Jeremiah Chapter 8

Jun 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 8

Jer 8:1 At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:

Kings, princes, priests, prophets, and the inhabitants of Judah are listed. Their bones would be brought out of the grave “at that time.” Progression is shown in the strata of society, from top to bottom, from positions of civil and religious authority down to the common people.

Unlike Isaiah, Jeremiah reversed the pictures back and forth. Judah sometimes represented natural Israel and its future restoration, and sometimes it symbolized mystic Babylon, which will be utterly destroyed.

The Phrase “at that time” refers back to Jeremiah 7:34, the last verse of the previous chapter, when the voice of the bridegroom would be heard no more in Jerusalem and the land would be left desolate and without inhabitant. Those who attacked Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC literally brought the bones out of the graves. His general ordered that all the tombs of the prophets, etc., be emptied, and the bones were spread out for public display, along with the corpse of those who were in Jerusalem at the time of the besieging, so that the birds and the animals could feed upon them. The event was soon to occur, for Jeremiah was speaking about a decade in advance of the actual destruction.

Those of us who have gone to the tombs of the kings in Judah north of Calvary on Mount Moriah observed that not one bone remains. Although we did not search all of the tombs and recesses, the easily accessible ones are empty. Everyone of the kings prior to 606 BC. The Period of the Kings lasted for 513 years, and during that time, kings were buried when they died.

Jer 8:2  And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.

Verses 1 and 2 are a startling bit of history that is not recorded anywhere else. The Bible is a remarkable book that gives us an in-depth understanding of a considerable portion of history.

Prior to 606 BC, the Israelites, especially around Jerusalem in Tophet and the Valley of Hinnom, loved and worshipped the sun, the moon, and all the host of heaven. They openly practiced this false worship in the valley, copying the heathen nations. The worship went on for some time. As worshippers died, they were buried, from kings on down to the common people. In 606 BC, Nebuchadnezzar captured the city and emptied the tombs for treasure and also out of disdain and sacrilege, for he had not respect for the Israelites. The bones were dug up, spread out under “the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven” and searched for valuables. How ghoulish! Just as the Israelites had formerly spread out their arms to worship the heavens, so now their bones were spread out in retribution. Thus God used cynicism to show the sins of the current generation of Israelites. Moreover, the bones were not reburied, for no one could tell whose bones where whose. The tombs of the kings were desecrated at this time.

What did  the Babylonians accomplish? They destroyed the Temple, which was the glory of the whole earth, and also Jerusalem, which, from the standpoint of a natural fortification, was almost impregnable except from the north. And then they defiled the tombs of the prophets, kings, and others of this rebellious nation that resisted Babylon’s authority.

Jer 8:3  And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.

“Death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family.” Evil would ensue upon the survivors in the places where they ended up in captivity, and many would live in misery. Being despondent in their scattered condition and longing for the homeland, they would choose “death…rather than life”; that is, they would wish to die. Psalm 137:1-6 speaks of the mourners in exile. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in the Book of Lamentations, which follows the Book of Jeremiah and was written by the same prophet.

Of the survivors of the Jewish nation—those who “remain[ed] of this evil family…in all the places whither I [God] have driven them”—some later returned to Israel when Cyrus issued his decree, but many stayed in Babylon out of greed. It was proper to return to Israel, but since faith and sacrifice were required to leave the homes they had in Babylon, only those in the right heart condition went back.

Jer 8:4  Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return?

Jer 8:5  Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

“Moreover thou [Jeremiah] shalt say unto them [those of Judah], Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise?…Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding?” Verse 4 presents a line of reasoning. “If a man is lost, doesn’t he retrace his steps? If he falls down, doesn’t he get up again? Verse 5 extends the reasoning to the Israelites. “Then why do the Israelites continue in a stubborn, backsliding condition and not repent and inquire what they have done wrong?” The people held fast to deceit and refused to give up their evil ways, admit they were wrong, and return to the Lord.

