder the land, attack at night.”  In trying to stir up the nation, he used a form of sarcasm.  Now he added another instruction: “Hew ye down trees.”  The land was denuded not only of agricultural produce and wealth but also of trees.  The enemy took their time while they prepared for a sudden, concentrated assault.  Deforestation was taking place for an initial attack on the city with wooden siege towers and battering rams to flatten the city gates.  In other words, this work was preparatory for the coming assault.

Jeremiah’s dramatization took perhaps a half hour.  First, he acted out the preparation.  The sudden attack followed.  For the prophet to do this enactment, God had to supply all the information.  Usually the prophets heard a voice in their inner ear, telling them what to do, but in this case, the Lord may have given Jeremiah an audiovisual representation.  Having seen this with his own eyes, the prophet was struck with such horror over what would happen to the Holy City that his subsequent dramatization and message were very effectively.  He saw the siege towers being constructed and the battering rams being prepared, and he heard the Babylonian forces talking and engaged in teamwork.  Even though a mixed company came down from Babylon, they were organized in their hatred of the common enemy, Judah.

Although Jeremiah warned about the trouble in advance, giving many details, the people chose to listen to the false prophets, who spoke peace.  The city, being “wholly [given to] oppression,” was not amenable to change.

As a loner, Jeremiah was one individual delivering this powerful message.  The Lord empowered him with a gifted ability to appeal to the people, but except for a handful of individuals, they were unregenerate.  Self-indulgence was a way of life for the people.

Jer. 6:7     As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence   and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.

Jerusalem was internally wicked. A spring us usually desirable for continuously spreading blessing and benefaction, but instead Jerusalem was like an abominable, ever-flowing spring of evil and wickedness.  Bad water was continually being emitted.  Moreover, “grief and wounds” (running sores) were continuous.  In other words, the disease, or wickedness, was not skin-deep but was terminal and hopeless.  Hence destruction was in order.

What came out of Jerusalem, the “fountain,” looked and flowed like water, but it smelled like sewage.  Corruption came forth.  “Violence and spoil is heard in her.”  Jeremiah may have heard screams of violence as, for instance, when priests deprived widows of goods and property.  “Before me continually is grief and wounds.”  The sobbing, the crying, could be heard.  With regard to the “wounds,” the morally sick people were filled with infection.

No wonder God had to strengthen Jeremiah to give such messages and to make him tougher than the people!  The messages were so powerful that they countermanded the people’s enmity toward him.  With God’s help, Jeremiah was not afraid.  Many do not speak unpopular truths because they fear what will happen to them.  Their mouths are stopped because they fear loss of property, goods, life, reputation, etc.  Therefore, when the people rose up against Jeremiah as a prophet, his words had to be dynamic.  Later they called him a traitor to the nation.

Jer. 6:8     Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee  desolate, a land not inhabited.

Here was the emotional side of Jeremiah.  First, he dramatized the horror, and then he appealed to them like a father.  “Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee.”  In his enactment, Jeremiah was a mouthpiece for God.

The message continued, “Be instructed, or else God will give you up to destruction and death.  He will make you desolate, a land not inhabited.”  There was still opportunity for the people to repent, but there would come a point of no return.  The same is true with us.  If we depart from the Lord, He will do things to try to wake us up to the error of our way, but if we do not heed the providences, there will come a time when He gives up on us.

With nominal Christians, God sometimes grants opportunity to make progress.  If they fail to develop, they will not be able to say at a later date, “If only I had known.”  Likewise, Judah could not say, “We did not know.”  Jeremiah faithfully discharged his responsibility to warn.  God said, “My prophets have risen up day after day, warning, warning, warning,” but the people had dull ears.

If we spoke these words, we would be accused of being anti-Semitic.  Martin Luther was accused of anti-Semitism, but we do not view him in that light.  As a student of Latin, we read his works and did not get that impression.  As a Christian trying to edify his hearers, Luther talked about the past history of Israel.  Jeremiah’s writings have a value in instructing Christians of the distinction between right and wrong.

Jer. 6:9     Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel  as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grape gatherer into the baskets.

Gleaning is done after the major harvest, when workers go through the vineyard, taking clusters of grapes.  What is missed initially or what grows larger subsequently is picked in the gleaning, which is like a second harvest.  Stated another way, the gleaning is a different phase of the harvest when what is left is picked.  Jeremiah envisioned that after the enemy destroyed the city and killed the people, and others died from hunger and for various reasons, the few who were left would be like grapes being put in baskets during the gleaning period.  In the major harvest, some clusters are so large that one cluster can fill a basket.  They grow almost like banana bunches, with several clusters together.  Jeremiah was saying that the enemy would go through the desolated city and take the various individuals comprised the “remnant.”

Jeremiah would have dramatized this event, going through a vineyard looking for grapes in the gleaning harvest.  The time was getting closer to when individuals would be taken captive to Babylon.

