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« on: March 25, 2008, 12:02:35 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
PREFACE
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.


Jeremiah has always a fascination to Christian hearts, because of the close similarity that exists between his life and that of Jesus Christ. Each of them was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief"; each came to his own, and his own received him not; each passed through hours of rejection, desolation, and forsakenness. And in Jeremiah we may see, beaten out into detail, experiences which, in our Lord, are but lightly touched on by the evangelists.

It is by no means an easy task to discern the true order of Jeremiah's prophecies. The clew to their present arrangement seems lost. Probably the chapters are grouped more according to subject than to chronology, those touching on the same topic being grouped together. In this book I have endeavored, as far as possible, to follow the chronological sequence.

If I had been writing a history of the last days of the monarchy of Judah, these pages would have been much extended; but I have refrained from this, wishing only to tell so much of the general story as was needful to elucidate the part Jeremiah was called to play.

It will more than serve my purpose if I shall be able to make the personality of this great man more familiar to the general Christian public. For some reason there is a great amount of ignorance of the life and times of Jeremiah, which contrasts remarkably with the veneration with which the Jews have always regarded him. But amid the names that shine as stars in the hemisphere of Old Testament Scripture, there is not one more brilliant than his.

There is an especial message in the ministry of Jeremiah for those who are compelled to stand alone, who fall into the ground to die, who fill up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ, and through death arise to bear fruit in the great world of men, which they passionately love.

F. B. MEYER
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2008, 12:04:35 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
I.  "THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME."
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.


(Jeremiah 1:4, Jeremiah 1:11, Jeremiah 1:13.)


"We know -- things that we cannot say;
We soar -- where we could never map our flight;
We see -- flashes and colorings too quick and bright
For any hand to paint. We hear --
Strange, far-off mental music, all too sweet,
Too great for any earthly instrument;
Gone, if we strive to bring it near."
F. R. HAVERGAL.

IF the days of David and Solomon may be compared to spring and summer in the history of the kingdom of Israel, it was late autumn when our story opens. The influence of the spiritual revival under Hezekiah and Isaiah, which had for a brief interval arrested the process of decline, had spent itself; and not even the reforms of the good King Josiah, which affected rather the surface than the heart of the people, could avail to avert inevitable judgment.

The northern tribes were captive on the plains of Mesopotamia, whence, in the dawn of history, their race had sprung. And Judah, unwarned by the fate of her sister Israel, was rapidly pursuing the same path, to be presently involved in a similar catastrophe. King and court, princes and people, prophets and priests, were infected with the abominable vices for committing which the Canaanites had been expelled from the Promised Land centuries before.

Every high hill had its thick grove of green trees, within whose shadow the idolatrous rites and abominable license of nature-worship were freely practiced. The face of the country was thickly covered with temples erected for the worship of Baal and Astarte, and all the host of heaven, and with lewd idols. In the cities, the black-robed chemarim, the priests of these unhallowed practices, flitted to and fro in strange contrast to the white-stoled priests of Jehovah. The people were taught to consider vice as part of their religion, and to frequent houses dedicated to impurity. All kinds of evil throve unchecked. The poor were plundered, the innocent falsely accused; wicked men lay in wait to catch men; theft and murder, adultery and idolatry, like spores of corruption, filled the fetid air and flourished on the tainted soil (Jeremiah 2:20, Jeremiah 2:27, Jeremiah 2:34; Jeremiah 5:7, Jeremiah 5:8, Jeremiah 5:26; Jeremiah 9:2).
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2008, 12:06:15 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
I.  "THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME."
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

But it was in Jerusalem that these evils came to a head. In the streets of the Holy City the children were taught to gather wood, while the fathers kindled the fire, and the women kneaded dough to make cakes for Astarte, "the queen of heaven," and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods. The Temple, with so many sacred associations, was the headquarters of Baal-worship; its courts were desecrated by monstrous images and symbols, and its precincts were the abode of infamous men and women. It seemed as though the king of Sodom had dispossessed Melchizedek in his ancient home. Below the Temple battlements, deep down in the Valley of Hinnom, scenes were constantly witnessed that recalled the darkest cruelties of heathendom. There was the high place of Tophet, which derived its name from the clamor of the drums that drowned the cries of the babes flung into the fires. It was an awful combination. "The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord!" was the cry of the heartless formalist, while below the sacred shrine such scenes of devilry were rife. Ah me! would that it had been the last time in the world's history when the profession of true religion had been accompanied by the license of vice and the service of the devil!