The people were incorrigible sinners, for they had passed the point of no return and repentance was impossible for them. Despite all of Jeremiah’s predictions, they did not pay any attention to his words. He was urgently trying to get across the warnings: “Don’t you know what will happen if you do not repent? Your actions are suicidal.” This book, especially the earlier chapters, is difficult to understand from a prophetic standpoint because Jeremiah entered the situation with empathy. If quotation marks had been inserted, we could tell more easily who was talking. In other words, was God speaking, was Jeremiah voicing his own emotions, was the prophet quoting what God said in principle, or was he quoting God’s exact words? Because of these variations, Jeremiah wrote differently than any of the other Old Testaments prophets; the others wrote in a more limited and precise manner. When God chose to give a particular message at a particular time, He chose a prophet according to character and natural temperament and frame.

Jer 8:6  I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Jeremiah strained his ears to hear whether there would be cries for help or repentance. But no one asked, “What have I done?’ The people continued in their evil as a fearless horse that rushes into battle in the midst of excitement. If properly trained, the horse would even run into a stone wall in perfect obedience to the rider’s command. In this same undeviating manner, the people rushed on in evil and senselessness without thinking; they hastened on in their evil, going faster and faster.

As described in The Keys of Revelation, pages 641-642, a warhorse loves to go into battle. The horse even prances when it senses a battle, being eager for the charge.

Jeremiah interjected himself into this reasoning. With his whole heart, soul, and power, he was doing what God said, but the desired results were not forthcoming. Understanding this nuance helps us to more fully appreciate Jeremiah as a prophet and the situation that existed in his day.

Question: Could God be speaking in verse 6?

Answer: That could be, but we think Jeremiah was the speaker.

Jer 8:7  Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.

Jeremiah was saying that the stork, turtledove, crane, and swallow all know their “appointed times” and “observe the time of their coming,” but even though 606 BC was only a few years away, his people did not want to know that the time was coming for “the judgment of the LORD.” Birds have a built-in sense of when to migrate and return, and this sense preserves them as a species. By instinct, they have more sense than the Israelites, who knew not that they should repent and return to the ways of the Lord. The Prophet Isaiah spoke similarly, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isa. 1:3,4).

This willing ignorance is the history of the fallen human race as well. Most people are not really interested in God and His Word. They delude themselves with a little “insurance” by going to church or to the confessional occasionally.

Jer 8:8  How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

The scribes were supposed to be very wise and educated. They interpreted the Law but did this falsely. They should have known better, for instead of being proper teachers, they negated the Law. It would have been better if they had just copied the Law and kept quiet, for they made the Law of none effect—they made it null and void—through traditions of men (Mark 7:13).

Verse 8 can be considered from the standpoint of a principle. In Romans 2:17, Paul said that the Jews felt superior to the Gentiles because of the Law. As a group, we feel that we have “the truth.” But the Laodicean message warns against this dangerous attitude: “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Here again Jeremiah was speaking, although the end of the verse, “Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain,” can be taken three different ways. The Law was “in vain” in that the Jews did not heed the advice given to them. God repeatedly warned of the coming judgment and so did Jeremiah, but the people ignored the warnings. Whatever way the verse is read, it is profitable for showing the deplorable condition of the recipients of the Lord’s message, Jeremiah’s frustration, or God’s desire that people would repent and live. Stated another way, it shows the attitude of the ones to whom the message was addressed, the excellent character of the messenger, or the intent of the Author of the message in trying to change the people’s evil course so that no one in the future could say, “If only we had known.”

The story of Israel is the story of the human race. Therefore, when God chooses Israel in the future, the rest of mankind cannot say, “We would have been different.” (The only exception is Nineveh, but there is a reason for that exception, which we will not discuss at this time.) Therefore, the lesson is to consider the character of God, namely, that He is slow to put anyone in Second Death. He wants to give everyone the opportunity for life, and those who succeed will be able to say of these who fail utterly, “God did His part, and thus He is to be most honored and revered as a loving Creator.”

