|« Prev||jeremiah||Next »|
 Jer. i. 5. “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee; and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” In the same manner as God is said to sanctify Jeremiah as a prophet before he was, whom he had elected to be such, for he said he foreknew the elect or saints, and children and heirs of life. Exod. xxiii. 12, 17.
 Jer. ii. 2, 3. “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” Israel was holiness to the Lord, and the first-fruits of his increase. See ver. 21. “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed.’’ Ps. lxviii. 14. This has not respect to that generation that went out of Egypt, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, that were a very corrupt generation, but the generation of their children spoken of Numb. xiv. 31. “But your little ones which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.” So Deut. i. 39. It has respect to those spoken of Jer. xxxi. 2. The people which were left to the sword found grace in the wilderness. The same generation that entered into the land of Canaan, with Joshua, and took possession of the good land, it was the generation that God planted in Canaan, as is evident by verse 21. And the going after God in the wilderness that is here spoken of, is not the going of the children of Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness of Sinai, but their following God through that dreadful wilderness in which the congregation long wandered after they went back from Kadesh-barnea, which is spoken of Deut. viii. 15. “Who led thee through the great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought; where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint.” Although this generation had a much greater trial than the generation of their fathers had before they came to Kadesh-barnea, yet they never murmured against God in anywise as their fathers had done. But their trials had a contrary effect upon them, viz. to humble them, and fit them for great mercy. Deut. viii. 2, 3. “And thou shalt remember the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee,” &c. And ver. 16. “Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, &c. that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good in thy latter end.” And therefore it is said, Hosea xiii. 5. “I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.”
This generation were eminent for piety, as appears by many things said of them in the book of Numbers, as especially Joshua. See Josh. xxiii.8. xxii. 1, 2. Deut. iv. 3, 4. See also Note on Hos. xi. 1. Jer. xxxi. 2, 3. Hos. ix. 10. Jer. ii. 21. Ps. lxviii. 14. Josh. i. and three last verses. Judg. ii. 7, 17, 22. And though there were some wicked men amongst them, they were not like their fathers, unbelieving generation; but believed God, and followed him, and by faith overcame Sihon and Og, and the giants and mighty nations of Canaan. They showed a laudable and fervent zeal for God on several occasions, on occasion of Achan’s sin, but especially when they suspected the two tribes and half had set up an altar in opposition to the altar of burnt-offering before the tabernacle. Israel feared and served the Lord all the days that the men of that generation lived. See Notes on Judg. ii. 7.
 Jer. ii. 2, 3. “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth,” &c. It is probable that all those open rebellions, which were in the congregation of Israel during the whole forty years that the congregation was in the wilderness, were what the men of that perverse generation, who were adults when they came out of Egypt, were principally active and leading in, as the rebellion of Korah and his company that we have an account of Num. xvi. evidently was, for it was managed by some of the principal men in the congregation, which were wont to be their elders, or elderly men, see ver. 2. Their contesting with Moses and Aaron, such aged persons as those that ought to be esteemed equal with them, and other circumstances of the story, show it. And so it is probable was the rebellion at the place where they set up the fiery serpent; Num. xxi.; and the rebellion and wickedness in the matter of Peor.; Num. xxv. Those that remained of that wicked generation seem to have led in it; for the heads or chief of the people, which doubtless were some of their elders, had a chief hand in it, and consequently were hung up before the sun. Num. xxv. 4. That wicked generation continued their rebellions after that God for their rebelling had sworn in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest, as is implied in Psal. lxxxi. 12. “So I gave them up to their own hearts’ lust, and they walked in their own counsels.” This seems to refer to something in their history as delivered by Moses, as all other passages in the Psalms, concerning the church of Israel in Egypt, and the wilderness, do; but there is nothing else in that history they can refer to but those rebellions that have been spoken of. We may argue in like manner from Acts vii. 41-43. “And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the work of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch,” &c.
