"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From a multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a wise, warm-hearted, careful Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year chapter-by-chapter study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here are the fruits of that timeless study—summarized, illustrated, and amplified—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).
GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS, DEUTERONOMY, JOSHUA, JUDGES, RUTH, 1 SAMUEL, 2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS, 1 CHRONICLES, 2 CHRONICLES, EZRA, NEHEMIAH, ESTHER, JOB, PSALMS, PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES, SONG OF SOLOMON, ISAIAH
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Among all the prophets of the Hebrew people, none was more heroic than Jeremiah the prophet. He remained faithful to God, even though he was doomed to failure regarding moral and spiritual results among the people to whom he delivered his messages. Through 40 years at least, his job was to proclaim the Word of the Lord to people rapidly moving toward catastrophe, yet Jeremiah fulfilled that task with admirable loyalty. It was difficult work that he shrank from again and again; he suffered intensely, not only from the persecution of his enemies, but also in his own soul. He needed divine sustenance, which he sought and found in many an hour of protesting prayer as the Lord patiently led and upheld him. The words highlighted above about Jeremiah's prenatal calling remained with him and encouraged him. This ordination was based on foreknowledge: God knew His man—before that man had existence—and appointed him for useful service to the nations. True spokesmen for God then and now learn to be content with what He knows about them, however dissatisfied they may feel with themselves in times of extreme difficulty.
Jeremiah 2:13 "My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." These words occur in the midst of God's charge against His people for their unfaithfulness to Him. They are described figuratively as having committed two main evils: forsaking God Himself, the fountain of living waters, and making themselves ineffective substitutes that don't hold water. The first is the fundamental and fatal problem; the second the inevitable result. Living waters are springs that are always fresh and flowing. Cisterns are tanks for holding water, but water that becomes stagnant starts going bad. When the people of Jeremiah's nation removed themselves from living water by removing themselves from the Lord, they still felt their need for water and therefore made cisterns for themselves to store what they no longer had in the abundance of streams from the fountain. That was bad enough, but the fact that their cisterns were broken is a further revelation of failure. Even if they had not been broken, the waters they would have stored would have ceased to be living by that act of storing. Fallen men and women can never hew cisterns that will hold, for they all are broken. We must live by the streams or we perish. God is our very source of life; "in Him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28).
Jeremiah 3:11 "Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah." We are told that God spoke those words to Jeremiah during the reign of Josiah, the last good king of Judah, who brought about sweeping but ultimately superficial reforms. The people of Judah knew well that their sister kingdom of Israel had been unfaithful to God and swept away in judgment about a century ago, but they themselves were committing the same sins as Israel. Did they really think they would escape judgment? God describes them as treacherous because their sins persisted despite outward reformation. King Josiah acted with a true passion for righteousness, but the prophetess Huldah warned him that his people remained idolaters in heart. That is why the prophecies of Zephaniah, who ministered during Josiah's reign, do not mention the reformation: it was not real. The people of Judah were masquerading in the garments of reform while continuing to be treacherous toward God and His revealed Word. The nation and people who abandon all pretense at goodness in their devotion to evil are, in a sense, more righteous than those who attempt to hide their wicked ways under a mask of reform and simulated righteousness. The contrast between how the Lord Jesus treated open sinners with mercy and religious hypocrites with condemnation is a striking enforcement of Jeremiah's prophecy.
Jeremiah 4:10 "Then I said, 'Ah, Lord God! Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, "You shall have peace," whereas the sword reaches to the heart.'" These words must be treated as a parenthesis. They break in on a message of judgment to fall upon the people of Judah for their treachery, revealing at once the anguish of Jeremiah's heart and his inability to reconcile God's promises with His actions. This outburst reveals exactly what Jeremiah thought. Many men and women think things like that who never express them, but try to hide them with hypocritical professions of loyalty. God's ways constantly pass human comprehension. We yearn for peace, but war comes instead. Our vision is limited, for we are watching methods rather than understanding purpose. This precious verse in Jeremiah reveals the patience of God with a perfectly honest soul. Notice what a hasty reading may overlook: Jeremiah addresses "the Lord God," employing two terms that speak of His sovereign lordship and grace. Those who maintain that attitude may pour out before Him all their thoughts. He will understand, be patient, and guide us into a fuller understanding of His will as revealed in His Word.
Jeremiah 5:31 "The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?" In this summary Jeremiah reveals the degradation of his nation. Life was corrupted at its spiritual sources, and therefore in all its streams. This bringing together of prophets, priests, and people is significant. Going back to the giving of the Ten Commandments, the people were called to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). Because they were not able to rise to that great ideal, an order of priests was created to mediate between the people and God. In time, however, the priesthood became corrupt, and then the prophetic order was created to reveal God's will to the people. But now the prophets also had become false, for they were not proclaiming the Word of God but their own opinions. The final and fatal thing was that the people loved having it that way. It was a terrible and hopeless condition. Prophets are always false or true: their word is either their own or the Lord's. If it is the Word of the Lord, their main desire is to please Him. If it is their own, their main desire is to please the people, which they do by expressing views that harmonize with contemporary prejudices and lusts. Faithful preachers are a nation's truest servants and friends. False prophets are the worst enemies of any nation. Their popularity is the last evidence of a nation's decay.
Jeremiah 6:14 "They have healed the wound of My people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace." These words occur in the midst of Jeremiah's prophecy about the army that would come as an instrument of divine judgment upon his guilty and corrupt nation. In all prophetic messages of judgment, true prophets were always careful to show that the reason for such punishment was the sin of the people. Verses 13-15 describe how the people were given over to greed under the influence of false prophets and priests, lulled by them into a false sense of peace. Jeremiah accuses these so-called spiritual leaders with uttering words of comfort when the people were in direct danger and needed to be warned. Their danger arose from committing abomination without shame, losing the ability to blush. The business of the true prophet or preacher in the presence of evil is creating a sense of shame in the souls of men and women, placing their corruption before them to compel a hot blush to their faces. To fail to do that is to leave sinful people with a false security and a festering wound without proper treatment. It is much easier to do that than to deliver the Word of the Lord, which probes the wounds and causes pain in body, mind, and heart—but is also the only means of healing the wounds with true repentance, forgiveness, and obedience. There are different ways of saying peace when there is none. Some do it by silence, refusing to confront evil practices. Some do it by speaking of evil as merely an inevitable thing, while others deny the evil altogether. Whatever the method, it is the last apostasy of a false prophet that he or she should endeavor to create a sense of peace when there should be holy panic, to ease a pain of conscience when it should be poignant.