Incidentally, unless there was obedience, even the remnant of vinedressers left in Judah after Nebuchadnezzar’s attack would be killed–and that is what happened in a second attack.  The vine of wrath ripened even further in iniquity.

Jer. 6:10     To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear  is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

Jeremiah was frustrated: “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear?…behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.”  The ‘word of the LORD’ was not a “delight” to the people of Judah, who would not listen.  Jeremiah was speaking in broad terms, for some individuals were rescued–but very, very few.

Jer. 6:11     Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.

Nevertheless, Jeremiah felt the matter of speaking out to be urgent–he could not hold it back! He would pour out the message (“the fury of the LORD”) on different classes and age groups: (1) children (not babies) “in the street” (RSV), (2) teenagers, (3) younger marrieds, and (4) older (mature) men and women.  All would be capable of understanding if they chose to listen. The “aged” ones, who were experienced and should have listened, incurred the most responsibility.

Especially in his earlier years, Jeremiah mixed what the Lord said and what he himself said.  Therefore, it is a little difficult sometimes, except on the basis of context and reasoning, to determine who is saying what or who is being addressed.  The reason for this problem is that when he prophesied during the reign of King Josiah.  Jeremiah wrote down messages he had previously declared in the name of the Lord, and in writing from a historical standpoint, he brought himself into many of these matters.  Hence we have to carefully sort out the messages.  This writing was done during the reign of Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah’s saying, “I am weary with holding in,” reminds us of Jeremiah 20:9, “I will not make mention of him [God], nor speak any more in his name.  But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”  The Lord’s message had been shut up in his bones, and now he would let it out to whomever it pertained.

“For even the husband with the wife shall be taken.”  This was a reference to the impending captivity in 606 BC.  Jeremiah was speaking during the reign of Jehoiakim, but there were at least two earlier small captivities, which are described as the taking of hostages.  The slaying of the populace was not mentioned until the 606 BC captivity, at which time many were killed, many starved to death, the city was leveled, the Temple was destroyed, and the balance of survivors was taken to Babylon.  Thus there was a radical difference with the 606 BC captivity, when Zedekiah, the last king of Israel, was removed.

Jer. 6:12     And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord.

In 606 BC, the invaders would despoil the land, plunder valuables in the houses, and make slaves of the people.  Stabilized society in Judah and Benjamin would end.  The houses were not only looted but also destroyed.  At that time, there would be wholesale destruction with an indiscriminate rendering of wrath from the Lord.  The implication is that there would be no distinctions of mercy.

Comment: 2 Kings 21:12,13 also refers to 606 BC.  “I [the LORD God of Israel] am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.  And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.”

Reply: Yes, that was a prophecy of the same time period.

Judah was a big area, almost as large as the ten-tribe kingdom to the north.  It included thousands of villages, and of course much of Judah was desert.  The ten tribes were taken into captivity between the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah.  A foreign element was then brought into that territory.  However, in 606 BC, the strangers occupying the houses in northern Israel, as well as the home-born Israelites of Judah, were taken into captivity, and the land was left completely desolate except for a few vinedressers temporarily.  We get this history by piecing together bits of information in various historical accounts in the Old Testament.

Jer. 6:13     For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

What a dark and grim appraisal of the situation!  Verse 13 is a summary of the degree of responsibility in all classes (from the youngest to the older ones).  The prophets and the priests could have been of various ages, but their responsibility was great because of their office.  With the exception of a very few individuals, everyone dealt falsely.  Therefore, from a broad-brush standpoint, the two-tribe kingdom was wholly corrupt.

Comment: Deuteronomy 28:15-68 describes the long list of “curses” that would come on Israel for disobedience.

Reply: Yes, that pertinent listing reiterates what Moses said in Leviticus 26:14-39.  In the Book of Deuteronomy, at age 120, Moses gave his last speech, which lasted for hours.  Just before he went up into Mount Pisgah, he wrapped up his whole life’s ministry and what he had been trying to teach Israel (Deut. 34:1,5).

Jer. 6:14     They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

“They [the false prophets and priests] have healed also the hurt…of my people slightly.”  Their saying, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace was like putting a Band-Aid on an incurable cancer.

The prophets and the priests spoke falsely of peace.  The NIV has, “They dress the would of my people as though it were not serious.”  (The supplied words “of the daughter” in the King James are incorrect).  In contrast, the true message of Jeremiah was that punishment and retribution would come.

A repetition of these words in Jeremiah 8:11 shows of their significance.  Ezekiel 13:1-16, which is directed against the lying prophets, gives a similar message.  The false prophets built a (figurative) wall to give Israel a sense of security; that is, they prophesied peace and said God would defend the nation.  The wall was defective and weak, for it was built of untempered mortar, but whitewash (paint mixed with water) made it look good.