In such a Sodom God's voice' must be heard. The Judge of all the earth must warn the ungodly of a certain retribution, only to be averted by swift repentance. The Good Shepherd must seek his wayward sheep. Better believe that there is no God than think that he could be speechless in the presence of sins that frustrated his election and long education of Israel and threatened to terminate its very existence as a people.

Yet if God speak, it must be through the yielded lips of man. For if his voice struck the ear of sinful man directly, it would either paralyze him with dread, or seem indistinct, like the mutterings of thunder. Therefore in every age the Divine Spirit has gone through the world seeking for the prepared lip of elect souls through which to utter himself. He seeks such to-day. Men are still the vehicles of his communications to men. To us, as to Ezekiel, the Divine Spirit says, "Son of man, thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me."
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2008, 12:08:29 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
I.  "THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME."
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

In the call of Jeremiah we may discover the sort of man whom God chooses as the medium for his speech. And our discovery will greatly startle us. We shall find the heavenly treasure in a simple earthen vessel: not in the metropolis, but in the poor village of Anathoth, three miles to the north; not in an elder, but in a youth; not among the high and noble, but in the family of an undistinguished priest; not in a man mighty as Elijah, eloquent as Isaiah, or seraphic as Ezekiel; but in one who was timid and shrinking, conscious of his helplessness, yearning for a sympathy and love he was never to know. Such was the chosen organ through which the word of the Lord came to that corrupt and degenerate age.

It is not to be expected that a superficial gaze will discern the special qualifications that attracted the divine choice to Jeremiah. But that is no wonder. The instruments of the divine purpose in all ages have not been such as man would have selected. God has always chosen "the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, yea, and the things that are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God." Your family may be poor in Manasseh, and yourself the least in your father's house -- nothing more than a cake of barley-bread; yet if God lay hold of you he will work a wonderful deliverance. But there were several reasons why Jeremiah might have been passed over:

]are was young. How young we do not know; but young enough for him to start back at the divine proposal, with the cry, "Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child." Without doubt, as a boy he had enjoyed peculiar advantages. He came of a priestly family; his father, Hilkiah, may have been the high priest who, in the discharge of his sacred office in the Temple, discovered the manuscript roll which proved to be a copy of the Book of the Law and led to the reformation under Josiah. His uncle, Shallum, was the husband of Huldah, the prophetess, in whom the fire of the old Hebrew faith was burning brightly, even in those days of almost universal degeneracy. Shaphan, Baruch, and Hanameel were probably the companions of his youth, and afterward formed a little band who nourished the noblest traditions of the national life. Still, Jeremiah was but as a child.
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2008, 12:10:00 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
I.  "THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME."
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

God has often selected the young for posts of eminent service: Samuel and Timothy, Joseph and David, Daniel and Jeremiah; Calvin, who wrote his "Institutes" before he was twenty-four; and Wesley, who was only twenty-five when he inaugurated the great system of Methodism. In every age of the Church young eyes have eagerly scanned this paragraph, and have dared to cherish the hope that since youth did not disqualify Jeremiah, so it would not render them unfit for the special service of God. The only thing to be sure of is that God has really called you; and this can only be ascertained after very careful consideration. There is, first, the consciousness of a strong inward impulse, which is most present in the holiest hours, but which is never far away, and often surges up pure and strong in the soul. There is, next, a certain concurrence of Providence, by which other doors seem closed, and that opened which conducts to the desired goal. Besides these there is a natural adaptation, a consensus of opinion among friends and advisers, and the constant voice of the Spirit through the Word.

