Jeremiah 16 - 17 - Outline of Jeremiah (MENU page)
The Sign of the Unmarried Prophet (16:1- 17:18)
Subject: The Imminence of Judgment in this Place (in this land)
  1. Imminent Judgment, illustrated by the life of the prophet:
    1. Not married (16:1-4) - No hope in this place.
      The Lord told Jeremiah not to marry, in order to spare him some of the sorrows which his neighbors would experience, with the loss of children and family members, due to the impending Babylonian captivity. Psa 137:8,9 provides another glimpse at those sorrows.
    2. Not mourning (v.5-7) - No comfort in this land.
      • The Lord told Jeremiah not to attend funerals or comfort the living, to illustrate the unmitigated sorrow that would flood the land.
      • Ezekiel, who had been taken into captivity during the brief reign of Jehoiachin (about 11 years before the fall of Jerusalem), was also a living illustration of the judgment soon to fall upon Judah. He presented "the sign of the unmourning prophet" when his wife died (Eze 24:15-27).
      • "they shall not... cut themselves..."- This heathen practice, of mourning for the dead, was forbidden by the Lord (Lev 19:28; Deu 14:1). It would be forgotten, due to the overwhelming presence of death.
    3. Not feasting (v.8-9)- No gladness in this place.
      The Lord also told Jeremiah not to attend joyful celebrations. For joy would be taken from the land "...in your eyes, and in your days..." The nation's judgment was imminent.
      Elsewhere, the Lord speaks of the absence of joy and "of the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride," in describing other judgments which were or are yet future (cp. Eze 26:13 re: Tyre; Rev 18:23 re: mystery Babylon).
  2. The cause of the judgment (v.10-12)
    • The question of v.10 is framed sarcastically by those who disregard the message of judgment.
    • The cause of the Lord's displeasure was not hidden (Jer 5:19; 13:22).
    • When judgment fell, the surrounding nations would understand why (Jer 22:8,9; Deu 29:24,25).
    • But self-deceived hearts refuse to acknowledge their own wickedness.
  3. The thoroughness of the judgment (v.13,16-17)
  4. The end of the judgment (14-15,18)
    • future restoration to the covenant Land (v.14)
    • a deliverance surpassing the deliverance from Egypt (v.15)
    • after their sin is rewarded double (v.18; cp. 17:18; Isa 40:1,2) -
      The double reward for sin, encompasses all of Israel's trouble, from the the destruction of the first Temple, to the conclusion of the Great Tribulation. See Note at Isa 40:1,2.
    • re: "carcases of detestable things," see Lev 26:30
  5. The purpose in the judgment (v.19-21)
    • Gentiles come to know the LORD. Rom 11:11,12; Eph 2:11-13
      Gentiles, recognizing that "our fathers inherited lies, vanity..." will turn from idolatry and the superstitions of human religion, to the LORD.
    • Jews come to know the LORD. Eph 2:14-18
      Rejecting the false gods of the nations and also the ritualistic religion of Judaism, they will find salvation in knowing Him. (1Pet 1:18,19, While this reference applies to both Jewish and Gentile believers, Peter wrote primarily to Jewish Christians.)
    • "I will this once {ie., once and for all} cause them to know..."- cp. Isa 2:1-5; Zech 8:20-23
  6. The condition of those under judgment (17:1-13)
    1. A Record of Israel's Sin: Indelibly engraved in individual hearts and in corporate religion. (17:1)
      • Its contrast...
        • to the Lord's counsel to Israel (eg. Prov 3:1-3; 7:1-3).
        • to the witness that Israel was meant to bear to the nations (16:19-21).
        • to the instruction that Israel should have given their children (17:2; Deu 6:4-9).
          Instead, their children were familiar with the places and practices of idolatrous worship.
      • Its cost...
        • "all thy treasures... throughout all thy borders..." (v.3)
          "My mountain" is Jerusalem. cp. Mic 3:12; Jer 26:18; Lam 5:17,18 (also Mic 4:1,2 re: future restoration).
          "The field" is Judah. Their substance and all their treasures were gifts from the Lord... as was the Land itself.
        • exile from the Land and servitude to enemy nations (v.4).
    2. Trust in Man (17:5-8) - amounts to: cursed barrenness...
      • Their trust in their king (Jehoiakim)... in political alliances... in military might... in their own wisdom... would result in bitter disappointment.
      • Contrast: the blessed fruitfulness of those who trust in the Lord (Psa 1:1-3; 2:12; Prov 3:5-8).
        "...Stand in His strength alone; The arm of flesh will fail you -- ye dare not trust your own..."
