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MATTERS OF LOVE, WHOSE PURE LABOUR IS NEVER LOST
WHEN THE LOVE IS OF GOD,
AS SHOWN IN THE EARLY CHAPTERS OF JEREMIAH
TIME TO LOOK AROUND IN THE WORD OF GOD
This term, "My People" is one used in the midst of passion, compassion, zealous care, prompt concern, solicitude and under extreme provocation, of degradation and indeed, something near to dissolution, in the mouth of the Lord.
Love is like that. It sees with intensity, hopes with immensity, seeks with strong propensity, propels the loved one in the direction of good (we are not speaking of mere passion of the flesh, but love in spirit). Yet let the object of this affection become not merely degraded, not merely erroneous, but dissolute and dead, the light of life dimmed by the variety of vicissitudes which maul, befoul and make morbid or moribund, and let the appeals and hopes become as vain as Autumn leaves which fall, full of colour but not colourable as alive: then the love may indeed leave the object as one leaves a dream.
Love is persistent and insistent, but does not use force: that, it is simply irrelevant. The WHOLE POINT is the discretion of being in the image of God, as human beings are, and having a whole rainbow of elements on which to lodge, many wrongly taken, from which to be dislodged. With God, there is this magnificent creation, man, in His image, and hence able to resist Him (in the sense of the love which He freely proffers, not of course in the sense of breaking with what He has determined as just and good and right and true), a fact on which Stephen in Acts 8, dwelt not a little. Indeed, YOU DO ALWAYS RESIST THE HOLY SPIRIT! this was his charge as he was being hauled off to death, in their proud spirits, soon by their stony hearts and stone-filled hands.
Hence we see this, not only in Matthew 23:37 (as demonstrated in SMR Appendix B), and Luke 19:42ff., not merely in Ezekiel 33:11, and in principle in I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff. (cf. Great Expectations ... Chs. 7 and 9), not merely in John 3:16-19 (cf. The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4, Beauty of Holiness Ch. 2 ), in precept invulnerable and coherent with spectacular light, but in the remonstrances of intimate, prolonged and systematic kind, as in Jeremiah, where the situation develops, as in a romance novel, before our eyes.
It is at these that we now look; for if in the last chapter, our concern was the end, in this it is nearer the beginning, the free flow of divine love, exposed in vast clarity as it moves towards a conflict where the vulnerable is besought, but resists; is given pleadings, exhortations, remonstrances, offers, opportunities, but rejects; where the surging power of love, of which procreative love is merely the created shadow of the increate wonders of the love of God, moves in its fluency as from mountain dams spilling over.
We look now, as we will look further in a different manner, later, at the term "My people!" as seen in Jeremiah 8-9, and indeed, many, many times in the first 10 chapters of Jeremiah.
This term of possession, parallel to "my curtains" (4:20) and "my tents" and "the daughter of My people" (8:11 cf. SMR Appendix B), the latter a term used often by the Lord in Isaiah, Jeremiah, to mean simply that generation of the people of Israel which currently is the contemporary product, illustration, example, the addresses of the moment, viewed as one amidst the long litany of generations since the city was taken in the day of King David.
The particular term 'My people' is used in Jeremiah as a keynote term, as in 4:22, where it is declared by the Lord:
"For My people are foolish, they have not known Me.
They are silly children and they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
but to do good, they have no knowledge."
Indeed, this term in particular is a norm for divine declaration to Israel, and except for the odd occasion where there is a king or a foreigner (like Ruth) who wishes to refer to the obvious realities of this or that people, or the ones given to his rule, or a Psalmist who provides by sharing, a reflective overview of the dealings of the Lord, and so speaks in a manner which is almost indirect speech from the Lord, it is used BY the Lord. WHEN HE is in view, no other relationship of this kind can stand; and this the more so, since He has both created, and provided for the redemption of Israel, who is regarded as married to Him (as in Ezekiel 20, and Hosea, throughout the entire book).
When HE addresses His people, no other claim, no other name can be intruded. If it did, to what could that be compared ? It would be like a secretary adding her two cents worth, in the very midst of the boss's address to his 20,000 employes, or a child, interpolating his authoritative view in grand perspective, as the husband is having a vast and crucial conversation with his own wife! It is unthinkable.
No case can be found, where the "I" and "you" starting as the Lord's address, is suddenly changed into that of a mere prophet, talking in his own name or right, to the people, in parallel terminology. It would not only be confusion, but bear the feeling of precisely what put Moses out of doing more than SEE the promised land, when he remonstrated. How, on that saddest of occasions, did the normally patient Moses remonstrate with the (admittedly) rebellious people ? MUST WE bring forth the water ? he asked, and he struck it not just once as required, but twice, adding his two cents' worth. WE ? Who is DOING it ? after all...
The impropriety could not be better illustrated. It is a thing that cannot be done, except in folly. God is too utterly distinct for that, His meaning too utterly crucial for any other way to open, even to the curious flurries of human thought.
In Jeremiah 8-9, therefore we come to the hugely delightful exposure of the divine passion.
In nearly all cases, and in all such cases, whether in Hosea where it is a covenantal designation of deity for His people, as He roves from phase to phase of their coming history before Him, it is a zealous thing that occurs in this use of this phrase. It carries overtones of marriage sometimes express and explicit, and appropriate calls, both because of so exalted a Lord and of so exalted a relationship to Him (as in Deuteronomy 4:7-9).
It is used when the topic is divine benevolence fulfilled, or excised, and the gamut is seen in Jeremiah, where to this is added that yet to come in the most distant future, when the ark of the covenant shall no more be visited, yes when it will no more so much as come to mind (Jeremiah 3:16, one of those many pivotal verses of this numerical sequence, throughout the Bible, interestingly enough!).
"My people" in this way, is in Jeremiah as in Hosea, a thematic phrase, used to arrest attention, remind of duties, instil awareness of divine solicitude and concern, determination and awareness as such! It becomes a phrase in the symphony, like a repeated thematic group, pulsing with power because so easily recognisable, playing on such similar lyrical and historical components. It is almost a form of arrest, either of attention, for blessedness, or for coming ruin.
To be sure, there is a great deal of empathy, and of empathetic extensions of the Lord's feelings, which at times are exhibited with leaping emotions, in ways expressed in the form of man. This is readily to be understood by men, from the mouth of the Lord, whose intensity went so far that He actually came and endured their griefs in person, moving from metaphorical figure, to express readily understood truth, to literal physicality, thus moving at the acme of acuity, in due time to ebbing physiological circuits and dripping fluid of life, on the Cross.
