The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker
THE UNMARRIED PROPHET
In Revelation 14:4 we are told that the 144,000
they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.
Regarding the LORD'S command to Jeremiah to remain
unmarried, Merrill Unger says, "Jeremiah was to be a sign to the people of
impending disaster. He was to
conduct himself as one who very shortly expected his country to be in
ruins. He preached that. Now he had to practice it. So the LORD instructed him to remain
single, not to take a wife or think of raising a family 'in this place' (16:2),
in Jerusalem or Judah. The reason
was that the inhabitants in the coming Babylonian invasion were going to die
'grievous deaths' (16:4), unlamented, unburied, horribly desecrated, and viewed
as excrement, only useful to fertilize the soil and for food for carrion birds
and wild beasts (16:4; cf. 15:3; 34:20)" (Unger's Commentary on the Old
- In Jeremiah 16,
the prophet Jeremiah is told he is not to have a wife and children (16:1, 2).
- H.A. Ironside
said, "Connubial bliss was not to be thought of under the present sad
conditions. Children born in such circumstances were only being introduced into
a scene of sorrow and grief, with the prospect of an unlamented death before
them (verses 1-4). Parents and offspring alike would be involved in the general
ruin. He is neither to go to the house of mourning nor to the house of feasting"
- There are two
similar passages in Scripture. In I
Corinthians 7:25-27, the apostle Paul says that because of "the present
distress" single people should remain unmarried.
- Paul does not explain what he means by
"the present distress." It may be a reference to
persecution. Matthew Henry says,
"Their enemies were very bitter against them, and
treated them very cruelly. They were continually liable to be tossed and hurried
by persecution. This being the then state of things, he did not think it so
advisable for Christians that were single to change conditions. The married
state would bring more care and cumber along with it (vss. 33, 34), and would
therefore make persecution more terrible, and render them less able to bear
- The first and
most notable prohibition was regarding marriage (16:2). The other prohibitions were: no mourning
(16:5), no burial or funeral service (16:6), and no feasting or mirth (16:8,
- The people of
Judah had reached the point of no return. The LORD said in the latter
part of verse 5 -- "for I have taken away my peace
from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and
people were terribly backslidden. They had mixed together worship of Jehovah
God with idolatry and paganism (cf. 7:9, 10).
- Heathens would "cut themselves" and "make themselves
bald" for their dead relatives. The
backslidden Israelites had adopted these pagan customs, though they were
forbidden to do so (16:6).
- Leviticus 19:28 says, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in
your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."
- Deuteronomy 14:1, 2 says, "Ye are the children of the
LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your
eyes for the dead. For thou art an
holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a
peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the
- H.A. Ironside
says the Lordís people have "corrupted themselves as to have fallen into the
most degrading practices of the pagan nations about them!"
- Tattoos, body piercing, men wearing earrings and droopy
pants with their underwear showing, etc. are all signs of a rebellious and
wicked generation. We must warn our
young people not to identify with the heathen culture.
- Jeremiah 10:2 says, "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the
way of the heathen."
- Some one told me that church youth groups were going to
theatres to watch these violent movies!
God help us!
- This recent "Batman massacre" should be a wake-up
call. Christians should stay away
from movie theatres, rock music, and worldly places of amusement.
- There is nothing "amusing" about murder. Or adultery, or foul language, etc.
- The "tearing" in Jeremiah 16:7 refers to breaking
bread. The word "themselves" is in
italics and was added by the King James translators.
- The NKJV says, "Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to
comfort them for the dead."
- The breaking of bread was accompanied by "the cup of
consolation" (16:7). This was not
to be done during this time.
- Commenting on verses 8 and 9, Merrill Unger says the
prophet was forbidden "to socialize with Judah's apostates. Not only was he not
to offer any comfort to the sinning people in their bereavement (vss. 5-7), but
he was not to participate in any social event of joy or gladness. He was not to go to any house where
there was feasting and participate...How could the prophet be true to his
commission in warning of Judah's doom and then engage in lighthearted
conduct? He had to illustrate the
terribleness of the coming calamity by his actions as well as by his words"
(Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament).
- Once again, the LORD had to remind the people of their
terrible sin (16:10-13). This
refrain runs through the entire book of Jeremiah (cf. 13:10, 11, 23-25; 14:10,
11; 15:6; etc.).
- They would go into exile for their idolatry and other
sins. They were worse than their
- When we read through the book of Jeremiah we are often
amazed at the attitude of the people.
Why would they dare to question God when they knew they were guilty
- The answer: the people were misled by the false
prophets, who would not preach against sin (cf. 14:13-16).
- False religion has a deadening effect on the
conscience. Add in the public
schools, rock music, television, and Hollywood, and we can see why America is
going down fast!
JEREMIAH'S CONSOLATION (16:14,
- In the midst of
these stern warnings of judgment, there is a message of mercy and hope -- God
would bring them back after their captivity (16:14, 15).
- This promise of
restoration looks beyond the return under Ezra and Nehemiah, and includes the
future millennial kingdom when Christ returns (cf. 23:3-8; 31:7-12).
- Romans 11:26 says, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as
it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away
ungodliness from Jacob."
- But before restoration, there would be judgment. Though some would attempt escape, it
would be useless (16:16-18).
have already noted several of Jeremiah's intercessory prayers.
- Jeremiah prayed, "O
LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction..."
LORD would give Jeremiah (and others who would submit to God) the strength he
needed to get through the coming calamity.
the Lord Jesus returns to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem, Gentiles will come
from all over the world to worship Him (16:19-21).
they will acknowledge the true God -- "The LORD" (16:21).
are many similar prophecies found throughout the book of Jeremiah, as well as
Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, and the other prophets.
- In the
meantime it is our responsibility -- and our privilege -- to proclaim the true
Gospel to every creature.
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall
be damned" (Mark 16:16).