|<< Jer 17|
Jeremiah 18-22 Listen
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
13 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.
14 Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?
15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up;
16 To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.
17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
19 Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me.
20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.
21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet.
23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.
Here's yet another prophetic appeal from God through Jeremiah to the people of Judah to turn from their God-rejecting wickedness and be rewarded rather than destroyed. It begins with God's command that Jeremiah should go watch the potter work his clay; he goes. The potter takes his clay and makes something. Before it sets, he can change it completely and make something else with the same clay.
Then comes the prophecy from God to Jeremiah based upon this trip to the potter's house beginning in verse 5. Judah should change their ways and let God reform their future away from destruction. Of course, Isaiah had already prophesied 100 years before that they would not turn from their wickedness - that they would, indeed, fall into Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 39, see notes).
How do you suppose the leaders react to Jeremiah's metaphor? They made plans to slander him before the people and to kill him (verse 18). That's a tough congregation; wouldn't you agree? So, how does Jeremiah feel about these people who are planning his demise? The answer is found in verses 19-23; pay close attention to verse 23, "Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger." That's right; you read correctly - "forgive NOT their iniquity." As far as Jeremiah is concerned, their actions are worthy of punishment, not forgiveness. Jeremiah simply asks God to give them their just due for their corrupt actions. How about a secondary lesson from this passage: When we see Believers rebelling against God today, isn't it our responsibility to shame them rather than excuse them according to Ephesians 5:1-21 (see notes)?
Another pottery metaphor (Jeremiah 19)
1 Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;
2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.
4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
6 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.
7 And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
8 And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.
9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
10 Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee,
11 And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.
12 Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet:
13 And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.
14 Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD’S house; and said to all the people,
15 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.
God commands Jeremiah to do yet another object lesson before the wicked people of Jerusalem/Judah. Jeremiah is to buy a bottle/jar from the potter and then take the people outside the city of Jerusalem to the Valley of Hinnom where they've been doing a lot of pagan sacrificing - even human. Rebuke them for their practice and throw that finished piece of pottery down; tell them God is going to break them just like Jeremiah broke this piece of pottery. How bad will God's wrath be? Baaaad! So bad that we see in verse 3, "Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle."
It is most interesting that God instructed this to be done in the Valley of Hinnom. (Click here to see the summary on Jeremiah 7:29-8:3 regarding the significance of this location.) Incidentally, Tophet is a particular location within this valley. Jeremiah prophesies here that the morals of the people of Judah will be so corrupt by the time the Babylonians arrive, they will have resorted even to the heathen practice of cannibalism (verse 9). We see a similar prophecy Ezekiel 5:10 (see notes). Jeremiah reported that this actually happened in Lamentations 4:10 (see notes). There's the capper to this day of prophesying in verse 15, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words."
1 Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.
2 Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.
3 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.
4 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.
6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
7 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.
8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.
9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.
12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.
13 Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.
14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.
15 Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad.
16 And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide;
17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me.
18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
This is Pashur, the head priest and son of Immer. We'll see a different guy named Pashur in chapter 21 (see below). This was a rather common name back then. Anyway, Pashur's had just about enough of Jeremiah's doom-and-gloom prophecies and decides to teach him a lesson; he beats Jeremiah and locks him up for the night. The next day when Jeremiah is released, he goes to Pashur and gives him a new name, Magormissabib which means in Hebrew, "fear on every side." He goes on to prophesy that Pashur (easier to say and spell than Magormissabib) will be taken captive by the Babylonians along with all his friends and relatives and die there. A little persecution didn't slow Jeremiah down, did it?
Then we have a tremendous insight into the life of Jeremiah when we read his prayer to God in verses 7-18. Here is a distraught man - a man who has just been beaten and imprisoned. He is not very happy - even indicating in verse 7 that he didn't completely understand the job description for a prophet when God called him. Who knew it would be this hard? He gets no respect. People ridicule and persecute him. He wishes he had never been born in verses 14 and 15 (kinda like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life"). Look at these two verses: Jeremiah 20:14-15, "Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad." He even expresses this thought with the same basic words as Job in Job 3:3 (see notes), "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived." Here we see a human side of Jeremiah - a regular guy with a huge calling from God.
