Jeremiah is becoming extraordinarily alive.  All faithfulness to-day is heading up into a lonely witness, confronted by the frown of both the religious and the civil power; and all opposition to God is heading up into a union of priest and prophet and prince and people, united on the one point of the suppression of the prophesied judgmentsCarchemish, the rock on which Israel went down - the crisis when world-empire passed from the Jew to the Gentile - lay just ahead; as Armagaddon now lies ahead, and the passing of world-empire from the Gentile to Christ.  And what extraordinarily combines the two parallel crises - Jeremiah’s and our own - is that the very prophecy for which the Prophet’s life was in peril, and which he refused to withdraw (Jer. 25.) is the very prophecy or universal coming catastrophe, actual events ahead of us, which is the crux of the world situation at this moment.  Jeremiah had a twofold judgment to announce - one on the People of God, and one on the approaching World-Empire: so have we; and, as in Jeremiah’s day, both judgments are at the doors, and both judgments are extraordinarily deniedAs Sir Isaac Newton foresaw two centuries ago:- "About the time of the end, in all probability, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamour and opposition."




Now the command to Jeremiah (26: 2) is exactly ours. "Speak all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; KEEP NOT BACK A WORD."  God had committed into the hands of Jeremiah, exactly as He has committed into ours, explicit warnings of coming judgment both on the People of God and on the world, coupled with the clearest statement of amnesty, a stay of execution, on repentance and an amended life; and the situation is so critical, so many millions of destinies are hanging in the balance, so inexorable is the welding together of sin and judgment for every human soul, that there is peril in the alteration - much more in the suppression - of a single word.  "Keep not back a word!"  To soften the severity may be to lose the repentanceJeremiah was to yield neither to affaction nor to fear; he was to soften no expression, alter none, put no smooth word for a rough one; change no accent, diminish no emphasis, mutilate no figure: the thing we are handling is Divine, and must be discharged whole in the hearing of men.




The modernity of Jeremiah’s controversy is startling.  At a vast gathering in the Temple and its precincts, as soon as the Prophet had delivered Jehovah’s words, he was arrested; and the charge laid against him is precisely the charge that is gathering like a thunderbolt over our heads.  The entire community accuses Jeremiah of saying that what he said was the Word of God when it was not; and that while all the other Prophets (therefore false prophets) foretold prosperity for both the People of God and for the world, Jeremiah foretold disaster for both.  "Why hast thou prophesied IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate?  And all the people laid hold on him, saying, Thou shalt surely die" (Jer. 26: 9).  There is not a leading theologian to-day who does not assert that what we pass on - the Apocalyptic judgments to fall on both Church and world - never came from God at all: it is pronounced, as the Prophets of Jeremiah’s day pronounced his forecasts, a monstrous theology.




Jeremiah’s defence is our model.  A summary will reveal its beauty.  He repeats every word that he had said: he asserts that every word which he had passed on is the word of God, verbally, infallibly inspired: he stresses, with tender emphasis, that God’s object was their good, and their salvation: he appeals to them to hear and live: he shows that all judgment prophecy can be cancelled by repentance, and is uttered mainly in order that it may never come to pass: he submits to their God-ordained he unfalteringly maintains that the spiritual consecration of God’s people is not inalienable, and that God’s people can become, and are becoming, apostate: he submits to their God-ordained authority over his own life, he tells them they may do what they chose with him - but warns them of the peril of blood-guiltiness.  It is an exquisite model for ourselvesFew things in the world are so safeguarding as having to stand for unpopular truth: it not only tends to kill pride, but the consequent isolation shuts up the soul to the unseen, and casts it wholly on God. Jeremiah’s task seems, on the whole, to have been (manward) a fairly complete failure.




The Roll of Jeremiah is the first book of the Bible of which, as such, we have any record; and in it we have a disclosure of the Bible’s ultimate fate among men.  Nothing tests like the truth; it touches us on the raw; and then one of two things happens - either we get rid of the sin, or else we get rid of the truth. "When Jehudi had read three of four leaves, the King [Jehoiakim] cut it with a penknife, and cast it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the roll was consumed" (Jer. 36: 23).  "I once saw a man in a railway carriage," says Dr. G. F. Pentecost, "to whom a leaf of the New Testament had been given, crumple it up in his hand, fling it on the floor, spit on it, and grind it under his heel."  Countless millions [of regenerate Christians,] do this intellectually.  A leading religious journal (Christian World, May 14, 1936) says :- "The ‘Advent’ view of prophecy is entirely discredited.  The people who tell you that ‘God will show His terrible judgments and that there will be a fearful cataclysm’ are at the mercy of an obsolete conception of what history is.  The cataclysmic view of history has long since been abandoned.  For the most part Prophecy was not fulfilled and cannot now be fulfilled.  Prophecy has proved to be an illusion."  Thus the whole of the prophecies, foretelling the judgments coming upon both Church and world, are cast bodily into the burning brazier.