Jer 8:9  The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?

The “wise men” had not true wisdom. The RSV uses future tense: “The wise men shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken.” False prophets contradicted Jeremiah’s predictions. One such prophet said that Nebuchadnezzar would change his mind in two years and return to Babylon. When that did not happen, he was ashamed of his prediction.

“Lo, they [the false prophets] have rejected the [true] word of the LORD” as spoken by Jeremiah. Both the false prophets and Jeremiah used a “thus saith the LORD,” so how would the people of Judah know whom to believe? They should have weighed the words. As Jesus said years later, “Wisdom [the final result] is justified of her children” (Matt. 11:19).

When Jeremiah uttered his message, the people should have analyzed it, asking, “Is it true?” If he was speaking the truth, he should have been admired for the stand he was taking and been regarded as a true messenger. But the people preferred the false message of peace—no trouble, no rocking the boat—that said they could continue their way of life. In addition, the false prophets said God would not destroy His Temple. Those with the wrong heart condition justified themselves in their misconduct.

Jer 8:10  Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

“Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit.” (The second “them” was supplied by the translators and should be omitted.) The land was left desolate 70 years, so the thought is that the conquerors would inherit the wives, not the land. (The scholars interpreted words without necessarily knowing the testimony of Scripture.) The wives of all classes of Israelites would be given to the conquerors. In the antitype, the “wives” (churches) would be destroyed. There will be no more respect for sacred institutions.

“For every one from the least even unto the greatest [from the common people to the princes] is given to covetousness.” We are reminded of 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all [much] evil.” Whether one is poor or rich, the love of money leads to covetousness. The rich want more and more money, and the poor would like to have money.

“From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.” There were hundreds or thousands of false prophets compared to only three to five true prophets at any one time in Israel’s history. (Note: There were a few true prophets other than the ones who wrote books of the Bible, so the mention of three to five prophets would include contemporaries.)

Jer 8:11  For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

Jer 8:12  Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

The false prophets and priests gave messages of “Peace, peace.” They did not heal the deadly wound but pacified the people with promises of peace and gave them a placebo instead of real medicine.

This strange statement appears to have been artificially inserted, even though it is talking about the message of the false prophets, who were trying to undercut Jeremiah’s predictions of coming trouble. From their perspective, Jeremiah was a traitor. The Pastor gave this statement an end-time application. Up to this point, we had some reserve in trying to draw an antitype because of certain details in the actual historical record. However, to isolate a certain statement or portion of what happened back in the type and give an antitypical application is another matter, for very often the Holy Spirit used this method to hide valuable information until the due time. Of course verse 11 is similar to Jeremiah 6:14. In what way are these verses an end-time prophecy applicable to the nominal system?

Comment: The Apostle Paul spoke of our day: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). A message of “Peace and safety” will be proclaimed in the church-state hour of power.

Reply: The cry of “Peace, peace” went forth in nominal natural Israel in Jeremiah’s day, and in parallel types, Israel sometimes pictures nominal Christendom.

The term “daughter of my people” refers to “nominal Zion, [mystic] Babylon.” It is interesting that the Septuagint version of the Old Testament omits this verse because it seems out of place. However, we believe it does refer to nominal spiritual Zion, indicating that any so-called “doomsday” message of a prophetic nature will be discounted and opposed. We believe that as events develop, those who are watching and praying will see, with increasing clarity, the closeness of the coming trouble, which will cover a period of 3 ½ to 4 years. Perceiving the significance of the events, they will become emboldened to speak publicly. The very fulfillment of events will encourage them to tell what is happening.

Comment; The attitude of the nominal Church leaders will be similar to that of the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day. They will speak peace and smooth things instead of warning of impending trouble.

Comment: For “Slightly,” Young’s Analytical Concordance has “superficially.”

Reply: Yes, it was like giving a Band-Aid® solution to a serious medical problem.

Comment: Ezekiel 13:10 reads, “They have seduced my people, saying, “Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar.”

