Jeremiah 10:16
The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.
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(16) The portion of Jacob.—As in Psalm 16:5; Psalm 119:57, God is described as the “portion,” i.e., as the treasure and inheritance of His people. He is no powerless idol, but the former, i.e., the creator, of all things, or more literally of the all, i.e., of the universe.

The rod of his inheritance.—The phrase was familiar in the poetry of Israel (Psalm 74:2; Isaiah 63:17—Heb.), but its exact meaning is not clear. The word may be “rod” in the sense of “sceptre,” as in Genesis 49:10; Micah 7:14. Israel is that over which, or by means of which, God rules. But the other meaning in which it stands for “stem,” “division,” “tribe” (as in Isaiah 19:13; Exodus 28:21), is equally tenable.

The Lord of hosts is his name.—The time-honoured and awful name is obviously brought in as in emphatic contrast to all the names of the gods of the heathen. Among them all there was no name like “Jehovah Sabaoth,” the Lord of the armies of heaven, of the stars in their courses, of the angels in their ordered ranks, and of the armies of Israel upon earth.



Jeremiah 10:16

Here we have set forth a reciprocal possession. We possess God, He possesses us. We are His inheritance, He is our portion. I am His; He is mine.

This mutual ownership is the very living centre of all religion. Without it there is no relation of any depth between God and us. How much profounder such a conception is than the shallow notions about religion which so many men have! It is not a round of observance; not a painful effort at obedience, not a dim reverence for some vague supernatural, not a far-off bowing before Omnipotence, not the mere acceptance of a creed, but a life in which God and the soul blend in the intimacies of mutual possession.

I. The mutual possession.

God is our portion.

That thought presupposes the possibility of our possessing God. It presupposes the fact that He has given Himself to us, and the answering fact that we have taken Him for ours.

We are God’s inheritance.

We give ourselves to Him-we do so where we apprehend that He has given Himself to us; it is His giving love that moves men to yield themselves to God. He takes us for His. What a wonderful thought that He delights in possessing us! The all-sufficiency of our portion is guaranteed because He is ‘the former of all things.’ The safety of His inheritance is secured because ‘the Lord of Hosts is His name.’ And that name accentuates the wonder that He to whom all the ordered armies of the universe submit and belong should still take us for His inheritance.

Mark the contrast of this true possession with the false and merely external possessions of the world. Those outward things which a man has stand in no real relation with him. They fade and fleet away, or have to be left, and, even while they last, are not his in any real sense. Only what has indissolubly entered into, and become one with, our very selves is truly ours.

Our possession of God suggests a view of our blessedness and our obligation. It secures blessedness-for we have in Him an all-sufficient object and a treasure for all our nature. It imposes the obligation to let our whole nature feed upon, and be filled by, Him, to see that the temple where He dwells is clean, and not to fling away our treasure.

His possession of us suggests a corresponding view of our blessedness and our obligation.

We are His-as slaves are their owners’ property. So we are bound to submission of will. To be owned by God is an honour. The slave’s goods and chattels belong to the master.

His possession of us binds us to consecrate ourselves, and so to glorify Him in ‘body and spirit which are His.’

It ensures our safety. How constantly this calming thought is dwelt on in Scripture-that they who belong to Him need fear nothing. ‘Fear not, I have called thee by thy name, them art Mine.’ God does not hold His possessions with so slack a grasp as to lose them or to suffer them to be wrenched away. A psalmist rose to the hope of immortality by meditating on what was involved in his being God’s possession here and now. He was sure that even Death’s bony fingers could not keep their hold on him, and so he sang, ‘Thou wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.’ The seal on the foundation of God which guarantees its standing sure is, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His.’ ‘They shall be Mine in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure,’ is His own assurance, on which resting, a trembling soul may ‘have boldness in the day of judgment.’

II. The human response by which God becomes ours and we His.

That response is first the act of faith, which is an act of both reason and will, and then the act of love and self-surrender which follows faith, and then the continuous acts of communion and consecration.