The same false sense of security occurred when the Ark of the Covenant was taken into battle (1 Sam. 4:3-11).  In both cases, the false prophets thought the Lord was with them.  Ezekiel appropriately likened them to “foxes”–sneaky animals that nibble, dart in and out, and are sensitive to danger (Ezek. 13:4).  And what did the false prophets do?  They were cowards who practiced backbiting and did nothing constructive.  Instead of being willing to sacrifice their own lives to inform the people of their responsibilities, the false prophets refused to confront the enemy head-on and man the gaps in the hedge.

In Ezekiel 13:17-23, the prophet was told to set his face against the “daughters” who prophesied out of their own imagination.  At the time of the Exodus, Miriam was a “daughter,” a prophetess.  (A prophet or prophetess is one who speaks in the name of the Lord).  As a female prophet, she was a helper of Moses and Aaron.  Her singing was prophet.  Just as there was a school of the prophets, so there was a school of the prophetesses.  Deborah, who assisted Barak, was a prophetess, as was Huldah in Jeremiah’s day.  Hence the Lord occasionally used women in a public role–that is, if a capable man was not available.  Anna was a prophetess in the New Testament, and Philip the evangelist had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8,9).  The service of a prophetess was not prolonged teaching but the foretelling of future events.

Ezekiel pointed out the evil of the whole nation but ended up with the false prophets and prophetesses.  A counterpart of sewing “pillows to all armholes” occurs in the nominal system, for scapulars are made and sold for money.  Back there women used superstitious magic charms made out of wood, metal, etc., and sewed them into sacks to make money.  In assisting the false prophets and promoting their false ideas with these wrong practices, the prophetesses were encouraging the people that ll would be well and peaceful, but the nation was afflicted with a deadly cancer and could not be cured.

Jeremiah directed his remarks especially to Jerusalem.  The city would be leveled because of years and years of not heeding the Lord’s advice.  Jeremiah in Judah and Ezekiel in Babylon gave the same message.

The false prophets dressed the wounds of the people only “slightly” and were not ashamed of saying, “Peace, peace,” when the message was false.  Two besiegings of Jerusalem had already occurred, and although Jeremiah said the third attack would be devastating if they did not repent, the people thought they would be safe because they had survived the previous attacks.  However, the people preferred the message of the false prophets and thus ignored the impending disaster, feeling a false sense of security–just as in the Belshazzar’s feast picture.  In the antitype, the Roman Catholic Church, Jezebel, falsely calls herself a prophetess.  The cry of “peace” in the near future will be followed by “sudden destruction” (1 Thes. 5:3).  The hour of power will be the future “wall” of security, bringing a seeming peace for a while (Rev. 17:12).

“Brotherly unity” is a dangerous slogan.  Unity is the wall, but it will be destroyed utterly.  Those who build it with their false declarations will be exposed and killed.  In the type, the names of the false prophets were erased from the land of Israel, meaning they died in the trouble.  In the antitype, the matter is more serious.  A false message of peace will be given by the nominal religious leaders, the “they” class of false, pretending Christians.  Stated another say, the “they” class are an element of professed Christians who assume a leading role of instruction.  Since the leaders are more responsible, their names will be erased, in addition to their suffering defeat, in that they will not get a future inheritance in the land, as it were.  To speak and claim a “thus saith the LORD” incurs great responsibility.  Hear what Ezekiel said on behalf of Almighty God: “And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God” (Ezek. 13:9).

It is helpful to compare Jeremiah 6:24, which speaks of the fear of the coming destruction, with 1 Thessalonians 5:3, which emphasizes the speed, the suddenness, of the coming destruction.  “We have heard the fame [report(s)–see RSV and NIV] thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail” (Jer. 6:24).  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail [the birth pang (singular)] upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” ( 1 Thess 5:3).  Jeremiah 6:24 talks of the anxiety and emotion, which will be of longer duration, whereas 1 Thessalonians 5:3 says the destruction will come suddenly.  When Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall, fear overcame King Belshazzar.  Prior to that, the king had boasted in seeming safety and confidence, mocking the Lord’s vessels in drunkenness.  But when Daniel spoke directly to the king about the meaning of the handwriting, the words struck home.  The king realized that Daniel meant business and that the judgment was irrevocable.  Thus, in the near future, the feet members will be asked by the “king” the meaning of transpiring events.  The interpretation of the handwriting constitutes the use of the penny (Daniel 5; Matt. 20:1-16).  At that time, the false groups (the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet) will be united and flushed with temporary victory  (Rev. 17:12).

When the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet, in union, tell the people to put a lid, or clamp, on the anarchistic condition, they will feel successful for a little while.  The three will say, “In the interest of the commonwealth and the public, we are temporarily suppressing the rights of man during this troublesome period.”  But their real nature will be disclosed when anyone differs with them and their true character is seen.