Reply: A contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel was among the exiles in Babylon. The time setting of this eight chapter of Jeremiah was about 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem.

“In the time of their [future] visitation,” the leaders would fall with the common people. There would be no favoritism.

“Saith the LORD” at the end of verse 12 at first seems to indicate that God made the statement in verse 11, but we have tried to show that Jeremiah was speaking because the expression “daughter of my people” is peculiar to him. In other words, Jeremiah was saying, “I am telling you what God had said.” To our understanding, the expression “daughter of my people” is used only once in the entire Bible outside of Jeremiah (see Isa. 22:4). All other uses of the expression are in either the Book of Jeremiah or the Book of Lamentations, both of which were written by him (Jer. 4:11; 6:14,26; 8:11,19,21,22; 9:1,7; 14:17; Lam. 2:11; 3:48; 4:3,6,10). Also, peculiar to Jeremiah is the repeated use of the expression “daughter,” particularly “daughter of Zion,” “daughter of Judah,” and “daughter of Jerusalem” (Jer. 4:31; 6:2,23; 31:22; 49:4; Lam. 1:6,15; 2:1,2,4,5,8,10,13,15,18; 4:22).

There is no reason to digress along the following lines when we are trying to get a prophetic understanding, but Jeremiah can also be studied from the standpoint of his character, his emotionalism, and why God chose him from the womb to declare a message to the Jews so that later generations could never say, “We were not warned.” Jeremiah’s heart and soul were involved in trying to get his people to repent from their misbehavior, stubbornness, and lack of paying attention to God’s rule of authority.

We are reminded of Jesus’ favoritism for the Apostle John because of his temperament (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7,20). Nevertheless, we believe God chose Peter as being superior to John in the ranking of the apostles. Among other reasons such as the characteristics of the 12 tribes, the chemical and physical properties of the jewels and their order in the high priest’s breastplate bear out this sequence of preference. John’s affinity for Jesus deeply affected him so that late in his ministry, he used the same fatherly expression “little children” again and again (John 13:33; 1 John 2:1,12,13,18,28; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21). In fact, he was so impressed with what Jesus said at the Memorial that he is the only apostle who discussed the topics of the evening. The other apostles discussed the emblems that were instituted and the dissension, whereas John focused on Jesus’ long sermon on that occasion. Thus an empathy along the lines of temperament existed between John and Jesus.

Similarly, Jeremiah had great sympathy for the people of Judah. Of course at one time, he had felt, like Moses, that he was not up to the task, but God replied, “I will make your forehead like a rock. If the people have hard faces, your face will become even harder in declaring my message.” This insight into the character of Jeremiah shows his good qualities.

Therefore, we feel Jeremiah was saying the things that God had said to him earlier. The prophet put himself into the situation—as if he were saying, “Amen!” Imagine being in Jeremiah’s place, doing the Lord’s bidding and reaping so little fruitage. We are reminded of Noah, who was very zealous. For many years, he preached strongly with all his heart, but only his family and in-laws responded favorably.

Question: Is the thought that the false prophets and priests were saying, “Peace, peace,” and then Jeremiah commented on their false message by saying, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed,” etc.?

Answer: Yes.

Jer 8:13  I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.

God had said, “I will surely consume them. There will be no grapes on the vine or figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade.” This was a picture of desolation in the sense that God had warned back in Leviticus chapter 26, “I will punish you seven times if you keep disobeying. You will suffer temporally, you will be defeated in warfare, your crops will not produce, etc. These calamities will show my displeasure.” In the Jewish Age, the evidence of he Lord’s disfavor could be seen in a material sense, whereas in the Gospel Age, God’s disfavor is much harder to discern because there is a spiritual withdrawal. The signs today are subtle, and only as one is in tune with the Lord’s Spirit and principles can they be discerned to any real extent.

Calamities began to come on Israel during Jeremiah’s ministry, so he told the people of Judah, “You are not following the Lord, so you will see this evidence of His disfavor. If you do not change your ways, great trouble will occur to wake you up.” Thus the calamities of verse 13 indicated the beginning of the withdrawal of God’s favor in Jeremiah’s day.