All must commence with recognition of His free gift of Himself to us in Christ. We come empty-handed. That gift recognised and accepted moves us to give ourselves to Him. When we give ourselves to Him we find that we possess Him.

Further, there must be continuous communion. This mutual possession depends on our occupation of mind and heart with Him. We possess Him and are possessed by Him, when our wills are kept in harmony with, and submission to, Him, when our thoughts are occupied with Him and His truth, when our affections rest in Him, when our desires go out to Him, when our hopes are centred in Him, when our practical life is devoted to Him.

III. The blessedness of this mutual possession.

To possess God is to have an all-sufficient object for all our nature. He who has God for his very own has the fountain of life in himself, has the spring of living water, as it were, in his own courtyard, and needs not to go elsewhere to draw. He need fear no loss, for his wealth is so engrained in the very substance of his being that nothing can rob him of it but himself, and that whilst he lasts it will last with, because in, him.

How marvellous that into the narrow room of one poor soul He should come whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain! Solomon said, ‘How much less this house which I have built,’-well may we say the same of our little hearts. But He can compress Himself into that small compass and expand His abode by dwelling in it.

Nor is the blessedness of being possessed by Him less than the blessedness of possessing Him. For so long as we own ourselves we are burdens to ourselves, and we only own ourselves truly when we give ourselves away utterly. Earthly love, with its blessed mysteries of mutual possession, teaches us that. But all its depth and joy are as nothing when set beside the liberty, the glad peace, the assured possession of our enriched selves, which are ours when we give ourselves wholly to God, and so for the first time are truly lords of ourselves, and find ourselves by losing ourselves in Him.

Nor need we fear to say that God, too, delights in that mutual possession, for the very essence of love is the desire to impart itself, and He is love supreme and perfect. Therefore is He glad when we let Him give Himself to us, and moved by ‘the mercies of God, yield ourselves to Him a sacrifice of a sweet smell, acceptable to God.’Jeremiah 10:16. The portion of Jacob is not like them — There is no comparison between senseless idols and the great Creator of all things, who has chosen the posterity of Jacob for his peculiar people, and has promised to be their God, and that they should always have an especial interest in his favour, if they continued steadfast in their worship of, and obedience to, him. The rod of his inheritance — Is an expression taken from the first division of the land of Canaan, when the inheritance of each tribe and family was meted out with a line or rod.10:1-16 The prophet shows the glory of Israel's God, and exposes the folly of idolaters. Charms and other attempts to obtain supernatural help, or to pry into futurity, are copied from the wicked customs of the heathen. Let us stand in awe, and not dare provoke God, by giving that glory to another which is due to him alone. He is ready to forgive, and save all who repent and believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. Faith learns these blessed truths from the word of God; but all knowledge not from that source, leads to doctrines of vanity.The portion, of Jacob - i. e., Yahweh. He is not like gods made by a carpenter and goldsmith.

Of all things - literally, of the all, the universe.

The rod of his inheritance - See Psalm 74:2; compare Isaiah 63:17. The rod is the scepter, and Israel the people over whom Yahweh especially rules.

16. portion—from a Hebrew root, "to divide." God is the all-sufficient Good of His people (Nu 18:20; Ps 16:5; 73:26; La 3:24).

not like them—not like the idols, a vain object of trust (De 32:31).

former of all things—the Fashioner (as a potter, Isa 64:8) of the universe.

rod of his inheritance—The portion marked off as His inheritance by the measuring rod (Eze 48:21). As He is their portion, so are they His portion (De 32:9). A reciprocal tie (compare Jer 51:19; Ps 74:2, Margin). Others make "rod" refer to the tribal rod or scepter.