He was naturally timid and sensitive. By nature he seemed cast in too delicate a mold to be able to combat the dangers and difficulties of his time. He reminds us of a denizen of the sea, accustomed to live within its shell, but suddenly deprived of its strong incasement, and thrown without covering on the sharp edges of the rocks. The bitter complaint of his after-life was that his mother had brought him into a world of strife and contention. And it was in allusion to the natural shrinking of his disposition that Jehovah promised to make him a "defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land."

Many are molded upon this type. They have the sensitiveness of a gift, and the nervous organism of a gazelle. They love the shallows, with their carpet of silver sand, rather than the strong billows that test a man's endurance. For them it is enough to run with footmen; they have no desire to contend with horses. They love the land of peace in which they are secure, and have no heart for the swelling of Jordan. Yet such, like Jeremiah, may play an heroic part on the world's stage, if only they will let God lay down the iron of his might along the lines of their natural weakness. His strength is only made perfect in weakness. It is to those who have no might that he increaseth strength. Happy is the soul that can look up from its utter helplessness and say with Jeremiah, "O Lord, my strength in the day of affliction;" or with Micah, in yet earlier times, "Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin."
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2008, 12:11:22 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
I.  "THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME."
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

He specially shrank from the burden he was summoned to bear. His chosen theme would have been God's mercy -- the boundlessness of his compassion, the tenderness of his pity. In the earlier chapters, when pleading with the people to return to God, there is a tenderness in his voice and a pathos in his speech, which prove how thoroughly his heart was in this part of his work. Some of his choicest allusions to natural scenes are intended to set forth the love of God to backsliding and penitent souls. God's mercy is like "a fountain of living waters," as contrasted to the brackish contents of the rock-hewn cisterns; or like the ocean waves lapping on the bank of soft sand they may not pass; or like a husband's great love, which cannot forget the day of espousal amid the unfaithfulness which has ruined the peace of his home.

But to be charged with a message of judgment; to announce the woeful day; to oppose every suggestion of heroic resistance; to charge home on the prophetic and the priestly orders, to each of which he belonged, and the anger of each of which he incurred, the crimes by which they were disgraced -- this was the commission that was furthest from his choice. "As for me," he cried, "I have not hastened from being a shepherd after thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest" (Jeremiah 17:16).

He was conscious of his deficiency in speech. Like Moses he could say, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto try servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." Like Isaiah he might cry, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Like the Apostle Paul he could affirm, "My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom." "Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child."

The best speakers for God are frequently they who are least gifted with human eloquence; for if that be richly present -- the mighty power of moving men -- there is an imminent peril of relying on it and attributing the results to its magnetic spell. God cannot give his glory to another. He may not share his praise with man. He dare not expose his servants to the temptation of sacrificing to their own net or trusting their own ability. And so he often chooses uneloquent lips, and touches them with his finger, and leaves his words trembling there, the meet vehicles of his thoughts that burn on the altar of the soul. Of him, and through him, and to him must be all things, that the glory may be his forever.

Do not then despair because of these apparent disqualifications. None of them will shut out from thee the accents of the voice of God. Notwithstanding all, the word of the Lord shall come to thee; not for thy sake alone, but for those to whom thou shalt be sent. The one thing that God demands of thee is absolute consecration to his purpose, and willingness to go on any errand on which he may send thee. If these are thine all else will be given thee. He will hush thine alarm -- " Be not afraid!" He will assure thee of his presence -- " I am with thee to deliver thee." He will equip thee -- " Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." How the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah we cannot tell; whether audibly as to Samuel, or in the deep chambers of his soul. But when it came he knew it. And we shall know it. Oh for the circumcised ear and the loyal, obedient heart!
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2008, 12:12:49 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
II.  "I FORMED THEE"
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.


(Jeremiah 1:5)

"I was not born Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank From aught which marked me out apart from men: I would have lived their life, and died their death, Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny."