Wherein God was grieved by the congregation during the whole forty years in the wilderness, it seems to have been chiefly by that generation, by Psal. xcv. 10, 11. “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation unto whom I sware in my wrath,” &c. It was their carcasses, chiefly, that fell in the matter of Korah, and by the fiery serpents; and. the destruction that was of them in the matter of Peor, seems to have accomplished the threatening, and to have purged the congregation of the remains of that wicked generation, Jer. xxxi. 2.
 That there was a time of remarkable influence of God’s Holy Spirit in the younger generation during the forty years’ travel, is confirmed by comparing Neh. ix. 20, 21. and Deut. xxxii. 10. and also Deut. viii. 2 5. and v. 15. See also Num. xxxi. 48., to the end, and Deut. xxxiv. 9. A considerable instance of the faith and obedience of that generation was their readily complying with God’s command by Joshua in submitting to that painful rite of circumcision, which had been disused for above thirty-eight years; and that, just as they were entering into the land of Canaan full of their strong enemies, being now shut in by the Jordan. It was not only a considerable thing for the whole congregation under forty years at once to submit to what was so painful and disagreeable, but so to expose themselves to their enemies; for, excepting the divine protection, they must in those circumstances have been an easy prey to their enemies, if they had immediately fallen upon them, as the Shechemites were to Simeon and Levi. Their having just entered the country of their gigantic and numerous enemies, of whom they had heard such formidable accounts, and their not knowing what preparation their enemies had made, nor how soon they would fall upon them, tended to make them the more fearful and cautious; but they obeyed God, and trusted in his protection without murmuring against God or Joshua, as Zipporah did against Moses, saying, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 545545 Exodus iv. 25. ”
 Concerning what the congregation of Israel were to do in order to the taking of Jericho. It was to try the faith, and obedience, and patience of the people; to try whether they would obey, and believe a promise, which in human 764probability seemed impossible to be performed. They were also proved whether they could patiently bear the reproaches of their enemies, and patiently wait for the salvation of the Lord. Thus by faith the walls of Jericho fell down. (Heb. xi. 30.) They were commanded to be silent, not to speak a word nor make any noise, ver. 10. which intimates their reverent expectation of the event. Zech. ii. 13. “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord.” Exod. xiv. 14. God shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” They were to go round the city blowing the trumpet for six days together; and they did so, and seven times the seventh day, ver. 14. God could have caused the walls of Jericho to fall upon the first surrounding them; but they must go round them thirteen times before they fall, that they may be kept waiting patiently for the Lord. Though they were newly come into Canaan, and their time was very precious, for they had a great deal of work before them, yet they must linger so many days about Jericho, seeming to do nothing, nor to make any progress in their business. He that believes does not make haste. Go yet seven times before any thing appears. 1 Kings xviii. 43. Henry.
Their faith was further tried in this, that one of the seven days must needs be the sabbath, on which they were commanded to rest. An unbelieving mind would have objected on this account, as the unbelieving Jews objected against Christ’s healing, and commanding the man to carry his bed, on the sabbath-day. It is to be noted that it was the same person, even Jesus Christ, who now commanded the people to go round Jericho, and the priests all the while to blow the trumpets on the sabbath, which commanded the impotent man to carry his bed on the sabbath. John v. 11. Compare chap. v. 13-15. and vi. 2,. &c.
A further trial of the people’s faith was that all the men of war in going round the city were obliged to leave their camp and all their goods, and their wives and children, every day defenceless, as to any other guard but the divine protection.
This last observed is agreeable to God’s proceedings in the course of his providence, in the revolutions of the natural world, and in the revolutions of the world of mankind. Things only seem to go round and round, and return where they were before, as though no progress was made, until God’s time comes. But this is through the narrowness of our views. He that looks only on a wheel of a chariot, and sees nothing beyond it, will not see that it does any thing but go round, the same spoke rising and falling alternately to the same place. But he that looks beyond the wheel to the world around, may see the progress that is made continually to an appointed journey’s end.