Jesus drew on this lesson when he cursed the fig tree and it withered to represent the death of Israel’s national hopes. This wording is strong; namely, there would be grapes on the vine or figs on the tree. Even the leaves would wither. Hence there would be no fruit, that is, none righteous. In the antitype, there is a great dearth of real fruit in Christendom.

Question: Spiritually speaking, does the absence of grapes and figs have a correlation to the harvest of the grapes of the “vine of the earth” in Revelation 14:18?

Answer: Yes. It is also related to Habakkuk 3:17, which expresses the sentiments of the Great Company just before Jacob’s Trouble. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off form the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls.” The Great Company will realize that the Little Flock has been separated from the earthly fold and thus is complete, but the Ancient Worthies, the “herd,” will not yet have been installed in office.

Jer 8:14  Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.

Jer 8:15  We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!

Jer 8:16  The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein.

Jer 8:17  For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.

Notice the present tense. Jeremiah prophesied the reaction and words of the people in 606 BC when news of the enemy’s entering the land form the north would reach them. King Nebuchadnezzar’s huge army would come down with the murderous intent of destroying the nation. “The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan [in the most northern part of Israel]: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come.” As Nebuchadnezzar crossed the border into Israel, news of his coming would spread rapidly throughout the land. Jeremiah vividly predicted the coming events.

“Why do we sit still? Assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there.” Realizing the impending great trouble, the people would leave their homes and run into the nearest walled city for safety and be silent. Jerusalem was a natural fortress on three sides. With only a relatively small area on the north being vulnerable, the people would mass their defense there. Those who recognized retributive justice in the trouble would say, “The LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.” However, their recognition that they have sinned would come too late.

Verse 15 is good in the RSV: “We looked for peace, but no good came, for a time of healing, but behold, terror.” The people looked for peace and healing, but God would send an invading enemy. In addition, He would send serpents to bite the people.

Jeremiah would have used a falsetto tone in voicing what God told him the people would say in 606 BC. He was trying to wake up the people so that they would not listen to the false prophets. In the Old Testament times, the people could generally tell when God was speaking because the Holy Spirit came on a prophet in an extraordinary way; that is, they saw that the Holy Spirit was operating through the prophet in a mechanical way. Accordingly, they knew that the words Jeremiah was speaking were from God.

The false prophets had been speaking, “Peace, peace,” but when Nebuchadnezzar’s army was really coming, it would dawn on the people that Jeremiah was a true and faithful prophet. Yet even at that time, as we will find out later, one of the false prophets had the nerve to contradict Jeremiah and say that Nebuchadnezzar would turn around and go back to Babylon.

Question: Spiritually speaking, what would the “defenced walls” be?

Answer: IN the end-time picture, people will be looking for safety and security. For example, some will put their trust in stocks and bonds, some will look to the religious institutions, others will trust in the military, and still others will think safety lies in purchasing land in the country.

It is amazing that Jeremiah put his heart and soul into voicing God’s message, yet virtually no one paid attention. He even said, “At that time, you will have to admit that you have sinned, so why don’t you do so now and stop the impending catastrophe?”

“For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.” A “cockatrice” is a viper, an adder. The thought is that because the inhabitants of the land were willfully breaking God’s Law, even the poisonous creatures would seem to be against them. The people would not prosper in health, childbearing, and crops; rain would be withheld; insects and snakes would abound; etc. All of these conditions were designed to wake up the people, but strangely, they did not get the lesson. Their stubbornness shows that once the die is cast in decision making, a person can be hardened against changing his mind.

In that day, it was customary in Egypt to call a charmer when a village was bothered by scorpions, for example. Charmers seemed to have the ability to control vipers and scorpions through incantations, but whatever the Israelites tried to do to overcome the problem would be to no avail.