A psychological factor is involved.  When success comes in numbers, the motives of a little group (the feet members) will be impugned by the powers that be.  Thinking the majority are in harmony with the Word of God, they will find the stand of the feet members disturbing.  In the type, instead of just quietly killing the three Hebrews, Nebuchadnezzar tried to force them to recant and join the millions.  When the situation occurs in the antitype, a safeguard will be to ask, “What will God think?”–not “What will the brethren think?”

The duplication in Scripture about the coming false “peace” message in Christendom indicates the severity of the trial.  Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, 1 Thessalonians, and other Scriptures provide important details about the future.

Q: Will natural Israel also have a false sense of security?

A: Yes.  Because of great success in warfare that eliminates the Arab threat of their surrounding neighbors, the Israelis will feel so wonderful during this false peace that they will see no need for walled villages (Ezek. 38:11).  They will not realize that Jacob’s Trouble is yet to come, and the last things they will want to hear is that another holocaust is coming.

Jer. 6:15     Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

For individuals who here Jeremiah’s words, the test was whether to heed them or to ignore them as everyone else was doing, as well as mocking and persecuting him.  The handful who were righteously inclined admitted their guilt and repented.  The people should have blushed, been ashamed, repented, and said, “Tell us more.  What should we do?:” With John the Baptist, the soldiers and others properly asked what they should do in view of the coming time of trouble.  John gave them common-sense advice, which in effect was, “Do not get in the way of the Lord’s steamroller.  Stay out of the way, and straighten out your own affairs.  Do not oppress your neighbor.”  However, his real message was to the godly element.

In the antitype at the end of the age, there will be a ministry along this line too.  The people may not want to consecrate, but they will seek advice.  The Lord’s people should be able to give an appropriate response.

The general condition in Jeremiah’s day was deplorable.  “At the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.”  Cumulative guilt meant irrevocable judgment.

Jer. 6:16     Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.  But they said, We will not walk therein.

Through Jeremiah, God gave advice on what to do, but the people said “We are not interested in the advice.  We will not walk therein.”  Those who heard the prophet pronounce this message of condemnation were told to seek advice and to ask for the “old paths” (or ways, i.e., for the truth).  Their response should have been, “How can we amend our ways?  Yes, we are guilty of these things, so please tell us what to do.  Give us some direction.  What should we do to get back to the old paths?”

Although addressed to natural Israel, the advice to “ask for the old paths” also applies to spiritual Israel.  Natural Israel was to seek the Law, and Christians are to heed Jesus’ example and the apostles’ teachings.  To obey is to “find rest for your souls.”  Natural Israel would have received God’s favor, temporal blessings, and the satisfaction of doing what was right.

Comment: Verse 16 is good advice for any of God’s people who have strayed from the way.  The Lord was giving a formula for returning.  “If you have lost your way, look for the old path, on which you originally started.  If you walk on it, you will get comfort and find rest.”  When one is out of the path, there is no rest or peace.

Reply: Moses drew a line for the sons of Levi and asked, “Who is on Jehovah’s side?”  When the Levites came over, Moses gave them instructions on hard things to do.  The principle was the same with Jeremiah, who said in effect, “If you want to follow the Lord’s advice, cross over and continue to ask.”  Later Jeremiah gave advice for which he was called a traitor; namely, “Submit to the enemy.  If you are willing prey, you will be taken captive and not be slain.  When you get to Babylon, build houses, for you will be there for 70 years.”  At the end of the gospel Age, the faithful Christian will likewise be considered a traitor.

Jer. 6:17     Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet.  But they said, We will not hearken.

God sets “watchmen” over His people; that is, He gave the prophets to natural Israel and the seven messengers to the Church.  There is a responsibility to “hearken to the sound of the trumpet,” the message for the hour.  When a pronouncement was to be made to the Israelites in Sinai, two silver trumpets, picturing the Old and New Testaments, were blown to assemble the people to hear the message (Num. 10:2).

The purpose of the trumpet was to sound an alarm, a warning, of impending trouble.  But the people were so confident that they were not ready to fight.  Feeling that Jeremiah’s talk of coming trouble was false, they did not heed the “watchman” and the alarm that he sounded.  The people’s attitude and continual refusal to hearken were discouraging for the prophet.

Jer. 6:18     Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.

Jer. 6:19     Here, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor bo my law, but rejected it.

“Hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation [Israel], what is among them.  Hear, O earth.”  God gave a warning to “earth,” society, the populace dwelling on the land, to hearken.

“Behold, I [God] will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their [evil] thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.”  God’s wrath was stirred up because of the people’s stubborn refusal to receive instruction.  They had the fruit of their own thinking and were enjoying the good life.  At this time, they did not fear Jeremiah and his message.  Retribution would come if they continued to harbor evil thoughts.