Jeremiah 7:4 "Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.'" Jeremiah stood in the gate of the temple as he spoke during what was probably a feast during the later years of Josiah's reign. The temple had been cleansed and its order of worship restored, but the reformation under Josiah, as far as the people were concerned, was superficial because they did not repent of their sins and return to God. Nevertheless, the people assumed that because the temple was there and its services maintained, all was well with them. Jeremiah stood as the crowds assembled, calling them first to a true repentance, giving this message from the Lord: "Amend your ways and I will let you remain in this place" (verse 3). Then he charges them to put no false confidence in the temple. This is a radiant revelation of the true place and value of holy places and things. Houses of worship in which men and women gather to hear the Lord's Word provide strength and rest if their ways are in harmony with His will. They are never a refuge for those who are living in rebellion against Him. They give security and peace to obedient souls, not to those living in sin. We have not done all that is necessary when we have built or renovated a church if our own hearts are unclean. When that is so, a church gives us no more protection from judgment than places set apart for sinful activities. Even a biblically correct confession of faith is of no value when evil things are reigning in the life.
Jeremiah 8:9 "Since they have rejected the Word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?" The specific people Jeremiah is talking about here are the scribes who said, "We are wise and the law of the Lord is with us," but Jeremiah says, "Their lying pen has made it into a lie" (verse 8). The scribes were supposed to teach their nation God's Word, but they rejected the very thing they were claiming to teach. To borrow a New Testament phrase, they were handling the Word of God deceitfully, lowering its standards to meet the people's wicked preferences, compromising its message and stripping it of life. That is the heinous sin of corrupting the streams of life at their source. The question Jeremiah asks here is always relevant: what kind of wisdom is that? James 3:15 describes such "wisdom" as "earthly, sensual, and devilish." The past century of world wars and unprecedented death emerged from systems of bankrupt philosophies rejecting divine revelation. Life and true wisdom come only from God and His Word.
Jeremiah 9:7 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of My people?" These words occur in the midst of Jeremiah's communion and commiseration with God over their deep sorrow regarding the misery their people's sin is bringing on themselves. Jeremiah begins this chapter by wishing he had an adequate way to release his enormous grief (verse 1) and to escape the situation (verse 2). He is, however, keenly conscious of his nation's corruption and describes its sin with unsparing faithfulness, for the people indeed deserve punishment. To that mood of soul God responds as quoted above, declaring the inevitability of the judgment to come, but also revealing its purpose: "refine" and "test" are the words of a refiner of precious metals. By those activities gold and silver are set free from dross and made pure. God employs affliction when there is no other way for His good ends to be reached. He is in sympathy with Jeremiah's sorrow, for affliction is not something He delights in, but unrepentant sin requires it because it is so defiling. Therefore the refining and testing must come, but notice that neither the Lord nor His servant are callous or indifferent to the sufferings of sinful people. When the Lord Himself took on human flesh to suffer on behalf of all His people, He was seen making no terms with sin in Jerusalem and therefore pronouncing its doom, but He did so with tears and lamentation. This is our God, and if we are in fellowship with Him, we will manifest the same spirit.
Jeremiah 10:23 "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." This chapter focuses on the evil and judgment of idolatry. People make idols, but the Lord makes people. The idols people make are always attempts to project, from their inner consciousness, the kinds of gods they are willing to obey. Put another way, making idols is man's attempt to direct his own steps. Jeremiah's highlighted words speak against that profound mistake. All dictatorships are attempts by men to direct the steps of other men. They break down because dictators do not understand either themselves or the people they seek to dominate. Democracy removes the governing center from the few and attempts to establish it on the basis of common humanity, believing that man can direct his own steps, but it is tragically wrong. There is only one hope for humanity and that is to be governed by the One who created us and knows us perfectly. He is able to direct our steps perfectly.
Jeremiah 11:5 "Then I answered, 'Amen or so be it, Lord.'" Jeremiah in this chapter quotes from Deuteronomy 27, where Moses lists a string of specific curses that would inevitably come from disobeying God's Commandments. The people there all responded Amen after each one, and Jeremiah does so here. In both cases the Amen is a confession of the rightness of God's government. In Jeremiah's case, it reveals his loyalty to God. His ministry was one long experience of suffering: he suffered persecution at the hands of those whose wicked ways he justly rebuked, and he suffered a sympathetic sorrow because of the misery his people heaped upon themselves from their sins. Nevertheless, Jeremiah said Amen to God's words and ways. There is a vast difference between a merely conventional Amen that in life costs nothing, and a deep inner agreement of mind, heart, and will with the purposes and methods of God. The latter holds and sustains us as we tread the path of obedience when it leads to suffering and sacrifice. That was the way of Christ, and "through Him is our Amen to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20). The proportion with which we are mastered by Him is the proportion of our ability to say Amen to God with sincerity for the service and suffering He knows is best for us.
Jeremiah 12:5 "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" These challenging questions are God's response to Jeremiah's complaints about his countrymen from Anathoth who were plotting harm against him because of his prophecies against their sins. Jeremiah feels dismayed by the persistence and prosperity of the wicked. The Lord's response makes it clear the sufferings Jeremiah had already endured were nothing compared to what was coming: he was contending with enemies on foot, but soon they would be mounted on horses. He was living in a peaceful city, but soon he would have to survive in the wild. By emphasizing Jeremiah's weakness, those questions drive him to a greater dependence on God. They also are a source of encouragement, revealing that the Lord never calls us to contend with horsemen until He has trained us by the lesser strain of contending with footmen. He never allows us to face the thickets of the Jordan River until He has prepared us for service in a safe country. Through the strain of today, He equips us for the greater strain of tomorrow, and never allows that greater strain to be put on us until He makes us ready.
