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Sometimes we look at God’s judgments and can’t see past the severity and the harshness of the resulting carnage. Certainly, Jeremiah’s heart was broken with the impending calamities that were about to befall his beloved people. It was no fun to be called upon to deliver a message of doom and gloom – a message that not only brought personal persecution but now was going to be lived out by Jeremiah with the symbolism of some very drastic social deprivations in his own life. But in the midst of this messaging, God still offers up the hope of future restoration as He expands our perspective to focus on the more important goal of magnifying the name and power of our God.

Mackay: Jeremiah’s own lifestyle was a living embodiment of what is going to happen to the people because of the disaster the Lord was going to bring on them. The Lord’s messenger was to impress the reality of impending judgment on the nation using every means possible, even to the extent of making himself seem ridiculous and open to charges not merely of unsociability but one would suppose even of insanity.




A. (:1-4) Don’t Marry or Have Children – Forbidden to Marry

“The word of the LORD also came to me saying,”

1. (:2) Command

“You shall not take a wife for yourself

nor have sons or daughters in this place.”

Constable: The Israelites and ancient Near Easterners in general regarded the unmarried state and childlessness as divine curses (cf. Matthew 24:19; 1 Corinthians 7:26), but here God overruled what was normal (cf. Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:18; Deuteronomy 7:14) for a special reason. Bachelors were so rare in Israel that there is no word for “bachelor” in the Hebrew language. As an unmarried Prayer of Manasseh , Jeremiah would have been the object of much derision and scorn.

2. (:3-4) Reason – They Will Die Horribly

“For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bear them, and their fathers who beget them in this land:

They will die of deadly diseases,

they will not be lamented or buried;

they will be as dung on the surface of the ground

and come to an end by sword and famine,

and their carcasses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth.”

Ryken: Jeremiah’s singleness was symbolic of the judgment to come. It showed how much families would suffer on the day of judgment. Since parents and children alike would be reduced to carrion, it would be better for Jeremiah not to marry at all.

Stedman: It was to spare Jeremiah this additional grief that God forbade him to be married. This reminds you, does it not, of that word of Paul’s in First Corinthians 7, where he says something similar: “Now concerning the unmarried, … in view of the impending distress it is well for a person to remain as he is,” (1 Corinthians 7:25, 26 RSV). So God is saying to Jeremiah, “This is a time when these normal aspects of life need to be laid aside. The nation is hastening to its judgment — the hour is approaching, crisis is coming — and for that reason do not encumber yourself with burdens unnecessary to bear.”

B. (:5-7) Don’t Go to Funerals to Mourn – Forbidden to Mourn

“For thus says the LORD,”

1. (:5a) Command

“Do not enter a house of mourning,

or go to lament or to console them;”

2. (:6-7) Reason – God Has Withdrawn His Peace, Lovingkindness and Compassion

“’for I have withdrawn My peace from this people,’ declares the LORD, ‘My lovingkindness and compassion. Both great men and small will die in this land; they will not be buried, they will not be lamented, nor will anyone gash himself or shave his head for them. Neither will men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort anyone for the dead, nor give them a cup of consolation to drink for anyone’s father or mother.”

Paul Rendall: The Lord was intending to take His peace from that people; His lovingkindness and His mercy. Surely this is the worst of all calamities. Surely this is what our sin deserves and how we ought to praise God in our hearts that His righteous judgment has fallen on our Lord Jesus at the cross.

Adam Clarke: “cut himself” — A custom of the heathen forbidden to the Jews, Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1, and which appears now to have prevailed among them; because, having become idolaters, they conformed to all the customs of the heathen. They tore their hair, rent their garments, cut their hands, arms, and faces. These were not only signs of sorrow but were even supposed to give ease to the dead, and appease the angry deities.

C. (:8-9) Don’t Go to Feasts to Rejoice – Forbidden to Feast

1. (:8) Command

“Moreover you shall not go into a house of feasting to sit with them to eat and drink.”

2. (:9) Reason – God Has Eliminated Social Occasions for Rejoicing Like Weddings

“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am going to eliminate from this place, before your eyes and in your time, the voice of rejoicing and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride.’”

Constable: Jeremiah was to reflect the attitudes of His God in all these situations. His withdrawal from village life pictured Yahweh’s withdrawal from His people.

Kidner: This, and worse (the message ran), was what life would soon be like for everyone: with families wiped out, reduced to carrion (4-5), and existence so bleak without God’s peace and love and mercy (5b), that it would lose even the faintest glow of human warmth.

Longman: These prohibitions lead to behaviors on Jeremiah’s part that are resonant with prophetic significance and therefore should be considered a prophetic sign-act that incarnates the words he is speaking. These prohibitions seem to be directed to Jeremiah himself.


A. (:10) Inquiry

“Now it will come about when you tell this people all these words that they will say to you, ‘For what reason has the LORD declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the LORD our God?’”

Thompson: Verses 10-13 comprise a short lament in the form of questions (v. 10) followed by a short oracle of judgment upon the people of Judah (vv. 11-13), all in prose. It bears some resemblance both in form and content to 5:19; 9:12-16 and 22:8-9.