Jer 8:18  When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

Verse 18 is a break in thought with Jeremiah speaking. He sorrowed over the people’s hard-heartedness and refusal to repent and, hence, the necessity for the trouble to come. He manifested his concern by addressing them again and again. In his sorrow of heart, nothing could comfort him.

Comment: The RSV reads, “My grief is beyond healing, my heart is sick within me.”

Jer 8:19  Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?

Jeremiah continued to speak. The people of Judah were crying because of the coming enemy invasion from a “far country” (Babylon).

“Is not the LORD in Zion? Is not her king in her?” Jeremiah was saying to the people, “Don’t you have any God-given instincts as to what is happening? Why don’t you respond to the Lord? You are the problem.” He remonstrated with them, but instead of calling on the Lord and repenting, they ignored his repeated messages, even though they were suffering. If the king, as leader of the nation, had been God-fearing, he would have sided with Jeremiah. However, the people had no inclination to respond to God. When they wanted instruction, they inquired of Baal and other gods. Jeremiah’s grief was so overwhelming that he wondered about the physical condition of his heart. He was an unusual prophet in that he took to heart everything the Lord told him to do.

“Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?” God may be speaking here, although Jeremiah could still be the speaker because he took the people’s reactions personally.

Everything was topsy-turvy in the land, and the prophecies were of the enemy coming in. Both from without and form within, there was nothing but bad news. Meanwhile, Jeremiah was so emotionally overwrought that even his thinking was affected. He could not understand the people’s lack of response.

Jer 8:20  The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

We excerpted this verse as being a very significant statement pertaining to the Great Company at a point in the time yet future. Verse 20 can be coupled with Matthew 24:20,21, “Pray…that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Thus there is a parallel down here in our day with the debauchery hat exists win Christendom. Conditions are becoming like those in Sodom and Gomorrah. Already homosexuals and lesbians are getting recognition, and  laws are being passed to protect them. This debaucher will increase and increase until the minority viewpoint become the majority viewpoint. The laissez-faire attitude of the public toward moral issues allows this trend to grow. False prophets and indifferent leadership characterize our day. Isaiah 28:7,8 speaks of the confusion of the religious leaders: “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.”

Israel was God’s professed people, some falsely so and some true but misguided. In the antitype, the Great Company, who are God’s people, do not obey and hence do not come out of Babylon until it is too late to be of the Little Flock. These consecrated individuals will suffer with the hypocrites (the tares of Matthew 13:40). Included among those who will suffer with the hypocrites are some who were God’s true people at one time but grew so cold that they will go into Second Death.

Verse 20 shows that some of the Lord’s people will hope for the best but will be disobedient and weak in not coming out of Babylon. Their hope will be that the peace message prevails. This element reminds us of Lot. Out of the whole city, only Lot and his two daughters were rescued, for his wife turned back.

The pronoun “we” refers to an informed class who are repentant but too late. In sorrow, they will want to go to the “defenced cities” and be silent (verse 14). They will mourn and be distressed by conditions around them.

“Summer” is a picture of favor. “The harvest [of the Little Flock] is past, the summer [of favor] is ended, and we are not saved.” The harvest of the good will have been taken away. The people of Jeremiah’s day could make the same statement based on prevailing physical conditions; that is, “The good days when we prospered are gone.”

In the near future, those of the consecrated who remain behind and go into the Time of Trouble will recognize that they are not of the Very Elect. The signs of the times will be very apparent. In fact, the signs will be self-interpreting to those who are religiously instructed as to what to watch for.

Comment: If “summer is ended, “ then the “winter” Time of Trouble will have come, the time when no flesh will be saved unless those days are “shortened” by the elect (Matt. 24:20,22).

Jer 8:21  For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Jeremiah uttered his feelings. His heart was wounded, and he was dismayed. He was “black,” that is, very discouraged, for his message was not heeded. The color black is usually associated with despair. Oddly, a sign of heart trouble is blue lips, and famine produces blackness. Here the blackness pertained to Jeremiah’s heart being faint, but later it pertained to the famine that occurred in Jerusalem (Jer. 14:2).

