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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 17

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 17

WARNINGS AND EXHORTATIONS

Vs. 1-4: JUDAH’S SIN IS DEEPLY ENGRAVED

1. This message was delivered near the close of the reign of Jehoiachim.

2. So indelibly and permanently fixed is the sin of Judah (Jeremiah 2:22) that Jeremiah pictures it as engraved (comp. Job 19:23-24) on the hearts of the people (contrast Isaiah 49:16; Proverbs 7:1-3; 2 Corinthians 3:3), and upon the horns of her altars (vs. 1; comp. Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 4:7), where the blood of the sin-offering was to be smeared for the removal of sin.

3. Her children, forgetting the true God, were devoting themselves to Asherah (the cult-goddess of the Canaanites) whose objects of devotion (sexually-suggesting shame-images, Judges 6:25 -­26) were scattered throughout the land, (vs. 2; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 7:18; Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 16:21).

4. Because of her sin, the kingdom (mountain) of Judah, with all its possessions, will be given (for a spoil) into the hands of her enemy, (vs. 3; Jeremiah 26:18; Micah 3:12; Isaiah 39:4-6; Jeremiah 15:13; Jeremiah 20:5; 2 Kings 24:13), since she has kindled a fire of divine anger that will burn "to the age"

the coming day of the Lord, (Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 15:14; comp. Isaiah 5:25).

5. Judah will be cast out of her divinely-given heritage and delivered into the hands of an enemy (Babylon) whom she does not really know, (vs. 4; Jeremiah 12:7; Jeremiah 27:12-13; Deuteronomy 28:48).

Verses 5-8

Vs. 5-8: A SONG OF CONTRASTS

1. A divine curse rests upon everyone whose heart departs from the Lord to trust in man - leaning upon the arm of the flesh, (vs. 5; Psalms 146:3; Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 31:1-2; Ezekiel 29:6-7; 2 Chronicles 32:7-8).

a. Some take this as a reference to Jehoiakim (or, perhaps to king Zedekiah) who forsook God to trust in an alliance with Egypt; but, the principle applies to ALL men.

b. Humanism is not only destined to failure; it stands cursed, and will ultimately be crushed under the power and judgment of the ALMIGHTY!

c. Such as devote themselves to this philosophy of life will be like a stunted bush in the desert - ever struggling for survival and the real meaning of life, (vs. 6; comp. Deuteronomy 29:22-28).

2. By way of contrast, the person who trusts in the Lord will truly be blessed, (vs. 7-8; Isaiah 30:18; Psalms 34:8; Psalms 40:4; Psalms 84:12).

a. His life will be fruitful - spiritually prosperous, like a tree planted beside the waters of refreshment, (comp. Psalms 1:3; Psalms 92:12-14).

b. Stable and confident, he will be free from anxiety and fear.

c. And he will find God’s grace sufficient to sustain him through the trials and pressures of life.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply:

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine,

’The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I will not desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake!"

3. All reasonable men will place their trust in the Creator, rather than in things created, (Psalms 146:3-5).

Verses 9-11

Vs. 9-11: THE CORRUPTION OF THE HUMAN HEART,

1. So deceitful is the human heart that no man can fully understand it, (vs. 9; Mark 7:21-22; Galatians 5:19-21; comp. Matthew 13:15-17); it is diseased beyond human help! and may be cleansed ONLY through the blood of Christ!

2. But God so fully explores the mind (reins, or "kidneys," in the Heb, involving the conscience, emotions and feelings); and discerns the heart (the seat of reason and intelligence), that He is able to judge every man according to the fruit of his thoughts and deeds, (vs. 10, Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 20:12; 1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 8:27; comp. Hebrews 4:12-13); to those who fully commit their way to Him, He gives a NEW heart!

3. The man who collects riches, through injustice, is likened to a partridge "that broods, but does not hatch" (see New K.J.V., vs. 11; Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 8:10; Jeremiah 22:13; Jeremiah 22:17)

a. bird often hatched no young - her nest being robbed; thus, the bird sometimes gathered young birds that she did not hatch - only to have them leave her and return to their own nests.

b. So will the riches of the unjust forsake them in the midst of their days - proving inadequate for their needs - even if they do not take to themselves wings and fly away!

c. Such men will be revealed as fools - spiritually and morally bankrupt! (comp. Luke 12:16-21; Luke 16:19-31).

Verses 12-13

Vs. 12-13: JEHOVAH, THE HOPE OF ISRAEL

1. True SANCTUARY, involving safety and rest, is found ONLY in a right relationship with the throne of God - Who rules over all!

a. Since the completion of the tabernacle, God has dwelt (between the cherubim that guarded the mercy seat) in the midst of His believing people- as they respond to Him in covenant-love and fidelity, (vs. 12; Jeremiah 3:17; Ezekiel 43:7).

b. Through the disobedience of her unbelief, Judah has forfeited that relationship, and has no sanctuary (comp. Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 14:21).

2. Jehovah alone is the hope of Israel, (vs. 13; Jeremiah 14:8; Joel 3:16); those who forsake Him will be put to shame, (Psalms 36:9; Psalms 73:27; comp. Jeremiah 2:17).

a. Turning from Him, man’s enjoyment of His covenant blessings and mercy will be like a name written in the dust - fading and impermanent.

b. Those who forsake the Fountain of Living Waters cannot continue to enjoy the blessings of its never-failing refreshment (comp. Jeremiah 2:13).