God could have destroyed Judah right away, but had He done so, the only ones who would have appreciated His justice would have been the holy angels, who were looking down.  The very fact God gave the people of Judah warnings showed His mercy and also His justice in using wrath on Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Jer. 6:20     To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.

The people did not listen to God’s instruction, yet they went through the ceremonies.  It is like a person’s going to the confessional but not changing his sinful conduct.  The religious services were performed perfunctorily with the feeling, “We have done our part.”

“Incense from Sheba” was imported and, therefore, costly.  Hence the frankincense was a sacrifice, but it was not acceptable because of a wrong heart condition.  Rather than pleasing the Lord, these freewill individual offerings were a stench.  Repugnant and hypocritical, they were not “sweet cane” in His nostrils.  Incidentally, this Sheba was probably in Saudi Arabia, and the inhabitants were called Sabeans.

Jer. 6:21     Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbor and his friend shall perish.

God said He would lay “stumbling blocks” before those who made unacceptable offerings.  The stumbling blocks were the true prophets whom God gave to the nation of Israel.  When the prophets were beaten and persecuted, the people incurred responsibility.  Fathers, sons, neighbors, and friends (all contemporaries) fell on Jeremiah, the stumbling block in this case.

To a certain extent, even the false prophets were stumbling blocks.  For example, when King Nebuchadnezzar was in a dilemma as to whom to destroy first–Ammon and Moab or Judah and Jerusalem–he used necromantic methods; that is, he cut open an animal and studied its liver, etc., looking for signs.  Every time he wanted to follow his emotions and go to Ammon and Moab, the sign indicated the opposite.  Finally, he acquiesced to the signs and went down to Jerusalem.  Subsequently he turned his attention to Ammon, Moab, and Lebanon.

God purposed that the great majority of the Jews would perish at that time.  However, as promised earlier, He would not make a full end of Judah–a small remnant would survive.

Jer. 6:22     Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.

A “great nation,” a people from the north–that is, Babylon, the primary power, plus auxiliary forces–would be raised up “from the sides of the earth” to conquer Judah.  Babylon is east of Jerusalem, but Nebuchadnezzar had to go north and then come down the Fertile Crescent.

Hence his army came from both the north and the east.  Although this event was still some years away, the pressure was ominous.

During the reign of Jehoiachin, Nebuchadnezzar had come down, but at that time, he took only a few captives.  Then, during the three-month reign of Jehoiachin, the king of Babylon came down a second time, again taking only a few captives.  Although he also removed vessels from the Temple, he did not destroy Jerusalem.  When Nebuchadnezzar came down the third time, the city and Temple were destroyed, and the people were massacred and died of starvation and pestilence.  It was as though the Lord, in His mercy, gave Judah opportunity to repent, but each respite between captivities did not effect much change.  Jeremiah was now warning of the threat pertaining to 606 BC, when the focus of destruction would be Jerusalem.

In the antitype, a great army will come upon Christendom.  A “great nation,” or element, will judge nominal spiritual Israel.  Babylon, a heathen power back there, represents a godless power in the future.  This is a general picture regarding the whole Christendom setup.  “North” indicates a judgment from God’s throne, and the Lord’s Great Army will be part of this element to come against Christendom (Joel 2:11).

Note: Some of the symbols are used differently in part of the Book of Jeremiah, for “Israel” represents nominal spiritual Israel, and “Babylon” pictures a godless heathen power.  Christendom will be destroyed by the Lord’s Great Army (Babylon).  In other words, the Assyrian in the Book of Isaiah is equivalent to Babylon in the Book of Jeremiah and Gog from the land of Magog in the Book of Ezekiel.  However, at the end of Jeremiah, “Babylon” reverts back to its usual symbolism.  The context determines who is who.

Jer. 6:23   They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.

The Babylonian army would be “cruel, and have no mercy” (see also Hab. 1:6-9).  They would come in roaring like the sea, yelling with bloodthirsty enthusiasm and terrifying the people of Judah.  (A roar by the charging offensive enemy has the effect of strengthening them and weakening the victim).  The Babylonian army would keep coming in and in and in, just like ocean waves.  In the antitype, the “sea” is a reference to the anarchistic masses.

This cruel enemy host would come down to butcher the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  Showing no mercy, they would slaughter women, babies, old men, etc., as well as the men of war.  Having come down twice before, the Babylonians were fed up, and the third time their purpose was to lay waste the land.

“They ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.”  Under the Law, Israel was forbidden to import horses (Deut. 17:16).  Therefore, when the people of Judah saw the thundering horses coming and heard the beat of their hooves and the men with bows and spears shouting, the scene was awesomely frightening.  Jeremiah was telling Judah in advance what would happen.  In other words, “Wake up!  Change your course, or this will happen to you.”  To be “set in array” shows that the horses and their riders were lined up with no spaces in between, coming in a phalanx as “men of war.”