Why then is it felt by some that anger can be so expressed (as in fact in Ezekiel 38:18, where the Lord says that His wrath will show in His face, when a gross violation of Israel's integrity occurs in the last times), and not His love! Is He self-immune whose ear in fact, is so finely attuned to hear, that He cannot so respond! What a preposterous imagination that would be! ... and how finely is His ear attuned, we see in Jeremiah 4:31, the Lord speaking (4:27), declaring this:
"For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labour.
The anguish as of her who brings forth her first child.
The voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself.
She spreads he hands, saying,
'Woe is me now, for my soul is weary because of murderers!' "
It was then to be, as it is now! When the Lord's covenantal protection is lost in the time of Israel's being cut off, before at last being re-grafted back (as in Romans 11's figure), then the hatred of man can rage and spoil; but then again, the response of the Lord, in His own appointed time, can flush out the fevers of wickedness more sharply than can any man! As in Deuteronomy 32:36-43, where He will 'lay My hand on My sword', this is a matter of small difficulty to any realising that this is divine communication, not solace for psychological romancers.
It means that He will use power with a sharp and effective edge and divine might to make happen the thing He desires, in the face of military style opposition. Surely a babe could see that; but when it comes to love, people now often, in this theological field, seem to oddly pseudo-Victorian, in a strange sort of way, and to be unable to see the clear statements of the Lord concerning His love in case after case!
Some cases have had to be shown in the face of headwinds of tradition; but here it is simply a matter of a strange veering away, shown in some translations, in the inverted commas added, or in additions to the text in italics and so on.
In Jeremiah 5:2, the Lord asks, "How shall I pardon for this ?", in the pressure of love in the face of remorseless renegacy on the part of the loved, Israel. He expostulates; indeed He refers in the gamut of intimate intensity of emotion (5:30) to something with an impact resembling that on many, of the sinking of the Titanic, now taken up in monumental pictorial form.
"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests bear rule by their power,
and my people love to have it so.
"But what will you do in the end!"
The prophet enquires for the Lord, with no little pith ( Jeremiah 6:10 cf. 5:1ff.!):
"To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear ?
Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed.
Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them.
They have no delight in it."
"Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD,"
the Lord continues (as if a king would say, I am full of the fury of the Royalty).
He proceeds to give His word quite expressly in complete continuity and contiguity (6:11ff.):
"I am weary of holding it in,
I will pour it out ...
Because from the least of them even to the greatest,
Everyone is given to covetousness,
And from the prophet,
Even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly ...
They shall be cast down, says the Lord."
The LORD asks them to go to the place of Shiloh, where the explicit testimony was earlier made to His name (cf. Deuteronomy 12:11). He spoke to them then, rising early and declaring (again see the clear use of human terminology for divine action and emotion, without the least question arising at to what is meant, for it merely makes it more intimately assessable, the proper work of metaphor). He will again cast them out. Therefore, the LORD says,
"Do not pray for this people ..." (7:16).
The alienation is intense and immense, and is seen stretching for a considerable historical period, until in Jeremiah 8, we hear the strength of love coming with pity once more: "Shall they fall and not rise ? Will one turn away and not return ?" Continuing to expostulate, the Lord speaks of the stork knowing her appointed times, whereas
"My people do not know the judgment of the LORD."
Thus once again, it is not "this people" but "My people"! (8:11), that phrasing of the melody of the music of His passion, that speaks, that evokes. He evidences His continuing fostering desire, in the very midst of their misrule.
"MY HEART IS
FAINT IN ME ... WHY HAVE THEY PROVOKED ME TO ANGER ..."
Then in Jeremiah 8:18, we hear once more the divine soliloquy, if one uses the word of drama, and this is a divine drama:
"I would comfort myself in sorrow,
My heart is faint in me.
Listen! The voice, the cry of the daughter of My people from a far country.
'Is not the LORD in Zion ?
Is not her King in here ?'
Why have they provoked Me to anger...."
It is, and it remains His people, His land, His place whether or not He sees fit as He explicitly promised for chronic, continued covenant breaking in Leviticus 26:32-33, to expatriate them for a period before they should return. In His divinely inimitable and frequently repeated mode, like an initial strings phase for a concerto of piano, an introductory pattern, He asks, "Is there no balm in Gilead!" a richly rhetorical and evocative query! "Why then is there no recovery..." (8:32).
Just as He has condescended to use human terminology to paint divine emotion (and as noted above, this is in the incarnation perfected, for it becomes His, though holy and divine in quality), so He goes a unit further here, stating this: "For the heart of the daughter of My people, I am hurt!" (8:21).
How great was that hurt to become in the vessel of time, in the field of history, when the due date for it, aptly predicted through Daniel 9 (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), in the fulness of this appointed time (Galatians 4:4), came around, and the clock for crucifixion (as in Psalm 22, 16), struck One!
The Lord even declares, "Astonishment has taken hold of Me," this amid mourning (8:21 and cf. 5:30), thus indicating that beyond time, there is that same awareness as we find differently IN time, for the Lord is not void of feeling, even to the point that His own human, late incarnate form, became void of seemliness as it was butchered more than any man, defaced, deformity for deity the human acclaim! (Isaiah 52:12ff.). THAT is the extent to which His sensitivies are activated, that He permitted their physical loss for their spiritual gain!
Just as the soul of Christ, facing sin-bearing was full of heaviness (Matthew 26:37, as foretold in Psalm 69:20-21 cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), but alight with love and duty, with discipline and devotion, seeing the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12), the redemption of many, so did the sheer horror of the cost of love, the cost to man of sin, awaken in Him the divine equivalent of what in human terms is the evocation of being staggered (Jeremiah 8:21, Hebrews 5:7). Time did not dim the eternal reality; but it merely was a base as He transferred it to human terms.
All this He suffers because it is His people, His place, His redemptive love, indeed the love of the Creator for such a people, so found, so provided for, so entreated, so known, so covenantally close to Him (as expressly in Deuteronomy 4, noted above). This Creator aspect is shown profoundly in two ways, as in Jeremiah 5:22-25, where the sheer splendour of creation and its delimitations is in view, and in Jeremiah 4:22-27, where it is as if the entire creation were to be dismembered into a disordered reversal, and things to become once more without form and void! Sin desecrates, and this can be seen from the mind of the Creator Himself, as a movement back to the very springs of His creation, a defilement evoking the image of the earth unformed, since to be wilfully DEFORMED is not unlike being not yet formed!
