3 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
Scripture Names Doctrinally Applicable to Christ
Jer 29: 3 - Gemariah (G'mar-yah.) Perfected of Yahweh.
"The third day I shall be perfected."—(Luke 13:32.)
The Christadelphian, June 1873
4 Thus saith Yahweh of hosts, the Elohim of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
Dispersing among their brethren
...Life in Babylon when they arrived was vastly different for this family of faith. 'There was no place of assembly for evening and morning worship, and their appointed daily tasks were all in abeyance. Since there was neither requirement nor opportunity to congregate at the temple, they would have to find new occupations.
In this strange land there was no "portion for the singers" 12 anymore. They needed to find employment, build houses, raise families, and take up the realities of daily life together with their brethren. 13
Not many of the captivity were settled in the city of Babylon. Most found their way to other parts, establishing a new life in towns beside the streams and watercourses that crossed the plain. 14
In the land of the Chaldees there was no temple, but there were places of congregation where Jews were wont to meet. Indeed, it quickly became the custom of the captives to assemble by the rivers for communal sorrow and prayer, 15 and the House of Asaph joined them. 16
Here, in the riverside assemblies of weeping saints, the singers hung their harps upon the willows of the brooks 17 as they joined in the communal outpouring of grief that was the first stage of adjustment to the shattered dislocation of their lives.
The singers were not immune to the sorrows of the time, and they mourned as did others. But, unlike many who wept with astonishment, they knew full well why the wrath of God had come, and grasped the sad reality of how God's people had transgressed until there was no remedy.
Their real intent was to preserve the history of Yahweh's songs; but right now, in the rawness of the moment, in the sadness of their state, they could not sing.
But, in placing their instruments upon the willows, they taught Judah a lesson in dedication. All those of the captivity who saw these hanging harps knew that the singers were among them, their badge of office on display as a testimony to the God who was still at work in all their lives.
It was too early, however, to grasp how He might unfold the next chapter, and for the moment the singers could only decline to sing for the merriment of their conquerors. Yet even this was an act of faith.
It wasn't that they had abandoned their songs; in fact they were determined never to forsake them. But they were equally determined not to sing them for the public amusement of profane and scornful heathen. The songs of the God of Israel would not be desecrated in such a way.
Their decision not to sing was not because they had forgotten their songs, nor because they were indifferent to them. Their silence sprang from a burning loyalty to the truth, only made more intense by the disaster of the captivity. How could the song of Israel's God be sung in the land of Shinar?
But, in secret, in private, the song that belonged to Him would be kept.
12 Nehemiah 11:23.
13 Jeremiah 29:5-7.
14 Describing Babylon as dwelling upon "many waters" referred to the intricate system of water canals that crossed the Babylonian plain, along which its cities and towns were placed (Jeremiah 51:13).
15 Note the rivers - Ahava (Ezra 8:21), Chebar (Ezekiel1:1; 3:15), Ulai (Daniel 8:2) and Hiddekel (10:4). There were evidently Jewish communities in these and other river towns. This practice of meeting beside the rivers, first learned in exile here in a foreign land (where there was no temple), might well have been the Old Testament basis for such riverside meetings in a foreign town (where there was no Jewish synagogue) referred to in the New Testament (Acts 16:13).
16 Psalm 137:1,2.
17 These willows flourished beside the watercourses (Leviticus 23:40; Job 40:22; Isaiah 44:4), providing comforting shade in the heat and a natural place to congregate.
The Christadelphian Expositor
7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto Yahweh for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Jeremiah sends a letter to the captives in Babylon
It is always somewhat of a task to adjust our relationships to the countries of our pilgrimage. Complete separation is, of course, the primary requirement, and we must be very careful to maintain a strict aloofness - even in our sympathies - from all politics and regional factions. We are citizens of the "Commonwealth of Israel." To every other affiliation we are "strangers and pilgrims. "
But our general attitude must be asJeremiah cautioned-no bitterness, no antagonism, no deliberate provoking of the authorities who are at their wits end in a crumbling world, but
rather a detached but not unfeeling kindness and goodwill,
"praying to the Lord for them. for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace."
In this letter Jeremiah tells the Babylonian captives, as he had previously proclaimed in Jerusalem, that the captivity should last seventy years so that the land might enjoy her
sabbaths of rest which the people had neglected to observe. There is a striking lesson here. We see from this that all down through their occupancy, God had been keeping an accurate
record ofall the years they had failed to rest the land according to His Law, and now they were to be driven out while this full time was carefully measured off.
