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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 15

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-9

Jer 15:1-9

Jeremiah 15:1-4

JEREMIAH’S SECOND PERSONAL LAMENT

Of course, the first nine verses of this chapter, especially the first four, continue the thought of the last chapter. Henderson suggested the following chapter divisions: Judah had sinned beyond the possibility of God’s averting their punishment (Jeremiah 15:1-4); continued prophecy of Judah’s destruction (Jeremiah 15:5-9); beginning of Jeremiah’s lament (Jeremiah 15:10-11); destruction of Judah inevitable (Jeremiah 15:12-14); Jeremiah’s discouragement and denial of his commission (Jeremiah 15:15-18); God’s command to Jeremiah with promises contingent upon his obedience (Jeremiah 15:19-21).

Jeremiah 15:1-4

GOD’S NEGATIVE ANSWER TO JUDAH’S PLEA

Then said Jehovah unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind would not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, when they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith Jehovah: Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for captivity, to captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith Jehovah: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and to destroy. And I will cause them to be tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.

Moses and Samuel...

(Jeremiah 15:1). These were historical heroes of the Jewish people, who, upon serious occasions of Israel’s rebellion against the Lord, had interceded for them, praying for their forgiveness; and there were several examples of this in the Old Testament. (Exodus 32:11-14; Exodus 32:30-34; Numbers 24:13-23; Deuteronomy 9:18-20; Deuteronomy 9:15-29; 1 Samuel 7:5-9; 1 Samuel 12:19-25; and Psalms 99:6-8). However, the sad message here is that even the intercession of such intercessors as Moses and Samuel would be of no avail whatever in the present extremity of Judah’s total apostasy and rebellion.

We find no agreement with Thompson who thought that Jeremiah might have mentioned Moses and Samuel here, "because he saw in those two men a pattern of his own ministry; for he was in that succession of prophets ’like unto Moses’ (Deuteronomy 18:9-22)." However, the Bible has no mention of a succession of "prophets" (plural) like unto Moses, but speaks of "The Prophet Like unto Moses," a reference to Jesus Christ and to no other!

The perversion of this prophecy through Moses mentioned here is a favorite device of critics, but it stands upon no authority whatever.

Let them go forth...

(Jeremiah 15:1). The meaning of this was extensive: Cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. Do not bring them into my presence by your prayers; let them go forth into captivity. The meaning is further elaborated in the next verse.

Feinberg’s rendition of Jeremiah 15:2-4 here is excellent:

"Those destined for death, to death;

those for the sword, to the sword;

those for starvation, to starvation;

those for captivity, to captivity.

I will send four kinds of destroyers against them, saith the Lord, The sword to kill, and the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the field to devour and destroy."

Because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah...

(Jeremiah 15:4). The name of the pious father intensifies the horror at the wickedness of the Song of Solomon.

It might appear from this that the invasion and captivity of Judah were the consequences of Manasseh’s wicked reign; but it was not that reign alone that resulted in such disasters. "It was because the people persevered in that wickedness." They resented and disapproved of Josiah’s reforms; as soon as Jehoiachim came to the throne, they heartily supported that wicked king’s campaign to restore all of the idolatrous trappings of Manasseh’s evil reign; and, when Jeremiah’s magnificent prophecies appeared to be a hindrance to such a resurgence of paganism, they plotted to kill Jeremiah. It was all of that, plus the deliberate preference of the great majority of Israel for the licentious rites of idolatry far over above the righteous government of the Lord that led to their eventual destruction and the deportation of a remnant.

Jeremiah 15:5-9

FURTHER PROPHECIES OF JUDAH’S RUIN

For who will have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who will bemoan thee? or who will turn aside to ask of thy welfare? Thou hast rejected me, saith Jehovah, thou art gone backward: therefore have I stretched out my hand against thee, and destroyed thee; I am weary with repenting. And I have winnowed them with a fan in the gates of the land; I have bereaved [them] of children, I have destroyed my people; they returned not from their ways. Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas; I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a destroyer at noonday: I have caused anguish and terrors to fall upon her suddenly. She that hath borne seven languisheth; she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day; she hath been put to shame and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith Jehovah.

The consistent use of the past tense in this paragraph should not be misunderstood. "The first few verbs here (Jeremiah 15:5) and the last verb (Jeremiah 15:9) are in the imperfect tense; and most of the rest are perfects. They portray that which has not yet happened as though it had already transpired, so certain is the prophet that it is going to come about."

