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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Jeremiah 3

Verse 16

AN OBSOLETE WATCHWORD

‘And it shall come to pass … they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind.’

Jeremiah 3:16

I. There was a time in Israel when the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord was the symbol of the national hopes and deliverances.—If Israel was smitten before her enemies, it was thither that the people turned for help. On one memorable occasion they brought from Shiloh the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubim, and when it came into the camp all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again; and even the Philistines were afraid. But Jeremiah says that this would never be done in the coming time. Why? Partly because the people would rely more on the spiritual presence than the material emblem, and partly because a new covenant would have been inaugurated, superseding the old.

II. In all true lives there is something of this.—We outgrow our old experiences, and get as far beyond them, as they were once beyond anything we had attained. It seems to you that you cannot look for higher heights, more heavenly experiences, or deeper insight than you have had. Beware, lest you limit God. Your highest watermark shall be overleapt when the tide comes in again.

Illustration

‘The doctrine of setting aside of ancient codes by the authority of the Inner Law is implied in many passages of Jeremiah. The superseding of the Mosaic Law is here set forth by a most expressive symbol. “The Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah” shall no longer be the watchword of Israel. The Ark and the Mosaic Torah were inseparably connected; if the Ark was to perish and be forgotten, the Law must also be annulled.’

Verse 17

THE SACRED METROPOLIS

‘They shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it.’

Jeremiah 3:17

Jerusalem is now to be in relation to the nations.

I. All Jerusalem is now to be the throne of the Lord.—The prophet’s glance penetrates to the remotest distance, without distinguishing the progressive stages into which the final period itself is divided. While this prophecy in itself requires limitation, it may be used also in a wider sense, so that the heathen, in so far as Jerusalem is also their centre, may be reckoned together with Israel. All then, Israel and the heathen, will finally lose their stony heart and receive a heart soft and filled with the Spirit ( Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26), and not outwardly only, but with the whole heart will they be subject to the Lord and His kingdom.—If we once more look over this section we are struck above all by the sublimely rapt progress of the prophet’s discourse from the circumstances of the present to the remotest future. The prophet proceeds from the comparison of the Judah of the present with the Israel in a certain sense belonging already to the past. This comparison issues favourably to Israel. Thus a prophecy is called forth which sets in prospect before Israel the highest material and spiritual prosperity.

II. With this two questions are connected.—Since the realisation of this prosperity is connected with the condition of Israel’s conversion, the question arises, Will this conversion take place? and when? The prophetic gaze can in the inconceivably distant ages perceive no element of religious or political restoration in the Israel of the ten tribes, as these are in fact unknown even to the present day. It must then be reserved for the final period to bring back the lost ten tribes to the light—the light of knowledge and of salvation. But here another question also arises, Will not Judah also participate in this light of knowledge and salvation? These two questions then: What will become of Judah? and, How is it as to the conversion required in Ezekiel 36:13? still wait for a solution. We may indeed read this solution from Ezekiel 36:14 between the lines. But the sublime haste of the prophet’s flight hindered him from giving it in express words; he adds it therefore in the following strophe.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Here is a great deal of Gospel in these verses, both that which was always gospel, God’s readiness to pardon sin, and to receive and entertain returning, repenting sinners, and those blessings which were in a special manner reserved for gospel times, the forming and founding of the gospel-church by bringing into it the children of God that were scattered abroad, the superseding of the ceremonial law, and the uniting of Jews and Gentiles, typified by the uniting of Israel and Judah in their return out of captivity.’

(2) ‘Sin may come in between a man and his wife, severing marriage ties; but though our sin be more inveterate and repeated than woman ever perpetrated against man, or man against woman, it cannot cut off that love which is from everlasting. O, blessed love! into the inner circle of which even prodigals may be readmitted.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/jeremiah-3.html. 1876.