JEREMIAH 23:24. — Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him! saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.
THE occasion of this discourse begins ver. 16, where God admonisheth the people, not to hearken to the words of the false prophets which spake a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They made the people vain by their insinuations of peace, when God had proclaimed war and calamity; and uttered the dreams of their fancies, and not the visions of the Lord; and so turned the people from the expectation of the evil day which God had threatened (ver. 17): “They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace: and they say unto every one that walks after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” And they invalidate the prophecies of those whom God had sent, ver. 18: “Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?” Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord? Are they acquainted with the secrets of God more than we? Who have the word of the Lord, if we have not? Or, it may be a continuation of God’s admonition: believe not those prophets; for who of them have been acquainted with the secrets of God? or by what means should they learn his counsel? No; assure yourselves “a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked” (ver. 19). A whirlwind shall come from Babylon; it is just at the door, and shall not be blown over; it shall fall with a witness upon the wicked people and the deceiving prophets, and sweep them together into captivity. For (ver. 20), “The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart.” My fury shall not be a childish fury, that quickly languisheth, but shall accomplish whatsoever I threaten; and burn so hot, as not to be cool, till I have satisfied my vengeance; “in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (ver. 20), when the storm shall beat upon you, you shall then know that the calamities shall answer the words you have heard. When the conqueror shall waste your grounds, demolish your houses, and manacle your hands, then shall you consider it, and have the wishes of fools, that you had had your eyes in your heads before; you shall then know the falseness of your guides, and the truth of my prophets, and discern who stood in the counsel of the Lord, and subscribe to the messages I have sent you.
Some understand this not only of the Babylonish captivity, but refer it to the time of Christ, and the false doctrine of men s own righteousness in opposition to the righteousness of God; understanding this verse to be partly a threatening of wrath, which shall end in an advantage to the Jews, who shall in the latter time consider the falseness of their notions about a legal righteousness, and so make it a promise; they shall then know the intent of the Scripture, and in the latter days, the latter end of the world, when time shall be near the rolling up, they shall reflect upon themselves; they shall “look upon Him whom they have pierced;” and till these latter days, they shall be hardened, and believe nothing of evangelical truths. Now God denieth that he sent those prophets (ver. 21): “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” They have intruded themselves without a commission from me, whatsoever their brags are. The reason to prove it is (ver. 22), “If they had stood in my counsel,” if they had been instructed, and inspired by me, “they would have caused my people to hear my words;” they would have regulated themselves according to my word, “and have turned them from their evil way;” i. e. endeavored to shake down their false confidences of peace, and make them sensible of their false notions of me, and my ways. Now because those false prophets could not be so impudent as to boast that they prophesied in the name of God, when they had not commission from him, unless they had some secret sentiment, that they and their intentions were hid from the knowledge and eye of God; he adds (ver. 33), “Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? Have I not the power of seeing and knowing what they do, what they design, what they think? Why should I not have such a power, since I fill heaven and earth by my essence?” Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? He excludes here the doctrine of those that excluded the providence of God from extending itself to the inferior things of the earth; which error was ancient, as ancient as the time of Job, as appears by their opinion, that God’s eyes were hood-winked and muffled by the thickness of the clouds, and could not pierce through their dark and dense body (Job 22:14): “Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not.”