Jeremiah 13:27 "Woe to you, O Jerusalem! You will still not be made clean! How long shall it yet be?" If we take the object lesson in this chapter at face value, Jeremiah traveled twice from Jerusalem to Babylon 250 miles away and back. It apparently is a condensed account of a lengthy period in which the prophet was being led to a deeper understanding of the hopeless depravity of his nation and consequent necessity for judgment. Judah was as useless and rotten as a linen belt hidden under a rock in the mighty river of their northern enemies. The whole situation is presented in a brief but forceful summary. The doom of the city is certain: "Woe to you, O Jerusalem!" The reason is explicit: "You will still not be made clean!" But the closing question offers a glimmer of hope: "How long shall it yet be?" It reveals a confidence that there will be an end to this attitude of determined refusal to be made clean. The inquiry suggests hope of ultimate restoration. Again while reading Jeremiah we are reminded of the Lord Jesus. He it was who pronounced the doom of Jerusalem, yet when He did so, His sentence ended on the same note of hope: "I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Jeremiah 14:11 "The Lord said to me, 'Do not pray for the well-being of this people.'" This chapter is a turning point in the book of Jeremiah, for the steady slide toward the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem in chapter 39 becomes exponentially more intense. It starts with severe drought, as predicted by Moses for persistent disobedience to God's Word. Jeremiah begs God to make things better, but God says no. He then begins offering excuses for the people and cries for mercy, but the Lord repeatedly tells him about the uselessness of all such praying. In spite of it, Jeremiah continues to plead for the people, and the Lord permits him to do so, patiently reasoning with him until Jeremiah comes to the point of submission, saying, "Ah Lord, You know" (Jeremiah 15:15). God indeed knows it is possible for men and women to persist in evil so thoroughly and persistently that He cannot have mercy upon them. Prayer on their behalf for mercy is therefore unavailing. It is a solemn matter to consider, but we may keep on praying unless God's Word forbids it. If we should find ourselves in that situation, we will find refuge in the words, "Ah Lord, You know," trusting that God always knows what is best.
Jeremiah 15:19 "If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman." This is what the Lord finally needed to say to Jeremiah for persisting in his doubts and complaints. The illustration He uses to make His point is the refining process of removing impurities from precious metals. In Jeremiah's heart were unworthy thoughts about God that tumbled out of his mouth and into Holy Scripture as instruction and warning to the wise. Jeremiah needed to purge his heart of those wrong thoughts and devote himself only to the true gold of truth concerning God. That was the only way He could serve as God's spokesman. A word like this is a searching fire. Those who are called to speak for God are always in danger of having their message devitalized by unworthy conceptions of God. To complain about the severity of the Lord's judgments is to question not only His wisdom, but also His righteousness and love. It is equally true that to rebel against His compassion, as Jonah did, is also unworthy of God. Let us take regular inventory of our thoughts, removing what is untrue about the Lord God Almighty, so we speak rightly about and for Him.
Jeremiah 16:19 "O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction!" This is Jeremiah's admirable response to serious new orders from the Lord. At the beginning of this chapter, God tells Jeremiah not to take a wife and have a family because of the coming severe judgment. Further, Jeremiah is to refrain from sympathy with the people in their bereavements and stand aloof from all their festivities. He is about to witness the desolation of his people, and in the midst of it show them by his actions the direct connection between their sorrows and their sins. This kind of charge would make the stoutest heart quail, but Jeremiah affirms his complete confidence in God. He realizes what his life will be like, but he has learned the sufficiency of the Lord for all his needs. His weaknesses he knows, but the Lord is his strength. His afflictions will be great, but the Lord will be his refuge. In this chapter Jeremiah takes to heart what God said in the previous chapter by extracting the worthless from the precious to serve as God's spokesman.
Jeremiah 17:12 "A glorious throne on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary." This is Jeremiah's answer to the declaration God makes that the person who ultimately trusts in man is cursed, but the person who trusts in Him is blessed. Two words stand out in Jeremiah's affirmation: throne and sanctuary. The first stands for authority, executive action, and government. The second represents retreat, refuge, and security. Jeremiah here relates the two ideas: in the government of God's throne, people will find safety and refuge from all the forces against them. It is not the other way around, the sanctuary as the throne, as though God were ruling by mercy and people might find deliverance from the requirements of His government. It is rather that the throne is the sanctuary: God always reigns without deviation from His eternal principles. We find security only as we are brought into conformity with those principles. Jeremiah describes God's throne as being "on high from the beginning," which is from eternity. The last book in the Bible associates that throne with grace, for by it the triumphant Lamb of God who was slain will bring His people into conformity with God's righteous government.
Jeremiah 18:3 "I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel." The Lord sends Jeremiah to visit a potter to illustrate the activity of God's eternal throne, which Jeremiah just came to understand as a sanctuary for humankind. In that potter's house, everything is reduced to simplicity, almost to poverty. All the trappings usually associated with kingship are conspicuously absent. What Jeremiah sees is a man working at a foot-operated spinning wheel that keeps clay in motion as he shapes it according to the pattern in his mind. Jeremiah notices that while the clay is powerless as it yields to the pressure of the potter's hands, it also is realizing a high destiny. But something goes wrong: the clay is suddenly marred and twisted; it fails to express the potter's thought. No explanation of the marring is given. What then? The potter does not abandon it: he makes it into a new vessel that pleases the potter to make. Jeremiah discovers that there is more than mechanism in the activity of God's throne, for a mind is constantly at work there, adapting to meet failure and realizing purpose in spite of failure. In the material poverty of the potter's house, Jeremiah sees an unveiling of God's government and grace in the exercise of His sovereignty.
