Jeremiah 18:7
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
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(7-10) At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation . . .—The words carry the thoughts of the prophet back to those which had been stamped indelibly on his memory when he was first called to his work (Jeremiah 1:10). He is now taught that that work was throughout conditional. In bold anthropomorphic speech Jehovah represents himself as changing His purpose, even suddenly, “in an instant,” if the nation that is affected by it passes from evil to good or from good to evil. The seeming change is but the expression of an unchanged eternal Law of Righteousness, dealing with men according to their works. This, and not the assertion of an arbitrary, irresistibly predestinating will, was the lesson the prophet had been taught by the parable of the potter’s wheel.

Jeremiah 18:7-8. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, &c. — God speaks thus concerning nations and kingdoms in his word, and by his prophets and ministers. Thus he told Jeremiah 1:10, that he had set him over the nations, to root out and pull down — That is, to declare they should be rooted out and pulled down, or to make known the divine purposes concerning them. If that nation, against whom 1 have pronounced, turn, &c., I will repent, &c. — Repentance in man produces repentance in God. The threatenings of God being conditional, when they are suspended by his long-suffering and mercy, or prevented by the amendment of the persons against whom they are denounced, he is said, in Scripture, to repent; not that the phrase implies that there is any change in him, but that there is a change in us; and that his conduct toward us, provided his denunciations were not conditional, is the same as if he repented or changed his mind. But the reader is desired to see what is said on this subject, Genesis 6:6.

18:1-10 While Jeremiah looks upon the potter's work, God darts into his mind two great truths. God has authority, and power, to form and fashion kingdoms and nations as he pleases. He may dispose of us as he thinks fit; and it would be as absurd for us to dispute this, as for the clay to quarrel with the potter. But he always goes by fixed rules of justice and goodness. When God is coming against us in judgments, we may be sure it is for our sins; but sincere conversion from the evil of sin will prevent the evil of punishment, as to persons, and to families, and nations.At what instant - literally, "in a moment." Here, "at one time - at another time." 7. At what instant—in a moment, when the nation least expects it. Hereby he reminds the Jews how marvellously God had delivered them from their original degradation, that is, In one and the same day ye were the most wretched, and then the most favored of all people [Calvin]. God thus speaketh concerning nations and kingdoms more immediately in his word, or more mediately by his prophets and ministers; he told Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:10, that he had set him over nations, to root out, and to pull down

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom,.... By way of threatening: or, "the moment I shall speak" (s), &c; as soon as ever I have declared concerning any people whatever, Jews or Gentiles; that if they go on in their sins, and remain impenitent, and do not turn from them, that they must expect I will quickly come out against such a nation and kingdom in a providential way, as threatened:

to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; as the proprietor of a garden, when it do not turn to his account, plucks up the plants, and pulls down the fences, and lets it go to ruin.

(s) "momento loquor", Schmidt; "momento eloquor", Junius & Tremellius; "momento ut loquutus fuero", Tigurine version.

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
7. At what instant] lit. Suddenly. The same word occurs at the beginning of Jeremiah 18:9. The rendering in the two cases probably is At one moment—at another. (So Oxf. Heb. Lex.)

7–10. See introd. note.

Verses 7, 8. - At what instant, etc.; rather, One instant I may speak... but if that nation, against which 1 have spoken, turn from their evil, I repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. A similar rendering for the next verse. Jeremiah 18:7In Jeremiah 18:6-10 the Lord discloses to the prophet the truth lying in the potter's treatment of the clay. The power the potter has over the clay to remould, according to his pleasure, the vessel he had formed from it if it went wrong; the same power God possesses over the people of Israel. This unlimited power of God over mankind is exercised according to man's conduct, not according to a decretum absolutum or unchangeable determination. If he pronounces a people's overthrow or ruin, and if that people turn from its wickedness, He repeals His decree (Jeremiah 18:7.); and conversely, if He promises a people welfare and prosperity, and if that people turn away from Him to wickedness, then too He changes His resolve to do good to it (Jeremiah 18:9.). Inasmuch as He is even now making His decree known by the mouth of the prophet, it follows that the accomplishment of Jeremiah's last utterances is conditioned by the impression God's word makes on men. רגע, adv., in the moment, forthwith, and when repeated equals, now...again. Ng. maintains that the arrangement here is paratactic, so that the רגע does not belong to the nearest verb, but to the main idea, i.e., to the apodosis in this case. The remark is just; but the word does not mean suddenly, but immediately, and the sense is: when I have spoken against a people, and this people repents, then immediately I let it repent me. נחם על as in Joel 2:13, etc. With "to pluck up," etc., "to build," etc., cf. Jeremiah 1:10. "Against which I spake," Jeremiah 18:8, belongs to "that people," and seems as if it might be dispensed with; but is not therefore spurious because the lxx have omitted it. For הרעה the Keri has הרע, the most usual form, Jeremiah 7:30, Numbers 32:13; Judges 2:11, etc.; but the Chet. is called for by the following הטּובה and מרעתו. להיטיב הטּובה, to show kindness, cf. Numbers 10:32.

The emblematical interpretation of the potter with the clay lays a foundation for the prophecy that follows, Jeremiah 18:11-17, in which the people are told that it is only by reason of their stiffnecked persistency in wickedness that they render threatened judgment certain, whereas by return to their God they might prevent the ruin of the kingdom.

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