Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
The beginning of chapter 15 is an answer to the close of chapter 14; but the instruction and the principles it contains are very remarkable. Jehovah declares that if Moses and Samuel (whose love for Israel, and faith in intercession for them, were unequalled among all the servants of God who had stood before Him on their behalf)-if these two beloved leaders of the people were there, yet God would not accept Israel. Who should have pity on them? Jehovah Himself forsakes them. From Verse 20 (Jer 15:20) we find the true position of the remnant in such a case: a most touching instruction for ourselves
Poor Jeremiah complains of his lot, among a people whose sorrows he bore on his heart, while at the same time enduring their causeless hatred. We see in Verses 11-13 (Jer 15:11-13), that he represents the people before God, but yet that the faithful remnant are separated from the mass of the wicked. From Verse is they present themselves in this separated position to God, bearing at the same time all the pain of the nation's wound, even while asking vengeance on the wicked, the adversaries of the truth. In reply, precise directions are given for the walk of one who is faithful in such a position. The word of God, eaten and digested in the heart, is the source of this position (Jer 15:16). Instead of sharing the spirit of the enemies and the mockers, who rejoiced in the abominable and hypocritical state of those who bore the name of God's people, the effect of the word in the heart was no doubt to separate from this condition of the people, but to isolate the godly one, as though he were himself the object of God's indignation, as being himself the people. The word, which revealed the relationship between God and the people, and shewed them their privileges and their duties, caused the faithful to judge the state of the people, and to feel all the consequences of this state as the judgment of Jehovah-a judgment so much the more terrible to his heart from his feeling how close a band of affection and blessing from God was the normal condition of the people. "Thou hast filled me with indignation" (Jer 15:17-18) is the prophet's language.
In Verses 19-21 (Jer 15:19-21) the precise instructions of God with respect to this condition are given. God also addresses Jeremiah as though he were the people whom he thus represented in spirit before Him, and, at the same time, according to his individual faith. He says, first of all, "If thou return, then I will bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me." This open door-open till man shuts it-is always in the ways of God, although He well knows that man will not profit by it.
Is this all that is to be done while it is called to-day and the door is open, to call on the rebellious people to return? No: there is something else for the faithful to do: and this is the second leading principle: "If thou separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth." In the midst of the ruin caused by the rebellion of God's people, this is the especial work of one who is faithful, who is imbued with the word. The desire of his soul being the reproduction of this word, and of the affections of God revealed in it, can he reject the people in a mass as wicked? That cannot be. Can he accept them in a condition of rebellion, which is so much the worse because they belong to God? This he cannot do either. He must learn to do that which God does-take account of all that is good, and, if it is too late to preserve everything, never condemn that which is of God. The penetrating eye of God never loses sight of this. The affections of the prophet are fixed upon it also.
But God has His own thoughts, and He acts according to His own will; He lays hold of that which is precious, owns it, and separates it from that which is vile. This is not precisely the judgment of God respecting evil; but when the judgment is imminent on account of the evil, the energy of the Spirit and the power of the word lead us to attach ourselves to the good, to discern it, to separate it from the evil, before the judgment comes. If Satan can, he will mingle them together. Those who know how to separate them shall be as the mouth of God. God will do it in judgment by smiting the evil: in the faithful the Spirit of God does it by separating the precious from the vile.
The third principle is, that, when once separated from the path of the rebellious by this spiritual intelligence, there must not be a moment's thought of returning to them. "Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them." Finally, in this position, Jehovah will make the faithful like a wall of brass. The rebels, who boast of being called the people of God, fight against His faithful servant, but shall not prevail, because Jehovah is with him. Deliverance is promised to Jeremiah. All this, while having its immediate application to the prophet, is most valuable instruction for us in the principle which it contains, to direct us in similar times. Patience is required, but the path is clearly marked out. There is always an open door on God's part; the separation of the precious from the vile makes us like the mouth of God; a positive refusal, when thus placed, to return to the unfaithful: such are the principles that God has here established. The word received in the heart is their source. At the same time the effect is very far from contempt of the fallen people; on the contrary, the heart of the faithful takes upon itself all the grief of the position in which the people of God, or those who publicly stand as such, are found.