The portion of Jacob; a periphrasis for the true God, who vouchsafeth to be the portion of his people and to be so called, Deu 32:9 Psalm 16:5, and many other places, because he is in covenant with his people in the Messiah, whose co-heirs are as dear to him as a portion is that descends to a man by inheritance; and he tells you his name in the close of the verse, Isaiah 47:4, one who hath the whole host of heaven and earth at his disposal.

He is the former of all things; idols are things framed and formed, but God is the former of all things, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Israel is the rod of his inheritance; so called, because the portions and inheritances of Israel were measured by a line, reed, or rod, and therefore called the

rod of his inheritance, Deu 32:9 Psalm 74:2, and because they were his by a continual line of succession; beside Israel is jbv schebet, the rod or sceptre of his inheritance, because God did set up his kingdom in Israel. The portion of Jacob is not like them,.... Like those idols, vain, and the work of errors, or shall perish; even the true God, who is the portion of his people, of Jacob, whom he has chosen and redeemed; who call themselves by the name of Jacob, and are Israelites indeed, and plain hearted ones; and who have seen the insufficiency of all other portions, and the excellency of this; for there is none like it, none so large, so rich, so satisfying, and so durable; for God is the portion of his, in all the perfections of his nature, which all, some way or other, are for their good and advantage; and in all his persons, and under every character; even all he has is theirs, now and hereafter:

for he is the former of all things: which idols are not, being the maker of creatures themselves; wherefore the Creator must be a better portion than they; and as he has all things at his dispose, he bestows them on his people, and they cannot want:

and Israel is the rod of his inheritance; chosen and possessed by him, and dear unto him; and wonderful this is, that on the one side he should be the portion of his people; and, on the other, that they should be his portion and his inheritance, when so few in number, and despised by and among men, and but sinful dust and ashes; and especially when what follows is considered:

the Lord of hosts is his name: his title is the Lord of armies, above and below; he rules both in heaven and in earth, and has the inhabitants of both worlds, angels and men, at his command; and yet he chooses a handful of people to be his possession and inheritance.

The {i} portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.

(i) By these words, portion and rod, he signifies their inheritance, meaning that God would be all sufficient for them: and that their happiness consisted in him alone, and therefore they ought to renounce all other help and comfort as of idols, etc. De 32:9, Ps 16:5.

16. The parallelism of clauses is improved by the LXX’s omission (probably therefore rightly) of two words in MT. The LXX render accordingly, “For the former of all things is his inheritance.”Verse 16. - The portion of Jacob; i.e. Jehovah. The phrase appears to have been coined at a lower level of religion, when every nation was supposed to have its own patron deity; just as the prophet says, ironically, to the fetish-worshippers of Israel, "Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion" (Isaiah 57:5), and Moses, in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 4:19), speaks of the host of heaven as having been "divided [i.e. assigned] unto all nations under the whole heaven." But, of course, the phrase is susceptible of a high, spiritual application (comp. Psalm 16:5; Psalm 142:5). God's people are, by their very conception, an ἐκλογὴ, chosen out by God, and choosing him, and not the world, for their portion. "Making the best of both worlds" is an object implicitly condemned by this consecrated phrase. The former of all things. How much more forcible is the original phrase: "... of the whole," i.e. the universe! "To form" is a phrase constantly used of God in the second part of Isaiah. The rod of his inheritance. "Rod" should rather be tribe. The twelve tribes had an inner unity, as contrasted with other peoples; comp. Psalm 74:2 and Isaiah 63:17 ("tribes"). Whereas Jahveh is really and truly God. אלהים (standing in apposition), God in truth, "truth" being strongly contrasted with "vanity," and "living God" (cf. Deuteronomy 5:23) with the dead gods (Jeremiah 10:5, Jeremiah 10:8); and everlasting King of the whole world (cf. Psalm 10:16; Psalm 29:10; Exodus 15:18), before whose wrath the earth trembles and the peoples quake with terror; cf. Nahum 1:5; Joel 2:11; Psalm 97:5. לא יכלוּ (written as in Jeremiah 2:13), they hold not, do not hold out, do not endure.
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