All Interpretation of the English Bible THE PROPHETS OF THE CHALDEAN PERIOD
All Interpretation of the English Bible
THE PROPHETS OF THE
by B. H. CARROLL
Late President of Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
Compiled and edited ft)
T. W. Crowder
BAKER BOOK HOUSE
Grand Rapids, Michigan
New and complete edition
Copyright 1948, Broadman Press
Reprinted by Baker Book House
with permission of
First Printing, September 1973
Second Printing, September 1976
PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING _ MALLOY, INC.
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I. The Book of Zephaniah 1
II. The Book of Habakkuk 15
III. The Book of Jeremiah – Introduction 29
IV. The Life and Character of Jeremiah 39
V. The Impeachment, Call, and Judgment 48
VI. Sermons on the Temple Worship 60
VII. The Broken Covenant of Judah and God’s Decree
to Punish 70
VIII. The Life of Jeremiah During the Latter Half of
the Reign of Jehoiakim 81
IX. The Prophecies of Jeremiah in the Reign of Zedekiah 93
X. The Prophecy of Jeremiah on the Restoration 106
XI. The Prophecies of Jeremiah Concerning the Nations 118
XII. The Closing Scenes in the Life of Jeremiah 130
XIII. Jeremiah’s Lamentations 139
XIV. The Book of Ezekiel – Introduction, and the
Prophet’s Vision and Call 150
XV. Prophecies on the Destruction of Jerusalem 161
XVI. Prophecies on the Destruction of Jerusalem
XVII. Prophecies Against the Foreign Nations 184
XVIII. Prophecies of the Restoration 196
XIX. The Final Condition of the Redeemed 210
THE BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH
INTRODUCTION AND INTERPRETATION
The prophet, Zephaniah, is the author, and he says that he
was the great_great_grandson of a man named Hezekiah. He
traces his genealogy back to the fourth generation, an unusual
thing, for it was customary to give only the father’s name,
but sometimes they gave the grandfather’s name. Here he
styles himself, „The son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the
son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah,” and it is altogether
probable that he means King Hezekiah who reigned during
the time Isaiah prophesied. Thus Zephaniah belonged to the
royal family of Israel; a great_great_grandson of King Heze_
kiah. Such being the case, Zephaniah’s home was in Jeru_
salem among the nobility and the princes of the city. He was
therefore familiar with the life of the princes, their habits,
their religion, all of their idolatrous customs, and the fact that
he himself was a prince and thus knew the life of the princes
royal of Jerusalem, accounts for some expressions which we
find in his book.
The date of this book was somewhere between 630 and 622
B.C. during the reign of „Josiah the son of Ammon, king of
Judah.” It was probably before the discovery of the book
of the law in the Temple, its promulgation and enforcement
by the hand of the king, and the great reformations instituted
by Josiah as a result of finding the book of the law. In this
book we find that there were a great many idolatrous customs
in Jerusalem among the people, which would hardly be prob_
able after the reformation, which took place in the reign of
Josiah. Thus we place it sometime after 630 B.C. and before
Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah who began his
prophecies about 628 B.C., in the thirteenth year of the reign
of King Josiah, and prophesied until about 525 B.C., covering
altogether a period of about forty years. Zephaniah was only
a young contemporary of Jeremiah, and engaged in preach_
ing and instituting the great moral reforms under Josiah.
But Zephaniah makes no reference to Jeremiah.
The occasion of his prophecy was that which gave rise to
the prophecies of Jeremiah also, viz: The sins of the people
of Jerusalem, their idolatry, their oppression, their commercial
greed, and generally, their social and their religious iniquities.
It is to rebuke them, to warn the people of the punishment,
and to predict the day of Jehovah and the fall of the city and
nation that Zephaniah gives his word of prophecy. This
punishment comes in the Scythian invasion, that horde of
people from the far north which in innumerable multitudes
poured down through Central Western Asia, devastating
everything they touched – Assyria, Babylonia, Syria, and the
kingdoms north thereof, Northern Israel to some extent, and
the Philistine plain to the borders of Egypt, where they were
bought off by the king of Egypt. That fearful scourge broke
over the country in the time of Zephaniah.
The style of Zephaniah is good, and in some parts excellent.
It is not equal to that of Nahum and much inferior to that
of Isaiah. It resembles Isaiah in many respects, probably
more than any other of the prophets, but he was not the equal
of that superb, poetic, and literary genius. There are some
words in the book of Zephaniah, say the Hebrew scholars,
that are seldom used elsewhere, and some that are used no_
where else, which renders the interpretation difficult. Like
Jeremiah, Zephaniah himself seems to put little confidence in
the reforms instituted by King Josiah, knowing that those
reforms were mainly external, imposed by the royal authority,
and that the people’s hearts were not changed. Zephaniah
seems to have thought that the reforms that had already been
instituted by Josiah were ineffective. They did not touch
the heart of the nation. Therefore, he made no mention what_
ever of them.
In the book of Zephaniah we have the fullest description,
up to this time, of the day of Jehovah, that day which the
people in Amos’ time were looking for and wished for, but
which Amos said was the very opposite of all they expected.
It was a day of doom for the nation. Zephaniah gives us a
fuller description of it, and we have in his prophecy the merg_
ing of prophecy and apocalypse, for there are some passages
in Zephaniah descriptive of the day of Jehovah that are al_
most apocalyptic, as Daniel and Zechariah in the Old Testa_
ment, and Revelation in the New Testament.
The following is an analysis of the book:
Introduction: Author and date (1:1).
I. The punishment of Judah and Jerusalem (l:2to2:3).
1. The destruction universal (1:2_6).
2. Jehovah’s sacrifice (1:7_13).
3. The „day of Jehovah” described (1:14_18).
4. Warning and admonition (2:1_3).
II. The punishment of the nations (2:4_15).
1. Philistia doomed (2:4_7).
2. Moab and Ammon doomed (2:8_11).
3. Ethiopia and Assyria doomed (2:12_15).
III. The restoration of the remnant (2:1_20).
1. The incorrigible city (2:1_7).
2. Wrath against the nations (3:8).
3. Salvation of the remnant (3:9_13).
4. Joys of the restoration (3:14_20).
Zephaniah had a wide vision; he seemed to see all the world,
and picture the doom that was to come upon all animate
creation: „I will utterly consume all things from off the face
of the ground, saith Jehovah. I will consume man and beast,”
thus coming down to more details, according to the custom
of Bible writers, – first, a general statement, then a detailed
statement, „I will consume the fowls of heaven and the fishes
of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked. And I
will cut off man from off the face of the ground, saith Jeho_
vah.” This is a statement of judgment that is to come and
affect all nature and mankind.
Now he comes down to further particulars: „I will stretch
out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of
Jerusalem.” They shall be involved in this general universal
catastrophe that is to come in the day of Jehovah. Then fur_
ther particulars: „I will cut off the remnant of Baal,” that
is, Baal worship shall be exterminated and even the remnants
of it shall be destroyed, „and the name of the Chemarim with
the priests.” The Chemarim were a class of priests, who
served in a form of idolatry with certain gods. It is supposed
by some, with some probability, that the word refers to the
black robes which the priests wore in that service. The word
„chemarim” comes from a word which means darkness. Our
word „chimera” has a similar root.
Then he goes on in verse 5: „And them that worship the
host of heaven upon the housetops,” a form of star worship
or sun worship, imported from Babylonia or Assyria, and was
practiced by the people upon their housetops right in the city
of Jerusalem. „Them that worship, that swear to the Lord
and that swear by Malcam,” or, by their king, who, like the
people that were imported into Samaria after the destruction
of the Northern Kingdom, served Jehovah and served their
own gods also. They had a sort of mixed worship, combining
the worship of Jehovah with the worship of other gods, and
there seems to have been that class in Jerusalem at this time
who swore by Jehovah and by their king, or Malcam, or their
Molech; we cannot be sure of the exact reference. ‘Then he
comes down to another class: „And them that are turned
back from following Jehovah,” the backsliders. And the last
class he mentions is those that had not sought Jehovah nor
inquired after him, the indifferent, the irreligious, godless ones.
Thus he describes all the classes of sinners – the indifferent.
the irreligious, the backsliders, the worldly members that arc
saved, yet trying to follow God and follow the world, the
idolaters, and then the priests that in their black robes served
the various gods.
Jehovah commands them to hold their peace at the appear_
ance of Jehovah God, „for the day of Jehovah is at hand; for
Jehovah hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath consecrated his
guests.” He means that the destruction of Jerusalem and of
Judah will be Jehovah’s sacrifice in the day of Jehovah. And
he goes on in verse 8, thus: „In that day of the Lord’s sacri_
fice I will punish the princes (for they were the chief sinners
in Jerusalem) and the king’s sons,” not particularly the king’s
sons nor the king. Josiah is on the throne, the best king Israel
ever had. He is only a young man, and Zephaniah had no
word against him; he was irreproachable and unblameable.
But the king’s sons, the members of the royal family, not Jo_
siah’s sons, (he was too young to have any sons grown up)
but the immediate members of the royal family; the king’s
sons are among the first to receive the punishment that comes
when the day of Jehovah appears.
„And he will punish all such as are clothed with foreign ap_
parel.” The young nobles of the city who sent for their robes
to foreign countries, perhaps to Babylon, where they made the
finest garments in all the world, as the society ladies today
send to Paris for their best hats and dresses. The princes
and the nobles of Jerusalem sent to foreign lands for their
garments; Zephaniah condemns that thing.
In verse 9, he has a striking reference: „In that day I will
punish all those that leap over the threshold, that fill their
master’s house with violence and deceit.” „Leap over the
threshold” is an obscure expression. There are two interpreta_
tions. One is that it refers to a superstitious custom of peo_
ple who would not step upon the threshold of the house, but
who would leap over the threshold into the house without
stepping thereon, on account of a superstitious custom that
arose because Dagon, the god of the Philistines, fell over the
doorstep of the house, when the ark was taken in the days of
The other, and I think the better interpretation, is that it
refers to these young and rapacious princes who did not
scruple to break the laws and customs, and even the sanc_
tity of the threshold; who leaped over into houses and robbed
them either by stealth or in a legal fashion, for there is such
a thing as legal robbery. Unscrupulous men, who cared noth_
ing for the sacredness of the threshold, but leaped over.
trampling under foot all the sacred rights of the house and
home and hospitality in their greed for gold. They „filled
their master’s houses with violence and deceit” as a result of
leaping over the threshold in their rapacity.
Now he goes on to describe the calamity that shall befall
Israel, and the outcry: „a noise from the fish gate,” which
was probably in the northeastern corner of Jerusalem, the
most convenient gate to the Jordan Valley and to the Sea of
Galilee from which they brought their fish to Jerusalem; „and
a howling from the second quarter,” or a howling from the
Mishneh, probably from „the new city,” the second part of the
city, the new part where Hulda, the prophetess, lived, as we
find in the book of Kings in connection with the discovery of
the law. „And a great crashing from the hills,” that surround
Jerusalem and upon which it is situated. Then he said, „Howl,
ye inhabitants of Makesh” (or the mortar), and it probably
refers to the valley that runs through the center of Jerusalem,
called the Tyrolean Valley, between Zion, on one side, and
Moriah on the other. „For all the people of Canaan are un_
done,” or perhaps, „the merchant people” are undone, for the
word „merchant” comes from the same root as the word
„Canaan.” A Canaanite was a merchantman, a trafficker.
„All they that bear silver are cut off.”
The next two verses give a description of how the calamity
comes upon the city: „It shall come to pass,” he says, „that
I will search Jerusalem with candles,” or lamps, to find out
just what the people are doing, to search out every individual,
„and I will punish the men that are settled on their lees.”
This is a figure taken from their custom of making wine. The
wine when fresh and new was placed in vessels, and very
soon there would gather in the bottom a thick sediment, and
after that gathered for a little time, they would pour off the
wine into another vessel and thus keep it fresh. If they al_
lowed it to remain in the first vessel, it would soon become
putrid and muddy, thick and unfit for use.
In this figure he describes the people as at ease and with
plenty. It had been some fifteen or twenty years since the
reign of Manasseh when they had the hard time, when Jeru_
salem was red with blood. Since then they had become some_
what wealthy; they had settled down and were taking it
easy; they had wealth and prosperity and somewhat of
luxury. Zephaniah says, the people thus settled down like
wine, upon their lees, and had become thick and muddy, and
their brain had become clouded and sluggish and their re_
ligious life dull and heavy; they were troubled with inertia.
That frequently happens today with well_to_do people, in
comfortable circumstances, who have this world’s goods, and
have to some extent settled down on their lees and are taking
it easy; churches that have fine houses, a fine preacher, and a
fine choir, all their debts paid, sometimes settle down on their
lees. The result is that church gets thick, muddy, inert, slug_
gish, stupid, and becomes putrescent and unfit for use. If
we become respectable and comfortably situated, we settle
down in self_satisfaction, congratulating ourselves on the fact
that we are a very good people. People in this way become
thick, and sluggish, and dull. That is the tendency the world
over with mere respectability. That is the crying sin and
shame of our church life throughout the world today. As
soon as a church settles down and takes it easy it becomes
dull, sluggish, disgusting. They have to be kept at work or
they will soon become thick and unsavory. As Brother
Truett says, you have to keep them on the run all the time,
or they won’t go at all. „The Lord will not do good,” they
say, „neither will he do evil.” We have our prayer meeting
and revival services and some good deacon will say, „It won’t
do any harm.”
He now goes on to speak of their punishment: „Their
wealth shall become a spoil, and their houses a desolation;
they shall build houses, but none shall inhabit them; they
shall plant vineyards but none shall drink the wine thereof.”
That is the sacrifice of Jehovah on that day when he comes
in destruction and judgment.
The day of Jehovah is described in verses 14_18: „The great
day of Jehovah is near, it is near . . . the voice of the day of
Jehovah.” Its characteristic, its striking feature is this: „The
mighty man,” the hero, the warrior, „crieth bitterly.” Then
comes the full description of it: „A day of wrath, and trouble,
and distress; a day of wasteness, desolation, and darkness,
and gloominess; a day of clouds and thick darkness; a day
of trumpet and alarm, against the fenced cities and against
the high battlements.”
In verses 17_18 he describes the distress that shall come
upon men, how their blood will be poured out as dust and
their flesh as the dung; silver and gold will not deliver them;
whose land shall be devoured and shall make a terrible end
of all that dwell in the land.
Then follows the warning to the wicked and the admonition
to the righteous in 2:1_3. The warning to the wicked is this:
„Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, 0 nation
that hath no shame; before the decree bring forth, before the
day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of Jehovah come
upon you, before the day of Jehovah’s anger come upon you.”
Then he addresses the meek, the godly: „Seek ye Jehovah,
all ye meek of the earth, that have kept his ordinances; seek
righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye will be hid in the
day of Jehovah’s anger.” And they were hid in the day of
Jehovah’s anger, for when the Scythians overran all that part
of Syria, they passed down the Philistine coast and left Judah
and Jerusalem untouched, and the godly remnant was hid in
the day of Jehovah, for that was one of the days of Jehovah,
as there have been many since, and will be yet more before
the last day comes.
Philistia (2:4_7) is doomed and her land shall belong to
Israel: „Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation;
they shall drive out Ashdod at the noonday, and Ekron shall
be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the
nation of the Cherethites.” We meet with this word „Cherith_
ites” and also „Pelethites” in connection with the bodyguard
of David and Solomon; they are constantly referred to during
the period of the Divided Kingdom, also after the Exile. The
people of this strip of territory who were called Cherethites,
were evidently of Philistine blood, and by David and Solomon
were made special bodyguards. We do not know for what
reason, except that they must have been peculiarly fitted for
tins duty. For centuries the Pope of Rome has had Swiss
bodyguards; he will not trust Italians.
„The word of Jehovah is against you, 0 Canaan, the land
of the Philistines; I will destroy thee; . . . the sea coast shall
be pastures, with cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.
And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah;
they shall feed their flocks there and shall dwell in the houses
of Ashkelon for Jehovah their God shall visit them and bring
back their captivity.” Zephaniah presupposes a certain
captivity of Judah and when they return they shall inhabit
not only all Judah, but the coast and the Philistine plain and
dwell in the cities of the Philistines.
Ammon was doomed (2:8_11) because they bad reproached
God’s people and had magnified themselves against their bor_
der; they were doomed to be destroyed. This is the same
complaint which Amos, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel lodged against
these people. „Moab shall be doomed to destruction because
of her pride,” and verse 9 says, „Moab shall be as Sodom, and
the children of Ammon shall be as Gomorrah, the breeding
place of nettles and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation.”
The doom of Ethiopia is given in one sentence (2:12) : „Ye
Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.” The doom of
Assyria is given in verses 13_15. This is the same subject
which engrosses the attention of Nahum. Notice what Zeph_
aniah says, verse 14, „And flocks shall lie down in the midst
of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the pelican and the
porcupine shall lodge in the capitals thereof; their voice
sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds for
he hath laid bare the cedar work.” And he describes the doom
of Nineveh in the same terms that are afterward used to de_
scribe the pride of Babylon, and later on by John, to describe
the pride of Rome, the last and greatest Babylon. „This is
the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart,
I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a deso_
lation, a place for beasts to lie down in! everyone that pass_
eth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.” This idolizing of self
is a very common characteristic of large and wealthy cities.
Every great city has a peculiar form of pride. This was the
spirit of Nineveh. And what the result? „How is she be_
come desolate, a place for beasts to lie down in!”
Jerusalem is described as a city, incorrigible in its wicked_
ness (3:1_8). In verses 1_2, he hurls his denunciation against
her: „Woe to her that is rebellious and polluted! to the op_
pressing city!” Here is the charge: „She obeyed not the
voice, she received not correction, she trusted not in Jehovah,
she drew not near to her God.” Verse 3 gives the description
of her rulers, princes, prophets, and priests: „The princes
within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves;
the prophets are light and treacherous; the priests have pro_
faned the sanctuary, and done violence to the law.” In spite
of all that, „Jehovah in the midst of her is righteous; he will
not do iniquity; every morning doth he bring his justice to
light, he faileth not,” a beautiful passage, „but the. unjust
knoweth no shame.” Then he describes the desolation that is
to come in verses 6_7, but verse 7, particularly, brings to us the
idea of how incorrigible they were: „I said, Only fear thou
me; receive instruction; so her dwelling should not be cut off,
however I punished her, but they rose up early, and cor_
rupted all their doings.” They would not receive correction;
they were beyond that, utterly incorrigible. This is in essence
the same things Jeremiah said at this time also.
Verse 8 brings before their minds the thought that the day
of Jehovah is coming, „Therefore wait ye for me, saith Je_
hovah, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my de_
termination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the
kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my
fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire
of my jealousy.”
The particulars of the salvation of the remnant are set
forth in verses 9_13. Verses 9_10 tell of the people that shall
come up to Judah and Jerusalem: „For then will I turn to the
people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name
of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” That is what I
am going to bring about in the future, and more than that:
„From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my supplicants, even the
daughter of my dispersed shall bring mine offering.” There
is going to be a gathering from the far nations and my people
shall come back. Then in verse II he describes how the proud
are to be cut off: „For then I will take away out of the midst
of thee them that rejoice in thy pride; and thou shalt no more
be haughty because of mine holy mountain.” Verse 12 de_
scribes the remnant that shall be left: „I will leave in the
midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall
trust in the name of Jehovah.” A remnant shall be saved,
even in the day of Jehovah, in the midst of this universal de_
struction. In verse 13 the remnant is described: „They shall
do no iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue
be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and
none shall make them afraid.” These are practically the
same words that were used by the other prophets, Micah and
Amos, particularly Micah.
Radical critics with scarcely an exception, say that Zeph_
aniah did not write section 3:14_20; that it was written
during the exile or immediately after, by some writer who
wanted to supplement Zephaniah’s prophecy and offset the
picture which he had drawn. That is their theory, and as we
have stated repeatedly, the thing that inspires that view is
that they do not believe in real inspiration, an inspiration
which enabled a man to see the future. A real revelation they
virtually deny, and that is the reason they deny certain parts
of these prophecies to these ancient writers.
The joys of the restoration are described in verses 14_20.
This is a beautiful picture of the restoration, the blessed mes_
sianic age, very much like the pictures found in Isaiah 40_66.
He says, „In that day,” which shows that the prophet is look_
ing forward to a time which he sees in the future and describes
it. Verse 14 begins: „Sing, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, 0 Israel;
be glad and rejoice with all thy heart, 0 daughter of Jeru_
salem. Jehovah hath taken away thy judgments, he hath
cast out thine enemy; the king of Israel, even Jehovah, is in
the midst of thee; thou shalt not fear evil any more. In that
day it shall be said to Jerusalem, „Fear thou not, 0 Zion, let
not thine hands be slack. Jehovah, thy God, is in the midst
of thee; a mighty one who will save.”
There are some good gospel texts here. „He will rejoice
over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over
thee with singing.” Why? Because his love will now be re_
ciprocated; his love will now be satisfied; it has its response;
it has won its object, and he will rest and be at peace in his
love; no more turmoil, no more anxiety; God has found his
people and his people have found him; he will rejoice over
them with singing.
Then he goes on with his description as to how they are to
be gathered: „I will gather them that sorrow for the solemn
assembly, who were of thee; to whom the burden upon her was
a reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all them
that afflict thee; and I will save that which is lame, and gather
that which was driven away; and I will make them a praise
and a name, whose shame hath been in all the earth.” And
the last verses give another statement as to how this restor_
ation shall take place: „At that time will I bring you in, and
at that time will I gather you; for I will make you a name and
a praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I bring back
your captivity before your eyes, saith Jehovah.”
This vision of Zephaniah compares favorably with the vi_
sions of other prophets. He had a broad vision, almost as
broad as Isaiah’s, or Micah’s, in which they picture the moun_
tain of the Lord’s house as exalted above all the hills, and all
the nations flowing into it to receive the law. He says here
that they shall have a name and a place among all the peoples
of the earth, the restoration period, when Jehovah dwells with_
in them in all his holiness and righteousness and truth. Such
is Zephaniah’s picture of the day of judgment and such is his
picture of the age to come. In prophetic vision he sees through
an appalling cloud of darkness and destruction of that day,
into the future when God shall save his people and his taber_
nacle shall be with them and he shall be their God and they
shall be his people. While Zephaniah’s picture is not quite
equal to that of Isaiah’s or Micah’s, and in many respects far
beyond Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s and vastly inferior to the
magnificent visions of John that he saw on Patmos, in essence
they are all the same.
1. Who the author of Zephaniah, what his lineal descent? and what
the bearing of this fact on his fitness for his work?
2. What the date of this book and what the reason for assigning this
date to it?
3. With what great prophet was Zephaniah contemporary?
4. What the occasion and purpose of his prophecy?
5. What can you say of the style and contents of the book?
6. Give an outline of the book.
7. What Zephaniah’s vision of judgment, generally and particularly
8. Describe the sacrifice of Jehovah and explain the terms contained
therein (7_13), and show the application to modern conditions.
9. Describe the „day of Jehovah” as given by Zephaniah.
10. What the warning to the wicked and the admonition to the
righteous in 2:1_3?
11. Describe the doom of Philistia (2:4_7).
12. Describe the doom of Moab and Ammon (2:8_11).
13. Describe the doom of Ethiopia and Assyria (2:12_15).
14. Describe the incorrigible city (3:1_8).
15. What the exhortation of 3:8 and what determination therein ex_
16. What the particulars of the salvation of the remnant (3:9_13)?
17. What say the radical critics of the paragraph, 3:14_20, and what
the basis of their theory?
18. Describe the joys of the restoration (14_20).
19. How does this vision of Zephaniah compare with the visions of
THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK
INTRODUCTION AND INTERPRETATION
The theme of this chapter is the prophecy of Habakkuk. As
regards the author, nothing more is known of him, no reference
is made to him in any other portion of the Scriptures besides
what is given in Habakkuk 1:1. The name is a little peculiar.
It means to embrace, or to be embraced. It found its appli_
cation to the prophet in that he kept very close to God. Ap_
parently he was well known, for he styles himself „the
prophet,” which may or may not imply that he was prominent
in prophetic circles. But it does imply that he was well
known. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah, although they
make no reference whatever to each other. Thus while Jere_
miah was preaching his great sermons and seeking to lead
Israel back to God, Habakkuk was also grappling with another
The date of this book is almost certainly in the reign of
Jehoiakim between 609 and 605 B.C. We put it subsequent
to 609 B.C., because the conditions which the prophet describes
could hardly have existed during the reign of Josiah. We put
it before 605 B.C., for it seems altogether likely that he wrote
before Nebuchadnezzar inflicted that terrible defeat on Phar_
aoh_Necho at Carchemish and became the supreme ruler in
western Asia. In the book of Habakkuk, Chaldea, or Baby_
lonia, was the rising power, but had not yet come to its high_
est pinnacle of greatness. The evil conditions of the time fit
the earlier half of the reign of Jehoiakim.
The prophecies in the book of Jeremiah seem to imply that
exactly the same evils existed then as were depicted by Habak_
kuk. We also find that he makes no reference to Assyria or
Nineveh, its capital, which shows that Nineveh was destroyed
at this time, and the power of Assyria was forever crushed.
He does refer to the Chaldeans, and it was shortly before and
after the destruction of Nineveh that the Chaldean power was
rising to its place of supremacy. Putting things together then,
it seems most likely that it was written between the years
609 and 605 B.C. in the reign of Jehoiakim.
The style of the book is almost classical. Habakkuk is one
of the most original of the Hebrew writers. He is a sublime
poet. Though we have only one of his poems preserved to us,
it is one of the finest poems in Hebrew literature. He is a
literary genius of the highest type, almost equal to that of
Isaiah. There are many textual difficulties in his prophecy;
the text has in some places suffered corruption, as we shall see
as we proceed with the study of it.
It is well for us to note at this point that there were four
great prophets prophesying or preaching in this period. There
was Jeremiah, one of the greatest of the prophets; there was
Zephaniah, whom we studied in our last chapter; there was
Habakkuk, who perhaps did comparatively little preaching,
but who lived during that period; and then in Jeremiah 26
there is reference to a certain prophet named Uriah, who
prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, fled into Egypt to
escape the wrath of Jehoiakim, was brought back to Jerusalem
and slain. These four prophets were contemporaries. Jere_
miah was saved because he had a friend among the princes;
Zephaniah was a prince himself and therefore he escaped;
Habakkuk, we know nothing about; he probably was in ob_
scurity, as he seems to be more of a writer than a preacher.
Uriah suffered martyrdom at the hands of the wicked and un_
Jeremiah’s problem was to warn Israel of her sins, predict
the coming destruction, prophesy of the preservation of the
remnant and the restoration to their own land again after the
exile, and – thus be the means of preserving religion among
the exiles, securing their return and preparing the way for the
glorious age that should follow. The prophecy of Zephaniah
was very similar to that, but the prophecy of Habakkuk is
different. Habakkuk is not a preacher in the same sense in
which Zephaniah and Jeremiah were. It is no part of his
talk to warn the people of their sins, to warn them against the
impending destruction at the hands of Babylon, to seek to
induce, if possible, repentance on their part and to promise a
future return and restoration. That is not his problem.
In Habakkuk we see what is called speculation in Israel.
I am not sure that we have the beginning of speculation here,
but W3 certainly have speculation, or we have an instance of
the mind of a prophetic man, dealing with one of the most
perplexing problems that could ever occupy the attention and
thought of a mortal being. It is not how Israel shall escape
the punishment of her sins, but it is this problem: Why does
God allow this evil to exist? How is it that God can allow
Israel to go on in this state? How is it that God permits this
moral evil? And then when he projected that problem, he
received his answer from Jehovah, and the answer is this:
Israel is allowed to go on in her iniquity, but God is going to
raise up the Chaldean power to punish her for her sins, and
she must suffer destruction because of those sins at the hands
of that power.
Then another question comes upon the horizon. The Chal_
deans were terrible and ruthless warriors, worse than the Jews
in Judah and Jerusalem, and how can a holy God who has
pure eyes – too pure to look upon evil – how could he permit
such a nation as Chaldea to swallow up a nation vastly better
than themselves? In answer to this question he takes his
stand upon what he calls his watchtower, the watchtower of
history, to observe God’s providences and see what God is
going to do. God gives him a vision and tells him to write
it on a tablet. What did it mean? It is the settlement of the
great problem troubling the mind of Habakkuk. Habakkuk
gets his answer, and the answer is that the nation of the
Chaldeans carried within themselves the principle of death,
and must perish through their iniquity as truly as Judah must
perish because of her iniquities. The triumph of the Baby_
Ionian power is but temporary.
God in the future will work out his principle of righteous_
ness, providence will vindicate itself, and in chapter 3 we have
the prophet’s vision of God marching through history, and he
pictures him as few poets have ever pictured God in his provi_
dential management of the world and its affairs. The question
is then, How can God, holy and pure and righteous as he is,
permit this evil in Judah and in Babylonia? It will be observed
at once that it is a profound question, one of the most per_
plexing questions that ever troubled the human mind. Habak_
kuk is not the only one who has asked that question. How is
it that God permits the colossal evils that have been going on
for millenniums in this world? What is the meaning of it all?
Such questions have troubled many minds.
The following is a convenient analysis of the book of
Introduction: The title, (1:1).
I. The prophet’s problems (1:2 to 2:4).
1. The prophet’s cry (1:2_4).
2. Jehovah’s answer (1:5_11).
3. A new problem (1:12_17).
4. The prophet’s attitude (2:1).
5. Jehovah’s explanation (2:2_5).
II. The prophet’s proclamations (2:6 to 3:19).
1. The vision of destruction in five woes (2:6_20).
2. The prophet’s prayer and psalm (3:1_19).
The prophet cries against injustice and oppression (1:2_4).
Abominable iniquities were prevailing in Judah and Jerusalem
under the reign of that wicked king. The prophet was unable
to restrain himself, and he broke forth, „0, Jehovah, how long
shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear?” This cry is not neces_
sarily the cry of prayer; it is the cry of distress, the cry that
arises from a heart which feels that something is wrong, feels
it deeply, and cries out to God because of it. It may include
prayer, but it is not primarily prayer. He has been crying
to God because of this iniquity and God doesn’t seem to be
listening: „Thou wilt not save! How long must I continue?”
„I cry out unto thee of violence,” and that word „violence”
is the word they used when any great crime was being com_
mitted, as murder or robbery. It is one of the strongest words
in tho language. Instead of crying, „Murder,” he would say,
„Violence.” It means that the worst of evils prevailed in the
city and in the land. „And thou wilt not save I” How long
is God going to stand this condition of affairs and not save us
Then he raises another question: „Why dost thou show and
cause me to see iniquity, crookedness, perverseness? for de_
struction and violence are before us; and there is sin and
contention.” That was the condition of affairs in the reign of
Jehoiakim. The law found in the Temple not long before this
and which was promulgated under good King Josiah and ac_
cepted by the nation, with the king at its head, „is slackened,
and justice doth never go forth; for the wicked doth compass
about the righteous; therefore justice goeth forth perverted.”
It will be observed that the sins mentioned here are those that
Amos charged against Northern Israel, that Jeremiah and
Micah especially charged against Southern Israel, the same
conditions, and the same iniquities prevailing. Such is the
There is a great difference of opinion among interpreters
regarding this oppression, violence, and perversion of justice,
as to how it arose. Some maintain that it was because of the
oppression of the Chaldeans; and others that it was the op_
pression of Egypt, for during this time Judah and Jerusalem
were swaying between these powers; at one time Assyria, then
Babylonia, and then Egypt. But this explanation does not
fit the case. It was not a case of foreign oppression. Foreign
oppression did not cause the law to be slack and justice
and judgment to be perverted. Foreign oppression would not
necessarily affect the social, commercial, and religious life of
the people. The prophet had in mind evidently the actual
condition of Israel during the reign of Jehoiakim when wicked_
ness prevailed among the people, especially in Jerusalem itself.
Jehovah’s answer to the cry of the prophet (1:5_11) is that
he is going to raise up the nation of the Chaldeans and they
are going to be the means of punishing Israel for her sins.
God calls attention first of all to the great wonder he is going
to perform: „Behold, ye among the nations, and look and
wonder marvelously, for I am working a work in your days,”
which shows that the Chaldeans now rising up on the horizon
had not yet attained their greatest height. „Behold, I am
working a work in your days, which ye will not believe,
though it be told you.”
Assyria and Nineveh had been crushed and it was almost
inconceivable to them that another nation would be raised up,
almost as cruel and as rapacious as was Nineveh herself.
He has done that many times in history and since the days of
Habakkuk. What a wonder that people have not believed,
although it has been told them. In verse 6 this is explained:
„I raise up the Chaldeans.” Let us note particularly the de_
scription of this nation: „that bitter and hasty nation,” swift
in their movements, could strike blows where they were least
expected, „that march through the breadth of the earth to
possess dwelling places that are not theirs.” That was the
purpose of all their conquests, to seize upon possessions not
theirs, the same as was the purpose of Assyria and Nineveh.
„They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their
dignity proceed from themselves,” not from any higher source.
„Their horses are swifter than the leopards, and are more
fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen shall spread
themselves, and shall come from afar; they shall fly as the
eagles that hasteth to devour.” A very vivid description of
the swiftness with which the Babylonian army marched.
They shall come for what? Verse 9, „They come all of
them for violence; the set of their faces is forward; and they
gather captives as the sand. Yea, he scoffeth at kings, and
princes are a derision unto him; he derideth every stronghold;
for he heapeth up dust, and taketh it.” They will gather the
people together like heaps of dust, no matter whether kings,
princes, or strongholds, the Chaldeans will gather them to_
gether as they would gather dust in their hands. „Then shall
he sweep by as a wind, and shall pass over, and be guilty,”
or commit sin, „even he whose might,” whose strength, whose
prowess, „is his god.” There is such a thing as a deifying of
force, the worship of strength, or a man making his strength
his god, or a man making money his god. Why? Because
money is power. The Babylonian made his might his god; he
worshiped his strength, and Babylonia is not the only nation
that has done that same thing.
Habakkuk (1:12_17) expresses a very beautiful faith in
God and a very high and holy conception of him: „Art not
thou from everlasting, 0 Jehovah my God, my Holy One? we
shall not die.” He voices the consciences of the very best
people of Israel, God’s people. „We shall not die. 0 Jehovah,
thou hast ordained him [the Chaldeans] for judgment; and
thou, 0 Rock, hast established him for correction.” That is
why the Chaldeans have been raised up. Then he goes on:
„Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that
canst not look on perverseness,” and this is what gives rise to
his problem, „Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal
treacherously, and boldest thy peace when the wicked swal_
loweth up the man that is more righteous than he; and makest
men as the fishes of the sea, sg the creeping things, that have
no ruler over them?” He goes on with his description: „He
taketh up all of them with the angle, he catcheth them in his
net, and he gathereth them in his drag: therefore he rejoiceth
and is glad.”
Here is a nation that treats every other nation and people
as if they were mere fish of the sea; he casts his great con_
quering net in and brings it up full, as mere fish to be devoured
or thrown away. How can God look upon such things as
that, such a nation treating God’s own people in this way?
That is his problem. Then he goes on with the description,
verse 16: „Therefore he sacrificeth unto his net, and burneth
incense unto his drag; because by them his portion is fat, and
his food plenteous.” Then the question arises, „Shall he there_
fore empty his net, and spare not to slay the nations continual_
ly?” Is God going to let such a rapacious and insatiable
monster go like that, devouring the people forever?
The prophet’s attitude toward this question (2:1) was a
waiting attitude, or the attitude of faith and honesty. The
prophet in receiving an answer to this great question as to
what providence means by permitting such, says, „I will stand
upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and look forth to
see what he will speak with me, and what I shall answer con_
cerning my complaint.” I will take my stand upon my tower
where I can observe what God is going to do and what God
will answer to my complaint; how he will answer my question.
Jehovah’s explanation of the new problem is that the
Chaldean principle is the principle of death, but the righteous
have within them the principle of life: „Jehovah answered
me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets,
that he may run that readeth it.” Let the people see what is
coming; write your vision plainly so that when a man sees it
and reads it, he will run. And when the vision was written
and they saw it, they felt like running. The vision, he says,
is for the appointed time, this is a vision of coming destruc_
tion, the coming judgment, the overwhelming power of the
Chaldeans: „The vision is for the appointed time, it hasteth
toward the end, and shall not lie.” It is true, though it tarry,
wait for it: it will surely come, it will not delay. Now he
repeats the statement, making it emphatic, to impress upon
them the fact that that vision which Habakkuk saw of the
coming destruction of judgment must certainly come.
I think you will find in verse 4, the greatest text in Habak_
kuk and one of the greatest texts of the Bible: „Behold, his
soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous
shall live by his faith.” Behold, the soul of the Chaldean is
puffed up, elated with mirth, with self_sufficiency; „but the
righteous one shall live by his faithfulness.” This is the text
upon which Paul bases his theology and his interpretation of
Christianity, and he uses it more than once. Let us try to
find the interpretation of it: „The righteous shall live in his
faithfulness.” The word here is „faithfulness,” not merely
faith. The root of it is the word which means faith, and from
which we get our word „amen”. It means faithfulness, in_
tegrity, perseverance, and especially, steadfastness. Applied to
business life it means integrity and steadfastness; to family
life, faithfulness of father and mother, husband and wife, and
child. Applied in every other respect we can interpret it by
the word „faithfulness”.
Paul says, „The just shall live by faith,” that is, the soul
shall find forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ through the
exercise of faith in his gospel. It implies there also the doc_
trine of perseverance and steadfastness. The just man, the
righteous man shall live by his faithfulness, not merely by
believing once in Jesus Christ, or believing once in God, but
lie shall go on living by that faith in steadfastness and perse_
verance in his belief.
This is the great characteristic of Job, that he was proved
to be steadfast, and the finest commentary, explanation of the
doctrine of perseverance, or the preservation of the saints,
is the book of Job. That is the principle of life, the principle
by which the righteous shall live, by which Judah and Israel
shall live, but the principle that animates the soul of the
Chaldeans is pride, self_sufficiency, which unbalances all his
powers and is the principle of death. It is suicide. That is
the vision upon the tablet, great and eternal principles: that
sin is suicide; that faithfulness is life. This is Habakkuk’s
great contribution to the Old Testament theology.
Jehovah illustrates his answer in 2:5. The proud, treach_
erous, insatiable Chaldean shall become a proverb to the
nations: „Yea, moreover, wine is treacherous, a haughty man,
that keepeth not at home,” means this: As wine will make a
man drunk, it also makes him treacherous, with a tendency
to wander away; so the Chaldean, drunk with his conquests,
proud, self_sufficient, wandering everywhere wherever he can
find anything to satisfy his lusts for conquest. As wine cre_
ates an appetite never satisfied, so the drunkenness that comes
from conquests enlargeth his desire as Sheol, the underworld,
with its insatiable maw that is never satisfied, „but gathereth
unto him all nations and heapeth unto him all peoples.” It
is conquest, the lust for dominion and power, that is as in_
satiable as death and Sheol.
Verse 6 says that the nations would take up a parable
against him, a taunting proverb. Here he pictures the down_
fall of Babylon, who because of her greed, oppression, and
plunder should have nations rise up against her and taunt
her. Five songs, or five woes, follow:
1. The plunderer shall in turn be plundered, 2:6_8: „Woe
to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and
that ladeth himself with pledges!” That is, making himself
a debtor to all these nations by taking their possessions; and
by continually treating the nations this way, he made all the
nations his creditors, and he himself was debtor to them all.
„Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and
awake that shall .vex thee, and thou shalt be for booty unto
them? Because thou hast plundered many nations, all the
remnant of the peoples shall plunder thee, because of men’s
blood, and for the violence done to the land, to the city, and
to all that dwell therein.”
2. A house built by evil gain shall witness against its
owner, 2:9_11: „Woe to him that getteth an evil gain for his
house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be de_
livered from the hand of evil!” That is a picture of many
businessmen and other men of the present age, who set up a
nest for themselves on high to be reserved for a rainy day.
„Thou hast devised shame to thy house, by cutting off many
peoples, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall
cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall
answer it,” a figurative expression, that the house built thus
will witness against its owner.
3. The capital built by blood shall be as fuel to the fire,
2:12_14: „Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and
establisheth a city by iniquity!” just as Nineveh and Babylon
were established by iniquity. „Behold, is it not of Jehovah
of hosts that the peoples labor for the fire, and the nations
weary themselves for vanity?” That is the case because Je_
hovah hath decreed it. „For the earth shall be filled with the
knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the
sea,” a fine text, which goes to show that the city being built
by blood shall be burned, shall be destroyed, but Jehovah’s
cause will triumph.
4. The producer of drunkenness and shame shall in turn
be put to shame, 2:15_17: „Woe to him that giveth his neigh_
bor drink, to thee that addest thy venom and makest him
drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”
What is the meaning? Not simply giving one drink and com_
pelling him to drink, but it means that he oppressed the peo_
ple, brought them down to degradation, weakness, and shame,
in order that he might gloat over their wretched, shameful
condition, the figure being drawn from Noah when he got
drunk and 1a,v in his tent in a shameful condition.
Now Chaldea was to make all nations drunk, bring them
down to shame and degradation and gloat over their condition.
Then the woe follows: „Thou art filled with shame, and not
glory; drink thou also, and be as one uncircumcised; the cup
of Jehovah’s right hand shall come round unto thee, and foul
shame shall be upon thy glory. .For the violence done to
Lebanon shall cover thee, and the destruction of the beasts,
which made them afraid; because of men’s blood, and for the
violence done to the land, to the city, and to all that dwell
5. The gross idolatry of Babylon disappoints the idol maker,
2:18_20: „What profiteth the graven image, that the maker
thereof hath graven it; the molten image, even the teacher of
lies, that he that fashioneth its form trusteth therein, to make
dumb idols?” Then he says in verse 19, „Woe unto him that
saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise! Shall
this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and
there is no breath at all in the midst of it.” Compare that
with Isaiah 44 for a description of idolatry. Then he goes on:
„But Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep
silence before him.” A splendid contrast that is, one of the
finest in all the world’s literature, between the idols of Baby_
lon and Jehovah, the living God.
