Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.Evidences Sealed and Evidences Open
The placing of the deeds in an earthen vessel or vase was of course peculiar to this case. It was intended to preserve them from damp and decay in their secret hiding-place during the long years of the captivity, as Jerusalem ere many months would be destroyed by the King of Babylon.
I. Consider this mode of the authentication of purchase of property as an illustration of one of the evidences of the truth of the Word of God.
One of the great features of Christianity is that it is based on facts. What Professor Rawlinson says of the historical statements of the New Testament is equally true of the Old. 'When a shallow learning and a defective knowledge of the records of the past have led men to think that they had found a slip or a mistake, and a shout of triumph has been raised, profounder research has always demonstrated the veracity and accuracy of the sacred writer, and has exposed the ignorance of the assailant' Some years ago a Yorkshire clothier lost a bale of cloth. He suspected a neighbour who was in the same business, and whose character was 'none of the best'. He entered his neighbour's warehouse, and pointing to a bale which he immediately recognized said, 'That is mine'. The rogue said, 'Prove it'. The owner of the bale was in a difficulty and went home. He was convinced that he was right, and yet how could he prove his case? One night as he lay awake he suddenly said, 'I have it'. Next morning he took witnesses and said to his suspected neighbour, 'Will you let me take that bale to the drying croft?' The man could not well refuse. The croft is the place where the cloth, after being dyed, is stretched on long, strong needles attached to posts. In this croft no two posts were equally distant. Our friend, taking the cloth, fitted the first needle into the first hole on the edge of the cloth, the second needle exactly agreed with the second hole, and so on to the end. The distances between the holes in the cloth exactly corresponded with the distances between the needles. The case was clear—the proof was certain. There are 1000 needles, so to speak, in the Bible, and there are 1000 holes in the land in which the Book was written and in the countries to which the Book refers. Take the cloth to the croft—the Book to the lands; compare the narrative with the history of the world to which it continually refers, and in every instance the needle corresponds with the hole. The open evidence is one with the sealed. The mode of evidence which was used by the Jewish people to prove the certainty of purchase strikingly illustrates to my mind this mode of authenticating the veracity of the words of the living God.
II. My text is a striking illustration of spiritual truth. It is in redemption spiritual as it is in redemption literal; there must be two kinds of evidence, sealed and open, to make the title good; so that if either of these be deficient, the claim or title to the Divine heritage is invalid, and we have no manifested interest in the precious blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, through which alone there is forgiveness of sin and an entrance into everlasting life.
1. There are the evidences which are sealed or secret, which cannot be seen, and read, and known, of men. (a) The revelation of Christ to the heart in His person and work as adapted to our necessities is a sealed evidence. (b) A spirit of adoption is a sealed or secret evidence. (c) A secret love to God's people is an evidence that God hath 'sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts'. 'We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.' (d) I can only mention one other evidence of a like character, and that is the love of truth, the loyal allegiance of the soul to all revealed truth. From the time that the entrance of the Word giveth light, the soul loves the light, and continually craves for it.
2. Consider the open evidences. Remember that; this kind of evidence, in verification of the purchase by Jeremiah of the field of Hanameel, was open, that it might be seen, might be read, might be known. To make it manifest that we have an interest in that which Christ has purchased for us, there must not only be the secret evidence within the soul, but the open parchment of a godly and consistent life. A religion which begins and ends with emotion can give no real evidence of our title to everlasting life. We must look to it that we have open evidences as well as sealed, for both are equally needed to prove our title good.
III. 'Put them in an earthen vessel to continue many days.' I believe that the application of these words is to the final restoration of the Jewish people to the land of their fathers; but we are distinctly taught that the captivity in Babylon is a type and picture of the captivity of death and the grave. This thought runs through Psalm and prophecy. The earthen vessel seems to describe the Christian here, frail, of the earth earthy, at present unrecognized as regards his princely condition, and yet one for whom the inheritance is kept.
—J. W. Bardsley, Many Mansions, p. 232.
