Confidence in the temple is vain. (1-16) The provocation by persisting in idolatry. (17-20) God justifies his dealings with them. (21-28) And threatens vengeance. (29-34)
Verses 1-16 No observances, professions, or supposed revelations, will profit, if men do not amend their ways and their doings. None can claim an interest in free salvation, who allow themselves in the practice of known sin, or live in the neglect of known duty. They thought that the temple they profaned would be their protection. But all who continue in sin because grace has abounded, or that grace may abound, make Christ the minister of sin; and the cross of Christ, rightly understood, forms the most effectual remedy to such poisonous sentiments. The Son of God gave himself for our transgressions, to show the excellence of the Divine law, and the evil of sin. Never let us think we may do wickedness without suffering for it.
Verses 17-20 The Jews took pride in showing zeal for their idols. Let us learn to be earnest in the service of our God, even from this bad example. Let us think it an honour to be employed in any work for God. Let us be as diligent ourselves, and as careful to teach our children the truths of God, as many are to teach the mysteries of iniquity. The direct tendency of this sin is malice against God, but it will hurt themselves. And they shall find there is no escaping. God's wrath is fire unquenchable.
Verses 21-28 God shows that obedience was required of them. That which God commanded was, Hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord thy God. The promise is very encouraging. Let God's will be your rule, and his favour shall be your happiness. God was displeased with disobedience. We understand the gospel as little as the Jews understood the law, if we think that even the sacrifice of Christ lessens our obligation to obey.
Verses 29-34 In token both of sorrow and of slavery, Jerusalem must be degraded, and separated from God, as she had been separated to him. The heart is the place in which God has chosen to put his name; but if sin has the innermost and uppermost place there, we pollute the temple of the Lord. The destruction of Jerusalem appears here very terrible. The slain shall be many; they having made it the place of their sin. Evil pursues sinners, even after death. Those who will not, by the grace of God, be cured of vain mirth, shall, by the justice of God, be deprived of all mirth. How many ruin their health and property without complaining, when engaged in Satan's service! May we learn to relish holy joys, and to sit loose to all others though lawful.
Jeremiah 7:1-34 . THE SEVENTH THROUGH NINTH CHAPTERS. DELIVERED IN THE BEGINNING OF JEHOIAKIM'S REIGN, ON THE OCCASION OF SOME PUBLIC FESTIVAL.
The prophet stood at the gate of the temple in order that the multitudes from the country might hear him. His life was threatened, it appears from Jeremiah 26:1-9 , for this prophecy, denouncing the fate of Shiloh as about to befall the temple at Jerusalem. The prophecy given in detail here is summarily referred to there. After Josiah's death the nation relapsed into idolatry through Jehoiakim's bad influence; the worship of Jehovah was, however, combined with it ( Jeremiah 7:4 Jeremiah 7:10 ).
2. the gate--that is, the gate of the court of Israel within that of the women. Those whom Jeremiah addresses came through the gate leading into the court of the women, and the gate leading into the outer court, or court of the Gentiles ("these gates").
3. cause you to dwell--permit you still to dwell ( Jeremiah 18:11 , 26:13 ).
4. The Jews falsely thought that because their temple had been chosen by Jehovah as His peculiar dwelling, it could never be destroyed. Men think that ceremonial observances will supersede the need of holiness ( Isaiah 48:2 , Micah 3:11 ). The triple repetition of "the temple of Jehovah" expresses the intense confidence of the Jews (see Jeremiah 22:29 , Isaiah 6:3 ).
these--the temple buildings which the prophet points to with his finger ( Jeremiah 7:2 ).
5. For--"But" [MAURER].
judgment--justice ( Jeremiah 22:3 ).
6. this place--this city and land ( Jeremiah 7:7 ).
to your hurt--so Jeremiah 7:19 ; "to the confusion or their own faces" ( Jeremiah 13:10 , Proverbs 8:36 ).
7. The apodosis to the "if . . . if" ( Jeremiah 7:5 Jeremiah 7:6 ).
to dwell--to continue to dwell.
for ever and ever--joined with "to dwell," not with the words "gave to your fathers" (compare Jeremiah 3:18 , Deuteronomy 4:40 ).
8. that cannot profit--MAURER translates, "so that you profit nothing" (see Jeremiah 7:4 , Jeremiah 5:31 ).