1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,
2 Enquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us.
3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah:
4 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.
5 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
6 And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.
7 And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.
10 For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
11 And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
13 Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?
14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.
The very last king of Judah, Zedekiah, sends another guy named Pashur (son of Melchiah) along with Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah the priest, to visit Jeremiah and pick up a prophecy. He is not the same Pashur as seen in chapter 20 (see above). Suddenly they're interested in what Jeremiah has to say since they see the Babylonians about to come attack Jerusalem. Jeremiah's been talking about this eventuality for decades. Well, the prophetic news from Jeremiah isn't good; Jerusalem is going to fall. He gives Pashur a tough-love message to take back to the king. Isn't it interesting that before the crisis, the people rejected Jeremiah's true message and preferred to listen to the false prophets with their optimistic messages instead. Now that the crisis is here, they're looking for real answers and solutions. Hey! What can you say? Sometimes sinful people pass the point of no return...and thus did the people of Jerusalem. In this prophetic message to be recited by Pashur back to King Zedekiah, Jeremiah makes it clear that the Lord himself is the one who will be orchestrating the demise of Jerusalem/Judah; Babylon is just God's tool.
1 Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,
2 And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
6 For thus saith the LORD unto the king’s house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
7 And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.
8 And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city?
9 Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.
10 Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
11 For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more:
12 But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.
13 Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;
14 That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
15 Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.
17 But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.
18 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!
19 He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
20 Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.
21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
22 The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
24 As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;
25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.
Zedekiah in chapter 21 (see above) was the last king of Judah. The setting for chapter 22 is two kings back to the reign of Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin followed him, then Zedekiah. So, this prophecy is given earlier than the one in chapter 21. It's just as I said at the beginning of Jeremiah, the book is not presented chronologically.
Here's a listing of the last kings of Judah to give you a little perspective:
There's a good bit of name dropping by Jeremiah in this prophecy, but it all boils down to the fact that it's over for Jerusalem. The Babylonian captivity is imminent and Nebuchadnezzar is the king who will lead them. One can't help but notice, however, the longsuffering of God here when Jeremiah once again calls upon Jerusalem to repent to God and be delivered. Look at Jeremiah 22:4-5, "For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation." The invitation for repentance and restoration is still there. However, in this very same chapter God proclaims (just as Isaiah had 100 years earlier) that Jerusalem/Judah would reject this invitation and subsequently "become a desolation" at the hands of the Babylonians.
Verses 18-19 indicate that Jehoiakim will meet a violent death. He came to a violent death, and his body was thrown over the wall of Jerusalem to convince the besieging army that he was dead (II Kings 24:1-7; II Chronicles 36:1-8 - see notes). Verse 19 goes on to say, "He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem." He should have listened to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah then addresses the fate of Jehoiakim's son and successor, Coniah (Jehoiachin's abbreviated name). In verses 24-27, he prophesies that Jehoiachin will be exiled to Babylon; that also happened in II Kings 24:8-17 (see notes) in 597 B.C. According to the Expositor's Bible Commentary, "He [Jehoiachin] is mentioned under the name of Yaukin in ration tablets between 595 and 570 B.C.; these were unearthed near the Ishtar Gate in Babylon and are known as the Weidner Tablets (so Harrison)." Then Jeremiah further prophesies in verse 30 that none of Jehoiachin's descendants will ever occupy the throne of David. As a matter of fact, Zedekiah (Jehoiachin's successor and the last king of Judah) was the son of Josiah, King of Judah from 640-609. Zedekiah was placed there as king by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. There are some Messianic implications in that prophecy. See the discussion on the genealogies of Jesus by clicking here.