Thou art gone backward...

(Jeremiah 15:6). The whole nation had reverted to the gross paganism of the reign of Manasseh.

I am weary of repenting...

(Jeremiah 15:6). Judah was aware of the great truth that when they repented God would turn and bless them again, as fully expounded by Jeremiah a little later in this prophecy (Jeremiah 18:7-10); but this stresses another fact that Judah had either forgotten or had never even known, that being the fact that there is a point of no return in the persistent wickedness of any man or of any nation. It was evident in the classical account of Balaam, who set out on a rebellious course, contrary to God’s instructions; and when the going became really rough, he said, I will get me back again (Numbers 22:34); but God commanded him, saying, Go with the men (Numbers 22:35). There always comes the time in the career of rebellion against God that an angel with a drawn sword stands in the way and says, Go on in the way you have chosen; you have made your bed, now lie in it; you have preferred to rebel, now abide by the consequences! Even the forgiveness metered out to the repentant sinner in many cases can never nullify the physical consequences of a sinful life.

They returned not from their ways...

(Jeremiah 15:7). It was no different in the seventh century from what it was in the eighth (Amos 4:6-11); and from this is seen the fact that a full century of God’s forbearance with the rebellious Israelites had made no significant difference whatever.

The gates of the land...

(Jeremiah 15:7). As Keil pointed out here, ’The gates of the land’ is undoubtedly a reference to the land of Judah.

Mother of the young men

(Jeremiah 15:7) This is a metaphor in which Jerusalem, or Judah, is represented as seeing her sons sacrificed to the sword.

Final Rejection of Prophetic Intercession

Jeremiah 15:1-9

It is useless for Jeremiah to continue to intercede for the people of Judah. Not even Moses and Samuel, the two greatest intercessors the nation had ever known, would be able to move God to show any affection or pity to the present sinful generation. God had hearkened to Moses and Samuel and extended His mercy to previous generations but only after Israel had manifested repentance. Jeremiah’s generation was so steeped in sin that repentance seemed impossible and consequently intercessory prayer was useless. Jeremiah was to quit praying and go back to preaching the message of judgment which God had commissioned him to preach. In and through his preaching he is to “cast away” the inhabitants of Judah from the presence of the Lord that they might go out from before Him (Jeremiah 15:1). If the people ask him to explain this cryptic statement “go out” the prophet is to have a ready answer. Every man will go out to the punishment which has been decreed for him. Some will suffer death by pestilence, others will die in battle, others will perish with hunger, still others will be taken into foreign captivity (Jeremiah 15:2). All will suffer; none will escape. Four types, families or modes of punishment have been decreed for many of the inhabitants of Judah. They will be first slain by the sword of Babylon and then their unburied bodies will be ripped, torn and eaten by dogs, birds and beasts of the field (Jeremiah 15:3). The nations of the world would witness the terrible things which happen to Israel and will fear for their own safety. All of this must befall Judah because of the sins of Manasseh, the most wicked king who ever sat on the throne of Judah (Jeremiah 15:4).

From speaking about the people God turns and speaks directly to the people in Jeremiah 15:5. By means of three rhetorical questions He drives home the point that no one in the world will really care when Judah falls. No one will show any sympathy or pity, no one will mourn, no one will even ask about the condition of the city (Jeremiah 15:5). Many times in the past Israel had forsaken God and thereby had incurred the threat of divine wrath. But in the past God had always withheld the threat and had taken His people back. Now it is too late. He cannot forgive them any more. Using anthropomorphic language, He is weary with this business of making threats and then withholding the stroke at the last possible instance (Jeremiah 15:6). Judgment will be executed. As the winnowing process separates the chaff from the grain, so God will cause the parents of Judah to be separated from their children. The children who served as soldiers would be slain as they attempted to defend the gates of their cities from the invading enemy. This terrible judgment is necessary because the inhabitants of Judah have not turned from their sinful ways (Jeremiah 15:7). Wives will be deprived of their husbands and hence the land will be left defenseless. Against the mother of the young men, i.e., Jerusalem, God will bring a destroyer at the most unexpected time—at high noon when normally military operations temporarily ceased. Distress and terror will fall upon the mother when she realizes the danger which she faces (Jeremiah 15:8). The woman with numerous children, usually the most proud and joyous inhabitant of the city, will be filled with consternation. “She that has borne seven” is a proverbial expression meaning one who bears numerous children. See 1 Samuel 2:5 and Ruth 4:15.With the loss of her children her sun has gone down while it is yet day. In the prime of life all has become dark and dreary for her. All of her hopes, dreams, aspirations are dashed to pieces when the enemy slays her sons. The shame of childlessness comes upon her in full force when the remnant of the nation is given over to the sword of the enemy (Jeremiah 15:9). The shame of childlessness is repeatedly mentioned in the Old Testament. See Jeremiah 50:12; Isaiah 54:4; Genesis 16:4; Genesis 30:1; Genesis 30:23.