Jer. 6:24     We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

“We have heard the fame thereof.”  What is different about verse 24 from the previous three verses, which were predictions from the Lord?  With the pronoun “we,” verse 24 is giving the people’s response of fear, whereas previously the focus of attention was on the enemy, the Lord’s information on the appearance of the enemy, and how the attack would come.  Now Jeremiah was predicting what the inhabitants of Jerusalem would say and the fear that would take hold of them.  When there is real fear, the first parts of the body to be affected are the hands and the knees, which become weak.  The body mechanism seems to fall apart.

Israel had heard of Babylon’s reputation, and particularly that of the fierce Chaldeans, for conquering and crushing those they attacked.  Thus there was the pain of anticipation as to what would happen–pain as of a woman in labor.  A recent documentary was on mummies that were found on one of the highest peaks of the Andes Mountains.  When a male child realized he was being prepared as a sacrifice to the supposed god of the mountain, he vomited and had diarrhea.  That is how the chile reacted to fear.  The expression of fear could even be seen on the mummy’s face.  Thus fear or any extreme emotional trauma affects the bowels, among other things.  Sometimes in our Christian walk, we get a small taste of fear with a corresponding reaction, so we can imagine what the people of Jerusalem experienced, for they knew that the presence of the Babylonian army meant a violent death was coming.

Jer. 6:25     Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.

At that time, it would be fruitless to “go…forth into the field” or to “walk by the way,” for the “sword of the enemy and fear” would be on every side.  Not only would the Babylonians come down in battle array, but also they would establish a cordon around the city so that no one could escape.

As it was in the 606 BC destruction, so it will be in the future Time of Trouble.  If city dwellers think they can run to the country for safety (and vice versa), they are wrong, for there will be no safety.  All segments of society will be affected, sellers and buyers alike.

Jer. 6:26     O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.

Verse 26 is a break in thought, although the same context and theme continue–about a visitation of trouble coming from the north, the enemy’s character, and the experience of the victims.  In the ongoing prophecy, a climactic point had come, with the northern invader not actually entering Jerusalem, the peripheral defense force having been penetrated.  In fact, it was almost as if the defeat had already occurred.  Jeremiah was speaking to the remnant that was saved fro captivity: “O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and …ashes: …[mourn] as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler [Babylon] shall suddenly come upon us.”  The anguish that would come upon the surviving remnant would be almost unbearable, as in the loss of an only son.

The “daughter of my people” was natural Israel back there and the nominal systems in our day.  The fact they would mourn as for an only son, with bitter lamentation, indicates that some of their choicest possessions would be taken, including children.  Moreover, the Holy Remnant, who survive Jacob’s Trouble, will also mourn as for an only son and as in the days of Josiah (Zech. 12:10,11).  However, the cause of their trauma will be the realization that Jesus truly was the Messiah.  That understanding will supersede any other experience and be the focus of the mourning.

Comment: Normally, the people just rubbed ashes into the hair, so Jeremiah’s instruction to “gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes” was more extreme.  The NIV and the RSV used the word “roll” instead of “wallow.”

Reply: In connection with an ordinary person’s death or loss, the women sometimes dusted their hair, their glory, with ashes.  But Jeremiah’s words were more traumatic.  The coming trouble of 606 BC was much more serious than just a particular person’s emotions; it was viewed as a national catastrophe.  Therefore, the whole body was to wallow in the ashes.

“O daughter of my people.”  In a talk given at the recent International Convention entitled “Our Heavenly Father’s Love,” several verses were used of which verse 26 was one, and it was given a different application, as follows.  “When we consider God’s love for Israel, even while He was punishing her, we should cherish God’s love for us, even during periods of chastening.  Listen to the parental sorrow of God for Israel in Jeremiah 6:26.”  Then the verse was quoted from the New Revised Standard Version.

It is important to realize that the original Revised Standard Version was good, but subsequent revisions allow for homosexuality and make no distinction between make and female gender.  Also, these revisions, which include the New King James Version and were done by a different batch of scholars, teach God’s love is so great that He forgives everybody.  They all have a strange view of love, and homosexuality comes into the picture with God’s supposed love and forgiveness.  Thus the New Revised Standard Version is translated as follows: “Thus says the LORD, O my poor people, put on sackcloth.”  In no way can “daughter” be accurately translated

as “poor,” even if different vowels are used.  As far as we know, no other version of the Bible has the word “poor” here.  “O daughter of my people” is the proper thought, so right away the NRSV contains a fudging.  Jeremiah was referring to the day of God’s vengeance in 606 BC, and the explanation is given that this is like a father spanking a child for its good, with love being very manifest.

