For you have deceived yourselves by sending me to the LORD your God, saying, 'Pray to the LORD our God on our behalf, and as for all that the LORD our God says, tell it to us and we will do it.'
ut tabula rasa — to receive His doctrine; but, on the contrary, all scribbled and blurred with such base habits as malice, hypocrisy, and envy."
I. THEY ARE THE GREAT SOURCES OF UNREALITY IN RELIGION. In sending Jeremiah to God they did not mean what they said. There was no honest willingness to do as the prophet might reveal. The only hope for them in their forlorn condition is thus tampered with and destroyed. It is possible that at first they may have meant well, but as they proceeded with their inquiry through the prophet they must have known that they had only one intention, which they had not laid aside or even held in abeyance. Yet such is the subtlety of the hypocritical heart that it continues in its hypocrisy until it deceives itself. "They inquire not to learn what is right, but only to receive encouragement to do what they wish."
II. THOSE WHO INDULGE THEM ARE THEIR OWN WORST ENEMIES.
1. They deceive and injure themselves. "Ye dissembled in your hearts" (ver. 20); literally, deceived yourselves; "used deceit against your souls" (margin). Thinking they were taking counsel of God, they were really obeying their fears and lusts. Can a greater wrong be done to one's self than this - to think one's self religious and obedient to the heavenly will when one is only selfish and sinful? Safety and happiness lay in following simply the Divine guidance; but this they could not do, for they knew not God's message when it came. "Thinking themselves wise, they became fools." Their spiritual nature is henceforth unreliable, and their greatest perils will be encountered in their most religious hours, and when they think themselves most in agreement with God's will.
2. The curse of God is denounced against them. What they choose will be their destruction. The very things they sought to avoid by going to Egypt are met there. And there is no mitigation; the position is one wholly wrong, and consequently the wrath of God is unceasing until they cease to occupy it. To remain in Egypt, with its idolatries and abominations, was virtually to annul the covenant. Soon every trace of true religion would disappear, and they would become like their neighbours, and be absorbed into the nations in whom God had no pleasure. He cannot tolerate falsehood, pretension, the form of godliness without the reality. And this severity is true mercy. Many a one "plucked as a brand from the burning" has had reason to thank his Saviour that "the way of transgressors is hard." "Let a man examine himself." "Be not deceived: God is not mocked." - M.
For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the Lord your God, saying, Pray for us.I. CONSIDER ON WHAT PRINCIPLES DESIRING THE PRAYERS OF OTHERS IS GROUNDED. They are these; that it is our duty to pray for one another; that God hath often shown a gracious regard to the intercessions of His servants for others; and that it is very desirable, especially in some particular cases, to have an interest in them.
II. WHEN THEY WHO DESIRE THE PRAYERS OF OTHERS MAY BE SAID TO DISSEMBLE IN THEIR HEARTS. They do so when they desire them without sincerity; when they will not pray for themselves; when they will not use proper means to obtain the blessings they desire; and especially when they will not do what God by His Word and ministers requireth.
III. THE HYPOCRISY AND EVIL OF THIS CONDUCT. It is an affront to the all-seeing and holy God; it is likewise deceiving their friends; and prayers offered for such persons are not likely to be of much avail. Application —
1. We may hence learn, with what dispositions of mind we should desire the prayers of others. Whenever we ask the intercessions of others, let it be in sincerity; with a firm persuasion of the power of prayer; that it is not in vain to seek God; and that it is our duty to engage the assistance of our friends, by their application to the throne of grace. Be solicitous that you concur with them by praying yourselves without ceasing in the best manner you are able; and with your chief dependence for acceptance, not on your own prayers, nor those of your friends, but the mediation of Jesus Christ.
2. That we should be ready to pray one for another. Whenever we think of an absent relation or friend, or hear of him, or receive a letter from him, let us lift up our hearts to God for him in a short petition, as his circumstances may require. But we should be particularly mindful of those who desire our prayers.