Verses 10-11

Jer 15:10-11

Jeremiah 15:10-11

BEGINNING OF JEREMIAH’S SECOND LAMENT

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have not lent, neither have men lent to me; [yet] every one of them doth curse me. Jehovah said, Verily I will strengthen thee for good; verily I will cause the enemy to make supplication unto thee in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.

These verses and through the end of the chapter constitute "the second personal lament of Jeremiah," according to Ash; and this one appears to be the most serious because it actually constituted a denial of Jeremiah’s commission, as we shall see a moment later.

I have not lent, neither have men lent to me...

(Jeremiah 15:10). What a glimpse of human nature is this! Yes indeed, one of the surest ways to make bitter enemies is either to borrow money from them or to lend it to them! Jeremiah refers to his having refrained from doing either as a grounds of his being unable to understand why everybody hated him!

Cheyne believed that this lament "belongs to a later period of the history of Judah" but there is nothing certain about such a speculation. Hyatt stated that, "We do not know the occasion of this lament."

Woe is me, my mother that thou hast borne me

(Jeremiah 15:10). Many commentators equate this with cursing the day of his birth. To curse the day of his birth was tantamount to a rejection of his very mission. F13 This seems to be going a little too far with such implications, because certainly there is a vast difference in what is said here from the account of what was said when Job cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1-6). Still, Jeremiah’s error, whatever it was, required his repentance (Jeremiah 15:19).

I will strengthen thee for good...

(Jeremiah 15:11). As Dummelow pointed out, Jeremiah’s enemies, of whom was Zedekiah, would not only spare his life, but invoke his aid. An example of this is given in Jeremiah 21:1-7.

I will cause the enemy to make supplication unto thee...

(Jeremiah 15:11). This was literally fulfilled in Jeremiah 39:11. Nebuchadnezzar gave strict orders to his commander-in-chief to look well to Jeremiah, to do him no harm, and to grant him all the privileges he was pleased to ask.

Jeremiah 15:12-14

THE DESTRUCTION OF JUDAH INEVITABLE

Can one break iron, even iron from the north, and brass? Thy substance and thy treasures will I give for a spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make [them] to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not; for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

The last two verses here simply state that all of the treasures and riches of Judah shall God cause to be taken away from them because of their sins. Those treasures shall not be paid for, but shall leave "without price," and be carried away by Judah’s enemies into a country they do not know.

Can one break iron...

(Jeremiah 15:12)? There are several different views about what this means. Dummelow believed that it meant, Judah is not tough enough to withstand the Chaldean power. The prophet is protesting that he is not strong enough to stand against the hardness and stubbornness of the people. Jeremiah’s prayers are not strong enough to break the iron will of the divine purpose to destroy Judah. Jellie also saw Jeremiah 15:12 as teaching that, There is a limit to prayer, quoting also this passage from John Milton’s Paradise Lost:

"Prayer against God’s absolute decree

No more avails than breath against the wind,

Blows stifling back on him that breatheth forth;

Therefore to His great bidding I submit."

The critical allegation that these verses do not fit is rejected. They clearly predict the exile, which prophecy surely emphasizes the negative answer God had already given in the first paragraph of the chapter to Judah’s appeal for mercy; and if the application of Jeremiah 15:12 is to the inability of Jeremiah’s prayers to break God’s determination to destroy Judah, then this passage is indeed in context. There are no legitimate grounds here for moving these verses or for calling them a gloss. Such allegations are almost certainly incorrect.

Robinson called Jeremiah 15:13-14 "Irrelevant"; Cheyne called them "a digression"; but a much more discerning scholar declared that, "They can hardly be regarded as simply an intrusion into the text; but they may be seen as a significant part of the total picture."