So intense is the Creator spirit, as the Lord looks on the defilement of MY PEOPLE!
In Jeremiah 5:22-25 case, we learn the extent of the human disorder, called sin, when the Lord declaims (5:26ff. - bold added):
"For among My people are found wicked men,
They lie in wait as one who sets snares:
They set a trap,
They catch men.
As a cage is full of birds,
So their houses are full of deceit.
Notice that therefore! It is a continual refrain, this 'therefore' concerning judgment, and as here, where every conceivable means is used to prevent it, overcome it, with offers both direct and subtle, a panoply of peace continually provided, yet in the end, it comes, as an old coat goes, when (if it could), it refuses to be cleansed or mended. There is nothing else for it! It is sad, most sad, but sure, most sure ... It goes.
The junta rules mischievously in HIS NAME, and the people love to HAVE IT SO! (5:30-31).
How like to the time of the crucifixion it was, and what a time for realisation was thus provided, in the 70 year exile that followed the words of Jeremiah, before the 2000 or so years which would come the SECOND TIME, when they actually did not merely reject the word of the Lord through that great and faithful prophet, Jeremiah, but rejected their King Himself. It was always in view, and the emotions were displayed with incredible realism, or so it would be if it had not been the LORD Himself with His own expressive power (of which our very beings are part, as creations), who has shown it so, making the seemingly incredible certainly to be accomplished. Such is the prerogative of unlimited power and illimitable purity and majesty.
What folly, then, it would be to try to defame His love by seeing all of this, and then trying to remove it, in its expression. Is it not a case of blinded eyes, or perhaps for some, just a blind spot! But the reason, the reason ...
Where does the prophet in indisputable manner, infuse with the very divine terminology of advanced and precise delineation of their position, his own word! He may comment on himself, or allude to this or that, but as to the divine message of his Mentor, it is as inviolable as the iceberg which impacted on the Titanic. It does not yield to any work at all, from the seas. It has its job to do, and it sinks men's thoughts, before those of the Lord.
This is not merely empirically so, but needful: for confusion in this aspect, of instrument for musician, of servant for master, for just this very thing, even in appearance, but perhaps in spirit for a moment, Moses lost His entry into the promised land, and died merely seeing it. The terms of speech, collected in their "My" phrases, indicted with majesty, determinate with assurance, directed with judgment, aflame with desire, arresting in their intimacy, extended in their appeal: these are sacredly significant, an autograph of power and omniscience, direct, immediate, linked to the whole gamut of divine emotions.
If at times they are expressed in human terms, prior to the incarnation, this is the depth of empathy, approaching the infinite, as in time expressed in that very incarnation: on which all the world depends, without which its end would have been sooner, but through which the divine passion being made practical to the last degree, there is hope. It comes like a helicopter above the wreckage of the ways of this world, ready and waiting, with this difference, that the pilot Himself, He knows whom, and when each must come, and the rope, it is the Gospel, nor is there any other (Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10).
The preliminary words in the prelude of judgment, in the intensity of love, are all the more potent for their expression at times in human terms; just as they became yet more effective, when expressed in God manifest in the flesh, AS man (I Timothy 3:16, I Corinthians 2:8). He in turn, using still more imagery of still more tender appeal and solicitude, meaning and clarity, when on this earth, referred to a hen with her chickens (Matthew 23:37), in terms of His expressed desire to find. Again, it has the patient dedication of fishing! (as in Ezekiel 47, Mark 1:17).
Again, think of it as free-range chickens: it is so very unwise not to listen, when the foxes abound!
It is all personal and expressed as such, for God IS personal, and we are made in His image, so that it is readily understood, once the fear of the Lord is also understood; for this is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One, this is understanding, as Proverbs advises us (9:10 cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Because the wisdom was rejected, the LORD announced this in Jeremiah 6:26:
"Oh daughter of My people, dress in sackcloth ... make mourning as for an only son,"
for the disaster to come.
"My people do not know..." (8:7) unlike the stork, which with its merely instinctive and instilled wisdom, yet knows timing and events to follow, exactly. At a discount compared with such purely natural wisdom, Israel stands condemned. Alas as in 8:11, they "healed the daughter of My people slightly." Thus, "they shall be cast down, says the Lord."
In this line, we come back to our old friends,
|"For the hurt of the daughter of My people, I am hurt!" (8:21).|
Why then, He asks, is there no balm ?
Thus there is this intensive, extended, multiply expressed, diversely designed method of appeal, approach, expression, intimate with wisdom, discursive in expression of what is found, both in the realm of evil and in the mode of the pathetic; it is zealous in provision, even if in the end, this is in necessary judgment. This it does, while looking yet to the glory to come, in the destiny grasped by undying love, for some of them, as in Jeremiah 3:12-18, where the transition from the Old Covenant to the New is expressed.
This is that which as Isaiah showed in 4, 32, 9, 11, 49-55, 61 and so on, was to be accomplished by the Messiah, in precisely the fulfilment of such language as expressed the heart of the Lord. It is that seen as above in Jeremiah, now put into action with feelings authentic to the point of becoming human (cf. Hebrews 2).
It is useless to try to invest Jeremiah the man, the prophet with this sovereignly attested and peculiarly sovereign possession, one gained by virtue of creation and redemption to come, famed in history, personally intimate in discourse, the counterpart in expressive mode of the wrath, yes and more so, for it is so persistent in mode and at times all but flamboyant in fervour (as in Hosea 12:10's overview). It is the LORD who so speaks, and no other; who CAN so speak, and there is no other.
It is this love which is the environment in which, and despite which the wrath at last comes.
In 9:15ff., accordingly, we find this:
"Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness,
so that no one can pass through?
"And the Lord said,
'Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them,
and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it,
but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,
therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:
'Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles,
whom neither they nor their fathers have known...' "
So does He speak, in the congeries of well-matched terms, as though we were hearing throughout much of Jeremiah, phases of a long conversation, absorbing, vital, distilled in wisdom, unequal in vigour, but deep in desire, design and development.
The LORD asks us to understand the depth of His passion, compassion and truth (Jeremiah 9:23-24), for though it be purer than that of man, and not marked by selfishness, but by a glory of provision and gift: yet it must be seen outside the rigorous carvings of philosophy, for the personal glory that it in fact is. Unwise is he who jilts Him, in such a disclosure, though it be not intentional.
