The Doom of the Temple
Jeremiah 7:1-14
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,…

I. THE MESSAGE TO THOSE CONCERNED CANNOT BE ESCAPED. The message is to men who make their boast and confidence in the temple. To be within temple reach seems to place them in a kind of fortress. Such must evidently be met on their own ground. And thus the prophet is sent to the temple gate. There, assuredly, all who took any deep interest in the temple would be found. Jeremiah himself belonged to the priests, and there is no saying but what, prophet as he was, he had to take an allotted share in the temple service. Possibly the message may have been repeated on several occasions, and likeliest of all on those occasions when the temple precincts were crowded with visitors. And when the temple was destroyed, would there not be many to remember that the threatening of destruction was uttered in the very gates of it? Thus we see that there is no want of directness and closeness in dealing with the unfaithful; and no want of courage and candor on the part of the man who was chosen to warn.

II. THE MESSAGE IS TO MISTAKEN WORSHIPPERS. To look round with pride and say these buildings are the temple of God, was as the utterance of some first principle. These worshippers, precise enough in outward forms, had a superstitious feeling that whatever vicissitudes might come elsewhere, Jehovah would keep the place of worship secure. The mistake lay in thinking that God valued the temple for itself. Yet it had not been made by his command, in the same sense as the tabernacle had been; rather, it was accepted as a sign of David's deep religious feeling and Solomon's pious regard for his father's wishes. There is nothing to show that out of his own will God would ever have commanded the erection of a temple. It was unseemly in the eyes of David that he should be dwelling in a house of cedar, when the ark of God was behind curtains. But this feeling had in it a certain barbaric element, a fondness for outward pomp and display. It was the best that was in the king's heart, and so it was accepted. He did what he could. But there was no inherent sacredness in the temple, that it should be kept inviolate amid the wreck and defilement of everything else. The people needed to be taught this truth in very plain language. The feeling towards the building is made manifest in such a passage as Ezra 3:11-13. In fact, the more the people became alienated in heart from the God of the temple, the more enthusiastic, fanatical even, they seem to have become with regard to the mere building.

III. THE WAY IN WHICH THE MISTAKE IS SOUGHT TO BE REMOVED. There is no heaping of scorn on the feeling of the people. Their feeling is rather made the occasion of strengthening the hold of God's truth upon them. If they really value the temple, they are shown the way by which they may keep it and dwell within it. Jehovah shows very distinctly that in his eyes the true glory of Jerusalem is not the temple, but the sort of people who dwell in the city. It is better to have a community of the pious, the upright, the truly brotherly, dwelling in cottages, than to have whole streets of splendid palaces, inhabited by luxurious, self-indulgent oppressors. Men hold in high esteem buildings, pictures, books, statues, great fruits of human intellect. God looks at good actions; little but significant kindnesses - the giving of the cup of cold water, the visiting of the sick, and the feeding of the hungry. A community of men, selfish to the core, will not be preserved for the sake of a splendid building; but that building may be preserved if a community of good men will be really pleased by its preservation. The truth, however, is that a community, living such a life as God here indicates should be chosen, would care very little about the pomps of a building. They would prefer to spend their substance in satisfying pressing needs of men. Many of the ecclesiastical buildings of today are inexcusably sumptuous. They are put up to gratify the lust of the eye, and meanwhile the spiritual glories of the upper room at Jerusalem and the Pentecostal miracle are quite forgotten. The publican, the penitent after God's own heart; went up to the temple; but what were its material splendors to him, as he stood, smiting his breast, and saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner?"

IV. THE MESSAGE IS CLINCHED BY A CLOSELY FITTING EXAMPLE FROM HISTORY. One instance is enough to prove a negative. The feeling in the hearts of the people is that God will fence the temple site around, for the sake of the temple. But Shiloh is at once brought forward as a capital instance to the contrary. Evidently it still remained in a ruined, neglected state, for any one to go and see it. Israel knew what Shiloh had been at the first, and they could see how different it was now. In reading history, we are bound to profit by all of Divine warning that may appear in what we read. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

WEB: The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying,

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