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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Jeremiah 12

Verses 1-6

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 12

A PROPHETIC COMPLAINT & GOD’S ANSWER

Vs. 1-6: PERPLEXED BY PROSPERING WICKEDNESS

1. Though Jeremiah recognizes God as both "just" and irrefutable, he also views Him as willing to "reason" with His people, (vs. 1; comp. Jeremiah 11:20; Psalms 129:4; Job 13:3; Job 13:14; Isaiah 1:18).

2. The question of WHY the wicked prosper is an age-old one that never receives a direct answer in the Scriptures, (Jeremiah 5:27-28; comp. Job 21:7; Habakkuk 1:2-4; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:14-15; Psalms 37; Psalms 49; Psalms 73).

a. The Lord has "planted them"; nor is their prosperity accidental, (vs. 2a; Psalms 1:3; Isaiah 40:24; Jeremiah 11:17; Jeremiah 45:4; Ezekiel 17:5­10).

Divine sustenance is, obviously, involved, (vs. 2b; Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35).

c. Though they use God’s name, and insist on His blessing and protection, their hypocritical hearts are far from Him, (vs. 2c; Jeremiah 3:10; comp. Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 5:18; Ezekiel 33:31; Titus 1:16).

3. Compared to the fidelity of Jeremiah, their wickedness is appalling! (vs. 3-4; comp. Psalms 139:1-4; Psalms 7:9; Psalms 11:5).

a. They ought to be punished instead of being permitted to prosper! (vs. 3c; Jeremiah 17:18; Jeremiah 18:21-23).

b. Because of their wickedness the land is in mourning - the grass of the field withering; birds and beast are swept away, (vs. 4a; Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 23:10; comp. Joel 1:10-17; Hosea 4:1-3; Jeremiah 4:25; Habakkuk 3:17-19).

c. And the wicked boast that Jeremiah will not live to see his prediction of judgment upon them fulfilled, (vs. 4b; comp. Ezekiel 7:1-4).

d. The perplexity is almost driving the deeply-sensitive prophet to despair!

4. The Lord replies with a gentle rebuke: Jeremiah has not yet faced anything to COMPARE with the trials that await him! (vs. 5-6).

a. If he has been worn out while running with footmen, how can he possibly compete with horses? (comp. Jeremiah 26:8; Jeremiah 36:26; Jeremiah 38:4-6).

b. If in his home territory, and on level ground, he has not learned to lay hold on such divine grace as will enable him to stand; how can he be triumphant in the dense, lion-infested thickets of the Jordan? (vs. 5; comp. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; Joshua 3:15).

c. "Cheer up, Jeremiah! The worse Is yet to come!" By adversity the faith of the righteous is tested, strengthened and made manifest, (Romans 8:37-39; 1 Peter 1:6-9).

d. In a word of caution, the Lord warns Jeremiah against being deceived by his own family; they are pictured as calling together a multitude to pursue him as a fugitive who must be captured and restrained - though they speak words of kindness, bitterness and hatred are in their hearts, (vs. 6; 9:4-5; comp. Genesis 37:4-11).

Verses 7-13

Vs. 7-13: A DIVINE LAMENTATION

1. The historical background for this lamentation may be seen in 2 Kings 24:1-2 (about 598 B.C.).

2. God is here (vs. 7-11) speaking TO Jeremiah.

a. He has forsaken His house (Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 23:39; Isaiah 2:6), and cast off His heritage - delivering the beloved of His soul into the hands of her enemies, (vs. 7; comp. Jeremiah 11:15; La 2:1; Hosea 11:1-8).

b. As Jeremiah’s people have treated him, so has Judah treated her God - roaring with defiance and hostility against Him whom her fathers promised to obey; thus, necessitating His sorrowful rejection and repudiation of His heritage, (vs. 8; Isaiah 59:13; Hosea 9:15).

c. Thus, Judah will be as a "speckled bird" whose unique plumage provokes the enmity of other predators (surrounding nations) who will show her no pity, (vs. 9; 2 Kings 24:2; Ezekiel 23:22-25; Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 15:3; Jeremiah 34:20).

d. Verses 10-12 describe the devastation and desolation of the Lord’s vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalms 10:8-16) as many shepherds (her own leaders) and destroyers (foreign rulers) - acting as the "sword of Jehovah" - have so devoured the land that none dwell in peace, (Jeremiah 23:1; Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 23:10; Jeremiah 15:11; Jeremiah 47:6; Isaiah 63:18; La 1:10; Amos 9:6).

e. Judah has sown wheat, but reaped thorns; brought pain upon herself, but to no profit; under the anger of Jehovah she will be brought to shame, (vs. 13; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 25:37-38; Hosea 8:7; Galatians 6:7).

Verses 14-17

Vs. 14-17: JUDAH’S NEIGHBORS ALSO TO BE JUDGED

1. Israel’s neighbors will also be exiled from their homelands; yet, if they repent, their judgment will be of short duration, (vs.14-15).

a. Reference here is specifically to Syria, Moab and Ammon, (49:1; Zephaniah 2:8-10; Jeremiah 50:11-12).

b. With Judah, they will be punished by Babylon - a common enemy.

2. If they will diligently learn the ways of Jehovah, and swear by His name - as they have taught the covenant-people to swear by Baal; then they may share with Israel in the blessings of Jehovah - even that of covenant-fellowship, (vs. 16; Deuteronomy 4:29-31; comp. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 4:2; etc.).

3. If they will not honor Him, the Lord will pluck them up and destroy them, (vs. 17; Psalms 2:8-12; Isaiah 60:12; Zechariah 14:17-19).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-12.html. 1985.