Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;CHAPTER 17
1. Judah’s sin (Jeremiah 17:1-4)
2. The curse and the blessing (Jeremiah 17:5-11)
3. The worship of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 17:12-18)
4. Concerning the Sabbath (Jeremiah 17:19-27)
Jeremiah 17:1-4. The sin of Judah was idolatry, engraven with a pen of iron, the point of a diamond, upon their heart (from whence it proceeded) and upon the horns of their altars. They had destroyed but a few years before the asherim (translated groves, a kind of sacred post), and now their children turned back to the abominable heathen cults. His anger and judgment must now be their portion.
Jeremiah 17:5-11. A curse is pronounced upon him who trusteth in man, who departeth from the Lord. For such a one there is no hope; he shall not see good; he must be an outcast, like the heath in the desert. And such is the natural condition of man, his heart is departed from the Lord, he trusteth in himself, making flesh his arm to defend and to uphold. But blessing is for the man who trusteth in the Lord, whose hope the Lord is. Jeremiah 17:8 contains the same truth as Psalm 1:3. It is a description of the God-fearing in Israel, who knew the Lord, trusted and hoped in Him. He had called them to this place of blessing; He had encouraged them to trust in Him; He had manifested His glory and His power in their midst. But they turned away from Him, they leaned not on Him, but on the arm of flesh, on Egypt. The heart is the source of it, deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The question, “Who can know it?” is answered, “I the LORD search the heart.” He has sounded the depths of it and in His omniscience knew the shameful history of Israel, and all their backsliding. So He knew and knows what we are, yet in sovereign love and grace He has loved us and bears with His own.
Jeremiah 17:12-18. The worship of the prophet stands here also for the worship and soul exercise of the godly remnant of the Lord’s people. The sanctuary of the godly is the glorious high throne, that throne which we know as the throne of grace. In Jeremiah 17:14 there is expressed by the prophet in behalf of the God-fearing the need of His salvation. They mocked the prophet, “Where is the Word of the LORD? Let it come.” So they will hate the remnant of the future Isaiah 66:5. And we know the prediction in Peter’s second Epistle 2Peter 3:1-18. Jeremiah 17:18 corresponds to the imprecatory psalms. What Jeremiah prays, was fulfilled upon that evil generation; and some day the imprecatory psalms will be fulfilled when the Lord deals again in judgment with the nation.
Jeremiah 17:19-27. Kuenen and other critics deny the Jeremianic authorship of this passage. It is not out of keeping with the message of the prophet. The Sabbath of which he is commanded to speak is the standard of Israel’s spiritual condition, for it is the weekly reminder of Israel’s covenant relation with Jehovah. If they neglected the divine command, as they always did in their departure from the Lord, it was the outward evidence that they had broken the covenant. If they really returned to the Lord they would show it by keeping the solemn Sabbaths and the Lord would bless them. But they obeyed not. This passage as well as others is used by the pernicious Seventh Day Adventistic cult, which denies grace and turns back to the law. But the Sabbath has nothing to do with the Church, nor has the Church anything to do with the Sabbath. The Sabbath is an institution of the law in connection with Israel. The great documents addressed to the church, the Epistles, never mention the Sabbath once, nor is there anywhere in the Epistles an exhortation to keep the Sabbath.