Jeremiah suffered a great deal of mental anguish during his ministry. The rejection of his prophetic intercession on three successive occasions plunges Jeremiah to the depths of despair. This is the second personal crisis in the life and ministry of this great man of God. In response to the complaint of the prophet (Jeremiah 15:10) God offers consolation (Jeremiah 15:15-18). But Jeremiah is not satisfied. He feels that God has deceived him and he does not hesitate to tell God so (Jeremiah 15:15-18). To these wild accusations the Lord does not even bother to respond except to tell his disgruntled prophet that if he will repent he may be reinstated in the ministry (Jeremiah 15:19-21).

Prophetic Lamentation and Divine Consolation

Jeremiah 15:10-14

The divine refusal to hearken to the intercession of the prophet has caused Jeremiah to sink into the slough of despondency. He begins to reflect upon his ministry and to think of the trouble that had come to him as he attempted to carry the message of God to his people. His preaching had produced no repentance. He had only succeeded in arousing the animosity of those to whom he preached. This tender and timid soul from Anathoth had become the center of controversy. He wishes he had never been born. To bring a thundering message of accusation and condemnation was contrary to the personality of this man. People viciously curse him just as they might curse a hard hearted creditor. Dealings between money-lenders and debtors in antiquity were anything but cordial. This is the kind of relationship which now exists between Jeremiah and his countrymen (Jeremiah 15:10).

The introductory formula “the Lord said” occurs only in Jeremiah 15:11 and in Jeremiah 46:25. “Surely” is a free rendering of what in Hebrew is part of an oath formula. God in effect is taking an oath to perform His promises to the prophet. The translation of the first verb describing what God will do for Jeremiah is difficult. The American Standard Version in the text renders it “strengthen” and in the margin offers the alternative “release.” The King James Version gives an altogether different translation, “it shall be well with thy remnant.” Probably the best rendering is “set free” or “release.” God promises to release Jeremiah from the hostility and animosity which he has been experiencing in this phase of his ministry. Those who are currently so bitter against him will humbly come to him to seek his aid and advice when the calamity befalls Jerusalem. They may question his prophetic credentials now but before long they will be forced by the fulfillment of his prophecies to recognize Jeremiah as a true prophet of God. King Zedekiah on numerous occasions during the siege of Jerusalem consulted with Jeremiah, sometimes personally (e.g., Jeremiah 21:1-2) and sometimes through intermediaries (e.g., Jeremiah 37:3). After the assassination of the governor Gedaliah the remnant came to Jeremiah to seek an oracle from the Lord (Jeremiah 42:1-3).

Jeremiah 15:12 is enigmatic. It is not clear whether God is still speaking to the prophet or whether these words are addressed to the people. Iron from the north, the region of the Black Sea, was of the strongest sort. Bronze, a mixture of copper and tin, was one of the strongest metals known to the ancients. Common iron cannot break iron from the north or bronze for that matter. But who is this unbreakable metal? Is it Jeremiah himself? God has told him at his call that he would be an iron pillar and a bronze wall (Jeremiah 1:18). Is God here reminding Jeremiah of that promise? Possibly so. But it is more likely that Jeremiah 15:12 is a transition to the two verses which follow. God would then be assuring Jeremiah that his prophecy of an invincible foe from the north would indeed be fulfilled, and the fulfillment of that prophecy would serve to vindicate Jeremiah as a spokesman for God.

The description of the invincible foe from the north continues in Jeremiah 15:13-14. The enemy will roam throughout the land plundering and looting because of all of the sins which the inhabitants of the land had committed. The phrase “without price” (Jeremiah 15:13) has been understood in more than one way. Perhaps it means that the enemy will not need to be paid for attacking Judah. On the other hand the phrase may be taken to mean that God will give Judah to the enemy without receiving any compensation in return. The former interpretation is preferable. The inhabitants of Judah will be forced to serve their enemies in a foreign land. Borrowing an expression from Deuteronomy 32:22 God declares “a fire is kindled in My anger” (literally, in My nostril). The judgment described in the Song of Moses centuries earlier is now about to fall on Judah.

What consolation is it to the despondent Jeremiah to know that his land and his people will be destroyed? None unless it would be the thought that if he continues to preach this message of doom he certainly will not be discredited. His message was controversial to be sure. But it was a true message and it had to be preached. The warning had to be sounded. Jeremiah needed this reassurance at this juncture in his ministry.