Jer 8:22  Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

The “balm” of Gilead was a soothing, healing ointment. Jeremiah was saying there was no physician in Gilead. Part of northern Israel at that time, Gilead was near Galilee but on the east side of the Jordan River. Not only was Gilead a very fruitful land, but also it had a healing salve that was appreciated by other nations, particularly Egypt. Hence many caravans from Gilead transported the medicinal salve down to Egypt.

“Is there no balm in Gilead?” The answer to this rhetorical question was no. In the antitype, the lack of balm in Gilead means there will be no healing in Christendom. The nominal Church will have no solution. Being in the dark with regard to the conditions that exist in the last days, the religious leaders will not be able to give instruction. When conditions get more and more troublesome and fractious, governments will look to the religious leadership, to the supposed moral leaders, to help hold society together. The beast, the dragon, and the false prophet will speak in unison, but they will not have the solution. “Is there no physician there [in Gilead, that is, in Christendom]?” Again the answer to the rhetorical question is no.

Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13). When salt loses its savor, when the Little Flock is removed from the earth, the saving influence will be gone because salt is a preservative. Verse 22 is along a more negative line in that when the people look for help, none will be forthcoming, and of course the removal of the salt of the earth will also be a problem. The Great Company will be on the scene for the antitypical fulfillment of verses 20 and 22.

Jeremiah was not blaming God. He was saying to the people,” As God’s messenger, I have faithfully transmitted to you what you are to do, but is there no one who can back me up?” Jeremiah was alone in the situation. “Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Jeremiah knew the answer to his question; namely, the people did not repent and change their ways. They refused to recognize the answer to the problem. Again Jeremiah used the term “the daughter of my people.” Here he gave a solemn soliloquy, whereas later, in the Book of Lamentations, which followed the trouble of 606BC, his words became a lamentation of the destruction.

Review of Chapter 8 from the Spiritual Standpoint

Verses 1 and 2: “At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.” Jeremiah said that the time would come when the bones of all segments of society would be exhumed by the king of the north, Nebuchadnezzar. A principle in Bible study is to know the type before we consider the antitype, for God laid down the picture, from which we get the antitype.

After removing the bones of the Israelites form the graves, Nebuchadnezzar strewed them around. This is a picture of the utter destruction of Jerusalem and hence, in antitype, of Papacy and all Catholic (Armenian, Coptic, Greek, etc.) and Protestant churches. In World War I in 1914, the Catholic system was destroyed for a time in Russia. Graves were opened, bones were scattered, saints were exposed as fakes, and so forth. Atheists thus shamed the Russian Orthodox church, yet the system survived. Just as in Israel when heathen Nebuchadnezzar came down in 606 BC and caused desecration, so it happened in Russia and will happen again in mystic Babylon’s fall. Icons, buildings, honored clergy, and tombs of saints, among other things, will all be violated. The Russians will take valuable artifacts, all the time saying, “Where is your God?” They will mock and destroy.

Verse 3: “And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.” In the type, the “residue” of the people were those taken captive to Babylon. They chafed under the humiliating experience and wished they were dead. In the antitype, the experience will be the same. Spiritually speaking, “death” is dying to a former condition, but it can work in reverse too. As a person got truth and left a denomination, the nominal system considered that individual dead, for he was a nonsupporter of the system. In the great Time of Trouble, many clergy will try to deny their background as in the French Revolution, when priest dressed as farmers and rubbed dirt into their hands (Zech. 13:4,5). The disguise did not work then, and it will not work in the future Time of Trouble. The clergy will want to “die” to their condition of being priests and thus escape persecution, but they will not escape—they will have to drink the cup. (Rev. 18:6).

Verse 5: “Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.” The Israelites were guilty of a perpetual sliding back, a condition that existed before the trouble. They ignored opportunities to repent and listen to the Lord, so the experience of trouble was necessary.

