3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.
3. A tertio decimo anno Josiae filii Ammon regis Jehudah ad hunc diem, hic tertius et vicesimus annus est, loquutus est Jehova ad me, et loquutus sum ad vos, surgens mane; et non audistis:
4. And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.
4. Et misit Jehova ad vos omnes suos servos Prophetas, mane surgens et mittens; et non audistis et non inclinastis aurem vestram ad audiendum;
5. They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever.
5. Dicendo, Revertimini agedum quisque a via sua mala eta malitia operum vestrorum; et habitate super terram, quam dedit Jehova vobis et patribus vestris a seculo et usque in seculum (et quoe sequuntur.)
Jeremiah now expostulates with the Jews, because they had not only perfidiously departed from the true worship of God, and despised the whole teaching of his Law, but because they had shaken off the yoke, and designedly and even obstinately rejected all warnings, being not moved by reproofs nor even by threatenings. He does not then simply charge them with impiety and ingratitude, but adds the sin of perverseness, that they were like untameable wild beasts, and could by no means be corrected.
He says, that from the thirteenth year of Josiah king of Judah, to that year, which was the twenty-third year, he had not ceased faithfully to perform the office committed to him, but had effected nothing. It hence appears how incorrigible was their wickedness. We have seen, at the beginning of the book, that he was called by God to be a Prophet in the thirteenth year of King Josiah; and he had now been engaged in his calling, as he declares, for twenty-three years.
He had spent his time in vain, he had consumed much labor without any fruit. It is then no wonder that he now accuses them of perverseness, and that in the name of God; for he pleads not his own cause, but shews what the Jews deserved, considering how much God had labored in reclaiming them, and that they had rejected all his warnings and refused all his remedies. Then from the thirteenth year of Josiah, he says, to this day; and afterwards in a parenthesis he adds, that he had already discharged his office for twenty-three years.
We learn that the Prophet spoke thus seventeen years before the destruction of the City and Temple; for he had accomplished forty years before the people were driven into exile, and before they who thought themselves safe, miserably perished. He continued to the death of Josiah; and afterwards about twenty-two transpired; for Jehoiakim reigned eleven years; and without reckoning the short time of Jeconiah, Mathaniah, called also Zedekiah, was in the eleventh year removed, and disgracefully and reproachfully put to death. Thus it appears that the Prophet constantly labored for forty years.
Hence, also, we learn how diabolical was the madness of that people in rejecting so many admonitions. And if we connect another thing, to which I lately referred, that they had been taught by many examples, it will appear still more evident that the disease of impiety as to that people was altogether incurable.
But this passage deserves special attention; for we here learn that we ought immediately to return to God when he invites us; for faith is known by its promptitude. As soon then as God speaks, it behoves us to be attentive, so that we may immediately follow him. But if God ceases not for a whole year to warn and exhort us, while at the same time his doctrine is despised, we become guilty of intolerable sin. Let us then remember that days are here in a manner mentioned as well as years, that the Jews might consider how many days are included in every year; and let us also know that years are mentioned by Jeremiah, that they might, understand that they had no excuse, inasmuch as God had for so long a time ceased not to promote their welfare, while in the meantime they persisted in their impiety, and continued obstinate to the last. This is the reason why the Prophet relates again when it was that he began to discharge his prophetic office, even from the thirteenth year of Josiah.
He then adds, that it was their own fault that they had not repented; spoken, he says, has Jehovah to me, and I to you. By saying that the word of God was deposited with him, he no doubt intended to assert his authority against the unbelievers, who clamored that he presumptuously pretended God's name, and that he had not been sent by God. For we have elsewhere seen that the Church was then miserably torn, having intestine broils, and many were boasting that they were prophets; and we shall hereafter find the same thing in other places. Thus, then, Jeremiah was not received by the whole people, and his authority was disputed. Since then he had to contend with many ungodly men, he here testifies that he came not of himself, but that the prophetic office had been committed to him.
After having asserted the authority of his call, he adds, that he had faithfully promoted the welfare of the whole people; for he declares how faithful and diligent he had been when he says, that he had spoken and rose up early; for to rise up early means that he had been assiduous in his work. The Prophet then shews that he had not been tardy or idle, and that he had not spoken carelessly as many do, who seem to do what God commands, but display no fervid zeal and no sedulity. The Prophet then, after having declared that he had been sent from above, adds that he had exercised fidelity and diligence, that he had strenuously served God and his Church. I have spoken to you, he says, as the Lord had spoken to me, -- how? rising up early
He then adds, I have spoken, and ye heard not He complains here that his work had been useless, and at the same time shews that the whole fault was in the people. He confirms the same thing in other words, Jehovah has sent to you all his servants the prophets, rising. up early, etc He enhances their sin, -- that they had not only rejected one Prophet but even many; for God had not employed Jeremiah alone to teach them, but had joined others with him, so that they were less excusable. We hence see that their sin is in this verse exaggerated; for the Jews had not only despised God in the person of one man, but had also rejected all his servants. He might, indeed, have simply said, that God had sent his servants, but he adds the word prophets, in order that their ingratitude might appear more evident. It was, indeed, very wicked to neglect God's servants; but as prophecy was an invaluable treasure, and a singular pledge and symbol of God's favor, it was a double crime when they thus despised the prophets, whose very name ought to have been held sacred by them.
He afterwards applies to God what he had said of himself, rising up early It is certain that God does not rise up, as he sleeps not in the night; but the language is much more expressive and forcible, when God himself is said to rise up early. And it, was not without reason that the Prophet spoke so emphatically; for though the Jews were sufficiently convicted of ingratitude for having disregarded God's servants, it was yet a monstrous impiety to shew no regard for God. But when the unbelieving are proved guilty, they ever fix their eyes on men, |He! it is with a mortal that I have to do; far be it from me ever to rise up against God; but why is this so much blamed, since I do not immediately perish? since I am not suddenly cast down at the nod of man? what! am I not free to inquire, and to discuss, and to examine every part of what is said? why do the prophets so imperiously treat us, that it is not lawful to doubt any of their words?| Thus, then, did the ungodly speak. But God on the other hand answered them and said, that he was despised, as also Christ said,
|He who hears you hears me,
and he who despises you despises me.| (Luke 10:16)
So also the Prophet sets forth God himself as rising up early, exhorting the people and manifesting every care for their wellbeing. This, then, is the design of the metaphor, when he says, that God had sent to them and rose up early; he rose up early while sending his servants.
Now as God fulminates against all despisers of his doctrine, so from these words we may gather no small consolation; for we certainly conclude that God watches over our safety whenever sound and faithful teachers go forth: it is the same as though he himself descended from heaven, rose up early, and was intent in securing our salvation. This we learn from the very words of the Prophet, when he says, that God rose up early. But as this testimony of God's favor and paternal care towards us is delightful, so to the same extent dreadful is the vengeance that awaits those who neglect this favor, who sleep when God is watching, who hear not when he is speaking, who continue in their sloth and torpor when God of his own accord meets them, and kindly and gently invites them to himself.