Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Circumcise yourselves to the Lord.—The words show that the prophet had grasped the meaning of the symbol which to so many Jews was merely an outward sign. He saw that the “foreskin of the heart” was the fleshly, unrenewed nature, the “flesh” as contrasted with the “spirit,” the “old man” which St. Paul contrasts with the new (Romans 6:6; Romans 8:7). The verbal coincidence, with Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6 shows the influence of that book, of which we find so many traces in Jeremiah’s teaching.
Lest my fury come forth like fire . . .—The words, which describe the righteousness of Jehovah as a consuming fire, have their parallel in Jeremiah 7:20, Amos 5:6, and form the transition to the picture of terror which opens in the next verse.Deuteronomy 10:16 note. Nature, such as it is in itself, unconsecrated to God, is to be removed from our inner selves, that a new and spiritual nature may take its place.
Lest my fury ... - God is long-suffering, but unless this change take place, the time of judgment must at length come to all as it came to Jerusalem - "like fire" (compare 1 Corinthians 3:13; Philippians 2:12-13).
Jeremiah 4:5-6:30 "God's Judgment upon the Unrepentant"
A group of prophecies now commences, extending to Jeremiah 10:25, but broken at the beginning of Jeremiah 7 by a new heading. The subject of them all is the same, namely, the approaching devastation of Judaea by a hostile army in punishment of its persistence in idolatry. The prophecy of Jeremiah 7 was probably written in the first year of Jehoiakim, while as regards the rest they probably extended over a considerable period of time. This group, which we may reasonably believe to have come down to us much as it stood in Jehoiakim's scroll, gives us a general view of the nature of Jeremiah's efforts during that important period, when under Josiah a national reformation was still possible, and the exile might have been averted. The prophecy Jeremiah 7, spoken in the first year of Jehoiakim, when the probation of Judah was virtually over, was the solemn closing of the appeal to the conscience of the people, and a protest, while the new king was still young upon his throne, against that ruinous course upon which he so immediately entered.Circumcise yourselves; put away your natural corruptions; which was signified by the sacrament of circumcision, Colossians 2:11; see 1 Peter 3:21; the same thing with the other, but expressed in other words.
To the Lord; or, to me, viz. so as I will approve. Take away the fore-skins of your heart; let it be inward, not outward, viz. in the flesh only, (in which you so much glory in the sight of men,) but take away that brawniness and obstinacy that (having to do with God, who hath respect unto the heart) is upon your hearts, Deu 10:16 Ezekiel 44:9 Acts 7:51 Romans 2:29.
Lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it; not only fierce and consuming, like fire, Deu 4:24; but unquenchable, especially when it gets among your thorns, Jeremiah 4:3, which are very apt to kindle, Isaiah 10:17; lest you proceed so far in your obstinacy that I will not be appeased, Jeremiah 21:12 Amos 5:6; there being nothing that stirs up God to anger but sin, as in the next clause, which is an explication of those metaphors of thorns and foreskins.
and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; this is the true spiritual circumcision; and they that are possessed of it are the circumcision, the only truly circumcised persons; and they are such who have been pricked to the heart, and thoroughly convinced of sin; who have had the hardness of their hearts removed, and the impurity of it laid open to them; which they have beheld with shame and loathing, and have felt an inward pain on account of it; and who have been enabled to deny themselves, to renounce their own righteousness, and put off the body of the sins of the flesh: and though men are exhorted to do this themselves, yet elsewhere the Lord promises to do it for them, Deuteronomy 30:6, and indeed it is purely his own work; or otherwise it could not he called, as it is, "circumcision without hands", and "whose praise is not of man, but of God", Colossians 2:11, and the reason of this exhortation, as before, is to convince those Jews, who were circumcised in the flesh, and rested and gloried in that, that their hearts were not circumcised, and that there was a necessity of it, and they in danger for want of it; as follows:
lest my fury come forth like fire; to which the wrath of God is sometimes compared, Nahum 1:6 and is sometimes signified by a furnace and lake of fire, even his eternal wrath and vengeance:
and burn that none can quench it; such is the fire of divine wrath; it is unquenchable; it is everlasting, Mark 9:43,
because of the evil of your doings; which are so provoking to the eyes of his glory; the sins of men are the fuel to the fire of his wrath, and cause it to burn to the lowest hell, without the least degree of mercy. The Targum is,Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord] Literal circumcision was the condition of admission to the external covenant. “Jeremiah demands an inward circumcision, a cleansing and dedication of the heart. Such a doctrine naturally points the way to his supreme contribution to religious thought, his epoch-making conception of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).” Pe.
These two vv. prove a worthy climax to the whole section. Co. however is hardly justified in omitting Jeremiah 4:1-2 on the ground of comparative weakness.Verse 4. - Circumcise yourselves to the Lord. A significant passage. All the Jews were circumcised, but not all were "circumcised to the Lord." There were but too many who were "circumcised in uncircumcision" (Jeremiah 9:25), and the prophet sternly reduces ouch circumcision to the level of the heathenish rite of cutting off the hair (Jeremiah 9:26; comp. Herod. 3:8). Jeremiah seems to have been specially anxious to counteract a merely formal, ritualistic notion of circumcision, sharing in this, as in other points, the influence of the Book of Deuteronomy, so lately found in the temple (comp. Deuteronomy 10:16). To him the venerable rite of circumcision (older, certainly, than Abraham) is a symbol of the devotion of the heart to its rightful Lord (comp. St. Paul in Romans 2:28, 29; Colossians 2:11; Philippians 3:3). Psalm 37:16; Isaiah 60:5. Schnur., Ros., Maur., de W., have preferred the last meaning, and have put the sense thus: vana est ex collibus, vana ex montibus affluentia, or: delusive is the abundance that comes from the hills, from the mountains. This view is not to be overthrown by Graf's objection, that we cannot here entertain the idea of abundance, however, imaginary, acquired by the Israelites through idolatry, seeing that in the next verses it is declared that the false gods have devoured the wealth which the Israelites had inherited and received from God. For in the present connection the abundance would be not a real but expected or imagined abundance, the delusiveness of which would be shown in the next verse by the statement that the false gods had devoured the acquisitions of Israel. But to take המון in the sense of affluentia seems questionable here, when the context makes no reference to wealth or earthly riches, and where the abundance of the hills and mountains cannot be understood to mean their produce; the abundance is that which the idolatry practised upon the hills and mountains brought or was expected to bring to the people. Hence, along with Ew., we take this word in the sig. tumult or noise, and by it we understand the wild uproarious orgies of idolatry, which, according to Jeremiah 3:2 and Jeremiah 3:6, were practised on the hills and mountains (קל זנוּתהּ, Jeremiah 3:9). Thus we obtain the sense already given by the Targ.: in vanum coluimus super collibus et non in utilitatem congregavimus nos (אתרגישׁנא ( son , prop. tumultuati sumus) super montibus, i.e., delusive and profitless were our idolatrous observances upon the heights.
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