Jeremiah 21:13, 14
Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, said the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us?…
The indifference and callousness of Judah and her king would appear to have reached a climax. Ignorance could not be alleged in excuse of it. It had become ingrained systematic unrighteousness; and had added this to itself, that it had rejected the warning counsels of God's prophet. How was it to be dealt with?
I. IT COULD NOT BE LET ALONE.
1. The long-suffering mercy that had already been shown had been misunderstood. To delay longer was therefore impossible.
2. For all sin is a contradiction of the Divine Spirit and rule in the earth. It is a direct challenge to Heaven. Especially is this the case when a positive law has been revealed, and a direct intimation of God's will made by a living representative. God's honor is therefore involved in the issue.
3. The interests of truth and the kingdom of God on earth would suffer. The transgression of one child of God is a stumbling-block to many, and those who enjoy Divine privileges should be especially careful as to how they behave. The world of heathenism witnessing the behavior of Judah would be confirmed in its unbelief, or would misinterpret the genius of the religion of Jehovah. It might suppose that Jehovah was but a likeness of one of its own gods, full of partiality. This impression must be dissipated, and it could only be so by firm and prompt dealing with the offence.
II. A FINAL PEREMPTORY SUMMONS TO REFORMATION IS GIVEN. It might be supposed enough to have dealt silent and summary punishments upon the guilty land anti its king. But this would not consist with:
1. God's revelation of righteousness. In blessings as well as in punishments a rational connection had to be shown with the behavior and deserts of their subjects. The sinner's own conscience had to be addressed ere he was cast off forever; and the indictment was of world-wide concern. A warning and an example were required for the general guidance of men, and for their apprehension of the justice of Heaven in punishing those upon whom the calamity came.
2. God's mercy. The scheme of redemption does not exclude the possibility of the sinner himself being saved. On the contrary, this is its chief aim. Just as it would not be consistent with God's character to suffer unrighteous practices to continue unrebuked, so "God would not be God" were the penalty to be unannounced and without alternative of salvation. With many sinners of today he deals in like fashion. The warning is given with gentle, repeated, and terrible emphasis, and the way of escape is pointed out so plainly that "the wayfaring man, though a fool, may not err therein,"
III. HE HIMSELF WILL BE THE ANTAGONIST. "I am against thee" (cf. ver. 5).
1. This was a reversal of his normal relation to Israel. It would be hard for people of their habits of thought to realize; and it is stated boldly in order to emphasis. Not mere neutrality, He is to be a belligerent - the belligerent with whom they have to do. They must have felt foredoomed to failure. They knew his power and resources, for had they not been employed on their own behalf in the past? Is not this the present consciousness of many? They know that God is against them. Are they prepared to carry the war on to the end?
2. It represented the utter wrongness and hopelessness of their cause. The "rock of the plain' would be of little avail against him. The forces of the world were at his command; and their own hearts would fail them for fear against this ghostly combatant. Against the righteous one the sense of an evil cause would be the parent of discomfiture.
IV. YET THE PUNISHMENT WAS TO COME FROM WITHIN THEMSELVES, "I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings;" "I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof." It is not easy to gather from these vague statements the precise form the punishment would assume. But the description agrees best with the circumstances of Jehoiakim's reign, who built palaces of cedar, and ruled with despotic violence. A literal rendering of the terms of the judgment is scarcely permissible. Is civil war meant? Or court intrigues that may issue even more disastrously? In any case it would be the result of a reaction against the tyranny and wrongdoing of the court.
1. The elements of destruction are within the sinner himself. Many already know something of what hell is in themselves.
2. The results of sin will be its punish-men. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?