Jeremiah 18:8
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
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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.I will repent of the evil ... I will repent of the good - All God's dealings with mankind are here declared to be conditional. God changeth not, all depends upon man's conduct. 8. their evil—in antithesis to, "the evil that I thought to do."

repent—God herein adapts Himself to human conceptions. The change is not in God, but in the circumstances which regulate God's dealings: just as we say the land recedes from us when we sail forth, whereas it is we who recede from the land (Eze 18:21; 33:11). God's unchangeable principle is to do the best that can be done under all circumstances; if then He did not take into account the moral change in His people (their prayers, &c.), He would not be acting according to His own unchanging principle (Jer 18:9, 10). This is applied practically to the Jews' case (Jer 18:11; see Jer 26:3; Jon 3:10).

If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil; if that nation leaveth off those sinful courses which I have by my prophets threatened with judgments;

I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them; I will also turn from the methods of my severe providence which I had resolved in case of their impenitency to proceed in against them. There is a difference betwixt repentance in man, and repentance as it is attributed to God; repentance in man must be, not only a change in action, but a change of heart; repentance as attributed to God never signifieth a change of heart, or purpose, or counsels, but only a change in action, all alteration of the course of his providence. Hence God in Scripture is said to repent, as in this text, and Jonah 3:10. And it is also said of him, that he is not as man, that he should lie or repent, Numbers 23:19 1 Samuel 15:29. God never changeth his counsels or purposes, though he often varieth his actions of providence, according to the behaviours of his creatures.

If that nation against whom I have pronounced,.... Such a sentence as this, should immediately, upon the above declaration, do as Nineveh did:

turn from their evil; their evil of sin, their evil ways and works, as an evidence of the truth of their repentance for former sins:

I will repent of the evil that one thought to do unto them; as they change their course of life, God will change the dispensations of his providence towards them, and not bring upon them the evil of punishment he threatened them with; in which sense repentance can only be understood of God, he doing that which is similar to what men do when they repent of anything; they stop their proceedings, and change their outward conduct; so God proceeds not to do what he threatened to do, and changes his outward behaviour to men; he wills a change, and makes one in his methods of acting, but never changes his will.

If that nation, against which I have pronounced, shall turn from their evil, I will {b} repent of the evil that I thought to do to them.

(b) When the Scripture attributes repentance to God, it is not that he does contrary to that which he has ordained in his secret counsel: but when he threatens it is a calling to repentance, and when he gives man grace to repent, the threatening (which ever contains a condition in it) takes no place: and this the scripture calls repentance in God, because it so appears to man's judgment.

8. I will repent] speaking after the manner of men. The sense is, I will alter my treatment, for among men change of conduct implies change of purpose.

Jeremiah 18:8In 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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