BRETHREN BEEBE: – If you have time and light on Jeremiah xxxii. 7, 8, 27, 35, please give us your view on the chapter, but especially on the portions of it which are expressed in the verses referred to, and obligate a poor sinner saved by grace, if saved at all, for no creature help can save a sinner.
E. S. LEGGETT.
Little Red, Ark., Feb. 17, 1881.
REPLY. – We cannot claim that we have any special light on the chapter on which our views are solicited; but we will offer a few general remarks on the subject as we may be led, and submit what we may write to the consideration of brother Leggett, and to our readers generally.
At the time indicated, when this word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, it found him incarcerated in a prison for having incurred the displeasure of Zedekiah, king of Judah, by faithfully declaring the message of God concerning the impending captivity of Judah and Jerusalem for their idolatry and wicked departure from the law of the Lord; but as no prison walls can repel the word of the Lord, which goeth out of his mouth like the rain and the snow from heaven, and which no created power can successfully resist, so came the word of the Lord, at this, as at all times, unto the prophet Jeremiah, which could not be turned back until it had fully accomplished that for which it was sent.
In the absence of absolute predestination, no prophet could with certainty have foretold of coming events, either of mercy or of wrath. The inspiration by which God spake unto the patriarchs by the prophets gives irrefragable demonstration of the determinate counsel, foreknowledge and infinite prescience of the all-wise God. This was clearly demonstrated in the fearful prediction of the tempest of wrath which was soon to drive the king of Judah and his subjects into captivity, stating with unerring precision by whom they were to be captured, the place of their captivity, and the exact time they should be held in Babylon, and when and by whom God would deliver them.
Jeremiah had to encounter the violent opposition of false prophets, who flattered the king that these terrible predictions of Jeremiah should not come to pass. The command of God to the prophet, in whom was the right of redemption of his nephew's field, to make that redemption purchase, seems to have been designed as a sign of the final redemption of the remnant that should be ultimately delivered from captivity, and return to their inheritance in Jerusalem. This we infer from the fourteenth and fifteenth verses: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” And looking still further through the type to the redemption of the remnant of God's chosen people from sin and transgression by the blood of their divine Kinsman, according to the election of grace, the redemption of the field was designed to indicate the final restoration of the Jews to their inheritance in Jerusalem, and also to point to the redemption of the people of God which are in Christ Jesus our Lord, and it certainly was a sign to them of the certain fulfillment of the word of the Lord, which was fully realized by them in their Babylonish captivity, and in their ultimate deliverance and restoration. The terrible judgments predicted by Jeremiah were fully realized by the Jews for their transgressions and base idolatry; and also the deliverance promised in the thirty-seventh verse, and to the end of the chapter, was fulfilled to the letter at the appointed time, according to the word of the Lord by the prophet.
The thirty-fifth verse, on which our brother desired our views, reads thus: “And they built the hig places of Baaal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I command them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should to this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” Baal, or Bel, which signifies ruler or lord, was an idol god of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, and his high places were those consecrated places in which his worshipers paid homage to him, and the people of Israel were often detected in bowing at his shrine in their abominable idolatry. Molech also was an idol; he was a god of the Ammonites. The word Molech signifies a king. To this most cruel idol human sacrifices were made, and even the children of Israel caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire in him. This cruel, inhuman and unnatural service was not authorized by the Lord; for as we are told in our text, it had never come into the mind of God to command any such abomination, but he had forbidden it on pain of death. – See Deut. xii. 29-32; xv. 10; 2 Kings xvi. 3; xxi. 6; 2 Chron. xxviii. 3; xxxiii. 6. Such revolting homage as the worship of Molech, causing children to be burnt upon his altar, can only be accounted for on the ground of the deep and dark depravity of mankind; in such cruel devotion only the enmity of the carnal mind against God can show any inducement. The propensity of the carnal mind to sin against God knows neither limit nor bounds. Yet Israel, the chosen people of God, favored above all other nations of the earth, in their carnal state and condition were prone to idolatry and will-worship as the sparks fly upward. What could induce them to sacrifice their children to Molech, except to openly rebel against God, who had so strictly forbidden it.
“The valley of Hinnom, or of the son of Hinnom, is called Tophet; it is a small valley on the southeast of Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Zion, where the Canaanites, and after-wards the Israelites, sacrificed their children to the idol Molech, by making them pass through the fire, or by burning them.” – Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, page 226.
These abominations were not practiced privately and in obscure places, but were at times popular in Jerusalem, and the temple of the Lord was desecrated, and altars to Molech were even set up, and these abominations were practiced in the holy consecrated temple in Jerusalem. Is it strange then that the wrath of God was manifested against the idolatrous people by sword, famine and pestilence, and by delivering them into the hands of their enemies? It truly seems more amazing that our long-suffering God did not banish them forever. How truly it is because he is God and changes not that the sons of Jacob are not utterly consumed. Yet in wrath he remembered mercy. In visiting the sins of Judah and Israel with the rod, and their idolatry with the stripes, he did not forget his covenant with Abraham, nor fail to verify his promise to Isaac and Jacob.
The admonition of our subject to the people of God to beware of rebellion and idolatry should not be overlooked nor forgotten by the saints of the gospel dispensation, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” &c. – Rom. xv. 4. The name of the place of the captivity of the carnal Israelites was Babylon, which name signifies confusion, and we are told “They shall be ashamed and confounded, all of them; they shall go to confusion together that are maker of idols.” – Isa. xlv. 16. And departure from the true God, and reliance for salvation on the works of men's hands, is idolatry, and will assuredly subject the transgressors to Babylonish confusion; from which may God in grace mercy preserve us, for his holy name's sake.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 14.
July 15, 1881.