To try to force a comment of Jeremiah into this whole integration of interests and declamation, uniform declaration and sovereign majesty of style, as in Jeremiah 10:19-20, after the annunciation of the LORD speaking in 10:18, it is insupportable intrusion, not comportable with the Lord's repeated declaration in this very place, that it is He speaking, nor with the integrity of His style throughout, His key-notes and His disclosures. It would be like a magazine, paying much for the words of some author, to be cited, having the journalist put in a few lines of his own, in similar style, even when repeatedly, almost every few words, the declaration is that it is the author himself who is speaking. 'O Lord' muses the prophet, but it is not he who speaks in the divine vein, merely to solicit the Lord, and so to show.
It is clear and distinctive, shown as shared by true credentials in the text. Otherwise, master and servant, speaker and instrument, Lord and one of His redeemed, the mixture would become a horror of misconception, a ruin of unreality, a confusion of folly.
To inscribe indifferently into what is to be transcribed ? That ? It would appear not merely cranky and piquantly odd, but an abuse of the stage.
Thus in 10:20 we read of the tender zeal of Him who though aware of the necessity of discipline, is yet poignant for what is lost, because of the love of what it is that is lost, and what is symbolised with it:
"My tent is plundered,
And all my cords are broken;
My children have gone from me,
And they are no more.
There is no one to pitch my tent anymore,
Or set up my curtains."
The all but incredible seeming consistency of the love reminds one of a mother or father who so delights in the offspring, that every little thing is significant; but here, how much more so, since these sacred objects were typical and illustrative of the divine love to be conveyed into practical form in the Messiah, and with them went the preliminary preparation of heart and mind for that greatest event in the history of the universe, without which it would never have been created (Isaiah 51:16 with 49:2).
The poignancy and piquancy is that of the parent; to imagine Jeremiah speaking in this phase would be like someone visiting the Antarctic, envisaging that he were doing a topographical map of Adelaide.
When Jeremiah does wish to be heard in himself, we hear him, "O LORD..." with the utmost clarity, as in Jeremiah 18:23-24.
It is, as we have already seen in early preparation, here that we find that the wound must indeed be borne (10:19), and it was so found as Hebrews 5:7ff. shows, and Matthew 26:53ff. at Gethsemane, no less, as for that matter, Isaiah 50:4-7 in prediction, and Luke 9:51, in the process of fulfilment. We see the mode both in Jeremiah 8:17ff., and 10:19ff..
These in order follow below.
"For behold, I will send serpents among you,
Vipers which cannot be charmed,
And they shall bite you," says the Lord.
"I would comfort myself in sorrow;
My heart is faint in me.
Listen! The voice,
The cry of the daughter of my people
From a far country:
'Is not the Lord in Zion?
Is not her King in her?'
"Why have they provoked Me to anger
With their carved images—
With foreign idols?
"The harvest is past,
The summer is ended,
And we are not saved!
For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.
I am mourning;
Astonishment has taken hold of me.
"Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?"
"Behold, I will throw out at this time
The inhabitants of the land,
And will distress them,
That they may find it so.
"Woe is me for my hurt!
My wound is severe.
But I say,
'Truly this is an infirmity,
And I must bear it.'
"My tent is plundered,
And all my cords are broken;
My children have gone from me,
And they are no more.
There is no one to pitch my tent anymore,
Or set up my curtains.
Why have they provoked Me to anger! ...
For the hurt of the daughter of My people, I am hurt.
Woe is me for my hurt!
My wound is severe.
HE is hurt ? but of course, it is precisely this which is shown in practical outcome on the Cross, where as I Peter 2 tells us, He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. How would such a necessity for justice and a provision of mercy NOT hurt!
The wound must indeed be borne, as Jesus Christ re-ascertained in agony of anguish at Gethsemane, asking, Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me! It was not possible, for the love of God is thus. It is not other. It pays. The price is illimitable, yet within purity, unexceptional; it is costly, but it is priceless, conducting not to negotiated compromise but to unsullied truth.
This wound ? the love of the Lord demands it, His mercy insists, His wisdom defines; and in Matthew 26, as in Hebrews 5:7, there is not even the clothing of a metaphor! There is a time when flesh can be far more eloquent than pictures, and can pay what they cannot ... When it comes to the final issue, there was blood. Metaphors, indeed, are not intended to invent their topic, as some oddity, but to apply its reality, to adorn and to illustrate it so that it can not only be savoured with certainty as to its thrust, but felt with vividness.
It is inconceivable in consistency to take these 'My' terms in their dilation and dignity, their continuity and their contexts here, and put any of them into the possession of some quasi-lordly Jeremiah! Alas for him, this was as far from him as is the sun from the moon; and well did he bear his so great humiliations.
Now we may indulge in a little research. The term 'my people' in any sort of relevance to the issue here, is to be found hundreds of times in the Old Testament, and the more one investigates, whether in Exodus, where the thing is so vastly minted (as in 3:7,10, 5:1, 7:16, 8:1,8,20,21,23, 9:1,13,17,27, 10:3-4, 12:31), or in Leviticus 26:12, in Samuel or I and II Kings, except for various slight references to this people versus that one, or the Psalm oddment noted below, there is such a track of usage as to make, for any determinative example, declarative and categorising, nothing short of a signature.
One may as king, refer to "my people" in the obvious sense of those to whom one is sent to help in rule and administration; or as a prophet, in the sense that he is virtually transmitting the word of God, by inspiration, to them, in Psalm 78, asking them to share as the people of his own flesh and blood, what may be found in review. But when it comes to a sustained first person address TO people, in which the name of the LORD appears, and HE refers to MY people, there would be no apparent parallel. When HE is referring to HIS people, there is no room for any other designation, for it eclipses all. A king may REFER to them in passing as such, or a prophet may assemble them by such an address, to hear him as one of them, but when the address is sovereign, direct, one of majestic oversight and impartation of destiny and control, you do not get such things.
We may look at hundreds of references in the Old Testament to "My people" and find it a relative rarity for even one such designation from the lips of one not the Lord, and except it be to distinguish one people, say Moab, from another, say Israel, or one's home people from one's new people.
In such cases the ground of the 'my' being neither the impartation of destiny nor the voice of rule in direct address to them, far less these things found in concurrence, there is the exception which proves the rule, the diversity from the category as defined, which illustrates its quality.
