Therefore thus said the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?
The verses from Ver. 2 to the text set forth its doings, and the text and remainder of the chapter foretell its doom. Note -
I. DECEIT. It is a terrible indictment that the prophet brings. He affirms that deceit is:
1. Universal. Ver. 2, "They be all," etc. Ver. 6, "Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit;" i.e. it is everywhere, all around you. That:
2. It has broken up the most sacred relationships: "They be all adulterers" (Ver. 2).
3. It has turned their solemn assemblies into a conclave of liars (Ver. 2).
4. It is practiced deliberately. Ver. 3: as a man deliberately bends and takes aim with his bow.
5. It has mounted the judge's seat (Ver. 3; cf. true translation of phrase, "They are not valiant for the truth").
6. It has smoothed the way for all evil. "They proceed from evil to evil" (Ver. 3).
7. It has destroyed all confidence
(1) between neighbors,
(2) between brethren (Ver. 4).
8. It is diligently studied. Ver. 5, "They have taught," etc. "They take the utmost pains to go crookedly."
9. It is cruel and deadly in its aims (Ver. 8). In view of a condition of things so horrible, how unanswerable is the demand of Ver. 9, "Shall I not visit them for these things?" etc.! It will be found in all the judgments of God upon nations that those judgments have never come until there was no other way of dealing with such nations, if the moral life of the world was to be maintained.
II. ITS DOINGS.
1. It had made dwelling amongst them intolerable to the righteous. (Cf. Ver. 2.) Jeremiah longs to get away from them. The most desolate solitude would be preferable to living amid such a people as this. It is an ominous sign for a community when the godly, however compassionate, however long-suffering, can no longer endure to dwell in their midst.
2. It had made the thought of God intolerable to themselves. Vers. 3, 6, "They know not me, saith the Lord." Just as a man may meet one whom he desires to have nothing to do with, but when he meets him will pass him as if he did not know him; so deceit had made these people, as it makes all such, desirous of having nothing to do with God. Therefore they will not recognize or acknowledge him in any way.
3. And at last it had made them intolerable to God. Ver. 7: God asks, "What else can I do for the daughter of my people?" (cf. Exposition). There was nothing now but for the judgment of God to go forth against them. Therefore note -
III. ITS DOOM. Ver. 7, "Therefore thus saith" etc. And down to Ver. 22 these awful judgments of God are set forth. Inquire, therefore, what there is about deceit which renders it so hateful in the sight of God.
1. There can be no doubt that it is so. "Lying tips are an abomination unto the Lord" (cf. Psalm 15.; Acts 5.). "All liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth," etc.
2. And some of the reasons are:
(1) Deceit cometh from Satan, who was "a liar from the beginning," and "the father of lies." It was by his lies that our first parents were deceived and sin was brought into the world.
(2) It is the source of infinite misery and distress. It is" the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil" which still work well-nigh all our sorrow and our shame.
(3) It tends to the destruction of human society. All our well-being and comfort depend upon good faith being maintained between man and man. "But now, where fraud and falsehood, like a plague or cancer, comes over to invade society, the band which held together the parts compounding it presently breaks, and men are thereby put to a loss where to league and to fasten their dependencies, and so are forced to scatter and shift every one for himself. Upon which account every notoriously false person ought to be looked upon and detested as a public enemy, and to be pursued as a wolf or a mad dog, and a disturber of the common peace and welfare of mankind; there being no particular person whatsoever but has his private interest concerned and endangered in the mischief that such a wretch does to the public" (South). A sin, therefore, so destructive of the well-being of his children cannot but be abominable in the eyes of the Father of us all.
3. It shuts God out of the heart altogether. God has made us for himself, but deceit bars fast the door of man's heart against him. God can only be worshipped in spirit and in truth; but deceit renders this primary condition of such worship unattainable.
4. But God in his anger remembers mercy. Ver 7, "Behold, I will melt them, and try them," that is to say, he will, as the smelter casts the metal into the fire not to destroy but to refine it, to purge away its dross, and then, that being done, tests and tries it to see that the process has been effectual; so God will send his judgments upon his people, not to destroy, but to purify them, and he will afterwards test them again, give them another opportunity of serving him. He might have destroyed, but this he will not do. He "will melt them, and try them." But less than this he cannot do. "What else," etc.? he asks. It is a dread process; Judah and Jerusalem found it so, and all who compel God to cast them into such a crucible find it to be a dread process. Our blessed Savior wept over Jerusalem, although he told them that when next they saw him they should say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord." It was the thought of that furnace for fire through which they must be passed ere they would come to this better mind that drew forth those tears. Let none, therefore, deem the judgment of God a subject for trifling with, because, as here, God says its purpose is to "melt and try," rather than to destroy. CONCLUSION. Let this consideration of the doings and doom of deceit lead us to listen to the Lord's appeal, "Oh, do not this thing that I hate!" - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?