God may appear not to be noticing-someday the reckoning comes.
"The lord of that servant cometh, and reckoneth with him" "As a man soweth, so shall he reap."
It is inexpressibly sad that this so-often-attested principle is so generally forgotten. It is interesting and significant that God said for their final punishment that He would render to them double. He says-
"First I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land" (Jer. 16: 18).
And Isaiah proclaims in the final call-
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people . . . her warfare is accomplished . . . she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins" (Isa. 40: 1,2).
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.17.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
THE ONE TRUE FAITH
"They being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:3)
The Scriptures-God's glorious messages of life to dying mankind-are addressed to the mind, to the reason, to the logical and rational intellect. They treat of the profoundest and most important subject that can engage the mental faculties of mankind-a subject, furthermore, the consideration of which must be undertaken with the fullest conception of the issues involved.
That is, in considering the questions with which the Scriptures deal, we must fully recognise their importance, and the precedence they must take over every other factor of life, and be quite prepared to subordinate all else to them. We are met with this ultimatum at the threshold of our enquiry. God will not vouchsafe to us the blessings and privileges of divine knowledge unless we are wholehearted in our search-
"... with your whole heart."
Let us appreciate the grand scale of the subject. Let us face the realisation that if there be any foundation and truth to these things at all, then everything else pales into utter insignificance. Let us sweep life clear of all the meaningless distractions that clutter the way, and cut the issue sharp and clean. It is not a question calling for half-measures. God is not mocked. The opportunities are tremendous-the obligations are no less so.
The appeal is an appeal to the mind-not the natural mind, but the mind of the spirit. Where it strikes a responsive chord, where there is a sympathetic appreciation and desire for some better thing-the favour and glory and wisdom of God-to that mind it will irresistibly appeal.
Where this is lacking-where the mind is of the natural, fleshly kind-where there is no conception or perception of anything transcending this present existence and condition-there it will ring in vain, for-
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, BECAUSE THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED." (1 Cor. 2:14)
The spirit of life from the Deity - Apoc 11: 11
... it will be appropriate to the present remarks to look at the foundations upon which we stand, and in connection with that, at the instrumentality that God has employed in the process of leading men back to the apostolic faith and practice; from which all the world has long been in a state of apostacy.
Looking at the universality and greatness of the departure that has been made from the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus; we cannot esteem the present recovery of long-buried principles, as anything less than a clear case of divine interposition, and the result of a most active and divinely directed providence, exercised in the interests of the results now secured-results that had no existence anywhere upon earth little more than fifty years ago.
The development of a community of people planted wholly upon the "foundation of the apostles and prophets," co-incident with the "time of the end," cannot but be regarded by all the truly enlightened as one of the foremost signs of the times. What the researches of a Layard have done for buried cities, the researches and work of Dr. Thomas have done for the long-buried treasure, that God deposited in those "earthen vessels," which he filled with the spirit for the declaration of his purpose, eighteen hundred years ago.
The Doctor himself, naturally disinclined (like Jonah), towards the work that God wished to place in his hands, was first the personal subject of the providence, which afterward co-operated with him, in the literary productions to which he was led subsequently to put his hand. Step by step, the Doctor was conducted into the full blaze of the revealed purpose of God.
From being a speaker he became a writer, otherwise the results of his labour would for the most part have perished in the course of a few years, as one of the consequences of disaffection; and a tendency on the part of some, to get away to conditions that admitted of a larger fellowship with the world, and a less trenchant attitude on behalf of the newly recovered system of doctrine and practice.
On to the noble vine brought out of Egypt, there were not wanting those whose desire it was to graft thereupon their many crotchets, and their equally many mis-interpretations of the divine counsel. This was fortunately the case before the Doctor was off the scene. We say fortunately, for thus happening, we have the advantage of knowing how Doctor Thomas dealt with these attempts to weaken and displace his work.
Did he seek to conciliate such? or did he agree to compromise those things in which it was considered that he was extreme beyond what was called for, by those who could not go the length of his entire return to Bible doctrine? He did neither one nor the other. The world was large: if they would go to the left, he would go to the right; failing this there was nothing left for them but the fire and sword of his testimony, upon whoever dared, for any reasons whatsoever, to obstruct the course of the truth's work, either far off or near at hand.