        [hymn, "Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus," by G. Duffield]
    3. Trust in one's own heart (17:9-10) - amounts to: self deception...
      • No one knows himself, as God knows him.
        Do you really believe God's assessment of your heart (v.9, 'desperately wicked' {ie., incurably diseased}).
        A man may consider himself one of God's choice servants, and be sadly mistaken.
        cp. 16:12; Psa 53:1-3; Mark 7:21,22; Mat 7:21-23; Heb 3:12
        There is no hope for acceptance before God, apart from a new birth in His nature (Joh 3:3-6; 1:12,13).
      • Contrast: the Lord knows the inner man perfectly and will reward each man accordingly (v.10).
        It is a fearful thing, that the Lord will judge our hidden desires and motivations (Psa 90:8; Heb 4:12,13; Rev 2:23).
        Unable to see as God sees, Paul deferred the evaluation of his own ministry, to Christ (1Cor 4:1-5).
        Yet, it is a wonderful thing, that the Lord will transform, to His liking, the heart that yields to His searching (Psa 139:23,24; Heb 13:20,21).
    4. Trust in Wealth (17:11), especially ill gotten wealth - amounts to: foolishness...
      • At their best, earthly treasures cannot be held long (Luk 12:15-21).
        Like a bird, that attempts to hatch its eggs in an unsafe place, a man's efforts, in acquiring earthly wealth, will soon be wasted. Yet, the world will applaud his efforts, even though by turning away from the Lord to make a name for himself in the earth, he is yielding to Satan's seduction (cp. Mat 4:8,9). In the end, those, who accept his offer, are left empty handed, having never found true treasure.
      • Contrast: the true riches: the glory of God, the fountain of living waters (v.12,13; cp. Jer 9:23,24; Mat 6:31-33).
      • "Names written in the earth" (v.13) are identified with earthly things rather than with the heavenly (Ex 32:32,33; Luke 10:20; cp. John 8:6-8).
  7. The Heart of the unmarried prophet (17:14-18)
    • Glorying in the Lord alone - "thou art my praise" ie., "my song of glory" (v.14; Jer 9:23,24)
    • Faithful to the Lord's Word -
      • inspite of ridicule from his hearers (v.15; cp. Isa 5:19; Eze 12:22; 2Pet 3:4)
      • inspite of conflict within his own heart (v.16) - He was a pastor at heart, desiring better things for his people than the "woeful day" of judgment. But he would not waver from proclaiming the message that the Lord had committed to him. Jer 1:7-9; cp. Rom 9:1-3; Acts 20:20,27; 2Cor 2:17
    • Trusting in the Lord's justice -
      • for personal salvation in the time of judgment, v.17; cp. v.7,13; 16:19; Eph 6:13
      • for just reward of the wicked, v.18; Psa 25:2,3
        double destruction (see Jer 16:18) - See Rev 18:6 for its final fulfilment.

The Message in the Gate of Commerce (17:19-27)
Subject: A Test of their Heart Inclination
  1. A Call to renewed observation of the Sabbath (17:19-23)
    • bear no burden... - The day of physical rest was meant to remember the rest of redemption, which was secured by the arm of the Lord, not by the arm of flesh (17:5). Deu 5:14,15
    • hallow {set apart} the Sabbath day... - The day was set aside to remember that the people were set apart for the Lord. Ex 31:13
    • but they would not... - This may be seen as the negative response of Jeremiah's hearers to his message, and also as the Lord's observation that many of their predecessors ('your fathers,' v.22,23) had also ignored His command.
  2. A Promise of Blessing for Obedience (v.24-26)
    • political stability (v.25)
    • economic prosperity (v.26) accompanying a revival of true worship.
      • These things will be realized when Christ occupies the throne of David in His millennial kingdom.
      • These were the things which they sought by their own means (cp. 17:5,6,9-11).
        But they were not attainable apart from the Lord (17:7,8,13,14).
        According to human wisdom, to have a place in the world economy, they could not afford to relax their efforts to buy and sell and get gain. At the time, Judah was engaged in worldwide commerce through the port city of Tyre (Eze 27:17), the fall of which (Eze 27:29-36) is a precursor to the fall of Babylon the Great (Rev 18:2,11-f), which is the final chapter of those "written in the earth" (v.13). (also see Jam 4:13- 5:3)
  3. A Promise of Cursing for Disobedience (v.27) cp. Ex 31:14,15
    Their refusal to keep the sabbath was symptomatic of their heart condition (17:1).
    He who searches the hearts would reward them accordingly.
    ...a fire... shall not be quenched... - cp. 17:4 a fire... shall burn for ever... - ie., until it is finished consuming, until the judgment is complete (17:18 with 16:18).

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