9, 10. "Will ye steal . . . and then come and stand before Me?"
whom ye know not--Ye have no grounds of "knowing" that they are gods; but I have manifested My Godhead by My law, by benefits conferred, and by miracles. This aggravates their crime [CALVIN] ( Judges 5:8 ).
10. And come--And yet come ( Ezekiel 23:39 ).
We are delivered--namely, from all impending calamities. In spite of the prophet's threats, we have nothing to fear; we have offered our sacrifices, and therefore Jehovah will "deliver" us.
to do all these abominations--namely, those enumerated ( Jeremiah 7:9 ). These words are not to be connected with "we are delivered," but thus: "Is it with this design that ye come and stand before Me in this house," in order that having offered your worthless sacrifices ye may be taken into My favor and so do all these abominations ( Jeremiah 7:9 ) with impunity? [MAURER].
11. den of robbers--Do you regard My temple as being what robbers make their den, namely, an asylum wherein ye may obtain impunity for your abominations ( Jeremiah 7:10 )?
seen it--namely, that ye treat My house as if it were a den of thieves. Jehovah implies more than is expressed, "I have seen and will punish it" ( Isaiah 56:7 , Matthew 21:13 ).
12. my place . . . in Shiloh--God caused His tabernacle to be set up in Shiloh in Joshua's days ( Joshua 18:1 , Judges 18:31 ). In Eli's time God gave the ark, which had been at Shiloh, into the hands of the Philistines ( Jeremiah 26:6 , 1 Samuel 4:10 1 Samuel 4:11 , Psalms 78:56-61 ). Shiloh was situated between Beth-el and Shechem in Ephraim.
at the first--implying that Shiloh exceeded the Jewish temple in antiquity. But God's favor is not tied down to localities ( Acts 7:44 ).
my people Israel--Israel was God's people, yet He spared it not when rebellious: neither will He spare Judah, now that it rebels, though heretofore it has been His people.
13. rising . . . early--implying unwearied earnestness in soliciting them ( Jeremiah 7:25 , Jeremiah 11:17 , 2 Chronicles 36:15 ).
14. I gave--and I therefore can revoke the gift for it is still Mine ( Leviticus 25:23 ), now that ye fail in the only object for which it was given, the promotion of My glory.
Shiloh--as I ceased to dwell there, transferring My temple to Jerusalem; so I will cease to dwell at Jerusalem.
15. your brethren--children of Abraham, as much as you.
whole seed of Ephraim--They were superior to you in numbers and power: they were ten tribes: ye but two. "Ephraim," as the leading tribe, stands for the whole ten tribes ( 2 Kings 17:23 , Psalms 78:67 Psalms 78:68 ).
16. When people are given up to judicial hardness of heart, intercessory prayer for them is unavailing ( Jeremiah 11:14 , 14:11 , 15:1 , Exodus 32:10 , 1 John 5:16 ).
17. Jehovah leaves it to Jeremiah himself to decide, is there not good reason that prayers should not be heard in behalf of such rebels?
18. children . . . fathers . . . women--Not merely isolated individuals practised idolatry; young and old, men and women, and whole families, contributed their joint efforts to promote it. Oh, that there were the same zeal for the worship of God as there is for error ( Jeremiah 44:17 , 19:19:13 )!
cakes . . . queen of heaven--Cakes were made of honey, fine flour, &c., in a round flat shape to resemble the disc of the moon, to which they were offered. Others read as Margin, "the frame of heaven," that is, the planets generally; so the Septuagint here; but elsewhere the Septuagint translates, "queen of heaven." The Phoenicians called the moon Ashtoreth or Astarte: the wife of Baal or Moloch, the king of heaven. The male and female pair of deities symbolized the generative powers of nature; hence arose the introduction of prostitution in the worship. The Babylonians worshipped Ashtoreth as Mylitta, that is, generative. Our Monday, or Moon-day, indicates the former prevalence of moon worship
that they may provoke me--implying design: in worshipping strange gods they seemed as if purposely to provoke Jehovah.
19. Is it I that they provoke to anger? Is it not themselves? ( Deuteronomy 32:16 Deuteronomy 32:21 , Job 35:6 Job 35:8 , Proverbs 8:36 ).
