At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:
Our text makes mention of the discrimination of times by the faculty of instinct, and contrasts it favourably with man's want of discrimination, though endowed with reason.
I. The birds of passage show, in their periodic migrations, their discernment of seasons, and this, both as regards the time of their visiting and the time of their leaving us. Probably some peculiarity in the material structure of the migratory birds renders them extremely sensitive to changes of temperature, and as these changes always recur at certain seasons of the year, they observe seasons, and make a corresponding change in their places of abode, so great is their sagacity, so true their instinct.
II. Consider the operation of unsanctified reason in discerning times. The season of grace which God allots to His people, admits of comparison in many respects with the warm and inviting springtide. (1) Consider the invitations of this season of grace. Invitations are held forth by the Saviour's voice in the pages of the written Word, by the Holy Spirit, by the Church, the Bride, and by the Providence of God. (2) If the majority of sinners be not gently won by the invitations of grace, they will haply be driven by terror to take refuge in these offers. Let growing age and growing infirmity bring death and judgment very near—the prospect will surely urge the wanderer to return with hurried steps to the sheepfold? But no, it is not found so. The sinner, however near he may stand to the brink of the grave, puts far away the evil day, instead of taking warning from the prospect of it. We are forced to the conclusion that, although endowed with faculties far higher and nobler than that of instinct, man evinces less intelligence in matters which most nearly concern him, than is evinced every day by the brute creation. Neither the possession of reason nor the possession of revelation can by themselves roll away from man the reproach of folly. Reason must be sanctified before its exercise can make him truly wise. Reason must submit like a little child to be led by the hand of revelation. The Holy Spirit must turn the dead letter into a living letter, the venerable archive into the daily counsellor.
E. M. Goulburn, Sermons in the Parish Church of Holywell, p. 129.
References: Jeremiah 8:9.—J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii., p. 278. Jeremiah 8:11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1658. Jeremiah 8:19, Jeremiah 8:20.—Ibid., vol. xi., No 608.
Jeremiah 8:20No hope, no hope! That was the peculiar burden of Jeremiah, that was the vision forced upon him, the message he was constrained to deliver, while the people and their leaders were nursing the assurance that all was going well, that a work was being prosecuted which would secure salvation.
I. Few things are more unpalatable and painful, than to feel it incumbent on you to say to any for whom you entertain sentiments of friendship and affection, what is calculated to damp and dishearten; to spoil the dreams of those who are dreaming pleasantly, deliciously; to destroy or disturb fond hopes: than to feel it incumbent upon you, instead of sympathising with the joy of such hopes—as you fain would, were it possible—to shake your head and contradict them. Comforting and comfortable as the dream may be, the sleeper, in his own best interests, must, if possible, be roused, since the dream is beguiling him perchance to courses that are wrong, and is misshaping and impairing him for what is at hand.
II. By how many has the cry of Jeremiah been breathed inwardly, with sorrow and bitterness, concerning themselves, as they have stood contemplating what they have and what they are, after seasons in their history—seasons that had enfolded golden opportunity, or shone bright with promise. Who is there beyond the boundaries of youth at all, who has not had his seasons of promise, that have left him sighing forlornly over broken hopes? Infinite in this respect is the pathos of human life, crying dumbly evermore for the infinite pity of God. And yet may we not believe, do we not feel to our solace, that at the least, something has always been reaped? reaped for sowing, albeit with tears, in fields beyond; nay, that even in the more lowly and penitent sense of shortcoming, which seems perhaps almost all that has been gained, we shall be carrying away with us from hence, a gathered seed grain, to be for fruit—perchance for the fruit we have hitherto missed, behind the veil.
S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Upper Norwood, p. 39.
References: Jeremiah 8:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1562; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 368; A. F. Barfield, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 363; R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 113; R. Storrs, Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 315.
Jeremiah 8:22I. Sin is the consumption not of the body, but of the soul, and without seeking to establish any curious analogies, but supposing that you were a mere neutral visitor, a mere unconcerned spectator of this world, you would see all its inhabitants labouring under a disease which has these characteristics: (1) It has its seat in the very citadel of life. Sin is deep in all the soul. The carnal mind is enmity against God, so unsound that it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can be; the whole head is sick, the whole heart faint. (2) It is an hereditary disease. It is in the race, inveterate, a cleaving curse, a rankling virus. Each one is "shapen in sin," and with the dawning intelligence of each, sin is what first develops. (3) It is a fatal disease. It has as good as taken the life of the soul already, and when it has run its course it will infallibly end in the second death. It has no tendency to arrest itself, and there never has been an instance where it stopped spontaneously, and of its own accord passed away. (4) It is a flattering disease. Very seldom does the sinner feel as if he were labouring under a deadly distemper. (5) In many instances it proves an acute and agonising disease.
II. Notice a few analogies between Judah's balsam and that better balm which heals the wounds of sin—the anguish of the soul. (1) There was no great show about the tree itself. It had no particular grandeur or beauty. And so with the Saviour. He had no outward form nor comeliness. (2) The balm tree was a stranger in Palestine. The Saviour was a stranger in our world. (3) In order to obtain its healing essence, they used to wound the balm tree. And in order to give forth in one conclusive act the merit of His life, the Saviour's side was pierced. He was obedient unto death. He poured out His blood and made His soul an offering for sin.
J. Hamilton, Works, vol. vi., p. 151.
Reference: Jeremiah 8:22.—W. M. Punshon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 245.
And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.
And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.
Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return?
Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.
How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.
Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.
We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!
The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein.
For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.
When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.
Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.
Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?