WHERE AT ALL is there to be found such an address, except by the Lord! But when it is a sustained impartation, with sustained designations of a generic and unlimited kind, there can be nothing outside folly, which so speaks. In Jeremiah, in vain would one look for it in any other context.
In THIS context, and in particular in the Chapters 8-9, so intensely evocative, what do we find ? Here we have the very NAME of the Lord used in "Me" in 9:3, and again in 9:6. The sovereign majesty is constant. In Jeremiah 8:19, there is asked the question, "Why have they provoked Me to anger ?" The "we are not saved" is empathetic in 8:20, as paralled in 6:26*1, and 6:24, where it appears as a simple digression, a sort of contained comment in the spirit of the Lord's compassionate concern, an awareness which He echoes, with all the feeling of a mother, citing her child, and speaking for herself.
"We have heard the report of it, our hands grow feeble," it proceeds in 8:24. Then the Lord resumes, after this echo from the result of His pronouncement, with His own speech.
Precisely so here, we have His direct speech, in 8:17, and in 8:18, there is the divine compassion, followed at once by the reflection of what is said in a far country. That in turn, the instant turn to a relevant response or word from some source, is followed at once in 8:19, with the question: "Why have they provoked Me to anger ?"
In short, you have divine diction of majesty and divulging ownership, authority, destiny and concern at the highest and deepest levels, with references interwoven to reflect what some say, as the events unfold, while the obvious tenor of the divine diction, having animated the speech by such globules of news, proceeds. There is no ambiguity and oddity about it; it is simple insertion of immediate response to His diction, to exemplify or exhibit what He is saying, like a swirl or eddy in a current, as the river moves on its way, the river of His discourse. This is signalised repeatedly as in 8:17,19, 9:3,6,8.
It is simply not possible to add to the word of the Lord, by making Jeremiah have his own majestic diction for his 'own' people interspersed with this claimant to offence, for in the presence of the Lord, no other claim is even visible! It is like a majestic phase in some concerto, repetitively exhibited by the piano, with slight violin asides, to supplement it, while it rolls on its distinguished and characterisable way. It is like a boat moving through the waters, in which the wash is far different from the vigour of impact of the prow itself.
To assume otherwise is to assume a lack of clarity which God denies relative to His word (Proverbs 8:8). TWO parallel voices would be ludicrous in such a reality of divine monergism and majesty; but obvious asides as to the thought or response of those concerned, this is another matter. It is either explicit as in "O Lord', or else it is an illustrative part of the divine speech, enveloped in the majesty of His diction, asides to illustrate as one might make in a speech.
The actual speakings of the prophet himself as occur from time to time, these lack any resemblance to the divine diction, and are as apparent as the moon in the presence of the sun, and are as diverse: a reflection, not the sweep of the supernal light of truth in its own name. Thus in 8:17-9:9, we have the Lord incontestably indicated as speaker, 5 times. That is 5 times in 15 verses! It is a remarkable number of ascriptions of direct divine diction.
The continuity is total, in majesty, impact, indifference to any possible competitive thought or approach, mentions diverse thoughts only to put them in place, dramatic moments where a RESPONSE type result is noted, to the divine call and initiative. "We are not saved" comes in His empathy with His people, an ironic empathy it seems, and an evocative one, because poignant; or "Is not the Lord in Zion ?" appears, a case, directly attributed to foreign nations watching the here predicted devastation to come to Jerusalem. The speaker in profound empathy and awareness moves hither and thither in a multiply cognisant speech, touching this and that, citing this and that, moving with profound coverage, filled with zest, immovable in assurance, sensitive and spreading His look over all.
The impetus of direct exhibition of the Lord's own voice, by announcement that He is speaking or adjectival continuity, this is repetitive to the point that more of it might have even made the text like a legal document. It is thus obvious that the Lord has a theme, a message, a notation, and that only when there is an envisaged response, is this noted as an aside.
When therefore in Jeremiah 9:1, there is the continuation of "My people" and "the daughter of My people", with the ensuing rebukes and characterisations, there is nothing to distinguish the words from the theme, nothing of aside, nothing denoting another subject speaking, but everything in constant emphasis, as in verses 3, 6, 8, to emphasise that this is no divagation of the prophet, but the Lord Himself. He SAYS so, not once or twice, or thrice, but again and again.
It is, moreover, precisely as in Jeremiah 48 (colour added), where the Lord similarly is addressing a nation, this time Moab, with mingled wrath, scorn and pathos, saying:
'I know his wrath, says the Lord,
'but it is not right.
His lies have made nothing right.
" 'Therefore I will wail for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moah;
I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres...
Moreover,' says the Lord,
'I will cause to cease in Moab
the one who offers sacrifices in high places and burns incense to his gods.
Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab,
and like flutes My heart shall wail for the men of Kir Heres...' "
In this case, precisely the same divine passion of compassion expressed in just such an intimate way, is provided, and this in the midst of reference to the nature to intimate details of those so to be afflicted. Indeed, here it is directed towards an ALIEN nation, one not even in the covenant given to Israel. Nor do you find less involvement with what is in fact going to be smitten and judged, in cases such as Hosea 7:1 and Jeremiah 51:9, where we find this amazing and delightful song of love: "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed." Babylon! that blight, that designated horror of affliction and bullying, that syncretic sink, that synergic disaster, healed that! Yes, healed that, He would have healed that! Any attempt to minimise the love of God is ludicrous.
When the case is this:
|a theme is being pursued by the Lord, in a prophet,
personally uses "My people"
as a clear designation of the nation concerned in the entire book,
|and the Lord CONTINUALLY does so,
so that the atmosphere is without exception one of total involvement,
moving now to anger or to compassion,
always with majesty and authority and the most intense personal expression:
|it would simply be
eisegesis, the opposite of exegesis, to insert some
other personality into it,
|as if a secretary
without announcement, were to put in her two cents worth,
without saying so, in a letter from her employer.
It is simply unthinkable in any careful exegesis, despite the fact that tradition seems for many to have secured such a result!
When, accordingly, as in Jeremiah 12, the prophet DOES have something to say, there is a clear distinction from the autograph of the Lord, from His signed statement, and it is the inspired expression of mutual communication with the Lord, that we might learn by it. Here in this chapter, the reference by Jeremiah to his thought to the Lord, is in direct terms of singular clarity. Here he actually shares a personal involvement WITH the Lord, with us, saying: "Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You," so that this becomes a formal prophetic divulgement, justified by the fact that he is expressing what many might have felt, in his own name, much as did Habakkuk, awaiting an answer, which in the Lord's own name, then is given.