None know better what this meant than those who were the subjects of it; for the doctor never lifted his pen for nothing, nor without the most destructive result, upon all the high towers of mere human imagination unproved by the word and testimony of the Eternal.
He did not do this however for the mere sake of laying foes and fears, but while engaging in it as circumstances required, he had always the greatest regard at the same time to the upbuilding and confirmation of all those who were truly in love with the entire counsel of the Spirit; and highly appreciative and discerning in respect of the privileges that had come to them, by the instrumentality of a providentially developed situation.
Apart from this object, he could do nothing; in fruitless controversies he never engaged; when he unsheathed his sword, one might be sure the very Gospel in some of its elements was at stake.
His writings were every way calculated to produce the greatest revolution in human thought. We are happily in possession of pretty near all he did in the way of writing, which, however, compared with the vastness of the field of labour upon which he entered, and the all-embracing character of the subjects of which he treated, are by no means voluminous. In this particular they are, so far as any mere human writings can be, like the very oracles of God.
There is a lucidity of expression about them, and a penetrating power in them, that leaves nothing to be desired. They are clear as crystal, and by far the most wonderful elucidation of the history and prophesy-recording Spirit of God, that ever cheered the heart of man. After pretty near eighteen centuries of darkness and apostacy; some such work as this seems to have been required as a preparation for the Lord's coming, now so near at hand.
Enlightened reason can see this; it is but meet that the Lord should find a people watching and waiting for his promised advent. What of this sort of thing may be supposed to have existed before the advent of the Doctor's works, or wholly outside the range of their influence, is next to very darkness itself-mere glimmerings, as it were, clogged on to various forms of the Papal Upas tree.
The difference between the one and the other is the difference between a competently devised system of truth, harmonising and requiring all parts of the divine testimony for its exposition; and a "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked" divinity that is Laodicean from centre to circumference; and about as fit to have charge of the Lord's house during his absence, as the "dumb dogs" that gave Israel no true warnings of the coming break up of their house and home in the Holy Land.
Marvellous to say, but in Elpis Israel, The Herald of the Kingdom, Eureka, and the various other works that have come from the Doctor's pen, there is scarcely anything in the Scriptures of importance that has not received either passing or larger attention in the course of the general exhibition of the divine purpose; and where the Doctor touched anything in ever so slight a way, he generally dropped the key to its meaning as he passed by.
Since the Doctor dropped out of sight, many who were supposed to estimate his work at its right value, whilst he was in the land of the living, have taken to improving, as they think, upon his conclusions, upon sundry matters affecting the structural symmetry and unity of the system of truth. Others have ceased to read his works, or recommend their brethren to pay little or no regard to them.
There is a seeming wisdom about recommending people to read their Bibles instead of Elpis Israel and Eureka; but the wisdom and godliness of the thing is very superficial when the facts of the case are to the front. Bible-reading is unavailing, so long as the papal veil (of one thickness or other) covers the mental eyes. The Gentile as like the Jews in this particular, "blindness is happened" to them, and there is "a veil upon their heart."
The writings of Dr. Thomas have had the effect of removing this veil in the case of a good number of this generation's children as no unenlightened Bible reading ever did. What they did for the first generation of the Truth's disciples they are as able to do for the second and the third.
It will generally be found that they who speak lightly of these first works of the truth, or accord faint praise to the instrumentality that God employed so successfully in their production-it will generally be found that these have either some other doctrine (in some particulars) to submit to you; or they desire to stand in front of the Dr. as the expounders of what they have searched out for themselves by their own unaided effort; or (if pressed upon the point), with but small recognition of indebtedness to him to whom in the providence of God they owe (either directly or indirectly) the entire system of saving knowledge which they possess.
If this be not so, then they may as well have stayed just where they were, each in the system from which he came, as the result of either reading Elpis Israel, or hearing those who had read it, in conjunction with other works constructed upon the same lines. Those who read Elpis Israel and Eureka will not be likely to read their Bibles less, but more than ever they did before.
This is a result that can only be accounted for upon the principle that those books present us with a present-day interpretation of the bearings of the principal prophetic utterances, and a framework of history that is the very counterpart of the Spirit's messages; together with such a setting of faith, hope, and love as tells us with trumpet tongue that the truth is here enshrined, with all the adaptation to our age that belongs to a case of prophecy fulfilled, and now fulfilling before our eyes.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1888