Chapter 3 is in the form of a poem, picturing the theophany,
the appearance of God as he is executing his vengeance in the
world and saving his people: the picture of God appearing
on the horizon of history, combining the elements that we find
portrayed in the deliverance from Egypt, the bringing of Israel
into Canaan, and some of the great historical deliverances
that followed. A company of Savants in France gathered to_
gether and each one was to bring one of the finest quotations
of poetry that he could discover, and Benjamin Franklin ap_
peared with them on invitation and contributed his part to
the program by reading this poem of Habakkuk. They were
enraptured, wanted to have it published, wanted to know
whence it came, who wrote it, where it was found, and thought
it the finest thing they had ever heard. Franklin simply re_
ferred them to this book in the Bible.
In this proclamation concerning righteousness the view_
point is that of the majesty of Jehovah, and the consequent
triumph of his people. In the first movement the prophet de_
clares his recognition of the divine interference, his consequent
fear, and breathes a prayer for the revival of Jehovah’s work
(3:2). He then proceeds to celebrate the greatness of Je_
hovah as manifested in his dealings with his ancient people.
This k a review of God’s work in the history of Israel, in an
exalted strain of poetry, 3:3_15: At Sinai (3_4); the plagues
in the desert (5) ; the terror of the nations at Israel’s coming
(6_7); crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan (8_10); Joshua
at Bethhoron (II) ; conquest of the land (12_15). In the last
section of the poem the prophet expresses fear and faith con_
cerning the judgment. The contemplation of the judgment
on the „puffed up” had filled him with fear, yet he triumphed
in God. Describing the circumstances of utter desolation, he
declares his determination in the midst of them to rejoice (3:
16_19). This view of the mountaintop faith of the prophet
here furnishes a fitting conclusion of our study of this prophet.
May his faith and spirit possess us!
1. What the biblical information concerning the author of Habak_
2. What the date of this book and the circumstances fixing it?
3. What of the style and literature of this book?
4. What four great prophets of this period were contemporary and
what the problem of each?
5. What other question arises in this connection?
6. Give an outline of this book.
7. What the cry of the prophet, what its nature and cause, what the
prevailing condition, what the theories respecting this oppression and what the real state of affairs?
8. What Jehovah’s answer to the cry of the prophet, what the de_
structive work of the Chaldeans and the characteristics of their army (1:5_11)7
9. What of Habakkuk’s faith in Jehovah and what new problem
arises here (1:12_17)7
10. What the prophet’s attitude toward this question (2:1)?
11. What Jehovah’s explanation of the new problem, what specific
charge to the prophet and why this special commission?
12. What was the writing on the tablet and what Paul’s use of it?
13. How does Jehovah illustrate his answer (2:5) ?
14. What was to be the attitude of the nations toward this devouring monster?
15. What the first woe (2:&_8)?
16. What the second woe (2:9_11)?
17. What the third woe (2:12_14)?
18. What the fourth woe (2:15_17)?
19. What the fifth woe (2:18_20)?
20. What the literary form of chapter 3, what the contents Hi general,
and what historic incident of the use of this poem?
21. Give more specifically the contents of this poem?
THE BOOK: OF JEREMIAH
The book of Jeremiah is the longest in the Bible coming
from the hand of a single writer, or author. The book of
the Psalms is a larger book, but it is really a compilation of
various writers, five great books in one. The book of Jeremiah
contains his prophecies and the events of his life covering
about forty_four years, one of the most stirring periods of
The greater part of the book was no doubt written by
Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, or secretary, though some parts
may have been written by Jeremiah himself. Of these facts
we cannot be absolutely sure, though we do know that Baruch
wrote most of it. In Jeremiah 36 we have the story of how the
author came to write his prophecy. He tells us that some_
where about the year 604 or 603 B.C. in the reign of King
Jehoiakim, by the command of Jehovah, he dictated the sub_
stance of all his prophecies, covering eighteen or nineteen
years previous, to his scribe, who wrote them in a book, or
roll. Baruch wrote down these words, including the prophecy
of how God would destroy Jerusalem because of the sins of
the people. The roll was taken and read to the king and he
was so enraged that he cut it in pieces and threw it in the
fire. Thus the first edition was burned.
A short time after this he again dictated to his scribe these
prophecies, and Baruch wrote them down. It was the same
prophecy, but many like words were added unto them. That
edition of Jeremiah’s prophecies was preserved, and we have
it in the first seventeen chapters of the book. It is doubtless
true that he gave here the substance of his prophecies covering
the early period of his life. To these seventeen chapters the
remainder of the book has been added. There is no doubt
that all of the book except chapter 52 is from Jeremiah, al_
though some modern critics say that about four_nineteenths
of it is really Jeremiah’s and about four nineteenths Baruch’s
and the rest belongs to many writers unknown. They have
figured it down very fine, even down to the nineteenth part.
These are vulgar fractions instead of inspired writings. Jere_
miah 52 was not from the hand of Jeremiah, but was taken
from the book of 2 Kings and is a repetition of the 2 Kings 24
almost word for word.
There are more difficulties in the study of the text than in
the study of almost any other book of the Bible. In the third
century B.C. a Greek translation was made in Egypt by many
scholars from the original Jewish manuscripts that they might
have the Scriptures in Greek. That translation was called the
Septuagint. From this it appears that the book of Jeremiah
has more corruptions in the text than any other book of the
Bible; 2,700 words were left out of the Septuagint Version, or
about one_eighth of the book. Most of these words, however,
are words of lesser importance; for instance, such expressions
as „Thus saith the Lord,” introductory words which do not
take from the substance of the book, or from the heart of the
prophecy, to any great extent. The critics differ as to which
to follow, the Septuagint Version or our Massoretic Hebrew
text. Many of them prefer the Septuagint. Ezra and those
who follow him evidently preferred the Hebrew text, for it has
been preserved in connection with the Old Testament
Scriptures and is in our Hebrew Bible.
A convenient outline of the book of Jeremiah is as follows:
Introduction: Title, author, and date (1:1_3).
I. The prophet’s call (1:4_19):
1. Personal (1:4_10).
2. Official (1:11_19).
II. The prophet’s commission (2_13):
1. The impeachment, call, and Judgment (2_6)
2. The sins of worship and backsliding (7_9).
3. The sin of idolatry and the broken covenant (10_13).
III. The prophecies before the fall of Jerusalem (14_39):
1. God’s decree to punish (14_17).
2. Lessons from the potter (18_20).
3. Message to Zedekiah (21_27).
4. Jeremiah and the false prophets (28_29).
5. The „Book of Consolation” (30_33).
6. Prophecies of the siege and the Rechabites (34_35).
7. The history of the roll (36).
8. History of the siege, (37_39).
IV. The prophecies after the fall of Jerusalem (40_45):
1. Against going into Egypt (40_42).
2. While in Egypt (43_44).
3. The exhortation of Baruch (45).
V. The prophecies concerning the nations (46_51):
1. Concerning Egypt (46).
2. Concerning Philistia (47).
3. Concerning Moab (48).
4. Concerning Ammon (49:1_6).
5. Concerning Edom (49:7_22).
6. Concerning Damascus (49:23_27).
7. Concerning Koedar and Hazor (49:28_33).
8. Concerning Elam (49:34_39).
9. Concerning Babylon (50_51).
VI. Historical supplement (52):
(The following analysis, as a preview of the book, will be
followed closely in the discussion.)
We have in verses 1_3 the preface. Whether this was writ_
ten by Jeremiah himself or by Baruch we cannot be absolute_
ly sure, but it constitutes the introduction. In this passage we
have stated the family of Jeremiah, his home, and when he
began to prophesy. We see that his life and ministry cover
the reigns of five kings. These were Josiah, Jehoahaz, Je_
hoiakim, Jehoiakin, and Zedekiah. The reigns of Jehoahaz
and Jehoiachin were very short. This preface was probably
written by Baruch, the scribe, after the book had been com_
SECTION 1. Jeremiah 1:4 to 6:30
This is the early group of prophecies and gives the sub_
stance of his preaching during several years of the reign of
Josiah. They belong somewhere between 626_621 B.C. It was
written by Baruch in 604 B.C., but burned by Jehoiakim and
rewritten in 603 B.C. As to the details, note:
1. The call and commission of Jeremiah (1:4_19). In the
study of the life of Jeremiah we discover that emphasis is
laid on his call, his consecration, and his commission.
2. His account of the nation’s history. It had been one long
history of wickedness, and backsliding from God (2:1 to 4:4).
3. The inevitable result of such a history (4:5 to 6:30).
The inevitable result was destruction, complete and over_
whelming. This destruction was at hand. It came perhaps
at the hand of the Scythians. We find that about this time
there was a great invasion by these terrible people, who swept
down. through Palestine, almost to Egypt but were driven
back by Psammetichus, the Egyptian king. It was like the
invasion of the Tartars, or Huns, of a later time. It may be
that Jeremiah had this invasion in mind as the agent that God
would use in destroying the people. But they did not come
into the mountains of Judah. However that may be, we do
know that Nebuchadnezzar completed the work that this
Scythian horde left undone.
SECTION 2. Jeremiah 7_10
This covers the reign of Josiah, and probably the reign of
Jehoiakim, reaching from 618_607 B.C., written 604 B.C., burned
about the same time, and rewritten 603 B.C. Note in detail:
1. The destruction of the Temple of Jehovah was here
threatened. Jeremiah pointed to the fact that they had so
sinned centuries before that God had destroyed Shiloh, and
would destroy their present Temple (7:1_15).
2. The prophet goes on to warn them of the exile, because
their wilfulness must be punished (7:16to9:2).
3. The people are grossly corrupt and destruction is inevi_
table. The nation will not repent (9:3_26).
4. Jeremiah describes the wicked condition of the idolatrous
nation and warns against them (10:1_16). In this section we
find many similarities to Isaiah 40_44. There are many ex_
pressions almost identical.
5. Jeremiah’s distress and his prayer that the people might
be saved from their punishment (10:17_25).
SECTION 3. Jeremiah 11_17
This belongs to the early years of Jehoiakim’s reign. The
subject of this section is the idolatry and sins of Judah and
the result. The prophet illustrates this thought and repeats it
over and over again, under different figures and from differ_
ent viewpoints. As to details, note:
1. The preaching of the covenant which some hold belongs
to a former period, immediately after the discovery of the
book of the Law, but more probably after the breach of the
covenant at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (11:1_8).
2. Apostasy charged against Judah, and a plot to take
Jeremiah and put him to death (11:9_23).
3. Jeremiah pleading with God and with the people. How
pathetic and how tender is this pleading of Jeremiah (12:1_7).
4. The sign of the marred girdle and the water bottle, and
their lessons (13). This tells how Jeremiah is told to go to
the Euphrates River and hide his girdle in a rock. He goes
and gets the rotten girdle and brings it to Jerusalem as a
picture of the destruction which shall be the result of their
sins and wickedness.
5. The drought and its lesson. Sometime in the early part
of the reign of Jehoiakim a terrible drought falls upon the
land and Jeremiah sees the meaning of it and preaches its
lessons to the people. Some people cannot see how the hand
of God is in a drought, but this prophet did (14_15).
6. The domestic life of Jeremiah and its illustration of the
sins of Judah. He was told that God would not permit him to
marry. He could not have a home. He was not to go to the
house of mourning. Neither was he to go to the house of
feasting. He was to be a recluse and a man of solitude (16).
7. If he cannot enter into the social life of the people at all,
he must turn to God alone. God was his only refuge. The
people’s sins were too deep dyed to be cleansed (17:1_18).
8. Consecration of the sabbath (17:19_27). Here we find
the same problem that Nehemiah had in his time. The great
and ever living problem of the sabbath, then as now.
(NOTE. – These are probably the chapters that Jeremiah
dictated to Baruch. The remainder of the book consists of
short histories. It is a compilation of pieces of writing and
accounts of the life and teachings of the prophet. His lessons
and prophecies against the nations and against Judah are
placed together with no chronological order or regularity.)
SECTION 4. Jeremiah 18_20
This belongs to the reign of Jehoiakim, sometime before
600 B.C., doubtless written and published later. The subject
for this aection is lessons from the potter and the results which
the prophet experiences. He sees a potter working at his
wheel. He sought to make a fine piece of pottery out of a
lump of clay and it was marred in his hands. So he made
it over into a cruder vessel. That is the way it would be with
the people. God could not make out of them the fine vessel
he would have made, because of their sins. In chapter 20 we
have an account of Pashur, the chief officer of the house of the
Lord, who struck Jeremiah and put him in the stocks and
kept him there over night. In all literature there is hardly
anything to be found more pathetic than the passage (20:8_13).
SECTION 5. Jeremiah 21
This belongs to about 588 or 587 B.C. It was in the latter
part of the reign of Zedekiah and was the prophecy of Jere_
miah to Zedekiah. The king sent for the prophet and asked
him to tell the results of the siege. He told him that it meant
that the city should be given to the enemy.
SECTION 6. Jeremiah 22_23
In these chapters the prophet describes the miserable reign
of the kings of Judah, especially that of Jehoiakim. The
priests are false prophets and likewise denounced.
SECTION 7. Jeremiah 24
We see here how these passages lack chronological order.
This chapter speaks of the first year or two of the exiles now
in Babylon. It compares them with the people in Jerusalem.
He pictures those who had been taken away with Jehoiachin,
and those who had remained in Judah, as good and bad figs.
Those in Babylon are the better of the two. I doubt if those
who remained in Judah felt very much complimented by his
SECTION 8. Jeremiah 25
This contains an oracle concerning Judah and the neigh_
boring nations. We find in the latter part of the book distinct
prophecies concerning those nations mentioned here. This
oracle was delivered about 603 B.C., perhaps a little later.
SECTION 9. Jeremiah 26
This chapter gives the result of the discourse in chapter 7,
in which Jeremiah describes the destruction of the Temple.
Enemies of the prophet rose up, consulted together and said
that this prophet must be put to death. But Jeremiah escaped
because he had friends among the princely families.
SECTION 10. Jeremiah 27_29
Jeremiah contends with Hananiah, a false prophet. He
advises the king to submit to the Babylonians. Jeremiah
retires from the contest for a while, then utters a prophecy
against Hananiah. In chapter 29 we have the letter which
Jeremiah wrote to the exiles in Babylon, counseling them to
remain there for seventy years. A certain prophet in Babylon
wrote back to put Jeremiah to death, and Jeremiah wrote a
prophecy against him in response.
SECTION 11. Jeremiah 30_31
These contain what is called „The New Covenant.” It is
Jeremiah’s „Book of Consolation” for Israel. It corresponds
to the latter half of the book of Isaiah (40_66), called „The
Old Testament Book of Comfort.” It contains Jeremiah’s
prophecy concerning the new covenant.
SECTION 12. Jeremiah 34
This describes an incident which occurred during the siege
of Jerusalem. The king of Egypt came up to help Zedekiah.
The city was relieved for a time. Then the people went back
to their wicked lives again. This occurred in 587 B.C.
SECTION 13. Jeremiah 35
This goes back to about 597 B.C. Here the prophet gives a
striking lesson from the example of the Rechabites.
SECTION 14. Jeremiah 36
We have here the story of the writing of the prophecy by
SECTION 15. Jeremiah 37_39
This treats of the siege and capture of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.,
the desolation of the inhabitants, the efforts to save them_
selves in the city and Jeremiah’s advice to submit. He is
charged with treason. They seek to kill him. He is saved by
friends. The city falls and is destroyed and Jeremiah is saved
by the king.
SECTION 16. Jeremiah 40_44
This is a history of Judah and Jerusalem after the fall of
the Temple. Thousands are carried into exile, and thousands
remain. Gedaliah is appointed governor, a community is
formed at Mizpah. Ishmael, a traitor, murders the governor
and escapes. Under Johanan the people go to Bethlehem,
consult Jeremiah, and flee to Egypt contrary to his advice.
They cling to idolatry while in Egypt.
SECTION 17. Jeremiah 45
He gives an exhortation to Baruch. Here is excellent ad_
vice to preachers: „Seekest thou great things for thyself?
Seek them not.”
SECTION 18. Jeremiah 46_51
This is the record of Jeremiah’s oracles concerning the na_
tions. They were doubtless delivered sometime between 605
and 585 B.C., and are as follows:
1. An oracle concerning Egypt (46). See Isaiah 19; Ezekiel
2. An oracle concerning the Philistines (47). It is interest_
ing that both Isaiah and Ezekiel have messages concerning
these nations. See Isaiah 14:18_33; Ezekiel 25:15_17.
3. Moab (48). Much like Isaiah 15_16.
4. Ammon (49:1_6; Ezek. 25:1_17).
5. Edmon (49:7_22; Isaiah 34; Ezekiel 25.)
6. Damascus (49:23_27; also Isa. 17).
7. Kedar and the king of Hazor (49:28_33; Isa. 21).
8. Elam (49:34_39).
(NOTE. – These latter prophecies seem to have been written
in the reign of Zedekiah, about 594 B.C., just a short time be_
fore the prophet’s death.)
9. Babylon (50_51). Here we have a long prophecy against
SECTION 19. Jeremiah 52
This is a historical supplement containing records from the
book of 2 Kings, of the story of the fall of Jerusalem and the
1. What can you say of the book of Jeremiah as compared with other
books of the Bible, and what of its contents and the period which it
2. Who wrote the book of Jeremiah? What is the history of ita
writings and what say the critics?
3. What of the difficulties of the text of Jeremiah, what version
indicates these and what the critics’ position?
4. Give a convenient outline of the book of Jeremiah.
5. Give the items of information in the title of the book and a
bird’s eye view of the book itself.
THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF JEREMIAH
Our study in this chapter is the life and character of Jere_
miah. In our last chapter we gave a bird’s_eye view of the
book, which purports to be the substance of his prophecy, and
the main events of his life. In this chapter we shall study
something about the prophet himself. I want, as far as pos_
sible, to lead you into his inner life and soul and see, as best
we can, the relationship of his life to his book.
Jeremiah’s call and commission are found in 1:4_19. He
was predestined to be a prophet. He learned this when he
became of age, and at the time of his call. He puts it thus:
„The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before the time
thou wast born, I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a
prophet unto the nations.” We see there also a great truth
which has been exemplified many times since, that when God
calls a man to be his prophet, or preacher, he sometimes be_
gins with him before his birth. Sometimes he begins two or
three generations before he is born.
Dr. Carter Helm Jones was being prepared to preach for
at least two generations. J. Hudson Taylor was consecrated
by his mother to God to be a missionary before his birth.
Many another man received the divine impress to be God’s
preacher before he was born. It takes a great deal to make
a fine type of preacher. He needs all the forces of a good
heredity to his makeup and on his side. We never will have
great preachers till we have first, great mothers and even
Jeremiah received his call and consecration when he was a
young man. That was no little thing in relation to his future
greatness as a prophet. We have some very interesting facts
about that call which we find recorded in 1:6_10. Jeremiah
felt his weakness and inability. He says, „Ah, Lord Jehovah!
why hast thou called me to be a prophet? I do not know how
to speak. I am but a child. I am only a boy. How can I be
a preacher to the nations? I am too young for that.” How
many preachers feel like that when God lays his hand on
them? God have mercy on the preacher who does not feel
himself weak! When he realizes that God has called him,
that is the way he ought to feel. Now look at God’s answer
to all the prophet’s belittling of himself: God said, „Say not
I am a child.” It does not matter if you are but a boy. I am
going to tell you what to say. You can talk if I tell you how;
being a boy does not have anything to do with it. I know
what I am doing in calling you. „To whomsoever I shall send
thee thou shalt go and whatsoever I shall command thee thou
shalt speak. Be not afraid of them; for I am with thee, saith
the Lord.” That seems to have convinced Jeremiah. He ap_
pears to have been satisfied and begins his work.
Then the Lord gave unto him two visions, to assure and en_
courage him, 1:11_16. „The word of the Lord spake unto me
saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see an almond_tree.”
The almond tree was the first to put forth its blooms. It
blooms about January. The blossoms are beautiful and fra_
grant. This tree is called the watcher, „the opener” of spring.
By that God showed this man that he was a watcher. This
gave Jeremiah assurance that God was watching over him
and would keep his word. With that vision in his heart he
was prepared to give God’s message to the world. That kind
of thing establishes a man so that he can never be shaken.
The second vision gave the prophet some idea of his message.
The Lord said, „Tell me what thou seest. And I said I see a
boiling, seething caldron and its face is from the north,” –
ready to pour out its contents toward the south. Now that
was clearly an indication that the enemies of the Lord were
coming from the north. The horde of warriors like a seething
caldron were to come and fulfil the prophecies of Jeremiah.
So then, it appears from this latter vision that Jeremiah’s
mission was to warn the people of the impending invasion.
Then he received a specific commission (1:17_19). That
commission is, „Gird up thy loins, rise and speak unto them
all that I command thee. Be not dismayed at them lest I
dismay thee before them.” Do not be afraid of them: don’t
run, for I will be with thee. Don’t be afraid of them or I will
make you to be afraid before them. Don’t be afraid of God’s
message. The cowardly preacher is the most contemptible of
all men. Now look at the strong promises here. „I have made
thee a fenced city, an iron pillar and brazen walls. I have
made thee as brazen walls against the priests and princes.”
This assured him that God was with him, and that he was to
go not in his own name, but in the fear and strength of God.
Such in brief is the commission of Jeremiah to the great work
of being a prophet to the nations.
We have seen that as soon as the call came to him he felt
his weakness and inability. He said, „I am only a boy.” He
had a deep consciousness of his inability. As we come to
study the inner suffering of this man we find in him one of
the most pathetic figures in history. Jeremiah was a patriot.
He loved his city, his country, and his people as few men
ever loved them. He was also God’s prophet and was com_
manded as such to speak God’s message, and that message
was the doom of the nation, ruin to the people that he loved.
To be faithful to his people he felt that he must stay with
them. Thus he was between two fires. He was driven from
pillar to post and wavered between desire and duty, till he
was forced to take refuge in God alone and let his people
perish, for they would not heed his message.
Now let us look at his suffering in view of the impending
doom as he sees how surely his nation is to be destroyed (4:
19_22). Hear him as he breaks forth in bitter wailing, „0
my vitals, my vitals, my heart is disquieted within me.” He
beholds the doom of the people and it breaks his heart be_
cause he loves the people, and he loves God and therefore
must denounce the people for their sins. Destruction is com_
ing (8:18_19). After describing the inevitable doom of the
people he breaks forth thus: „Oh that I could comfort myself
against sorrow I my heart is faint within me. . . . 13 not the
Lord King in Zion?”
The question is, If the Lord be in the city then how can it
be destroyed? But he says, „The Lord is far from Zion.”
Then he breaks forth in that very familiar passage, „The
harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
He identifies himself with the people. He feels most deeply
their doom. He then turns his thoughts to the causes of their
sickness and bursts forth, „Is there no balm in Gilead,” is
there no medicine for this disease? Is there no help for this
awful state of the people? „Is there no physician there?”
Why then is there no health? „Why is not the health of the
daughter of my people recovered?” Then we have another
touching expression of his grief, 9:1_2: „Oh that my head
were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might
weep day and night for my people.” Such an expression is to
be found nowhere else in literature. For a man to wish that
his eyes were a fountain of tears, that he might shed enough
tears to wash away the sins of the people; that he might thus
suffer to help his people! Where is there a parallel to this
passage? We don’t know much about suffering for people and
with people, when we place ourselves in the light of this pas_
sage. We have never gone down into the depths of anguish
like that. It is like Jesus Christ. In this passage we are re_
minded of Jesus as he weeps over Jerusalem. He breaks forth
again: „Oh that I had a hiding_place, that I might hide myself
from their sight.” He wanted to go away that he might get
away from their wickedness. But if he had, he would have
come back to weep for the people and warn them against their
His inner or spiritual conflict is described in 12:1_6. No
sufferer ever endured the mental and spiritual agony of this
prophet, save Jesus himself. He discovered that a plot had
been made against him by the men of Anathoth, his native
city. They had decided to stop his preaching because he was
discouraging the people and talking like a traitor. Jeremiah
heard about it. We see how the problem arose. Here was
God’s prophet delivering God’s message, and he was suffering
agony of heart and sore trial, while those enemies of his were
living in plenty and comfort. Why did not God punish them?
Why did he have to suffer instead of these wicked men? It is
the old, old problem. It is the same problem in the book of
Job, and in Psalm 73. This problem has troubled many peo_
ple since. Why is it that the wicked suffer not and the right_
eous are so often troubled, and the rich who are so wicked
prosper and are happy?
Then Jehovah said, „If thou hast run with the footmen, and
they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with
horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst,
they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of
the Jordan?” If you are discouraged now, if you run now,
what will you do when the real test comes? That was like a
flash of common sense to help this man out of the difficulty.
He saw that his contest with these men of Anathoth was a
little thing; that it was but an introduction to what was in
store for him. The time was coming when he would have to
contend with men worse than these men of Anathoth. If you
are going to get discouraged in this land of plenty, what will
you do when the swelling of the Jordan comes? The swelling
of the Jordan, or the pride of Jordan, is taken by some to
refer to the rich verdure and brush which grows upon its
banks; by others, the animals which infest these woods; by
others, the floods of spring which drive out the animals to
the hills to commit their depredations. Such shall be the on_
slaught of the enemy, as wild beasts ravaging the land. How
will you stand that, Jeremiah? What will you do when the
real test comes, if you are ready to give up now? That is a
fine lesson for us to learn today. If we cannot stand little
difficulties what will we do when great difficulties come?
He makes another complaint, 15:10_11: „Woe is me, my
mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man
of contention.” Then God gives him encouragement in that
he will be with him: „Cheer up, Jeremiah, for I am going to
make you triumph over all.” He comes to another difficulty,
15:15, 18_19: „0 Lord, remember me and avenge my suffer_
ings. . . . Why is my pain perpetual and my wounds refuse
to be healed? . . . If thou return, then will I bring thee
again.” Jeremiah, come back to your early life and then
I will help you before men. If thou wilt take forth the precious
from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth.” Now here is a
great text. What a great thing it is to learn to separate the
precious from the vile. If he will come close to God, God will
stand by him. „Quit talking about yourself, and then you
will not have such difficulties.”
Now we come to another great conflict in the prophet’s
mind (20:7_18). Take first 20:14_18. He was cast down. He
was in terrible agony, 20:14: „Cursed be the day in which
I was born.” That is like Job 3. God has commanded me to
preach this awful message and then he lets these men persecute
me. Oh that I had never been born! 0 God, what dost thou
mean by getting me into this trouble? Thus he complains.
He had thought to quit preaching. He was discouraged:
„Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any
more in his name.” But then he said, I cannot quit; I must
preach. Now that is a true prophet. He makes up his mind
that he will not preach, but he cannot help it. He is God’s
man. And as God’s man he must preach. „Then there is in
my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I
cannot contain.” He rises to higher ground, 20:11: „0 Lord,
thou art a mighty one and my persecutors shall not prevail.”
There are certain steps by which this prophet rises to the
high plane which God wants him to attain. He blames God
for bringing him into the opposition of these wicked men.
Then God assures him that he will save him from his perse_
cutors and leads him to see that the persecution was a bless_
ing to him. He ends with words of praise (v. 13).
We have something of his domestic and social life in 16:1_9.
The substance of this is that he is forbidden to marry and
to have a family, because of the evil times coming upon the
land. He is forbidden to build a house, to go to the house of
mourning or to the house of mirth. He is forbidden to go to
the house of pleasure, because he is a man whose mission is
to warn of punishment. He is to be himself a message of
warning to the people. He is to warn by his very life that the
nation is about to be destroyed. He is not to go to the house
of pleasure because destruction is coming on the people.
Jeremiah’s conflict with the false prophets is described in
23:9_40. Their character is evil. Jeremiah speaks as if some
of those prophets in Jerusalem were living private lives of
corruption. He is deeply shocked at it. „My heart is like a
drunken man. In my house I have found wickedness.” These
prophets were living corrupt lives. They were hypocrites.
They pretended to be pious like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time,
but inwardly they were as dead men’s bones. Jeremiah was
grieved. A corrupt life indicates at once a false prophet.
Jeremiah charged that their message was their own and
not God’s (23:16): „They teach you vanity, they speak a
vision of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the
Lord.” They also preach for popularity. That is another
characteristic of the false prophet. He preaches for money.
He is a man who preaches to please the people. He speaks out
of his own heart and not of the Lord. Here is a fine lesson for
us. The true preacher preaches the vision which the Lord
gives and not his own visions and dreams.
His charge respecting their attitude toward sin was that
these false prophets made light of sin and its consequences
(vv. 17_18). No wonder they lived corrupt lives themselves,
for their conception of sin was low. They made sin a little
matter. They said that it would not bring such terrible con_
sequences; that it was really necessary to the development of
character; that it was a stage in the progress upward.
His charge concerning the counsel of God was that they
stood not in God’s counsel (23:21_24): „If they had stood
in my counsel they had not caused my people to err.” This
statement implies that these prophets had made no honest
effort to look at the question from God’s standpoint; they
were not on God’s side; they had no real knowledge of God;
had no experience of his power. Such men have no true in_
sight into the word of God.
His charge concerning their dreams and visions was that
they had dreamed their own dreams (23:25_29): „They
tell their dreams for the word of the Lord.” „What is the chaff
to the wheat?” asks the prophet. They feed the people chaff.
It is a fine accomplishment to be able to distinguish between
wheat and chaff in religious matters.
His charge respecting their sermons was that they stole
their sermons (23:30_32, especially, v. 30). There were
true prophets in Jerusalem and the false prophets stole their
prophecies and palmed them off for their own. This is a
characteristic of a false prophet. It may be better for the
people if a preacher steals another preacher’s thunder, than
to feed the people chaff, but it is not better for the preacher
himself. Thus we observe that one of Jeremiah’s bitterest con_
flicts was with the false prophets. They were a thorn in his
side, a continual source of annoyance, and a powerful factor
in the downfall of the nation.
He charges that they were users of cant_phrases (23:
33_40). An experience common to the prophet was, „The
burden of the Lord.” The false prophets made use of this
phrase to give authority to their utterances, to such an extent
that it became a mere „cant_phrase,” meaningless and empty.
The prophet declared that this phrase should be no longer
used 23:36: „Every man’s own word shall be his burden.”
People shall no longer ask, „What is the burden of the Lord,”
but, „What hath Jehovah answered thee?” Or, „What hath
Jehovah spoken?” Those that use this phrase, „The burden
of the Lord,” shall be cast off, and an everlasting reproach
and perpetual shame shall be brought upon them (23:40).
1. What the theme of this study, and what, in general, does it embrace?
2. What of Jeremiah’s call and commission (1:4_19) and what the
application, to modern preachers?
3. How did Jeremiah receive this call and commission, and how did
the Lord deal with him?
4. How did the Lord assure him and what the visions and their interpretation?
5. What his specific commission and what assurance did the Lord
give him here?
6. What, in general, his inner sufferings and what the cause?
7. How does the prophet express his inner sufferings for his people?
8. What the spiritual conflict in Jeremiah and what the problem
arising in connection with it?
9. What his further complaint and what the Lord’s reply?
10. What the depressing effect of the inner conflict upon the prophet
and what his final conclusion?
11. Show the process by which the prophet attained the right attitude.
12. Describe his domestic and social life (16:1_9).
13. In his conflict with the false prophets what his charge as to their
14. What his charge respecting their message?
15. What his charge respecting their attitude toward sin?
16. What his charge concerning the counsel of God and what does
17. What his charge concerning their dreams and visions?
18. What his charge respecting their sermons?
19. What the charge respecting cant-phrases?
THE IMPEACHMENT, CALL, AND JUDGMENT
This chapter is a discussion of the prophecies of Jeremiah
during the reign of Josiah, chapters 2_6. They are abstracts
from Jeremiah’s sermons, preached sometime between 626 B.C.
and 608 B.C., eighteen years of his public ministry. Here we
have the essential points of his discourses for that time, the
best parts of the prophecies which he had uttered during that
long period. Josiah was one of the best kings that Israel ever
had. There are no sins recorded against him. The most com_
plete reformation ever enacted in the nation was wrought un_
der his direction. But it was an external reformation. It is
true that he destroyed all the idols, all the high places and
stopped the idolatrous worship throughout the entire realm,
but he did not change the hearts of the people. „The serpent
of idolatry was scorched but not killed.” The renovation was
not deep enough; it was a reformation only.
We cannot enforce religion by statutory law, legal author_
ity, or royal mandate. It is a matter of the heart. During
those years and following, the prophet Jeremiah was at work.
His keen prophetic and penetrating mind was able to see
deeper than Josiah. He perceived that the reformation and
the revolution were external. He knew that many of the peo_
ple, in fact, most of them, had never really repented. He knew
that the nation was still inclined to idolatry, and ready to
lapse into heathen worship; yea, he knew that as soon as the
pressure was removed, the nation would fall back into the old
life of wickedness and idol worship.
Now, the subject matter of these five chapters is this: Is_
rael’s history one long apostasy which would bring on her
inevitable destruction. For eighteen years Jeremiah sought
to drill that into the people’s minds and hearts and produce
the needed reformation which alone could save. Let us see
how he went to work; how he brought this truth before them;
how he appealed to them; what arguments he used; what
threats he uttered against them, if possible to turn them from
idolatry and bring them back to the true worship of Jehovah.
The subject of chapter 2 is this: Israel’s history a continual
defection to idolatry. He is dealing with all Israel. He
makes no distinction between Northern and Southern Israel.
He is talking here to the whole race. He reviews their history,
that is, their religious history and their present condition.
He has a very beautiful statement here in Jeremiah 2:1_3,
picturing the former fulness of Israel. He says, „The word of
Jehovah came unto me saying, Go, and cry in the ears of
Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, I remember for thee
the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how
thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not
sown. Israel was holiness unto Jehovah.” Thus he introduces
his arraignment with this reference to their former fidelity.
Israel started out faithful and true. Hosea pictures her as a
faithful bride. She was faithful and true at first. Israel was
true to God, and God was true to Israel. Now that is the
same picture here and it may be that he got it from Hosea.
The relation between the nation and God was fidelity and love.
It was the „honeymoon” of the nation’s life. That is how she
Since then Israel’s history has been one of repeated acts of
unfaithfulness to her God. The prophet seeks to drive it home
to their very hearts by a series of questions. We have this
question in 2:4_8: „What unrighteousness have your fathers
found in me, that they have gone from me?” Was it because
they had found unrighteousness in God? Had they found
Jehovah untrue? Had they discovered unfaithfulness in him?
We might ask the backslider today, „Is it because there is
something wrong with God that you turn from him?” There
is a great sermon in that. He shows next that the leaders
turned from him: „I brought you up into a plentiful land,
to eat the fruit thereof.” I was kind to you; I gave you no
occasion to turn from me; I never forsook you and left you
in need; I cared for you. Still you and your leaders turned
from me. „I brought you up into a land of plenty, to eat the
fruit thereof; but when ye entered ye defiled my land and
made my heritage an abomination. . . . They that handle the
law knew me not; the rulers also transgressed against me, and
the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that
do not profit.”
A serious question is raised in 2:9_13: Has any other nation
changed gods but you? „Pass over to the isles of Kittim and
see; send unto Kedar, and consider diligently; and see if there
hath been found such a thing.” Kittim here refers to the
island of Cyprus and the isles of Greece. Go there and see if
they have ever changed their gods. Has it ever been done in
the world except as you have done it? Hath a nation changed
its gods? „But my people have changed their glory for that
which doth not profit.” Do you know of any nation in history
that has ever done such a thing? These Hebrews had changed
their God? Why had they done so? What reason could they
give? Jeremiah says, You Israelites have changed to other
gods, and in that you are an exception to the nations of the
earth. The strange thing about it, too, is that you have
changed from your true God to those that are not gods. „My
people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns,
broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Here we have for
the first time in the history of religion, a statement that the
idols of the nations are not gods. Verse 13 is one of the most
beautiful passages in all the Bible. God is a fountain of living
waters. That sounds like the words of Jesus to the woman
of Samaria at Jacob’s well. Idolatry is pictured as cisterns
that are broken; that cannot hold water. He means to say that
every other form of religion but the worship of Jehovah is a
false religion; there is no saving truth in it; it is dry; it will
not hold water; it is man made. That is a true description of
all false religions. Some scientists and men who study re_
ligions deny this; they say that there is a certain amount of
truth in other religions as well as in Christianity. Well, so
there is some truth in every one, but not saving truth. All
other religions are man_made cisterns that will not hold water.
This is one of the most suggestive texts in all the Bible, as to
the comparative value of the religion of Jehovah and other
religions; as to the value of Christianity as compared with
He says, in 2:14_17: „Is Israel a servant? is he a home_born
slave?” Is he such that he must become a prey? „The young
lions have roared upon him, and yelled.” Now it is only the
slave in the household that is whipped to make him do his
duty. Is that the case with Israel? Must he be whipped like
a slave to compel him to do his duty? to obey Jehovah? Other
nations have whipped him, they have chastised him, „They
have broken the crown of his head.” Was Israel but a slave
to be thus whipped and beaten? Is there no manhood in the
nation? What a powerful appeal to national pride and honor
is this? He raises another question in verses 18_19: „Now
what hast thou to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters
of the Shihor? or what hast thou to do in the way to Assyria,
to drink the waters of the River?” What business have you
turning from Jehovah to make alliances and seek help from
Egypt? What business have you to be turning to Assyria for
aid? We have seen that one of the causes of the destruction of
both the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms was that they
made alliances with Egypt rather than trust in Jehovah. It
was an evil thing that they should turn from Jehovah to seek
aid from human strength.
Other questions are raised in 2:20_25. He says, 2:21_22:
„I planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then
art thou turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign
vine?” That reminds one of Isaiah 5. Here he is saying that
they were bad to the heart: „Though thou wash thee with
soap, with lye, yet is thine iniquity marked,” or ingrained,
„before me.” In verses 23_25 we see Israel trying to condone
her sin. She has tried to make out that she has not done
wickedly. Now can you say you have not been faithless?
You are like the wild ass in the wilderness, snuffing up the
wind in her desire – who can turn her away? They, like an
animal, were running hither and thither, wild with passion,
raving with desire for other gods, crazed with eagerness for
idolatry. It is not a very elegant figure, but a highly sugges_
Then the question of 2:26_28 is, Why don’t you go to your
idols in the time of trouble? As a thief is ashamed when found
out, so is the house of Israel; priests, princes, and king, that
say to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou art
my mother. Now why do you come to me in trouble? Why
don’t you let your gods help you? This passage tingles with
sarcasm. It is a very striking arraignment, showing the help_
lessness of heathenism.
In 2:22 he presents the impossibility of improving the in_
ternal nature by external applications. This is true because:
1. Of the nature of the operation. Wash and paint are ap_
plied only to the external.
2. They do not affect the diseased will.
3. They do not free one from fascinating and enslaving
4. They do not affect a morbid appetite which increases
5. They have no power to break habit.
6. They cannot remove the blindness of the understanding.
7. They cannot purify a drugged conscience.
If this be true then why should we preach? Because:
1. There is a law that condemns and a gospel that liberates
from the bondage of the law;
2. The only hope of a change lies in driving one from the
conviction that he can change himself.
The following poem contains the whole story:
0 Endless Misery
I labor still, but still in vain;
The stains of sin I see
Are woaded all, or dyed in grain,
There’s not a blot will stir a jot,
For all that I can do;
There is no hope in fuller’s soap
Though I add nitre, too.
I many ways have tried;
Have often soaked it in cold fears;
And when a time I spied,
Poured upon it scalding tears;
Have rinsed and rubbed and scraped and
And turned it up and down;
Yet can I not wash out one spot;
It’s rather fouler grown.
Can there no help be had?
Lord, thou art holy, thou art pure:
Mine heart is not so bad,
So foul, but thou canst cleanse it sure;
Speak, blessed Lord; wilt thou afford
Me means to make it clean?
I know thou wilt; thy blood was spilt;
Should it run still in vain?
A sinner released from hell would repeat his sins.
There are yet other questions propounded in 2:29_37: Why
do you plead with me when all the while you transgress
against me? I have smitten you; I have smitten your children
but they are incorrigible; they will not be corrected. You have
killed the prophets that were sent unto you. Why then will
you still plead with me? Why do you have anything to do
with me? Go after those gods that you have made for yourselves.
Verse 31: „0 generation . . . have I been a wilderness unto
Israel, or a land of thick darkness?” Now that is a question
full of suggestion. You have turned away from me. Is it be_
cause my religion and my services have been like living in
a wilderness where there is no light, no love, no joy, no food?
Have I never been a blessing? Is that the reason you have
left me? How suggestive! Many people think the services of
God are like a wilderness. 0 Backslider, have God and his
services been as a wilderness to you, that you have strayed
away? You have not been a faithful bride. „Can a virgin
forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people
have forgotten me, days without number. How trimmest thou
thy way to seek love!” Just like a married woman fixing up
to make love to a man that is not her husband. See her as
she adorns herself to look attractive that she may win favor
of strange men. Now that is the picture here. „Why gaddest
thou about?” This is the only place in the Bible where that
word, „gad,” occurs.
Jehovah shows his love and faithfulness to Israel in spite
of her sins (3:1_5). Though Judah has been faithless, there is
a prospect of a better future for her: If a man put away his
wife, can she return to him? No, „Yet return again to me,
saith Jehovah.” I will take you back in spite of all. See what
you have been doing; you have been like a watcher in the
wilderness, watching for false gods and religions to come along
– that you might adopt them. They have betrayed you.
„Wilt thou not now cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide
of my youth?”
A special lesson by Jehovah is given to Judah (3:6_18).
This is a contrast, unfavorable to Judah (6_10). Judah had
taken no warning from the downfall of the Northern Kingdom.
Notice especially 3:10: „And yet for all this her treacherous
sister Judah hath not returned unto me with her whole heart,
but feignedly, saith Jehovah.” Now that gives us some idea of
the opinion of Jeremiah in relation to Josiah, the great king,
in his work of reform. Josiah had touched only the outside of
the matter. Judah was no better than Northern Israel, but
rather worse. Her improvement was only feigned.
Note the comparison in verses 11_13. The promise was to
Northern Israel first. In that promise was blessing on condi_
tion of return. Verse 12: „Go, and proclaim these words
toward the north. . . . I will not look in anger upon you; for I
am merciful, saith Jehovah.” These blessings are going to
come when Judah repents, 3:18: „In those days the house
of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall
come together out of the land of the north to the land that I
gave for an inheritance unto your fathers.” Observe that the
blessing is to come when Judah and Israel walk together;
when they are united again. By that statement he shows that
Northern Israel was not more steeped in iniquity than South_
ern Israel. The Messiah’s advent is coming and Judah will
come in with Israel.