Verse 7: “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.” Storks, cranes, and swallows (the bird kingdom) seem to know the times and seasons, but those professing to be God’s people did not. Even worse, they said, “We are wise, we know the Lord.” The false teachers brag similarly today. Consider the pomposity of the pope and the messages of social justice by the Episcopal clergy, for example. All profess to be the moral conscience of the world but friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The best way to help poor people is to be the “broom” that sweeps away the wrongs. If faithful, we will be part of the Bride class and have this privilege. In the next age, Jesus and the Church will judge according to God’s wisdom.

Verse 10: “Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.’ The “great” spiritual leaders of today will be debased, and their “wives” and “fields” will be given to others. The nominal Church has been trying to reign over and convert the world ahead of time. In the Kingdom, the true Church will get this work to do in the “field.”

A covenant is involved with a wife. The nominal systems apply the Old Testament covenant promises to themselves, thinking they will prosper temporally in the present life. The Sarah Covenant applies to us in the present age, and it is conditional upon our being faithful. We must sacrifice to get the honors and rewards. The various promises are the subdivisions in the covenant. The inheritance is obtained in the next life, whereas the nominal Church gets honor now: glorious robes, obeisance, titles, etc.

Verse 11: “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” The professed religious leaders try to be friends of the people and of the world. That is a wrong principle.

Verse 15: “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!’ When the Time of Trouble comes, the Great Company class, who will get some of the experiences of the nominal system, will realize they were not saved (see verse 20). They will receive judgment as part of the professed Church. Note: The Little Flock are part of the professed Church too, but the Great Company and the Little Flock are the true “church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12;23).

Verse 16: “The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein.” Dan, the northernmost tribe of Israel, is related to the aged Daniel (a picture of the feet members), who interpreted the handwriting on the wall.

Verse 17: “For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.” Vipers “will not be charmed.” It is known that snake charmers can play music and enthrall snakes to stand still by mystical powers. Whirling dervishes put poisonous scorpions in their mouths. In the antitype, monks and nuns have been respected and seemingly miraculously protected. Superstition and mesmerism have played a part, but these things are breaking down now. Nuns are raped, for example. Hence the charmed existence of the clergy will cease in regard to the fall of Babylon and the time of the burning of the tares. They will be considered enemies.

Verses 21and 22: “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” These two verses should be considered with Jeremiah 9:1-3, the beginning of the next chapter. Although the five verses are related to previous verses, they are a separate thought. “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! 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. 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.”

Jeremiah was speaking and interjecting his emotions, even though “saith the LORD” is included. God is aware of all that is happening. He knows the condition of His professed people; He knows the whole situation with the tares (professed Christians who are not wheat) plus the ripe, mature wheat (Little Flock) and the unripe wheat (Great Company). Called “tribulation” saints, the Great Company will have severe trials (Rev. 7:14). He is also aware of those whose destiny is Second Death, and He knows which professing Christians in the nominal Church are true Christians, having made a bona fide consecration. The point is that God is sympathetic to and concerned about all who have made a sincere consecration. The high and lofty God dwells with the humble and the contrite; He condescends to and communicates with the lowly (Isa. 57:15). If only the Great Company would listen and obey earlier, they would be faithful and escape the trouble. He is also concerned about those who go into Second Death but were originally pure. However, despite this concern, He maintains His position as Emperor of the universe, on whose shoulders the fate of the whole world hangs. God is austere like a diamond and loving like a sard, but He cannot compromise either justice or love (Rev. 4:3). Therefore, because of the failure of the people, the judgment must come. The people read their own density and reward. Incidentally, Jesus wept, and since he was God manifest in the flesh, we know that God experiences emotion, but that emotion is proper and controlled.

Therefore, Jeremiah was entering into the situation with his whole heart, and his emotions were affected. The prophet’s head was like “waters,” and his eyes [were] a fountain of tears.” Jeremiah wanted to “weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of…[his]people!” He longed to go away and hide in the desert, to leave his people “and go from them!”

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