Jeremiah 19:11 "I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again." There is a close connection between this chapter and the last to prevent any misunderstanding about the lesson from the potter's house. God commands Jeremiah to purchase a piece of pottery and smash it to pieces before the corrupt leaders to enforce a message of judgment on the nation's sins. In the potter's house, God was revealed as making again a marred vessel to demonstrate His sovereignty in redemption and restoration. But no man, woman, or nation is ever to presume on that revelation, for here God is described as a Potter taking a nation formed by his own hands and breaking it so it "cannot be made whole again." This is revelation of another activity of sovereignty: people who persist in evil and rebellion will be irrevocably broken. The love, grace, and patience of God that make redemption a reality are never license to sin. To "continue in sin that grace may abound" puts the soul outside the sphere of grace and brings it into the breaking, destructive activity of the eternal throne. If it were otherwise, neither earth nor heaven would be safe.
Jeremiah 20:9 " If I say, 'I will not mention His Word or speak anymore in His name,' His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." This chapter opens with a paragraph of history. It tells how Jeremiah is persecuted for being faithful to deliver God's messages of judgment upon the nation. Pashhur, the chief temple officer, has Jeremiah beaten and then put into stocks for derision. What follows in the text is the outpouring of Jeremiah's soul. His understandable complaints mix with confidence, triumph, and even song. The highlighted words reveal that under the stresses and strains of his sufferings, Jeremiah is tempted to abandon his work by refusing to proclaim God's Word anymore, but he quickly discovers that such silence becomes more intolerable than telling the truth of what God had given him to say. The Word trapped within becomes like a fire in his bones that he has to release. It is so precious that it must be shared. Speaking and publishing God's Word at times brings suffering, but refraining to proclaim it brings far more terrible suffering. That is why the apostle Paul wrote, "When I preach the Gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16).
Jeremiah 21:2 "Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all His wonderful deeds." These are the words of King Zedekiah, whom Scripture summarizes like this: "He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord" (2 Kings 24:19). As Jeremiah predicted, the king of Babylon is now making war on Judah and Zedekiah wants to rebel against him, but Jeremiah tells him plainly that will not work. Zedekiah has no right to hope for a wonderful deliverance from God when he disobeys the clear Word of the Lord to "execute justice ... and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed" (Jeremiah 21:11-12). The answer to any such "perhaps" statements is the Lord will not deliver rebellious souls from the just punishment of their sin, but rather will hand them over to that punishment despite all their wishful thinking and evasive policies. Yet even in the darkest hour, the way of escape for the rebellious heart is to "hear the Word of the Lord" (verse 11).
Jeremiah 22:2 "Hear the Word of the Lord, O king of Judah." Out of mercy the remedy to rebellion is proclaimed again. This chapter begins a section that continues through chapter 27. It addresses 4 failing kings, Zedekiah and his 3 predecessors: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin. Jeremiah then condemns the false prophets, who told those kings and their rebellious people what they wanted to hear instead of God's Word. Those who hear the Word of the Lord and obey it will be just and righteous, and establish their lives and nations in strength. To neglect that Word or to rebel against it in favor of policies resulting from watching events, observing circumstances, and making calculations inevitably brings destruction. As we observe the process of nations rising and falling, the one hope standing out for their rulers is seeking God's instructions in His Word and obeying them.
Jeremiah 23:16 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.'" The Lord Himself clearly tells us the difference between false and true prophets. The false speak their own message, but the true faithfully proclaim God's Word. False prophets then are men and women who observe events from their own point of view, but represent their viewpoints as coming from a divine or otherwise elevated source to manipulate people into believing them. They seek to profit by telling people what they want to hear, filling them with false hopes that contradict God's revealed Word. True prophets live in communion with God through faith and the careful study of His Word. They represent the Lord by loving people enough to tell them the truth they need to hear for their well-being. False prophets are limited by their own futile minds and influenced by their selfish desires. The true are illuminated and inspired by divine truth. The first teach vanity, the second wisdom.
Jeremiah 24:3 "The Lord said to me, 'What do you see, Jeremiah?' I said, 'Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.'" This vision from God comes to Jeremiah after his latest confrontation with wicked King Zedekiah. It contrasts the first wave of captives taken away to Babylon during the reign of Jehoiakim with those who remained in the city and land under Zedekiah. The comparison is startling, for those who remained could easily flatter themselves by assuming those who were taken away were more corrupt. This vision directly contradicts that false assumption. Those who had gone were being prepared by the purifying force of their suffering for return in the future. The eyes of the Lord were upon them for their good. Those remaining refused to profit by the warning of their brethren being carried away in judgment over a century earlier, for they continued in the same ways of evil that swept away their brothers. Therefore they were adding to their corruption and inevitably bringing upon themselves a more terrible judgment. When people refuse to learn the lessons taught by the discipline of others, they add an element of wickedness to their ways that brings a more hopeless condition of corruption. Let us profit by such solemn warnings by cleansing ourselves from the sins that bring such calamity.
Jeremiah 25:1 "The Word that came to Jeremiah ... in the fourth year of Jehoiakim." Jeremiah is very careful to date this prophecy from the past because of how it applies to the current situation under King Zedekiah. That fourth year of King Jehoiakim was the first year King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came on the scene by God's sovereign guidance to begin the fulfillment of 23 years of Jeremiah's preaching about the destruction of Jerusalem. Now in Zedekiah's reign, the fall of the city is fast approaching. Jeremiah's message in this chapter describes the process of divine judgment in enlarging circles. First is the judgment of Judah with Babylon as God's instrument. Then follows the judgment of Babylon by many nations. Finally is the judgment that will come upon the whole world and its "shepherds," defined here as false authorities, rulers, and powers. God will establish His own authority, rule, and power. This divine activity is persistent in human history. To our thinking at times the process is slow, but it is sure and wholly good in its intention. It will be vindicated as such in its ultimate victory. This hope for humanity is described in the New Testament as "the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13).
Jeremiah 26:3 "It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds." Jeremiah begins this chapter by recalling how he was threatened with death, but saved by the intervention of godly princes of Judah. It is an illustration of God's patience. By sending His Word through Jeremiah, the Lord created an opportunity for those princes to turn the people from evil and escape destruction. The highlighted words demonstrate God's capacity for repentance in the sense of changing His mind and method. It is a difficult concept that superficial or mechanical thinking about God rejects. Nevertheless, it is a biblical concept that actually emphasizes the unchangeable nature of God's purpose. Because He never changes in His love and His determination to bless, He changes His method. When men and women repent of their loyalty to Him and turn to rebellion, He changes His method of blessing to that of punishment. When people repent of their rebellion and return to loyalty, God changes His method of punishment and turns again to mercy and blessing. The pride of a man or woman who says, "Because I have said I will do something, I must do it no matter how much the conditions have changed" has no foothold in God's nature. His purposes of holiness and love never change. All His activities change in accord with those unchangeable virtues.