20. beast . . . trees . . . ground--Why doth God vent His fury on these? On account of man, for whom these were created, that the sad spectacle may strike terror into him ( Romans 8:20-22 ).
21. Put . . . burnt offerings unto . . . sacrifices . . . eat flesh--Add the former (which the law required to be wholly burnt) to the latter (which were burnt only in part), and "eat flesh" even off the holocausts or burnt offerings. As far as I am concerned, saith Jehovah, you may do with one and the other alike. I will have neither ( Isaiah 1:11 , Hosea 8:13 , Amos 5:21 Amos 5:22 ).
22. Not contradicting the divine obligation of the legal sacrifices. But, "I did not require sacrifices, unless combined with moral obedience" ( Psalms 50:8 , Psalms 51:16 Psalms 51:17 ). The superior claim of the moral above the positive precepts of the law was marked by the ten commandments having been delivered first, and by the two tables of stone being deposited alone in the ark ( Deuteronomy 5:6 ). The negative in Hebrew often supplies the want of the comparative: not excluding the thing denied, but only implying the prior claim of the thing set in opposition to it ( Hosea 6:6 ). "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" ( 1 Samuel 15:22 ). Love to God is the supreme end, external observances only means towards that end. "The mere sacrifice was not so much what I commanded, as the sincere submission to My will gives to the sacrifice all its virtue" [MAGEE, Atonement, Note 57].
23. ( Exodus 15:26 , 19:5 ).
24. hearkened not--They did not give even a partial hearing to Me ( Psalms 81:11 Psalms 81:12 ).
imagination--rather, as Margin, "the stubbornness"
backward, &c.--( Jeremiah 2:27 , 32:33 , Hosea 4:16 ).
25. rising . . . early--( Jeremiah 7:13 ).
26. hardened . . . neck--( Deuteronomy 31:27 , Isaiah 48:4 , Acts 7:51 ).
worse than their fathers--( Jeremiah 16:12 ). In Jeremiah 7:22 He had said, "your fathers"; here He says, "their fathers"; the change to the third person marks growing alienation from them. He no longer addresses themselves, as it would be a waste of words in the case of such hardened rebels.
27. Therefore--rather, "Though thou speak . . . yet they will not hearken" [MAURER], ( Ezekiel 2:7 ), a trial to the prophet's faith; though he knew his warnings would be unheeded, still he was to give them in obedience to God.
28. unto them--that is, in reference to them.
a nation--The word usually applied to the Gentile nations is here applied to the Jews, as being east off and classed by God among the Gentiles.
nor receiveth correction--( Jeremiah 5:3 ).
truth . . . perished--( Jeremiah 9:3 ).
29. Jeremiah addresses Jerusalem under the figure of a woman, who, in grief for her lost children, deprives her head of its chief ornament and goes up to the hills to weep ( Judges 11:37 Judges 11:38 , Isaiah 15:2 ).
hair--flowing locks, like those of a Nazarite.
high places--The scene of her idolatries is to be the scene of her mourning ( Jeremiah 3:21 ).
generation of his wrath--the generation with which He is wroth. So Isaiah 10:6 ; "the people of My wrath."
30. set their abominations in the house--( Jeremiah 32:34 , 2 Kings 21:4 2 Kings 21:7 , 23:4 , Ezekiel 8:5-14 ).
31. high places of Tophet--the altars [HORSLEY] of Tophet; erected to Moloch, on the heights along the south of the valley facing Zion.
burn . . . sons--( Psalms 106:38 ).
commanded . . . not--put for, "I forbade expressly" ( Deuteronomy 17:3 , 12:31 ).
32. valley of slaughter--so named because of the great slaughter of the Jews about to take place at Jerusalem: a just retribution of their sin in slaying their children to Moloch in Tophet.
no place--no room, namely, to bury in, so many shall be those slain by the Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 19:11 , Ezekiel 6:5 ).
33. fray--scare or frighten ( Deuteronomy 28:26 ). Typical of the last great battle between the Lord's host and the apostasy ( Revelation 19:17 Revelation 19:18 Revelation 19:21 ).
34. Referring to the joyous songs and music with which the bride and bridegroom were escorted in the procession to the home of the latter from that of the former; a custom still prevalent in the East ( Jeremiah 16:9 , Isaiah 24:7 Isaiah 24:8 , Revelation 18:23 ).