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Chinese8/30/2006English
經文:耶利米書三至四章
鑰節:「耶路撒冷啊,你當洗去你心中的惡,使你可以得救……」(4:14)
提要

        根據摩西的律法,一個離婚的妻子如果已經再嫁不可能再回歸她的前夫,因將視為行淫而玷污那地(參申24:1~4;利18:25,27)。猶大被描寫像耶和華的妻子離開丈夫,去和許多情人過娼妓般的生活(3:1),犯屬靈的淫亂和許多外邦的神(祇是用「石頭木頭」製的,3:9)行淫。耶利米在此指出猶大得罪上帝多深,而想要輕易歸向祂──她的前夫,不是一件簡單的事,所以,耶利米清楚指出猶大的罪,要她覺得有罪、羞愧和悔恨自責,因為真正的悔改來自人能覺悟自己的罪孽深重和他良心的自責。在經過鞭打和責罵之後(上帝不降雨,3:3;14:1~6),她向上帝說甜蜜的話,要求祂不要長久懷怒,但祇是口說而非出自內心(3:5)。

        猶大的姊姊──北國以色列,早在約三百年前公然離棄了上帝(參王上12:27~28),「被休」且遭受毀滅的審判,為亞述人所擄(王下17:23)。因此猶大輕視嘲笑她,想自己較以色列好得多。猶大百姓祇是因為敬虔的王約西亞推行改革(王下23)而有敬虔的外表,但他們的心卻遠離上帝。所以,耶利米預言猶大將遭受以色列同一命運之苦(參王下23:27),而且勇敢地指責她更壞的罪行(3:11),因她犯同樣的罪,還加上上帝所增惡的偽善行為。雖然她有聖殿和祭司在她這邊,同時可從以色列壞的榜樣得到教訓,可是不引以為戒,亦不留心上帝的警告(3:6~10)。

        耶和華叫耶利米面向北方對被擄的以色列百姓宣告,在此顯明祂的慈愛,祂說如果他們肯認罪和真正悔改,祂願意接納他們回來。然而,上帝預言祇有少數有忠信的餘民肯悔改歸回錫安(3:14~18,22~25)。雖然少數北方支派和那些來自猶大的在古列王下詔時歸回,但是耶利米顯然是指著一個較遠將來的事說的──當所有為耶穌基督寶血救贖的人,包括「列國」(即外邦人),將榮耀和尊貴都歸於祂(4:2),要一同來到新耶路撒冷,稱為「主的寶座」之前。雖然歷史事實最後記載耶和華的約櫃是在代下35:3,這堻怮嶀@次提到它。人將不再視約櫃為上帝的寶座(出25:22),也不再追想或製造另一個(可能推測第一個會給敵人帶走且毀掉),因它象徵舊約已經在耶穌塈髡角F;它堶惜]放著上帝的律法,但將不再需要,因在新約堣W帝的律法要寫在人的心上(參31:31~34;來10:15~18;詩40:8)。

        像呼籲以色列的悔改一樣,耶和華呼籲猶大悔改她的偽善行為,並使律法存在他們的心中。他們的心也需要洗清和受割禮,使他們對上帝的敬拜和奉獻不單是外表的宗教儀式(像割禮一樣),因上帝看重人的內心(4:4;參申10:16;羅2:28~29腓3:3;詩51:10)。如果猶大不趕快悔改像所要求的一樣(4:14),上帝忿怒的烈火將傾倒在他們身上,這是由於她的背叛和愚頑所招來的(4:4b,17~18,22)。當耶利米想像到從北方來的「列國毀滅者」(巴比倫)會迅速臨到猶大和耶路撒冷,要毀滅和劫掠每個城邑和果園的情況時,他描述他們要受的審判,心中為恐怖所打擊憂傷不已。他們請求敵人和假神──像穿著誘惑性的衣服和用顏料修飾的娼妓,而不得幫助,因為他們所效法的那些人將是他們的兇手。然而,上帝顯示祂的慈悲應許不完全毀滅所有猶大的百姓,因祂還有一計畫,要使一些餘民歸回,從他們的後代中,祂要興起一位將來的彌賽亞。

禱告

        主我的上帝阿,感謝您為您忠信的餘民所定下奇妙的應許。求您潔淨我們堶悼籉韟藕帘帡做蔽漲甈陛A使我們得以更新,成為純潔、毫無玷污的新娘,等候您的再臨。奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Jeremiah 3 &4
Key Verse:"O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved..."(Jeremiah 4:14)
Overview

