But if ye will not hearken - Then their sin lay at their own door. How fully were they warned; and how basely did they reject the counsel of God against themselves!
This prophecy on the observance of the Sabbath, is the first of a series of short predictions. arranged probably in chronological order among themselves, but in other respects independent of one another. Its tone is mild, and dissuasive rather of future neglect than condemnatory of past misconduct; and it may be assigned to the commencement of Jehoiakim‘s reign. Its similarity to the prophecy contained in Jeremiah 22:1-5 makes it probable that they were contemporaneous.
The gate of the children of the people - Perhaps the principal entrance of the outer court of the temple. Very probably there was traffic there, as in our Lord‘s time, in doves and other requisites for sacrifice, and so the warning to keep the Sabbath was as necessary there as at the city gates.
To yourselves - literally, “in your souls, i. e., in yourselves.” They were to be on their guard from the depths of their own conscience, thoroughly and on conviction.
Bear no burden on the sabbath day - Apparently the Sabbath day was kept negligently. The country people were in the habit of coming to Jerusalem on the Sabbath to attend the temple service, but mingled traffic with their devotions, bringing the produce of their fields and gardens with them for disposal. The people of Jerusalem for their part took Jeremiah 17:22 their wares to the gates, and carried on a brisk traffic there with the villagers. Both parties seem to have abstained from manual labor, but did not consider that buying and selling were prohibited by the fourth commandment.
A picture of national grandeur. The prophet associates with the king the princes of the Davidic lineage, who in magnificent procession accompany the king as he goes in and out of Jerusalem.
Shall remain forever - Or, “shall be inhabited forever:” populousness is promised.
The reward for keeping the Sabbath day holy consists in three things;
(1) in great national prosperity,
(2) in the lasting welfare of Jerusalem, and
(3) in the wealth and piety of the people generally, indicated by their numerous sacrifices.
Bringing sacrifices of praise - Rather, “bringing praise.” This clause covers all that precedes.
The verse is interesting as specifying the exact limits of the dominions of the Davidic kings, now confined to Judah and Benjamin. These two tribes are divided according to their physical conformation into
(1) the Shefelah, or low country lying between the mountains and the Mediterranean;
(2) the mountain which formed the central region, extending to the wilderness of Judah, on the Dead Sea; and
(3) the Negeb, or arid region, which lay to the south of Judah.
Upon disobedience follows the anger of God, which will consume like a fire all the, splendor of the offending city.
Jeremiah called their attention repeatedly to the counsels given in Deuteronomy. More than any other of the prophets, he emphasized the teachings of the Mosaic law and showed how these might bring the highest spiritual blessing to the nation and to every individual heart. “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein,” he pleaded, “and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16. PK 411.1
On one occasion, by command of the Lord, the prophet took his position at one of the principal entrances to the city and there urged the importance of keeping holy the Sabbath day. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were in danger of losing sight of the sanctity of the Sabbath, and they were solemnly warned against following their secular pursuits on that day. A blessing was promised on condition of obedience. “If ye diligently hearken unto Me,” the Lord declared, and “hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain forever.” Jeremiah 17:24, 25. PK 411.2
This promise of prosperity as the reward of allegiance was accompanied by a prophecy of the terrible judgments that would befall the city should its inhabitants prove disloyal to God and His law. If the admonitions to obey the Lord God of their fathers and to hallow His Sabbath day were not heeded, the city and its palaces would be utterly destroyed by fire. PK 411.3Read in context »