BROWNING.

GOD has a plan for each of his children. From the foot of the cross, where we are cradled in our second birth, to the brink of the river, where we lay down our armor, there is a path which he has prepared for us to walk in. Its roughness and steeps, its velvet grass and quiet glades, its climb up the mountain side and descent into the valley of dark shadow, have all been planned and laid out by his matchless wisdom, his unerring love. The path has been prepared; it is for us to walk in it.

On the other hand, God prepares us for the path he has chosen. We are his workmanship, created unto the good works which he has before prepared. There is no emergency in the path for which there has not been provision made in our nature; and there is no faculty stored in our nature which, sooner or later, shall not have its proper exercise and use. From the earliest inception of being God had a plan for Jeremiah's career, for which he prepared him. Before the dawn of consciousness, in the very origin of his being, the hands of the great Master Workman reached down out of heaven to shape the plastic clay for the high purpose which he had in view. Note the conjunction of those two expressions: "I appointed and sanctified thee a prophet to the nations;" and again, "I farmed thee." God always forms those whom he has appointed and sanctified for any great work.
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2008, 12:14:17 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
II.  "I FORMED THEE"
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

Ask what thy work in the world is -- that for which thou wast born, to which thou wast appointed, on account of which thou wast conceived in the creative thought of God. That there is a divine purpose in thy being is indubitable. Seek that thou mayest be permitted to realize it. And never doubt that thou hast been endowed with all the special aptitudes which that purpose may demand. God has formed thee for it, storing thy mind with all that he knew to be requisite for thy life-work. It is thy part to elaborate and improve to the utmost the two talents which thou hast. Do not envy another his five. Those three additional ones were not needed for the special purpose that thou wast designed to fulfill. And it is enough to answer the divine intention in thy creation, redemption, or call to service, whatever it may have been. Do not be jealous or covetous; it is enough for thee to be what God made thee to be, and to be always at thy best.
..........

I. THE DIVINE PURPOSE.

" I knew thee, . . . I sanctified thee, . . . I have appointed thee a prophet." In that degenerate age the great Lover of souls needed a spokesman; and the divine decree determined the conditions of Jeremiah's birth and character and life. How this could be consistent with the exercise of personal volition and choice on the part of the youthful prophet, we cannot say. We can only see the two piers of the mighty arch, but not the arch itself, since the mists of time veil it, and we are dim of sight. Some try to explain it by introducing the thought of foreknowledge; they quote the words, "Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate." But, after all, this only carries the difficulty one step farther back into mystery.

It is wise to ascertain, if possible, while life is yet young, the direction of the divine purpose. There are four considerations that will help us: First, the indication of our natural aptitudes; for these, when touched by the Divine Spirit, become talents or gifts. Secondly, the inward impulse or energy of the Divine Spirit, working in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Thirdly, the teaching of the Word of God. Fourthly, the evidence of the circumstances and demands of life. When these concur, and focus in one point, there need be no doubt as to the divine purpose and plan. It was thus that God disclosed to Samuel and Jeremiah and Saul of Tarsus the future for which they were destined. And it is extremely delightful when, from the first bud of youth to the flower and fruit of maturity, the heavenly vision has molded the entire tenor and development of the life.
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2008, 12:16:01 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
II.  "I FORMED THEE"
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

But in cases where the divine purpose is not so clearly disclosed, in which life is necessarily lived piecemeal, and the bits of marble for the tessellated floor are heaped together with no apparent plan, we must dare to believe that God has an intention for each of us, and that if we are true to our noblest ideals we shall certainly work out the divine pattern and be permitted some day to see it in its unveiled symmetry and beauty. Perhaps the noblest aim for any of us is to realize that word which, according to the margin of the Revised Version, was addressed by God to Jeremiah, when he said to him, "On whatsoever errand I shall send thee, thou shalt go; and whatsoever I shall command thee, thou shalt speak."

