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Jeremiah 12:5

by Don Costello  
8/08/2008 / Bible Studies

Jeremiah 12:5
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordon?
1."If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?
a. The question is rhetorical. If we can not contend with people who are equal with us, how are we to contend with circumstances that are much greater than us. The comparison is from men to horses.

2. "and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee"

a. [NIV] "If you stumble in safe country"

1). [NIV note] "The Lord warns Jeremiah that in the future his troubles will increase. The Hebrew word for 'stumble' which usually means "trust" has a negative meaning in a few passages"

2). [NRSV note] "God , by two proverbs, informs him [Jeremiah] that the present is but a preparation for a more demanding future."

b. The land of peace seems to me a land of no resistance, a land where basically no one is opposed to what I am doing. It reminds me of say life as a Christian in the US compared to say life in China as a Christian, or in Indonesia. In those and many more countries it is not a land of peace.

c. If we are wearied in our faith living for God in America where there is little in the way of physical opposition compared with other countries, how can we expect to live by faith when our obedience will be demanded for the supernatural to be manifested. I phrased it that way be cause of the next part of the verse in Jeremiah.

d. trustedst [982 * batach] [Strongs: to trust, be confident

3. "then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"

a. [NIV] "how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?"

1). [NIV note regarding "thickets": "If the Hebrew for this word means "flooding" here, an ancient example is described in Joshua 3:15."

b. swelling [1347 * ga'own] [Strongs: arrogancy, excellency, majesty, pomp, pride, proud, swelling.] [AMG: A masculine noun designating pride, majesty, arrogance, excellenceIt is used in a neutral sense to describe the proud high waves of the sea (Job 38:11) and the thick growth or thicket around some areas of the Jordan (Jeremiah 12:5).

1). The search that I did regarding this Hebrew word did not find any use of it in 'thickets' or 'brush' or even 'bushes' of any kind. In light of that I believe that the KJV use of it in the sense of the flooding or "swelling" of Jordan is correct.

c. This incident is about Israel crossing the Jordan River. One of the factors is that the Jordan River at this time of year which was harvest, always overflowed its banks. When ever a river overflows it s banks, it complicates the matter of crossing it, sometimes making it impossible. But in reality, in the case of Israel, the depth or the power level of the flow of the river was irrelevant when it came right down to it, but faith in the Almighty Covenant keeping God is the bottom line.

1). Joshua 3:13-17 "And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city of Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

2). Joshua 4:15-18 "And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,
Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.
Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying Come ye up out of Jordan.
And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

d. A similar proverb was spoken by Jesus on his way up to Golgotha.

1). Luke 23:31 "For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

a). Luke 23:31[NIV] "For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

b). [NIV note] "If they treat the Messiah this way when the "tree" is well watered and green, what will their plight be when he is withdrawn from them and they suffer for their rejection in the dry period?

c). The bottom line in this study is we can't live for God when things are good, when circumstances are advantageous, then how will we live for God when things are not good, when circumstances are not advantageous.

My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.

My e-mail address is

I have a blog located at:

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