So in Jeremiah 16, the coming woe is pronounced, still more distressingly. It is not only dearth now, but death, and the word to Jeremiah is: "Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them." The time would not permit of it. When deaths are few there may be time to mourn with one and another, but when death is in every house it is too late.
"Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away My peace from this people, saith Jehovah, even loving-kindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried," so numerous would they be, "neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them: neither shall men break bread for them" (verses 5-7) It is "tear themselves" in the text, but it seems to me to be what is actually said in the margin, "break bread."
This practice of breaking bread in connection with death seems to be the origin of what the Lord Jesus consecrated into the grand memorial of His remembrance. "Neither shall men break bread for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation." There you have the Supper, in both its parts. It was a familiar custom among the Jews, but the Lord gave a unique significance to it, and stamped new truth upon it. It was connected with the passover, for, as we know, that was the time of its institution. There was a particular reason for its establishment at that and at no other time, because it was to mark the impressive change from the great central and fundamental feast of Israel. A new and different feast was begun for the Christians.
Then, in this chapter (Jer. 16:14, 15), a promise of future restoration is given. "Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that it shall no more be said, Jehovah liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, Jehovah liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers." Thus, the same chapter that brings in such a solemn denunciation of judgment gives the pledge of their final deliverance, for this will take place after the Babylonish captivity, Babylon being "the land of the north" spoken of here.