To run errands for God! To be like the angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word! To resemble the boy messengers in some of our large cities, that wait in readiness to discharge any commission that may be intrusted to them! To know that your message is as certainly given you as the letter which is placed under the wing of the carrier-pigeon! To go on occupying the position in which we have been placed by the providence of God, but to hold it for God till he bids us do something else! Such are golden secrets of blessedness and usefulness.
..........

II. FORMATIVE INFLUENCES.

It is very interesting to study the formative influences that were brought to bear an the character of Jeremiah. There were the character and disposition of his mother, and the priestly office of his father. There was the picturesque beauty of his birthplace, the village of Anathoth, lying on the high road three miles north of Jerusalem, encircled by the famous hills of Benjamin, and looking down the ravine on the blue waters of the Dead Sea, gleaming at the foot of the purple hills of Moab. There was the near proximity of the Holy City, rendering it possible for the boy to be present at all the holy festivals, and to receive such instruction as the best seminaries of instruction could provide. There was the companionship and association of godly families, which still preserved the religion of their forefathers, and treasured as sacred relics the literature, psalms, and history of our purer and better days. There were also the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah, who were burning as bright constellations in that dark sky, to be soon joined by himself.
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2008, 12:17:33 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
II.  "I FORMED THEE"
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

His mind was evidently very sensitive to all the influences of his early life. His speech is saturated with references to natural emblems and national customs, to the life of men, and the older literature of the Bible. Take, for instance, his earliest sermon, in which he refers to the story of the Exodus, and the pleadings of Deuteronomy; to the roar of the young lion, and the habits of the wild ass; to the young camel traversing her ways, and the Arabian of the wilderness; to the murmur of the brook, and the hewing of the cistern. His quick and sensitive soul eagerly incorporated the influences of the varied life around him, and reproduced them. Many fabrics were woven into the texture of his mind. Many flowers mingled their perfume in the enclosure of his heart. Many chords made up the music of his speech.

It is thus that God is ever at work, forming and molding us. Whenever you are called to pass through an experience which is unusually trying and difficult, comfort yourself by the thought that you are being fitted for some high purpose that has not yet been made known, but which will lay its demand on that very experience which has been permitted for that end. And as you look back on your life, you will see how all has been ordered to fit you to fulfill a ministry to others that would have been less worthily fulfilled had you been excused from the tears, the hardships, the privations of a single day. The plan of God threads the maze of life. The purpose of God gives meaning to many of its strange experiences. Be brave and trustful! If he serves himself of thee, he will recompense thee. He is not unfaithful to forget.

There is a striking illustration of this in one of the closing scenes of Joseph's life. Speaking to his brethren of the pit and the afflictions to which it led, he said, "Ye meant it for evil; but God meant it for good" (Genesis 1:20). Standing on the eminence of the years, he was able to read God's meaning in that dark and mysterious providence. And if he had been asked to state his view of the divine reason in the trials and hardships of those early days, fast fading behind the mist of years, he would probably have answered, "God was forming me for my future; preparing me for what he had prepared for me; disciplining and equipping me for the position that awaited me; and there is no single incident in all those weary years through which I passed that I could have dispensed with, except at a serious disadvantage to my present standing."
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2008, 12:19:15 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
II.  "I FORMED THEE"
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.


III. THERE WAS ALSO A SPECIAL PREPARATION AND ASSURANCE FOR HIS LIFE-WORK.

" The Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." In a similar manner had the seraph touched the lips of Isaiah years before. And we are reminded that the Lord Jesus promised that the Spirit of the Father should put appropriate words into the lips of his disciples when summoned before the tribunals of their foes. Words are the special gift of God. They were the endowment of the Church at Pentecost. And it is always an evidence of a Spirit-filled man when he begins to speak as the Spirit gives him utterance.

