Jeremiah 6:2, 3
I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.…
Patterns of things spiritual and eternal are scattered broadcast over God's universe. Nothing is more pleasant than to trace these resemblances out. Our Lord was ever "likening" things in the kingdom of heaven to things he saw around him in the world. His own word, "parables," tells of things "placed by the side" of others for comparison of their likenesses or contrasts. The prophet in these verses "likens" Jerusalem - the daughter of Zion - to a beautiful and luxuriant pasturage (cf. Exposition). He was speaking of the material city. But that daughter of Zion leads our thoughts to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, the Church, "which he has purchased with his own blood." Now, that may be fitly likened to such a pasture; it is the Lord's pasture. For -
I. THESE THE SHEEP OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD FIND REST AND REFRESHMENT AFTER THE OFTEN WEARY JOURNEY OVER THE WAYS OF THE WORLD. (Cf. Psalm 23., 84.) See the many testimonies to the spiritually refreshing and restful influence of the worship of the Church. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures," etc.
II. THERE HIS SHEEP FIND PASTURE. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will feed her poor with bread." By the ministry of God's truth, by the application, through the Holy Spirit's grace, of the things of Christ. Christ's people are fed as with the Bread of life.
III. THE COMELINESS AND BEAUTY OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST JUSTIFY THIS COMPARISON. True, the Church has not yet put on her "beautiful garments." The prophetic visions of her glory and majesty still wait to be realized. "The bride" has not yet" made herself ready." But even as she is, in her garments of humiliation, treading her painful way as a weary pilgrim, who is like unto her? Where are moral beauty and grace to be found such as she possesses, and has shown - yea, is showing still - in spite of all imperfections? Even now - oh, how much more by-and-by! - the Church of Christ, the Lord's pasture, is the fairest, loveliest scene this poor sin and sorrow stricken earth presents. Even now she is Christ's bride, and all spiritual beauty and comeliness are summed up in that.
IV. FOR ATTRACTIVENESS. Cf. ver. 3, which tells how other shepherds were irresistibly drawn to this pasturage, and how eagerly they led their flocks there. As concerned the earthly Jerusalem this had no happy meaning, but as concerns Christ's Church its meaning is happy and blessed indeed. It is good that the fowls of the air should lodge in the branches of the great tree, which has sprung from the tiny seed planted by the Lord. And it is good that "nations, and peoples, and tribes, and tongues" should, as many already have been, and as all others will be, drawn by the attractiveness of the rich and luxuriant pasturage which the Lord's pasture offers. It is a weary world; self and sin are cruel taskmasters; they have no green pastures into which they lead their sheep, The opened ear of those whose hearts are touched with Christ's sympathy perpetually hears the cry for help, the longing to be led into the pasture of the Lord. It is a reproach to every professed disciple of Christ if he do not, by what he is and by the spirit of his life, attract others to the Lord's pasture, and lead them to say, "We will go with you, for we see that the Lord is with you."
V. IT IS THERE WHERE THE LORD LEADS HIS SHEEP. Many think they can be Christ's without uniting themselves to his people, keeping amid the world's ways and standing aloof from the Lord's pasture. But this is wrong. There is a sense in which the old saying, "Nulla salus extra ecclesiam," is true, and nothing casts graver doubt on the reality of our discipleship than absence of sympathy with other disciples, and no liking for their companionship. Love for "the brethren" is given as one note of having "passed from death unto life," It is the Lord's will that his people should be banded together in their several folds, and the instinct of the renewed heart almost certainly leads it to desire this pasturage. Hence, as a fact, there are scarce any, if any, of the disciples of Christ who are not found in one or other of the folds into which the one flock of the Good Shepherd is divided. CONCLUSION. Ask two questions:
1. Of those who are not Christ's. Do you find that the ways of the world are really better than the Lord's pasture? is it better to serve sin and self than Christ? We are sure that there can be but one answer. Why, then, do you not hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and "follow" him?
2. Of those who are his. Are you careful not to blotch and blur that likeness? Many do this, so that the likeness cannot be traced, and the world turns away from it, not drawn by what it sees. Strive to let men see in you somewhat - much - of that spiritual grace and beauty which will lead men greatly to desire to enter the Lord's pasture for themselves. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.