This generation failed not of their duty under such temptations as Saul failed under when he was sent to destroy Agag. They destroyed all the inhabitants, cattle, and goods of Jericho, the first city they took; when they were under the greatest temptations greedily to take them to themselves, being lately come out of the wilderness where they had been destitute of all such things for so long a time. None transgressed but Achan; and when he was found out, none stood in his defence, but all Israel stoned him with stones. See how Joshua commands the soldiers of the two tribes and a half, Josh. xxii. 1-3.
 Jer. ii. 32. “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” For our holiness is all the righteousness of God, all the beauty of the soul is wholly and only divine light reflected; all grace is nothing but the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; and all these graces and spiritual beauties, which are to the mind as attire and ornament are to the body, are Christ in the soul, and nothing else; wherefore we are commanded to put on Christ.
 Jer. v. 22. “Fear ye not me, saith the Lord? will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?” The unreasonableness and folly of their not fearing God appears from the consideration of the greatness and majesty of God’s appearing in his works. And this work of his ruling and restraining the raging waves of the sea, is mentioned in particular, because that wickedness of theirs, described in the foregoing part of the chapter, might fitly be compared to the raging waves of the sea in a storm. We are told, Isa. lvii. 20. that the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. God puts a stop to the waves of the tempestuous sea; let them toss themselves never so proudly, and rage never so violently, as though they would carry all before them, and scorned any restraint. So the mighty God was able to put a stop to that rage and violence of theirs in wickedness, spoken of in verses 3, 5, 7, 8, 12. However headstrong, obstinate, and violent they were in it, God could curb and tame them by his almighty hand. He that looks on every one that is proud, and abases him, could bring down their pride, whereby they toss themselves up against the heavens like the waves of the sea. He could break their power, and subdue their spirits; he could bring them down with a strong hand, however set they were in their way. He could do it very easily by weak and despicable means; he could crush them before the moth; he could show them that his weakness was stronger than they, and could say concerning their wickedness, Job xxxviii. 11. Hitherto shalt thou come and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed,” as the highest and most raging waves of the sea were brought down and broken, and brought to nothing, by such contemptible means as the sand. Thus God often pours contempt on wicked men, even on the greatest princes.
Such was the obstinacy and violence of the men of Judah and Jerusalem, that men and means could do nothing with them; no human power could stop them; the prophets had tried, and used their utmost endeavours, to counsel them; it was like preaching to the raging waves of the sea, as verses 3, 4, 5, 12,13. Therefore, God would take the work in hand himself. God’s subduing the rage of the sea, and the rage of men’s spirits, and the wickedness of his enemies, are spoken of as parallel works of God. Psal. lxv. 7. “Who stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people;” and Psal. lxxxix. 9, 10. “Thou rulest the raging of the sea; when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.” However for a while, and sometimes, wicked men may seem to carry all before them, and their wickedness rages without restraint; yet there are certain limits set to it, that are unalterable as the sands on the sea-shore, which here are said to be placed for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree.
 Jer. vii. 33. “And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth, and none shall fray them away.” As this Tophet here spoken of represents hell, so those fowls and wild beasts that feed upon the carcasses of those men, represent the devils who shall feed upon the souls of the wicked. The devils, we know, are compared to fowls of the air, in the parable of the sower and the seed, as Christ himself explains it. These fowls of the air that devoured these carcasses, were ravens and eagles, and other unclean and ravenous birds, that do fitly represent the impure spirits of the air, and those ravenous beasts do well represent him who is a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour.
 Jer. x. 16. “Israel is the rod of his inheritance.” Deut. xxxii. 9. called the cord of inheritance, which in our translation is rendered the lot of his inheritance, that is, he is the inheritance as it were measured by a cord, or by a rod. Sometimes they were wont to lay out and measure land by a cord, sometimes by a rod or pole.
 Jer. xi. 20. “Let me see thy vengeance on them, for unto thee have I revealed my cause.” Also Jer. xviii. 21. “Therefore deliver up their children to the famine,” &c. We hence learn that these imprecations that are to be found in Scripture, are not to be understood as expressions of a private desire of ill to their enemies contrary to the precepts of the gospel, for it is evident that Jeremiah did not hate his country, or desire or rejoice in its overthrow.