God never asks us to go on his errands (Jeremiah 1:7) without telling us what to say. If we are living in fellowship with him, he will impress his messages on our minds, and enrich our life with the appropriate utterances by which those messages shall be conveyed to our fellows. Do any read these words who, like Moses, lack this royal endowment -- their words fall pointless and dead? Let them offer their lips to speak, not with the wisdom of human words, or with the grace of human eloquence, but with the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost; and their appeal will not be denied. If only God's glory be our object, God's hand will be put forth to touch our mouth, and he will leave his words there.

Two other assurances were also given: First, "Thou shalt go to whomsoever I shall send thee." This gave a definiteness and directness to the prophet's speech. Secondly, "Be not afraid because of them, for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord " -- an assurance which was remarkably fulfilled, as we shall see in the unfolding of this narrative.

These are marvelous words, spoken to us all, as God sends us on a mission or errand into the world. It may be of greater or less consequence -- to rule an empire or nurse a single babe; to be an apostle or to care for a few sheep in the wilderness. But we are no less sent than Jesus was from the bosom of the Father -- sent to learn, sent to suffer, sent to achieve; sent on an errand as Joseph was from the patriarchal tent.
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2008, 12:20:41 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
II.  "I FORMED THEE"
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

And just as long as we are on the prepared path, performing the appointed mission, he is with us. We may defy death. We bear a charmed life. We are more than conquerors. The music of his voice sounds in our heart, though defaming and terror are on every side (Jeremiah 20:10). Men may fight against us, but they cannot prevail, for the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge (Jeremiah 1:19).
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IV. LASTLY, GOD VOUCHSAFED A TWOFOLD VISION TO HIS CHILD.

On the one hand, the swift-blossoming almond-tree assured him that God would watch over him and see to the swift performance of his predictions; on the other, the seething caldron, turned toward the north, indicated the breaking out of evil. So the pendulum of life swings to and fro, now to light and then to dark. But happy is the man whose heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. He is hidden in the secret of God's pavilion from the strife of tongues, and abides in the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High. Men may fight against him, but shall not prevail against him; for he is encircled in the environing care of Jehovah. As he spake to Jeremiah, so he addresses us: "They shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee" (Jeremiah 1:19). "Man is immortal till his work is done."

There was a period in Jeremiah's life when he seems to have swerved from the pathway of complete obedience (Jeremiah 15:9), and to have gone back from following the God-given plan. Surrounded by contention and strife, cursed as though he were a usurer, reproached and threatened with death, he lost heart and fainted in the precipitous path. And immediately he had good reason to fear that 'the divine protection had been withdrawn. We are safe only when we are on God's plan. But as he returned again to his allegiance, these precious promises were renewed, and again sounded in his ears: "I will make thee unto this people a fenced 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 the Lord. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible."
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2008, 12:26:10 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
III.  CISTERN MAKING
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.


(Jeremiah 2:13.)


"Attempt, how vain --
With things of earthly sort, with aught but God,
With aught but moral excellence, truth, and love
To satisfy and fill the immortal soul!
To satisfy the ocean with a drop;
To marry immortality to death;
And with the unsubstantial slave of time
To fill the embrace of all eternity."
POLLOK'S  "COURSE OF TIME."

THERE was probably but little interval between Jeremiah's call and his entrance upon his sacred work. When once the Spirit of God has established a code of communications between himself and the soul whom he has selected to be his mouthpiece, he is likely to avail himself of it constantly. The difficulty is to lay down the wire through the ocean depths; but when it is there, the messages flash to and fro repeatedly. So we are told that to this young ardent soul "the word of the Lord came" (Jeremiah 2:1). Coming, it thrilled him.