Jeremiah 27:12-13 "Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live! Why will you die?" This is Jeremiah's appeal to King Zedekiah and the nation: to submit themselves to the divine discipline their sins had made inevitable. Their situation is so acute, God directs His prophet to wear a yoke himself to remind the people of what is coming. The false prophets declare Jerusalem is safe and advise resistance to the king of Babylon. All the politicians and the king are influenced by those prophets because their statements harmonize with their own desires. Jeremiah knows such resistance is not only useless but also wicked, and will inevitably bring worse sufferings on the people. He plainly declares that since Nebuchadnezzar in this hour is God's instrument, rebelling against him is rebelling against God. When God punishes sin, the true action is to yield to His discipline by accepting the particular stroke He sends. When we do, we discover that the suffering we then experience leads to restoration. To rebel against such suffering by opposing our wills and strength to it is not to escape it, but to miss its restoring intention and involve ourselves in more terrible suffering. King David's understanding of that truth after he had sinned by numbering his people from a wrong motive led him to say, "Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands" (2 Samuel 24:14).
Jeremiah 28:15 "The Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie." This chapter gives a vivid historical illustration of one of Jeremiah's greatest challenges: dealing with false prophets. Hananiah here is one of the worst. Notice the deceptive way he begins to speak: "This is what the Lord of heaven's armies, the God of Israel, says" (verse 2). Then Hananiah contradicts Jeremiah's true message that the yoke of Babylon would soon be upon the people for 70 years, and insolently smashes the demonstrative yoke Jeremiah is still wearing to bolster his false message. Jeremiah's highlighted response to Hananiah gets to the heart of all false teaching: it does not come from God and leads people into error. All philosophies that attempt to interpret life without the light of God's Word lead men and women to their undoing because God is the source of all truth. We should earnestly obey this warning from Jesus: "Beware of false prophets!"
Jeremiah 29:7 "Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace." Jeremiah writes those words in a letter to Jewish exiles who had been taken to Babylon. This letter proves that the false prophets preaching rebellion against Babylon were a bad influence there as well as in Jerusalem. By their messages a false hope of speedy return was created, threatening to produce unrest among the exiles. Of course, that is what the false prophets wanted, but Jeremiah wants them to know that while God's judgment will be carried out, God also has their best interests at heart. Seventy years of captivity were before the people so they were to settle down and act accordingly. Seeking the peace of their new city and praying for it are two key ways of doing that. When in the grip of adverse circumstances, men and women then and now do well to secure the best conditions possible and by the best means: prayer. Jeremiah foretold the ultimate overthrow of Babylon, but so long as it remained and the people held captive there by the will of God, they were to secure peace for themselves by seeking the peace of the city through faithful prayer and model citizenship. This advice combines religious virtue with practical common sense. Those two things are never divorced, for God's ways are always best.
Jeremiah 30:24 "... until He has performed the intents of His heart." This is the first of 4 central chapters of hope in Jeremiah's book amid its necessary warnings, tears, and solemnities. This hope comes during the dark period when Jerusalem is near its fall, its people are suffering from famine and plague, and Jeremiah is languishing in prison. His first message of hope explains God's process of restoration. It recognizes the distress of the people with their sufferings and sorrows, but shows that those are the methods that produce triumph. It painfully describes the friendlessness of the nation in its desolation, but since its so-called "friends" are wicked, the nation is now brought into a condition of favor with God. All is summarized in the concluding paragraph, in which "the tempest of the Lord," His "wrath," and "fierce anger" display the "intents of His heart" and the purpose of His love. All the ways of God's wrath, made inevitable by human sin, must be interpreted by His loving intent for His creation. When that is done, hope springs from the darkness.
Jeremiah 31:33 "I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts." Jeremiah 31 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible because of its clear description of the New Covenant. This verse tells us its key feature: the law of God implanted by God within the believing human heart. The Old Covenant was based upon a law given to the Jewish people by God, set before their eyes and conditioned by their obedience to it. Their history records their breaking that covenant by repeatedly disobeying God's law. The New Covenant also provides law, but no longer only external and objective. It is internal and subjective in that restoration comes by a change of heart and spirit, in which God's law is obeyed with delight. Hebrews 10:14-18 quotes Jeremiah 31:33, explaining that glorious change has come through the One sacrifice of Jesus Christ and by the witness of the Spirit. Those who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord for the forgiveness of their sins at once enter into this New Covenant relationship with the Lord.
Jeremiah 32:8 "Then I knew that this was the Word of the Lord." Jeremiah, while in prison for predicting the imminent destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, is told by God to expect a visit from his hometown cousin to buy a plot of land there. Jeremiah's cousin soon shows up, which adds confirmation that this is of God, so Jeremiah formally buys the land and has the deed sealed for long preservation. It is a remarkable act in view of the conditions: the land was about to pass to Babylon, and Jeremiah himself remained behind bars. Once he completes the purchase, Jeremiah honestly admits his perplexity over the matter to God (verse 25). The Lord explains that it is a sign of hope, for He would restore the land to His people in the future. Jeremiah was obedient even though he was perplexed. The secret of his obedience is in the highlighted verse: he knew he was obeying the Word of the Lord. The idiomatic expression Jeremiah uses in the highlighted verse is similar to what a widow said to the prophet Elijah when he raised her son from the dead: "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the Word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth" (1 Kings 17:24). She knew that before, but God kept piling up evidence to confirm His Word. He does that today as well.