Mackay: The puzzlement of the people tells its own story of religious insensitivity and total satisfaction with what they were doing (compare repeated questions in Mal. 1-2).

Paul Rendall: It is the sure sign of a wicked heart when it dismisses the conviction of sin, when it denies the fact of sin itself as not true, even though it can be proved.

B. (:11-12) Indictment

1. (:11) Family Sin – Behavior of Former Generations

“Then you are to say to them, ‘It is because your forefathers have forsaken Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and have followed other gods and served them and bowed down to them; but Me they have forsaken and have not kept My law.’”

2. (:12) Personal Sin – Their Own Behavior

“You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me.”

Mackay: Perhaps the intensification of their guilt is to be found in the idea of the increased and repeated warnings they had been given (7:25; 25:3-4; 26:4-5; 35: 14-15; 44:4-5), or it may have been a matter of regressing from such improvements as Josiah’s reforms had effected.

C. (:13) Indignation and Judgment

“So I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I shall grant you no favor.”

Wiersbe: The verb “cast you out” (Jer. 16:13) is used for hurling a spear or sending a storm against a ship (Jonah 1:4). God was violently removing His people so the land could be healed and the nation purified (2 Chron. 36:14-21).


A. (:14-15) Restoring Israel

“’Therefore behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.’”

Wiersbe: In wrath, God remembers mercy (Hab. 3:2), and Jeremiah gave the people a message of hope: The exiles will one day return to their land.

MacArthur: In view of the Lord’s promise of restoration from Babylon, the proof of God’s redemptive power and faithfulness in the deliverance from Egypt would give way to a greater demonstration in the deliverance of his people from Babylon. That bondage was to be so severe that deliverance from Babylon was a greater relief than from Egypt.

Parunak: Application: It is on promises such as these that the hope of Israel’s restoration is based. The promise is not fulfilled in the return under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, for this is a return from “all nations,” not just from the land of the north. It is also difficult to spiritualize, as a reference to Gentile conversion, for two reasons. First, it is explicitly described as a return to the land that was given to their fathers. Second, salvation of the Gentiles is described separately, and literally, in 19-21.

B. (:16-17) Rounding up Indicted Lawbreakers

1. (:16) Apprehension

a. Fish for Them

“’Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,’

declares the LORD, ‘and they will fish for them;’”

Kelley: When Jesus used the metaphor of fishermen to describe the mission of his disciples (see Mark 1:17; Matthew 4:19), he was reversing its meaning from that intended by Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s fishers caught men for judgment; Jesus’ fishers caught them for salvation.

Longman: The use of these two metaphors makes clear that punishment will be comprehensive.

b. Hunt Them

“and afterwards I shall send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and from the clefts of the rocks.”

Parunak: Description of the hunt. The people are like fish in the sea; the Lord will send many fishermen to catch them. They are like animals hiding among the rocks of the mountains; the Lord will send hunters to snare them. The image is that they will be rounded up in their land, and that no matter how carefully they try to hide, there will be so many people chasing them that they cannot escape. The fishermen and hunters refer to the future Babylonian army which will beat the bushes for those who have tried to escape the catastrophe. The hunting and fishing metaphor is also used in Ezekiel 12:13 and Amos 4:2.

2. (:17) Accountability

“For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.”

C. (:18) Repaying Iniquity

“And I will first doubly repay their iniquity and their sin,

because they have polluted My land;

they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and

with their abominations.”

“doubly repay” = hyperbole for full payment

D. (:19-21) Renouncing Idolatry

1. (:19a) Testifying to the Protection Afforded by God

“O LORD, my strength and my stronghold,

And my refuge in the day of distress,”

Parunak: vv. 19-21 — Jeremiah’s responds to this message of judgment.

Application: His response is appropriate for us.

a) First, he recognizes that the Lord is his protection, even in times of judgment. In this, he is perhaps responding to15:10-14, the Lord’s promise to care for him through the time of coming suffering.

b) Second, he recognizes that God will bring good out of evil. The statement about the Gentiles may be better rendered as jussive: “Let the gentiles come … and let them say ….” If such judgment is to come on Israel because of their idolatry, let the Gentiles see it and take a lesson from it.

2. (:19b-20) Testifying to the Profitlessness of Idolatry

“To Thee the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say,

‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood,

Futility and things of no profit.

Can man make gods for himself? Yet they are not gods!”

Stedman: One day the nations are going to see the result of their incredible folly, and come and confess to you the emptiness of all the things they had followed.

3. (:21) Testifying to the Power and Name of the Lord

“Therefore behold, I am going to make them know– This time I will make them know My power and My might; And they shall know that My name is the LORD.”

MacArthur: The result of God’s judgment on the Jews will be the end of idolatry, even some Gentiles, witnessing the severity will renounce idols. After the return from Babylon, this was partly fulfilled as the Jews entirely and permanently renounced idols, and many Gentiles turned from their idols to Jehovah. However, the complete fulfillment will come in the final restoration of Israel (cf. Is. 2:1-4; 49:6; 60:3).

Parunak: Application: We as Gentiles should praise God for his grace in making room for us in his salvation, and at the same time not harbor ill-will against Israel, through whom we have been brought to faith.