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23 O Yahweh, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
As we view the state of the world, in this age of so much cleverness and so little wisdom, so much mechanical accomplishment and so little true living or understanding of life, we are deeply and sadly and thankfully impressed with the crying need for divine guidance and instruction.
Brother Growcott - She openeth her mouth with wisdom.
We need - and we should earnestly desire-specific, detailed "instruction in righteousness," for we are by nature totally ignorant and foolish, no matter how good-intentioned.
We must realize that by nature we are absolutely ignorant. We are stupid. The flesh can never of itself rise above its native stupidity. Unaided from above, we can never think or do right. The Bible plainly tells us this, and accepting it is the first step in the way of wisdom and life
Before we can do God's will, we must first learn what it is. It will not come to us naturally (though so many presumptuously assume that if they do what they think is right, then God must surely be pleased). But the natural thoughts of our blind flesh are the very opposite of God's holy thoughts. Jesus said-
"That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination with God" (Lk. 16:15).
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them."
Bro Growcott - What Doth Yahweh Require of Thee?
8 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of Yahweh is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
Man, in the history of his race, presents himself to our notice in two states-the social and the savage. The social is his original condition; the savage, that into which he has sunk as a consequence of licentiousness.
At his formation, Man, who was made male and female, was pronounced "very good;" and appointed to live in society, because it was "not good for him to be alone." The primeval society of Eden was constituted of divine and human elements-of God, the Elohim, man and woman: of God, "whom no man hath seen;" of the Elohim, whom he hath often seen; and of man and woman, the perfection of flesh and blood.
This social state was free and devoid of evil; yet was its liberty not absoute, but restrained and regulated by law. Though "very good" and undefiled by sin, man was not permitted to do as he pleased without restriction. A law was given to him by his Creator, expressive of the divine sovereignty over society, and his position in the social state. Hence, society is a divine institution, originally characterized by intelligence, goodness, law, and liberty.
Woman belonged to man, because she was his own flesh and bone, and given to him of God; and they both belonged to God, because He had formed them for himself. Society, therefore, belongs to God; so that whosoever hath the honour of membership therein is free to do whatever he pleases that is not contrary to the letter and spirit of His law.
This is the liberty God permits in society, which is his. Beyond this man must not go if he would continue in the divine favour. Law is the boundary line between liberty and licentiousness. He that crosses it diabolizes, and takes the first step in the descent, which terminates in the anarchy of the savage state.
From the constitution of society, then, at the foundation of the world, we see that law was an essential element of the social state; and that social liberty is freedom restrained by law. Absolute liberty, or freedom unrestrained by law which defines "order" and "decency," has no place in the divine plan. Man aimed at this. He virtually asserted, that he had a right to do what he pleased with the Tree of Knowledge as with all other trees; but experience at length proved to him that he had no unconditional rights; but a right only to do according to the law. He did as he pleased, and in consequence lost the favour of God, as will all others who pursue a similar course.
The existence of society depending upon the maintenance of law, it behooves all intelligent and wise people to coöperate to that end. If flesh were not sinful, or if all men were wise and good, the knowledge of the requirements of the divine law would be sufficient. They would know and do. But flesh is sinful, very sinful; and all men in society have not intelligence, nor faith sufficient to walk by, nor wisdom, nor a love of order, nor a sense of decency; therefore, a simple knowledge of what God requires in society, or a simple reference to what the law says, is not enough to answer the necessities of the case. Law cannot apply itself, it must, therefore, be placed in the hands of an administration, that lawlessness may be restrained, and decency and order maintained in society.
The savage state is the opposite to the social in every particular. The "philosophy" of the Gentiles, "falsely so called," teaches that the savage is the original condition of man; and that society has grown up out of it as a result of necessity. One who believes the Bible, however, discards this as mere foolishness. Divinely constituted society is the primeval state; and savage life the extreme consequence of a departure from its laws.