Jeremiah 33:8 "I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against Me and will pardon all their sins of rebellion against Me." This chapter contains a second reassurance of ultimate restoration through the New Covenant. The method of its coming is through the "righteous Branch of David" (verse 15, who is the Lord Jesus Christ), and its certainty of coming is affirmed by the signs of day and night. The highlighted verse emphasizes cleansing and pardoning. Cleansing removes moral guilt, pollution, and defilement. Pardoning brings the offender into a relationship of favor and fellowship. God never pardons polluted souls; He first cleanses them. Pardon, apart from purity, would perpetuate pollution and violate God's moral universe. God in His grace has committed Himself to the profound work of cleansing the human soul to provide its just pardon. That is what He accomplished in Christ's work on the Cross. Let us never insult that Cross by thinking of receiving pardon from God without cleansing from Christ.
Jeremiah 34:16 "You turned and profaned My name." This is how the Lord responds to a social injustice that takes place within the besieged city of Jerusalem. Circumstances are dire with the Babylonians closing in on the imminent prophesied destruction, but the people and their leaders decide to obey Mosaic law by releasing their brethren who were enslaved. Sadly, they soon repent of their repentance by compelling the slaves they set free to return to their bondage. Whatever their reason for doing so, Jeremiah's prophetic message in this chapter shows it met with God's anger. No political situation ever justifies breaking a divine law and doing wrong to our fellow man or woman. Those who do so profane God's name. Think of those who received their freedom according to God's Word. They would have reason to bless and thank Him. Withdrawing their freedom would create in the minds of the sufferers a negative reaction in their thoughts about God Himself. That is a truly terrible wrong, and those who cause it are to blame. All injustice of man to man creates questionings about God. Thus His name is profaned and His anger kindled against those causing the profaning. The wrong of man to man inflicts on God a deeper wrong.
Jeremiah 35:14 "The words of Jonadab ... are performed ... but ... you have not listened to Me." These words reflect the wounded heart of God. Here is the whole situation: men were absolutely loyal to a command by their ancestor Jonadab about abstaining from wine, but the people and their leaders consistently refused to listen to the Lord, and they persecuted His messengers. That happens now as well. People are often more faithful to family traditions than they are to the will of God made known through His Word. Loyalty to a family tradition is not wrong if that tradition comes from right motives. Jonadab's people, the Rechabites, are not rebuked for their loyalty here but instead rewarded. The teaching is by contrast: people who are loyal to an unimportant principle made binding by the will of a dead ancestor versus people who are disloyal to the most important truths in the universe rightly demanded by the living God. The lesson is while we may respect all good traditions as we will, our calling is to obey the revealed will of God.
Jeremiah 36:28 "Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll." At a time when Jeremiah's movements were restricted, God instructs his prophet to write, which he does. His scribe, Baruch, is sent to read God's Word to the people to encourage them to repent of their sins to avoid calamity. Eventually Jeremiah's scroll reaches King Jehoiakim. So hardened are the king and his officials against God's warning for their own good, Jehoiakim wickedly burns the scroll piece by piece in the fire of his winter palace while his officials do nothing to restrain him. We are told "the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments" (verse 24). Sin may so deaden spiritual and moral faculties that people seek to destroy God's Word and His messengers. Nevertheless the Word of God lives and is preserved in the mind of God. His servants remain at His disposal. The Lord has Jeremiah write another scroll, and all its statements are carried out irrevocably. As both the Old and New Testaments confirm, "All flesh is like grass ... the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God remains forever" (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:24-25).
Jeremiah 37:17 "The king questioned him secretly in his house and said, 'Is there any Word from the Lord?' Jeremiah said, 'There is!'" This chapter records a remarkable interlude in the experience of the besieged city. Suddenly the siege is lifted because the army of Pharaoh moves out of Egypt, threatening the Babylonian army, which turns about to face this new menace. Jeremiah warns the people that this respite is merely temporary, but they and their king want to believe that the judgment prophesied by Jeremiah can be avoided. Jeremiah is beaten and put in jail. King Zedekiah secretly sends for him and questions him privately. Jeremiah answers that in spite of current circumstances, the prophesied destruction would be fulfilled because of the nation's lack of repentance. That the king asks his question secretly shows his growing fear that what Jeremiah says is true. Under the stress of such fears, people can rise above their wickedness and weaknesses by seeking God's will, but they need to know that no change in circumstances will change His Word. God's Word never lacks power and proceeds irresistibly to accomplish the Lord's will. A change of heart in a repentant man or woman will produce a change in the attitude and activity of God, but a mere change in circumstances never will.
Jeremiah 38:5 "Zedekiah the king said, 'Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.'" Zedekiah's weakness and wickedness returns, for he says these words to officials who want Jeremiah dead. They want the king and everyone else to keep resisting Babylon. Jeremiah tells them that if they submit to God by handing themselves over, they will be spared the destruction of the city and much suffering. Zedekiah has no desire to see Jeremiah or Jerusalem destroyed, but he seems to feel helpless. In the words above he confesses his impotence and seeks to put the blame on his officials, but he cannot escape his responsibility. Both Jerusalem and Jeremiah are in this dire situation because the king and his predecessors were so persistent in their disobedience to God's revealed Word. We have modern examples of this same kind of endeavor to shift responsibility for wrong done. That a man was drunk when he killed his victim does not exonerate him from blame. He had no business to be drunk. That a woman is outvoted in the counsel of the ungodly does not excuse her. She had no right to be in association with such counsel.
Jeremiah 39:4 "... he went out toward the Arabah [wilderness]." After 18 months of siege, Jerusalem falls. The Word of the Lord is verified; the lies of the false prophets contradicted. The folly of the politicians who counseled resistance toward Babylon is painfully obvious, for it is now too late to follow Jeremiah's wise counsel of cooperating with the Babylonians. When seeing in the gate of the city the Babylonian conquerors now setting up seats of authority, King Zedekiah flees, and the highlighted verse tells us the direction he takes. He sets his face toward the wilderness beyond the Jordan River, the region where for 40 years his nation had been led when they had no king other than God. But Zedekiah never reaches that wilderness. He is captured in the plains of Jericho before he can reach the river. The God who had governed and led His people there excludes this fugitive from that region. No escape from God is possible. In obedience we may find His grace. In persistent, unrepentant disobedience we face His wrath.