Verses 15-18

Jer 15:15-18

Jeremiah 15:15-18

JEREMIAH RENOUNCES HIS COMMISSION

O Jehovah, thou knowest; remember me, and visit me, and avenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered reproach. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy words were unto me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O Jehovah, God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of them that make merry, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand; for thou hast filled me with indignation. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou indeed be unto me as a deceitful [brook], as waters that fail?

Jeremiah here fell into a distressing pit of self-pity. He had succumbed to the "me" virus, for he used the personal pronoun of himself no less than sixteen times in these four verses. It appears that the great prophet was almost totally discouraged about the seeming failure of his mission.

Green pointed out that Jeremiah’s appeal to God has the following: (1) he appeals to God to remember him; he feels forsaken, and checkmated by his enemies; (2) he reminds God of his love and respect for the divine word; (3) he protests his loneliness and his being left out of the assemblies of the people; (4) and he even echoed the sentiments of Christ on Calvary, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"; and (5) finally, in Jeremiah 15:18 he seemed to hit the very depths of despair, "The figure of the deceitful brook is devastating." It appears that Jeremiah was even tempted to believe that God had become to him a lying water hole, that promised refreshment but failed to give it.

The so-called "weeping prophet" came near to deserving the title here. Halley noted that there is a grotto called Jeremiah’s Grotto which is located at the foot of the very hill where the Cross of Jesus would be raised some 600 years later. "Jeremiah is said to have retired there to weep."

"Jeremiah had expected that, called to a high office, there would be a perpetual interference upon his behalf; but instead everything seemed to be taking its natural course."

Jeremiah 15:18, here "is certainly a cry of distrust and despair by Jeremiah." God’s dramatic answer came in the next verses.

The Prayer of Jeremiah 15:15-18

In Jeremiah 15:15 the second of the so-called “confession” of Jeremiah begins. The prophet begins by affirming the omniscience of God, “you know, O Lord.” The fact that God knows what the prophet has been going through comforts Jeremiah. His petition contains three positive requests and one negative one: (1) He wants God to remember him. (2) He needs to see some visible sign of God’s continued care; He wants God to visit him. (3) He asks God to avenge his persecutors. God executes vengeance on behalf of His people. This is why God’s people are forbidden to act in a vengeful way toward others. He is asking that these persecutors receive their just deserts. (4) Jeremiah asks that he not be taken away, i.e., that he not be allowed to die an early, premature death. If God continues to exercise long-suffering with regard to the wicked enemies of Jeremiah, the prophet fears that he will be killed.

From petition Jeremiah moves in his prayer to narrative. Even though God knows all, still Jeremiah rehearses before his God the particular difficulties which he has recently been experiencing. First he asks God to take note of the reproach which he bears daily for His sake (Jeremiah 15:15). When the Lord initially put His word in the mouth of the prophet (Jeremiah 1:7) Jeremiah “ate” them. To eat words means to make them one’s own, to digest them, to absorb them, to make them the constant food of one’s spiritual life (cf. Ezekiel 3:1 ff.; 1 Timothy 4:14-16). Jeremiah’s whole life revolved around the word of God. It was to him a source of great joy to learn that he had been called of God to be His prophet, His messenger (Jeremiah 15:16). But as time went on Jeremiah found out that being God’s man had distinct disadvantages. His preaching made him unpopular. This man was filled with God’s indignation against sin. His messages centered in the wrath and judgment of God. For this reason he was excluded or perhaps excluded himself from the joyous festivals. He lived a lonely, solitary life because the touch of God’s hand had set him apart. The Old Testament contains numerous references to a prophet being touched by the hand of God. See 2 Kings 3:15; Isaiah 8:11; Ezekiel 3:14. “The hand of the Lord came upon” is an idiomatic expression meaning that the irresistible power of God came upon the life of a man. Because he possessed the prophetic spirit Jeremiah was different. He suffered alone (Jeremiah 15:17).

