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again, and elaborates the features of the event with much detail and strong poetic figures.
“How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken; how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations !"
"The Lord hath opened his armory, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation, for the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, hath a work to do in the land of the Chaldeans." L:23:25.
"Behold I am against thee, O thou proud one, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts.” L:31.
"O thou that dwellest upon many waters abundant in treasures, thine end is come, the measure of thy covetousness. The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men as with the canker worm, and they shall lift up a shout against thee.” LI:13-14.
"Behold I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyeth all the earth; and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain, and they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations, but thou shalt be desolate forever, saith the Lord.” LI:25-26.
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly overthrown and her high gates shall be burned with fire." LI:58.
With these and many other words of most intense and terrible import the prophet foretells the destruction of the proud and wicked nation. Then he added a vivid little drama to make his prophecy the more impressive. This is the story of it;
“The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah, when he went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon. Now Zedekiah was chief chamberlain. And Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these
words that are written concerning Babylon. And Jeremiah said unto Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, then see that thou read all these words, and say, O Lord, thou hast spoken concerning this place to cut if off, that none shall dwell therein, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate forever. And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates; and thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink and shall not rise again because of the evil that I will bring upon her.” LI:59-64.
It may have seemed incredible to the contemporaries of Jeremiah that all these nations against whom he prophesied should be doomed to universal ruin.
It is no wonder that a man charged with the task of predicting so many and so great calamities should have aroused against himself the hostility of the people, and that they regarded him as a misanthrope and well nigh mad. If the feet of him that bringeth good tidings are beautiful, so the face of him that predicts evil is abhorred
But his messages were only too true, for even his forceful words were hardly adequate to picture the sad events.
Much that Jeremiah foretold was fulfilled long after he was gathered to his fathers, but the desolation of those lands whose doom he proclaimed has borne its silent testimony to the truth of his inspired words for more than two thousand years; and to this very day no better picture of the land of Moab or of Babylon can be drawn than these ancient words of prophecy. “Moab shall be a desolation; everyone that goeth by it shall be astonished and shall hiss at the plagues thereof."
"And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place of dragons, and astonishment and a hissing, without inhabitant."
Even so it is today, after twenty-five long centuries that have rolled by since these words were spoken.
So all those ancient kings and empires passed away, and have
had but a shadow of their former glory. Only where the vitalizing energy of some Christian nation has touched their dry bones—as in modern Egypt, has any one of those ancient lands arisen from its ashes, or recovered from its curse.
But we still insist that Jeremiah's book is helpful and encouraging. Though its pages groan with the burdens of woe, and are dark with the terrors of impending doom, it is none the less, a beautiful book; sublime and awful in its poetic imagery, grand in its concepts and majestic in its style, it stands in the first rank of the great books of the world. Its greatness is appreciated only as we study it in detail; as we notice the wealth and fitness of its imagery, the beauty of special passages, the force of its dramatic features, and the aptness of his parables. The whole book is so full of rhetorical excellence that it is impossible to give a fair impression of it by a few quotations, but the following examples may stimulate the interest to further reading:
Some of the prophet's favorite expressions are repeated frequently; e. g. God's deep concern for the welfare of Judah is emphasized by the expression "rising up early" to send his prophets to them. This expression is used nine times.
Twice he repeats the complaint, “They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people lightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Many times he uses the emphatic phrase, “The Lord, the Lord of hosts."
Many of the most familiar texts in current speech are from this book, and all too often used with little thought of their connection. e. g. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” XII:23. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is desperately sick.” XVII:9.
“Is there no balm in Gilead ; is there no physician there? Why then is not health of the daughter of my people recovered ?" VIII:22.
"If thou hast run with footmen, and they have wearied thee,
then how canst thou contend with horses ?” xn:5.
"It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." X:23,
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things do I delight, saith the Lord.” IX:24.
The parables are all dramatic. The most striking of them is perhaps the one already mentioned, where the prophecy against Babylon was cast into the midst of the Euphrates river, with the solemn announcement, “Thus shall Babylon sink and shall not rise again."
But the doom of Egypt was also predicted by the dramatic action of burying certain great stones in the pavement in front of Pharaoh's palace in Tehpanhes, in the presence of the men of Judah, and saying, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid.” XLNI:9.
When Jerusalem was actually besieged by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, and Jeremiah was absolutely certain that it would be taken and destroyed, he bought a farm, and paid cash for it, in the presence of witnesses, who also subscribed the deed of purchase. He then sealed up the deed of purchase in an earthen vessel, that it might be preserved for seventy years, till Judah should return, and the kingdom be reestablished in Jerusalem; thus testifying his assurance that the Lord would restore his people even as he had promised by the mouth of Jeremiah. XXXII.
Thus did Jeremiah accomplish his mission, and fulfilled all the word of the Lord which he commanded him saying, "Thou, therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee; be not dismayed at them, lest