Jeremiah 40:6 "Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah ... at Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land." We now reach the last phase in the ministry of Jeremiah. Jerusalem has fallen and most of the population taken to Babylon. The Babylonian officials remaining behind make it clear in this chapter that they knew about God working through Jeremiah in his prophetic ministry. They respect Jeremiah and offer to take good care of him in Babylon or to set him free to go wherever he wants. In the highlighted words we see Jeremiah's choice. Remaining behind in the land is a small, poor remnant the Babylonians place under a governor of their appointing to keep the farm lands from going wild and untended. Jeremiah chooses to remain among them under Governor Gedaliah. Their numbers grow as Jewish refugees who fled Jerusalem before the siege to neighboring countries now return since the Babylonian army has headed home. Gedaliah welcomes them, but proves to be too trusting. That will lead to a tragic train of events. It is a revealing fact about Jeremiah's character that when he might have secured safety, comfort, and respect for himself in Babylon, he remains to proclaim the Word of the Lord to his poor countrymen for their good. They do not listen to him, but Jeremiah's prophetic ministry was successful in the highest sense because he never failed to speak for God, which is the only responsibility resting upon a prophet.
Jeremiah 41:18 "They were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they heard that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king." Ishmael, we are told, was of the Jewish royal family, but had escaped before the siege to the land of Ammon, longtime enemies of Israel, where he is corrupted into a willing instrument to destabilize the Jewish remnant by assassinating their new governor. Johanan, a Jewish military commander who also escaped before the siege, becomes aware of that terrible plot and tries to warn Governor Gedaliah, but Gedaliah does not believe that a member of the royal family would do such a terrible thing. Ishmael and his wicked band do that and much more, carrying away into captivity the poor remnant that was under Gedaliah, but Johanan and his men route Ishmael and bring back the captives to Israel. Now they are afraid, not of the Ammonites, but of the Babylonians. Gedaliah had been a fellow Israelite and even the son of a man whose support kept Jeremiah from being put to death in Jerusalem. Johanan and the others do not know who might be appointed as a new governor in Gedaliah's place. They fear harsh Babylonian rule and punishment for the assassination of the governor, even though they tried to stop it. It soon becomes clear Johanan is determined to lead the people to Egypt for safety, a policy Jeremiah long opposed. Never does Johanan refer to God in his plans, demonstrating that men and women may hear the Word of the Lord and live to see it powerfully vindicated, yet choose to ignore it.
Jeremiah 42:20 "You have dealt deceitfully against your own souls." These words of Jeremiah flash light into the whole situation described in this chapter. Johanan has already decided he wants to take the Jewish remnant to Egypt, but he comes with all the people to Jeremiah, asking him to pray to find out what the Lord wants them to do. They promise to do whatever God says and Jeremiah faithfully prays as requested, but he does not return with the answer they want to hear. He tells them there must be no going to Egypt for safety. If they remain in their native land, God will protect them from all dangers. If they disobey by going to Egypt, they will perish. The comment Jeremiah makes above reveals he somehow knew the people had already made up their minds to look for refuge in Egypt no matter what God said. By asking for prayer, they were deceiving their own souls. Such praying is dishonest and superstitious. It is like gambling with God, hoping His answer will agree with our own desires, for if it does, we feel we have some sort of reinforcement. We must never pray to God unless we are willing to obey what He says, being confident that He knows far better than we what is best. Our duty in prayer is to pray according to the will of God.
Jeremiah 43:8 "Then the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes." In spite of Jeremiah's prophetic warning, Johanan and the rest of the "arrogant men" (verse 2), lead or force the Jewish remnant down to Egypt. Mastered by their fear of the Babylonians, they display an appalling lack of fear of the Lord God Almighty. Tahpanhes was on the Egyptian frontier, and there the people need to halt to reckon with the border authorities. Jeremiah and his assistant Baruch, who failed to dissuade their people from making this foolish journey, do not abandon them but accompany them. Perhaps they were compelled to go for fear of what they might say to the Babylonian authorities. Johanan and company are about to discover they cannot escape from God, for His Word arrives at Tahpanhes as easily as it did at Jerusalem or Gedaliah's headquarters at Mizpah. And the message is the same: punishment for their disobedience that will bring ruin to Egypt as well at the hands of the Babylonians. That was the Word of the Lord in Tahpanhes, and it remains the same today for people who seek safety for themselves in any way or by any policies that disregard God's revealed Word.
Jeremiah 44:17 "We will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth." In this chapter we have the last of the messages of Jeremiah that are dated consecutively. It has the same note of determined loyalty to the Word of the Lord against all false findings of human rebellion and opinion. The circumstances here are startling. Jeremiah's people are openly and defiantly turning from worshiping the Lord to worshiping other gods, including an astrological deity the women call the Queen of Heaven. Their husbands follow along in their evil, telling Jeremiah that when they honored those gods in Jerusalem, everything was fine. Jeremiah reminds them that their unfaithfulness then led to their city's destruction and their present distress. It is easy for men and women to misread history when their hearts are set on evil. This chapter demonstrates that when people or nations determine to go against God's revealed will, He will compel them to abide by that decision to its disastrous outcome.
Jeremiah 45:5 "Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them." This short chapter is a message from the Lord through Jeremiah to one man: Jeremiah's secretary, Baruch. It addresses a common temptation. Baruch wrote as Jeremiah dictated what the Lord told him to say to the people. He probably wrote the entire book of Jeremiah, and added his own concluding summary by God's design in its last chapter since Jeremiah 51:64 says, "Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." It was Baruch who read out loud Jeremiah's prophecies to honorable leaders who told him to hide while they read the scroll he gave them to King Jehoiakim, who wickedly burned it piece by piece. Baruch now is feeling distress and a strong temptation to think of himself as in some way entitled to honor for his part in God's work. The Lord gently reminds him in verse 4 of the work He called his boss, Jeremiah, to at the outset: "To pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10). Baruch is called to be thankful for the gift of his life during this season of judgment. That he humbly received and profited from the Lord's message is suggested by the incorporation of Baruch's personal drama into this chapter.