Jeremiah 15:18 contains interrogation and accusation. Jeremiah asks the question that many other discouraged saints through the ages have asked, Why? In earlier passages (e.g. Jeremiah 12:1 ff.; Jeremiah 14:8-9; Jeremiah 14:19) Jeremiah was asking how God could finally forsake Israel. But now Jeremiah feels that God has forsaken his servant; and so the question “why” is renewed but this time with a personal application. Thus far his ministry had not been blessed with success. He had faithfully sown the word of God but had reaped only hatred and opposition. His mental anguish is perpetual, like a wound which will not heal. He would love to preach salvation but instead he must preach damnation. In this moment of anguish and despair he cries out against God: “you have surely become to me as a deceptive stream, a brook that runs dry in summer.” He had publicly preached that God was a fountain of living water (Jeremiah 2:13); now privately he accuses God of being a dried up stream! He is accusing God of being unreliable, untrustworthy, unfaithful. To soften the thrust of the last part of Jeremiah 15:18, some make this sentence a question. While this is a possible translation there is no real indication that a question is intended. Jeremiah has simply reached the breaking point. In this moment of weakness Satan has placed this blasphemous thought in the mind of Jeremiah.

Verses 19-21

Jer 15:19-21

Jeremiah 15:19-21

GOD’S ANSWER TO JEREMIAH

Therefore thus saith Jehovah, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, that thou mayest stand before me; and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: they shall return unto thee, but thou shalt not return unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fortified brazen wall; and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith Jehovah. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

God made it clear in these verses that he did not approve of Jeremiah’s conduct. If Jeremiah would win a place back in God’s favor, he was commanded to do the following: (1) he must repent of his distrust and selfishness; (2) he must rid his message of all that is unworthy.

If Jeremiah will do these two things, four results will follow. (1) He will again be God’s true messenger to the people; (2) He will not conform to the wishes of the people, but will cause the crowd to turn to him ultimately for the Word of God; (3) he will become what God promised him in his original call, "a fortified wall of bronze"; and (4) God will defend and deliver him from evil men.

Of course, Jeremiah only bared his innermost thoughts before the Lord; and there’s nothing wrong with that; "But, even so, one who has such thoughts as Jeremiah had must undergo a radical change if he would continue to be God’s mouthpiece."

If thou wilt return...

(Jeremiah 15:19). These words are invariably understood as God’s commandment for Jeremiah to repent. The great prophet had permitted himself to drift into a critical attitude toward God; and it had begun to be reflected in some of the things that entered into his messages to the people. Therefore, God commanded him to separate the precious from the vile. This instruction is invaluable for anyone who preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At any time, when human philosophy, or humanistic thoughts are permitted to share the emphasis along with the gospel of Christ, the precious has been mixed with the vile.

The Reply of the Lord Jeremiah 15:19-21

God does not bother to directly answer the blasphemous accusation of his prophet. Rather His reply consists of an invitation to re-enter the ministry, an exhortation to remain stedfast and a repetition of a wonderful promise. Jeremiah has gone too far. As far as God is concerned Jeremiah’s accusation is tantamount to his resignation from the prophetic ministry. But God does not chide or rebuke His prophet, not directly at least. He simply suggests that Jeremiah needed to do two things: (1) return, i.e., go back to the original point of departure; and (2) separate the precious from the vile and worthless within his own heart. The refuse of doubt and mistrust had somehow gotten mingled with the precious gold of faith, love and trust within the heart of Jeremiah. Inward purification is now essential. If Jeremiah complies with these conditions God will take him back. It is interesting that God does not even ask whether or not Jeremiah wants to re-enter the ministry. That he does so is taken for granted.

The reinstatement in the prophetic ministry is described in three expressions in Jeremiah 15:19. (1) “I will cause you to return.” The reinstatement is not automatic. Only God can make a prophet. If Jeremiah returns to God, then the Lord can return him to a right relationship to Himself so that he might continue to be God’s minister. (2) “Before Me you shall continue to stand.” The figure here is of a servant standing in the presence of his master waiting for commands. Counselors and courtiers are said to stand before a king (1 Kings 12:6; Proverbs 22:29). Angels are said to stand before God (Luke 1:19). Elijah and Elisha used this expression to describe their relationship to God (1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 3:14). To be permitted to minister before the Great King would be the highest privilege accorded a man. (3) “you shall be as my mouth.” The prophet is not only the servant of God to carry out His commands, he is also the mouthpiece of God to proclaim His word. Jeremiah can occupy this high and holy office once again if he will only repent.