Jehovah holds out hope of Judah in 3:19_22: „But I said,
How I will put thee among the children, and give thee a
pleasant land. . . . Ye shall call me My Father, and shall not
turn away from following me. Surely as a wife treacherously
departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously
with me, saith the Lord. . . . Return, ye backsliding children,
I will heal your backslidings.”
The prophet bases his hope for Israel on the fact that the
perverted nation shall confess its sin verses 23_25, especially
verse 24: „The shameful thing [the thing ye have been
worshiping, Baal] hath devoured the labor of our fathers. . . .
for we have sinned against Jehovah our God, we and our
fathers.” Now that is a great confession. The prophet pre_
sumes to speak for the people by way of prediction that they
will do this someday. He still has hope for Israel.
Jehovah makes a proposition to Israel in 4:1_4, that he will
bless them if they will return: „If thou wilt return to me, and
if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight;
then shalt thou not be removed.” But the change must be
thorough (3_4) a very suggestive passage: „Thus saith Je_
hovah to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your
fallow ground.” Finney, in his great book on revivals, has
several sermons on this text. He says that every revival of
religion ought to begin with preaching on this text. The fallow
ground must be broken up. „Fallow ground” stands for two
things: First, undeveloped possibilities; and, second, unused
powers. The ground must be both broken up and sown with
right kind of seed. „Sow not among thorns.” Every revival
of religion has that object in view. Put the weeds and briers
out and put the unused talents and powers to work. Sow the
seed of righteousness and benevolence where the weeds of sin
and waywardness have been. If we are going to be Chris_
tians, let us be wholehearted ones. Break up the fallow ground
by putting sin out and service in. All this means that the
change must be complete.
The following is a digest of the coming judgment of 4:5 to
6:30. In this description of the coming judgment he pictures
it as advancing from the North. He had in mind the coming
Babylonian invasion. Note these items:
1. They are told to get themselves to the fortified cities,
4:5_10: „Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry aloud and say,
Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities.
. . . flee for safety, stay not; for I will bring evil from the
2. It is coming even to Jerusalem herself (w. 11_18).
Jeremiah now speaks of the invasion as a hot, withering blast
from the desert. He sees the foe coming as a swift cloud; the
watchers are at hand; he hears the snorting of their horses; he
sees them enclose the cities.
3. The anguish of the prophet. Here we have the suffering
of this magnificent patriot, verse 19: „My vitals, my vitals!”
4. The devastation is pictured verses 23_26: „The earth was
waste and void.” The same expression is used in Genesis
(1:2). The heavens had no light. The mountains trembled,
the cities were broken down. The whole land was devastated.
All this is a vision of the destruction to come.
5. The destruction is almost complete (w. 27_31). Notice
verse 27: „I will not make a full end.” There is a remnant
to be left, the root, the stock, not the entire people. It is not
to be utter destruction.
6. This is merited, for all are corrupt (5:1_9). Here is a
striking statement: „Run to and fro through the streets of
Jerusalem, and see if you can find a man, if there be any that
doeth justly.” He means to say, You cannot find a true man
in the whole city. There was not one manly man in Jerusalem.
This reminds us of Diogenes, going through the streets of
Athens with a lantern looking for a man. In Sodom there
were not to be found ten righteous men, only one, and he was
a poor specimen. So it is here in Jerusalem. All are corrupt.
Verse 5: „I will get me unto the great men,” the leaders. But
he finds that they were corrupt, too.
7. Verses 10_19 is a picture of the disaster. They are
not to make a full end, but disaster is to come, 5:16_17: „Their
quiver is an open sepulchre, . . . they shall eat up thy harvest,
and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat;
. . . they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig_trees; they shall
beat down thy city.” But remember they shall not make a
full end. There shall be a remnant. The cause of all this is
the corruption of the people (w. 20_29). Both people and
prophets are evil. He repeats these warnings and messages
over and over again. He describes the moral condition of the
people. A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in
the land, 5:30_31: „The prophets prophesy falsely.” The
preachers are deceiving the people. And the worst thing about
it is that the people like to have it so.
8. The foe is still nearer. The capital is invested and must
be prepared, for the enemy plans to storm it; another vivid
picture, 6:1_8: „Flee for safety, ye men of Jerusalem.” Flee
to Tekoa, flee to the wilderness, for evil is coming from the
north. A great destruction is coming. Thus he goes on with
his awful picture of the destruction hastening upon the city.
The enemy says, We will take it by storm, at full noon; no,
it is past noon; the shadows begin to decline; let us go up at
night; let us take it by a night attack.
9. The doom is certain and fixed (w. 9_21). Note verse 14:
„They have slightly healed the hurt of my people, saying,
Peace, peace; where there is no peace.” We are indebted to
Jeremiah for that oft_quoted sentence. It is classic. Spurgeon
preached a great sermon on that passage. His theme was a
blast against false peace. Verse 16: „Stand ye in the way
and see, and ask for the old paths.” There has been many a
sermon preached from that text, on the subject, „The Old
10. In 22_26 is a full description of the enemy. Note the
minuteness of it, verse 23: „They have no mercy; their voice
roareth like the sea; they ride upon horses; they are against
the daughter of Zion.”
11. There is another picture of the nation. In 6:28_30:
„They are as grievous revolters.” „Going about with slanders,
they are brass and iron. . . . They are refuse silver, fit only to
be thrown out in the street. As silver amalgamates with other
metals and loses its value, so these people by amalgamated
religion become refuse to be tossed aside into the dump pile of
rubbish. This is a magnificent passage. It sums up what
Jeremiah preached and taught for eighteen years.
1. When. were these prophecies uttered and what the conditions
under which they were spoken?
2. What the subject matter of these chapters and what the general
3. What the subject of chapter 2 and to whom addressed?
4. What the picture of Jeremiah 2:1_3?
5. What, in general, Israel’s history after the first love, what question raised in 2:4_8, and what the charge here brought against the
6. What question is raised in 2:9_13, what two sins charged against
Israel and how illustrated?
7. What the questions of 2:14_19 and what their application?
8. What the other questions raised in 2:20_25, and what the applica_
tion of each, respectively?
9. What the question of 2:26_28 and what its application?
10. What the import of 2:22?
11. If this be true, then why should we preach?
12. Can you recite from. memory the poem based on Jeremiah 2:22?
13. What the questions propounded in 2:29_37 and what their applica_
14. How does Jehovah show his love and faithfulness to Israel in
spite of her sins (3:1_5) ?
15 What special lesson by Jehovah is given to Judah and what the
16. What hope does Jehovah hold out to Judah in 3:19_22?
17. On what does the prophet base his hope for Israel and how is it
18. What proposition does Jehovah make to Israel in 4:1_4 and of
what homiletic value is this section?
19. Give a digest of the coming judgment of 4:5 to 6:30.
SERMONS ON THE TEMPLE WORSHIP
Jeremiah 7_10; 26
These events occurred in the earliest half of the reign of
Jehoiakim, about 607 or 606 B.C. Though the nation was going
back to idolatry, the Temple ceremonies and sacrifices were
carried on with great zeal and elaborateness. The people
seemed to put their trust in the Temple rather than in God
who dwelt therein. They believed that the sacrifices them_
selves availed much, and that their salvation was secure, if
they performed these services. The relation of their conduct
to their worship did not seem to trouble them. Jeremiah heard
God’s call to preach to them in the very Temple itself, to
preach to the multitude of worshipers that thronged these
courts. He seized upon the occasion of a great feast, when the
multitude was the greatest and addressed the throng on the
necessity of a better life with their worship. Jeremiah was in
the Temple that is called the house of Jehovah. There was
unquestionably a large concourse of people gathered together.
Some suggest that the purpose of that assembly may have
been to consider means of defense in the face of impending
disaster upon the nation. It may have occurred sometime
when Jehoiakim had been compelled to pay tribute to a for_
Jeremiah speaks to the people a message of warning:
„Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to
dwell in this place.” Then he gives them some very suggestive
advice, some very earnest words of warning: „Trust ye not in
lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of
Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah.” That is very suggestive. It
is a warning to people who are trusting in the external, the
ceremonial and the ritual; that these avail nothing where the
spirit and the heart are lacking. They believed, because they
had the Temple of Jehovah and kept up its ceremonies, that it
would stand for ever and that God would protect them for
the Temple’s sake. Jeremiah prophesied that the Temple
would be destroyed. Less than twenty years afterward these
words of the prophet were fulfilled. The Temple was destroyed.
But these people said, „It is impossible that this temple
should be destroyed, for it is the temple of Jehovah.” They
were saying, „The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah,
the temple of Jehovah!” This is a blow against all heathen
religions, and also the Roman Catholic religion. The people
were trusting in the ceremonies and externals: „The temple of
Jehovah! The temple of Jehovah! The temple of Jehovah!”
The prophet demanded that they change their life; that they
turn from their wickedness, else the Temple would be no good
The prophet here charged them with all kinds of sin: with
falsehood, with lying, with deceit, with murder, and with
idolatry of various kinds. They were like the Negro woman
who was accused of a certain sin and when asked, „How can
you do that?” she replied: „Well, I never lets that interfere
with my religion.” These people divorced morals and religion.
They never let their religion interfere with their conduct.
Furthermore, the prophet charged them with making their
beautiful Temple, in which they were trusting, a „den of
robbers.” That is the same condition that Jesus found about
600 years later. He said, „Ye have made my Father’s house
a den of thieves.” The people were saying, „It is impossible
for the Temple to be destroyed; God will defend his house.”
But the prophet reminds them that God did destroy his house:
Remember the days of Eli and his sons, and Samuel yonder at
Shiloh; that God destroyed Shiloh where the tabernacle was
then. This is the only direct reference we have to the de_
struction of Shiloh. The ark of the covenant was captured,
and the tabernacle is heard of later as stationed at Gibeon and
later on was stored in the Temple. God destroyed their dwell_
ing place at Shiloh and he can destroy it in Jerusalem. That
is the lesson here.
The result of that sermon is recorded in Jeremiah 26. In
that chapter Jeremiah or Baruch writes down what the proph_
et had said, not the same words exactly but the substance of
it. The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jere_
miah speak these words in the house of Jehovah. Then they,
the ecclesiastical leaders, began a persecution. They were the
parties that were directly concerned, because they adminis_
tered the Temple worship and services, and if the Temple were
to be destroyed, they would be out of work, and thus they
took offense at the words of Jeremiah. They did not enjoy
his going around and threatening the destruction of their
churchhouse and thus put them out of business.
Now, it was the same in the days of Christ. It was the
ecclesiastical leaders who began the persecution against him.
It was the chief priests, the scribes and the rabbis that were
aroused because he rebuked them for burying the law under
their traditions. So it was here. These priests and prophets
(false prophets) were enraged at this kind of preaching and
they laid hold of Jeremiah and said, „Thou shalt surely die.”
The persecution of Stephen is a parallel case. They attempted
to prove against Stephen the charge that he had spoken
against the Temple; that he had spoken blasphemous words
against Moses and against „This holy place.” The Sanhedrin
asked him, „Are these things so?” He admitted the statement
and that was sufficient charge in their minds. But he went on
to prove to them that God might be worshiped without a
Temple; that he had been worshiped in many places besides
Jerusalem. That was adding crime to crime, and so they
Jeremiah was in the hands of the priests and prophets, and
was in imminent danger. They were about to kill him, but
there was another class of men, not there at the time, but they
heard of it. These were the princes of Judah who heard the
confusion, hurried from the king’s house to the house of Je_
hovah, and heard these priests and prophets about their
charges against Jeremiah, saying that he was worthy of death.
Jeremiah made his defense (v. 12). His defense was that Je_
hovah sent him to prophesy. He says that God commanded
him to say to them that they must amend their ways. Then
he went on to say that he had told them the truth and that
he was in their hands; that they could do with him as they
would, „Only know ye for certain that, if ye put me to
death, ye will bring innocent blood upon this city and upon
yourselves and the inhabitants of the land, for God hath sent
me to say these things to you.” Jeremiah did not take back a
There is no doubt that if it had not been for the princes
and the people who were on his side he would have immedi_
ately been put to death. Certain elders of the land rose up
and spake to the people. They said, „No, don’t be rash. You
remember that Micah, the prophet, prophesied that Zion
should be destroyed, and although he prophesied thus, Heze_
kiah, the king, and the people did not put him to death.”
These men remind us of Gamaliel. Then they tell the story
of another occasion. He did not fare so well as Micah. There
was a different king upon the throne. Jehoiakim was now at
the helm. He it was who with wicked hands took the prophecy
of Jeremiah, God’s holy message, and cut it to pieces and
burned it. He did not stop till he put the prophet, Uriah, to
death. He fled to Egypt but the king brought him back and
The outcome of this was that Jeremiah was saved. He ea_
caped these enraged priests and prophets through the influence
of the princes. They were men of influence and power, and
they took his part in the face of his enemies. He had a par_
ticular among the princes, Ahikam, the son of Shaphan,
who was chiefly instrumental in rescuing him.
Intercession for this people is now useless, 7:16: „There_
fore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor
prayer for them, neither make intercession to me.” Jeremiah
could not save Judah and Jerusalem. No man could do it.
Not even Jesus Christ could save the wicked land and city
in his day. Savonarola could not save Florence. So the day
of opportunity had passed for Jerusalem.
Their idolatry is described in 7:17_20: „Seest thou not
what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jeru_
salem?” This was in the reign of Jehoiakim. It could not
have occurred in the reign of Josiah. „The children gather
wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead
the dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven,” probably
Ashtoreth. They made cakes doubtless in the shape of that
queen, as we, in our childhood, made cakes in the shape of
men. So they made their cakes in honor of their heathen
goddess. Verses 19_20 show the result of such conduct.
The import of 7:21_26 is that the basis of the law is obe_
dience, not ceremony. In verse 21 is a touch of sarcasm:
„Add your burnt offerings.” This is like Isaiah and Amos,
who exhort the people to increase their religious efforts that
were but dead forms. Amos says, „Come to Gilgal and trans_
Verse 22 says, „I spake not unto your fathers, when I
brought them out of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and
sacrifices: this is the thing that I commanded them saying,
Hearken unto my voice.” Now, the critics take that as one of
their strong points. They maintain that it plainly says that
ceremonial legislation of the Pentateuch was not given by
Moses but that it was written later. They refer to this with
great boldness saying, „Does not Jeremiah, the prophet, plain_
ly say that God did not speak unto Moses or the fathers con_
cerning burnt offerings and sacrifices down in Egypt or in
the wilderness?” When Israel came out of Egypt, the nature
of the covenant made between God and Israel was as fol_
lows: „If ye will obey my voice and keep my covenant, then
indeed ye shall be mine own possession from among the peo_
ples, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy
nation” (Ex. 19:5_6). And we are told in verse 8 that the
people promised, saying, „All the words of Jehovah we will
do.” Now, the basis of that covenant on the part of Israel
was obedience. The basis on God’s part was grace. „If ye
will obey my voice,” is an expression of grace, an overture
that is not deserved. It is free and voluntary on God’s part.
„If ye will do what I tell you, I will be to you all that is
needed.” The people said, „We will obey the covenant.”
So it was made, and Jeremiah was right when he said, „I
spake not to your fathers in the wilderness concerning sacri_
fices and burnt offerings, but this I said, Obey my voice.”
The Ten Commandments were given as a standard of obedi_
ence and faith. They showed the people wherein they might
obey God’s voice. The condition is there laid down and their
acceptance implies faith and love on their part. That is the
foundation principle of Christianity itself. In this passage
it is clear that Jeremiah makes a great contrast between cere_
mony and obedience.
Jeremiah (7:27_28) goes on to describe the unbroken dis_
obedience of the people. They had continued in disobedience
ever since they had been in the land of Canaan. Next we have
the lament of Jeremiah over the destruction, 29_34: „Cut off
thy hair, 0 Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a
lamentation. The people have set their abominations in the
house that is called by my name. They have burned their
sons and their daughters in the fire, therefore behold the days
shall come that it shall no more be called the valley of
Topheth, nor the valley of Himom, but the valley of slaughter.
The dead bodies of this people shall be food for the birds of
the heavens and for the beasts of the earth. Then will I cause
to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jeru_
salem, the voice of mirth and gladness, the bridegroom and
the bride, for the land shall become a waste.”
In 8:1_3 Jeremiah shows that these barbarians who were
coming, were going to be so ruthless that they would not stop
with the killing of the living, but they would break open the
graves of the kings of Judah, the princes, the mighty men and
the prophets and would tear their bodies out of their graves
and desecrate them. Now, that was the highest indignity on
an Oriental, for the grave of his dead is sacred. Yet these
barbarians would go even to that extremity.
In 8:4_9 the prophet again exposes the wickedness of the
people and points to the exile that is not to be averted. Many
similar passages we have already examined. There are repe_
titions in Jeremiah. They would not repent and obey the word
of the Lord, therefore this punishment is coming. „How do
ye say, We are wise, and the Law of Jehovah is with us?”
„Our scribes have been reading the Law until they have
mastered it.” That is just what they did in the days of Jesus.
They had covered up the commandments of the Law by their
traditions. They had added many things, too. In verse 12 he
asks, „Were they ashamed when they had committed abomi_
nations? Nay, they were not ashamed.” Then Jeremiah de_
scribed the enemy approaching: „The snorting of the horses
is at the gate,” and so he goes on with his description of the
foe coming upon the land. In 18:22 we have that lament
which we have already studied before: „The harvest is past,
the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” „Oh, that my
head were a fountain of water that I might weep rivers of
We have a graphic picture in 9:3_9: „They bend their
tongues as a bow is bent.” A bow is made to bend. That is
the purpose for which it is made. The idea is that they use
their tongues as if they were made for lying. They speak
falsehood as if that was the main use of the tongue. The
people are so corrupt that they lie as if that were the normal
way of speaking.
The picture of 9:10_16 is a picture of the impending devas_
tation. Note the language of the prophet in 9:11, 13, 16:
„And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and
I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant
. . . And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law
which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice,
neither walked therein; . . . I will scatter them also among the
heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known; and
I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.”
The call of 9:17_22 is a call for the female mourners. They
are called upon to mourn and lament because of the de_
struction: „Call for the mourning women that they may come,
and for the skillful women. Let them take up a wailing for
us.” There was soon an occasion for it.
The contrast of 9:23_24 is a contrast between true and false
glorying. Here is a marvelous text and a great subject: „Let
not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty
man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his
riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he hath
understanding, and knoweth me.” What is he to glory in?
Not in human power and worth but in the knowledge of Je_
hovah who is powerful and loving. That is like the apostle
Paul who said, „God forbid that I should glory save in the
cross of Christ.” There was no cross of Christ in Jeremiah’s
time, but the idea is much the same. The knowledge of God,
such a God as Jehovah, is the summum bonum of life, the
highest object of human glorying.
The prophecy of 9:25_26 is a prophecy of the punishment of
the nations. Some of the heathen nations were to be punished
with Judah, and the prophecy of 10:1_16 is a prophecy con_
cerning idols, a distinct prophecy. It is a description of the
idols of the heathen nations, a magnificent portrayal of the
vanity of heathen worship, in contrast with the glorious wor_
ship of Jehovah. The critics claim that this passage was not
written by Jeremiah, but long after him. It is very much like
Isaiah 40_44, and they claim that it was not written till after
those chapters were written, between 400 and 200 B.C. Now,
that is a mere guess. Isaiah wrote chapters 40_44 and Jere_
miah wrote this later. He was probably writing to the exiles.
Though God’s people were in Babylon, Jeremiah addressed
this passage to them to exhort them to remain faithful to
Jehovah in the midst of heathen worship.
Now, it is significant that verse II is in Aramaic, not He_
brew. There are many explanations by critics and scholars
of this phenomenon. Some say that it is a corruption of the
text. Others that it is a marginal note crept into the text.
Others say that it is an instruction given to the exiles in Baby_
lon, which is highly probable. They spoke Aramaic and not
Hebrew. So this passage would enable them to have a ready
argument to meet the advocates of idol worship. In the
Aramaic the people would understand it, and could readily
use it in argument for their own worship.
We have a prophetic picture in 10:17_25. In this section
he pictures the coming exiles. The people are bidden to gather
together their wares and belongings, and prepare to go into
exile. There was a time when their punishment might have
been averted but it is too late now. The hour has come, the
shepherds are worthless, the foe approaches from the North.
Their heathen neighbors who have done great evil against the
nation of Israel shall be punished. The prophet asks Jehovah
to pour out his wrath upon them.
1. What the date and occasion of these prophecies?
2. What warning did Jeremiah here announce, and what remedy did
3. What charge did the prophet prefer against them, what example
in their history did he cite and what it_s lesson?
4. What the result of this sermon as recorded in Jeremiah 26 and
what the final outcome? Discuss fully.
5. How is the doom of Jerusalem indicated in 7:16 and what other
6. How is their idolatry described in 7:17_20 and what the result?
7. What the import of 7:21_26, what the critics’ contention with
respect to it, and what the reply?
8. How is their disobedience described in 7:27_28, what the lamen_
tation of Jeremiah and what the prophecy here of their doom?
9. What great indignity here prophesied against the people of Judah
10. What the prophet’s message, warning and lamentation in 8:4 to
11. What the picture of 9:3_9?
12. What the picture of 9:10_16?
13. What the call of 9:17_22?
14. What the contrast of 9:23_24?
15. What the prophecy of 9:25_26?
16. What the prophecy of 10:1_16, what say the entice of this passage
and what the reply?
17. What the prophetic picture in 10:17_25?
THE BROKEN COVENANT OF JUDAH
AND GOD’S DECREE TO PUNISH
These prophecies were doubtless uttered during the reign
of Jehoiakim, sometime between 608 and 603 B.C. They were
written first by Baruch, as dictated by Jeremiah in 604 B.C.,
but cut to pieces and burned by Jehoiakim and then rewritten
603 B.C. They are also a report of Jeremiah’s preaching dur_
ing the reign of this king, Jehoiakim.
The first two chapters (11_12) deal with the broken cove_
nant; chapter 13, with the rotten girdle and the lessons drawn
from it; the chapters 14_15 set forth the prophecies relating to
the drought that came upon the country at that time; chapter
16 gives the story of Jeremiah’s personal life and the lessons
to be derived from it; chapter 17 deals with the impending
evils that are threatened upon Jerusalem and exhorts them to
keep the sabbath. This is the general outline of these chapters.
The occasion for the utterance of the prophecies of chapters
11_12 was a lapse of the people from the reformation under
Josiah into the sins under Jehoiakim. Under that wicked
king they broke the covenant that they made with good King
Josiah, and lapsed into idolatry again. In the opening words
of chapter II the prophet pleads with them to remember their
covenant and to suffer no backsliding. That was the real
occasion. There had been a great reformation under Josiah;
they had broken their covenant in going back into idolatry
and the prophet pleads with them to remember their covenant
so recently made. We know that Jeremiah helped Josiah and
we also know that he preached during the reign of Jehoiakim.
He says, „The word of Jehovah came unto me saying, Hear
ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of
Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say thou unto
them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Cursed be the
man that heareth not the words of this covenant, which I
commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth
out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace, saying,
Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I com_
mand you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God.”
We find almost these identical words in Deuteronomy
Jeremiah receives those words from the Lord and, like a
true Israelite, he replies, 11:5, „Amen, 0 Jehovah.” That ex_
pression reminds us of the scene that was enacted soon after
Israel entered Palestine when the nation was gathered together
and the law was read, the blessings and curses, and the people
all answered each time, „Amen.” Over and over again this is
repeated. Here he hears the words of the covenant as uttered
to him by Jehovah, and he answers, „Amen.” He answered for
the people of Judah and Jerusalem, that is, he answered,
„Amen,” and he wanted them to answer likewise. But they
The charge against the people in verses 6_8 is that of a
violation of the covenant. He says, 11:6: „Proclaim all these
words in the cities of Judah, and the streets of Jerusalem,
saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant and do them. For
I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I
brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day,
rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.” In these
three mighty words Jeremiah sums up the substance of the
great covenant made at Sinai: „Obey my voice.” „Yet they
obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the
stubbornness of their evil heart: therefore I brought upon
them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them
to do, but they did them not.”
The people are charged with a conspiracy against the Lord,
11:9_13: „And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found
among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of
Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their
forefathers.” This statement shows the occasion of this
prophecy. The people had had an understanding about this,
and had agreed among themselves that they would not do as
Josiah had commanded them to do; they would not worship
Jehovah. Jeremiah calls that a conspiracy against God.
They forsook Jehovah and made a covenant with other gods.
The breaking of one covenant means the entering into another
covenant with other gods.
The doom of the nation is indicated in the fact that Jere_
miah is forbidden to pray for them 11:14: „Therefore pray not
thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them;
for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me
because of their trouble.” The nation is doomed. We have
here a full description of the doom that is to come upon this
nation, the details of which we need to study very carefully.
Verse 15 presents a great difficulty for the textual critics.
There are three ways it may be rendered: „What hath my
beloved to do in my house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness?”
The Septuagint renders this as in the margin: „Why hath my
beloved wrought abominations in my house? Shall vows and
holy flesh take away from thee thy wickedness, or shalt thou
escape by these?” Ball, in the „Expositor’s Bible” renders it,
„What hast my beloved to do in mine house? Shall her many
altars and holy flesh take away her sin from her?” The text,
as we have it, is obscure. We will pass it with the reminder
that the general subject of the section is that the nation is
doomed and woes are pronounced against her; that Judah can_
not be saved by her formal religion.
The result was a plot against Jeremiah, who was commanded
to stop prophesying or lose his life. This was the first crisis in
Jeremiah’s life. He returned from Jerusalem to Anathoth and
found that there was a conspiracy, a plot against him among
his own friends. He must stop preaching or lose his life.
This is how he puts it, 11:18_20: „And Jehovah gave me
knowledge of it, and I knew it: then thou showedst me their
doings. But I was like a gentle lamb that is led to the
slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices
against me.” That expression reminds us of Jesus’ words
when he was plotted against and killed. He means to say,
„I was Just doing my duty; I knew not that they were plotting
against me; I knew not that they devised devices against me.”
This is what they devised, saying, „Let us destroy the tree with
the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the
living, that his name may be no more remembered.” After
that discovery the prophet commits his case to Jehovah for
vengeance. This shows that he had risen to a high plane of
abiding faith. Jeremiah says, „I shall see thy vengeance on
them; for unto thee have I revealed my cause.” The next
three verses (vv. 21_23) contain the record of what Jehovah
said regarding the manner in which these wicked conspirators
should be punished: that their sons and daughters should
The prophet raises a question in 12:1_4 and Jehovah an_
swers it in 12:5_6. We studied this passage in the chapter on
„The Personal Life of Jeremiah.” I will not go into details
here. The occasion of this marvelous passage was the plot
against Jeremiah. He saw that these men who plotted to de_
stroy him were living in plenty and prospered while he suf_
fered. So he raised the great question as to why it is possible
for the wicked to prosper and the righteous to suffer. Then he
received his answer: „If thou hast run with the footmen, and
they wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?”
That means, If you are going to give up before this little
opposition that is but a trifle, what will you do when the great
test and the real crisis comes?
The captivity is described. Here the prophet pictures these
evils as having already taken place, 12:7_13: „I have forsaken
my house, I have cast off my heritage; I have given the dearly
beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. My heritage
is become unto me as a lion in the forest; . . . Is my heritage
unto me as a speckled bird of prey? . . . Then go and assemble
all the beasts of the field and come upon her to devour her.”
Then he accuses the shepherds of destroying the vineyard:
„They have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
. . They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns.” They
must perish. In this we have a bare outline of the judgment
to come. This is doubtless the substance of the sermons he
Judah’s evil neighbors are referred to in 12:14_17. This
doubtless means Edom, Ammon, and the enemies on the
south. They harassed Judah in the time of Jehoiakim. What
about these evil neighbors? Well, he says, „I will pluck them
up from off their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah;
and after I pluck them up I will return and have compassion
on them as I will have on Judah.” That reminds us of the
magnificent prophecy of Isaiah: „All the nations shall come
up to Jerusalem to worship; all the peoples shall flow to
Mount Zion, for the word of Jehovah shall go forth from
In 13:1_7 the prophet employs a symbolic action, and the
interpretation of it is found in 13:8_11. By a command of Je_
hovah he buys a beautiful girdle, a common element of
clothing in the East, and wears it for a time. Then the Lord
commands him to take it and go to the river Euphrates and
hide it in the cleft of a rock. He does so, and after many days
the Lord said to him, „Go thou to the river Euphrates and take
the girdle which I commanded thee to hide there. And I did
so and went and digged up the girdle and behold it was marred
and good for nothing.” Now, that was an object lesson to
the people. Thus he says, 13:11: „For as the girdle cleaves
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 that they
might be unto me for a people, but they would not hear.”
That is a remarkable figure. The Lord chose the people of
Judah and Israel as a man chooses a girdle and wears it about
him. Judah had been a girdle for Jehovah, and he desired that
they remain as a beautiful girdle forever, but they would
The prophet uses another symbol, that of a bottle, 13:12_
14: „Every bottle shall be filled with wine: . . . Do not we
know that every bottle shall be filled with wine? Behold I
will fill all the inhabitants of this land with drunkenness.”
That bottle is a symbol of drunkenness, the drunkenness that
is come upon the people. The symbol means that they shall
be destroyed, as drunken men are destroyed.
There is an exhortation in 13:15_17, a command to the
queen mother in 13:18_19, a curse announced in 13:20_27, and
a great text in 13:23. In verse 13:16: „Give glory to the Lord
your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet
stumble upon the dark mountains,” is one of the most beautiful
figures in all the Scriptures. That is like Jesus’ parable of
the lost sheep. In verse 18, he speaks thus: „Say thus to the
king and queen mother.” He probably refers to the wife of
Josiah, whose son, Jehoiachim, sat upon the throne. He said
to the queen mother and the king, „Humble yourselves.” Then
he addresses the shepherds and the princes: „Where is the
flock that I gave you, the beautiful flock?” Where is it, thou
king, and queen mother, and ye princes and prophets? Where
is my beautiful flock that I gave you to care for? Then comes
that classic passage: „Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or
the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are ac_
customed to do evil.” Thus Jeremiah reaches the conclusion
that man has to be changed before he can obey the word of
God, and he cannot change himself.
A drought is pictured in 14:1_6. A drought in that land
was terrible: „Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof lan_
guish, they sit in black upon the ground; and the cry of
Jerusalem is gone up. And their nobles send their little ones
to the waters: they come to the cisterns, and find no water;
they return with their vessels empty.” That is a pathetic
picture. We can almost see those children in their thirst and
We have the prophet’s plea for the people in 14:7_9 and
Jehovah’s reply in 14:10_12. Here we have Jeremiah’s first
intercession and its answer, verses 7_17. See how he pleads in
verse 7: „Work thou for thy name’s sake, 0 Jehovah; for our
backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee, 0 thou
hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why
shouldest thou be as a sojourner in the land, and as a wayfar_
ing man that turneth aside for a night? Why shouldest thou be
as a man affrighted, as a mighty man that cannot save? Yet
thou, 0 Jehovah, art in the midst of us, and we are called by
thy name; leave us not.” Sinners treat God as if he were a
stranger, a sojourner, a man who is helpless to save. In verse
11: „Plead not for this people.” That is the answer to his
prayer. „Pray not for this people for their good. When they
fast, I will not hear their cry. . . I will consume them by the
sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” So it is
possible for people to go so far that God himself must give
Jeremiah assails the priests and the prophets (14:13_
22). He says (v. 13), „The prophets say unto them, Ye shall
not see the sword, nor the famine.” Then the Lord said unto
him, „These prophets are) liars. They shall perish. These
people that believe them shall perish, too. There is no hope
for them.” But he will not give up. He begs God to spare the
city and the people. Verse 19: „Hast thou utterly rejected
Judah? . . . Why hast thou smitten us, and is there no healing
for us?” Thus he speaks for the people out of his heart:
„We acknowledge, 0 Jehovah, our wickedness . . . we have
sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy names sake;
do not disgrace the throne of thy glory.” It is said of Joseph
Parker, the great preacher of London, that upon one occasion
he prayed, „0 Lord, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory.”
Some of his stiff_backed hearers received a distinct shock when
they heard it. One Presbyterian brother said, „Blasphemy!”
but Dr. Parker was simply quoting Jeremiah. That shows
that some preachers do not know everything in the Bible.
„Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory,” that is, „do not
disgrace Judah and Zion,” but he did; they were destroyed.
The impending danger is described in 15:1_9. We cannot
go into detail here. It is not necessary. Read the passage.
One point, verse 9: „Her sun is gone down while it was yet
day.” That is another classical expression. Note also, verse
1: „Though Moses and Samuel plead for these people I could
not save them.” Moses pleaded for the people when they
broke the covenant at Sinai. He begged God to blot him out
of the book rather than destroy the people. God did hear
him and saved them. Samuel was a man of much prayer.
Samuel saved Israel by his prayers in the time of Eli. „Though
these mighty men of prayer, Moses and Samuel, were to pray
to me I would not save these people.” How far can people
wander away? There is a limit to God’s grace and mercy.
There are several thoughts in the paragraphs of 15:10_21.
The prophet complains again and receives a reply. We had
this in the chapter on „The Life and Character of Jeremiah,”
and will not go into details here. It is sufficient to say that
God answered him and maintained that the doom of the people
was inevitable. Now we have the prophet’s last pleadings
with God (vv. 15_21). We also studied this in the same
chapter. Study carefully the text.
Then came the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah (16:1_9).
We discussed that in a former chapter. Sufficient to say that
he is commanded not to marry, not to have a family, not to
mingle with merrymakers, not to have the joys or pleasures
of social and family life. He is to be separated, a living ex_
ample of warning to the people, for destruction is coming.
No Jew would refuse to marry or have a family if there were
not sufficient reasons for it.
Some questions are raised by the people in 16:10_13, viz:
„Why are these calamities to come? What are the iniquities
that we have done?” The answer is that they have forsaken
Jehovah and walked after other gods.
There is a comparison in 16:14_21. The punishment of the
captivity shall be most severe and terrible, therefore their re_
turn to their own land shall be even more wonderful than the
deliverance from Egypt: „The day shall come that it shall no
more be said, The Lord liveth that brought the children of
Israel up out of the land of Egypt.” That fact would sink into
insignificance in the face of the evils that were to be when
Israel was scattered, and when God would gather them again
from among the nations; that would be more wonderful than
bringing them up out of the land of Egypt. The deliverance
would be great because the punishment would be so terrible.
The nature of Judah’s sin and punishment is indicated in
17:1_4. Their sins are deep and indelible and therefore their
punishment is severe: „The sin of Judah is written with a pen
of iron, graven on their hearts and on the horns of their al_
tars.” Spurgeon, in a sermon on this text, discussed how sin
can be graven into the human heart and cannot be erased by
human power. It is written with a pen of iron, written in the
very soul and nature. No stronger figure could be used to
show the permanent effects of sin. As a result, punishment is
A striking contrast is found in 17:5_11. Faith in man leads
to destruction; faith in God leads to security. Verse 5:
„Cursed is the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh
his arm, and whose heart departeth from Jehovah.” In verses
7_8, we have the substance of Psalm 1: „Blessed is the man
that trusteth in Jehovah . . . he shall be as a tree planted by
the waters; he shall not fear when the heat cometh, but his
leaf shall be green; he shall not be careful in the year of
drought, but his tree shall continue yielding fruit.” Verse 9
is one of the profoundest descriptions of the human heart to be
found in the Scriptures. It came to Jeremiah out of his ex_
The import of 17:12_18 is that Jehovah is a sure source of
strength. Few remarks are needed on this passage. Jere_
miah’s faith in God shines very brightly here. Some expres_
sions are very rich and suggestive, such as verses 12, 13, 14, 17.
The prophecy of 17:19_27 is a prophecy concerning the
keeping of the sabbath. This was the great problem of Ne_
hemiah. He had to meet it, and here it is in Jeremiah’s day
also: „Go, stand in the gate and say unto the people, Ye
shall bear no burdens on the sabbath day.” Verse 25: „Then
shall there enter into this city kings and princes sitting on
the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, . . .
The men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall re_
main forever,” this is, if they keep the sabbath day. Then the
text shows how the nations will come upon them if they do not
keep the sabbath day: „If you will not hearken unto me to
hallow the sabbath day and not to bear burdens and enter into
the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then will I kindle
a fire in the gates thereof and it shall devour the palaces of
Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” This is one of the
most significant passages on the sabbath question in all the
Bible. This paragraph furnishes the basis for God’s chastise_
ment in the Babylonian captivity. It is specifically stated
that this captivity was the penalty for the disregard of the
1. What the date of this group of prophecies?
2. Give a general outline of the group of chapters.
3. What the occasion of the prophecies of Jeremiah 11_127
4. What the reply of the prophet to the words of Jehovah in 11:1_5
and what the application?
5. What the charge against the people in II :6_8?
6. What the charge against the people in ll:&_13 and what the result?
7. How is the doom of the nation indicated (11:14_17) and what the
difficulties of the text?
8. What the result as it pertained to the prophet, how did he meet
it and what Jehovah’s responses? (11:18_23.)
9. What question does the prophet raise in 12:1_4 and what Jeho_
vah’s reply in 12:5_6?
10. How is the captivity described in 12:7_13?
11. Who Judah’s „evil neighbors” referred to in 12:14_17, what the
threat against them and what hope held out to them?
12. What the symbolic action of 13:1_7, and what its interpretation
13. What other symbol used by the prophet here (13:12_14) and what
14. What the exhortation in 13:15_17, what command to the queen
mother in 13:18_19, what curse announced in 13:20_27, and what great text in 13:23?
15. Describe the drouth as pictured in 14:1_6.
16. What the prophet’s plea for the people in 14:7_9 and what Jehovah’s reply in 14:10_12?
17. What Jeremiah’s complaint and Jehovah’s reply in 14:13_227
18. Describe the impending danger (15:1_9).
19. What the thoughts in the paragraphs of 15:10_21?
20. What the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah in 16:1_9, and what its
21. What questions are raised by the people in 16:10_13, and what
22. What the comparison in 16:14_21 and what great hope is therein
23. How is the nature of Judah’s sin and punishment indicated in
24. What contrast in 17:5_11 and in what other scripture do we find
the same thought?
25. What the import of 17:12_18, and what suggestive passages in
26. What the prophecy of 17:19_27 and what can you Bay of its im_
THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH DURING THE LATTER
HALF OF THE REIGN OF JEHOIAKIM
Jeremiah 18_20; 22_23, 25; 35_36; 45
We have already described some of the events that occurred
during the reign of Jehoiakim and this period, but we group
them together in this chapter and discuss them more in de_
tail. These prophecies may have been written by Baruch at
the time they were uttered or at Jeremiah’s dictation. Some of
them may have been written later and one of them was doubt_
less written by Jeremiah himself. They comprise the chapters
given at the head of this chapter. We shall take them up in
the order there given. It is quite probable that some of these
prophecies and events occurred a little subsequent to 604 B.C.,
or after the roll was written and then burned by the king.
We cannot fix with any certainty the events of Jeremiah’s
life in chronological order. The chapters of this book are
grouped with no regard to the order of events in the life of
the prophet. In fact, the book makes no claim whatever to be
We have here in these chapters some lessons from the potter,
the prophet’s message to the kings, the princes, the priests,
and the shepherds of Israel, as well as the prophets of Judah;
prophecies against the neighboring nations; the incident of
the writing and the reading of the roll of prophecy; and ad_
monitions to Baruch, his scribe.
We have the story of the potter in 18:1_4. Jeremiah had
been preaching about twenty years and had used, as we have
seen, a great many illustrations, a great many figures to make
forceful his teachings and illustrate them, so that they would
show the workings of divine providence in Israel. One day
when he was sitting in the city meditating as to what he should
say to the people, what he should use as an illustration so
that they would feel the weight of their doom and rejection,
suddenly an inspiration comes to him to go down into the
lower part of the city from where he was sitting, down into
the valley, the valley between Zion and Mount Moriah, called
the Tyroean valley, or it may have been the valley of Hin_
nom. So he goes down and notices a potter sitting at his work.
While he watches him, there leaps into his mind and heart a
great idea, and he draws an illustration from the potter and
his works. In this he is like Jesus who drew many of his il_
lustrations from the common things of life and the affairs of
men about him.
Jeremiah watched the potter. He saw him place a lump of
clay on his wheel and with his deft fingers begin to mold and
fashion it into a piece of pottery, and while he is attempting
to fashion it into a beautiful piece, it crumbles and goes to
pieces. It would not respond to his treatment. It was too
crude for the fine purpose he had in mind, and so it crumbled
and fell. It would not adjust itself to the ideal of the potter,
and so he could not make the vase he had intended. He did
not throw it away but picked it up again and began to mold
it into another pattern not so beautiful or fine. He made this
one but it was a poorer grade, a more common piece of pot_
tery. We find this recorded in verses 1_4.
In the application (18:5_12) Jeremiah brings before our
minds one of the most beautiful lessons, illustrating divine
sovereignty and human freedom, to be found in the Bible.
The application shows the relation of the human will to the
movement of divine power. He says, verse 6, „0 house of Is_
rael, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith Jehovah.
Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand,
0 house of Israel.” That is a weighty expression; that na_
tions are clay in God’s hand, as individuals are; the world is
but a lump of clay in God’s hands to be fashioned as he wills.
„As the clay is in the potter’s hands, so are ye in my hand.”
He goes on to explain the import of that truth: „At what in_
stant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a
kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it
[that was the mission of Jeremiah to the nation of Israel and
to the surrounding nations] ; if that nation, concerning which
I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil
that I thought to do unto them.”
This brings us face to face with a great truth in human life;
a great fact that must be considered in order to understand
the mysteries of divine providence. We can apply the truth
to ourselves and ought to do so. It is a statement that in the
event that a nation changes its conduct, or repents, God
changes his attitude, not that he changes his will, but that he
wills to change. Repentance in the main is a change of the
will, that is, repentance in man is a change of the mind, or will,
but repentance in God is the will to change. So God changes
his attitude toward men when they repent. That is the way
it is with the potter; he wills to fashion the clay according to
his plan, but when it will not adjust itself to his ideal, then
he changes his plan and fashions it as best he may. The
idea is this, if the potter cannot make the best kind of a vessel
out of the clay, he will do the next best thing. How mightily
this truth applies to individuals. He uses the materials we
give him. He does the best he can to train us as we submit
to his leading. Thus, this principle, as illustrated by the potter
and his clay, applies to us in our daily lives. It is only as we
are pliable that God can work with us and through us.
