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Chinese9/5/2006English
經文:耶利米書十六至十七章
鑰節:「耶和華阿,求您醫治我,我便痊癒;拯救我,我便得救;因您是我所讚美的。」(耶十七14)
提要

        許多先知的生活常被用為傳達他們信息的進一步方法(例如賽8:3~4,18;何1:1~9;結24:15~27)。上帝給耶利米的指示是要他保持獨身,這是不尋常的事,尤其要祭司這樣。耶利米如此做,可以加強他信息的真實性。這不是享樂或有兒女的時候,因為連小孩子也將難免於巴比倫人刀劍和俘擄之殃。因為上帝已把祂的平安、慈愛和憐憫從他們奪去,災難必將臨到猶大的百姓。所以,不但他們的身體缺少保護,他們的心靈也得不到倚靠(16:5;參腓4:7;賽26:3)。

        那些百姓非常頑梗、良心喪盡,他們甚至不覺察得罪上帝到甚麼情況。耶利米向他們說明上帝的審判即將臨到,因他們甚至比他們的列祖更壞。他們不但離棄上帝,他們竟然隨從自己惡心的「幻想」行事─包括拜偶像─像沒有上帝的存在一樣(16:12)。他們犯了許多玷污土地的罪,要受「加倍報應」(16:18;參出22:4,7)。

        雖然我們失了上帝的恩寵,上帝仍然保持祂的眼目在他們身上。正如祂說過祂要用簸箕簸他們,祂召許多「打魚的」和「打獵的」來分散他們,只留下祂所要的餘民(16:16)。祂要從被擄者中帶些人回來,像一次新的「出埃及」(16:14~15)。

        當耶利米預見上帝恩召祂的子民時,他更看到將來有一天上帝的餘民要聯合在一起,由於他相信全世界有許多外邦人將覺悟他們與上帝的約遠離,是不值得和無益的。論到外邦人,上帝說:「他們就知道我的名是耶和華了。」(16:21)。上帝將藉著耶穌基督使外邦人知道祂的手和祂的能力,這樣他們就相信祂是耶和華了。

        第十七章進一步說明猶大所將受不可避免的審判,由於她的罪像用鐵筆銘刻在他們硬的心版上一樣無法抹消。那些百姓的心不是寫上上帝的律法而是他們的罪,這是何等恐怖驚人的一張圖畫(31:33;來10:16)。依照上帝所預備贖罪的方法,祂子民的心要用祭牲的血潔淨(參來9:12~14),那些血也要抹在香壇的四角上。如果是一悔罪的官長,祭牲的血要抹在燔祭壇的四角上(參利4:7,18,25,30),象徵他們的生命奉獻給上帝,因之他們的祈禱和獻祭將蒙祂的悅納。然而,猶大百姓的心不潔淨,所以他們向上帝所獻的祭是污穢和可憎的,因他們拜偶像且在異教的祭壇上獻過祭。所以祭壇的四角都蓋滿了他們的罪過(不是贖罪的血),因之他們向上帝的懇求不會蒙聽(17:1,11:11)。

        耶利米勇敢的陳述(「有禍」,17:5)像是對猶大許多不信的王說的,當北方敵人威嚇時,他常轉向其他國家像埃及救助。然而,不少真先知曾告訴他們要信靠上帝,這樣他們必將蒙福;而且像耶利米引用詩篇1:3說,他們必像樹栽在水旁,葉子青翠且結果不止。為何要棄善擇惡呢?那是毫無意義的。他說明人心比萬物都詭詐,壞到無可救藥的地步,這樣的敗壞正是人墮落的結果(17:9;申11:16;賽44:20;參太15:19)。

        上帝鑒察人心,也「照各人所行的」回報他們(17:10;羅2:6;啟2:23)。祂察看那些貪婪的(17:11),譏笑的和疑惑的(17:15),要使審判臨到他們身上,他們的名字要被吹掉,像寫在土堛漲r一樣(17:13;參約8:6)。最後,上帝的審判將臨到那些不遵行祂的律法,像不遵守舊約時代對上帝守安息日為聖日那樣(17:19~27;參31:13)。按年代而言,有關安息日的信息似乎在前兩章信息之前,當約西亞王死了不久,人們仍不繼續遵行律法的時候耶利米所傳講的。從正面看,上帝樂意賜福一位順從的僕人像耶利米,因他為所傳講的信息被嘲笑,對上帝的醫治和拯救的大能,仍然保有極大的信心(17:14;參太5:10~12)。