The word of the Lord is clear, and He allows no ambiguity, though He may stretch tight the tissue of the mind in its pursuits of His mind. There is indeed the word, that it is an honour to kings to search out a matter, and putting these two together, the honour and the clarity, there is a RESULT (Proverbs 25:2). This is NOT to be obtained by guesswork, ignoring context, excluding what is philosophically unacceptable or imagining that God needs help in being clear, by deploying one's own so necessary scissors to His diction, to ditch this surrounded by His "thus says the Lord" or that with His own pronouns in continuity, as if He were too feeble to have a heart, or too weak to express it clearly.
What is the use of usage if it is ignored!
Thus do we find, not only in Jeremiah 48, this vast, uncontainable love for Moab, or in Jeremiah 51, even a practical love for Babylon, unhealed though it was and was to be; but in the flower of its passion, that for Israel, expressed in spreading terms of outreach, undimmed, indissoluble.
Not only is it in Ezekiel 33:11, or Deuteronomy, but it is in Jeremiah in such an abundance of multiplied and mutually consistent explosions of declaration, intimate, infinite, irreducible, that it is quite overwhelming in its power, capacious in its openness, pure in its perfection.
Just as one may love with uninhibited freedom, what is lovely, what is fine, or manly, or good, or virtuous, or congenial in kindness, effective in righteousness, and seek for such a friend or associate the true and just development and maintenance of such delightful gifts and ways, and yet find that it is all being corroded, corrupted by pride, or by machinations unworthy, as in the pursuit of honour for itself, or fame, or name, or place, or position, and appeal: so one may so seek the good of one loved, but not be heard.
Again, just as one may endeavour to help a friend back to rectitude, but be dismissed, or find the ear of pride too hard for any hearing, and finding the thing of potential beauty of holiness turned into ashes: and realise that it is other than it seemed, that its course is coarse, so does love not mistake its target.
It is one thing to be faithful to a friend, when he falls, or stutters, or slips, or even slides; it is quite another to find the love in one's heart for what is chronically, carefully, consistently, insistently broken in its ways by wilful mischiefs of false enthusiasm, or casual pride. There is redeeming love, which the Lord has infinitely, and this applies to the uttermost to all who call in faith upon His revealed name in Christ Jesus; but there is also associative love, that of fellowship, that of friendship, of collaborative mutual mission; and it is this which is extinguishable, for the conditions are removed on which it is based.
Love seeks its restoration, but cannot ignore when it is rebased, or debased into something wholly alien to the spirit and what it is seeking, to the Lord and His most explicit and express ways (cf. I Corinthians 5-6, I Timothy 1, 4, 6, II Timothy 3). It may be moral, it may be doctrinal, it may be a dissolution of spirit which insults the Lord and does not dwell on His supremacy, but dumbs the tongue, as if it were paralysed, when His glory is in view, when Christ's sacrifice is focussed.
Thus when the Lord declares the judgment on Israel, in this case for a time, before its restitution, it is as in Jude where on some one may have compassion, being on guard as one seeks to snatch them from the moral flames, from the approaching ash pit of desolation; yet with others, there is no way left. So did judgment reign at the hand of the Lord, as the hand of mercy, the place of pity were dismissed by the impetuous bedevilments of unbelief. The love of God is unlimited in its flow, but decidedly it rests where it is found received, and where it is diverted decisively, incisively, and its message of salvation mutilated or dismissed, then finally, it flows not at all.
Indeed, we do not second guess the Lord, for with any given individual like Manasseh (II Chronicles 33:10ff.), He may act when all seems superabundantly lost. That is not the point: it is not a matter of our judging any particular individual. It is a matter of principle which we ponder. It is the Lord who judges and acts as Hebrews 10 makes the players who do not come, the fiddlers who do not rest from their indecision, to realise.
Thus WHEN THE LORD declares, as in II Chronicles 26, and repeatedly, even in the midst of judgments where mercy sends forth repeated shafts of light (as in Jeremiah 17 where a new proposal is suddenly drafted), that the end has effectually come: this is the final incineration of the basis for love, as if the nerves of the heart were now ashes, not in mere sin, but in consolidated rejection. Thus the Spirit of the Lord will not ALWAYS strive (Isaiah 57:16). Why ? He tells us, for the spirit would fail in man. Man is limited; and though the infinite love of God is inexhaustible, the nature of man is not! There may come a time as in Hebrews 6 and 10, where the tasting process, with a spitting out, has ruined the tongue, where in the sight of God the thing is determinate and complete. It is ... over! Then it is no question of coming and going, but OUT once and for all.
It is as in some throat cancer of which one heard. The operation was done to remove it in one way; and when the growth reappeared, another surgeon appeared to hold that he could have removed it, if only it had been rightly treated in the first case. Now ... the tissue was no longer susceptible to this treatment. The case was closed; the life was lost.
There is salvation from the love of God in its merciful operation, and this may be profoundly continued for long, in its pleas; and there is renegacy in its undistinguished rejection, and this may become determinate like heavily encrusted ice. Again, it is like marshes as in Ezekiel 47, where the pure waters do indeed most liberally flow, but the muddy, marshy places are lurking with their mosquitoes and their bogs. These, they are not healed.
Love is always exuberant, but it is also restrained. It is sensitive to reality; it does not impose itself. When it is not in place, it is not frustrated, for love has its own ways. Its work is then complete. Merely possessive love is not so; but the love of God is not merely possessive.
He WOULD have all to be reconciled to Himself as in Colossians 1:19ff., but by no means is this inclination of His heart, which is so deeply and constantly expressed in its uttermost resilience in Jeremiah, the same as an invasion of the territories of the heart. If it were, the whole of the Biblical depiction would be different. Then merely otiose divine longings would become actual action; pleas would become invasions; tender entreaties would become triumphant demands. It is not so. Love is not like that; and the paradigm of love is in the Lord who seeks His chicks, but they do not come. A remnant does; a batch does not.
What then of 'effectual calling' ? It is not really difficult, but actually simple. God who knew all for all time before time as such began (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:38-39), KNOWS His own. It is based not on an IF or on a GRAB either, but on KNOWLEDGE. Whom He KNEW, these HE PREDESTINATED. The latter is the baby of the former. IN His knowledge, His love is PRECISELY as He states it to be, for God IS love - He is more, but nothing contrary to it whatsoever, just as He is light, and is more, but nothing contrary to that whatever.