In verse 10 he says, „If they do that which is evil in my
sight then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would
benefit them.” Now, that is the same idea as set forth in re_
penting and not doing evil. If we change, he will, in harmony
with his changelessness, change, too. He will do with us as
we do with him. Jonah said, „Yet forty days and Nineveh
shall be destroyed.” That was God’s prophecy concerning
that wicked city. After all that threatening, God did not do it
because they repented, and Jonah was angry and disappointed.
He wanted the city to be destroyed. The city repented, and
then God repented, too, and thus the change was in the city
and in God. Here in verse II he says, „Behold I frame evil
against you; return every one from his evil ways.”
Then in verse 14 he draws lessons from nature. He shows
how constant nature is. He says, „Shall the snow of Lebanon
fail from the rock of the field? or shall the cold waters that
flow down from afar be dried up?” He fixes his eyes on the
snow_capped Lebanons or Hermon, and he sees that the
snows are there perpetual according to the laws of nature.
That snow as it melts is the source of the rivers of Damascus
and the winding Jordan and they never dry up. Their source
is stable; it faileth not. These streams run perpetually. He
says in verse 15: „My people have forgotten me, they have
burned incense to false gods; they have been made to stumble
in their ways.” They are unstable but nature is not, and God
is not, and thus he describes their defection from him.
As a result of this preaching the people begin to devise
plans for taking Jeremiah (18:18). They decide that his
preaching must stop. They must get rid of him. They con_
cocted a scheme against him once before and he was saved
from their trap. Now they concoct another scheme. They
said, „Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for
[even though he be dead] the law shall not perish from the
priests, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the
prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and
let us not give heed to any of his words.” ~Now what is the use
of listening to this preacher of calamity? We have the law.
We will not lose the book of wisdom. We will always have
these with us. Then Jeremiah begins to pray to the Lord to
punish these plotters, verses 19_20: „Give heed to me, 0 Lord,
. . . Shall evil be recompensed for good? Remember how I
stood before thee to speak good for them,” and now they plan
to kill me.
He had been standing there and preaching the truth to
these men and now he fears the Lord is going to let them kill
him. He says, „I have tried to help them. I would give my
life to save them. And now this is what they are doing.” He
prays that God will punish them; that he will give them over
to the sword and destroy their children. „Let their women
become childless.” Now, was that an expression of mere bit_
terness? No! It was not mere human anger; it was a deep
sense of outraged justice. Verse 23: „Jehovah, thou knowest
all their counsel against me to slay me; forgive not their
iniquities, neither blot out their sin from thy sight.” That re_
minds us of Psalm 109. It seems contrary to the spirit of Christ,
yet it reminds one of the spirit of Jesus when he says to the
Pharisees and the Sadducees, „How can ye escape the damna_
tion of hell?”
We have here another lesson from the potter (19:1_13).
Jeremiah is told to go and buy an earthen bottle made also
by a potter. He bought it. We do not know what sort; it may
have been a good one. Then the Lord said, „Take of the elders
of the people, and of the elders of the priests; and go forth
into the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry
of the gate of Harsith, and proclaim there the words that I
shall tell thee.” That place was just outside the walls of the
city, the place where the rubbish was thrown, perhaps where
the potters and their factories were. Now, go down there,
Jeremiah, with that vessel.
This is what he was to say: „Hear ye the word of Jehovah,
0 kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; . . . Behold,
1 will bring evil upon this place.” Then he goes on to give the
reasons. They had worshiped idols continually. They had
done evil repeatedly. „This place,” as a result, „shall no long_
er be called the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the place of
slaughter.” Verse 8: „I will make this city an astonishment,
and a hissing.” Destruction shall come. „Every one that
passeth by shall be astonished and hiss and they shall eat the
flesh of their children.” Then he took the elders and the priests
and in their presence he broke the bottle to pieces. Then he
said, „As I have broken this bottle, so will Jehovah break in
pieces this city, so that it cannot be put together again.” The
lesson is seen in verse II: „It cannot be made whole again.”
As that bottle is destroyed forever, so will I destroy this na_
tion and I will destroy it forever, as far as human power is
Immediately after this incident Jeremiah comes back to
the Temple and repeats the warning he had given, to the el_
ders and the priests: „I stood in the courts of the Lord’s house
and said to all the people, I will bring upon this city and this
people all the evils that I have pronounced against them, be_
cause they have made their necks stiff that they hear not my
words.” There are no people on earth so sure of doom as those
who have simply made up their minds that they will not hear.
These are they who are deaf by choice. These people had gone
so far that they would not even listen. Of course, then, they
could not hear. Even now sometimes people simply make up
their minds that they will not hear and there is no hope for
Pashhur was the chief officer in the Temple. He was him_
self a prophet but a false one. He heard the words of Jere_
miah and noted that threat. It enraged him. He set upon
Jeremiah and struck him and put him in the stocks, till the
following day. His smiting probably refers to whipping on
the soles of his feet with the bastinado. He then put him in
the stocks. His hands and feet put through openings in
planks, he is forced into a stooping position. His head perhaps
was put through a wooden stock or pillory. This is the first
physical violence that Jeremiah had suffered.
„Then said Jeremiah unto him, the Lord hath not called
thee Pashur, but Magor_missabib.” „Pashur” means a man
in quietness or peace, and „Magor_missabib” means terror all
around. Mr. Pashur, your name must be changed. You are
going to be a terror to yourself. That is your fate. Thy friends
shall fall by the sword and thine eyes shall behold it. „For
thus saith Jehovah, I will give all Judah into the hand of the
king of Babylon and he shall carry them captive to Babylon
and shall slay them with the sword. I will give them the
treasures of the Temple and this city. This shall happen to
you and your friends who prophesy falsely.” And so they did.
Very soon Mr. Pashur was taken captive to Babylon and
died, surrounded by terrors. The rest of this chapter con_
tains Jeremiah’s lamentation. We studied this in the chapter
on „The Life and Character of Jeremiah.” I called attention
to that section where Jeremiah cursed the day in which he was
born. He accused God of alluring him into prophesying and
then deserting him. Then God led him step by step out of
his despondency and up to the plane of praise and joy.
About this time, when Jeremiah was at liberty, a great
many enemies had overrun the land of Palestine and the
people had flocked to Jerusalem for protection. Among this
host came the Rechabites. When Jehu was carrying on his
revolution he met Jonadab who had founded this order, or
sect, of the Rechabites and invited him into his chariot. They
were noted for three things: They vowed not to live in houses;
to have no vineyards; and to drink no wine forever. This class
of people took refuge in Jerusalem; Jeremiah goes to these
Rechabites, takes their leaders into the Temple and sets
bottles of wine before them.
Note 35:3 (Jeremiah writes, this himself): „Then I took
Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, . . . and I brought them into
the house of Jehovah.” He goes on: „And I set before the
sons of the Rechabites bowls of wine, and I said unto them,
Drink ye wine. „But they said, We will drink no wine; for
Jonadab the son of Rechab our father, commands us.”
They were faithful to the commands of their ancestor. Jere_
miah seized upon this occasion as a basis for addressing the
people. He goes on to say that Jonadab had commanded this
people so and so. „They kept that command, but ye would
not obey God who commanded you to serve him.” He out_
lines the punishment that will come upon the people, but
makes a promise unto the sons of Jonadab, verse 19: „There_
fore saith the Lord of hosts, . . . Jonadab the son of Rechab
shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.”
He inculcates the principle of righteousness and justice in
22:1_9. The king is to be the instrument of righteousness and
justice. There is no doubt that Jehoiakim, the vassal of
Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, sat on the throne. Jeremiah ap_
peals to him to do right and be just. In verse 4 he says, „If
you do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates
of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in
chariots and on horses, he, and his servants and his people.
But if ye will not do these things, I swear by myself, that
this house shall come to desolation.” And thus he goes on
with his message of destruction. He repeats it over and over
The fate of Shallam, or Jehoahaz, is described in 22:10_22:
„Weep for him that goeth away; for he shall return to his
native land no more.” Then a charge against Jehoiakim is
found in 22:13_23. This king was a heartless tyrant. He had
a passion for building. He had a magnificent palace. He
built by using the people unjustly. He was without conscience
or principle: „Woe unto him that buildeth a house with un_
righteousness.” The son of this king succeeded him and the
prophet goes on to describe the ruin coming upon this house
Then follows judgment on Jehoiachin (w. 22:24_30). This
was doubtless written after the death of Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin
was taken to Babylon, and it may have been written immedi_
ately preceding that event. We cannot be sure as to the exact
time this section was penned. Verse 24: „As I live, saith Je_
hovah, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were a signet
upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.” He then
goes on to describe the fate of the house; how Jehoiachin
with his mother should be cast out and die in a foreign land,
never to return to Judah. The king was to have no heir to
sit upon his throne.
The message of 23:1_8 is one regarding the princes, or shep_
herds. These princes of Judah and Jerusalem are spoken of
as the shepherds of the people. They were the political and
civil shepherds. God called them the shepherds of his pasture.
He charged them with neglect of duty: „Therefore saith Je_
hovah, the God of Israel, Ye have scattered my flock.” They
had not provided them spiritual pasture. But a time is com_
ing when they shall come together again and shall have good
shepherds. Verse 5 is a messianic prophecy: „I will raise
unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king
and deal wisely, . . . Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall
The prophet’s own title of 23:9_40 is, „Concerning the
Prophets.” We discussed this in a former chapter. We showed
Jeremiah’s charge against these false prophets. They were
caterers and time_servers. They preached what the people
wanted them to preach. They felt the pulse of the people and
then shaped their messages .accordingly.
The prophecy of chapter 25 is a prophecy concerning Judah
and the surrounding nations. This was in the fourth year of
the reign of Jehoiakim, 604 B.C., after Jeremiah had been
preaching twenty_three years. Note some details here:
1. In 1_14 Jeremiah predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would
take Palestine, Judah, and Jerusalem; that he would lead them
captive to Babylon; that there should be desolation; that this
nation should serve the king of Babylon seventy years; that
when the seventy years was accomplished, then Jehovah
would punish the king of Babylon, and that nation for their
iniquity and their land should be a desolation forever.
2. Verses 15_26 show that the cup of the wrath of Jehovah
must be drunk by all the nations surrounding Judah. He said
that they should drink the cup of the wine of his fury. Phar_
aoh, the king of Egypt, shall drink it; the land of Uz, the
Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon, those of the
Grecian Archipelago, Dedan, Tema, Buz, Arabia, Zimri, Elam,
the Medes, and Sheshack shall drink of it.
3. Verses 27_29 show that the nations must drink it. This
is the substance of that passage. The doom is inevitable.
The last part of the chapter, verses 30_38, gives a descrip_
tion of the conquest of the Babylonians, and the terrible de_
struction which should come upon the nations.
An account of the writing, reading, burning, and rewriting
of the roll is given in 36:1_32. This is an interesting incident.
In the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, 604 B.C., the
word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and told him to write his
prophecy. Doubtless the persecution was so intense that he
had to stop preaching. Jeremiah was a faithful prophet, but
be could not preach any more in the open, and so the Lord
told him to write his prophecies in a book, or roll. That was
a wonderfully wise suggestion. If Paul had not been im_
prisoned two years at Caesarea, it is possible Luke would not
have written his Gospel. If the same great apostle had not
suffered his Roman imprisonment, we would doubtless never
have had his matchless epistles to the Philippians, Colossi&ns,
Ephesians, and Hebrews. If Bunyan had not gone to jail,
doubtless Pilgrim’s Progress would never have been written.
And so it is here, if Jeremiah had not been persecuted, we
would in all probability never have had his written prophecy.
He ordered Baruch to write it down as he dictated it to him.
It was the substance of his twenty_three years of ministry.
How long he was in writing it, we do not know, doubtless
some months. After he had written it the next thing was to
read it to the people. We cannot go into details. Here is the
story in substance: Baruch took the roll and went to the
Temple where the people passed, stood in the door with the
princes and the friends of Jeremiah at his back and read
the prophecy. It made a deep impression on the princes and the
people. It had a different effect on others. They resented it
and hated Jeremiah the more. Some of them went and told the
king about it. In brief, he had it brought to him. Jehudi read
it and the king cut it to pieces and soon every shred of it
was a heap of ashes. Then he ordered the arrest of Jeremiah,
but he had securely hidden himself. Then Jeremiah and
Baruch wrote the prophecies again.
We have certain admonitions of Jeremiah to Baruch in
chapter 45. After all his heroism this man Baruch grew de_
spondent. This faithful scribe who had stood by Jeremiah
through all his troubles now becomes troubled. We are told
about it in chapter 45: „Thus didst thou say, Woe is me, for
Jehovah hath added sorrow to my pain.” Jeremiah tells him
that the Lord breaks down that which he has planted: „Be_
hold, I will pluck up this whole land.” Baruch, have you
thought that there were great things coming to you? Did you
expect better things? „Seekest thou great things for thyself?
Seek them not.” I am going to bring evil upon this whole
land. You are not going to be a great man but your life is
going to stand. What fine advice that was to this faithful sec_
retary and scribe. Do you seek great things for yourself?
Seek them not. Your life will be spared, that is enough.
1. What the subject of this chapter of this INTERPRETATION? and what the dates of these several chapters of Jeremiah?
2. What, in general, the contents of these chapters?
3. What the story of the potter in 18:1_4?
4. What the prophet’s application of the incident of the potter to
Israel and what, in particular, the meaning of God’s repentance here
toward Israel for good or evil? (18:5_12.)
5. What the lesson here drawn from nature by the prophet? (18:13-17.)
6. What the result of the prophet’s preaching (18:18) and what his
7. What the second incident of the potter’s vessel and what its ap_
8. What the prophet’s message in the Temple immediately follow_
ing the second lesson from the potter’s vessel?
9. Give an account of Pashhur’s persecution.
10. Who were the Rechabites, what their characteristics and what
the lesson enforced by Jeremiah based upon their history?
11. Who addressed in 22:1_9 and what the message to him?
12. Who is spoken of in 22:10_12 and what is there said of him?
13. What the charge against Jehoiakim and what the result (22:13_23)?
14. What the contents of 22:24_30?
15. What the message of 23:1_8 and how are the shepherds here
16. What the prophet’s own title of 23:9_40 and what the charge of
Jeremiah here against these false prophets?
17. What the prophecy of chapter 25 and what the essential points
18. Give an account of the writing, reading, burning, and rewriting
of the roll (36:1_32).
19. What admonitions of Jeremiah to Baruch in chapter 45 and what
THE PROPHECIES OF JEREMIAH IN THE
REIGN OF ZEDEKIAH
Jeremiah 21; 24, 27_29; 34; 37_39
We have here the prophecies of Jeremiah, during the reign
of Zedekiah, the last king of the Jewish people. These prophe_
cies are to be found as indicated at the head of this chapter.
They are not all the prophecies that Jeremiah uttered or that
were written during this reign, but they are the prophecies
that he uttered relative to that period and bearing upon the
events of that reign. During Zedekiah’s reign he also wrote
the messianic prophecy that we shall discuss in the next chap_
When Jehoiakim burned the roll of his prophecies, he com_
manded his officers to go and take Jeremiah and Baruch. The
Lord hid them or they would have lost their lives as Uriah
had. Jeremiah and Baruch remained in hiding during the re_
mainder of Jehoiakim’s wicked reign, four or five years. The
latter part of this reign, as given in our books of I and 2 Kings
and I and 2 Chronicles, was a troublous time. Jehoiakim re_
belled against Nebuchadnezzar. That king stirred up bands
of the Moabites and the Edomites to come and trouble his
kingdom. His cities were besieged and he himself was slain
and his body cast forth as refuse outside the walls of the city.
His son, Jehoiachin, succeeded him to the throne. Jehoia_
chin was quite young, some authorities say eight years, other
authorities, eighteen years of age. His mother reigned with
him, and was probably the power behind the throne. Jeho_
iachin continued the rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, and
the result was that in a little over three months, that great
king buried his hosts against Jerusalem and besieged the
holy city. Jehoiachin, acting on good and wise advice, sur_
rendered the city, and so he himself with his queen mother and
the royal family were deported. Nebuchadnezzar, convinced
that he was not a safe man to have upon the throne, had him
and his royal family taken to Babylon and confined there.
On the succession of „Evil Merodac” to the throne he was
given a certain amount of liberty.
About 597 B.C. something over 7,000 of the best blood of
Jerusalem, including the princes, the nobles, and the elders,
with their wives, their slaves, and the most valuable and
choice vessels of the Temple were carried away to Babylon.
Ezekiel was carried away with them and began his prophecy
in the fifth year of this captivity.
We can readily see that the removal of 7,000 of the best peo_
ple from Jerusalem, such a thinning of the people, would give
an opportunity to the many that were left. These nobles,
princes, and elders, who were left in Jerusalem, were con_
gratulating themselves that they were much better than those
unfortunates who were carried off into exile. Such a conclusion
would be perfectly natural. They were saying, „Those who
had to go away and suffer such hardships are bad and so are
suffering for their sins. We are left here in peace and so the
Lord is with us.” That resulted in pride, and was a very
foolish state of mind for this people. Jeremiah knows that
destruction is awaiting them, if they continue in their ways
The theme of Jeremiah 24 is Jeremiah’s comparison be_
tween those in exile and those left behind. Note the following
1. The vision (w. 1_3). Jeremiah is shown in a vision two
baskets of figs, set before the Temple of the Lord. He goes on
to explain the occasion and the time when this occurred. The
description is found in verse 2: „One basket of very good
figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had
very bad figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.”
Verse 3 continues the description, as given to Jehovah by the
2. The fate of the good figs (w. 4_7). „Like these good figs
so will I regard the captives of Judah.” Those in exile are
the ones referred to, and so he says he will take care of them:
„I will bring them again into this land: I will set mine eyes
upon them for good.”
3. The fate of the bad figs (vv. 8_10). These bad figs were
the people living in Jerusalem, those who were puffed up, re_
garding themselves better than others because they were so
fortunate as to escape deportation. „These bad figs are so
bad that they cannot be eaten. So will I give up Zedekiah and
the kings of Judah, and his princes and the residue of Jeru_
salem and those that remain in this land and them that dwell
in the land of Egypt. I will even give them up to be tossed
to and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth for evil; to be a
reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all the places
whither I shall drive them.”
Naturally the effect of that kind of preaching upon the peo_
ple of Jerusalem was not very gratifying. Jeremiah did not
make friends very fast by that kind of comparison and ap_
plication. But he was a true prophet. He preached God’8
truth, whether welcome or not.
The theme of chapters 27_29 is Jeremiah’s exhortation to
submit to the yoke of Babylon. This prophecy occurred dur_
ing the first or second year of the reign of Zedekiah, who had
been put upon the throne by Nebuchadnezzar as his vassal.
The date is about 596 B.C., certainly within two years after
the exile under Jehoiachin. There was a movement among
the various small nations surrounding Judah, a sort of re_
vival of their political interests. The kings and the princes
of these sections had conceived the idea that they could league
together and revolt against Babylon. The kings of these
various nations had sent their ambassadors to Zedekiah at
Jerusalem to form a league, or a conspiracy, by which they
could throw off the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah was
but a weakling, a mere tool in the hands of his chief princes.
He had a certain reverence for Jeremiah and therefore he con_
sulted him about it. But he feared the princes. He wanted to
do right, but being a weak king, he was led to ruin and de_
struction by bad advice. He was afraid of Jeremiah, afraid
of Nebuchadnezzar, afraid of his princes, and afraid of the
prophets. To such a man all these nations came for consulta_
tion. They held their convention in Jerusalem, and to such a
conference Jeremiah came as adviser. He advised that they
all submit to Babylon.
Now, in Jeremiah 27:1 there is an interpretation. It says,
„In the reign of Jehoiachin,” and it should be, „The r~ign of
Zedekiah.” Compare verse 12. Somehow that mistake has
crept into the text. Jeremiah is commanded to make a yoke.
He sets the yoke upon the heads of these ambassadors as a
symbol. It is something like his symbolic action with the
girdle. He puts the yoke on the heads of these envoys of
Moab, Tyre, and the rest; also Zedekiah, the king of Judah,
and gives his message. It is in verse 6: „And now have I given
all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, my servant.
The beasts of the field I have given him also.” Verse 7: „And
all the nations shall serve him and his sons’ sons till the time
of his own land come.” Then destruction shall come upon
him: Verse 8: „And it shall come to pass that the nation and
the kingdom that shall not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar,
king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the
yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith
Jehovah, with the sword and with famine and with pestilence
till I have consumed them by his hand.” Then he throws out
this warning: Don’t listen to the preaching of your prophets
for they are false. They have not the word of God. Listen
to me and submit. No better advice was ever given to a king.
Jeremiah was a man who had divine wisdom and gave advice
that would have saved the people. He was called to be the
savior of his country, and to be the prophet of the nations,
the nations mentioned here. He would have saved them all,
if they had listened to him.
We have some specific advice of the prophet to Zedekiah,
the king, in 27:12_15. Notice what he says: „And I spake to
Zedekiah, the king of Judah, according to all these words, say_
ing, bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon
and serve him and his people and live.” But this advice to
Zedekiah was to a weakling. He was respectful to the prophet,
but afraid of his princes.
In verse 16 he says, „I spake to the priests and the people,
saying, Thus [He warns them against these false prophets,
which had doubtless been inciting this revolt among the na_
tions by prophesying that they could succeed.] . . . Serve
the king of Babylon and live.” These prophets are prophesy_
ing a lie unto you. Why should this land become a desola_
tion? These prophets had been preaching to the people that
this exile would soon be over; that they would soon bring
back the beautiful vessels of the Temple. This was fine talk
to the people, for they wanted those vessels back. That suited
the people fine, and the prophets knew it, so they just preached
what the people wanted. These vessels will not come back.
Just wait a little while and see if their prophecies come true.
Thus saith the Lord concerning you: You shall be carried to
Babylon and you shall be there until the day that I visit that
land. Not only are these vessels not coming back, but you
are going into exile also. Now, that was not a popular kind of
talk, but it was divine wisdom.
A conflict with Hananiah, the false prophet, is described in
chapter 28. Here was a strange incident. We have a conflict
between two men, able men, influential men, men of high
position and rank; one a false prophet, the other a true
prophet. Externally both are good men. Hananiah was the
son of a prophet, of the priestly line. Doubtless this Hananiah
had been hired by the enemies of Jeremiah to counteract his
influence with the people. They hired this man to make the
people believe that these vessels would come back. So Han_
aniah comes forward. He stands in the gate of the Temple
and thus addresses the people: „Thus saith Jehovah of hosts,
the God of Israel, I have broken the yoke of the king of Baby_
lon; within two full years I will bring into this place all the
vessels of the Lord’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of
Babylon, took away from this place. I will bring back Jehoi_
achin and the royal family within two years and everything
will be restored within that two years.”
Now, that was delightful preaching. That was just what
the people wanted. But there was Jeremiah and he had to be
reckoned with. Hananiah had all the marks of truth in him.
Jeremiah seems to have wavered. He treats this man with
all the courtesy of a gentleman. He stands there and listens
to his message. He stood with the people that stood in the
house of the Lord. When Hananiah had finished he said:
„Amen: the Lord do so; may it be as you have said.” Jere_
miah would have been glad if it had been true. He was
patriotic and loyal. Nothing would have rejoiced him more
than for this to have happened. „Oh, that it might be sol”
But in verses 7_8 he says, „Nevertheless hear thou this that
I speak unto thee. The prophets that spake in the olden time
prophesied against many countries and against many king_
doms.” What did he mean by that? That the prophets who
were true prophets prophesied destruction; that the punish_
ment was coming. He means to say that the criterion by
which one could determine a true prophet was that he
prophesied evil. Now this man Hananiah was a false opti_
mist. The true prophet sees the evil as well as the good. So
by that process of reasoning he proved that Hananiah was a
false prophet. He prophesied only good, hence he could not
be a true prophet. I have prophesied evil and therefore I am
in line with the tried and true prophets. How did the people
We may well suppose that the majority of them did not
like it. When Hananiah saw that the tide was coming his
way, that the people were with him, he seized the yoke that
Jeremiah was wearing before the people and smashed it to
pieces. This is what he says: „Even so will I break the yoke
of the king of Babylon before two full years end.” That was
a bold stroke. Jeremiah was silenced for the time. But he did
not give it up entirely; he went his way and talked to Jehovah
about it. God gave him his answer. In verse 13 we have it:
„Go, tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah: Thou hast
broken the bars of wood; but thou hast made in their stead
bars of iron.” This kingdom shall be suddenly destroyed. Aa
for Hananiah the Lord said, „Thou makest this people to trust
in a lie. . . Behold, I will send thee away from off the face of
the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast spoken
rebellion against Jehovah.” And Hananiah died the same
year in the seventh month, two months after this incident.
An account of a letter of Jeremiah to the exiles is found
in Jeremiah 29. Zedekiah was the vassal of Nebuchadnezzar
and in order to assure him that he was true he sent two mes_
sengers to him. Their names are given in verse 3. These two
messengers took letters from Zedekiah to the king in Babylon.
Jeremiah took occasion to send a letter by these messengers to
the exiles in Babylon. False prophets were over there, too.
They had been predicting that they would soon return to
their own land. So Jeremiah sent them a letter, the substance
of which is to be found from verse 4 on to the end of the chap_
ter. This we will discuss briefly. He advised the people to
settle down, to marry, to be true to the king of Babylon and
after seventy years, that is, about two generations, God’s will
concerning the king of Babylon would be accomplished, and
then they should return to their own place. In verse 13 we
have a beautiful statement: „Ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” In verses
21-22 we have this statement regarding two false prophets in
Babylon, Ahab and Zedekiah, who were prophesying the de_
struction of Babylon and the immediate return. Word of
this comes to the ears of Nebuchadnezzar. That king was not
a man to be trifled with. Here were two exiles stirring up an
insurrection in his realm. Jeremiah says, „He roasted them
in the fire.” He tried to do the same thing with the three
Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed_nego. It was
not an uncommon thing for a man to burn people to death
then. That was the fate of these two false prophets.
But we come to another incident in verse 24. There was
one Shemaiah who sent letters from Babylon to the princes
and guardians of the Temple about Jeremiah, and said that
this man, this Jeremiah ought not to be at large. Verse 26:
„Every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that
thou shouldest put him in the stocks. . . Now therefore, why
hast thou not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who maketh
himself a prophet to you, for as much as he hath sent unto
us in Babylon, saying, The captivity is long,” and thus and
so. Then the men of the Temple read the letter to Jeremiah,
and he responds, verse 32: „Behold, I will punish Shemaiah
and his seed; he shall not have a man to dwell among this
people, neither shall he behold the good that I will do unto
my people, saith Jehovah, because he hath spoken rebellion
Jeremiah’s advice to Zedekiah during the siege is given in
chapter 21. This chapter is very much out of chronological
order. This weak king is still in the hands of his princes,
who are trying to throw off the yoke of Babylon. They
have been all this time expecting help from Egypt. Pharaoh_
Necho who had slain Josiah, king of Judah, had been suc_
ceeded by Pharaoh_Hophra. He had overthrown his
adversaries at home and was now ready for Asia. There was
an Egyptian party in Jerusalem and they soon had their
plans ready for Zedekiah. They proposed to form an alliance
with this Pharaoh against Nebuchadnezzar. This they did
against the advice of Jeremiah. The outcome of the matter
was that Nebuchadnezzar swept down upon Judah and Je_
rusalem to subdue them.
Zedekiah sent an anxious message to Jeremiah inquiring
if there was any message from the Lord. His answer was
brief. He simply told him that the Lord would not save the
city as he did when Isaiah was the prophet. But he says in
verse 5: „I myself will fight against you with an outstretched
hand and with a strong arm even in anger and in wrath and
in great indignation, and I will smite the inhabitants of this
city, both man and beasts and they shall die of great pesti_
lence.” This siege was to end in the downfall of the city. In
verse 8 he says, „Behold, I set before you the way of life and
the way of death. He that abideth in this city shall die by the
sword and by famine and by the pestilence, but he that goeth
out and falleth away to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he
shall live and his life shall be unto him for a prey.”
The incidents of the siege are described in chapter 34.
Under the preaching of Jeremiah and the stress and strain of
the siege, the people’s consciences were awakened and they
gave heed to the law of Moses and made a covenant that they
would liberate all the slaves according to the law of Moses,
which said that when a Hebrew became a slave to another that
he should be such only six years. That is recorded in the
law as found in Exodus 21:2 and Deuteronomy 15:12. That
law was given by Moses. They usually neglected it, but they
did it now while there was pressure on them, but as soon as
the pressure was removed they went back to their old ways
again, verse II: „But afterward, they turned and caused the
servants and handmaidens, whom they had caused to go free
to return and brought them into subjection for servants and
handmaidens.” This occurred while Pharaoh_Hophra was
coming up to Jerusalem to relieve the city. Nebuchadnezzar
defeated him and drove him back. When the pressure was
removed their conscience grew calloused again. Jeremiah
broke out in great bitterness against this, 34:17: „You granted
liberty, then you took it back. I proclaim to you a liberty
to the sword and to famine. I will make you to be a curse
among the nations of the earth.” In spite of all the solemnity
with which you made the covenant you broke it. I will cause
the Chaldeans to return to the city and make it without in_
The effect of Jeremiah’s preaching is recorded in chapters
37_39. Jeremiah’s forty years and more of preaching had
verily been in vain. The people would not heed. There
seemed to be a fixedness in their perverseness. They evidently
hardened their hearts to go after idols. There is a saying,
„Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” It was
so with these people. They were mad after idolatry. The
siege had now been on more than a year. It lasted eighteen
months altogether, accompanied with all the horrors of a
siege. These events are recorded in chapters 37_39. We take
them up in order:
Jeremiah 37:2: „Neither he, nor the people of the land,
hearkened unto the words of the Lord.” This general state_
ment is followed by the details:
Zedekiah was a weakling. He wanted to do what Jeremiah
said, and if he had been stronger he would have done so. So
he sent for him and asked his advice. He says, 37:3: „Pray
now unto the Lord our God for us.” Jeremiah answered him,
37:7: „Behold, Pharaoh’s army that is come forth to help you
shall return into their own land; the Chaldeans shall come
again and fight against this city. They shall take it and burn
it with fire.”
At the time the siege was raised and the Chaldeans went
to meet the Egyptians, many people broke out of the city.
Jeremiah was one of them. He started to go to his home at
Anathoth to take charge of a certain piece of property he had
bought, verse 12: „Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem at the gate
of Benjamin.” He came in collision with the captain of the
ward whose name was Irijah and he said to Jeremiah, „Thou
goeth to the Chaldeans; thou art falling away to the Chal_
deans.” Many others were doing the same thing and nothing
was said about it, but these people now had a chance to get
in a blow at Jeremiah, because he had been stoutly counsel_
ing the people to surrender to the Chaldeans. Jeremiah said,
„I do not fall away to the Chaldeans.” Irijah did not believe
him, but seized him and brought him before the princes, „and
the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put
him in prison in the house of Jonathan, the scribe.” This is
the second time Jeremiah had been arrested, but the first time
he was imprisoned.
The king called for Jeremiah and asked him, „Is there any
word from the Lord?” „No,” said Jeremiah, „The only word
is this: Thou shalt be delivered into the hands of the king of
Babylon.” Then he pleads for himself: „Cause me not to re_
turn to the house of Jonathan, the scribe, lest I perish there.”
Zedekiah, the king, was kindly disposed toward him. He gave
him some liberty. He remained in the court of the guard six
months or more, guarded by the king.
Then the princes put him in the dungeon. These princes
were the real cause of the fall of Jerusalem. They hated
Jeremiah. They had been treating with Egypt, and he had
advised against them; his counsel had weakened many of the
people in their loyalty to the plans of the princes; so they
hated him, and now that they had him in their hands they
wreaked their vengeance on him. Verse 4: „Then the princes
said to the king, Let this man we pray thee be put to death,
forasmuch as he hath weakened the hands of the men of war
that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people.”
That the king was a weakling is shown in verse 5: „Then
Zedekiah, the king, said, Behold he is in your hands; do as you
will, for the king is one that can do nothing against you.”
There was a certain Justification for these princes who saw
only the military aspect of it. If any man had done aa did
Jeremiah, in connection with the siege of Richmond or Vicks_
burg, he would have been promptly dealt with as a traitor.
So they took Jeremiah and threw him into a deep cistern, or
pit. It had no water in it, but it was deep with mud and he
sank down into that, and they left him thinking that would be
the last of him. At last, they thought, his tongue was silenced.
But he was rescued by a slave, an Ethiopian, named Ebed_
melech. He felt kindly toward Jeremiah, so he went to the
king and the king gave him liberty to rescue him (38:7_13).
Another audience with the king is allowed Jeremiah (14_28).
This is Jeremiah’s last audience with Zedekiah. Verse 17:
„If thou go forth to the king of Babylon thou shalt live, and
the people.” He could yet save the city. Then the king told
him not to tell anybody about the interview. If there had
been a man on the throne, he would have saved the city. Then
follows an account of the capture of the city and its destruc_
tion (39:1_10). A careful reading of this passage will be
Jeremiah was saved by the command of Nebuchadnezzar,
the king of Babylon. He had heard about Jeremiah and his
services, how he had counseled the people to surrender, and
spared his life; told them to take good care of him and let him
do as he would.
The prophecy in 39:15_18 is concerning Ebed_melech, the
slave who had saved Jeremiah’s life. It is beautiful to see
how Jeremiah remembered this man. He writes down in the
word of God what should be his reward, thus: „I will surely
save thee, saith Jehovah.”
Jerusalem is now a smoking ruin, and the people are scat_
tered far and wide. The nobles and the princes are slain before
the king, and his own sons are slaughtered before his own
eyes. Zedekiah’s eyes are put out and he is carried captive
to Babylon. If he had only followed the advice of Jeremiah,
all would have been well. The position of a prophet in the
state is supreme; it is the highest honor that can be bestowed
upon any man.
1. What the theme of this chapter of this INTERPRETATION and what
the historical setting?
2. What the theme of Jeremiah 24 and how is it presented? Explain
3. What the theme of chapters 27_29 and what the general condition
in Judah and the surrounding nations at this time?
4. How do you explain the name „Jehoiachim” in 27:1, what the
symbolic action of the prophet here and what its meaning? (27:1_11.)
5. What the specific advice of the prophet to Zedekiah, the king,
6. What his advice to the priests and the people and how does he
meet the prophecies of the false prophets?
7. Give an. account of the conflict between Hananiah and Jeremiah (28).
8. Give an account of the letter of Jeremiah to the exiles (29).
9. What Jeremiah’s advice to Zedekiah during the siege? (21.)
10. What the incidents of the siege? (34.)
11. What the effect of Jeremiah’s preaching and how are the people
12. What the general statement of this in 37:1_2?
13. Give an account of the king’s request of Jeremiah and his response
14. Give an account of Jeremiah’s second arrest and first imprison_
15. Give an account of his deliverance from the prison (37:16_21).
16. What was next done with him and what the particulars (38:4_6)?
17. How did he escape and what the particulars?
18. Give an account of Jeremiah’s last audience with the king (38:14_28)
19. Give an account of the capture of the city and ita destruction
20. How was Jeremiah saved and what the particulars? (39:11_14.)
21. What the prophecy in 39:15_18?
THE PROPHECY OF JEREMIAH ON
This prophecy may be called Jeremiah’s messianic prophecy,
or the prophecy of the blessed age, the messianic age, that
glorious age that was to come. Most of the teaching of Jere_
miah up to this point is permeated with the note of sadness
and of doom, the theme of which is destruction. From this
Jeremiah might be called a thorough_going pessimist, but here
we shall see that he was anything but a pessimist. He was one
of the greatest optimists. When his nation seemed so de_
termined to go on in sin and rebellion against God and hence
to destruction, Jeremiah could be nothing but a pessimist, so
far as the immediate future of his country was concerned.
There is such a thing as a sane and sensible pessimism. The
man who is a pessimist when he sees that sin is unbridled in
its sway over the people, is the only man who takes a sane
view of the situation. But in this passage we will see that
Jeremiah was one of the greatest optimists that the world ever
Blessed is the man who can mediate between the pessimist
and the optimist. All the prophecies concerning the messianic
age, and the restoration from the exile to Palestine were opti_
mistic. Amos was a pre_exilic prophet, and he prophesied a
return of the Jews and a glorious age; so did Hosea, Isaiah,
Joel, Micah, and Zephaniah. All of these pictured the return
to Jerusalem and the worship in Mount Zion. Isaiah puts it
in the form of a reign of David’s son over a true and righteous
Israel, at the time of the restoration from the Exile in Baby_
lon. Joel pictures the messianic age and we are told in Acts 2
when it was fulfilled. Peter there declares that Joel’s proph_
ecy was fulfilled in what was enacted at that time. Ezekiel
pictures it also as a restored nation and a restored theocracy
in chapters 40_48.
Now, let us consider what Jeremiah has to say concerning
the Jews and their glorious restoration. In these four chapters
(30_33) we have three great subjects:
1. The triumphal hymn of Israel’s salvation (30_31)
2. The story of the purchase of a field by Jeremiah during
his imprisonment, and the explanation (32)
3. The promise of the restoration with the renewed glory of
the house of David and the Levitical priesthood (33)
Observe that this prophecy is not dated. It merely says,
„The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah.” It is altogether
likely that it came in the latter part of the reign of Zedekiah,
possibly during the imprisonment in the court of the guard, or
it may have occurred a little earlier than that.
In the introduction the prophet is commanded to write these
things (30:1_3). The fact that God commanded Jeremiah
to write this messianic prophecy shows that he put consider_
able value upon it and that he intended it to be preserved for
his people, Israel. He said, „The days will come, saith Je_
hovah, that I will turn again the captivity of my people Israel
and Judah; and I will cause them to return to the land that
I gave their fathers, and they shall possess it.” This is the
essence of the prophecy contained in chapters 30_31.
The prophecy relative to Judah in 30:4_11 is that there shall
be an end of Judah’s troubles, for the foreign domination shall
cease. Judah is pictured here as sorely troubled. Notice
verse 5: „We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not
of peace.” Then he pictures the nation in that figure, which
is so many times used in the Scriptures, as in the pain of
travail. Verse 7: „For that day is great, so that none is like
unto it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Then he adds,
„But he shall be saved out of it.” In verse 8: he describes how
the foreign domination of Babylon shall be broken off. Verse
9: „They shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their king,
whom I will raise up unto them.”
Of course, this is not David himself, in a literal sense, that
shall be raised up. It means that one of David’s royal pos_
terity shall reign over Israel. Israel shall have her kingdom
restored and on the throne a king of the old royal line. In a
large measure that promise was fulfilled in David’s greater son,
Jesus Christ. In verse 10 he calls Israel by the name of
„Servant,” the word used so often in Isaiah 40_66, and prom_
ises return and rest. Verse II: „I will make a full end of all
the nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make
a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in judgment, and will
in no wise leave thee unpunished.”
Judah is pictured in 30:12_17 as incurably wounded. The
hurt of the cities of Judah is incurably deep but she shall be
restored to health. Verse 12: „Thy hurt is incurable, and thy
wound grievous,” therefore punishment must come to Judah.
Then he pictures her as being despised among the nations,
forgotten by her lovers, i.e., all those nations whom she fol_
lowed after strange gods. He adds that their chastisement
was a cruel one, but that it was because of the greatness of
their iniquity; because their sins were so increased. Verse 15
adds: „Why criest thou for thy hurt?” There is no use crying.
Why do you cry unto me? „Thy pain is incurable.” It was
all because of the greatness of their iniquity. Verse 16: „They
that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries,
every one of them, shall go into captivity.” Verse 17: „I will
restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds.”
There is a promise respecting Jerusalem and other cities of
Judah in 30:18_22. The city shall be rebuilt and shall be
prosperous. Verse 18: „And the city shall be builded upon its
own hill, and the palace shall be inhabited after its own man_
ner.” Now, that was particularly fulfilled under Ezra and
Nehemiah, in their later history. Verse 19 describes the hap_
piness and merriment of the people. Verse 20 says, „Their
children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation
shall be established before me.” Verse 21: „Their princes
shall be of themselves and their ruler shall proceed from
the midst of them.” He shall be of the royal line; shall be of
themselves. Their rulers shall proceed from their own blood.
They shall be relieved from the domination of Assyria, Egypt,
The prophecy of 30:23_24 is that there shall be a sweeping
tempest upon her enemies: „Behold, the tempest of Jehovah,
even his wrath, is gone forth, a sweeping tempest: it shall
burst upon the head of the wicked.” This undoubtedly refers
to the nations that have harassed Judah so long.
The picture found in 31:1_6 is that Israel shall be restored
to the worship of their own God, Jehovah. Verse I: „I will be
the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my
people.” This was true when God brought them forth from
Chaldea and from Egypt after the exile. The great motive
expressed is that God might be their God and they his people.
In the glory of the restoration he says, „I will be the God of
all the families of Israel.” In verse 3 we come to a great and
glorious passage, „I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”
That is a great text. We have here a vision of the fidelity and
love of Jehovah for his people. He loves forever. „With
lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” That was true in Egypt.
He drew them to himself. It will be true again when he shall
draw them from among the nations. Jehovah loves the people
of Israel now with the same jealous love as of old, and he is
drawing them. The time is coming when he will draw them
together to him with this everlasting love. This same truth
applies to all Christians of the world, both Jew and Gentile.
Samaria shall be resettled and repeopled: „Again shalt thou
plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria. . . . For there
shall be a day that the watchman upon the hills of Ephraim
shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto Jehovah our
God.” Which means that there will be watchmen who will
watch for the rising of the new moon and the time of the
feasts, and then the word will go from mouth to mouth and the
people will all observe the feasts together. Now, that prophecy
has never been literally fulfilled.
Samaria was peopled by aliens from Babylon and Assyria
mixed with Jews and when the Jews returned from the exile,
these people wanted to help them in the work of rebuilding,
but they were spurned. This made the Samaritans the bitter
enemies of the Jews and of their leaders. In Jesus’ time „the
Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans,” but many of them
were converted in Christ’s ministry and through the apostles
after Pentecost. The future will determine the glories of this
There is a great promise in 31:7_9. A great company shall
return from the north. Verse 8: „Behold, I will bring them
from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost
parts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, and
the woman with child.” Verse 9: „I will cause them to walk
by rivers of water, in a straight way wherein they shall not
stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first
The announcement in 31:10_14 is that this return shall be
proclaimed to the nations. This passage reminds us very
much of Isaiah 40. The expressions are almost identical.