And there is another point.  With the term “O daughter of my people,” Jeremiah is the speaker.  In fact, this expression is peculiar to him, and he was a very emotional person.  Just like the variance in temperament as exemplified in the jewels on the high priest’s breastplate, so there are different types of temperament.  Being emotional, Jeremiah needed to be steeled from his more natural proclivities, which were good to have but needed tempering and balancing.  God told Jeremiah, “I brought you up from the womb, and I am going to strengthen you to be my representative.  I will help you, for a mighty task is outlined before you”

When we look up the various places in the Book of Jeremiah where the term “O daughter of my people” is used, it is sometimes very difficult to see whether the pronoun “my” refers to God or to Jeremiah, so we will treat the repeated expression as we come to it in context.  At the present time, we just want to give a little idea of how this expression was peculiar to Jeremiah.  We all know some personalities who do or say certain things frequently as a characteristic, and that was the situation with Jeremiah, as will be seen in the following examples.

In many Bibles, the Book of Lamentations is called “The Lamentations of Jeremiah.”  Jeremiah talked constantly throughout the book, speaking about the “daughter of my people.”  Lamentations 2:11 reads, “Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people.”  Lamentations 3:48 has, “Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.”  Again Jeremiah was speaking about the “daughter of my people.”  Because we are cultured in a Western civilization, the expression sounds sort of strange to us.  We would be more inclined to just say “my people.”  In reading the Book of Jeremiah, most would conclude that God was speaking when this term was used, but the expression “my people” is used in various ways.

Comment: Two versed earlier (lam. 3:46), Jeremiah wrote, “All our enemies have opened their mouths against us,” so he was clearly still talking in verse 48.  That is true of Jeremiah 6:26 as well, which ends with, “The spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.”  Obviously, Jeremiah was including himself.

Reply: That is correct.  We are purposely not going into the context at this time, but if we do so at our leisure, Jeremiah will be seen as the speaker.

However, there are still other difficulties.  For one thing, we do not personally feel that God weeps with tears.  Oh, yes, He is very sensitive about His people, for if anyone speaks or does something against them, it is like putting a finger in His eye (Zech. 2:8).  Even though such experiences are necessary for the development of His children, who are the apple of His eye, He does not weep, for weeping indicates a principle; namely, if we knew the end from the beginning without any question whatsoever, we would not weep copiously, like “rivers of water” (Jer. 9:1; Lam. 1:16; 3:48).  To do so would indicate there was no hope.  Only God knows the end from the beginning, not even Jesus (Isa. 46:10).  God sees the end as though it is the present.  Only He has that capability.  What God will give to Jesus and the Church when they have the divine nature is His business, for they will be “in the family,” having the divine nature and immortality.  One can have intuitive sense in knowing what is current.  For instance, when Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees at his First Advent, he knew what was in their hearts.  But that intuition is a little different from the type of intuition that can see events and individuals a thousand years down the road.  Thus being sensitive and feeling joy and sorrow at certain experiences is one thing, but for God to weep with tears day and night does not make sense.

Lamentations 4:3,6,10 has, “Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness….For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her….The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.”  Jeremiah used this expression five times in Lamentations.

Comment: The next verse, Lamentations 4:11, proves that Jeremiah was speaking earlier.  “The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.”

Reply: We are trying to show that without question, Jeremiah used the expression “daughter of my people.”

Q: Was this a term of endearment?

A: Yes.  Jeremiah frequently used this term to express his empathy.  Similarly, the Apostle Paul characteristically said, “I would not, brethren, that ye be ignorant.”  Jesus often said, “Verily, verily.”  The Apostle John copied Jesus’ tender expression at the Memorial: “little children.”  He was so deeply impressed by Jesus’ last moments that the expression became seared in his memory.  The realization that Jeremiah used the term “daughter of my people” gives us a little better focus in relationship to God’s emotions.

Jer. 6:27     I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.

Jeremiah was the “tower” and the “fortress” in the midst of Israel, a bastion of strength, in that he stood up for the truth.  He faithfully declared what God instructed him to say.  If any were savable in Judah, his advice helped them know how to please god under that circumstance.  Of those who heard his instruction, very few listened.  The people should have realized they had sinned.

Jeremiah was a lone voice in the nation.  In addition to his being called a tower and a fortress, God likened him to a “defenced city” and an “iron pillar”: “For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land” (Jer. 1:18).  It was prophesied that the multitude would try to browbeat Jeremiah, but if he stood fast, God would make him STRONG.

God made Jeremiah a tower so that he would “know and try” the ways of the people; that is, by their refusing to hearken, he would see their unfitness to be spared the coming trouble.  Jeremiah was a volatile person–emotional and compassionate at times and angry at other times.  He could see beyond a doubt that the judgment was necessary.

The name Babylon means “house [or gate] of God,” but depending on the pronunciation and inflection of the voice, it can mean “confusion.”  Similarly, the words “tower” and “fortress” can be inflected to mean something else; that is, while Jeremiah was standing for truth and righteousness, God also used him with regard to the subject matter of verse 28.

Comment: The NIV reads, “I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways.”  The RSV has, “I have made you an assayer and tester among my people, that you may know and assay their ways.”

