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A TRUE PATRIOT
‘Oh … that I might weep day and night.’
How was this one man able to do so much for Israel, to give it no less than six hundred years of life? Because of his character.
We, too, have great tasks to perform. Salt kills corruption and so saves life. Christ says to us, ‘Ye are the salt of the earth.’ Are we giving life to the nation we belong to?
If we wish to know how to do it, let us note what it was that empowered Jeremiah for his bitter, glorious task. Three characteristics are worthy of note.
I. His unbending steadfastness.—His two strongest passions were love of country and love of God. But he made the love of God supreme, and had to suffer abuse, imprisonment, all but death, at the hands of the countrymen he so dearly loved ( Jeremiah 20:7-11). He was, as God had called him to be—an iron pillar. This is what we need in our churches. To save our nation from the love of pleasure we need such ‘iron pillars.’
II. His tender sympathy.—The four chapters, 31–33, are known as the ‘Book of Consolation.’ Where can you find more touching messages than these? ‘Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? My bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.… Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears.… I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Upon this I awaked and beheld, and my sleep was sweet unto me’ ( Jeremiah 31:20; Jeremiah 31:16; Jeremiah 31:25-26). He was a man of a great soul, able and willing to weep with the oppressed and suffering and guilty. He was an ‘iron pillar’ in steadfastness to his God, but he was as a gentle mother to the erring children.
III. His spirituality.—The people had broken the old covenant. It had been written on tables of stone. Jeremiah’s great hope was in looking forward to a New Covenant that was to be purely spiritual. ‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. In their heart will I write it.… They shall all know Me.… I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more for ever’ ( Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Here, then, is to be our strength—in unbending steadfastness to God, in tender love for the people, and in having the law and the love of God written on our hearts. Let us see to these three things and we shall become powerful for the pulling down of strongholds.
(1) ‘With the beautiful Temple fell all the hopes and confidence of the Jews. They were carried off into captivity, and it seemed as if the last stay of God’s true worship was gone. (597 and 586 b.c.) But one man was left to build up the ruins. It was Jeremiah. He preserved his faith in the one true God; rallied Israel around that belief as the centre of their national life; and gave them the hope of again enjoying God’s favour. Thus they were kept steadfast in exile, and came back, some sixty or seventy years after (537 b.c.), to their own land with a purified faith. The nation had been at the point of extinction. It was brought back to its fatherland and lived six hundred years. But it sinned once again, and this time against God’s own Son, and was finally shattered in the year 70 a.d.’
(2) ‘Tears, give me tears, as I see the vast population of Great Britain, growing up without the religion that made our land great. When the working classes in growing numbers absent themselves from places of worship; when the youths and maidens turn their backs upon the religion of their fathers; when the little children count their Sunday-schools irksome—what reason there is to weep! When Jesus beheld the city He wept over it.’
(3) ‘Once the voice of joy and thanksgiving had been heard in Jerusalem, but now on every side there was bloodshed, and the patriot prophet could only weep incessantly over the slain. A lodge in the wilderness seemed preferable to the most luxurious mansion in the city, better than to continue to associate with the ungodly perpetrators of such crimes. Yet we must not go out of the fray as long as our Captain wants us to remain in it, in dependence upon Him.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27