Note the clause in verse 10 which is almost the same in both
books, „As a shepherd doth his flock.” Then in verse 12:
„They shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall
flow unto the goodness of Jehovah, to the grain, and to the
new wine, and to the oil, and to the young of the flock and of
the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden.” That
is a beautiful picture; the people coming shall be like that of
a flowing stream hurrying on to an experience of the goodness
of Jehovah. All the nations shall see it.
And mourning Ephraim shall be comforted and restored
(31:15_20). Rachel is heard weeping for her children. She
refuses to be comforted. Rachel was the mother of Joseph
and he was the father of Ephraim, the leading tribe of the
Northern Kingdom, which finally absorbed all the rest of the
tribes of that division of the kingdom west of the Jordan.
Hosea calls Israel Ephraim. Rachel weeping over her chil_
dren is a pathetic picture of the destruction of the Northern
Kingdom, but there is hope for it. She shall not weep forever.
Verse 16: „Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes
from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith Jehovah:
and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” Then
he goes on to describe the repentance of Ephraim. Verse 20
sounds much like Hosea in his great prophecy. Here Jere_
miah says, „Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a darling child?”
In the exhortation in 31:21_22 the wanderer is asked to
return. Speaking to Israel, he says, „Set thee up waymarks,
make thee guide_posts; set thy heart toward the highway, even
the way thou wentest.” Verse 22 is a remarkable prophecy:
„How long wilt thou go hither and thither, 0 thou backsliding
daughter? For Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth:
A woman shall encompass a man.” In Jeremiah’s time the
man must encompass the woman. But this prophecy predicts
that there is going to be a new state of things: „A woman shall
encompass a man,” shall surround him, that is, she shall win
him and also be his protector and safeguard. The Spiritual
application of that seems to be that the time will come when
Israel, this backsliding and wandering woman, shall be
changed; shall be different; she shall have a new disposition.
Instead of God having to go after her and surround her and
induce her to keep herself true to him, she will .take the
initiative; she will surround the Lord and shall be true to him;
shall go after him, and meet him more than half way. That
was true to some extent when they came back from the exile.
They were true to God and protected his cause, but the larger
fulfilment is doubtless yet to come.
The prophecy as to the life of Israel after the restoration
(31:23_26) shows that the life of restored Israel shall be
happy and blessed. Note verse 23: „Jehovah bless thee, 0
habitation of righteousness, 0 mountain of holiness.” What
a magnificent description of the city is that. That prophecy
was fulfilled only to a very slight degree after the return from
exile. Its true fulfilment is spiritual. Jeremiah was much
pleased with the vision.
There shall be great material prosperity for the renewed
people and there shall be individual responsibility. Great
prosperity is shown in the verse 27: „I will sow the house of
Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with
the seed of beast.” The idea there is that it is going to be so
thickly populated that it will be literally sown with men and
with beasts, like a field. Then in verse 29, „In those days they
shall say no more, The fathers have eaten sour grapes and
the children’s teeth are set on edge.” That was a proverb
based upon the fact that because of the father’s sins the chil_
dren suffered. They kept saying that in the exile, because a
multitude of those who were in exile never sinned as their
fathers did, and had to suffer for the wickedness and sins of
their fathers. Hence they kept saying, „The fathers have
eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
They were suffering for the iniquities of their fathers, not
their own. There was a note of bitterness and complaint in it.
They regarded the law as unjust. The great law of individual
responsibility is here asserted. That doctrine is worked out
with great clearness in Ezekiel 18.
In the blessings of the new covenant (w. 31:31_34) we have
the climax, the greatest of all Jeremiah’s prophecies. This is
indeed the high_water mark of all the Old Testament prophecy.
Jeremiah had come to the conclusion that the heart of the man
was deceitful and above all things desperately wicked and
that he could no more change it of himself than the leopard can
change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin; that the people
who are accustomed to do evil, cannot do good. They must be
changed. There must be a new order of things, a new cov_
enant. What is this new covenant? Verse 33 lays down a new
condition: „I will put my law in their inward parts.” Moses
wrote it on tablets of stone but the law to be effective must be
written in the inward parts. It must be written on the tablets
of the heart. On that condition „I will be their God, and they
shall be my people,” saith Jehovah.
Then the prophet asserted the doctrine of individual, or
personal experience of the knowledge of God, verse 34: „And
they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every
man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all
know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith
Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will
I remember no more.” He does not mean by that that there
shall be no more teaching but he does mean that each indi_
vidual shall have a personal experience for himself. His
parents cannot give it to him; each individual shall have a
personal knowledge of God for himself. As regards their sins
God provides a sacrifice so that he will remember their sins
no more forever, consequently there shall be no more need for
the sacrifices of atonement.
Now, that wonderful prophecy was not fulfilled in that
restoration. When Nehemiah had completed the walls of
Jerusalem, Ezra brought forth the book of the Law and read
it before them and they made another covenant to keep the
Law. That was 150 years after Jehovah had said, „I will
make a new covenant.” Ezra brought forth this same old
covenant and the people adopted it again. That was not a
new covenant, and in no sense a fulfilment of the prophecy
here. The people asked Ezra to read it, which showed that
it was in no sense in their hearts. This covenant is fulfilled in
Christianity. Jesus preached the new birth and the principle
of personal knowledge of God. It is the fundamental element
of the gospel, that God’s law must be in the heart, not in mere
It is said of the new people in 31:35_37 that they shall be
perpetual. They shall abide forever. This is expressed by a
comparison of the material universe with God’s eternal pur_
pose concerning his people. The prophecy concerning Je_
rusalem in 31:38_40 is that the holy city shall be rebuilt.
Jerusalem shall be holy unto Jehovah. Now, that was to some
extent fulfilled in the restoration under Nehemiah and Ezra,
but for 1900 years it has been trodden under foot. For the
larger fulfilment we look to Christianity in the millennium.
The prophecy of chapter 32 occurred in the tenth year of
the reign of Zedekiah, during the siege, when Jeremiah was
shut up in the court of the guard. In that condition, when the
city was thus surrounded and seemed doomed to pass into the
hands of the enemy and be destroyed, Jeremiah utters this
prophecy. The following are the main points of it:
1. The announcement of the Oracle of Jeremiah (32:1_
5). This section simply contains the record of the fact that
the oracle came from God to Jeremiah at this time and the
fate of the city is announced.
2. The purchase of an ancestral field (32:6_15). Jere_
miah received word from Jehovah that a certain man was
coming to ask him to buy a field at Anathoth which belonged
to Jeremiah’s family and was within his right. God told him
to buy it. He tells us that he did so, and paid seventeen shekels
for it. Doubtless property was cheap at that particular time,
for all the land was overrun by the Chaldeans. The deed was
signed and two copies made; then they were subscribed to
before witnesses. They were then deposited in an earthen
vessel to be kept, because seventy years or more was to pass
before they could be used. Such is the story. It reminds us
of the incident that occurred in the wars of Hannibal. When
he was encamped before the gates of Rome, the very ground
upon which he was encamped was bought by men in the city,
for they believed in the future of Rome. They paid for it and
believed that they would make use of it. So it was with
Jeremiah; he believed in the future of Jerusalem and. Judah
more truly than those men believed in the future of Rome.
3. His misgiving, with his retrospection of Jehovah’s’ power,
justice, and lovingkindness, manifested in Israel’s history
(32:16_25). He closes that retrospection by summing up
the situation. We find it in verses 24_25. The city is in a
state of siege, and is going to be destroyed very soon.
4. Jehovah’s reply to Jeremiah’s misgivings (w. 26_35).
The reply is this: „Because of the people’s sins Jerusalem
shall be destroyed by the Chaldeans.”
5. Jehovah gives an emphatic promise of future favor (w.
36_44). Again and again Jehovah says, „I will gather them
out of all countries; I will give them one heart and one way;
I will make an everlasting covenant with them.” Men shall
buy fields, shall subscribe deeds, seal them and call witnesses,
Jeremiah gives the date of its deliverance, about the year
586 B.C., while the Chaldeans were besieging the city and
Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the guard. The items of
this chapter are as follows:
1. The call for a larger faith (w. 2_3). Jehovah will show
them difficult things.
2. The city shall be reinhabited and shall be joyful (4_9).
[I am simply giving the substance of these portions. They
are largely repetitions and details are not necessary.]
3. The land of Judah shall be repopulated (w. 10_13). Verse
12 says, „Yet again there shall be in this place, which is
waste, without man and without beast, and in all the cities
thereof, a habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie
down.” In the cities of the lowland, the hill country, the
South, Benjamin, and Judah, shall the flocks again pass under
the hands of the shepherd.
4. David shall have a righteous successor upon the throne
(14_18). Verse 15 contains the substance, a glorious messianic
picture, like Isaiah 11:1_2.
5. The royal line of David and of the Levitical priesthood
shall certainly be perpetuated, 19_22.
6. The Davidic Dynasty shall certainly be re_established
(23_26). The seed of David shall sit upon the throne.
The fulfilment of this prophecy occurred partly in the res_
toration, partly in Christianity, and shall be completely ful_
filled in the glorious reign of Christ when Christianity shall
be triumphant throughout the world. In this we have a
remarkable perspective of prophecy, a prophecy with several
fulfilments stretching over a long period of time.
1. What the nature of this section of Jeremiah?
2. How does it compare with his former prophecies?
3. How does it compare with the prophets before him?
4. What the outline of these four chapters?
5. What the date of this prophecy?
6. What the nature of 30:1_3?
7. How is the importance of this section here indicated and what
the reason assigned?
8. What the prophecy relative to Judah in 30:4_11?
9. How is Judah pictured in 30:12_17 and yet what hope is held
out to Judah?
10. What the promise respecting Jerusalem and the other cities of
Judah in 30:18_22?
11. What the prophecy of 30:23_24 and what the fulfilment?
12. What the picture found in 31:1_6 and when realized?
13. What the great promise in 31:7_9?
14. What the announcement in 31:10_14 and other Old Testament
passage similar to it?
15. What prophecy here concerning Ephraim (31:15_20)?
16. What the exhortation in 31:21_22 and what the meaning of the
„new thing” here?
17. What the prophecy as to the life of Israel after the restoration
(31:23_26) and how did this prospect affect Jeremiah?
18. What the material blessings for the renewed people and how is
their individual responsibility set forth? (31:27_30.)
19. What the blessings of the new covenant? (31:31_34.)
20. What is said of the new people in 31:35_37 and how is it ex_
21. What the prophecy concerning Jerusalem in 31:38_40 and when
22. What the date of the prophecy of chapter 32T
23. What the main points of this prophecy?
24. What the date and contents of chapter 33?
THE PROPHECIES OF JEREMIAH
CONCERNING THE NATIONS
We now take up the prophecies of Jeremiah to the foreign
nations, recorded in Jeremiah 46_51. We note first, by way of
introduction, that when Jeremiah was called to be a prophet,
it was said, 1:5: „I have appointed thee a prophet unto the
nations.” Note again in 1:10: „I have this day set thee over
the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break
down, to destroy and to overthrow.” Thus Jeremiah’s work
was not to be confined to Israel, but to comprise the known
world, at least all that part of it which had any relation to
or connection with Israel. So, in Jeremiah 25, we see him ex_
ercising this function of prophet to the nations. Jehovah
speaks to him and says) 25:15: „Take this cup of wine of
wrath at my hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send
thee to drink it.”
We are not told that Jeremiah visited other nations. By this
passage it seems that he did either visit them and deliver the
prophecy, or that he wrote it and sent it to them by a mes_
senger. Certain it is that he sent this message of destruction
to all the nations that troubled Israel. He goes on, 25:17:
„Then took I the cup at Jehovah’s hand and caused all na_
tions to drink it unto whom Jehovah sent me.” In the next
several verses we have all these nations named. There are
twenty_one, altogether. And those nations which he names
in Jeremiah 25 constitute some of the very people to whom
he is writing the messages in this section.
Again in chapter 27 we have Jeremiah exercising the
prophetic function to the nations. In verses 2, 4 he makes a
yoke to be sent to the kings of the nations and addresses the
ambassadors that have been assembled at Jerusalem to ar_
range a plan for rebellion against Babylon and devise methods
by which they may throw off the Babylonian yoke. Jeremiah
meets them and Zedekiah and says, as recorded in the latter
part of 27:12: „Bring your necks under the yoke of the king
of Babylon and serve him arid live.” He gave them this ad_
vice because he had said, „All the nations shall serve the king
of Babylon, and all those that do not serve him shall perish,
or go into captivity, at the hands of the great Nebuchad_
nezzar.’lt is interesting to note that in the Septuagint Version,
made in the third century before Christ, the prophecies found
in chapters 46_51 are found immediately following 25:13,
where their names are mentioned. That looks as if these
were written and sent to the nations about the same time that
Jeremiah gives his counsel to the messengers of the nations
and to Zedekiah.
The dates of these chapters range from 604 B.C. to about
594 B.C. The critics put some of them much later. But there
is ample evidence to lead to the conclusion that they occurred
in that period in which Pharaoh_Necho suffered defeat at the
hands of Nebuchadnezzar, unto the fourth year of the reign
of Zedekiah. Notice that these various prophecies to the
nations are grouped together as Isaiah and Ezekiel grouped
them. See Isaiah 12_23 and Ezekiel 25_32.
The date of the prophecy concerning Egypt is about 604 B.C.
Probably the latter portion of the chapter was written a little
later, but certainly the first twelve verses were written about
604 B.C. Compare with this Isaiah 19 and Ezekiel 29_32 which
deal with the same subject, the downfall and punishment of
Egypt. Jeremiah 46:1 is a general introduction to all these
We have an account of Egypt’s defeat at Carohemish
(46:2_12). The second verse gives the date and the occasion
of the prophecy. They occurred somewhere about tour years
after the disastrous defeat and death of the good King Josiah
at Megiddo. Pharaoh_Necho had pressed as far north and east
as the fords of the Euphrates, seeking to swell his coffers and
enlarge his territory. He was met there by the invincible
Nebuchadnezzar. There was fought the great battle which
was to decide the fate of one or the other of these two kings.
Carchemish was a large city on the banks of the Euphrates,
commanding the fords of that great river, which was the di_
viding line between the empires. Pharaoh_Necho was over_
whelmed and driven back to Egypt. Jeremiah in the spirit
of sarcasm addresses the great army of Pharaoh_Necho: „Pre_
pare ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle. Har_
ness the horses, and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth
with your helmets; furbish the spears, put on the coats of
Note the tone of verse 5: „Wherefore have I seen it? they
are dismayed and are turned backward; and their mighty
ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back:
terror is on every side.” Then again with a note of sarcasm
he raises this question, verse 7: „Who is this that riseth up
like the Nile, whose waters toss themselves like the rivers?”
That is Egypt. Again, with a note of stinging sarcasm he con_
tinues in verse 9: „Go up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots;
and let the mighty men go forth: Gush and Put, that handle
the shield; and the Ludim, that handle and bend the bow.”
In verse 10 he pictures the defeat: „For that day is a day
of the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he
many avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall de_
vour and be satiate, and shall drink its fill of their blood; for
the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, hath a sacrifice in the north
country by the river Euphrates.” This magnificent picture is
the description of the hand of God punishing Egypt. It is a
sacrifice of Jehovah’s righteousness.
In verse 13 he gives the occasion and the substance of the
prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar would come and smite the land
of Egypt. Then in verse 14 he speaks of the cities of Egypt.
He tells them to be ready and prepared. With a note of sar_
casm he continues in verse 15 by asking a question, „Why
are thy strong ones [thy gods] swept away?” Then the an_
swer follows in the same verse: „Because Jehovah did drive
them.” That is the reason. In verse 17 we have a striking
prophecy: „Pharaoh) the king of Egypt, is but a noise.”
He has no power; he is only a noise; all boast and brag and
not to be feared.
In verse 25 he prophesies that Pharaoh’s city, the city of
Thebes, called „Noamon,” or „Amon of No,” shall perish. Of
late years Egyptologists have discovered that city, and it is
today just as Jeremiah described it in this prophecy. It is
utterly destroyed. In the latter part of verse 26 he makes a
remarkable promise regarding the kingdom of Egypt. There
shall not be made a full end of it; „afterward it shall be in_
habited, as in the days of old”; Egypt shall not be utterly
destroyed. It shall live. But Egypt was never the same after
her defeat and subjugation by Nebuchadnezzar. Profane his_
tory tells us that in the year 560 B.C. or thereabout, Nebuchad_
nezzar defeated and overthrew Egypt. Jeremiah is vindicated
in his prophecy here, since what he wrote took place beyond
There are words of reassurance and encouragement to Israel
in 46:27_28: „Fear not thou, 0 Jacob my servant, saith Je_
hovah; for I am with thee: for I will make a full end of all
nations whither I have driven thee; but I will not make a full
end of thee, but I will correct thee in measure, and will in
no wise leave thee unpunished.” That sounds much like the
second part of Isaiah. In that prophecy this same promise
is worked out in the great doctrine of the servant of God.
The Philistines were the old, hereditary enemies of Israel.
From the days of Samuel and the Judges, David and Solomon
this nation had existed and was, all the time, an enemy and
troubler of Israel and Judah.
The date of the prophecy (47:1_7) is a little uncertain.
The latter part of the first verse says that this prophecy came
before Pharaoh smote Gaza. Now that was the Pharaoh_Necho
who defeated Josiah, some time previous to 604 B.C. He had
laid siege to Gaza, the chief city of Philistia, and had utterly
overwhelmed it. Previous to that Jeremiah uttered this proph_
ecy against Philistia. He says in verse 2, „Behold, waters rise
up out of the north, and shall become an overflowing stream,
and shall overflow the land and all that is therein.” Thus
he pictures the invading hosts of Nebuchadnezzar coming
from the north like an overflowing river, down the plains of
Tyre to this Philistine city. In verse 4 he says that they shall
all be overthrown.
Now, we have a remarkable question on this part of Jere_
miah, verse 6. He sees this fearful shedding of blood, and
raises the question, „0 thou sword of Jehovah, how long will
it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard; rest,
and be still.” Evidently this implies that God ordered this
bloodshed and that the nation was doing his will in thus pun_
ishing the wickedness of the Philistines.
What the relation of Moab to Israel and what the main
points of the prophecy against her (48:1_47)? It is inter_
esting here to compare this passage with Isaiah 15_16, and
also Ezekiel 25:9_11. Israel had come into very intimate re_
lations with Moab. They passed through that land, and the
tribe of Reuben had the territory which joined Moab. Between
these two (Reuben and Moab) there were constant feuds
with intermittent friendship. Finally Moab succeeded in
throwing off the yoke of Israel and absorbing the tribe of
Reuben. Moab was famous for her pride, her self_sufficiency.
She was one of the proudest nations of the world. It was
against this pride and self_sufficiency that this prophecy was
directed. It contains a great many expressions that are iden_
tical with what we find in Isaiah 15_16. In this chapter the
prophet gives us much of the geography of Moab. He men_
tions, altogether, about twenty_six cities. The principal
thoughts are these:
1. Moab’s threatened destruction and exile by Babylon
2. Moab’s disappointed hope, and the imminence of her
3. The humiliation of Moab, and her fate described (48:
4. A promise of return: „Yet will I bring back the captiv_
ity of Moab in the latter days, saith Jehovah” (48:47).
I call attention to two or three striking passages in this
prophecy against Moab. In verse 10 Jeremiah is speaking of
the terrible work which Nebuchadnezzar will do to Moab and
he wants that work thoroughly done, and says, „Cursed be
he that doeth the work of Jehovah negligently.” Now that
is a fine text. He continues, „Cursed be he that keepeth back
his sword from blood.” The idea in it all is that Jehovah
wants these Babylonians to do their work thoroughly. Also
in verse II we have a striking passage: „Moab hath been at
ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath
not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone
into captivity: therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his
scent is not changed.” The figure here is that of fresh wine
left to stand. When it is left thus, sediment gathers in the
bottom. It becomes thick and stagnant and the quality is
injured. Something like that had happened in Moab. She had
grown stagnant; had been quiet for years. It was not good
for her to remain in this condition. Self_satisfaction is not
a good thing.
We have the prophecy against Ammon (49:1_6). The
country of Ammon bordered on the land of Moab and the
territory of the tribe of Reuben. There was constant strife
between Ammon and Reuben. When Tiglath_Pileser invaded
the land and deported the inhabitants, Ammon came up and
seized the country that belonged to Reuben. Because of that
incident Jeremiah uttered these oracles: „Hath Israel no
sons? hath he no heir? Why then doth Malcam possess Gad,
and his people dwell in the cities thereof?” He had seized
the property that belonged to Israel, and that is what Jere_
miah is denouncing. They shall all go into exile. He then
closes this prophecy with a promise of restoration: „But I
will bring back the captivity of the children of Ammon.”
Compare with the prophecy against Edom the prophecy of
Obadiah, which is almost identical. Jeremiah must have been
familiar with the prophecy of Obadiah. Compare also Isaiah
34. Edom was a kinsman of the house of Jacob. Edom dwelt
in his mountain fastnesses and impregnable heights, and was
something of a military power. He never lost the bitterness
of Esau against Jacob because the latter got his birthright
and blessing. They first dwelt in tents and were Bedouin, but
at this time most of them dwelt in cities or towns. Edom
watched from his fastnesses the career of Jacob and, as Oba_
diah says, looked on her destruction without pity. When she
had opportunity she took some of the inhabitants of Israel,
made them slaves and rejoiced over the downfall of Jerusalem.
For such unbrotherly conduct Judah never forgave Edom.
Sufficient is it to say that we have here the pronouncement of
doom upon her and there is no promise of restoration. For
several centuries Edom flourished to some extent, and in the
time of the restoration she occupied considerable territory of
Judah. In the time of Christ an Edomite sat upon the throne
of Judah, but since then Edom has gone down and today
nothing remains of her but a great wilderness of mountains
In connection with the prophecy against Damascus (49:
23_27) we have prophecies concerning two little countries,
namely, Hamath and Arpad. Damascus is to have troubles,
she is to be sad in her fate and she is to wax very feeble. Her
city is to be, not utterly destroyed, but greatly humbled.
There is no promise of restoration.
Kedar is the name of the wandering and marauding, war_
like tribes that live in the deserts east of Palestine, between
eastern Palestine and the river Euphrates. They are called
the „Children of the East.” They have lived there from time
immemorial. They were there before the days of Abraham
and are there yet. The men of Kedar are to be overwhelmed
by the Babylonian power. The city of Hazor is referred to
as belonging to this people. The larger portion of these
Arabians lived in tents and were Bedouin, but some of them
lived in cities or villages. So the prophet addresses both
classes, Kedar and Hazor, pronouncing destruction upon them.
We have the prophecy against Elam (49:34_39). In
Abraham’s time there was a king of Elam, who was the over_
lord of Babylon, and the over_lord of the cities of Sodom and
Gomorrah. He came to the plains of Palestine and collected
tribute from them. Elam was one of the principal forces that
Abraham attacked and destroyed. A great many of the in_
habitants were transported to northern Palestine when Sama_
ria was destroyed by Sargon, so that Jeremiah is brought into
touch with these Elamites because they lived in the northern
part of the country. The fate of Elam is bound ‘up with the
fate of Babylon and that of Israel. Elam is threatened with
destruction, but in verse 39 there is a promise of restoration.
It is interesting to note that in the fulfilment of that promise
of restoration, there were Elamites in the city of Jerusalem
when Peter preached his great sermon at Pentecost. Doubt_
less there were Elamites converted at that time and brought
into the fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The prophecy against Babylon (50_51) is the. longest of any
of the prophecies concerning the foreign nations. Compare
this with Isaiah 13_14; 40_48. The date of this prophecy is
set forth in 51:59. It was in the fourth year of the reign of
Zedekiah, about 494 B.C. Jeremiah penned this long prophecy
and sent it by a messenger to the king of Babylon, to be read
by the exiles, and he says in verse 63, „When thou hast made
an end of reading this book, thou shall bind a stone to it, and
cast it into the midst of the Euphrates: and thou shall say,
Thus shalt Babylon sink, and shall not rise again because
of the evil that I will bring upon her.” A copy of the prophecy
was kept by the prophet. This action was symbolical.
We cannot go into detail in the study of this prophecy. The
situation is the same as that set forth in Isaiah 40_66. It
presents many of the same ideas and the same problems.
There are scores of similar expressions. The principal ideas
are as follows:
1. The people of Israel were in exile in Babylon and the
city of Jerusalem had been destroyed: 50:6_7, 17, 28, 33;
2. Babylon was the instrument of Jehovah in punishing
Israel and the nations, four times stated: 50:7, 17; 51:7, 20_23.
3. Jehovah remains the deliverer of his people. This is
stated by the prophet four times: 50:34; 51:5, 15_19, 36.
4. Jehovah will execute his wrath upon Babylon and her
gods and they shall be destroyed. Fully two_thirds of this
entire prophecy is given to the discussion of this thought:
50:2_3, 10_16, 18, 21_27; 51:1_4, 8_9, 11_19.
5. The Modes and their allies are to break the Babylonian
yoke. This is stated eight times altogether: 50:3, 9, 41_42, 44;
6. Promise of release from Babylon and command to leave
the city. Eleven times the prophet makes statements to that
effect: 50:4_5, 8, 19_20, 28; and others.
7. Spiritual renewal of Israel shall follow the return from
Babylon. This is stated by the prophet five times: 50:4_5;
In these seven divisions we have the substance of these
chapters. Isaiah 40_48 contains the same thoughts, some_
times even in the same words.
Almost all the critics maintain that Jeremiah did not write
these chanters. Even a Baptist professor produced a com_
mentary that was published by a Baptist publishing house,
in which it is plainly affirmed that Jeremiah did not write
them. The arguments used against the Jeremiah_authorship
are in substance, as follows:
1. The historical situation had not yet arrived. These chap_
ters picture Israel in exile, the Temple destroyed and Jeru_
salem in ruins. If Jeremiah wrote these chapters in 594 B.C.
(and it is plainly stated that he did) Jerusalem was still
standing, the Temple intact, and the end of Babylon was yet
seventy years more in the future. Therefore, the critics con_
clude that since the historical situation was not in harmony
with these chapters, Jeremiah did not write them. That con_
clusion is undeniably based upon the assumption that Jere_
miah could not see the future.
2. There is not the same point of view on the part of the
prophet. The point of view of the prophet about this time
was that Zedekiah and his people must submit to Babylon,
and if they would submit, they would be saved. But now in
these chapters the point of view of the prophet seems to be
that these nations are to be destroyed and Judah triumph.
Therefore, Jeremiah must have a different point of view.
Did he? As in the other contention, it is based upon the as_
sumption that Jeremiah could not see the future.
3. The temper which permeates these chapters was not that
of Jeremiah. In other words, Jeremiah, during the reign of
Zedekiah, had been friendly to Babylon in that he continually
counseled submission to Babylon. He seems to be a friend to
Babylon. Now, these two chapters were written by a man
whose soul seemed to be on fire with denunciation of Babylon
because of her ruthless and unrelenting cruelty to Israel. The
critics cannot account for the change in the temper of Jere_
miah, if it is conceded that he wrote these two chapters in
In reply, it may be asked, Does it follow that because he
advised submission to a foreign power he loved that power and
was not loyal to his own people? Jeremiah counseled sub_
mission to Babylon, not because he loved Babylon, but because
he could see, in fact it was revealed to him, that Baby_
lon was destined to prevail and that if his people would quietly
submit, it would be better than to resist. By no means does it
follow that he loved Babylon. He did not love Babylon; he
was a patriotic Israelite and could not but have hated that
savage nation that overwhelmed his own beloved kinsmen.
It is easy to see how he could, with perfect consistency, thus
write the doom that was coming upon this savage nation for
its wickedness. Though it was a wicked heathen nation, God
could overrule its cruelty to be the just punishment for Is_
rael’s sins and wickedness.
4. It is full of repetitions and lacks logical development.
And so it does. But is it not in that very fact, like the work
of Jeremiah? Our critical friends have worked out a system
of logical development and they make heaven and earth fit
into the mold of their theory. I fear that in trying to get
all heaven into their logical system, they have failed to get
any of it into their hearts.
Here are five reasons for accepting the Jeremiah authorship
of chapters 50_51:
1. It is expressly stated that Jeremiah did write it (51:
59_64). That ought to settle the question.
2. The style is like that of Jeremiah, full of repetitions. We
have called attention to that very thing over and over again
in our studies of the book.
3. The prophecy is altogether appropriate. Jeremiah was
a patriotic Israelite, and his feelings toward Babylon could
not have been that of friendship. He must have been per_
meated with the spirit of denunciation.
4. Denial of his authorship is based upon a mechanical
theory of prophecy and inspiration. That is, after all, the
real source of these denials.
5. Granting inspiration, Jeremiah was thoroughly compe_
tent to write every word of these two chapters. We could not
expect that Jeremiah, a prophet to the nations, would live and
die without having something to say about Babylon.
1. What the theme of Jeremiah 46_51 and what the evidence else_
where of Jeremiah’s call to this special function as a prophet?
2. What the dates of these several prophecies?
3. What the date of the prophecy concerning Egypt, what parallel
prophecies in the other prophets and what the nature of 46:1?
4. Give an account of Egypt’s defeat at Carchemish (46:2_12).
5. Give an account of the overthrow of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar
6. What the words of reassurance and encouragement to Israel in
7. Who were the Philistines, what the date of this prophecy (47:1_6) against them and what the prophecy itself, especially verse 6?
8. What the relation of Moab to Israel and what the main points
of the prophecy against her? (48:1_47.)
9. What things worthy of special note in this prophecy against
10. What the occasion of the prophecy against Ammon in 49:1_6 and
what the points of the prophecy?
11. What the relation of Edom to Israel and what the prophecy here
(49:7_22) against her?
12. What the prophecy against Damascus? (49:23_27.)
13. Who was Kedar and what the prophecy here against Kedar?
14. Who were the Elamites and what the prophecy against Elam in
15. How does the prophecy against Babylon compare with the other
prophecies here given, what the date and what the symbolical action in this connection, the meaning of it, and what the principal ideas?
16. What the arguments of the critics against the authenticity of this
section and upon what is each based?
17. Give five reasons for accepting the Jeremiah authorship of chapters 50_51.
THE CLOSING SCENES IN THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH
These closing scenes in the life of the prophet took place
subsequent to the year 586 B.C. and probably before 580 B.C.
They occupied a space of about four or five years, possibly
a few more.
We commence this discussion by looking at the fate of
Jerusalem, and the fate of Jeremiah immediately following
that event. In 40:6 we have an account of the fall of the city
and its destruction by the men of the Babylonian army. Zede_
kiah and the chief captain, through a breach in the wall
sought to make their escape into the valley of the Jordan
and the plains of Moab beyond. The king and the remnant
of his army were overtaken and captured by the Chaldeans
and taken to Riblah, the headquarters of Nebuchadnezzar.
Many of them doubtless escaped. Some of these found refuge
in Moab, and some in the mountains of Judah. Thus there
was a considerable number of the inhabitants that made their
escape by fleeing in every direction.
When the forces of Nebuchadnezzar broke through the
walls of the city and took it, the ruthless soldiers of the
Chaldeans doubtless wreaked their vengeance upon the in_
habitants. Judging from the picture in the book of Lamen_
tations, many were slaughtered and many of the nobles were
butchered, but they did not really sack the city. They took
many captives. Their main object was to take the inhabitants
alive, as there was value in them as slaves, and this was their
aim more than mere butchery of the people. Of course, they
sought to take the king’s family and all of his household;
also the nobles and all the chief families.
When they were destroying the city and taking the royal
families, they found Jeremiah, the prophet, for he was im_
prisoned in the court of the guard. He was bound and taken
out as far as Ramah, 40:2_4: „The captain of the guard took
Jeremiah, and said unto him, Jehovah thy God pronounced
this evil upon this place; and Jehovah hath brought it, and
done accordingly as he spake. . . . And now, behold, I loose
thee this day from the chains which are upon thy hand.”
According to the account in the previous chapter he had re_
ceived direct orders from the king to set Jeremiah free.
This heathen speaks as if he were a very pious man; aa if
he thoroughly believed in Jeremiah’s doctrine: „The Lord
hath brought this evil upon this place and done as he spoke
because ye have sinned against Jehovah.” Those are almost
Jeremiah’s very words. He speaks to Jeremiah and tells him
to go back to Gedaliah, the governor, whom the king of Baby_
lon had appointed over the land. This man that had been
appointed governor was a member of the royal family and a
great man, one of the princes of Jerusalem. Thus he returned
and found that Gedaliah had called the people, and held a rally
at Mizpah, about four or five miles from Jerusalem.
We have an account of the colony which was established at
Mizpah (40:7_12). It is said that the people, when they
heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah, the son
of Ahikam, governor in the land, committed unto him the
men and women and children. Verse 8 gives the names of the
princes and chief men. Gedaliah called the people together
and made appointments as he had authority to do. It says in
verse 9, „And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam . . . [and this man,
Ahikam, had saved the life of Jeremiah.] Fear not to serve
the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Baby_
lon, and it shall be well with you.” Now, that was exactly
what Jeremiah had been preaching for years.
Here was one man who was with Jeremiah. It was doubt_
less because of this fact that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed
him to this position. He says in verse 10: „As for me, be_
hold, I will dwell at Mizpah, to stand before the Chaldeans
that shall come unto us.” They could not live in Jerusalem.
The city was in ruins. He planned to live at Mizpah, to meet
the Chaldeans that would come to him.
In the latter half of verse 10, it says, „But ye, gather ye
the wine and the summer fruits and oil, and put them in your
vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.” In verse
11 he says, „The Jews that were in Moab, and among the
children of Ammon, and in Edom, and that were in all the
countries, when they heard that the king of Babylon had left
a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah,
they returned to their native land.” In the latter part of verse
12 it says, „And gathered wine and summer fruits very much,”
which seems to indicate that the people simply helped them_
selves to the fields and vineyards that had been left.
The king of Ammon, having heard of this new colony es_
tablished at Mizpah, with Gedaliah as governor, set to work
to induce a certain fanatical Jew by the name of Ishmael, to
murder him. We do not know just why he desired the murder
of the governor. It may be that he thought that it would mean
increase of territory to him and that the people would rally
to him and that would mean more power. Again, it may be
that this man Ishmael was a fanatical Israelite who hated the
Chaldeans and any one of his own people who was friendly
to them. So he connived with the king of Ammon to do the
deed. When Johanan found out this plot he warned Gedaliah,
his friend) that Ishmael was about to take his life. But Geda_
liah did not believe it. He felt that no one would dare to take
his life, the life of the governor whom the great king of Baby_
lon had appointed, for Nebuchadnezzar would not fail to
punish a crime like that. But this man Johanan knew and
so he says in verse 15, „Let me go, and I will slay Ishmael
the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it.” He knew
that if Ishmael should slay the royal governor, Nebuchad_
nezzar would take vengeance on the people, and all must
An account of the murder of Gedaliah and his friends is
given in 41:1_3. Ishmael was a fanatical patriot. He came to
see Gedaliah, and the chiefs of the king’s officers were with
him. They came to Mizpah. So they ate bread together and
among Orientals that is a sacred thing. But this man, Ishmael,
did not scruple to violate this custom of his fellows. Verse 2
says, „Then arose Ishmael . . . and the ten men that were
with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of
Shaphan with the sword, and slew him.”
The murder of Gedaliah was concealed, verse 4: „And it
came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and
no man knew it, that there came men from Shechem, from
Shiloh, and from Samaria, even four score men, having their
beards shaven and their clothes rent.” They had frankin_
cense and meal in their hands to bring them to the house of
Jehovah. They were coming to worship. Note now the
treachery of Ishmael. It is said in verse 6 that he went forth
to meet them, weeping all along as he went. He pretended to
be in sorrow. He said to them when he met them, „Come to
Gedaliah the son of Ahikam,” and when they came in to the
midst of the city Ishmael slew them and then cast them into
the midst of the pit. But ten of them told this villain that
they had stores of wealth, and begged him to spare them; so
he saved them for the sake of their wealth. That gives us
some idea of the character of this man, Ishmael. Ishmael
carried away captive all the residue of the people and de_
parted to go over to the children of Ammon (v. 10).
Ishmael gathered together what people he had and started,
but Johanan was not idle. He gathered others and pursued
and when he came near, all the people who had been carried
away captive by Ishmael came over to Johanan but Ishmael
managed to escape.
Then the colony went to Bethlehem under the leadership
of Johanan. We readily see the plight in which Johanan now
found himself. Word would come to Nebuchadnezzar that
his faithful governor had been slain. Johanan knew what
that would mean, and so did the people. They knew that the
great king would send his army, and then there would be no
mercy shown. They were afraid of the Chaldeans because
Ishmael had slain the governor, Gedaliah (v. 18).
An account of the colony at Bethlehem and Jeremiah’s re_
lation to it is found in 42:1 to 43:7. We are following the nu_
cleus of the nation, that part of the nation which constituted
the organized body of Israel. There were thousands of the Jews
in other nations at that time, but we are following here the
nucleus. This nucleus constituted the organized germ of the
nation. The prophet had been forced to go with them. See
verse 2: „Let, we pray thee, our supplication be presented
before thee, and pray for us unto Jehovah thy God.” Again,
in verse 3: „That Jehovah thy God may show us the thing
we should do and wherein we should walk.” It looks now as
if they were actually turning to the prophet; that they were
on his side; that they were coming to his terms. Has he at
last succeeded in winning the nation? Not at all, as we shall
The prophet said, Well, I will inquire of Jehovah for you.
I will do this if you will promise me that you will do what
he says. Ten days passed, and the prophet doubtless spent
them in prayer, while the people spent them in consultation.
At the end of the ten days Jeremiah received his message, and
they had likewise made up their minds as to what they were
going to do. We have that message in 42:10_11: „If ye will
still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you
down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I re_
pent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid
of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid
of him, saith Jehovah: for I am with you to save you, and to
deliver you from his hands.” Note also 42:13: „But if ye say,
We will not dwell in this land; so that ye obey not the voice
of your God, but say, We will go into the land of Egypt,
where we shall see no more war, . . . So shall it be with all
the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there;
they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pesti_
lence; and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil
that I will bring upon them.”
The prophet is able to see through their motive. Notice
particularly verse 20: „For ye have dealt deceitfully against
your souls; . . . saying unto me, Pray for us unto Jehovah
our God.” In other words, he says, While begging me to in_
quire of God you have already made up your minds what you
are going to do. Verse 21: „And I have this day declared it
unto you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of God.” Now,
that is like many people in modern life. They may want to
know what God is going to do, what his will is, and yet at the
same time have made up their minds already as to what they
are going to do.
They refused to remain in Judah. „Then they spake to
Jeremiah and said unto him, Ye have spoken falsely, for Je_
hovah your God hath not sent you unto us to say, Ye shall not
dwell in the land of Egypt, to sojourn there.” Now, that was
a very strange saying. Jeremiah had prophesied during forty
years that the city would be destroyed, and his prophecy had
been fulfilled to the letter, and other things that he had fore_
told had come to pass, and here he is giving another prophecy,
and they listen to him; then tell him that he prophesies false_
ly; that he is a lying prophet. Notice in 43:3: „But Baruch
setteth thee on against us, to deliver us into the hands of the
Chaldeans to carry us away.” So they went into Egypt.
Jeremiah’s symbolic action in Egypt is described in 43:
8_13. As soon as they arrived Jeremiah performed another of
his symbolic actions, verse 9: „Take great stones in thy hand
and hide them in mortar in the brickwork, which is at the
entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the
men of Judah.” Professor Petrie, perhaps the greatest of all
Egyptologists, found a few years ago in the mortar of the
brickwork of the ruins of that very city, great stones hidden
in mortar. We do not know that these were the very stones
that Jeremiah put there, but certainly it is very suggestive.
It looks as if Jeremiah’s prophecy was verified. That city is
in ruins. Verse 12: „I will kindle a fire in the houses of the
gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away
Now let us look at Jeremiah’s message to the Jews in Egypt
(44:1_14). There was a great assembly at Tahpanhes. Jere_
miah seizes this opportunity to deliver his message to
them about idolatry. Their sins brought punishment upon
them. He urges them to repent and turn from idolatry. Verse
4: „Oh, do not this abominable thing.” But the people were
determined to remain in idolatry (44:15_23). The men had
gathered together and their idolatrous wives were gathered
with them. Verse 16: „As for the word that thou hast spoken
unto us, we will not hearken unto thee.” In verse 17 he says,
„But we will certainly perform every word that is gone forth
out of our mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven.”
Now, we come to a remarkable passage. These people argue
that because they stopped worshiping the queen of heaven,
their calamities had come upon them. Jeremiah said that it
was because they turned from Jehovah; they said that it was
because they learned from the queen of heaven. That was the
issue. They said that when Josiah made them stop worshiping
the queen of heaven, then their troubles began. Then the
women began to make their excuse. They said that their hus_
bands allowed them to worship the queen of heaven. They did
that, maybe, to keep peace in the family, and now they were
being charged with the trouble. The meaning of it all was
that these people had simply made up their minds that they
would be idolaters, and no power in the universe could turn
them from it. Jeremiah had been preaching against it for
forty years, and they would not hearken. Now, they tell
him that they will not listen, they will not obey. Then Jere_
miah presented his argument in answer to their excuses and
reasons: You have sinned and this is the reason for your
This is Jeremiah’s last sermon, that is, it is the last one
that we have any record of. He speaks to the people another
word: „Hearken to this word: I have sworn by my great
name, saith Jehovah, that my name shall no more be named
by any man of Judah in Egypt. . . . And they that escape the
sword shall return out of the land of Egypt few in number.”
He continues as to Egypt: „Behold, I will give Pharaoh
Hophra into the hands of his enemies, as I gave Zedekiah,
the king of Judah, into the hands of his enemies.” Indeed, it
was only a few years till Nebuchadnezzar did invade Egypt
and took it. There were Jews in Egypt until the time of
Christ, but unquestionably very few of these Jews in Jere_
miah’s time escaped the perilous times that followed. Accord_
ing to the last trustworthy account we have of Jeremiah he
was in Egypt. Tradition says that he died at the hands of
his own people.