Reply: Basically the words mean “tower” and fortress,” but by the inflection of the voice, they can have other meanings.  The contest shows that Jeremiah was put there as an assayer, or refiner, of silver.

Jer. 6:28     They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.

The word “all” indicates the general condition of the populace; they were revolters, slanderers, and corrupters.  Those who would not hearken with like “brass and iron.”  The word “brazen” comes from “brass,” signifying that the people were so hardened with their own opinions in doing wrong that they were impervious to any instruction from God through the mouth of Jeremiah.  “Iron” indicates inflexibility.  In other words, the people were so corrupted by sin that they could not be reasoned with or persuaded.

In the good sense, when Jesus rules with a rod of iron in the Kingdom, he will not tolerate any insurrection.  As a dictator, he will not allow any debate as to the rights and merits of what he is doing.  He will reason with the sinner who is in a repentant mode but not with the stubborn sinner, which is quite different.  In Jeremiah’s day, the people were not given to reason.

Jer. 6:29     The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.

Jer. 6:30     Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

Ezekiel 22:18-22 reads, “Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.  As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.  Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.  As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.”

Spiritually speaking, “tin,” which is known for its noise, signifies that the people were shallow and empty-headed in their thinking and reasoning.  If a sheet of tin is walloped, the sound reverberates.  Thus the fool is a loud talker whose words lack substance.  He consumes time and the attention of others with trivia.  We have a saying, “Empty barrels make the loudest noises.”  Although the people made loud noises, they had tin ears; that is, they were dumb with regard to instruction.  There was no rationale; they could not put two and two together until the enemy arrived on the scene.  “Lead” indicates that one is not responsive because he is dense, dull of hearing, apathetic, and lethargic.

Ezekiel called brass, iron, tin, and lead the “dross of silver.”  When silver is mined, lead is most frequently mixed into the basic ore, but all of these materials are considered impurities.

A bellows fans the flame, providing oxygen so that the fire gets hotter.  If the village smith gets fatigued, the nose of the bellows dips into the fire.  Then, instead of supplying oxygen to increase the intensity of the heat, the bellows gets burned.  Verse 29 shows Jeremiah’s frustration at the lack of results.  In spite of all the energy he expended in heating the bellows, etc., he got nowhere, for the people were “reprobate silver.”  They could not be refined–they were valueless–regardless of how much they were heated.

“The lead is consumed of the fire.”  Lead and silver are often found together.  Lead serves a purpose because when silver is being refined with supplied oxygen, the lead has a lower melting point than silver.  Therefore, the intensity of the heat removes the dross.  When the lead melts with its crust, it generally takes the other impurities with it, leaving the silver.  The refiner keeps blowing on the silver to make it hotter.  As the silver becomes purer, the ideal is to get it to shine in the molten state so that the refiner can see the reflection of his face in it.  Lead is “consumed” in the sense that its composition changes and it loses its normal properties.  (Similarly, fire changes wood, paper, rags, etc., into ash).  The purpose of the lead is that it has an affinity for other impurities, but in the process, it seems to lose its power and is not effectual in the cleansing work.  The change in the lead results in a new compound that sticks to the silver.  Like a new substance, what is left is called “reprobate silver,” that is, a silver that cannot be refined because of the impurities that stick to it.  Reprobate silver corresponds to an incorrigible sinner–a sinner who cannot change his ways.

“The founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.”  The “founder” is the one who does the refining, but here he was not getting the desired results.  In other words, the wicked were not plucked away to leave behind pure silver.  Hence the silver was considered to be refuse, or reprobate silver, rejected by the Lord.  Incidentally, the world has condemned the Jews, calling them “reprobate silver,” as it were, down through the Gospel Age.

Now we can consider verse 27 again.  “I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.”  With the inflections, God was saying to Jeremiah, “I have made you like a refiner of silver.  You are my instrument and representative; you are the founder.  I have set you to speak my words, but they are not producing the desired results.”  Jeremiah was discouraged at the lack of results, but a faithful remnant girded themselves in sackcloth and wallowed in ashes.  Feeling his ministry was a miserable failure, Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentations.  But, actually, some were spared, even though the number was pitifully small (Jer. 52:28-30).

Comment: It seems to be a principle that in the history of the human race, when any of God’s true people are speaking, very few respond and discouragement can set in.

Reply: The principle will come to a climax.  Jesus asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth?”  (Luke 18:8).

When Jeremiah went into the city, he looked around in the open squares but could find no one who was faithful.  The few who were later found mourned privately.  Individuals were spared for a particular purpose.  One purpose of the earlier captivities was to provide a lineage for Messiah.  Hence Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Ezekiel, and Jeconiah were among the captives.  (Jeconiah was strongly reprimanded, but later God used him).  Jeremiah though he was a failure, but even in showing the unfitness of the people, his ministry had a purpose.

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