Verses 14-18

Vs. 14-18: A PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE AND VINDICATION

1. In a very discouraging situation, Jeremiah calls, for healing and deliverance, to Jehovah Who is the object of his praise, (vs. 14; comp. Psalms 54:1; Psalms 109:1; Deuteronomy 10:20-21).

2. The threatened judgment upon Judah’s sins has been so long suspended that Jeremiah’s enemies, in arrogant smugness, are beginning to taunt him with ridicule and scorn -charging him with being a false prophet, (Deuteronomy 18:21-22); "Where is the word of the Lord?" (the fulfillment of what has been threatened), they ask; "Let it come NOW" (vs. 15; comp. 2 Peter 3:4; Amos 5:18).

3. The prophet looks to the Lord for grace to endure; he is not seeking release from shepherding God’s people - though he clearly does not understand God’s ways, (vs. 16; comp. Jeremiah 20:8-9).

a. He has not, personally, yearned for the Day of the Lord -the day of divine reckoning with His people - though he has forcefully proclaimed God’s word.

b. What he has spoken has been at God’s command, and in His presence, (Jeremiah 12:3).

4. Thus, He looks to Jehovah for refuge and hope, rather than terror, (vs. 17; Jeremiah 16:19; Nahum 1:6-8).

5. And he asks for deliverance from shame and dismay, (comp. Jeremiah 1:17; Jeremiah 20:11; Psalms 35:4; Psalms 35:26); but, he now sees that God will be righteous in bringing upon His rebellious people a "day of evil," wherein they will reap the harvest of their sins, and prays that the destruction may be complete! (vs. 18; Psalms 35:8; comp. Jeremiah 19:3-4). 6. He who cannot resist condemning Jeremiah’s call for judgment, upon this erring people, reveals the shallowness of his spiritual experience!

Verses 19-27

Vs. 19-27: REMEMBER THE SABBATHI

NOTE: The sabbath had its origin in the completion of creation, when God "ceased from His Labors" and rested on the seventh day. And this is exactly the thing to which He calls us - to cease from all our laborious scheming, striving and trying, in the energy of the flesh, to rest solely in His finished work on our behalf, and in His divine adequacy for our every need. To cease from our own attempts to do something FOR God casting all our care upon Him Who cares for us, and wholly entrusting the sustenance and direction of our lives unto His trustworthy hands; THIS is to "enter into" GOD’S REST; this is true sabbath-keeping!

The sabbath illustrates how God intends us to live - not by trusting in ourselves, or in other men; but in the acceptance of a NEW WAY OF LIFE wherein God Himself is permitted (with our consent) to live and work within us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure,." (Philippians 1:12-13). Thus is our whole being made available for His mastery, His service, His glory and praise! Such a life is at rest and peace -sustained by hidden manna and a never-failing spring of divine refreshment.

1. An inescapable part of the Mosaic covenant, the sabbath has filled a major role in the life of the Jewish people, (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

2. Jeremiah is commanded to stand "at the gates" of Jerusalem, calling all Judah - from king to the most lowly servant (comp. Jeremiah 19:3-4; Hosea 5:1) - to their covenant-responsibilities regarding the sabbath, (vs. 19-23).

a. They are to bear no burdens, and do no work, on the sabbath, (Exodus 16:23-29; Exodus 20:8-10; Deuteronomy 5:12-14; Numbers 15:32-36; Nehemiah 13:15-21).

b. Rather, they are to hallow that day - as God commanded their fathers, (Exodus 31:13-17; Isaiah 56:2-6; Isaiah 58:13-14; Ezekiel 20:12).

c. But, their fathers have been stubborn and stiff-necked -stopping their ears, walking in disobedience and refusing to receive instruction, (comp. Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 7:26; Jeremiah 7:28; Jeremiah 19:15; Proverbs 29:1).

3. If they will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord, in this matter, they will be greatly blessed, (vs. 24-26).

a. The house and throne of David will be divinely sustained, (Jeremiah 22:4; Jeremiah 33:15-17; Jeremiah 33:21; 2 Samuel 7:16; Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32).

b. Jerusalem will be established as a city of habitation, (Psalms 68:16; Psalms 87:1-2; Psalms 132:13-14).

c. And the people of Judah will bring their sacrifices, offerings and oblations to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, (Jeremiah 33:17-18; Psalms 107:21-22).

4. But, if Judah continues to despise the sabbath, the Lord will surely kindle within her gates an inextinguishable fire that will devour her palaces, (vs. 27; comp. Amos 1:4; Amos 1:7; Amos 1:10; Amos 1:12; Jeremiah 22:5; Jeremiah 26:4-6; Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 7:20).

5. In this passage one may clearly see the conditional nature of the prophecies of doom.

a. They could be revoked IF there was a manifestation OF TRUE REPENTANCE!

b. There is a sense in which men and nations control their own ultimate destinies by the attitude of their hearts toward Jehovah.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 17". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-17.html. 1985.
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