1. What the date of this section?
2. Give an account of the capture of Zedekiah and the chief captain,
and those who escaped.
3. What disposition did the Chaldeans make of the inhabitants of
4. Give an account of Jeremiah’s capture and release.
5. Give an account of the colony which was established at Mizpah
6. Give an account of the plot against Gedaliah and the work of
7. Give an account of the murder of Gedaliah and his friends (41 :l_8).
8. Give an account of the murder of the seventy pilgrims (41:4_10).
9. Describe the counter_attack of Johanan and Ishmael’s escape
10. What the result of this murder to Johanan and the people?
11. Give an account of the colony at Bethlehem and Jeremiah’s re_
lation to it (42:1 to 43:7).
12. What was Jeremiah’s symbolic action in Egypt? (43:8_13.)
13. What was Jeremiah’s message to the Jews in Egypt? (44:1_14.)
14. How did they receive his message and what reason did they as_
sign? (44:15_23.) Give details.
15. What the last words of Jeremiah, where did he die, and what
tradition respecting his death?
We will now take up a brief survey of the book of Lamen_
tations. This book belongs to the third division of the Old
Testament, known as the Writings, the Greek Hagiographa.
The book of Lamentations is grouped with four other small
books and these five are known by the Jews as the Meghilloth.
These five books are Songs of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ec_
clesiastes, and Esther. They are read at special seasons of
the year by the Jews, and the book of Lamentations was read,
and is still read, on the anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem,
which occurred on the ninth day of the fourth month of their
year, corresponding to about our August 9. For 2,200 or 2,300
years this book has been read in their assemblies at this time.
Not only has it been read, but it has also been quoted by
thousands and tens of thousands of Jews who tarry at the
Jewish wailing place in Jerusalem. It has voiced the sorrow
of the Jewish people over the destruction of their city and its
Temple for more than 2,000 years. It will continue to do so
until the Jews are brought to Christ and realize that there
is no need for the Temple and the ritual; that these were done
away by Jesus Christ.
Tradition says that shortly after the fall of Jerusalem,
when Jeremiah was partly free, he sat down in a quarry, a
few miles north of Jerusalem near the road to Damascus, and
there composed these lamentations. The authorship of Jere_
miah has been questioned by the critical school, but this tra_
dition goes back as early as the third century before Christ,
and the Septuagint Version says at the beginning of this book
that Jeremiah wrote these words. The book itself is an elegy
on the fall of the city of Jerusalem. Its theme is the destruc_
tion of the city and it voices the dismay and sorrow that fell
upon the nation at that awful event.
A fine example of an elegy in modern literature is Gray’s
Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard. Lamentations is
also an elegy but composed by a prophet, and as such it has
been rather unpopular, is seldom read, seldom used, and sel_
dom preached from.
The form of the book which is not brought out in the trans_
lation, is that of an acrostic poem, except the last chapter.
The first letter of the first Hebrew word in each verse begins
with a corresponding letter in the Hebrew alphabet. There
are twenty_two verses each in chapters I and 2. In chapter 3,
sixty_six verses, a multiple of twenty_two. In the fourth,
twenty_two. In the fifth, twenty_two.
Now, in 1:1, the first word begins with the first Hebrew
letter of the alphabet. In 1:2 the first letter of the first word
is the second Hebrew letter, and so on through the alphabet.
Chapter 2 is the same. In chapter 3, the three first lines be_
gin with the first letter, and the second group of three lines
begins with the second letter, and so on to the end of that
The writer chose the word which contained the right letter
at the beginning of that word. In many cases it was doubtless
a difficult task. Some can hardly imagine Jeremiah taking
the time to do that, and yet it is the tradition that he did. It
seems to them that his state of mind would hardly lend itself to
such a mechanical arrangement of his verse and his thought,
but the book is before us, and the tradition is that Jeremiah
wrote it, and we must take it as it is. Chapter 5 is not written
in the acrostic form. The first four chapters only are thus
Now, the style, or form of the verse, is peculiar. The He_
brews had a form of verse, or stanza, which they used to
express sorrow and which is called „the lament,” or „the
dirge.” The form of the stanza is this: The first line is of
average length, the second line a little shorter; also the next
verse, or stanza, has the first line longer than the second, and
so on all through the poem, which gives a peculiar funeral
dirge effect to their song with a pathetic and melancholy
cadence as they repeat it.
I call attention here to a few of these. Notice in chapter I:
How doth the city sit solitary,
that was full of people I
She is become as a widow, that
was great among the nations)
She that was a princess among the
provinces is become tributary!
Thus, a large part of the poem has that peculiar, pathetic,
melancholy, dirgelike cadence which expresses, perhaps more
accurately than any other form of poetry could express, the
feeling that animated the hearts of those people.
The following is an outline of the contents:
I. The desolation and misery of Jerusalem (1).
1. The poem bewails the solitude and desertion of the
city; her people are in exile, the enemy has seized her
treasures, her glory is departed (w. 1_11). Almost
every point of view from which one can look at it is
given; almost every possible expression of feeling and
emotion are brought out here.
2. The city herself declares the severity of the affliction
(w. 12_16). Verse 12 is regarded as a messianic ex_
pression in Handel’s Messiah, and may be likened
unto the suffering of Jesus Christ. It is the voice of the
city expressing itself through the prophet, calling at_
tention to the unparalleled sorrow through which it
3. She acknowledges Jehovah’s righteousness and prays
for retribution upon her foes (w. 17_22).
II. Jehovah’s anger with his people (2).
1. The stress is laid on the causes of the suffering. Je_
hovah is her enemy; he has cast off his people, his
land, and his sanctuary. That is brought out in verse
3 and others. As in other verses of the poem, he turns
the kaleidoscope of his imagination upon the awful
event and presents it in almost every phase (w. 2:1_9).
2. The agony of the people in the capital, the contempt
of the passers_by, and the malicious triumph of her
foes (w. 10_17). Here is doubtless one of the most
terrible pictures of a siege to be found in all literature.
He speaks about the virgins of Jerusalem; then he
speaks about his own sorrow, then about the young
children, the babes starving and crying to their moth_
ers for bread and wine.
3. The nations are invited by the prophet to entreat Je_
hovah on behalf of its dying children. It responds in
the prayer of verses 18_22.
III. The nation’s complaint and its ground of consolation (3).
1. They bewail their calamities (w. 1_20). Here he seems
to call up every phase of it, and uses almost very figure
to describe suffering. This section is paralleled in
almost every line with some statement of Job where
he describes his sufferings. I call attention to verse 19:
„Remember mine affliction and my misery, the worm_
wood and the gall.” This is the origin of that expression,
Sinners whose love can ne’er forget,
The wormwood and the gall.
2. They console themselves by the thought of God’s com_
passion and the grace he may have in the visitation
(w. 21_39). Here we have some jewels in this poem.
Verse 22 is one: „It is of Jehovah’s loving_kindnesses
that we are not consumed, because his compassions
fail not.” That means that they are not totally con_
sumed because of the mercy of Jehovah. Jeremiah
had said that he would not make a full end, because
„his compassions fail not. They are new every morn_
ing: great is thy faithfulness.” A man who could
write that after going through the horrors through
which Jeremiah passed, while he was looking upon
the deserted city, his own loved capital, has achieved
one of the greatest victories of faith that man can
Everything had been taken away from Jeremiah
except his life and God. He had nothing. Then he
said, „The Lord is my portion,” i.e., „He is enough for
me.” Another beautiful expression is verse 27: „It is
good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”
This is a fine saying and contains a fine philosophy.
3. The people are invited to confess their guilt and turn
to God in penitence (w. 40_54). Here we seem to be
reading out of Jeremiah’s own experience. This pas_
sage expresses how Jeremiah felt when he was put
down into that dungeon, but they did not cut off his
4. He becomes more hopeful (vv. 55_57).
5. A confidential appeal for vengeance on the nation’s
foes (vv. 58_66). That is Jeremiah still. Almost every
time he is under persecution and affliction he calls for
IV. Zion’s past and present contrasted (4).
1. The former splendor, and present humiliation of Zion
and its inhabitants (w. 1_11). He contrasts first, the
gold that has become dim, the pure gold_ that is
changed. Then the precious sons of Zion are men_
tioned. Their condition at present is contrasted
with their condition in the past. „The daughter of
my people” is also mentioned and her condition in the
past contrasted with the present. „Become cruel like
an ostrich in the wilderness.” The infant, the nursing
child, is different now. „Its tongue cleaveth to the
roof of its mouth for thirst.” They that have been
reared up in scarlet, now embrace the dunghills, search_
ing for some morsel to appease the pangs of hunger.
Her mothers are also contrasted with their past con_
2. Priests and prophets are so stained by guilt that they
find no resting place even among the heathen (w.
12_16). Verse 13: „Because of the sins of her prophets
and iniquities of her priests that have shed the blood of
the just in the midst of her.” As a result of that they
wander as blind men in the streets; they are polluted
with blood. Men cannot touch their garments; they
say, „Depart ye, unclean, depart! depart! touch not.”
When they fled away and wandered, men said among
the nations, „They shall no more sojourn here.” They
were so vile that even the heathen nations spurned
3. The people cannot escape their pursuers. Egypt has
disappointed them, and Zedekiah, the anointed of
Jehovah, has failed (w. 17_20). Zedekiah, the
anointed of the Lord, was captured by the Chaldeans
and treated as if he were little more than an animal.
4. Though Edom may triumph for awhile, Israel’s pun_
ishment will be completed and the cup will be passed
to the foes (21_22). There is sarcasm here: „The cup
shall pass through unto thee also; thou shall be
drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.”
V. The nation’s appeal for Jehovah’s Compassionate Regard (5).
(As we said, this chapter of the poem is not acrostic;
is a little different from the other chapters; and may
have been written later, a few years after the people
had been in exile.)
1. He calls upon Jehovah to consider the affliction of the
people, indicating the nature and severity of that afflic_
tion (vv. 1_18). Here, again, over and over in a great
many different ways and fashions and forms and
figures he reiterates the same sad truths and presents
the same great sorrows. In verse 7 he voices the senti_
ments of the people that are suffering, both those in
the city and those in exile. The complaint was heard
by Ezekiel away off in Babylonia!
Our fathers sinned, and are not;
And we have borne their iniquities.
That cry and complaint both Jeremiah and Ezekiel had
to meet and answer. It was the cry that the people
had to suffer for the sins of their fathers, and of which
they were innocent. See Ezekiel 18.
2. Zion’s desolation brings to his mind, by way of con_
trast, the thought of Jehovah’s abiding power, and on
the ground of this he repeats his appeal for help (w.
This is the greatest elegy ever written, though it begins in
the greatest heights of confidence at the end.
Jeremiah was an ardent patriot, one of the greatest patriots
of history. The Hungarian patriot, Kossuth, was world_
famed, but no Kossuth loved his country and suffered more
for it than Jeremiah, no Garibaldi ever fought and bled for
his nation with truer heart than did this prophet, and no
George Washington ever fought and prayed and worked and
toiled more than did Jeremiah for his land. But even Jere_
miah could not stay the inevitable; he could not save Jeru_
salem. Savonarola could not save Florence, nor could Kossuth
save his country.
Jeremiah was a statesman_prophet, a prophet to the other
nations as well as to Israel. He did not confine himself to
the narrow realm of his own little nation and country; he saw
what was going on throughout all the world and saw God’s
hand in history. He was bigger than his people. He took
in all the known world in his horizon. He foresaw what was
coming and he gave advice to all the nations.
His nature was deeply emotional. No man had greater
tenderness of heart than Jeremiah; no man could sympathize
more with his people. No man could be more overpowered
with sorrow over their sins and their destruction. He even
prayed that his eyes might be a fountain of tears, pouring
forth their grief and sorrow and if possible wash away the
sins of the people. Some of the greatest depths to be found
in all human experiences are to be found in Jeremiah.
He was the most human and most outspoken of all the
prophets. He was not afraid to lay bare his heart. He allows
us to see down into its very depths. He laments, he complains,
he even complains to Jehovah, and writes his complaints in
the inspired Word. He calls for vengeance upon his foes.
He feels like accusing God for having called him into the
prophetic work. When in the depths of despondence, he curses
the day he was born, and actually censures his mother for
having brought him forth. He even considers the question of
quitting the ministry altogether. He was like a weaned child
that has its struggle and cries, but by and by it rests upon its
mother’s bosom. So in the latter part of Jeremiah’s life he
is at rest, calm and patient. He has had his fight and is quiet.
How human he was!
His nature was one of surpassing strength. It is generally
considered that one of the fundamental things in Jeremiah’s
character was weakness. The fact that when he was called
to the ministry he said, „I cannot speak, I am a boy, I am
only a youth,” does not mean that he was fundamentally
weak. It is not a sign of weakness, that a man has a sense of
weakness when called to such a work. The keener our sense
of weakness, the stronger we are, because it makes us feel
our dependence upon God, and we go to him for strength and
he is with us and helps us by his Spirit.
Jeremiah was a strong man, one of the strongest the world
has ever known from the moral point of view. He never
shrank from his duty, even when it brought him face to face
with death. There was a fire. within him which burned, and
when it burned Jeremiah spoke forth, no matter what it cost.
The word of God was the very essence of his being. He even
tried to prevent the inevitable, and fought for forty years
against it – the inevitable, that Judah should perish. He has
been described as „a figure cast in brass, dissolved in tears,”
which expresses better, perhaps, than any other statement,
his character. Though all the world was against him he never
flinched, he never shrank, he maintained a consistent attitude
all that period of nearly fifty years, and never failed.
His prophetic insight was of the profoundest kind. No man
saw deeper into humanity than Jeremiah. He was the first
man to say, „The heart is deceitful above all things and
desperately wicked, who can know it?” He got a vision of the
higher moral truths of the new dispensation of Jesus Christ,
and in his prophecy of the new covenant he reaches greater
heights than any other prophet. He saw true religion as no
other man had seen it. His grasp of truth was so deep that
he became absolutely dependent upon God, and was satisfied
to lean on him alone because his people were against him.
He was a sublime optimist. His prophecy of the restoration
is sufficient comment upon that. He saw the better age clearer
than any other prophet; he pictured a better covenant, a new
His emotional nature is shown in his literary style, which
is free from many adornments, has a great many common
figures in it and does not compare with the beauty of Isaiah,
nor with the finished and literary elegance of Ezekiel. It ex_
presses his emotional nature. He repeats, he has many fav_
orite phrases. At times he is poetic and there are in the book
of Jeremiah a great many passages that are classic and im_
mortal. His style resembles that of the book of Deuteronomy,
the highest type of hortatory eloquence, for Jeremiah was in_
fluenced mightily by the Book which was discovered in the
early part of his career.
From being the most despised of all the prophets, he came
to be considered the greatest of all. In the book of 2 Macca_
bees where Judah is in doubt and difficulty, there appeared to
him in vision a man, resplendent in beauty, magnificent in
physique, with excellent glory beaming from his countenance.
He gives to Judah a golden sword with which to smite his foes.
It was Jeremiah. This is only a legend, but it shows the esti_
mation in which he was held. When Jesus Christ came preach_
ing and teaching, the people knew not who he was; some said
he was John the Baptist, some said he was Elijah, some said
he was Jeremiah. They never mistook him for Ezekiel, Isaiah,
He, in several respects, resembled Jesus Christ:
1. Both appeared at a similar crisis in the history of Israel –
forty years before the end of the nation and the Temple.
2. Both were persecuted for predicting the fall of the cere_
menial institutions and the ritual.
3. Both were at variance with the accepted orthodoxy of the
time, and were regarded as heretical and dangerous.
4. Both showed that there could be a religion without a
Temple and ritual, and thus saved religion in the downfall
of these institutions.
5. Both made the way open for a positive statement of new
6. Both suffered most at the hands of the religious leaders
of the time.
7. Both lived lives of seeming failure, and died at the hands
of their countrymen.
8. Both might have the words of Isaiah applied to them
(Isa 53:3): “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised;
and we esteemed him not.” Also to both may be applied
Lamentations 1:2: „Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like
unto my sorrow, which is brought upon me.”
1. To what division of the Old Testament does this book of Lamen_
tations belong, how is it grouped, and what its special uses by the Jews?
2. What the testimony of tradition and the Septuagint concerning
its authorship, what its theme, what its character as literature, and what its artistic features?
3. What can you say of its style, or form of verse? Illustrate.
4. Give the outline of the book.
5. What can you say of Jeremiah as a patriot?
6. What of him as a statesman?
7. What of his emotional nature?
8. What of him as human?
9. What of his strength of nature?
10. What of his prophetic insight?
11. What of his optimism?
12. What of his style?
13. What of his rank among the prophets? Illustrate,
14. What of his resemblances to Christ?
THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
INTRODUCTION AND THE PROPHET’S VISION
Ezekiel belonged to one of the best and noblest families in
Jerusalem, and was apparently a descendant of the family
of Zadok, which could trace its descent directly to Aaron.
Born in a priestly family he was a priest in his early years.
With that privilege, there was familiarity with the law, and
with the ritual. He was well educated, a man of the highest
culture which Jerusalem afforded at that age.
It was in the year 597 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar came and.
besieged Jerusalem, and Jehoiachin surrendered the city to
him, that 7,000 of the very best people of Jerusalem, including
members of the priestly families, the nobility, the artisans,
the smiths, and others of the leading citizens of Jerusalem, were
taken away captive to Babylon. Ezekiel was taken with
them, and during all the period of his prophecy he is among
the exiles in that foreign land.
He was evidently a man of some wealth, as well as culture,
and doubtless took a considerable portion of his wealth with
him. He had a home, a wife, and possibly a family. He lived
in comparative ease and comfort on the banks of the river
Chebar, near a place called Tel_abib, not many miles from
the city of Babylon.
There was a community of Jewish exiles in that place, and
they seemed to be let alone, and were allowed to carry on a
little government of their own, for we find that repeatedly the
elders of this Jewish community came to Ezekiel to consult
him regarding the fate of Jerusalem. It is difficult for us to
understand their exact condition. They were apparently in
They heard from home frequently no doubt, for there was
a great deal of traffic, traveling, and letter writing in those
days. They were, doubtless, envious of the people who had
been left in Jerusalem, and were exceedingly anxious as to the
fate of Jerusalem itself, as their property to a large extent
was still there. They naturally supposed that their property
would be confiscated by those who remained in Jerusalem and
Judah, and it comes out incidentally in the prophecy of Ezekiel
that there was a deep and bitter grudge in their minds because
the people who remained in Jerusalem had taken over the
property of those who had been carried into exile. There was
this reason also, as we find in Jeremiah 24, that the people
who remained in Jerusalem considered themselves to be very
good; they thought that they were the favorites of Jehovah
since they had been left at home. Those that were taken away
captive were therefore the greater sinners. Jeremiah tried to
meet that in his parable of the two baskets of figs. The basket
of good figs were those Jews in Babylon; and the basket of
bad figs, those left in Jerusalem.
It has been said that Jeremiah was the spiritual father of
Ezekiel. No doubt there is a large element of truth in that
statement. A great man like Jeremiah doubtless had sons in
the ranks of prophecy, as Paul had sons in the Christian min_
istry. Jeremiah must have had a vast influence over Ezekiel,
for he had been a prophet thirty years in Jerusalem when
Ezekiel was carried away into captivity. That thirty years of
ministry stamped upon Ezekiel’s mind and heart, his theology,
his religious life, and his view of the great religious questions
of his age. He had, no doubt, read Jeremiah’s writings, for
they were published in 603 B.C., six or seven years before
Ezekiel was taken away. He must have been familiar with
a great part of the writings of Jeremiah, for his own book gives
in many places almost the exact thoughts and words of his
great predecessor and contemporary. They were contempo_
raries for about fifteen years.
There are many similarities between Ezekiel’s writings and
those of Jeremiah. Their themes are nearly the same. Their
ideas are often identical. Their problems are very similar.
The strange thing is that, although they lived as contempo_
raries for fifteen years, neither one makes the slightest ref_
erence to or mention of the other. Jeremiah knows Ezekiel
is prophesying in Babylon, yet he sends a letter all the way
from Jerusalem to Babylon with admonition to the exiles, and
though Ezekiel must be aware of Jeremiah’s prophesying in
Jerusalem, he makes no reference whatever to the fact.
In contrast to Jeremiah, Ezekiel presents some striking pecul-rities. His private life was very different, for he had his home and his wife, but Jeremiah was forbidden these. Like Jeremiah he absents himself from all the social enjoyments and pleasures of the people among whom he dwells, refraining from entering into their mournings or their feastings. In contrast with Jeremiah he records no inner struggle such as that prophet passed through, no such complaints, no such murmurings, no such agony, no such mournings and tears, no such doubts of God, no such attempts to give up the work of prophesying. Ezekiel gives no hint that he passed through those temptations which tortured the soul of Jeremiah in the early half of the latter’s ministry. Ezekiel is more calm and judicial; he lays emphasis upon the divine sovereignty more than upon human freedom. He emphasizes the necessity and value of the human institutions, such as the Temple, the ceremonial, the ritual, the priesthood, and sacrifices, which Jeremiah does not. Jeremiah was willing to do without all these, if he could only have the heart religion which kept the people in fellowship with God and in obedience to him.
Ezekiel combines both the institutional and the spiritual.
He combines the ritual and ceremonial with the new heart,
the heart of flesh, the cleansed and pure spirit. He is in sub_
stantial agreement with Jeremiah on several points. His con-
ception of the prophetic office is almost identical with that of
his spiritual father. He conceives of himself as the one who
is to warn, who is to pronounce judgment and threaten doom.
His conception of the character of the people is exactly like
Jeremiah’s. His pictures are even more lurid and terrible. His
conception of the history of Israel is almost the same as Jere_
miah’s. Jeremiah pictures her, from the time of her entrance
into Canaan, as going astray after false gods, and her history
as one long story of defection and idolatry. Ezekiel pictures
her, as from the very beginning prone to idolatry and her his_
tory, as a long story of spiritual harlotry.
Ezekiel’s conception of the sin of idolatry is exactly the same
as that of Jeremiah’s. He characterizes it in scores of passages
by that one striking name which stigmatizes all defection from
the worship of Jehovah. His picture of society is much the
same as that of Jeremiah’s. He pictures it as having gone to
the lowest depths, and as we go on in the study of his prophecy,
we shall get some glimpses into those awful scenes which Ezek_
iel portrays. Like Jeremiah he prophesies the downfall of the
state, the devastation of the country, the desolation of the
city, the destruction of the Temple and the obliteration of the
Unlike that of Jeremiah, this book doubtless came from
Ezekiel’s own hand, written and completed by himself. It is
in many respects the most orderly, the most logical, the most
chronological, of all the books of the Bible. Almost every
distinct prophecy is dated, so that we can give the exact date,
the month and the year, in which these prophecies were given
to Ezekiel, or were uttered by him.
The following is an analysis of Ezekiel:
I. The vision of the glory of God and the call to the pro_
phetic office (1_3).
II. Symbolic prophecies of the overthrow of the city and
the state (4 to 24). By means of symbols, symbolic
actions, allegories, and metaphors, Ezekiel brings be_
fore the minds of the exiles the inevitable fate of their
beloved city and state in Palestine.
III. Prophecies concerning foreign nations (25_32).
IV. Prophecies of the restoration of the people of Israel and
the reconstruction of God’s people (33_39), which
are in perfect order. Having done with the prophecies
concerning the foreign nations, he calls the attention
of the people to their own glorious future.
V. A vision of the restored Temple and theocracy with the
final glory and peace of the redeemed people of God
(40_48). Under this we have three sections:
1. An account of the restored Temple (40_43).
2. An account of the ordinances of the Temple as restored
3. The boundaries of the Holy Land and the new distribu_
tion of the tribes within it (47_48), closing with the
significant statement that in all this land, this territory,
this Temple, the one great fact is that Jehovah is there.
The date of the prophet’s vision and call is the year 592 B.C.,
the fourth month and the fifth day of the month (about
August 5). It was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s cap_
tivity. That captivity occurred in 597 B.C. The place was by
the river Chebar. The river Chebar was not a river proper,
but one of the large irrigating canals which coursed through
the plains of Babylon from the Tigris to the Euphrates, irri_
gating that rich and fertile country in which, some say, the
garden of Eden itself originally was located. The irrigated
plain of Babylon was probably the richest portion of land in
all the world. It produced from two to three hundredfold.
In verse I, we have the expression, „the thirtieth year.”
Thirty years from what? Most probably thirty years of his
own life, for he was certainly a mature man at this time. If
he means the thirtieth year of his own age, then he is the only
prophet that gives us any hint as to how old he was when he
began to prophesy. The most plausible explanation is that it
is the thirtieth year of his age, but this question has never
been settled positively.
In Ezekiel I, we have the vision of the glory of God. He
says that as he was by the river Chebar, the heavens were
opened and he saw visions of God. Isaiah had his vision in
the Temple, Jeremiah had his visions, and Ezekiel has a most
wonderful vision. He describes it thus: „I looked, and be_
hold, a stormy wind came out of the north.”
Ezekiel saw it as a cloud coming, and he describes it as „a
fire infolding itself,” but perhaps a better translation would be
„flashing continually,” and as he looked at that great storm_
cloud moving up before him and the lightning illuminating it,
there gradually appeared before him, as it were, the color of
amber, a brightness round about it like amber, which was like
an amalgam .of gold and silver, a very brilliant metal.
He continued to look and he saw emerging from that cloud
of flashing fire four living creatures who took on form. These
were the four cherubim. Isaiah saw the seraphim, but Ezekiel
calls them the cherubim. What are they like? The figure of
a man. An angel in the form of a man, with a face fronting
east, the face of a man. To the right is another face, the face
of a lion; to the left is another face, that of an ox; behind is
another face, the face of an eagle. There were four faces to
this one figure. A great wing in front, a wing behind, a wing
at each side, and a hand in connection with each wing – four
wings and four hands, straight limbs, the foot round like that
of a calk. One of these faces looking east, another facing west,
a third one facing south, and a fourth one facing north.
So, looking at it from another direction, we see the face of
a man; from another direction, the face of an ox; from another
direction the face of an eagle; and another, the face of a lion.
The wings in front and behind cover the body excepting the
limbs and the feet. The wings at the side were lifted up when
they flew and touched one another overhead so that one cherub
touched another. When they were still, the wings were lowered
to the side.
In the center of this four_square of cherubim was a fire,
representing the glory of almighty God, flashing forth. How
did they move? They were all one, all made to move by one
spirit. When one moved, all moved. They were not independ_
ent beings, but had to move together and all actuated and
impelled and driven by the Spirit, that one Spirit that was in
This represented the four great cherubim which formed the
chariot of almighty God, that we find in Revelation 4_5, where
John makes use of these four living creatures, but in a little dif-ferent sense. They are the highest of all the principalities and authorities in the heavenly places. They constitute a chariot upon which almighty God rides forth to do service in the uni-verse. They constitute his executive force. The man represents the highest form of created intelligence. The lion represents the highest form of courage, the ox steadfastness and strength, the eagle the highest form of vision and flight, the most majestic of all birds.
Thus, there are sixteen faces, sixteen wings, sixteen hands,
altogether. Their limbs are straight; they are not jointed; they don’t have to bend them when they walk, as they are not subject to the laws of locomotion as we are. How do they move? They have wheels, each one has a wheel, a wheel within a wheel. So that when the cherubim went forward each one was on a wheel. The same wheel which goes forward goes backward. The same wheel which goes to the left, goes to the right. He says these wheels were high and dreadful; that the rims and the felloes of the wheels were full of eyes. Two eyes fixed upon us is enough, but these great wheels full of eyes and all of them apparently looking straight forward form a terrible picture. When the four cherubim go in any direction, they have wheels upon which they glide like lightning; they need not turn, they never go corner_wise. They always go straight.
These cherubim with their great wheels full of eyes flash
across the horizon like lightning. What a picture of the move_
ments of almighty God! The eyes in the wheels represent the
perfect omniscience of God; the cherubim represent his om_
nipotence; the wheels, with the lightninglike rapidity with
which they move, represent his omnipresence. The spirit that
animates the four cherubim also animates the wheels, moves
all at the same time. As all the cherubim move the wheels
move, with one instinct, with one life, with one power, with one
motion, in one direction.
Above the chariot of four cherubim was a firmament repre_
senting the platform upon which rested the feet of the Almighty himself. When Moses and the elders of Israel saw God they saw him upon a pavement of sapphire; they saw the God of Israel, and did eat and drink. When John saw God it was on a sea of glass. When Ezekiel saw him it was upon a firmament above the cherubim. He says it was crystal, very much the same as John’s vision of the sea of glass. This firmament was supported by these wings stretched out, the four corners joining together.
The noise of the movement of all these wheels (v. 24) was
the noise of great waters like the noise of the Almighty, the
noise of a tumult, like the noise of a host.
Then follows his description of God himself: „A voice above
the firmament that was over their heads, was the likeness of a
throne as the appearance of sapphire stone, and upon the
likeness of the throne was the likeness of the appearance of a
man.” He was of the color of amber. John said he was like
jasper and sardius with a rainbow about his head. Ezekiel
says, he is like amber and has a rainbow about his head; the
whole appearance from his loins downward was the appear_
ance of fire and there was brightness round about him. Ezekiel
said, „It is an appearance of the likeness of the glory of God,
and I fell upon my face.”
The call and commission of the prophet is stated (2:1_7).
In verse I Jehovah calls him: „And he said unto me, son of
man.” That does not have the messianic meaning which „Son
of man” has in the Gospels. It means child of man, mortal
man, you mortal being, in contrast with God: „Stand upon
thy feet and I will speak with thee.” It is a good thing for a
man to know how to stand upon his feet. Sermons have been
preached from this text, entitled „Self_respect.” „The Spirit
entered into me when he spake with me, and set me upon my
feet.” Then he receives his commission. He was to speak to
the children of Israel who were rebellious, who had trans_
gressed against him, who were impudent, who were stiff_
hearted, who were to be unto the prophet like briers and
thorns and scorpions. He was to speak to them whether they
would hear or whether they would forbear. He had a terrible
congregation to preach to: briers, thorns and thistles.
In 2:8 to 3:3 we have an account of that strange symbolic
action, which we find in Revelation 10, where John performs
almost the same action. Here is a roll, a scroll, it was written
with mourning, lamentation, and woe. It was the message
which Ezekiel was to give to those, his fellow kinsmen and
exiles. And God says to Ezekiel, You are to eat this roll and
go and speak unto the house of Israel. When you have taken
it into your soul and are filled with it you can go and speak
as a prophet. So he did and he found it very sweet. When
John ate the roll he found it sweet in his mouth but exceed_
ingly bitter afterward. Ezekiel found it sweet in his mouth
but it did not become bitter afterward. What is the meaning
of it? It is this: When God gives us a message, and we take
that into our souls, it is one of the sweetest and highest pleasures possible to come to a human soul. Ezekiel found it sweet. It was God’s message, though it was lamentation and woe.
The prophet is sent to Israel, a hardened people (3:4_11):
„Thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of a
hard language, but to the house of Israel.” In verse 9 he says,
„As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead.”
He needed a hard head to contend with those people.
Then the prophet was ordered to proceed to Tel_abib, not
far from the river Chebar, where was a colony of Jews. He
says, „The Spirit lifted me up and I heard behind me the voice
of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord
from this place.” And the Spirit lifted him up and carried
him away and he was set down by them of the captivity of
Tel_abib that were by the river Chebar, and he sat among
them astounded seven days.
The charge to Ezekiel is set forth in 3:16_21. Ezekiel was
a watchman to warn the wicked and the righteous. This para_
graph shows the tremendous responsibility of the prophet and
minister of God.
In 3:22_27 we have an account of the prophet as he was led
away to the plain where he saw another vision and had re_
vealed to him the persecutions that were coming to him. Verse
25 says, „They shall lay hands upon thee, and shall bind thee
with them, and thou shalt not go out among them; and I will
make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou
shalt be dumb.” The prophet was shut up to his message
which he received from Jehovah. He was not allowed to speak
except as the Lord spoke to him.
1. Who was Ezekiel, what of his family, what advantages did he
have, what of the colony of Jews in Babylonia, and what of their feeling toward the Jews left at Jerusalem?
2. What the relation of Ezekiel to Jeremiah?
3. What the similarities in the writings of Ezekiel and Jeremiah,
what strange thing about their ministries and what the contrasts in
4. What can you say of the order, logic, and chronology of this book?
5. Give an analysis of Ezekiel.
6. What the date and place of the prophet’s vision and call?
7. Describe the chariot of God aa seen by Ezekiel and give the
meaning of its several parts (1:1_28).
8. How was God represented in. this vision?
9. Describe the call and commission of the prophet aa stated in
10. Explain the symbolic action: of 2:8 to 3:3.
11. What the condition of the people to whom Ezekiel was sent and
what his preparation to meet their condition? (3:4_11.)
12. Where did the Spirit lead him and what message did the Spirit
bring to him in this connection? (3:12_15.)
13. How is the charge to Ezekiel set forth in 3:16_21 and what th&
warning here for God’s ministers in all ages?
14. Where did the Lord lead the prophet next and how was his solemn charge impressed upon him there?
PROPHECIES ON THE DESTRUCTION
Jeremiah was preaching in Jerusalem while Ezekiel was
preaching in a similar strain to the exiles in Babylon. Jere_
miah found that the people thought that Jerusalem, the center
of Jehovah worship, could not and would not be destroyed.
Ezekiel found the same conditions in Babylon. In the time of
Isaiah, when the Assyrians were close at hand, God protected
them and swept away 185,000 of their army and saved Jeru_
salem with the Temple. Their confidence in the perpetuity of
their city seemed to be fixed. So they did not believe their
city, their Temple, and their country would be destroyed. „It
is God’s nation, God’s people, and God’s Temple,” they said.
Moreover, they had false prophets in Jerusalem, prophets
who were preaching the safety of the city, also false prophets
in Babylon among the exiles, preaching the same thing. They
preached that the exiles should speedily return; that the power
of Babylon would be destroyed. There was one lone man in
Judah, and one lone man in Babylon, preaching the destruc_
tion of the nation. This gives us some idea of Ezekiel’s task,
the tremendous task that he had, to make those people believe
that their nation, their city and their Temple were going to be
destroyed. In order to get them to believe that, he made use
of all these symbols, metaphors, and other figures which we
have in this great section. He made use of these symbols, or
symbolic actions, to make his preaching more vivid and more
impressive, and he began this series of symbolic actions about
four and a half years before the city was surrounded by
Nebuchadnezzar, about six years before it fell, for the siege
lasted one and a half years.
The symbol of the siege of Jerusalem and its interpretation
are found in 4:1_3. The great truth he wanted to impress upon
them was that Jerusalem would be besieged and would be taken
and destroyed; so he was commanded by Jehovah to take a
tile, or a brick, a tablet in a plastic condition, and to draw
thereon a picture of a city, representing mounds cast up
against the city on every side, from which the enemy could
shoot their arrows down into the city and at the defenders on
the walls. He was also told to set a camp round about it
representing the soldiers encamped; he was to place battering
rams there. These were huge beams of wood with iron heads
which were pushed with great force by a large number of
men, and thus driven against the walls and would soon make
great holes in them. Then he was told to take an iron pan
and put that between himself and this miniature city to repre_
sent the force that was surrounding it, and as that iron pan
was impenetrable, so this besieging force was impenetrable.
hard, and relentless, and would inevitably take and destroy
the city without mercy.
Then he was told to lie upon his left side as if a burden was
upon him. He was to do this according to the number of the
years of the iniquity of Israel. He was to be bound while
lying thus on his left side and he was to remain in that position
390 days. Then he was to lie upon his right side and bear the
iniquity of the house of Judah forty days, representing the
forty years of their iniquity; these, of course, are symbolic
numbers in both cases. The commentators have been greatly
baffled to figure out these periods which apply to Israel and
Judah. The best explanation seems to be that of Hengstenberg
who makes the 390 years refer to Israel’s sin of idolatry be_
ginning with Jeroboam and going down to the final captivity;
likewise, the forty years, to Judah’s iniquity beginning forty
years prior to the same captivity. According to this reckon_
ing Israel’s period of iniquity was much longer than that of
Judah and this accords with the facts of their history.
The scarcity and pollution of their food during the siege and
after is symbolized in 4:9_17. Ezekiel was to take wheat,
barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, various kinds of cheap
grains that the very poorest of the people ate, mix them to_
gether and cook them on a fire made with the most disgusting
and loathsome kind of fuel possible, and eat about twenty
shekels per day and drink a little more than a pint of water.
Twenty shekels would be probably about a pound of our
bread, one pound of this cheap, coarse bread, and a little over
a pint of water a day. His soul revolted at such loathsome fuel
and he was promised a better kind of fuel used by very poor
people at that time. This again is a literary symbolism, the
idea being to bring before those people the fact that terrible
scarcity was before them, great depredation, and almost star_
vation, and when they were carried into the various nations
their food would be unclean and polluted and they would be
compelled to eat this unclean food.
The fate of the population by the siege and their dispersion
is symbolized in 5:1_4. Ezekiel was told to take a sword, make
it as sharp as a barber’s razor, cut off the hair upon his head,
take balances and divide it into three equal portions. Evidently Ezekiel must have resembled Elijah more than he did Elisha. A third part of it was to be put in the fire in the midst of the city; a third part, to be smitten with the sword round about, evidently hacking it to pieces; and a third part, to be scattered to the winds, and the sword was to go after it and hack it to pieces.
What is the meaning? One_third of the inhabitants of their
beloved city should perish with famine and pestilence; one_
third should be slain in the siege; the other third should be
scattered among all the nations of the earth, and even this
third the sword should pursue and nearly all of them should be
cut off. These arc striking symbols, full of meaning. They
must have had some effect upon the hearers.
The interpretation of the foregoing symbols, as given by the
prophet in 5:5_17, is that this is Jerusalem. Verse 5 says: „I
have set her in the midst of the nations, and countries are
round about her.” The remainder of this section goes on to
show how Judah had sinned, how she had revolted, how she
had forsaken God, and verse 8 says, „Therefore thus saith the
Lord Jehovah: Behold, I, even I, am against thee; and I will
execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the na_
tions.” Verse 10: „Therefore the father shall eat the sons
in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and
I will execute judgments on thee; and the whole remnant of
thee will I scatter unto all the winds . . . and will draw out a
sword after them.” Verse 13: „Thus shall mine anger be ac_
complished . . . and I shall satisfy my fury upon them.”
The prophecies of 6:1_7, 11_14 are prophecies against the
mountains of Israel, that is, the seats of idolatry. All the kings
that sought to create a reformation among the people had to
deal with the high places. Hezekiah removed many of them,
and at last Josiah removed all of them. They were renewed in
the reign of Jehoiachim and doubtless in the reign of Zedekiah.
It was against these high places that the prophets had been
uttering their denunciations for centuries. Ezekiel, from the
plains of Babylon, looks across the vast distance and sees the
mountaintops and the hills with their shrines and altars and
idols and he utters his prophecies against them. In the latter
part of verse 3 he says, „I will destroy her high places,” and
in verse 5 he gives a terrible picture: „I will lay the dead
bodies of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will
scatter your bones around about your altars,” and then he
pictures the destruction of the idolatrous symbols of worship.
But hope is held out to Israel. In 6:8 is the gleam of hope
through this awful picture of destruction: „Yet will I leave a
remnant, in that ye shall have some that escape the sword
among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the
countries.” And then he says that many of those scattered
through the countries shall remember God and regent, verse
9: „And those of you that escape shall remember me among
the nations whither they shall be carried captive,” and the last part of verse 9 says, „And they shall loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.” There was hope for the people throughout the countries that some of them would survive. There was scarcely a ray of hope for the city that any should escape. So Ezekiel preaches the doctrine of the remnant as does Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, and all the other prophets of this period.
Chapter 7 is a lament, or dirge, over the downfall of the
kingdom of Judah, and it is divided into four parts, thus:
1. The end is come upon the four corners of the land (vv.
2. The end is come upon the inhabitants of the land (vv.5_9)
3. The ruin is come unto all classes and is universal (vv.
4. The picture of the dissolution of the state (w. 14_27)
The theme of chapter 8 is, Israel’s many idolatries, which
have profaned the Lord’s house and have caused him to with_
draw from it. The date of this prophecy is fourteen months
after the previous sections we have studied, in the sixth month,
591 B.C., which corresponds to our October.
Then the prophet sees what he calls the image of jealousy
in the Temple (8:1_6). He sees a new vision of the Lord, and
the one who sat above that firmament whose appearance was
like unto fire, appears to Ezekiel again and, strange to say (we
have to interpret this as a vision in symbol), took him by a
lock of the hair of his head and carried him all the way from
Babylon to Jerusalem. The Spirit took him thus and set him
down at the door of the gate of the inner court and there he
saw what he calls an „image of jealousy.” It was not jealousy
pictured, but an image of some of their deities, some form of
Baal set up in the very Temple of Jehovah, which provoked
him to jealousy. Thus, he pictures the idolatry of the people
as existing in the very Temple and its sacred precincts made
place for their idols.
The prophet now sees another vision, the secret idolatry of
the elders in the chambers of the gateway (8:7_13). The
images there were worshiped by the people at large. Now
the elders, the leaders, are engaged in it, and he says in verse
10, „So I went in and saw; and behold, every form of creeping
things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house
of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.” Verse II:
„And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of
the house of Israel; and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah
the son of Shaphan, every man with his censor in his hand;
and the odor of the cloud of incense went up.” All this is used
to represent the elders, the leaders of the people of Jerusalem,
who were idolaters in secret, if not openly.
The women were lamenting and weeping for Tammuz, or
Adonis, a heathen solar mythical being, nature personified and
represented in winter as perishing or languishing, and in spring,
reviving. Some writers think it represents the hot season of
the year, as nature is all dead and withered, and is revived
later on. Here the women are described, the ladies, the society
ladies of Jerusalem, weeping as the heathen women did, be_
cause the force of nature, represented in this physical being,
was apparently dead. It was a strange sort of worship in_
deed. It is not known as to just what the nature of this wor_
ship was, but it was something like that.
Then Ezekiel was shown the sun worship (8: 10_18). The
latter part of verse 16 says: „about five and twenty men, with
their backs toward the temple of Jehovah, and their faces
toward the east; and they were worshiping the sun toward
the east.” This gives us some idea as to the depths to which
the people had gone in their idolatrous worship, even in Jeru_
salem and the Temple.
