They are called rejected silver, for the LORD has rejected them.
1. That Jeremiah uses the same Hebrew verb where we have the two different words, "reprobate" and "rejected." What Jeremiah really says is that the silver hears the name "rejected silver," because Jehovah has rejected it.
2. The verb employed is commonly used to signify the action which is opposed to choosing; e.g. in Isaiah 7:15 the time is spoken of when a child becomes able to reject the evil and to choose the good, and in Isaiah 41:8, 9 there is a still more striking instance, because of its bearing on the words now under consideration. These are the words: "Thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not rejected thee." Thus it will be seen that we are not simply to think of rejection over against approval. Silver ore, being put through the most searching test possible, may respond to the test by coming out approved silver. But he who is thus able to approve is not necessarily in the position which requires him to choose. He may only have the duty of an assay agent, which stops with reporting the result of his test; he who has employed is the man to make the choice. Now, God tries in order that he may decide for himself whether to choose or reject; e.g. he rejected Saul from reigning over Israel, which of course means that, from the hour of rejection, Saul's throne was considered vacant. We can now proceed to point out the truths implied in this verse.
1. There can be no adequate discernment of the merit or demerit of any man unless by God himself. Only when God rejects can the stamp "rejected" be put on any one. Men may set up their canons of approval; they may apply their tests, philosophical, or political, or literary, or even theological. They may reject and excommunicate, pursuing with fiercest hatred all who are not approved according to their tests. Thus there will be a partial and temporary rejection, but since it comes from no adequate inquiry, the rejection itself will be rejected by a higher authority. Of this we have a conspicuous, we may even say the supreme, instance in Psalm 118:22, "The stone which the builders rejected [the same Hebrew word as Jeremiah uses, be it observed] is become the head of the corner." It may be, indeed, that he whom some men reject may in the end be rejected by God also, but it will be for very different reasons.
2. The reasons for rejection we must try to discover. The Lord rejects those who claim to be accepted. He will reject the claim when it is that of mere national descent, as when Jesus said to the proud Jews who opposed him, that out of the stones he could make children to Abraham. God rejects all mere formal acknowledgment of him; it is not enough to say, "Lord, Lord." He rejects all that is the mere exercise and effort of intellectual faculties. In short, he rejects all that does not begin with a complete acceptance of Christ, and hence go on in the spirit of entire submission to him. Illustrations of what prompts to rejection are furnished both before and after this verse, e.g. in ver. 20, where the incense, etc., is rejected, i.e. of course, the men who offer the incense, and in Jeremiah 7:14, where the admired temple is threatened with overthrow. A mere building is shown to be nothing in God's sight unless it is frequented by such as are themselves acceptable to him. Observe also, in ascertaining the reason for rejection, how the word "silver" is kept. The thing tested is rejected, not because it is counterfeit, but because it is persistently impure. It will not yield up those baser elements which are so intimately blended with it, and effectually destroy the value and hide the luster of the pure silver. And yet remember how high rejected man rises above rejected silver. Man in his freedom may relent from his stubbornness and submit to those renewing and purifying processes which will result in the silver being approved and chosen.
3. There is no chance of establishing and commending what the Lord rejects. Saul did his best to struggle against the Divine decision, but there is no more pitiable sight in all the records of kingship than that which he presents in the struggle. We also must reject those whom God rejects; and there can be no mistake about it that we must reject those who reject God - such as are spoken of in 2 Kings 17:15, those who rejected the statutes of God and the covenant that he had made with their fathers, and the testimonies which he testified against them. - Y.
The bellows are burnt.
I. THE PROPHET HIMSELF. The prophet was exhausted before the people were impressed. So also with Noah, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Himself. Nor since, by apostles, confessors, zeal-consuming preachers, has the iron-hearted world become melted; but they themselves have suffered and perished amid their work.
1. It is the preacher's business to continue labouring till he is worn out.
2. The Gospel he preaches is the infallible test between the precious and the vile.
II. THE AFFLICTIONS WHICH GOD SENDS UPON UNGODLY MEN. Sent to see if they will melt in the furnace or not. But where there is no grace in affliction the afflictions are sooner exhausted than the sinner's heart is made to melt under the heat caused thereby — e.g., Pharaoh, not softened by all the plagues. Ahaz, "when he was afflicted, he sinned yet more and more." Jerusalem, often chastised, yet incorrigible. Sinners, upon whom God's judgments exert no melting power.
III. THE CHASTISEMENTS WHICH GOD SENDS UPON HIS OWN PEOPLE. The great Refiner will have His gold pure, and will utterly remove our tin. Do not let it be said that the bellows are used till they are worn out before our afflictions melt us to repentance and cause us to let go our sins.
IV. THE TIME IS COMING WHEN THE EXCITEMENT OF UNGODLY MEN WILL FAIL THEM. Many activities are kept up by outward energies inciting men.
1. Excitement in pursuit of wealth. Yet how little will the joys of wealth stimulate you in your last moments!
2. Excitement in pursuing fame. Alas! men burn away their lives for the approbation of fellow creatures; and these fires will die down into darkness.
3. Living for pleasure; but satiety follows, and the flame of joy goes out.
4. Hypocrisy is with some their "bellows"; but this feigned zeal and pretended piety will end in black despair.
V. THOSE EXCITEMENTS WHICH KEEP ALIVE THE CHRISTIAN'S ZEAL. In certain Churches we have seen great blazings of enthusiasm, misnamed "revivals," mere agitations. Genuine revivals I love, but these spurious things are fanaticism. Why was it the fire soon went out? The man who blew the bellows left the scene of excitement, and darkness ensued. Our earnestness is worthless which depends on such special ministrations. Is the fire in our soul burning less vehemently than in years past? Our obligations to live for Christ are the same; our Master's claims on our love are as strong; the objects for which we served God in the past are as important. Should we grow less heavenly the nearer we come to the New Jerusalem?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
The lead is consumed of the fire.
1. First, there is the refining fire of glory, which is so abundant in the outward world. It is for us to answer it by what is known as reverence. We have not the pure metal which is sought, if we are not so refined by the wonders of the world as to kneel in worship, and uplift our souls in awe. "This world is not for him who does not worship," said an ancient Persian sage; and our kindred souls give back the truth across the centuries, "This world is not for him who does not worship."
2. Again, there is the burning fact of law. All things around us are done with persistency. Everything is regular. The smallest function is precise. Surely the knowledge of such constancy should have its influence on us. It should take what is pure within us. It should appeal to the clear metal of our better selves, and make us trust.
3. Finally, the fire of utter impartiality surrounds us. The world is laid at each one's feet. The Divine bounty is not given to this person, and denied to that one; but all of us receive. And the answering refinement which should come from receptive human beings, who may doubt its nature or its need? A suggestive legend comes to us from Mohammedan writings. Abraham, it is said, once received an old man in his tent, who, in sitting down to eat, neglected to repeat a "grace." "My custom," he said, in explanation, "is that of the fire worshipper." — Whereupon the Jewish patriarch in wrath undertook to drive him from his door. But suddenly God appeared to him, and, restraining the churlish impulse, cried: "Abraham, for one hundred years the Divine bounty has flowed out to you in sunshine and in rain; and is it for you to deny shelter to this man because his worship is not thine?" Even thus does nature speak a silent yet severe rebuke to our narrowness, our lack of sympathy, our petty distinctions and rivalries in social life. "Be broad," she cries. "Let love control your acts; to those who need, extend a helping hand."
(P. R. Frothingham.).
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