It originated in transgression of God's law, or sin, which, before the flood, acquired such force as entirely to corrupt the way of the Lord, and to fill the whole earth with violence. Its career was similar after that catastrophe; and where it was not antagonized by divine interference, but allowed in its fleshly inworking and manifestation to acquire absolute sway in portions of the human race, it reduced them to the condition of the natives of New Holland and the Feejees.
The "liberty" of these aborigines is absolute. They do what is right in their own eyes upon the principles of "liberty and equality" in the abstract. They are without law to God, and know no rule but the necessity of their own lusts. They are nature's freemen, democrats of the largest liberty, who, under the impulse of desire, edify themselves without regard to the sensibilities and wishes of the unfortunates who fall into their hands.
This is the extremity arrived at by the uncontrolled working of that principle called "sin in the flesh." Cannibalism, however, is but the extreme manifestation of that "liberty" contended for by some, which impels them to a gratification of their own selfishness and vanity at the expense of the order and decency of the social state. The latter is sin modified in its display by circumstances, which restrain it by present consequences from murder and theft; but leave it rampant in the manifestation of "hatred, variance, jealousies, wraths, strifes, divisions, sects, envyings," which though thought little of by the carnally-minded, as effectually exclude from the Kingdom of God.
The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1854.
16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.
The people referred to were in the abandoned state portrayed in the words a few verses earlier:
"Will ye steal and murder and commit adultery and swear falsely and burn incense unto Baal and walk after other gods whom ye know not, and come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name and say, we are delivered to do all these abominations?" (v9)
But even these were implored to repent with the assurance of forgiveness. See verse 3,
"Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place."
The Christadelphian, Oct 1894. p393
1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah [Divrei Yirmeyah ben Chilkiyah], of the priests [kohanim] that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin [Anatot in Eretz Binyamin]:
2 To whom the word of Yahweh came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
James recommends when he says, "Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and of patience." Jeremiah is more serviceable in this respect than almost any of the prophets, for we get closer to him, and observe the shades of his individual feelings in the various circumstances in which he was placed.
His prophecy is remarkable for the absence of all pompous introduction. Nothing could be more bald or literal than the preface which describes him ...
...What a total absence is there here of any attempt to magnify the importance of Jeremiah and his writings. How unlike in this respect to all ordinary literary efforts; how indicative, amongst many things, of the genuine character of his communications from God. *
4 Then the word of Yahweh came unto me, saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
...he had been ordained a prophet before his birth. The natural corollary of this as a matter of human thought would have been one of two things, and perhaps both; first, that God would have made Jeremiah a strong, self-sufficient, impervious man, proof against all trouble; and secondly, that Jeremiah would at least have had a strong sense of his capacity for the work to which he was called. Instead of that, the very first response of Jeremiah is...*
6 Then said I, Ah, Adonai Yahweh! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
...we have Jeremiah's extreme sense of unfitness for the work to which he was called...This response never could have been written but for the sincere experience of the sentiment; and it never could have found entrance into a human conception of a prophet's mission.
It is a characteristic that crops up very frequently in the history of God's use for men. Even Moses, that first and greatest of the prophets, raised a similar objection, a sense of extreme self-deficiency; and Paul confesses to the same feeling.
Such a feature naturally belongs to the genuine employment by God of men for purposes of revelation. It is easy to understand that Omnipotence would employ weak human mediums in the revelation of divine purposes and wishes: human importances and self-confidences would naturally have been in the way. Jeremiah appears very far from one in the position of self-confidence. At this very opening interview he is divinely exhorted to be strong, because he was feeling weak. *
7 But Yahweh said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
Thus authorised, Jeremiah goes forth to his work, and soon finds it the most painful work a man could have been called to; so painful that he wished himself dead. "Cursed be the day wherein I was born; let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man that brought tidings unto my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee, making him very glad. Let that man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew, because he slew me not from the womb. Wherefore came I forth to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?" *
* TC Exhort 275