The first act of divine judgment, the slaughter of the in_
habitants, is presented in chapter 9. Jehovah is represented
as crying out and calling seven men, supernatural beings, six
of them armed with a sword, and the seventh one armed with
an inkhorn. These come forth into the Temple area and from
there into the streets of the city. The man with the inkhorn
set his mark upon all that should not be slain. Thus they
entered the Temple; Ezekiel sat still in the vision and in a
short while six supernatural men cut down a vast number.
When they cut down all the Temple force they went out into
the city and the slaughter went on. Verse 8 says, „And it
came to pass, while they were smiting, and I was left, that I
fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord Jehovah!
wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out
of thy wrath upon Jerusalem?” Ezekiel saw that if these six
angelic beings went through the city, not many would be
left. He cried out but it was of no avail.
The second act of divine judgment is symbolized in chap_
ter 10. Here Ezekiel sees the same glorious vision of God
that he saw at first, and the voice came from him above the
firmament saying to a man clothed in linen, „Take some
fire” – from that central place among the cherubim – „take
some of that divine fire and scatter it over the city.” Then
we have the description of how one of the cherubim, with one
of those arms, took some of the fire and handed it out to this
other being and he went abroad and scattered that fire over
the inhabitants of the city. That is a symbol also. The latter
part of chapter 10 is simply an extended description of the
same vision recorded in chapter 1.
We have a threat of destruction and a promise of restora_
tion in chapter II. The occasion of the destruction of Jeru_
salem was virtually the revolt on the part of the princes
against Nebuchadnezzar. It was the princes of Judah that
led Zedekiah into revolt, the princes that were so obnoxious to
Jeremiah, the princes of Judah that caused the downfall of the
city and tried to put Jeremiah out of the way. Ezekiel, in
vision, sees those princes and he sees them counseling and
planning to make a league with Egypt and revolt against
Nebuchadnezzar. He denounced them. Verse 2 says, „And
he said unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise
iniquity and that give wicked counsel in this city; that say,
The time is not near to build houses.” If we are going to
fight, this city will be a caldron and we will be the flesh, and
it is better to be in the frying pan than in the fire. This city,
the capital, may be destroyed; the time of war has come; let
us fight and stay inside.” They did so, and in the remainder of
the chapter we have the denunciation of Ezekiel. He says,
„I will bring you forth out of the midst thereof, and deliver
you into the hands of strangers.” And that actually happened,
for Nebuchadnezzar captured all these princes with Zedekiah;
they were brought before him at Riblah and every one slain
with the sword.
The latter part of the chapter states that there will be some
left; a remnant will be saved among the exiles. There shall
be a few found faithful, and in verses 17_19 is a marvelous
promise: „I will gather you out of all the countries where
you have been scattered,” and in verse 19, he anticipates
Christianity, saying, „I will give them a new heart, and put
a new spirit within them, and I will take the stony heart out
of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may
walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances, and do them;
and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” The
hope of the nation was in the exiles, not in the people that
were left in Jerusalem. Immediately following that, the cheru_
bim that had appeared near the house of Jehovah, were re_
moved east on the Mount of Olives and departed thus from
the city, signifying that Jehovah had abandoned Jerusalem.
There are two symbolic actions described in chapter 12.
Ezekiel is told to gather up such things as be would require
to take with him if he were going into exile, just as one would
pack his trunk or grip to go to another place. So Ezekiel
packs up his goods in the sight of the people in the daytime,
and has them all ready. That night he goes to the wall of
the city and digs a hole through, and with his goods upon his
shoulder makes his way through that hole of the wall to go
out. It was a symbolic action, performed to impress the peo_
ple. He interprets his action thus: The people of Jerusalem
shall take their belongings and go into exile, and Zedekiah,
the prince of Jerusalem, will dig a hole through the wall of
the city and with his goods upon his shoulders will try to
escape. He actually tried to do that, but was taken. Verse II
says, „Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it
be done unto them; they shall go into captivity.” Verse 12:
„And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his
shoulder in the dark and shall go forth: they shall dig through
the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, because
he shall not see the land with his eyes.” This is a mild way
of expressing the truth that Zedekiah tramped all the way to
Babylon with his eyes having been bored out by Chaldean
Another symbolic action is recorded in verses 18_19, as
to the eating of bread and drinking of water, and then Ezekiel
quotes a proverb, „The days are prolonged, and every vision
faileth.” They were saying that the visions and prophecies
did not come true. He answers, „Thus saith the Lord God:
I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use
it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at
hand, and the fulfilment of every vision.”
The false prophets and prophetesses are characterized in
chapter 13. Jeremiah had to contend with the false prophets,
but Ezekiel had to contend with the false prophets and
prophetesses. They are described thus:
1. The false prophets are described as jackals burrowing
in the ground, and making things worse instead of better
2. They whitewash the tottering walls that the people built
and they daub them with untempered mortar (w. 8_16).
The people built up walls of defense by their foolish plans and
the false prophets agreed with them. They tried to smooth
the danger over, saying, „Peace for her.”
3. The denunciation of the false prophetesses (w. 17_23).
These women deceived the people. Verse 18: „Thus saith the
Lord God: Woe to the women that sew pillows upon all el_
bows, and make kerchiefs for the head of persons of every
stature to hunt souls!” These pillows were little cushions fas_
tened on the joints of their hands and arms to act as charms.
The custom exists today in the East. Ezekiel denounces them
in verse 20: „Wherefore, thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I
am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to
make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms; and I
will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them
fly.” These were the spiritualists of that day. They are with
us yet, only their methods are different.
The answer of Jehovah to idolaters who inquire of him is
found in chapter 14:
1. The answer is this, Put away your idols or look out for
the judgment of God. There is no use in coming to inquire of
Jehovah through me if you are idolaters in heart (14:1_11).
2. The principle of divine judgment is found in verses 12_23.
It is this: Righteous men shall not save sinners, only their
own souls. Notice verse 14: „Though these three men, Noah,
Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own
souls by their righteousness.” Verse 16: „Though these three
men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they should de_
liver neither sons nor daughters; they only should be delivered,
but the land should be desolate.” So no matter how many
righteous men there may be, and how righteous they may be,
only they themselves shall be saved in the terrible sack of the
city. Thus, the righteous could not save Jerusalem, any more
than Lot could save Sodom.
1. What the problem of Ezekiel in Babylon and what prophet with
2. What encouragement did the people have both in Jerusalem and
in Babylon to believe in the safety of their holy city and nation, and
what Ezekiel’s method of impressing upon the exiles the fallacy of
such an argument?
3. What the symbol of the siege of Jerusalem and what its inter_
4. How are the people bearing their sins here symbolized and what
the interpretation? (4:4_8.)
5. How is the scarcity and pollution of their food, during the siege
and after, symbolized in 4:9_17?
6. How is the fate of the population by the siege and their disper_
sion symbolized? (5:1_4.)
7. What the interpretation of the foregoing symbols, as given by
the prophet in 5:5_17?
8. What the prophecies of 6:1_7, 11_14 and what the history of these
9. What hope is held out to Israel amid this awful picture?
10. What the theme of chapter 7 and what its parts?
11. What the theme and date of chapter 8?
12. What was the „Image of Jealousy” seen by Ezekiel (8:1_6), and
what the particulars of this vision?
13. What the prophet’s vision of the elders and what its interpreta_
14. What was the abomination of Tammuz? (8:14_15.)
15. What of the sun worship? (8:16_18.)
16. How is the first act of divine judgment and slaughter of the in_
habitants represented? (9.)
17. How was the second act of divine judgment symbolized? (10.)
18. Explain the threat of destruction and the promise of restoration.
in chapter 11.
19. What two symbolic actions described in chapter 12, and what
20. How are the false prophets and prophetesses characterized in
21. What the answer of Jehovah to idolaters who inquire of him and
what the divine principle of judgment? (14.)
PROPHECIES ON THE DESTRUCTION
We may ask ourselves at the outset, What purpose did
Jeremiah serve in preaching forty years the downfall of the
city, warning the people of their sins, though he knew that
downfall was absolutely certain, yet all the time seeking to
save the city? Why should God require a man to give forty
years of his life to guard the people against the inevitable?
Why should he require of a man like Ezekiel so many years of
preaching to those already in exile concerning the fall of the
city of Jerusalem? Why should he exert himself in the man_
ner in which he did, to warn those in Babylon of the fall of
Jeremiah’s preaching had this effect: It prepared the peo_
ple in a measure for the downfall of their Temple and their
capital and thus helped them to keep faith in God. Whereas,
the fall of their capital and city without such a warning
would have inevitably shattered their faith in God. Jere_
miah’s prophecies of the restoration and the glorious future
also helped the earnest heart to prepare for that future and
for that restoration. Ezekiel’s preaching to the exiles in Baby_
lon also prepared them for the fall of Jerusalem and also
preserved their faith in God. It furnished them with truth to
keep alive their faith during the period when their Temple
was gone; it also served as a stay during the period of the
exile and prepared them for the return. Though it seems that
Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s long ministries were temporarily
fruitless, yet they were the means of preparing the people for
a possible future and their work abides.
Why did Ezekiel use all these symbols, figures and meta_
phors to those people who were already in exile in Babylon?
It was to prepare their faith, so that when the shock came
they might withstand it and be ready to return when God
called them. As a result of Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s preach_
ing, nearly 50,000 people were prepared to return as soon as
the decree of Cyrus was sent forth. One may see no immediate
result of his preaching, yet when he is preaching what God
wants him to preach, the fruits may be all the greater because
they are delayed.
In chapter 15 we have the parable of the vine tree and its
interpretation. This is a parable in which Israel is likened to
a vine tree among the trees of the forest. The vine tree is a
very lowly tree. It is of comparatively little use. The wood
thereof is not taken for fire, nor do people make pins or pegs
from it. It is simply cast forth to be burned as rubbish. It
is not profitable for anything. Then what does he mean? The
Kingdom of Judah was among the great kingdoms of the
world as the lowly vine tree was among the trees of the forest.
It was of little use; it would not do for wood to burn; it would
not do to make furniture or anything useful. It was simply
cast off. All this we readily see would have its effect upon
the people. It is a blow at their national pride. It goes to
show that a mere vine of the forest that is cast away and
burned as rubbish may be destroyed, while the lordly trees
of the forest are still preserved. Judah is a lowly, contempt_
ible kingdom beside the other kingdoms, and it is no great
thing if she does perish. Notice, he makes no mention of the
fruit of the vine. There was no fruit to this vine. In the case
of the grape the vine is useless when there is no fruit; the
vine is utterly valueless and fit only to be cast off. Thus he
prophesied that Jerusalem should be burned with fire and
its inhabitants destroyed.
In chapter 16 we have an allegory of the foundling child
and its interpretation. This whole chapter is an allegory.
Judah is described as a wretched outcast infant on the very
day of its birth, thrown out into the field, a thing all too fre_
quently done among Semitic and other Oriental peoples.
There the infant lay, ready to perish. Jehovah comes along
and sees the child thus in its neglected, wretched, forsaken con_
dition; takes pity upon it; cares for it in the best way possible;
rears it up until the child, a female child, becomes a young
woman. She becomes of marriageable age, and then she is
espoused to her husband, Jehovah. He adorns her with all
the beauties with which a bride can possibly be adorned, and
crowns her with a beautiful crown, and as verse 14 says, „Thy
renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty; for it
was perfect, through my majesty which I had put upon thee.”
All went well for a time, but the foundling child which had
the disposition of the Amorite and of the Hittite, very soon
became the faithless bride and then rapidly degenerated
into a shameless and abandoned prostitute. She prostituted
herself with Egypt, with Assyria, and with Babylonia and
their gods; then went into the very extreme of wickedness and
sank to the very lowest depths of shame.
As a result of this absolute abandonment to wickedness,
this prostitution of herself to idol worship, the nation is
doomed to destruction at the hands of the very people after
whom she had gone, and whose gods she had sought and wor_
shiped. They were to gather around her from every side
and were to destroy and lay waste the very bride of Jehovah.
This passage is doubtless the analogue of that famous pas_
sage in Revelation 17, where the apostate church is compared
to the harlot sitting upon the beast. He goes on and compares
Jerusalem with Samaria and with Sodom. Notice verse 46:
„Thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters, that
dwelleth at thy left hand; and thy younger sister that dwelleth
at. thy right hand. is Sodom and her daughters.”
In verse 48 he says that Jerusalem is worse and more
shameless than even Sodom: „As I live, saith the Lord God,
Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou
hast done, thou and thy daughters.” In verse 49 he gives the
sin of Sodom: „Pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease,”
the besetting sins of the society women of every city of the
land. Verse 51 says, „Neither hath Samaria committed half
of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations,”
and verse 53 says, „I will turn again their captivity, the cap_
tivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of
Samaria and her daughters, and the captivity of thy captives
in the midst of them.”
What does he mean by saying that Sodom shall return from
her captivity? No Sodomite was preserved; everyone per_
ished. I think it means that in a future age all the land shall
be reclaimed and even the place of Sodom shall be repeopled
and, when restored and repeopled, will be like unto the in_
habitants of Samaria and Jerusalem; that they will be loyal
and true with new hearts and right spirits. It cannot be
taken literally, for it is impossible that a Sodomite could
return from captivity. It is necessary to read carefully all
this allegory at one sitting to get its effect, to see and feel
its force. It is powerful. Israel was not the descendant of an
Amorite nor a Hittite. She had the blood of Chaldea and of
Aram, but what he means is that there was in Israel from
the very first the seeds of idolatry that existed in those
Amorites among whom she lived. Thus Ezekiel prophesies
the return of Samaria, the return and restoration of Jerusalem
as well as Sodom, the last no doubt in a figurative sense.
We have had symbols, symbolic actions, and parables;
now we have a riddle. The riddle is this, 17:3f: „A great
eagle with great wings and long pinions, full of feathers, which
had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the top of
the cedar; he cropped off the topmost of the young twigs
thereof, and carried it into a land of traffic; he set it in a
city of merchants.” And in verse 5 it says, „He took also of
the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful soil; he placed
it beside many waters; he set it as a willow tree.” Verse 6:
„And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature,
whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were
under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches,
and shot forth sprigs.” Then it began to send its roots in
another direction as we see from verse 7: „There was also
another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and,
behold, this vine did bend its roots toward him, and shot forth
its branches toward him, that he might water it.”
What is the meaning of it? The first great eagle was Neb_
uchadnezzar who came from Babylon and lopped off the top
of the cedar, Jehoiachin, the son of Josiah, and carried him
away to Babylon with seven thousand of the best people. He
then set Zedekiah upon the throne and made him a feeble,
weak vassal, with the hope that Zedekiah would depend upon
him, pay him tribute, seek strength and power from Babylon,
i.e., send out his roots to Babylon. But instead of that, Zede_
kiah begins to plot with Pharaoh_Necho of Egypt and instead
of sending roots toward Babylon, he sent them toward Egypt.
This is the riddle and the explanation. The riddle found in
verses 1_10 and the explanation in verses 11_21.
In verses 22_23 we have the promise of a universal kingdom.
He uses the same figure, that of the lofty top of the cedar,
the symbol of the lawful descendant, the legitimate heir to
the throne of Israel. After the return, God is going to take
the lofty top of the cedar and crop off a twig from the top_
most limb and plant it in the top of a high mountain in Israel.
The latter part of verse 23 says, „And under it shall dwell all
birds of every wing; in the shade of the branches thereof shall
they dwell.” Here he means that from the royal family of
David, a twig, the topmost twig, shall be taken by Almighty
God, and shall be set upon a high and lofty throne and his
kingdom shall become so large, so wide. so broad, that its
dominion will be universal, and all the peoples of the world
will come to lodge under its branches and enjoy its protection.
This, of course, is the messianic kingdom.
In chapter 18 we have Ezekiel’s discussion on the moral
freedom and responsibility of the individual before God. This
is the most important theological contribution which Ezekiel
made to the thought of his age. In this chapter he meets one
of the most perplexing problems that ever troubled men. It
was the great religious problem of his age. When Jeremiah
prophesied the restoration of the people to their land, he said
that the time would come when they would no longer say,
„The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth
are set on edge,” but each one should bear and suffer for his
own sins and sustain an individual, personal relationship to
God. Individualism, liberty in religion, was a messianic prin_
ciple with Jeremiah, but Ezekiel is already living in the new
order of things, and he takes up the problem that confronted
Jeremiah: „The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the chil_
dren’s teeth are on edge.”
What does he mean? It was a proverbial saying and there
is implied in it a reproach against divine providence; a sug_
gestion that God is unjust in his administration of the laws of
the world; that the children are suffering wrongfully for sins
they never committed, but which their fathers committed.
All that is implied in it, but the real significance of the proverb
is this: „The sins of which you accuse us were born in us; we
can’t help them; we must sin; our fathers sinned and the evil
has been transmitted to us; we can’t help ourselves.”
The proverb rose out of the fact that God dealt with na_
tions as units, and the individual shared the effects of that
dealing. That was the case with Israel all down through the
ages until this period. But now when the greatest crisis in the
history of the nation had come, the nation destroyed, the city
burned, the Temple gone, the ceremonial and ritual at an end,
the national religious life collapsed, what would be the effect?
The only way in which religion could be preserved was for
them to realize that each individual soul had an individual
and personal relationship to God. This was something new
in the history of religion, this idea of individual responsibility
to and relationship with God.
Ezekiel meets this great problem and deals with it fairly
and squarely. There are two principles brought out in this
chapter, which are these:
1. „All souls [individual personalities] are mine, saith the
2. „I have no pleasure in the death of any one of these per_
sons. I do not wish any one of them to perish. It grieves me
that they do. I have no pleasure in it.”
And then, arising from these two principles are two conclu_
1. Each soul’s destiny depends upon its relation to God.
2. It is their privilege to repent and turn from sin.
The following is an analysis of the chapter:
1. The individual man is not involved in the sins and
fate of his people or his forefathers (1_20). He says in verse
5, „If a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,”
and the latter part of verse 9, „he is just, he shall surely live.”
Verse 10: „And if he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of
blood he [the robber] shall surely die.” Verse 13: „But hath
given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase shall he then
live? He shall not live: he hath done all these abominations;
he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.” In the latter
part of verse 17, he says, „The righteous man shall not die
for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.” In other
words, no man shall die because of his father’s sins, but be_
cause of his own, and no man shall be responsible for his son’s
sins, but for his own. Each individual shall bear his own
personal relationship to God and that alone.
2. The individual soul does not lie under the ban of its own
past (21-23). Ezekiel means to say this: “If any man going
on in sin, should turn from his sin and should repent and get
right with God, he shall live. He is no slave to his moral en_
vironment, DO victim of the sins of his ancestors, he is not
compelled to go on in sin. He means to say also that if a man
going on and doing right should fall into sin and do unright_
eousness, then he shall die in his iniquity; he shall suffer its
consequences; he shall not have attributed to him anything of
his past righteousness; that would be completely nullified. He
shall not have an average made of his righteousness and wick_
edness, but according to the condition of his heart at that
time he shall either live or die. Now, that does not abrogate
the law of heredity; it does not say that we do not inherit
evil tendencies; it does not say that the result of our past
lives will not continue with us, but it does say that everything
depends upon the man’s personal and individual relationship
to his sins and to his God; that the trend of his mind, the bent
of his character, is that which fixes his destiny.
In other words, it is the doctrine of moral freedom which
implies individual responsibility, with a possibility of re_
pentance, a possibility of sin, a possibility of individual re_
lationship to God, a possibility of life or death. This chapter
is worthy of long and careful study.
There is a lamentation in chapter 19, set forth in two par_
ables. Here Ezekiel represents Jerusalem as a lioness. She
brought up one of her cubs, or whelps, and he became a young
lion; the nations came, caught him, bound him, and he was
carried away to Egypt. That was Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah.
When he was gone, the lioness brought up another one of her
whelps and he grew up to be a young lion. The nations came
against him and he was caught and carried away to Babylon
that his voice should be no more heard on the mountains of
Judah. That was Jehoiachin. He makes no mention of Je_
hoiakim for he was only a vassal set upon the throne by
Pharaoh, not the chosen heir to the throne. He makes no
mention of Zedekiah for he also was a vassal placed upon
the throne by Nebuchadnezzar, not by the choice of the peo_
ple, and he was not one of the lioness’s whelps.
Then, verses 10_14, he describes the mother as a vine, and
shows how the vine is to be plucked up, burned, and destroyed,
signifying the end of the reign of Zedekiah with the destruc_
tion of his capital.
The prophet reviews the past history of Israel in chapter 20
and emphasizes the principle that has saved Israel, viz: Je_
hovah’s regard for his own name. The elders came to inquire
of Ezekiel about the law, or about the fate of the city. Eze_
kiel said that God would not be inquired of by them. He then
goes on to review the history of Israel, and shows them the
principle which actuated Jehovah in the saving of that nation.
It is this: In verse 9 he says, „I wrought for my name’s
sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the na_
tions, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself
known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land
of Egypt.” And in verse 14 he refers to their salvation in the
wilderness: „I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not
be profaned in the sight of the nations” and in verse 22, re_
ferring to his dealing with them while in the wilderness, he
says, „Nevertheless I withdrew my hand, and wrought for
my name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of
the nations.” And from verses 30 to 44 Ezekiel, in prophetic
vision, sees that the return from captivity, the restoration
from Babylon, the setting up of the glorious messianic king_
dom in Jerusalem and Judah, will be done on this very same
principle, viz: Jehovah’s regard for his own name.
The following is a summary of the contents of 20:45 to
1. The fire in the forest of the South (20:35_49). The South
refers to Judah and Jerusalem. Ezekiel sees from his situa_
tion in Babylon a fire raging in the South and burning the
nation. It is a fire that shall not be quenched.
2. The sword of Jehovah shall be on Jerusalem (21:1_27).
In substance, it is this: The sword of Jehovah is the sword of
Nebuchadnezzar. It is coming against the city. When it is
drawn it shall be sheathed no more. From verses 8 to 17
we have Ezekiel’s „Song of the Sword,” a peculiar dirge pic_
turing the sharpness of the sword and the anguish of the
people. From verses 18 to 27 the prophet represents the king
of Babylon as undecided whether he should attack Ammon
or Jerusalem first. He stands at the parting of the ways, and
uses divination; he shook the arrows to and fro, he consulted
the teraphim, he looked in the liver. He drew forth the arrow
marked, „Jerusalem.” Hence he marches there first.
3. Threatening prophecy against Ammon (21:28_32).
This contains very little that is different from the prophecy
against Jerusalem and from what shall follow.
The prophet repeats in chapter 22, in new form, the same
charge he has been making over and over again; the same that
Jeremiah had made so repeatedly: the sins of Jerusalem are
idolatry, bloodshed, open licentiousness, incest, and almost
every other conceivable form of evil. Because of all this her
destruction was certain and necessary, and all nations were
involved in it.
We have the symbolism of two harlot women in chapter 23.
This is a history of two harlot women, Samaria and Jerusalem,
under the names of Aholah and Aholibah. This is largely a
repetition of chapter 16. The chief thoughts are as follows:
1. The infidelities of Samaria with Assyria and Egypt
2. The infidelities of Jerusalem with Assyria, Babylon and
Egypt (w. 11_21).
3. Therefore, her fate shall be like that of Samaria (vv.
4. A new description of their immoralities and another that
of punishment (w. 36_49).
The date of the prophecy in chapter 24 is the very day upon
which Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, August 10,
588 B.C. The prophet here performs a symbolic action just
as the siege begins. He takes a caldron, a great iron pot. The
Lord tells him to pour water into it, to gather pieces of flesh,
good pieces, the thigh and shoulder and choice bones; to take
from the choicest of the flock, and to pile the wood up under it
and to make it boil well. „Let the bones thereof be boiled in
the midst of it.” Thus the symbolic action is carried on by
What does it mean? At the moment Nebuchadnezzar be_
gan to surround Jerusalem the prophet performs this action.
Jerusalem was the caldron; the inhabitants were the flesh
therein, Jehovah was kindling the fire; he was piling up the
wood and setting it ablaze, so that the unfortunate city would
be seething and boiling and roasting as the flesh in a caldron.
It was made so hot that the very rust of the iron was purged
out and left it clean. In other words, Jerusalem should be so
cleansed by the captivity and destruction of its city, that
there would be left only the pure and clean (1_14). (See the
author’s sermon on this paragraph in The River of Life.)
Another symbolic action occurs on the death of Ezekiel’s
wife (24:15_27). The prophet mourns not. There is a
very remarkable statement in the verse 16. God says to
Ezekiel, „Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the de_
sire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet thou shalt neither mourn
nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud,
make no mourning for the dead; bind thy headtire upon thee,
and put thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover thy lips, and eat
not the bread of men.” Then he says, „So I spake unto the
people in the morning; at even my wife died; and I did in the
morning as I was commanded.” This symbolic action actually
He says in verse 18, „I spake unto the people in the morn_
under the overwhelming grief that had fallen upon him so
suddenly, he showed no signs of grief, he shed no tears, and
heaved not an audible sigh. The people were unable to un_
derstand his actions, verse 19: „And the people said unto me,
Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou
doest so?” He tells them: „And ye shall do as I have done:
ye shall not cover your lips, .nor eat the bread of men.” He
means that very soon, as by a single stroke, a swift and in_
evitable stroke of justice, their fair and beloved city, Jerusa_
lem, shall be destroyed, and they will be so stunned, so
bewildered, so dumbfounded, so paralyzed that they will be
unable to eat bread or even to sigh. In that stunned and dazed
condition they shall bear their almost unbearable burden.
It was a striking symbol, very touching, and it must have bad
1. To what end were the ministries of Jeremiah and Ezekiel?
2. What the parable of the vine tree and its interpretation? (15.)
3. Give the allegory of the foundling child and its interpretation (16).
4. What the riddle of chapter 17, what is ita explanation, and what
is the great promise in the latter part of this chapter?
5, What is Ezekiel’s discussion on the moral freedom and responsi_
bility of the individual before God? (18.)
6. What the lamentation in chapter 19, and bow is it act forth in
two parables? Give their interpretation.
7. What the principle upon which Jehovah acted toward Israel
discussed in chapter 20, and what the details of the discussion?
8. Give a summary of the contents of 20:45 to 21:32.
&. What the renewed charge against Jerusalem? (22.)
10. Who the two harlot women of chapter 23 and what the chief
thoughts of this chapter?
11. What the meaning and application of the boiling pot and the
blood on a rock? (24:1_14.)
12. Explain the prophet’s action at the death, of his wife.
PROPHECIES AGAINST THE FOREIGN NATIONS
Ezekiel has grouped his prophecies in regard to the foreign
nations that came in contact with Israel, as Jeremiah also
groups his prophecies in chapters 46_51. Isaiah also groups
his, in reference to the foreign nations, in chapters 13_23.
These three greatest of the prophets had oracles on the nations
with whom Israel came in contact during that period of their
history. Amos also devotes the earlier part of his prophecies
to utterances regarding these same nations. Nahum devotes
his prophecy to predicting the downfall of Nineveh and the
Assyrian Kingdom. Obadiah’s entire prophecy relates to the
downfall of Edom.
Some may ask the question, Why these prophecies against
the foreign nations? Let us endeavor to find some reasons
why Ezekiel should give these oracles against the foreign
powers. They were written during the siege of Jerusalem, at
a time when Ezekiel was perfectly sure that the city would
fall, as he had been preaching for many years that doctrine to
the exiles. Jeremiah had been preaching the same thing to
the people in Jerusalem and Judah. The fall of Jerusalem at
the hands of foreign and heathen powers would seem to estab_
lish the triumph of heathenism. The nations would conclude
from this fact that because Jehovah’s kingdom, city, and
Temple had fallen and the great heathen powers had tri_
umphed, therefore Jehovah was inferior to the heathen gods.
On this point the prophets of Jehovah had something to say,
and such was apparently the occasion for these prophecies.
They would serve to confirm the sentence of God upon Israel
in showing that God dealt with the foreign nations as he did
with Israel; that he punishes sin as surely and as severely
among the heathen as he does in Israel, and although the
heathen nations seem to survive for awhile, they are no ex_
ception to the rule of righteousness with Jehovah. Again, the
downfall of these nations at the hand of Jehovah and the
prophecies regarding them, would have their influence upon
Israel for the future. With the heathen nations out of the way,
Israel would be free to return to her land and set up the ever_
lasting kingdom that Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekiel had
prophesied. The enemies, the old hereditary enemies of Israel,
shall be destroyed utterly and absolutely, therefore the king_
dom of God shall have free course to be glorified.
Ezekiel speaks of seven nations; five of them are small, but
two of them are large nations. He says nothing of Babylon
except by way of inference. He is living in Babylon and
doubtless that was sufficient reason for refraining from speak_
ing against that great empire.
The prophecy against Ammon is found in 25:1_7. Ammon
bordered on the tribe of Reuben, and when that tribe was de_
ported by Tiglath_pileser, Ammon seized the territory of Reu_
ben contrary to what was right. Ammon had suffered at the
hands of Jephthah, and also David through his general, Joab.
Ammon bore hatred against Israel, but along with Judah he
rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, out of no friendship to
Judah, but with the possible hope of freedom for himself.
When Judah was destroyed, Ammon rejoiced and because of
that Ezekiel hurls his denunciation against him: „Thus saith
the Lord Jehovah, Because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanc_
tuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel,
when it was made desolate; and against the house of Judah,
when they went into captivity; therefore, behold, I will deliver
thee into captivity; thou shalt be utterly destroyed and thy
capital, Rabbah, shall be a stable for camels and thy territory
shall be possessed by the roving Bedouin Arabs of the desert.”
He holds out no hope for the future whatever. Jeremiah did.
prophesy a future for Ammon, but Ezekiel does not.
Ezekiel’s prophecy against Moab is recorded in 25:8_11.
Isaiah and Jeremiah also have oracles against Moab. Moab
had, like Ammon, seized a part of the territory of Reuben
and was famous for her pride, an inordinate, selfish pride.
When Jerusalem fell Moab also scorned her and rejoiced over
her fall and said, „Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all
the nations.” Because Moab said that Jehovah’s people, with
their king, was just like other nations, „therefore,” says
Ezekiel, „Moab shall be overwhelmed and destroyed forever_
more.” No hope for the future is held out for Moab by Ezekiel.
Jeremiah did give some hope to Moab, but none is given by
Then follows the prophecy against Edom (25:12_14).
The country of Edom lies south of the Dead Sea and north of
the Gulf of Akabah. Edom had borne hatred against Israel
since the days of Esau. It was born in her, and she was
nourished in animosity toward her neighbor. David almost
exterminated the Edomites, and they were brought into subjec_
tion time and time again. They never forgave Israel, and when
Judah and Jerusalem were overwhelmed, Edom also rejoiced
and took captive all the fleeing Israelites she could and sold
them into slavery. Because of that Ezekiel pronounces an
irretrievable doom: „Therefore thus saith the Lord God, I
will stretch out my hand upon Edom, and will cut off man
and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman;
even unto Dedan shall they fall by the sword.”
The prophecy against Philistia (25:15_17): These were
likewise the old, hereditary foes of Israel. They were very
much like the Edomites in their feelings against her. They
were revengeful, filled with an everlasting enmity, and re_
joiced when Jerusalem went up in smoke. Because of that
Ezekiel hurls his denunciations against the Philistines: they
were to be crushed by the yoke Nebuchadnezzar. They
had already been almost wiped out by the Assyrians. They
were destroyed as a nation by the Babylonians, and at the
time of the Maccabees they were completely exterminated
as a nation.
Tyre was one of the greatest commercial nations of the old
world, corresponding to the English nation in the modern
world. The date of this prophecy is 586 B.C., the first day of
the first month of the siege of Jerusalem. The prophet de_
votes three chapters to his oracles against Tyre. That city
had achieved great commercial importance. She traded with
every known nation in the world; she had lent her influence
to every nation; she was the envy of almost every nation.
She was the most active, the most aggressive, had the greatest
commercial power, in some respects the greatest wisdom and
the greatest skill, as well as the greatest colonizing power, of
any nation at that period. From the thirteenth century Tyre
was the commercial center. She had been friendly to Judah
and Jerusalem under David and Solomon and some later
kings, but for a century or two her relations to Judah had been
changed; she had grown jealous of Judah’s commercial ad_
vantages, and was now exhibiting the same hatred and jeal_
ousy toward Judah that all the other nations were manifest_
ing. She rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem the same as the
other nations. Her business rival was now destroyed; her own
chances were enhanced and, with the true spirit of commercial
greed, she was glad that her sister nation had perished.
The destruction of the city of Tyre is described in chapter
26. In verse 2 the prophet gives his reason for hurling this
denunciation and prophecy of destruction against Tyre: „Son
of man, because that Tyre hath said against Jerusalem, Aha,
she is broken that was the gate of the people; she is turned
unto me; I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste.”
Therefore, he denounced her and predicted her fate.
It was by Nebuchadnezzar, and in predicting her fall and
end, verse 5 says, „She shall be a place for the spreading of
nets in the midst of the sea; for I have spoken it, saith the
Lord God; and she shall become a spoil to the nations.” He
would scrape the great rock, the island upon which Tyre was
built, so that the very dust itself would be taken off and there
would be nothing there but a bare rock for spreading and dry_
ing the nets of the fishermen. That is almost literally true
today and has been for centuries.
From that verse on, he predicts the siege of the city by
Nebuchadnezzar. Tyre was built upon an island rock a short
distance from the shore and was one of the strongest forts of
the world. Nebuchadnezzar had to build a causeway from
the mainland to reach the city. Ezekiel describes his mode of
attacking the city in verse 9: „And he shall set his battering
engines against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break
down thy towers,” and he continues with a full description
of the rushing of the chariots over the streets and the indis_
criminate slaughter of the inhabitants, with a sack of the
From verses 15_19 we have the consternation of the various
nations over the fall of this great commercial center. If New
York, that center of commercial life, were to be destroyed, it
would not send a greater thrill of consternation throughout
the civilized world and would not more seriously affect the
industrial life of America than did the fall of Tyre shock every
nation and affect the commerce of every people of the world.
They are represented as being in a state of consternation and
it says in verse 17, „They shall take up a lamentation for
thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast in_
habited by seafaring men, the renowned city, that was strong
in the sea, she and her inhabitants, that caused their terror
to be on all that dwelt there.” In the last two verses of that
chapter he describes the inhabitants of Tyre as sinking down
into Sheol, the pit, or abyss, the abode of the dead, and there
abiding in darkness forever.
We have a magnificent description of Tyre by Ezekiel under
the figure of a great ship in chapter 27. In this chapter we
have one of the finest passages in the Old Testament and one
of the best opportunities for the study of ancient commerce
to be found anywhere. Tyre is pictured as a gallant ship, a
splendid big ship, one of the great merchantmen of that age:
„They have made all thy planks of fir trees from Senir
[Hermon]; they have taken a cedar from Lebanon to make
a mast for thee. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine
oars; they have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood,
from the isles of Kittim [Cyprus.”] Her sail was made of
fine linen from Egypt, and it was an ensign. Ships did not
carry flags in that age, but they had colored sails and figures
marked upon them which served the purpose of a flag. Thus
the purple of Egypt served as an ensign, or flag. Blue and
purple linen of Elishah [which refers to Peloponnesus] fur_
nished the awning for the ship.
The men of Sidon, a town about twenty miles north, and
the men of Arvad, a town still farther north on the Mediter_
ranean coast, were its mariners, or rowers. Ships in that age
had one or two sets of rowers. The ship in which Paul sailed
had rowers, and the mariners in Jonah’s ship rowed hard.
The men of Tyre, the wisest of the world, as they thought,
and the best seamen and navigators of the world, were their
pilots. The elders of Gebal, the best carpenters, were their
calkers, literally, the leak_stoppers. Look at the army on
board to guard this magnificent ship: They were men of Arvad;
„Persia and Lud, and Phut were in thine army, thy men of
war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set
forth thy comeliness . . . and valorous men were in thy towers.”
Then he goes on in (w. 12_14) to describe the sea com_
merce of the great city of Tyre. To Tarshish, away on the
western coast of Spain, the Strait of Gibraltar on the Atlantic
Ocean her trade extended. „Tarshish was thy merchant by
reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver,
iron, tin, and lead, they traded for thy wares.” From Javan,
Tubal, (south of the Black Sea) and Meshech, they brought
vessels of brass and slaves. Togarmah is supposed to be mod_
ern Armenia, probably bordering on the Black Sea also. They
reached this country by ships through the Black Sea and the
straits. What did they get there? Horses and mules. So
much for the sea commerce.
Now he gives the land commerce (w. 15_25). Dedan was
the Arab tribe bordering on the southern and eastern bound_
ary of Palestine and Edom. Here they got horns of ivory and
ebony which indicates that these merchants either went into
Africa and made use of the elephant tusks, or went into India
and obtained the ivory and ebony there.
Syria, round about Damascus, supplied them with emeralds,
purple and broidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies.
Judah supplied them with wheat of Minnith, and Pannag
(perhaps a kind of confection), honey, oil, and balm.
Damascus supplied them with the wine of Helbon, the
finest and best wine of the world at that time; also with white
Vedan and Javan supplied them with bright iron, cassia,
Dedan supplied them with precious clothes for riding.
When the ladies would go out riding, the fine clothes they
wore came all the way from Dedan, probably located in
Arabia and the princes of Kedar supplied them with lambs,
rams, and goats.
Sheba and Raamah supplied them with all kinds of spices,
precious stones, and gold.
Haran, Canneh, Eden, Asshur, and Chilmad supplied
them with blue cloth and broidered work, and in chests of
rich apparel, bound with cords and made of cedar.
Now that is a magnificent description of the commerce of
Tyre. It is the analogue of that marvelous description which
we find in Revelation 18:1_20, where John pictures all the
merchants of the earth mourning over the fall of the great city,
Babylon. Many things there are identical with the articles
of commerce here.
Next we have the fate of this magnificent ship (27:26_36):
„Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east
wind hath broken thee in the heart of the seas. Thy riches,
and thy wares, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots,
thy calkers, and the dealers in thy merchandise, and all thy
men of war, that are in thee, with all thy company which is
in the midst of thee, shall fall into the heart of the seas in the
day of thy ruin.” Her rowers had rowed into dangerous
waters, and the divine powers broke upon her. The east wind,
or divine judgment, produced the fall of the great city of
Tyre. In verses 28_36 there is the lamentation of the na_
tions over the fall of this great city, just as John pictures all
the merchants of the world lamenting over the fall of the
great mystical Babylon, Rome.
The pride and fall of Tyre are represented in 28:1_19. This
is a representation of what he had already said, only here he
takes the prince of Tyre as a personified spirit of the city,
the prince, representing the people, and gathering up in him_
self, as it were, the spirit of the people. He directs his lamen_
tation against the prince. He represents the prince of Tyre
as saying, „I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst
of the seas.” That was the spirit of Tyre and is the spirit of
every great commercial center where the commercial spirit
rules and reigns.
Babylon said, „I am, and there is none else beside me.”
Self_glorification, self_deification, idolizing self, is the beset_
ting sin of every great commercial city. It has been and is
today, and because of this great commercialism and inordinate
pride, the prince of Tyre was doomed to destruction. They
had great wisdom, worldly wisdom; they had great power,
great wealth, great glory, but they were great idolaters and
as such they perished. In verses 11_19 he pictures the prince
of Tyre as a cherub in the garden of God, or on the moun_
tain of God, clothed in all the magnificence of the finest and
most precious and costliest stones that could be found. This
cherub, this angelic being, fell prey to sin and was destroyed.
There is also a prophecy against Sidon in 28:20_24. (For
the prophecies of this passage see the text.) Sidon was an
important city a few miles north of Tyre and her fate was in_
volved in the fate of Tyre. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed
one he destroyed the other, with all the villages and towns
adjacent to it.
Then follows another wonderful prophecy of the restora_
tion of Israel and the blessings upon her after her return
Egypt was a great nation, one of the greatest nations of
the world, and Ezekiel devotes four chapters to her fall. The
date of it was during the siege of Jerusalem, 587 B.C. The
following is a summary of the prophecy against her:
1. A general statement of the fall of Egypt (29:1_16).
Egypt is compared to a dragon, a crocodile, a huge alligator
floundering around in the river Nile and boasting, as he says
in the latter part of verse 3: „My river is mine own, and I
have made it for myself.” That was the spirit of Egypt. That
great dragon_crocodile shall be taken with hooks in his mouth
and Jehovah will pull him up and drag him forth and all
the little fishes that belong to him will hang onto his scales,
and he will be taken out into the wilderness and there he will
be meat for the beasts and fowls of the air. This means that
Egypt shall be destroyed from one end to the other, from the
tower of Seveneh unto the border of Ethiopia. „Yet thus saith
the Lord God: At the end of forty years will I gather the
Egyptians from the peoples whither they were scattered; and
I will bring back the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them
to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their birth;
and they shall be there a base kingdom.” After that Egypt
shall be the basest of the kingdoms; „neither shall it any more
lift itself up above the nations: and I will diminish them, that
they shall no more rule over the nations.” From that time
until this, Egypt has been a poor, weak, and worthless power.
2. The reward of Nebuchadnezzar for failure to get booty
at Tyre (17_21). The prophecy against Tyre that we have
been studying was uttered in the year 586 B.C. Shortly after
the fall of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre and
continued the siege for thirteen years. We are not told
whether he succeeded in capturing and destroying the city or
not. Now, this prophecy came from Ezekiel in the year 570
B.C., the first month, first day of the month, sixteen years
after he had written the previous prophecy. During those
sixteen years Nebuchadnezzar had been besieging Tyre for
thirteen years and had apparently destroyed the city as
Ezekiel had prophesied, but had taken no spoil. Ezekiel had
definitely prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would utterly and
completely overwhelm Tyre, and he had seemingly done it.
This prophecy throws some light upon the situation. Verse
18 says, „Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, caused his army
to serve a great service against Tyre; every head was made
bald, and every shoulder was worn; yet had he no wages, nor
his army, from Tyre, for the service he had served against it.”
How extremely hard was this thirteen years of toil I Now
that plainly indicates that Nebuchadnezzar did not succeed
in securing the wealth of the Tyre.