Now it is revealed why to destroy a Sacred Canon is to sign our own death-warrant.  The peril is so dread that the Holy Spirit at once adds:- "And they were not afraid, nor rent their garments." What is the peril if destroying the Book?  The announcement of doom had this marvellous quality, that it carried a pardon in the heart of it (36: 3):- "that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin."  Prophecies of evil are given to falsify themselves: Hell is revealed in order that none may enter: prophecy is not a diagnosis of certain death, but an antitoxin to cure the dying.  All that God has to do to consummate the world’s ruin is to be silent, and to suffer the noiseless and automatic approach of the penalties of iniquity.  But the roll of judgment is issued by a God of love; and coming wrath is announced in order that it may never fall; the most fearful prophecies are sent to saveNineveh’s doom forty days died in her instant repentance.  They who destroy the prophecies think to destroy the judgments.  But what happened?  Jehovah says:- "Take thee again another roll": in the teeth of the burning God multiplies the Book.  No copy had been kept: no human memory could produce it: Jehovah Himself now issues a second and enlarged edition; and He does so by re-inditing the whole to Jeremiah, without the loss of a single word. To burn the prophecies is for a murderer to tear up his reprieve, for a ship-wrecked crew to sink their lifeboat.  Ten days after came this message to the king from Jehovah:- "His dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost" (36: 30).




An exquisite and exceeding critical lesson for us lies in the character of Jeremiah.  Such a work, one would have imagined, required a man of iron, unbending, unemotional, unsympathetic: it is wonderfully encouraging to the most timid among us that God’s choice was utterly different.  By nature Jeremiah’s was a mild and timid disposition, that shrank inexpressibly from being a prophet of woe.  "Woe is me, my mother," he cries, "that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!" (Jer. 15: 10).  The role of censor to the people of God pained him deeply; and his sympathy was so intense that he felt their sins and sufferings as his own.  "Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" (Jer. 9: 18).  The utter pessimist, the man of the black outlook, the constant prophet of judgment which the very word ‘Jeremiah’ has come to mean is the man who - more than any Old Testament prophet - embodies the New Covenant of Grace.





That many earnest Christian people are thinking these thoughts and putting them into their prayers is borne in upon me just now from what I read and hear.  A few hours ago I was conversing with an old and valued friend who rather startled me by asking whether I did not deem it possible that the ancient Christian belief in a reign of antichrist might be coming literally true.  I sat silent, pondering the interrogatory, and my friend continued to speak somewhat in these terms:- "there would seem to be a gathering up and concentration of the forces of evil in the world to-day, an open and disguised trial of strength between the powers of light and the powers of darkness, between Christ and the Man of Sin, between titanic spiritual realities in the visible and invisible worlds with humanity as the battleground?  The wicked and unscrupulous men of blood who keep millions upon millions of human beings in chains, wrath, and agony may be but the puppets and emissaries of what both our Lord and His apostles spoke of as the prince of this world and by other titles, a tremendous and spiritual power contending against God.  Is the present hour a specially critical one in human history whose outcome will either be a new manifestation of Christ and a fresh start for civilization upon new and better lines or a period of woe and destruction such as has never been known since the fall of the Roman empire and attended by an influx of such miseries as imagination staggers to contemplate?"  I have a misgiving that my dear old friend is right and that civilization is at a new parting of the ways: victory in the balance - a set-back for all that the name of Christ stands for, or such a revival of vital religion as mankind has ever known.  There will be a final glorious advent, a complete ending of the present dispensation.  Of course there will be; the Church has never surrendered ¹ that expectation nor can she do so and remain faithful to her divine commission





[1. Many people of God (mainly Anti- Millennialists), are now assisting the ‘power contending against God.’  They are openly denying His prophecies, and destroying the sense and meaning of His inspired Word, by a spiritualizing and allegorizing process of interpretation.


Both Old and New Testament Scriptures (too many to list ) are pregnant with plain statements to the contrary.  If there will be no First Resurrection or Millennium, then words have no meaning and there will be no Kingdom to deliver up to God! (1 Cor. 15: 24).


"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know" - or should know, unless deceived by false teachers - "that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15: 58, R.V.).]




Denial of the Advent presents a truncated Christianity made violently inconsistent with itself, and in violent collision with facts around it, by the withdrawal of half its revelations and the substitution of a wholly imaginary horoscope.  For example, Dr. T. R. Glover says :- "The message of Jesus is that things are going to get better and better."  Who is the ‘Jesus’ of whom Dr. Glover is speaking?  It can hardly be the Lord Jesus Christ, who foretells a time of tribulation on earth without parallel in history, or repetition in eternity (Matt. 24: 21); who reveals this entire generation as culminating in a wickedness sevenfold greater (Matt. 12: 45); who challenges whether there will be "the faith" on earth at His return (Luke 18: 8); and who discloses even the people of God as in deadly peril from the last miracles of Hell (Matt. 24: 24).  Or if Dr. Glover means that our Lord unfolds a ‘better and betterafter His Advent, then he admits the doctrine that he derides.