Jeremiah 46:15 "Why are your mighty ones face down? They do not stand because the Lord thrust them down." Here we begin a series of prophetic messages concerning the surrounding nations. Jeremiah delivered them at different times during his ministry, but they are gathered together here at the close of the book. Those regarding Egypt are first and the ones about Babylon are last. Verses 2-12 poetically describe Babylon's decisive defeat of Egypt at Carchemish, first the preparation for battle, the advance, and then the humiliating rout of the proud forces of Pharaoh Neco. Jeremiah asks why the mighty armies of Pharaoh are face down in such utter defeat. He well knew the politicians of his nation banked for many years on the strength of Egypt to keep Babylon's growing power in check. On the basis on human observation and calculation, they were probably right. Egypt ought to have been victorious by the standards of human preparation and power. But Egypt is now face down, never really to rise to world prominence again. Why? "They do not stand because the Lord thrust them down." That is just as true in modern times as in ancient ones. In both World Wars, Germany ought to have mastered those opposed to her by every law of human calculation. She did not. She was broken and routed. So it is and will be until the King of kings and Lord of lords returns. Over all human policies and clash of armies, He is reigning and moving forward in righteousness towards the goal of His intended purpose.
Jeremiah 47:4 "The Lord is about to destroy the Philistines, the remnant from the coasts of Caphtor." The Philistines had long been the implacable enemies of God's people. In this brief prophecy Jeremiah foretells their doom. The description here of the Philistines as the remnant from Caphtor is doubly suggestive. It first tells of their weakened condition from long conflict, but also traces them back to their origin. Both Moses and the prophet Amos centuries earlier described them the same way. Here is the key point, clearly expressed by the apostle Paul: "Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also" (Romans 3:29). As Paul states elsewhere concerning the nations, it is God who "determined their appointed seasons and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God." Nations continue to rise and fall, and the reason for their rise and fall is found in their relation to Him and their obedience or disobedience to the light He gives them in His Word.
Jeremiah 48:11 "Moab has been at ease since his youth ... undisturbed, like wine on its dregs, and he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, and his aroma has not changed." Jeremiah uses an illustration from the wine-making process to explain what would soon happen to the nation of Moab and why. Judgment would come upon its people for their sins, but Jeremiah weeps in this chapter for them as he did for his own people, yet in the end he sees their restoration by the Lord. One secret of the corruption of the Moabites had been their comparative ease. Never had they been removed from their own land, like the people of Israel had twice, and carried away captive. To dwell at ease, to know nothing of disturbance, to be free from turmoil may be to miss the very processes that lead to salvation and life to the full. By upheaval and uprooting, like the pouring out from vessel to vessel to remove sediments from wine, we may be on the path to deliverance from our own corruptions. Everything depends on our relation to God in the discovery of His will in His Word, and our response to it.
Jeremiah 49:6 "'Afterward I will bring back the captives of the people of Ammon,' says the Lord." This chapter outlines judgment on five nations, but here is a glimmer of hope for one of them, with similar encouragement for Elam (also known as Persia or Iran, 49:39), Moab in the previous chapter (48:47) and Egypt before that (46:26). Through Jeremiah's prophecies we see God governing by judging willful disobedience to His Word, but we also see His wrath leading to restoration for Israel and other nations as well. The fact that for some of these nations no restoration is foretold reveals the dreadful possibility of resisting not only the mercy of God, but also His judgments so completely that there is no way forward.
Jeremiah 50:7 "Their enemies have said, 'We are not guilty, for they have sinned against the Lord, their habitation of justice, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.'" This and the following chapter are taken up with the prophetic message of doom concerning Babylon. It is a fitting close to Jeremiah's heroic ministry. For long years, in spite of all the opposition of politicians inspired by false prophets, Jeremiah declared that Jerusalem would fall to Babylon. He had lived to see his words vindicated, but was under no delusion about Babylon itself. Even though God used that nation to punish the Israelites for their persistent disobedience to His Word, their enemies' disobedience did not excuse Babylon's own exceeding evil from His judgment. Jeremiah above quotes the Lord's own words about what the Babylonians were thinking: they acknowledged God's justice but somehow did not think it applied to themselves in any way. They correctly understood the sin of God's people in turning their back on Him, but they trespassed upon that knowledge by using it to vindicate their cruelties. This attitude of mind has been persistent in history. Those who mete out punishment on God's behalf will face divine wrath themselves if they are excessive and fail to deal with their own sins.
Jeremiah 51:58 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations' labor is only fuel for the flames." Jeremiah's words especially here foretell the complete overthrow of Babylon as a city by the falling of poetic justice upon an empire doomed to experience the same downfall it inflicted on other nations. But Babylon as a spirit of rebellion energized by Satan against God since its founding in Genesis 11 continues to work its dark designs and baleful influence. It is alive today and working with tremendous power to exclude God and realize human potential merely through human thought and endeavor, whether in policies, wars, education, art, or religion. It still utters what it said at the Tower of Babel: "Let us make us a name for ourselves" (Genesis 11:4). But the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah moves to its complete fulfillment at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, when this anthem will be sung at the final destruction of Babylon, likened to a prostitute in the book of Revelation: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just; for He has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of His servants" (Revelation 19:1-2).
Jeremiah 52:7 "Then the city wall was broken through." The last sentence of the preceding chapter, "Thus far are the words of Jeremiah" (51:64), lead us to conclude this final chapter was written by another, probably Jeremiah's secretary, Baruch. It recounts the fall of Jerusalem, adding a few new details, but its main purpose appears to be underscoring the historic fulfillment of God's Word as faithfully proclaimed by Jeremiah despite opposition, persecution, and suffering. At last after a long siege, "the city wall was broken through." That breach in the material structure was made by the Babylonian army, but no such breach would have been made apart from the spiritual and moral defection of God's people. It was the kings, politicians, false prophets, and the people seduced by them that made the real breach in the city. They broke down Jerusalem's true fortifications by their spiritual infidelities. It is always that way: no enemies encamped against the people of God can gain any advantage over them so long as His people remain loyal in heart, mind, and will to their true King. But when they are disloyal and refuse to repent, no force can save them from opposing hosts.