The truth seems to be that the people of Tyre spirited away
by ships all their wealth and most of their inhabitants, and
capitulated to Nebuchadnezzar at the end of about thirteen
years, and when he entered the city he had nothing to destroy
nor any wealth to take. Such seems probable, though we have
no history that would justify the statement.
Now, because Nebuchadnezzar had performed this service
for Jehovah against Tyre and had received no wages (w. 19_
20), God says, „Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I
will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar, king of
Babylon; and he shall carry off her multitude, and take her
spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his
army. I have given him the land of Egypt as his recompense
for which he served, because they wrought for me, saith the
3. The terror and dismay of the surrounding nations (30:
1_19). The fall of a nation sends a thrill of horror and dismay
through the world, and the fall of a great nation like Egypt
struck terror into the hearts of all the surrounding nations,
Arabia, Ethiopia, Crete, etc.
4. The broken arm of Egypt (30:20_26). Egypt had had one
arm broken, probably by Nebuchadnezzar. Now Ezekiel
prophesies that Egypt shall have both arms broken, and her
power shall be destroyed.
5. Pharaoh represented as a lordly cedar cut down (31:3),
„Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon.” He is using
Assyria as an example for Egypt. He goes on with his magnifi_
cent description of the cedar. It is cut down. The Baby_
lonians and Medes lay the ax at the roots and the cedar falls,
crashing among the nations. In verse 16 he pictures them as
going down into the nethermost part of the earth into the pit
of Sheol to abide forever.
6. Lamentation over the fall of Egypt (32:1_16). Here we
have the picture of the dragon again, destroyed and left for a
prey of the birds and beasts.
7. The welcome to Sheol, or Hades, by the nations (32: 17_
This has been said to be the most weird piece of literature
in all the world. All the people of Egypt, the princes, the
mighty men, the soldiers, who were slain in these wars, go
down into Sheol, the underworld, the place of the departed,
and there existing in their shadowy and weak existence,
grouped together and with them is Assyria and all her hosts
that were slain with the sword: grouped together also. and
with them, Elam and all her hosts; grouped around them
Mesheck, Tubal, and all her multitude; Edom, her kings, and
all her princes, and all the Sidonians grouped together in
Sheol. These are all in the shadowy world below, surround_
ing Egypt. In verse 31, Pharaoh and his hosts and all these
foreign countries and their hosts, are said to be in Sheol where
light is as darkness, and are gathered together in groups and
Pharaoh shall see them and shall be comforted over all this
multitude of slain ones. It is a picture of their conception of
the underworld, Sheol, which is the place of the dead who
have passed through what we know to be the grave, down
into the spirit world. Thus Ezekiel leaves these nations in
Sheol, the place where there is no light.
1. What prophets prophesied against foreign nations and what can
you say of the grouping of their prophecies?
2. Why these prophecies against foreign nations?
3. What and why the prophecy against Ammon? (25:1_7.)
4. What and why the prophecy against Moab? (25:8_11.)
5. What and why the prophecy against Edom? (25:12_14.)
6. What and why the prophecy against Philistia? (25:15_17.)
7. What can you say of Tyre’s commercial importance and her at_
titude toward Judah and Jerusalem?
8. How_ is the destruction of the city of Tyre described in chapter 26?
9. Give the magnificent description of Tyre by Ezekiel under the
figure of a great ship (27).
10. How is the pride and fall of Tyre represented in 28:1_19?
11. What the prophecy against Sidon in 28:20_24, when fulfilled and
what prophecy relative to the children of Israel?
12. Summarize the prophecy against Egypt (29_32).
13. What the added prophecy concerning Tyre in 28:17_21?
PROPHECIES OF THE RESTORATION
The subject of this chapter is Ezekiel’s prophecies of the
restoration of Israel. Jeremiah (30_33) gave a similar group of
prophecies, and in the book of Isaiah (40_66) we find this
same theme: The restoration of Israel and its future glory.
Here Ezekiel discusses the same theme.
We saw in the last chapter that Ezekiel had, in a prophetic
way, disposed of the foreign nations, the enemies of Israel,
having predicted the entire overthrow of all those who had
been the means of Israel’s downfall with the exception of
Babylon. He gave no direct prophecy of the downfall of Baby_
lon, only an indirect one prophesying her rule over Egypt for
about forty years, which implied that he believed that Baby_
lon would fall at the end of that period. Thus it may be seen
that these chapters on the restoration of Israel are in their logi_
cal place in his prophecies. He had predicted the fall of Jerusa_
lem, the capital, and the scattering of the people among all the
nations. Then he predicted the fall of all the nations that were
her enemies, and having finished with them, the way was
made clear for his predictions regarding the future of Israel.
He devotes these seven chapters to the blessed age, the mes_
sianic age, which follows the return of Israel from her exile in
these foreign lands.
The great function of the prophet is here set forth. He is to
be a watchman (33:1_20). The figure, of course, is an Oriental
one. It was the custom in those lands to build a watchtower
on the border of their territories, or at the approaches to their
cities, or near their great centers, and appoint a man to stand
upon the watchtower and when he saw an army coming he
was to blow his trumpet and warn the people. There were
many throughout Israel and all Oriental lands. The prophet
transfers the figure to spiritual functions as regards the
people of Israel.
The duty and responsibility of the watchman are set forth
in verses 1_6, which are easy to comprehend and which need
not be commented upon except that the watchman has the
responsibility for the lives of those over whom he watches. If
he sees the foe coming and warns, his duty is done. If he sees
the foe coming and does not warn and any of the inhabitants
lose their lives, their blood shall be required at his hands
because he had failed in his duty. He shall suffer as a result
of that failure.
This duty and responsibility were impressed upon Ezekiel
thus: The Lord speaks unto Ezekiel and says, „So thou, son of
man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel. ….
When I say unto the wicked, 0 wicked man, thou shall surely
die, and thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way;
that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I
require at thy hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of
his way to turn from it, and he turn not from his way; he shall
die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
A glance at the situation will explain this more clearly.
Ezekiel in chapter 18, prophesied and brought before the
people that great doctrine of individual responsibility and
liberty. He exploded the old theory that a man is the slave of
his environment and must necessarily suffer for the sins of his
fathers. It is not necessary that he should perish because of
the sins of his fathers. Ezekiel brought before them the great
doctrine that Jehovah does not will the death of any man; that
Jehovah has given to all men the privilege and possibility of
repenting and if they repent and turn, the penalties of their
past sins or their father’s sins are forever abrogated and they
are free from them. The doctrine of individualism is there set
before us, and this chapter is an application of that principle.
Ezekiel now realizes that, since his nation is destroyed, their
capital in ruins, the center of religious worship is gone, that
his duty is to speak to individuals; that now it is with indivi_
dual Israelites. His duty is to warn them of their own sins and
the dangers that are consequent upon their sins. He is not to
speak to the nation in the mass any more, but he is to deal
with individuals and put each individual upon his own per_
sonal responsibility and relationship to God. He can thereby
prepare the people to return to the land and begin anew the
nation God has purposed they should become.
The condition of the minds of the people is that of despond_
ency, making the prophet’s appeal of no effect. Verses 10_20,
especially in verse 10, we have the condition of their minda
set forth: „Thus ye speak, saying, Our transgressions and our
sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then can we
live?” This indicates at once that the people were in a state of
despair. They had no hope; they believed that their doom was
inevitable; that it was useless for them to think of enjoying
fellowship with God and life any more. To counteract that
complaint and that condition of mind, Ezekiel brings before
them four great principles which are found in the remainder of
this section, and I will embody the substance of these verses in
these four statements:
1. That Jehovah desires that men shall live.
2. That man is not irrevocably bound by the past, but may
3. That men are to come to God individually and thus come
into the new Israel.
4. That men are judged more by what they are than by
what they have been.
Let us now discuss the theme, occasion, and date of the
prophecy of Ezekiel in 33:21_33. On hearing of the fall of Jeru_
salem, Ezekiel announces the conditions of return. These con_
ditions are moral and religious. In verse 21 we have the date
of this prophecy: the twelfth year, that is one year after the
fall of Jerusalem, tenth month and fifth day of the month, al_
most eighteen months after the fall. He says, „One that had
escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is
smitten.” Some find a chronological difficulty here. Some of
the ancient versions say it was in the eleventh year and tenth
month, which means that Ezekiel heard of the fall of Jeru_
salem six months after that event occurred. According to this
account of Ezekiel it was a year and six months. It seems to
them almost incredible that it would require eighteen months
for the news of that great event to reach the prophet and much
more likely, he received the news at the end of six months,
that being ample time for the caravans to reach Babylon
and the news to spread. But it is better to take it as it stands,
allowing for probable delays on the part of this messenger in
getting to Babylon.
Now, after he received news that the city was smitten, he
had a word to say to the people that remained in Palestine;
that remnant spoken of in Jeremiah (40_44), Ezekiel address_
es in 33:23_29. Note verse 24: „Son of man, they that inhabit
those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was
one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is
given us for inheritance,” which seems to refer to the miser_
able remnant that was left at Mizpah, Bethlehem, and various
other places. They say, „Abraham was one, only one, and he
inherited the land, but we are many and the land is given us
for an inheritance.” Their idea is that since to Israel was given
this land, and they were the nucleus of Israel, and since Abra_
ham being only one, developed into such a large nation,
they who are many have as many more chances of de_
veloping into a great nation, and therefore they remain
in Palestine believing that they will become a great nation
and possess the land for all the future. The people who said
that were still practicing their idolatry. Ezekiel says, „Thus
saith the Lord God: As I live, surely they that are in the waste
places shall fall by the sword; and him that is in the open field
will I give to the beasts to be devoured; and they that are in
the strongholds and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.”
In verses 30_33, we have the effect of Ezekiel’s prophecies
upon the people with whom he dwelt, there by the river Che_
bar in Babylon. Here is a passage of great comfort to a preach_
er sometimes. Ezekiel has now become popular and he is
drawing fine congregations; the people are flocking to hear
him, and they say, verse 30: „And as for thee, son of man, the
children of thy people talk of thee by the walls and in the
doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his
brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word
that cometh forth from the Lord.” And he goes on to say how
they came and heard the words but did them not, for with
their mouth they show much love but their heart goeth after
their gain. They have a great many good things to say to their
preacher but their hearts go after their gain. „And, lo, thou art
unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant
voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy
words, but they do them not.” „Fine sermon, very lovely song,
prayed splendidly,” they say but they never think of heeding
what the preacher says.
The evil shepherds are described (34:1_10). They feed
themselves, not the flock. Jeremiah had something to say re_
garding those evil shepherds. Ezekiel has a strong denuncia_
tion of them in these ten verses. These shepherds feed them_
selves and care for themselves, but care nothing for the sheep,
and the sheep wander through the forests and the deserts and
upon every high hill and are scattered among all the nations
of the earth and there are none that seek after them to bring
them back. As a result the shepherds are denounced verse 10:
„Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shep_
herds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and cause
them to cease from feeding the sheep; neither shall the shep_
herds feed themselves any more; and I will deliver my sheep
from their mouth, that they may not be food for them.”
But Jehovah takes care of his sheep after disposing of the
evil shepherds. Jehovah will undertake the care of the flock in
the restoration period (vv. 11_19). Notice particularly verse
11: „Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and
will seek them out.” Latter part of verse 12: „So I will seek
out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places whither
they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” Verse
15: „I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will
cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.” Jehovah says
that he will be the shepherd. He makes no reference here to a
messianic Saviour, the Christ, or King that is to come. He
himself is going to do it. And then in verses 17_22, Jehovah
says that he is going to separate and distinguish between dif_
ferent parts of the flock.
Verse 17: „I judge between sheep and sheep, the rams and
the he_goats.” He is going to see that the leaders among the
people of Israel are not like cattle that go down to the stream
and drink and muddy the water, thus making it unfit for the
others to drink. Jehovah is going to distinguish between them
and see that they are in their proper places. Then from
verses 23 to 31 it says that Jehovah will raise up David as
Shepherd and there shall be great prosperity. He said before,
„I will be the Shepherd,” but now he says, „I will set up one
shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant
David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.”
This is messianic and refers to the work of Christ. In the
latter part of verse 26, he describes the prosperity that shall
come: „There shall be showers of blessing.” Here is where the
words of the song, „There Shall Be Showers of Blessing,” came
from. The prophet continues the magnificent description of the
prosperity of the country and how all shall flourish under the
rule and care of this great Shepherd, David, not David him_
self in person, but a member of his dynasty and of his family,
who is Christ, our Lord.
There is a prophecy against Edom in chapter 35. The sub_
stance of this chapter is this: Mount Seir, or Edom, had
sinned against Judah and Jerusalem at the time of her calam_
ity (v. 5). He charges Edom with two sins: (1) „Thou hast
had a perpetual enmity”; (2) „Thou hast given over the
children of Israel to the power of the sword in the time of their
calamity.” When Edom, or Mount Seir, found Israel down,
they trampled on her as hard as they could. Verse 10 mentions
a third sin, and that is (3) „Thou hast said, These two na_
tions and these two countries (northern and southern Israel)
shall be mine, and we will possess it.” The point is this: When
Israel was deported to Babylon and the country left desolate,
the Edomites came from the south and took possession of all
the land of Judah they possibly could and began to inhabit
and make it their possession. Because of that the prophet’s
denunciation is buried against them, prophesying the down_
fall of their capital and their country. It was necessary for the
prophet to do this. They were encroaching upon Israel, and
they must be driven forth from the land to make way for
Then there is a prophecy concerning the land of Israel in
36:1_15. This is the counterpart, or the other side, of the
prophecy (6) where he denounced the mountains of Israel be_
cause they were the high places of worship and predicted their
desolation and overthrow. In the future age, the mountains of
Israel shall be delivered out of the hand of the enemies, and
they shall become abundantly fruitful. Notice, especially,
verse 8: „But ye, 0 mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth
your branches, and yield your fruit to my people Israel; for
they are at hand to come,” i.e., „Ye shall till and sow and I
will multiply men upon you; all the house of Israel, and the
cities shall be inhabited and the waste places shall be builded.”
Then he says, „And I will multiply upon you man and beast,”
carrying forward his glowing description of the prosperity and
fruitfulness of the land.
In verses 16_23 the prophet says that Jehovah will do this
thing for his name’s sake and in honor of his own holy name:
„Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord
God: I do not this for your sake, 0 house of Israel, but for
my holy name which ye have profaned among the nations
whither ye went.”
In verses 24_38, we have the restoration and regeneration of
Israel. Here we come to the New Testament ground, in the
gospel dispensation. This is Ezekiel’s deepest, sweetest, and
best prophecy. This passage calls to mind a notable challenge
of Alexander Campbell, substantially in these words: „The
whole world is challenged to produce even one passage in any
part of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, proving
that God ever commanded prophet, priest, preacher, or lay_
man to sprinkle or pour water – just water – pure water, on
man, beast, or thing as a moral ceremonial or religious rite.”
In response to the challenge the one passage cited was this
scripture, Ezekiel 36:25. Of course it was easy for Mr. Camp_
bell to show the irrelevancy of this passage. It does not meet
the requirements of the challenge because:
(1) It is not a command of God to any man to do any
sprinkling whatever, but an express declaration of some kind
of sprinkling that God himself will do.
(2) The clean water of the text was not even in its type just
water, but was a compound called the water of purification
whose recipe is found in Numbers 19:1_10. This was a liquid
compound of ashes and water. A red heifer was burned. Into
the burning was cast cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet cloth.
The ashes of this burning were gathered up and mingled with
water and this mixture was called the water of cleansing, or of
(3) The typical efficacy of this mixture was in the ashes of
the red things burned: the red heifer, the red cedar wood, red
hyssop, and scarlet cloth; red signified blood. The antitype
is the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:13_14: „For if the ashes of
a heifer sprinkled on the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying
of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who
through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God,
cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living
(4) The whole passage in Ezekiel 36:21_38 refers to those
last gospel days when the Jews, long disobedient, blinded, and
scattered, will be gathered and saved, as set forth by Paul
(Rom. 11:25_36). This salvation will be of grace (Ezek. 36:
22). It will be by regeneration (Ezek. 36:25_26). This regen_
eration will produce a spirit of obedience (Ezek. 36:27). This
regeneration consists of at least two parts, cleansing and re_
newal. The cleansing (Ezek. 36:25) is effected by the
application of Christ’s blood typified by the water of purifi_
cation, the antitype of which is the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:
13_14; I John 1:7). The renewal (Ezekiel 36:26) is the change
of man’s nature. Both of these ideas appear in John 3:5: „Ex_
cept one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into
the kingdom of God.” This is one birth. It is the Spirit birth.
The water signifies cleansing; the Spirit, renewal. The same
ideas appear in Titus 3:5: „The washing of regeneration and
renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us rich_
ly, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In none of these passages
is there the slightest reference to baptism.
Now let us consider the vision of dry bones (37:1_14)
and its interpretation. What are these dry bones? Is this a
literal resurrection from the dead, or is this a conversion, a
spiritual resurrection? It is not either. Verse II gives the
clue to the interpretation. These bones are the house of Is_
rael. What makes them so dry? „Behold, they say, Our bones
are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.”
They have no hope whatever as to the resurrection, or re_
newal of their national existence. They were saying, „We
are scattered among all the nations. Our city and our capital
is gone and there is no hope for our nation and our people any
more.” Nationally or religiously, they were as dry bones
which had no hope of a resurrection. Now there is no distinct
reference to any resurrection of the body, nor of any spiritual
regeneration. It is national.
The prophet was required to preach to them. He preached
and the bones began to come together and he kept on preach_
ing and flesh came upon them, and by and by they stood up.
The whole house of Israel raised to a new national life and
existence! Then he kept on preaching and the result was as
we see in verse 14: „I will put my spirit within you and ye
shall live and I shall place you in your own land and ye
shall know that I am Jehovah.” That was fulfilled to some
extent in the return of the 50,000 after the decree of Cyrus,
but it was never completely fulfilled. An army of about
50,000 whose spirit Jehovah stirred up, returned at first, and
that stirring up was the result of the preaching of Ezekiel
and Jeremiah and the study of the latter part of the book of
Isaiah. The figure of the resurrection is used in verse 12,
thus: „I will open your graves and cause you to come out of
your graves,” but the graves are national graves, not literal.
This is referred to by Paul (Rom. 11:15) as a resurrection
and contemplates the final gathering of the Jews before the
The union of Judah and Israel is symbolized in 37:15_28:
„Take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for
the children of Israel his companions: then take another
stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim.”
These two sticks he joined together. This is a symbolic action
similar to many other actions of Ezekiel which we have al_
ready considered. The meaning of it is this: „Thus saith the
Lord God, Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in
the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his companions;
and I will put them with it, even with the stick of Judah, and
make them one stick, and they shall be one in my hand.”
Jeremiah prophesied the same thing; so did Isaiah in sub_
stance; so did Hosea; so did Amos, Micah, and Zephaniah.
It was the belief of all the prophets that when Israel re_
turned from exile it would be one nation, a united nation.
Ezekiel goes on, „I will make them one nation in the land,
upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be to them
all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they
be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.” ID verse 24
the king is called „David my servant,” that is, one of his de_
scendants; a member of his dynasty shall be king over them
and they shall have one shepherd. Then he says, „I will make
a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting
covenant with them.” Verse 27: „My tabernacle also shall
be with them; and they shall be my people,” all of which has
its fulfilment in the millennial age. This reminds us of Revela_
An account of the invasion of Gog and Magog is found in
chapters 38_39. This is the picture of the last and final strug_
gle of all the nations with God. We find that John refers to
the same struggle in Revelation 20:7_9: „When the thousand
years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and
shall come forth to deceive the nations which are in the four
corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together
to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and com_
passed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city:
and fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.”
Ezekiel says, 38:2: „Son of man, set thy face toward Gog,
of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Rosh, Meshech and
Tubal, and prophesy against him,” nations lying probably
away to the north of Israel on the borders of the Caspian
and Black Seas representing the great barbarian hordes that
infested central Asia and northern Armenia on the very out_
skirts of the then known world. „I will bring thee forth, and
all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed and
in full armor, a great company with buckler and shield, all of
them handling swords.”
What does this mean? Ezekiel is picturing the millennial
age, the messianic age, and away in the future after the
glorious age has been in progress, for how long we cannot
tell, he sees this vision of the final struggle. Israel has been
enjoying the blessedness of that age for centuries and the na_
tions around her have been destroyed. The nations lying
far off on the outskirts of the world now rouse themselves for
a final onslaught on God’s kingdom. „And thou shalt say,
I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them
that are at rest, that dwell securely, all of them dwelling
without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” Thus the
people are unprotected; they are living in the messianic age
when all is peace and harmony. „I will go to them that are
at rest.” What for? „To take the spoil and to take the prey.”
This is the final conflict of the barbarian nations of the world
with their vast hosts, against the messianic kingdom.
What is to be the result? We find in verses 17_23, Ezekiel
says the prophets have for a long time been prophesying of
this very thing, though we do not have any distinct reference
to the prophecy. As Gog, with his hosts, encompasses the
whole land of Israel and surrounds the city, then Ezekiel says
in the latter part of verse 18, „My wrath shall come up into
my nostrils . . . I will rain upon him, and upon his hordes,
and upon the many peoples that are with him, an overflowing
shower, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” That is to
be the end of Gog and his innumerable hordes.
Then we have this statement, 39:4: „Thou shalt fall upon
the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy hordes and the
peoples that are with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous
birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be de_
voured.” And in verse 9, he says, „And they that dwell in
the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall make fires of the
weapons and burn them, both the shields and the bucklers,
the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears,
and they shall make fires of them seven years.” Verse 12
says that the people of Israel are going to bury all those that
fall and they are to be seven months burying the dead, and
are to have a rule that when any person finds a bone he is to
set up a mark by it until the body has been buried outside in
the valley. Then we have the feast of all the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field upon the slain. The chapter closes
with a description of Israel’s restoration (vv. 28_29). The
best commentary on the destruction of Gog is found in that
short passage, in Revelation 20, where John pictures Satan
as raising an insurrection among all the nations of the world
at the close of the millennium. Ezekiel pictures it as taking
place a long while after the restoration and the blessed mes_
sianic age. (See the author’s discussion of this subject in
his book on Revelation.)
1. What the theme of this section and where do we find the same
subject discussed in Jeremiah and Isaiah?
2. Show the logical order of these prophecies.
3. What the great function of the prophet and how is it here set forth?
4. What the duty and responsibilty of the watchman?
5. How was this duty and responsibility impressed upon Ezekiel?
6. What the condition of the minds of the people and how does the
prophet meet it?
7. What the theme, occasion, and date of the prophecy of Ezekiel
in 33:21_33, and what chronological difficulty here and ita solution?
8. Whom does the prophet address in 33:23_29, what the occasion
of this address and what the prophet’s message to them?
9. What the effect of Ezekiel’s preaching on the people in exile
10. How are the evil shepherds described in 34:1_10, what the prophet’s denunciation of them and how does Jehovah take care of his sheep?
11. What the prophecy against Edom in chapter 35 and why?
12. What the prophecy concerning the land of Israel in 36:1_15?
13. What the motive of Jehovah in doing all this (38:16_23)?
14. Expound 36:24_38, showing the controversy about it, and its
true interpretation in the light of the New Testament.
15. What the vision of dry bones (37:1_14) and what its interpretation?
16. How is the union of Judah and Israel symbolized and what the
glorious picture that follows (37:15_28)?
17. Give an account of the invasion of Gog and Magog and the re_
sult (38_39). Discuss fully.
THE FINAL CONDITION OF THE REDEEMED
The date of this prophecy as given in 40:1 is about 572 B.C.,
thirteen years after his last prophecy before this one and
fourteen years after the fall of the city of Jerusalem. Thus,
there is an interval of thirteen years between the last writing
of Ezekiel before this and this one.
As to what Ezekiel was doing during the thirteen years
between his last prophecy and this one, we have no record
whatever. Perhaps after he had prophesied the restoration of
Israel and the glorious messianic age as found in chapters
36_37, Ezekiel was thinking and pondering in his mind over
the messianic kingdom. He was thinking of what it would be
like, what would be its constitution, what would be its temple,
what would be its temple service, what would be the relation
between the king and the priesthood and what would be the
condition of the people.
After those long years of thinking and pondering in his own
mind, at last the vision broke upon him. A great many visions
have come to God’s prophets and God’s servants along the
line that they had been thinking and meditating. Thus the
vision broke upon Ezekiel, and he saw in this vision the final
condition of the restored and redeemed people of Israel. He
does not picture any method of salvation in these chapters
because he conceives of the people as enjoying salvation;
they are in a condition of salvation, saved forever.
It is the kingdom of God that he has in mind, the kingdom
of God set up on earth with its center in Jerusalem and exist_
ing in all its glory, blessedness, and beauty. We call it the
millennium, for to Ezekiel it was the millennial period of the
This picture is cast in the Jewish mold. The best place
to the Jew on this earth was in Palestine, his own land. There
was death and burial and all the various incidents of life in
this blessed age. There were_ families, there was a city of a
certain size, a tabernacle of a certain size, and buildings, and
chambers; there was a priesthood, there were sacrifices, there
was to be a Prince of the line of David, the messianic Prince.
All these things were to comprise the glorious messianic age,
was all cast in the Jewish mold, and not to be taken as literal.
Now, in these chapters Ezekiel gives the religious side of
the kingdom of Israel. He deals very little with anything
but the religious phase. He touches on the geographical side
of the country, a little on the civil side of affairs, but puts the
emphasis almost entirely upon the religious and ecclesiastical.
To Ezekiel religion was the foundation of a nation, for the
foundations of national existence and the great informing
principles in all national life from the beginning of history
to the present time, have been the religious conceptions of
Ezekiel, in vision, was brought by the hand of God into the
land of Israel, and set down upon a very high mountain,
whereon was, as it were, the frame of a city. Placed upon
this high mountain Ezekiel opens his eyes in vision and sees
a man, who appears to him as a man of brass. This is an
angelic and supernatural being. He has a line of flax in his
hand, also a measuring reed, and stands at the gate of this
Ezekiel 40:1_4 gives the introductory remarks of Ezekiel
showing how this vision occurred. He was standing facing
the west and also facing the east gate of the great sanctuary.
Before him lay an enclosure, a tabernacle, 500 cubits square,
measuring probably 800 feet or about 250 yards square. This
enclosure was surrounded by a wall six cubits high and six
cubits broad, or thick. Right before him was a gate, the east
gate, approached by seven steps. The gate itself was really
a large building, twenty_five cubits broad altogether and fifty
cubits long, reaching into the court of the temple. Inside
that gate was the outer court. That outer court was 150
cubits from the outer wall to the inner wall, and one hundred
cubits from the inside entrance of the gate to the next gate
on the inner wall. This outer court ran around three sides of
the enclosure and on these three sides were the pavements
and chambers round about on the walls.
He then approached the inner court and that had a gate
facing east just the same size as the gate on the outer court,
approached by eight steps showing the gradations up into the
holy place. Right in front of the gate which was the same
size as the other gate, was a square place of 100 cubits and in
the center of that was the altar for the burnt offerings.
Right behind the gate approached by ten steps was the temple
building itself. There was the porch, there the holy place
behind it, and the most holy place behind that, and chambers
around on three sides. There was a space of five cubits on
either side of this temple building and chambers twenty
cubits wide on the outside of that space. The raised pave_
ment on which the temple stood was exactly 100 cubits square
and reached back to the wall that surrounded the inner
court. To the north of the outer court was a gate exactly the
same as that of the east gate; to the south, a gate exactly the
same as the one Ezekiel entered; on the west there was no
gate at all. To the inner court there was a gate to the north
and a gate to the south, exactly like the one to the east which
A more detailed description of the temple with its parts is
found in verses 5_16. There he describes the outer gate by
which he approaches, ascending seven steps. The outer gate
has a threshold, and the entrance into the outer court has on
either side three lodges or guard chambers, intended for sen_
tinels who abode there and watched the multitudes that
thronged the gates into the temple courts. This entire gate
was twenty_five cubits wide by fifty cubits long, reaching
fifty cubits into the outer court minus the breadth of the wall.
In verses 17_19 he describes the outer court just inside that
gate. That outer court is altogether 150 cubits wide minus
the wall and reaches around three sides. It is covered with
a pavement and around on these three sides next the wall are
chambers, large rooms. What these were for he does not tell
us; doubtless they were intended for service in connection
with the temple worship.
In verses 20_23 we have described the north gate which is
exactly the same as the one on the east which he entered.
In verses 24_27 he describes the south gate which is exactly
the same as the east and the north gate.
In verses 28_37 he describes the inner court. He enters the
gate of the inner court by an approach of eight steps, passes
through that fifty cubits deep into the inner court. There is
& south gate and a north gate exactly the same, all facing the
great altar in the center of the court 100 cubits square in the
temple area itself.
In verses 38_43 he describes the tables that are on either
side of the north gate that enters into the inner court. Out_
side in the outer court are four tables for killing the sacrifices
and washing them; inside are four tables for the sacrifices,
and there are other large stone tables upon which they would
lay the instruments for slaying their sacrifices. It was the
law of Leviticus that the sacrifices were to be slain north of
the altar, so all these tables and instruments are at the north
gate which approaches the inner court north of the great altar.
Now in the inner court we have on either side of that court
which is about 250 cubits square counting the thickness of
the walls on the north side and on the south side, large cham_
bers. These chambers were for the use of the priests in their
ministrations. Those on the north were for the use of those
who helped the priests in their services; the south for the sons
of Zadok who were the leaders among the priests. In verses
38_49) he approaches the temple itself and the porch facing
the temple building; ten steps brings him up on to the raised
platform which is exactly 100 cubits square and which con_
tains all the great temple buildings.
In 41:1_14, he describes the porch, gives the measurements,
then the dimensions of the tabernacle which is forty cubits
long and twenty cubits wide; then the holy of holies which
is exactly twenty cubits square. Ezekiel does not go into the
holy of holies; only the messenger goes in and brings out the
measurements and tells them to Ezekiel. The walls are six
cubits thick; then there are little chambers on either side,
and there are walls five cubits thick beyond them. The lower
chambers are four Cubits wide, the next, five; the next, six,
just the same as those of Solomon’s Temple. All around on
either side of that Temple with its chambers, which was nearly
forty cubits wide altogether, was an open space of five cubits,
and outside of that, again on this pavement of ten cubits,
along the two sides were buildings used as chambers for the
In verses 15_26 he describes the inside of the temple proper.
It is made of wood, beautifully carved wood, cherubim carved
as was Solomon’s Temple; palm trees carved and engraved
upon the wood also, and only one altar, no table of shew_
bread, no golden candlestick, no ark of the covenant, no laws
written on tables of stone; they were written on the tables
of the heart now and there is no need for an ark of the cov_
enant or for these other things, only an altar representing
the prayers and worship of the people. There are doors into
the holy place and folding doors into the most holy place.
We do not read that Solomon made any doors between those
Now in 42:1_14, the other buildings that are inside this
inner court are described. This inner court, as we have said,
is about 250 cubits square; 100 cubits are taken up by the
altar, 100 for the temple buildings and chambers, then there
are fifty cubits on either side along the north and south sides.
Now these are described in the section we have just mentioned.
They are chambers, and one row is three stories high, extend_
ing along 100 cubits on the north side of the temple buildings,
and south side also a row 100 cubits long. These are for the
priests, in which they store their garments, and in which they
dress that they may appear before the people in the outer
court and perform the services in the inner court.
In 42:15_20, we have the measurements of the outer wall
and the whole area of the buildings. Here he gives the gen_
eral measurements. Now note that he says 500 reeds. A reed
is six cubits. Thus he gives the general measurements such
as I have described. Thus far he has been describing the
temple and we readily see it is impossible to give all the de_
In 43:1_12 we enter upon a new theme: the vision of the
entrance of Jehovah into this house, this temple, to abide for_
ever. Notice that Ezekiel says in the latter part of verse 3:
„The visions were like the vision that I saw by the river
Chebar.” The same magnificent picture of the four cherubim
appears here now right at the gate of the temple and Jehovah
thus enters into the temple by the east gate, there to abide
forever. Note what he says to Ezekiel as he enters, verses
6_7: „And I heard one speaking unto me out of the house;
and a man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of man,
this is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of
my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of
Israel forever. And my holy name shall the house of Israel no
more defile.” Thus he goes on to describe the new and blessed
condition of Israel and how they are purified from all their
sins. Then in verses 10_12 Ezekiel shows to the people this
vision of the great temple that they are to have, and he says
that they shall be ashamed of their iniquities when they see
and learn the pattern. It is a perfect temple, perfect equip_
ment, divinely measured and symbolizes the relation of Je_
hovah to his people.
Now in verses 13_17 he describes the altar of burnt offerings
in the center of that 100 cubits square in the court. Bight in
front of the east, north, and south gates: that altar has a base
eighteen cubits square and one cubit thick, resting upon the
solid earth; then another place above that sixteen cubits
square, and another one fourteen cubits square, and the up_
permost one twelve cubits square with four projections, or
horns, one at each corner. So the altar stands high and is
twelve cubits, or about twenty feet, square.
In verses 18_27 he describes the sacrifices and the cere_
monies relating to the altar. The sacrifices and ceremonies
are to be performed by the sons of Zadok and they are to
cleanse the altar and purify it and make it ready for the sacri_
fices of God.
In 44:1_3, he says that the east gate was to be kept forever
shut, because through that gate Jehovah had entered and he
had entered to remain forever, and therefore the gate by which
he had entered must be closed forever, and no being in heaven
nor on earth should pass through it.
In verses 4_14, we have the subordinate position of the
Levites. The Levites previous to the exile had become idola_
trous, almost to a man; they had gone after the worship of
idols (but many of the priestly families had remained faith_
ful to Jehovah) and because of that Ezekiel says that the
Levites should not serve in the temple, but should be degraded
to a secondary position and only the sons of Zadok could
minister in the inner court.
In verses 15_30, Ezekiel gives the precepts and the rules
regarding the priests. These priests were of the sons of Zadok.
Doubtless, Ezekiel himself belonged to that line. They alone
were to go into the inner court; the people were allowed in
the outer courts, but only the priests in the inner court. They
were to have linen garments and everything was to be so pure
and so clean that they were not allowed to wear any garments
that would hold perspiration; not one drop of perspiration
was allowed to remain in their clothing; they were to be
scrupulously clean. Their beards were not to be shaved; they
were not to drink any wine while performing the services;
they were to marry only a certain class of women, the widow
of a priest or a virgin of the house of Israel; they were to
teach the people, and they were to be the judges in all cases
of the law. The priests were to judge between the litigants.
They were to have no possessions, verse 28: „I am their in_
heritance; and ye shall give them no possessions in Israel;
I am their possession.” They were to have all the first_fruits
of the land and certain other material resources.
In 45:1_8, we have the portion of land assigned to the
priests. In almost the center of this land of Israel, a space
25,000 cubits wide extending from the Mediterranean Sea to
the river Jordan was set apart for the prince and the priests
and the city and the temple. In the center of that was a sec_
tion 25,000 cubits long and 25,000 cubits wide divided thus:
10,000 cubits of the northern part was for the Levites, 10,000
cubits in the center, for the priests and in the center of that
was this section we have just described; south of that, 5,000
cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long was the city area and in
the center of that was the city itself, about two miles square;
lands on either side also about two miles square; the whole
section was about eight miles square. The Levites had a
section about two by eight miles; the priests had a section
about two by eight miles, and the city, a little more than
two by eight. At each end of this section reaching to the Medi_
terranean Sea on the west side, and to the Jordan on the east,
was the portion of the prince, or royal family, the messianic
ln verses 9_17 we have the ordinances for the prince. He
was strictly commanded to be just and square in his deal_
ings, and strange to say, the prince received the tithes from
all the people of Israel, and he supplied the priests with all
their sacrifices, and sustained them out of what the people
brought to him. The prince was a very important personage.
He was really the Messiah, the messianic King.
In verses 18_25 we have the ordinances for cleansing the
temple, for the atonement, for the Passover, and the various
offerings, for which see the text.
In 46:1_15, we have the ordinances for the feasts. They
are going to have sacrifices, feasts, pilgrimages, in this blessed
messianic age, according to Ezekiel, and he lays down rules
for the feasts of the new moon, the sabbath, the Passover, and
all other appointed feasts. It is to be the Levitical system
carried out to perfection all through the ages. But remember
that this is only the Jewish mold into which these blessed
events are cast.
In verses 16_18, Ezekiel says that a prince cannot forfeit
permanently his inheritance. If he does deed it to any mem_
ber of another noble family, it reverts back to the royal family
in time. Thus these two portions of land are reserved to the
line of David forever.
In verses 19_24 we have described the kitchens for the
priests. They are to have kitchens in the temple, and in the
far northwest corner of the inner court, and the far south_
west corner of this inner court are great buildings that serve
as kitchens where the priests are to boil their meat for these
services in the temple; then in the same corners of the outer
court are large buildings where they are going to boil the
meat and sacrifices for the people. The Levites are to do this,
as they are not allowed in the inner court.
In 47:1_12 Ezekiel describes a stream which issues from
the temple and flows down to the inner court and outer court
and out by the east gate through which Ezekiel had entered
and through which Jehovah had entered, and which is for_
ever closed, down across the land toward the valley of the Jor-
dan and the Dead Sea. Many have preached from that chap_
ter on „The River of Life.” It ran through that desert land,
and coursed down to the awful wilderness surrounding the
Dead Sea, making everything green and the trees bore their
fruit every month, the analogue of John’s vision of the River
of Life flowing through the great city of God. Then it flows
through those deserts and into the Dead Sea healing the water
which became alive with fishes and everything the river
touches lives. It flows down into the barren deserts, the dead
seas of life, the worthless places, and heals them. There are
certain portions by that Dead Sea that Ezekiel says were
given to salt, the marshes. These were not healed but were
given to salt as they needed the salt in the east for their
sacrifices and their food, that was a hot climate. Thus closes
the vision of Ezekiel of the land of Israel. The land is rich
and verdant, teeming with life and fruitage; it is the blessed
messianic age. (See the author’s sermon on „The River of
Verses 13_23 describe the boundaries of the Holy Land
and the privilege of strangers attaching themselves to the
tribes. The boundaries of the Holy Land we cannot exactly
fix but they extend west to the Mediterranean Sea; to about
the entering in of Hamath for the northern boundary; the
eastern boundary is the valley of Jordan down through the
Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea; the southern boundary is by
way of Kadesh_bamea and to the brook of Egypt. That is
Ezekiel’s Holy Land.
In 48:1_7, he tells what tribes are going to live north of the
oblation. This tract of land, 25,000 cubits wide and reaching
from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, is the oblation; the
tribes that are to live north of the oblation we find in verses
1_7. To the far north is Dan; south of him is Asher, reaching
from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley; the same for
Napthali, and a similar section for Manasseh, Ephraim, Reu_
ben, and Judah, bordering on the oblation which was the
center and contained the portion for the Levites, temple, city,
and prince. Why he has them in that order we cannot tell.
In verses 8_22 we have the oblation itself and its divisions
again described: 25,000 cubits wide, reaching from the Medi_
terranean to the Jordan and in the center of that square,
10,000 to the north for the Levites, 10,000 for the priests and
in the center of that, the temple; then a section, 5,000 wide
to the south for the city. We see by this that Ezekiel does not
think that the temple should be in the city, and he separated
them by a distance of about three miles. The city is about
two miles square. It has land on either side of it which is to
support the people. Ezekiel makes no provision for the growth
of the city, nor for the increase of the Levites, nor for the
priests; there they are and they are going to abide forever.
In verses 23_29, he gives the tribes south of the city, and
the first one is Benjamin. Ezekiel puts Judah north and
Benjamin south, while before, they had always been the re_
verse. Below that is Simeon, then Issachar, then Zebulun,
and Gad; previously they had been closer together.
Then verses 30_35 tell of the gates of the city. There are
three on each of the four sides. This is the analogue of John’s
magnificent vision of the holy city – „on the east three
gates, on the north three gates, and on the south three gates,
and on the west three gates.” He goes on to show which
tribes shall enter in by these several gates: three tribes on
one side, etc., grouping Ephraim and Manasseh under the
name of Joseph. He closes by saying, verse 35, „And the name
of the city from that day shall be Jehovah_shammah,” Je_
hovah is there, that is, all this land is to be sanctified by the
presence of Jehovah, from Dan in the far north to Gad in the
far south. As one approaches the oblation, it is to be more
holy; the domain of the priests and the sanctuary, still more
holy. The outer court, the inner court, the temple platform,
the holy place, then the most holy of all.
That is Ezekiel’s picture of the great messianic age. He
believed that all the people that inhabited this land were
people who had a new heart and a right spirit, who had the
old stony heart taken out of them and a heart of flesh given
them; that God’s laws were written in their hearts and on
their minds; that they walked in his statutes and in his law;
converted people, regenerated people, living in bliss upon the
Will this ever be literally fulfilled? Can it be possible that
when Jesus Christ comes this will be fulfilled as Ezekiel pic_
tures it? Our premillennialist brethren believe that this
will be literally fulfilled. They believe that Christianity must
revert back to Judaism with Jerusalem as its center. To me
it is unthinkable that our gospel with its worldwide vision
and mission can become so cabbined, cribbed) coffined, and
confined that it will be shut up to Palestine and to Judaism.
That would be an unthinkable anticlimax.
1. What the date of the writing of this prophecy?
2. What was Ezekiel doing during the thirteen years between his
last prophecy before this and this one and what the bearing on this
3. Give a bird’s eye view of the temple aa Been by Ezekiel.
4. Give a more detailed description of the temple with its parts.
5. Describe Jehovah’s entrance into this temple and give its sig_
6. Describe the altar of burnt offerings and the sacrifices to be of_
7. What the ordinance regarding the east gate and why?
8. What the ordinance respecting the position of the Levites and why?
9. What ordinances regarding the priests?
10. What provisions were made for the priests?
11. What the ordinances regarding the prince and what special pro_
vision for the people by the prince?
12. What the ordinances for cleansing the temple, etc.?
13. What the ordinances for the feasts?
14. What the ordinances for the inheritance of the prince?
15. What the special provision for the work of the priests and
16. Describe Ezekiel’s „River of Life” and give its significance.
17. Give the boundaries of Ezekiel’s holy land.
18. What tribes are to be north of the oblation?
19. Describe the oblation itself.
20. What the tribes south of the oblation?
21. Describe the gates of the city and give the position of the tribes.
22. What do you say of the fulfilment of this magnificent prophetic
picture by Ezekiel?