“The harvest is past, The summer is ended, And we are not saved!” (Jeremiah 8:20).
These are extremely sad words. Judah was not in a saved condition. There are two common interpretations of this verse. Wayne Jackson comments, “This may suggest that opportunities for repentance were now wasted and now hope is gone, or else: ‘We expected deliverance – time and again – but none came’” (Wayne Jackson, The Prophets, p. 132). I lean toward the second. They clearly had expected things to turn out differently than they did. “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and there was trouble! (Jeremiah 8:15). Hananiah, a false prophet, proclaimed that the captives would return within two years (Jeremiah 28:3, 11). They did not. Then came the siege of Jerusalem. It lasted for two years (2 Kings 25:1-3). No deliverance came. Adam Clarke comments, “This seems to have been a proverb: “We expected deliverance… none came. We hoped for it… we were disappointed.” Keil & Delitzsch comments, “As a countryman, hoping for a good harvest, falls into despair as his chances, so the people have been in vain looking for its rescue and deliverance. The events, or combination of events, to which it looked for its rescue are gone without bringing any such results… From Jerusalem 8:19 we see that the words are spoken by the people while it pines in exile.”
“Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of My people?” (Jeremiah 8:22).
Gilead was known for its medicine (cf. Genesis 37:25; Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11). Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “Gilead lay east of Judah and the Jordan. It produced a balsam highly valued by the ancients for medicinal purposes. Is there no balm, no physician? Yes, there are but Judah had rejected both balm (God’s truth) and the physician (Jehovah). There could be no spiritual recovery when both the medicine and its Dispenser (Deity) had been adamantly rejected and forthrightly refused. Today our balm is the Gospel; our Physician is the Christ. Too many want no part of Him or His balm. This is sad, it is immeasurably sad” (Robert Taylor Jr., Studies in Jeremiah and Lamentations, Vol. 1, p. 76). Wayne Jackson comments, “Figuratively speaking, a healing remedy was so near – yet so far. Why had Judah not been healed? Because the sickness was of the soul, and she sought not the Great Physician” (Wayne Jackson, The Prophets, p. 152).
In application to today, time and opportunity to be saved will one day run out. Some seem to think little about the matter (e.g. The Rich Fool – Luke 12:16-21). Some procrastinate and neglect opportunities before them ( e.g. Felix, Acts 24:24-25). “‘Almost persuaded’ harvest is past! ‘Almost persuaded’ doom comes at last! ‘Almost’ cannot avail; ‘Almost’ is but to fail; sad, sad, that bitter wail – ‘Almost but lost!’” (Song: Almost Persuaded by P. P. Bliss).