The invitation to repent is followed by the exhortation to remain stedfast. The last sentence of Jeremiah 15:19 is not a simple future as in the American Standard Version but a jussive as in the King James: “Let them return unto you, but do not let yourself return unto them.” He must not allow the skeptical inhabitants of Judah to drag him down to their level, but, on the contrary, he should by his continued preaching raise them up to a higher plane. In effect God is saying do not join them, let them join you! Jeremiah is weakening, he is giving in. His enemies are getting to him. He must remain stedfast. This exhortation implies that Jeremiah will in fact repent and be reinstated in his prophetic office.

Jeremiah had accused God of forsaking him. But that simply was not true. God had warned him at the time of his call that people would fight against him. But God had promised to make Jeremiah like a fortified brazen wall against which the assault of the persecutors would ultimately fail. God assured him at the time of the call that He would always be near him to deliver him from death at the hands of the enemy. God has not forgotten that promise and neither should Jeremiah. So God simply quotes the promise as originally given in Jeremiah 1:18 f. only He adds at the end the precious and powerful formula “oracle of the Lord” (Jeremiah 15:20). And then, as if it were not enough to cite the original promise, God rephrases that promise in more specific terms. The wicked and ruthless men who would attempt to suppress the message of God will not prevail over Jeremiah. God will deliver and redeem, i.e., save him from their power (Jeremiah 15:21). Though times may get difficult and no way of escape seems apparent God will bring His prophet through. God is no deceptive stream!

Drought, Famine, Sword - Jeremiah 14:1 to Jeremiah 15:21

Open It

1. What is the biggest lie you have ever believed for a period of time?

2. When have you pleaded for mercy on behalf of someone else?

Explore It

3. What desperate situation did Jeremiah foresee for Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 14:1-6)

4. On what basis did Jeremiah plead for God’s intervention? (Jeremiah 14:7-9)

5. Why did God say He would not be dissuaded from punishing Israel? (Jeremiah 14:10-12)

6. How did God reply when Jeremiah told Him that the prophets were giving the people the impression that they were safe? (Jeremiah 14:13-16)

7. With what dismaying word did God send Jeremiah to the people of Israel? (Jeremiah 14:17-18)

8. What great men of faith did God maintain could not convince Him to rescue Israel from judgment? (Jeremiah 15:1-3)

9. What king of Judah was particularly responsible for leading the people so far astray? (Jeremiah 15:4)

10. What attitude had set God firmly against the people of Israel? (Jeremiah 15:5-9)

11. How was Jeremiah treated because of the message he brought from God? (Jeremiah 15:10)

12. What promise did God make to His servant Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 15:11)

13. How did God describe the ruthlessness of the enemy He sent against Israel? (Jeremiah 15:12-14)

14. How did Jeremiah plead his own case with God? (Jeremiah 15:15-18)

15. Of what did Jeremiah need to repent in order to continue as God’s spokesman? (Jeremiah 15:19-21)

16. How did God predict that Jeremiah would continue to be received by the people? (Jeremiah 15:20-21)

17. What promise did God make to Jeremiah even as He asked him to take an unpopular course? (Jeremiah 15:20-21)

Get It

18. How did God handle the dilemma of His people in need of punishment and His own name in need of vindication?

19. Why was God so unresponsive to Jeremiah’s pleading on behalf of the people?

20. Why do false prophets often receive more honor from their audience than faithful prophets?

21. Why did God not accept Jeremiah’s repentant attitude on behalf of the people?

22. How is it fair or unfair that even God’s faithful servants will experience suffering?

23. When can, or cannot, an appeal to the honor of God’s name persuade Him to act?

24. When can the worthiness of God’s people cease to be a legitimate defense against God’s discipline?

Apply It

25. How can you prepare yourself to discern the lying words of people who falsely claim to represent the truth?

26. What steps could you take to prepare yourself to deliver or defend God’s Word, regardless of how it is received?

Questions On Jeremiah Chapter Fifteen

By Brent Kercheville

1 What is God’s powerful message in Jeremiah 15:1-2? What do we learn about God from this?

2 Why will the nation be destroyed (Jeremiah 15:3-4)? Why is this the basis of their destruction?

3 What is the sad message of Jeremiah 15:5-9?

4 Explain Jeremiah’s questioning and complaint (Jeremiah 15:10-18). What do we learn from this?

5 What is God’s response (Jeremiah 15:19-21)? What do we learn?

TRANSFORMATION:

How does this relationship change your relationship with God?

What did you learn about him? What will

you do differently in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 15". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-15.html.
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