In His knowledge, He KNOWS who are His. He does not intimidate the image of God to make it mere controllable bric-a-brac. He activates it, acts on it, makes sure His own, and where it is not His own, He has no confusion. Does this then limit the sincerity of His historical yearnings, as expressed in Jeremiah ? Of course not: for what is REAL is not other than realised in time.
What is the use of such a love as this ? Use! It means that when any one seeks the Lord, it is not in an impossible situation where an implacable supernatural and infinite power is glowering down on your bleeding heart, wounded spirit, broken soul, aspiring hope, as if to ensure that you CANNOT 'make it', because He is so austere that He would not consider what is not possessed of some "X-factor" as we have called it, some special something which is expressive and declarative of whatever it is that He seeks from the character concerned. It is not mysterious self-fulfilment for God; for He needs no fulfilment, and is complete already.
He would have ALL, to repent, to be reconciled, to come to a knowledge of the truth, and in the light of the incarnate Christ, He did not come to judge but to save the world. Take it or leave it, no philosophy can transmute it, or simplistic reasoning on inadequate premises and prejudices, take it away.
It is rather that HE seeks YOU, without limit in His purity and initiative; and if there is limit in the nature of the case, this is not His revulsion at your feebleness, but your feebleness as you resist. YOU are limited; His love is not.
The result is limited; for not all our saved: but here is the use. WHEN you seek the Lord, it is good, it is desired, it is sought, it is besought, it is in a favourable wind. If however you are insincere, then what do you expect ? He is not hoodwinked, nor is He to be wrought upon like a piano. He knows.
If you have mixed motives, then what would you imagine! If you are seeking to utilise God as one more ingredient in your blessed life which you make for yourself, do you seek to make of God your man-Friday! He is available ONLY AS GOD, for this is who He is! He serves but on His own principles, as Lord and Maker of life, knowing the rules for He made what is subject to them, as a manufacturer knows the wheels, and where and how to have tyres for them. It is not a god whom He made, but someone in His image, a creation, delimited, defined, but with the inestimable privilege of being able to call on His name and KNOW Him!
He is Lord of all or not at all. You CANNOT in dealing with the Spirit who made you, set limits. The ONLY limit is His word, and this expresses His nature, and that does not change (Psalm 102, James 1), nor does His promise alter.
If you come on HIS terms, then this is surrender, capitulation ? Yes, of course; but what did you expect, to share His throne ? It is only when a humble and a contrite heart finds the Lord and accepts His New Covenant in Christ's blood that action occurs to the point. THEN it is indeed true that to this man will the Lord LOOK, to him who is humble and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2, Isaiah 57:15, Psalm 51). YOU cannot secure this purity, for sin blinds and binds; but in calling on the name of the Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ, you find the action site of Him WHO CAN! How does He know ? But what is hidden from the eyes of Him before whom all things are manifest, and who knows the end from the beginning!
HE ACHIEVES HIS OWN as you see so beautifully in Jeremiah 3:14-18, 31:18ff.,25-30, 31:36ff., 33:15-16, II Timothy 2:19, Romans 8:28ff.. As to Jeremiah 31:36ff.: Break the astronomical settings, if this could be done, so might His people fail! The remnant shall indeed return (Romans 11, Isaiah 11:10), both of Israel and of the Gentiles (Isaiah 10:20, 11:11, 66), and the love in its intense and immense purity will be complete. Co-ordinate with the power is the purity; simplistic substitutions for spirituality are simply irrelevant.
The point is this, then, that you may seek in confidence, for the desire of God is for ALL to repent and to come to the knowledge of the truth! WHEN there is short-circuit, and the thing is final, so be it. The crucial character of His seeking to save what is lost is apparent both in practice when He came as incarnate as Jesus Christ, and in His repeated definitions of His love whether in Jeremiah or Timothy, in Colossians or in the Gospel of John, in Hosea or in Ezekiel, in parable or principle. In the end, you simply have to rely on His integrity and truth, on His word; and if you do, there is nothing left to ponder. But if you won't, there is nothing left.
Indeed, as we look in the midst of the Jeremiah 8-9, in the 15 verses that so greatly have demanded our attention, 8:17-9:9, where 5 times the Lord identifies Himself as Speaker, we find that just as man’s own account has nothing left, if he does not receive the credit from the Lord as in II Corinthians 5:17-21, so the Lord longed, the Lord wept, and died, His life given till on this fair earth, there was nothing left, thus settling account for all who receive His redemption. There is the prelude; later came the consummation.
Let us consider then with justice the extremity of His love, practical, paying, providing, emotional, sincere, active, effective.
In Jeremiah 9:1 we find this (bold added, as also below):
“Oh, that my head were waters,
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!”
It is not only that His wound must be borne, but His lamentation is profound. Is it not that this also, as with the wounds, became practical, a matter of exhibition in depth, performance in the very embodiment in flesh! for in Luke 19:39-48, we find Him lamenting with weeping, even Jesus Christ Himself, so that what as LORD He would that He might do, as incarnate, HE DID! Not only so, He did it in the very midst of that same antagonism which He met in the day of Jeremiah!
“And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd,
‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’
“But He answered and said to them,
‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’
This they later did, when the Romans demolished the temple, stone from stone! We read on.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying,
‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!
‘But now they are
hidden from your eyes.
For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you,
and your children within you, to the ground;
and they will not leave in you one stone upon another,
because you did not know the time of your visitation.’
“Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them,
‘It is written, “My house is a house of prayer,”
but you have made it a “den of thieves.”
“And He was teaching daily in the temple.
“But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.”
As He WOULD DO, so HE DID! As in Jeremiah, He would so lament, so in Jerusalem, He did just that very thing, turning empathy into practical things, and desire into attainment; for His heart found it hard to bear their loss, and bore their iniquity, that whosoever would drink of the water of life, could do so freely. In so doing, He was satisfied; yes, He saw from the travail of His soul and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:11). When YOU make of His soul an offering for sin, then He shall see His seed, declares Isaiah, and be satisfied (cf. Bible Translation 3, n. 20).
That is love, it feels, it seeks, it desires, it acts, it achieves, it attains what is sound, spiritual and godly, and then, then, it is satisfied. It has achieved its target, found in truth its own, foreknown, has wept for all, furnished some, acted for all, received some, yes many, and it is satisfied. That is what love is like, when it is the pure, the nascent, the initiating and the completing love of God (John 19:30).