He dwelt but lightly on the ominous mention of the inevitable conflict which the divine voice prognosticated. He did not stay to gauge the full pressure of opposition indicated in the celestial storm-signal. He had been told that kings and princes, priests and people, would fight against him; but in the first blush of his young faith he thought more of the presence of Jehovah, who had promised to make him "a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land." How tenderly God veils our future, and leads us forward step by step! But there is a difference between the elastic hopefulness of youth and the experience of manhood. The earlier chapters of Jeremiah differ from his Lamentations, as the first green of spring from the sere foliage of autumn.
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2008, 12:27:53 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
III.  CISTERN MAKING
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

As we study the words and deeds of this most human of prophets, let us pass through his plaintive cries and tears and prayers, to that Divine Man, whose gentle spirit was so closely anticipated and reflected in that of his servant. In every age he is at work through his servants, striving against sin in every form, and seeking to set up his reign of righteousness, peace, and joy. In Jeremiah's words we have his vehement beseechings and remonstrances; in Jeremiah's prayers we have echoes of the unutterable intercessions of the Holy Spirit; in Jeremiah's conflicts we have the divine antagonism against flesh and blood and the rulers of the darkness of this world; in Jeremiah's Lamentations we have the divine grief over human willfulness. This priest and prophet of the Jerusalem of David and Solomon had a remarkable course to pursue, in presenting in the obscure mirror of his life the cross and sorrow of the true Priest and Prophet of the restored Jerusalem.
..........

I. THE PROPHET'S TWOFOLD BURDEN.

When Jeremiah began his ministry, going from Anathoth to Jerusalem for that purpose (Jeremiah 2:2), Josiah, though only twenty-one years of age, had been for thirteen years on the throne. He was commencing those measures of reform which availed to postpone, though not to avert, the doom of city and nation. His measures were as drastic as those of Cromwell and his soldiers in their determined effort to remove every vestige of popery from churches and public buildings. "They brake down the altars of the Balaam in his presence; and the sun-images, that were on high above them, he hewed down; and the Asherim, and the graven images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strewed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burned the bones of the priests upon their altars, and purged Judah and Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 34:4-5, R.V.).
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2008, 12:29:33 AM »

JEREMIAH PRIEST AND PROPHET
III.  CISTERN MAKING
BY F. B. MEYER, B.A.

There must have been a great cawing among the rooks when the trees in which they had so long nested were felled. For seventy years the grossest forms of idolatry had held almost undisputed sway. The impious orgies and degrading rites which licensed vice as a part of religion were in harmony with the depraved tastes of the people. What, therefore, ecclesiastics and their flocks felt toward Henry VIII. when he demolished the monasteries, and toward the Protector when his officers pursued their work of devastation, must have found ready place in those early years of Josiah's reign.

The result was, first, that the work of reform was largely superficial. It did not strike beneath the surface, or change the trend of national choice. And secondly, this policy compacted together a strong political party determined to promote a closer alliance with Egypt, which, under Psam-metichus, had just asserted her independence against the king of Assyria. In these two directions the young prophet was called to make his influence felt.

First, he protested against the prevalent sin around him. The one thought of the people was to preserve the outward acknowledgment of Jehovah by the maintenance of the Temple services and rites. If these were rigorously observed they considered that there was no sufficient cause for charging them with the sin of apostasy. They insisted that they were not polluted (Jeremiah 2:23), and reiterated with wearisome monotony, "The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord, are these" (Jeremiah 7:4).

It was Jeremiah's mission to show that mere outward observance was worse than useless, and was compatible with a real forsaking of God. Like the hectic flush, it only concealed the corruption eating its way into the heart. Like the flowers on the edge of the precipice, it hid the fatal brink. Nominal profession is compatible with utter atheism, and with the worst form of atheism, because the heart parries every attack with the foil of apparent and avowed belief.

This will account for the plain denunciations of sin that came burning-hot from the lips of the young prophet. He includes the priests and expounders of the law, pastors and prophets, in his scathing words (Jeremiah 2:8 ). The Valley of Hinnom, with its obscene and cruel rites, is quoted in evidence against them (Jeremiah 2:23); the blood of children flung into the fires is detected on their robes (Jeremiah 2:34); the trees of the groves whisper what they have witnessed beneath their shadow; and the jagged rocks tell stories they dare not conceal (Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6). Every metaphor is adopted that human art can suggest to bring home to the people their infidelity to their great Lover and Redeemer, God (Jeremiah 3:20).
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