        According to the Mosaic law, it was impossible for a divorced wife to return again to her first husband if she had remarried another, for such would be considered adultery which defiles the land (cf. Deut. 24:1-4; Lev. 18:25, 27). Judah is pictured as the wife of the Lord who had left him and "lived as a prostitute with many lovers" (3:1; NIV), committing spiritual adultery and harlotry by joining herself with many heathen gods (made from merely "stones and trees", 3:9). The point that Jeremiah makes is that it is not a simple matter for Judah, who has sinned so deeply against God, to think that she can easily return to Him, her first love. Therefore, Jeremiah clearly exposes Judah's sins so that she might feel the guilt, shame, and remorse, for true repentance can come only after one realizes the gravity of his sin, and his conscience and heart convict him. After chastisement and rebuke (God withheld rain, 3:3;14:l-6), she speaks sweet words to the Lord and asks Him not to be angry with her any longer, but these are just words that do not come from the heart (3:5).

        Judah's "sister", the Northern Kingdom of Israel, had openly abandoned the Lord about 300 years earlier (cf. 1 Kings 12:27-28) and had been "divorced" and suffered His judgment of destruction and captivity by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:23). Therefore, Judah had looked upon her with scorn, thinking herself much better than Israel. The apparent godliness of the people of Judah was only because of the reforms that godly King Josiah enforced (2 Kings 23); yet the people's hearts were far from God. Therefore, Jeremiah predicts that Judah would suffer the same fate as Israel (cf. 2 Kings 23:27) and boldly accuses her of being worse (3:11), for she was guilty of the same sins, plus hypocrisy, which the Lord detests. Even though she had the advantage over Israel of having the Temple and priests in her midst, as well Israel's bad example from which to learn, she did not learn the lesson nor heed the Lord's warnings (3:6-10).

        The Lord's great mercy is illustrated when He asked Jeremiah to face the north and tell the people of Israel, who were in captivity, that He was willing to accept them back if they would confess and truly repent. The Lord foretold, however, that only a small faithful remnant would repent and return to Zion (3:14-18, 22-25). Although there were some from the northern tribes who returned with those from Judah at the time of Cyrus' decree, it appears that Jeremiah is speaking of a more distant future event — when all those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, including "the nations" (i.e. the Gentiles) whose glory and blessing is in Him (4:2b), will come to the New Jerusalem which shall be called "The Throne of the Lord". The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned here for the last time, although the last recorded historical event involving the Ark is in 2 Chronicles 35:3. It will no longer be considered God's throne (Ex. 25:22), nor will they remember it or make another one (possibly inferring that the first one would be carried away and destroyed by enemies), for it symbolized the old covenant which has been fulfilled in Jesus; it also housed the Law of God, but that would not be needed, for in the New Covenant, God's law was to be written on men's hearts (cf. 31:31-34; Heb. 10:15-18; Ps. 40:8).

        As well as calling for Israel's repentance, the Lord called upon Judah to repent of her hypocrisy and to internalize the law in their hearts. They also needed to wash and circumcise their hearts, so that the acts of worship and consecration to God would not be merely outward acts of religion (such as circumcision), for God looks at the heart of man (4:4; cf. Deut. 10:16; Rom. 2:28-29; Phil. 3:3; Ps. 51:10). If Judah did not quickly repent, as they were urged (4:14), the fire of God's wrath would fall upon them; this is something she had brought upon herself due to her rebellion and foolishness (4:4b, 17-18, 22). In describing their judgment, Jeremiah was horror-stricken and grieved by what he envisioned: "The destroyer of nations" from the north (Babylon) would swiftly descend upon Judah and Jerusalem, destroying and plundering every city and fruitful field. Appealing to the enemy and their gods like a seductively dressed and painted harlot would not help, for those whom they emulated would be their murderers. God, however, graciously promised to not utterly destroy all of Judah, for He still had a plan. The remnant would return, and from their posterity He would raise up the coming Messiah.

Prayer

        Lord God, thank You for the wonderful promises You have made for Your faithful remnant. Cleanse us afresh today from any uncleanness or hypocrisy that might be in us, that we may be a pure and spotless Bride awaiting Your return.


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