References.—XXXII. 14—Spurgeon, Sermons, xxxix. No. 2297. XXXII. 17.—Ibid. vol. viii. No. 462. XXXII. 26, 27.—Ibid. vol. xxxiv. No. 2020. XXXII. 27.—Ibid. vol. xlvi. No. 2675. C Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 92. XXXII. 30-42.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2316. XXXII. 39.—Ibid. vol. xxvii. No. 1623. XXXII. 40.—Ibid. vol. xxxv. No. 2108.
The Enthusiasm of God
God is telling His people the great things He purposes to do for them, and He declares He will accomplish all with His whole heart and with His whole soul. Here we are brought face to face with the kindling fact that God is a God of enthusiasm.
I. God is Enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm is an impressive element of Bible theology. It is God's quenchless enthusiasm which is to establish in triumph the ever-increasing kingdom and peace of Emmanuel. All Christian missionary crusades have as the guarantee of their victory the enthusiasm of God.
If enthusiasm be a quality which Old Testament theology ascribes to God, it is also emphatically accredited to Him by the theology of the New Covenant. It is revealed as an outstanding feature of Him to have seen Who is the Father. 'With My whole heart and with My whole soul' was the motto of His Incarnate life.
Enthusiasm must surely be an essential of a true theology. One cannot conceive of an impassionate God. The very idea and etymology of the word 'enthusiasm' involves God. An ancient Greek finely described enthusiasm as 'a God within'. And such all grand enthusiasm is, and must be evermore.
II. God is Enthusiastic Concerning Human Character.
God's 'people' represent character. And God's enthusiasm for character is shown in His enthusiasm for His people.
The fact is, nothing in man creates such enthusiasm on God's part as the instituting and enhancing of character. Your soul is that in you in which God is most interested, and He is interested in everything about you. Christ's cross is the measure of God's enthusiasm for character.
III. God's Enthusiasm is Beneficent.
There are those whose so-called enthusiasm is self-centred. No altruism irradiates them. Nobody is anything bettered for them. God's zeal is to help, to bless, to enrich men.
IV. The Enthusiasm of God is Exemplary.
All enthusiasm is contagious. The awful peril is that we imitate evil enthusiasms. God's enthusiasm is the true ideal for man. 'Be ye imitators of God.'
V. There are things which do not excite God's enthusiasm.
God has no spark of enthusiasm for much that man burns about. This is apparent in the objects of their respective enthusiasms. God has no enthusiasm for self-centredness. God has no enthusiasm for worldliness. God has no enthusiasm for indifferency. Stoicism is not sanctity.
VI. What a Claim God has on us by Reason of His Enthusiasm.
A God who, with His whole heart and His whole soul, seeks man's highest good, is a God who constrains our devotion.
Here is ground of trustfulness. Can I fear for the morrow when this God is mine? Here is ground of hope. All shall always be well, seeing such a God is mine. Here is ground of service. Too much one cannot do for such a God. Passion is reason in the service of such a God.
VII. We may safely Reckon on God's Enthusiasm, if we be His.
The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but God's steadfast enthusiasm abideth. Pass through the wilderness gripping that beloved hand.
—Dinsdale T. Young, The Enthusiasm of God, p. 1.
References.—XXXII. 41.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2036. XXXIII. 3.—Ibid. vol. xi. No. 619; vol. xlvi. No. 2664. S. Martin, Comfort in Trouble, p. 161. XXXIII. 9.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 340; see also After the Resurrection, p. 156. XXXIII. 9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1636. XXXIII. 11.—J. C. Hedley, Sermons in St. Edmund's College Chapel, p. 126. XXXIII. 15-26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No. 2472. XXXIII. 23.—F. Lynch, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 236. XXXV. 2.—D. T. Young, Neglected People of the Bible, p. 147. XXXV. 12.—A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p. 137. A. N. Obbard, Plain Sermons, p. 71. XXXV. 16.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 351. XXXV. 18, 19.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament A Living Book for All Ages, p. 201. XXXVI. 3.—C. Kingsley, Sermons on National Subjects, p. 316.
For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house.
For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;
And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;
And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the LORD: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper?
And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.
So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.
And I charged Baruch before them, saying,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.
Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name,
Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:
Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day;
And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror;
And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;
And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them:
Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it.
And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it:
And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger.
For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD.
For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face,
Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.
But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence;
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.
And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.
Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.