禱告

        上帝阿,您鑒察人心和意念,請鑒察我們。去掉您所不喜悅的,使我可得您的喜悅,並且知道您醫治和拯救的大能。奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Jeremiah 16&17
Key Verse:"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise."(Jeremiah 17:14)
Overview

        The life of the prophets was often used as a further means of communicating their message (e.g. Isa. 8:3-4, 18; Hos. 1:1-9; Ezk. 24:15-27. Jeremiah's instruction from God was that he remain celibate; this was something unusual, especially for a priest. In so doing, Jeremiah would reinforce the truth of his message. It was not a time for enjoyment or for having children, since even the children would not be spared from the Babylonians' swords and captivity. This calamity would come upon the people of Judah because the Lord had taken away from them His peace, lovingkindness, and mercy. Therefore, not only did they lack physical protection, but their hearts and minds were also left unguarded (16:5; cf. Phil. 4:7; Isa. 26:3).

        The people were so hardened and their consciences were so corrupted that they did not even recognize how they had sinned against God. Jeremiah was to explain to them that the judgment of God would come because they were even worse than their fathers. Not only had they forsaken God, but they lived as though God did not exist by following after "the imagination" of their own evil hearts (16:12), which included idolatry. Their many sins were crimes that defiled the land, and for this they would "repay double" (16:18; cf. Ex. 22:4, 7).

        Although they lost God's favour, the Lord would still keep a watchful eye over them. Just as He said He would winnow (15:7), so too He would send "fishermen" and "hunters" to bring a further separation, that only His desired remnant would be left (16:16). These He would bring back from the Captivity; it would be like a new Exodus (16:14-15).

        As Jeremiah foresees God's gracious gathering of His people, he looks further into the future to a time when God's remnant would be joined by believing Gentiles from all over the world who recognize that living apart from the Covenant with God is worthless and unprofitable. Concerning the Gentiles, the Lord said: "they shall know that My name is the Lord [Yahweh]" (16:21). It would be through Jesus Christ that God would cause the Gentiles to know His hand and His might so that they might believe that He is Lord.

        In chapter 17, Judah's inevitable judgment is further illustrated, for her sins were indelible, as though engraved upon their hard hearts. What a horrible and terrifying picture of the hearts of the people — upon them would be written their sins instead of the law of God (31:33; Heb. 10:16). In God's provision of atonement, the hearts of His people were to be cleansed by the spilt blood of the sacrifice (cf. Heb. 9:12-14). The blood would also be applied to the horns of the altar of sweet incense. In the case of a repentant ruler, the blood was to be applied to the horns of the altar of burnt offering (cf. Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30), symbolizing that their lives were consecrated to God so that their prayers and offerings would be acceptable to Him. The people of Judah, however, had unclean hearts. Therefore, their sacrifices to God were defiled and abominable, for they were idolatrous and offered sacrifices on pagan altars. The horns of the altar, therefore, were covered with their sin and guilt (not the blood of atonemnt), so their supplications to the Lord would not be answered (17:1; 11:11).

        Jeremiah's bold statement ("cursed", 17:5) was likely directed against one of the faithless kings of Judah who were always turning to other nations, such as Egypt, to help them from the threats of their northern enemies. The true prophets had told them, however, to trust only in God, for then they would experience His blessing, and as Jeremiah quoted from Psalm 1:3, they would become like a fruitful and prosperous "tree planted by the water". Why would anyone choose the bad over the good? It does not make sense. The explanation given is that the heart is deceitful and wicked, being incurably diseased and corrupted as a result of the Fall of man (17:9; Deut. 11:16; Isa. 44:20; cf. Matt. 15:19).

        God, who sees the heart, also searches it out to give each person "according to his ways" (17:10; Rom. 2:6; Rev. 2:23). He brings judgment upon those whom He sees are covetous (17:11), mockers, and doubters (17:15); they will be blown away like writing in the dust (17:13; cf. John 8:6). Finally, God's judgment is upon those who disobey His laws, such as not observing the Sabbath which was the Old Covenant's sign of one's sanctification to God (17:19-27; cf. Ex. 31:13). Chronologically, this message about the sabbath likely preceeded the messages in the last two chapters and may have been preached shortly after Josiah's death, when the keeping of the law was no longer enforced. On the positive side, God is delighted to find an obedient servant whom He can bless, such as Jeremiah who, despite being mocked for the sake of his message, had great faith in God's power to heal and save (17:14; cf. Matt. 5:10-12).

Prayer

        You, Lord, search the heart and mind of man. Search ours. Root out whatever displeases You, that we might bring You delight and know Your power to heal and to save.


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