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    • February 15, 2018 9:50 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 1

       

      OPENS WITH...The Call of a Reluctant Prophet

       

      I was praying about what to share with our International Bible study group, and you all know I love the Bible’s prophetic, especially since we KNOW we are in the LAST DAYS OF THE CHURCH. And we have learned over the years, studying Old Testament and New Testament, that at all points in the Bible, every book has prophetics in it, Amen. But oddly enough, I felt led to share the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah, was also called “the weeping prophet”, who also wrote the wonderful, deep and insightful book of Lamentations.

       

      And as I began reading through my notes and reading Jeremiah, I realized Jeremiah is a man for a time like our time today. The Old Testament prophets were historical figures, real figures living in real events that are laid out for us in their prophecies and in their histories.

       

      But they are NOT unique in the sense that the times and the seasons and the issues that faced them were somehow never repeated. They are, in fact, the same cycles that are repeated through all of human history. Jeremiah lived in a time, in a nation that is very instructive for us, living in the time and the nation and world in rebellion to God, immoral with few if any moral absolutes, greed, self-centered, elitist-minded in which we live today.

       

      We are all, or should be aware, if you are at all attuned to the character of our culture that NATURALISM dominates our society. You might say there was a time in America when SUPER-NATURALISM dominated our thinking.

       

      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THAT?

       

      In other words, we WERE a nation under God. And you know, they’re deleting that from the Pledge of Allegiance, and trying to figure out how to get it off our coins. But there was a time when we were happy to say we are a nation under God, we are super naturalists. We believe in a Creator. We believe in God as a sovereign ruler of the universe.

       

      But AMERICA has abandoned that and is essentially now rapidly becoming a nation of naturalists. The most influential intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, educators, politicians, judges in America are MOSTLY naturalists.

       

      WHAT ARE NATURALISTS?

       

      Naturalists assume that God exists ONLY in the imagination of religious people. That the idea of God is frankly a superstition, an irrational superstition that is created out of a pre-scientific era to meet certain anxieties of the human heart.

       

      Their truth is, however, there is NO God and everything is simply a consequence of natural effects. Naturalism is the idea that nature is all there is, that virtually everything that exists is simply the product of unplanned, uncontrolled accidents.

       

      Life is based on this assumption, that we have just randomly evolved into what we are today.

       

      Creation then is the result, as we know it, life as we know it is the result of unconscious forces randomly mutating.

       

      Man says evolutionary science is the purposeless end of a purposeless process that did not have him in mind. Man was nothing, then a big bang, then we became stars, and eventually all things evolved. Oops, then man just showed up.

       

      This is what is taught in the universities and then this is what is learned by the students. Those students then become the next generation of educators, the next generation of politicians, the next generation of social architects, the next generation of judges who make their legal decisions. They become the next generation of journalists who interpret things that are going on in the world from a naturalist’s perspective.

       

      NATURALISM IS A FORM OF ATHEISM.

       

      And while NOT all of them would deny the existence of some God, they are almost ALL very anxious to deny the existence of the biblical God.

      Those who believe in God are seen as irrational.

       

      Those who believe in the biblical God are seen as dangerous and must be kept out of the public discourse.

       

      And in the name of separation of church and state, we can NOT have people who believe the Bible and the biblical God to be the true God, have anything to say about public policy, public life, education, government, social order, law, courts or morality.

       

      All this rejection of God is purported to be based on science.

       

      It is called for by intellectualism.

       

      It is demanded by freedom and tolerance and mutual respect.

       

      There’s NO place for anybody being an authority, anybody saying there is one God who is the absolute ruler who has written one book in which is contained all His will and all truth pertaining to Him and life in His world that is necessary.

       

      That is ABSOLUTELY objectionable.

       

      There is this wholesale rejection of God.

       

      It is, however, not intellectual¸ it is the product of the love of SIN.

       

      That’s all it is.

       

      NOT a love of freedom, NOT a love of intellectualism, it’s NOT a love for science, it IS a love for sin that drives this.

       

      THINK ABOUT IT…

       

      If you get RID of the God of the Bible, you get rid of the Bible.

      If you get RID of the Bible, you get rid of biblical morality.

      If you get RID of biblical morality, you can live ANY way you want with the assumption that there would be NO consequences.

       

      So all this supposed intellectual naturalists are nothing but Hedonists wanting to express their lust in an unbridled way. Anybody with half a brain knows that all of this did NOT come from no one.

       

      SPURGEON said, “I can scarcely conceive a heart so callous that it feels no awe, or a human mind so dull and destitute of understanding as fairly to view the tokens of God’s omnipotent power and then turn aside without some sense of wonder and obedience.”

       

      How can ANYONE look at what exists and not be in awe of the source of it?

       

      How can ANYONE sin against so great a reality by denying it and then sin against the will of the very God we deny against the greatness of the Almighty?

       

      Well our instruction FOR THIS DAY AND TIME is going to come from the prophet Jeremiah as to how we ARE respond to a society like ours which is very much like his.