3. It is peculiarly wicked to dissemble in our hearts, when we profess dependence on the intercession of Christ.
(Job Orion, D. D.)
II. CONSIDER, EACH FOR HIMSELF, HOW STRONG IS THE PROBABILITY THAT YOU MAY BE GUILTY, IN A GREATER OR A LESS DEGREE, OF DISSEMBLING IN YOUR HEART BEFORE GOD. We have in our hands the Word of God, which describes the character of a true Christian. We have before our eyes the practice of the world. When we compare them, we cannot but perceive how vast is the number of professed Christians who evince little of the spirit of true Christianity in their principles and conduct: and therefore stand self-convicted as dissemblers in their hearts before the Most High. When you call to remembrance the multitudes even among those who styled themselves the followers of God, which in ancient times the sinfulness and deceitfulness of the heart betrayed into hypocrisy: when you survey the multitudes of His professed followers, which in this your day the same sinfulness and deceitfulness render hypocritical before Him: have you not reason for serious dread that you may yourself be found a dissembler in His sight?
III. A SCRIPTURAL RULE, WHICH MAY ASSIST YOU IN DISCOVERING WHETHER, IF THE SON OF GOD WERE NOW TO CALL YOU TO JUDGMENT, YOU WOULD BE FOUND DISSEMBLERS IN YOUR HEARTS. "Where your treasure is," saith our Lord, "there will your heart be also." In other words, Whatever be the object which you judge .and feel to be the most valuable; concerning that object will your heart snow itself to be the most steadily and the most deeply interested. Apply this rule to yourself. Thus you may discover with absolute certainty whether your heart is fixed upon God, or whether it dissembles before Him.
1. Compare the pains which you employ, the vigilance which you exercise, the anxiety which you feel, concerning worldly objects, on the one hand; on the other, concerning religion.
2. When you receive a kindness from a friend, you feel, I presume, warm and durable emotions of gratitude, and an earnest desire to render to your benefactor such a return, in proportion to your ability, as may be acceptable to him. You are receiving every day from God blessings infinitely superior to all the kindnessess which can be conferred upon you by any of your fellow-creatures. Do you feel then still more lively and durable emotions of gratitude to Him?
3. Your worldly prosperity is an object which you pursue with industry and solicitude. Are you still more diligent, more anxious, in pursuing the welfare of your soul?
4. You have various occupations to which you resort, as opportunities offer themselves, from inclination and choice. Among these is religion to be found? Does religion stand at the head of them?
5. When you are informed of the events which befall another person, you rejoice, if they are such as promote his worldly advantage; you lament, if they impair it. Do you experience greater joy when you are assured of his advancement in religion? Do you experience greater sorrow if you learn that he has gone backward in the ways of righteousness?
(T. Gisborne, M. A.)
PeopleHoshaiah, Jeremiah, Jezaniah, Johanan, Kareah
PlacesBabylon, Egypt, Jerusalem
TopicsActing, Astray, Cost, Dealt, Deceit, Deceitfully, Deceived, Declare, Dissembled, Hearts, Mistake, Perverse, Prayer, Saying, Says, Shewed, Souls, Whatever, Yourselves
Outline1. Johanan desires Jeremiah to enquire of God, promising obedience to his will.
7. Jeremiah assures him of safety in Judea;
13. and destruction in Egypt.
19. He reproves their hypocrisy.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJeremiah 42:19-21
LibraryJeremiah, a Lesson for the Disappointed.
"Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord."--Jeremiah i. 8. The Prophets were ever ungratefully treated by the Israelites, they were resisted, their warnings neglected, their good services forgotten. But there was this difference between the earlier and the later Prophets; the earlier lived and died in honour among their people,--in outward honour; though hated and thwarted by the wicked, they were exalted to high places, and ruled in the congregation. …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII
"The Carnal Mind is Enmity against God for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. So Then they that Are
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