Modernists have not written very charitably of the prophet Jeremiah and the reason is not far to seek. Jeremiah has given us their portrait in divinely faithful terms: “An assembly of treacherous men! And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies; but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not Me, saith the Lord” (Jer. 9:2-3). Could any portrait be more accurate? Let us examine its features.
1. “An assembly of treacherous men.” The expression means willful deceivers, guilty of treason against the Author of truth. Even in social matters, treachery is justly condemned, and a traitor to his country is despised by all. How much more abhorrent the conduct of persons who assume the position of teachers and deny the very truths they solemnly promised to teach!
2. “They bend their tongues like their bow for lies.” Here the bending of the tongue reveals the bent of the heart. The tongue that speaks truth never needs to be bent. But verse 5 adds to the indictment: “They have taught their tongue to speak lies.” And verse 8 goes farther still: “Their tongue is as an arrow shot out.” Since this is so, we do well to keep out of their range! “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).
3. “They are not valiant for the truth.” How can they be if they do not know it? And, therefore, in accordance with one of the eternal principles of the Divine government, those who do not receive the love of the truth are judicially given over to believe a lie. “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:4).
4. “They proceed from evil to evil.” This is a fundamental law of nature. “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13). There is no standing still in creation: the law of growth or development is ever operative. The “downgrade” into error is so steep that only Almighty power can arrest the man who has begun to descend.
5. “They know not Me, saith the Lord.” Here the secret of the whole matter is revealed. How can men know the truth if they do not know the Author of it? More than this, verse 6 tells us that “they refuse to know Me,” revealing a settled purpose of willful and deliberate ignorance of God and His truth. Well may we realize herein the solemnity of the words of the Great Speaker concerning such teachers: “If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matt. 6:23)!