The concept of a harassing, rejecting, self-pleasing God, a manipulator or tyrant of His own selfish desire, this is not even a logically possible condition (cf. Sparkling Life ... SMR Ch. 1, pp. 580ff., Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 9). The God of creation has no axe to grind to fulfil, satisfy or secure for Himself, no desideratum for His completion or satiation. NOTHING is left for Him to wish, on whom all depends, who has no basis but eternity in Himself, whom nothing resists in the end, whose will is both stated and stipulated, in detail and in procedure, from first to last. Any being less than this is a mere creation and thus irrelevant to the issue to hand.
God then is not like that; but it is to GIVE that He comes. He is like that, and here is His identity. God SO loved the world that He gave ...
God, this is the nature of His eternal Being: "I am whom I am," He declares: and this it is that is He; and He is exactly as He inspired Jeremiah to depict (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
It is good to know Him, the source of all liberality, sensitive as the most magnificent floral beauty, stronger than the stoutest, the basis of all originality, the criterion of magnificence without whom life is but mirage, the mouldering of cut branches, the decay of rotted corpses, the illusions of what is cut off from the actuality of vitality. It is small wonder that endless religious concoctions of man are so moveable, variable, diverse; for in death, there are many expressions of it, and in illusion there are many dreams. They move like the shadows, are like a ship without a keel, lurching now here, now there, and fit for nothing.
The world is now baring its face. It is pock-marked and unbeautiful, a ravaged result of sin. It insists on being alive, while its desultory results accumulate, a veritable list and ledger of evil, where its own proposed goodness itself is often no more than a wisp seeking the nearest cloud, foundering in illusion or confusion. What is needed is the Rock, neither mere man nor mere principle, but the living God, inimitable, unmanipulable, immovable, secure, stable, impossible to inveigle, in the glory of truth: God, who is love.
What gratitude must grow where such grace is received, for the nurture of His love and the pleasantness of His truth like the magnitudes of His mercy are imponderables, weighty beyond weight, wonders past knowledge that while clear in kind, are beyond comparison in scope. Life with Him is that with the artist ? no, for it is even with the Creator Himself, whose wisdom is exhilarating, whose purposes are inscribed in our beings; and when His love, published in prophecy, proclaimed in practice to cover the entire world, is also written in our hearts, there is a completion as of a building, at last equipped with its design. The design of the Designer is for one who desires his Designer, for thus and thus only does what is in the image of God have capacity to live, as distinct from exist. Only His life makes it live (I John 1:1-4, John 14:19).
In Jeremiah 6:26, the situation is spiritually thunderous, solicitous and evocative, all together.
Thus the passage starts in 6:22, 'Thus says the LORD', speaking to the 'daughter of Jerusalem'. It proceeds through 24ff., where at first you hear through the mind of the Lord, the response of the people, as if He mused upon it, and in v. 25 comes the exhortation consequent upon the fear of what is coming. In v. 26, again the LORD directly addresses His people, and in doing so, declares this:
"O daughter of my people, dress in sackcloth, and roll about in ashes!
Make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation,
For the plunderer will suddenly come upon us."
This having been uttered, He proceeds to give to Jeremiah His job function:
"I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people, that you may know and test their way."
In this way, then, the Lord first ANNOUNCES that He is speaking (6:22), and uses the form of address, "O daughter of Zion" (6:23). Then he exhibits His intimate knowledge of the response of the accused people (6:23-24), almost as if holding a conversation with them, before proceeding to declare, with more than empathy, something closely akin to emotional identification itself, "the plunderer will suddenly come upon us" (6:26).
It is upon US, that He deems it to be, just as it was "My curtains", and Israel is "My people". Moreover, He immediately addresses Jeremiah, to give Him a call and a function, as "an assayer and a fortress among My people" (6:27).
This, to revert, to move backwards, is PRECEDED by the usage in the preceding verse (6:26), "daughter of My people", which appeared at the first as "daughter of Zion" in 6:23. Indeed, this phrasing is one often used in Jeremiah by the Lord. "Virgin daughter of My people" is used once (14:17), as a slight variant, but altogether the "daughter of My people" phrasing or close cognate occurs in what very near to the Lord's direct address, some 10 times in Jeremiah, never comes without this, and is always found with a sense of sovereign solicitude, involvement.
The moral force of this phrasing, in that it implies the survey of several generations, this one being the 'daughter' of the previous and so on backwards, and the immediate movement of the speech not only with this phrasing, but with address TO Jeremiah, makes it perspicuous that the 'us' is indeed the way the Lord is conceiving the calamity: HE feels it, HE is hurt, HIS wound is severe.
If it were
otherwise, would not confusion be the idea ?
or if it
could not be construed that the Lord having announced that He is speaking,
and shown several times His authority as He surveys and interprets the scene,
immediately before declaring the appointment of Jeremiah to a task,
interpolates "us" to signify His own involvement, though He be the One to punish:
then it would be a virtual waste of time to use words at all.
However, by His own so very clear word, the Lord runs history, which leaps to His will, though it grieve Him; for it is He who requires what is to occur (Ephesians 1:11), and traverses before time the constraints which operate (Ephesians 1:4, Revelation 13:8, Romans 8:38-39), even in the midst of the evils of fallen man. It is He who secures what He will, in the many divine interventions which occur, as history unfolds. It is likewise He who takes action, not only to impel the Word of grace to all, but to secure its fulfilment, especially when it is the pain which He must bear, which alone will atone in His very death in incarnate form, the guilt which He must vicariously receive, which can deliver ANY. It is precisely this that He did!
In this glory, that He not merely thought it, said it, experienced the emotion and felt the pangs, but wrought, wrestled, attained, achieved and wounded, died, while in dying, He completed the atonement, and completing it brought to ruin the devices of the devil as surely as the fruition of sin, for all who receive Him. Medicine untaken helps no one.
It is the LORD is hurt, who is wounded, experiences the calamity which judgment requires, and it is He who weeps, as seen in Jeremiah; and it is He who is mortified, grieved. It is He who "in all their affliction, was afflicted" (Isaiah 63:9), whose empathy is close, whose sympathy is profound, whose word is pellucid, whose way is practically attested to Calvary, its culmination, whose love is unmitigated, whose truth cannot move; for it is better than some be lost, than that there be no heaven left for any!