 Jer. xii. 3. “But thou, O Lord, knowest me; 765thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee; pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.” The prophets pray for evil to their enemies. When we find passages of this kind in the Psalms, or the prophets, we are to look upon them as prophetical curses; they curse them in the name of the Lord, as Elisha did the children that mocked him, as Noah cursed Canaan. We have instances of this kind, even in the apostles, and the disciples of the Lamb of God; as Paul curses Alexander the coppersmith, 2 Tim. iv. 14. and Peter says to Simon Magus, “Thy money perish with thee;” as also they wish them ill, not as personal but as public enemies, enemies to the church. Sometimes what they say is in the name of the church. Jer. li. 34, 35.
 Jer. xiii. 11. “For as a girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel, and the whole house of Judah.” As the body of a man is incomplete and defective without his garment, so does Christ look on himself as incomplete without his church.
 Jer. xiii. 12. “Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine; and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?” which’ denotes, bottles were made, prepared to be filled with wine; they are fitted for it; you tell us no news in saying so: but so are wicked men vessels fitted to be filled with the wine of God’s wrath, as bottles are fitted to be filled with wine: they are vessels of wrath filled to destruction.
 Jer. xvi. 15. “But, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them; and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.” This has not merely nor principally a respect unto the return of the captivity of the Israelites from Babylon, but unto the gathering of the gospel church, the gathering together the elect (the spiritual Israel) from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other, into the church their own land, from whence they were captivated by Satan. Matt. xxiv. 31. This is one sense of all those prophecies of the Old Testament, that speak of the recalling of the Jews.
 Jer. xxx. 21. “Their nobles shall be of themselves, and their Governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me; for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me?” This, as Dr. Ridgley, in his Body of Divinity, vol. i. p. 366, 367. observes, seems to be a prophecy of Christ. The chapter is evidently a prophecy of the gospel times of the church, the times when the spiritual David was to be their Noble and Governor, as appears by verse 9. “They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them:” And what is in this verse translated nobles, is in the Hebrew in the singular number, their noble; it is the more probable that this is to be understood of Christ, and not of Zerubbabel, or any other governor after the Babylonish captivity, because the supreme governor of Israel was very rarely of themselves after the captivity, even till after their destruction by the Romans.” They scarcely ever had this privilege in this sense to so great a degree as before their captivity. But when we look on this chapter, we cannot think it is a prophecy of less prosperity to God’s people than what they now enjoyed; and then what is said here of this governor or noble, agrees peculiarly with Christ, and particularly that clause, “For who is this that hath engaged his heart to approach unto me!” The word translated engaged is, to become, or act, the surety for any one; to mingle himself with another, or unite himself to another, us a surety; and so the word is commonly used in Scripture, as Gen. xliii. 9. and xliv. 32. Prov. xi. 15. Job xvii. 3. 2 Kings xviii. 23. and elsewhere. See Buxtorf. So that the words might well have been translated, “Who is this that hath mingled or united his heart as a surety to approach unto me!” It is here inquired with a note of admiration, Who is this that hath engaged his heart in suretyship to approach unto me! probably for two reasons, viz. because of the wonderfulness of his person, and because of the greatness of the undertaking; and whether we understand by the Israel, whose prosperity is here prophesied of, the Israelitish nation, or God’s spiritual Israel, yet Christ, their Governor, is of themselves; he has taken on him the human nature; he is of the human race, and is our brother, and he is a child of the church; he has sucked the breasts of our mother; he is one of the holy nation, the spiritual seed of Abraham, and he is also of the Israelitish nation, and he took on him the seed of Abraham in a literal sense. In the following verse is mentioned the consequence of Christ’s approaching to God as his people’s surety, viz. their covenant interest in God, “And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
|« Prev||jeremiah||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version