       

       

      Over the study of Jeremiah, we will SEE so many parallels between Jeremiah’s time and Jeremiah and our time and faithful preachers today. We stand near the holocaust. We have to be on the brink of a devastating judgment in this nation. We have gone through some quasi revivals. There are people who would argue that we’ve had some revivals, that the gospel has spread, that Bibles have spread, that we’re on television and radio, and through all kinds of media. The gospel is going out and yet we see no, NO REVERSING of the direction of this nation. We see NO lasting results. The church seems superficial and shallow and consumed with self-fulfillment and self-gratification.

       

       

      So we come to a place in the life of Jeremiah that parallels our own time, and we ask this question, how do we approach a nation on the brink of judgment? Let’s learn from Jeremiah. I’m going to show you three elements.

       

      Number one, Jeremiah understood that he had a divine mission…a divine mission. I’m sure there were people in those days who were calling for all kinds of social reform, all kinds of political action, all kinds of educational advancement. But none of those had anything to do with the calling of Jeremiah, nor did they have anything to do with our calling. Ours is a divine mission…a divine mission

       

      In other words, Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” That becomes clear to us in the commission of Jeremiah. This is one of the most fascinating callings that any man of God has ever had and here Jeremiah is informed of things about which he had no knowledge. “The Word of the Lord came to me,” he says. “The Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you, I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’” Wow!

       

      Here’s the first thing to understand about a divine mission, your life is predestined by God…your life is predestined by God. Long before Jeremiah was ever conceived in the womb of his mother, long before Hilkiah, his father, and his mother came together to bring him life, long before that, sometime not only before the birth of Jeremiah, before the conception of Jeremiah, probably before the foundation of the world, Jeremiah was chosen and appointed as a prophet, not only to Judah but to the nations. His message extended beyond Judah and it’s still extending even today across the globe wherever the prophet is read. Long before life ever was given to this man, God had determined to separate him, put him in a unique place at a unique time as a consecrated prophet of God to speak for God…predestination.

       

      Here in this brief beginning with eleven short Hebrew words, God gives Jeremiah his own biography. Beginning in eternity past, the timeless eons of eternity, right on through until there are no more nations left for him to preach, God sums up his calling as predestined. He is an intensely human personality, this Jeremiah. And if you read the book and read it and read it and read it, you’re going to learn to love this man. He is very human. And yet his humanity does not explain the power of his preaching and the relentless endurance of his faithfulness. He is a man who is mysteriously endowed with power from on high to survive the rejection that marked his entire life. He is so humanly weak that he can’t stop crying, and yet he is so unassailably strong that he will not yield and compromise. He is a powerful personality. He is a lovable personality.

       

      Now let me tell you something. When there is a crisis, people look for a program. But God looks for a MAN OR WOMAN. When there is a crisis, people look for some system to fix it and God looks for a MAN OR WOMAN. When God wanted to deal with a crisis, He started with a baby. In this case, Jeremiah was that baby. And He designed him in the womb. And He put him together to have the human capabilities that he needed to do this. He also endowed him with the spiritual equipment to fulfill his appointment by God.

       

      Jeremiah knew this, and this was the bottom line, he was sovereignly ordained by God to do what he did. And it was NEVER a matter of results. It was NEVER a matter of his will.

       

       

       

      Verse 1 tells us Jeremiah and his background.

       

      The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin,”

       

       

      The words of Jeremiah…

       

      This begins a remarkable collection of writings revealed through the Prophet Jeremiah. His 40-year ministry was a tremendous display of faithfulness and courage in the face of great discouragement, opposition, and small results.

       

       

      Jeremiah…

       

      The precise meaning of the name is unknown, with suggested interpretations including the Lord founds, the Lord exalts and the Lord throws down.

       

       

      The name Jeremiah was common in Judah. It occurs several times in the OT. At the time of David there were two, and possibly three Jeremiah's among David's mighty men (1 Chronicles 12:4, 10, 13).

       

      Who were in Anathoth…

       

      Since Jeremiah was from a priestly family, it made sense that they lived in Anathoth, which was a small village about three miles from Jerusalem. It was in the land of Benjamin, but given over as a priestly city told to us in Joshua 21:18.

       

      From vantage points in Anathoth one could clearly see the walls of Jerusalem. Jeremiah grew up not in the great capital but within sight of it.

       

       

      Verses 2-3 tells us the TIMES of Jeremiah.

       

      To whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.”

       

       

      To whom the word of the Lord came…

       

      Though this book contains the words of Jeremiah, it also contains the word of the Lord. This prophecy, like all inspired Scripture, is both the word of man and the word of God. It is the divinely inspired and infallible word of God, but brought through the personality of man.

       

      When God uses a person, He does NOT erase their personality - He wants to use that persons sanctified personality. God wanted a man with a very gentle and tender heart for this unrewarding ministry of condemnation. Jeremiah’s subsequent career shows that he had this quality in full measure.

       

      In the days of Josiah…

       

      King Josiah was one of the BETTER kings of Judah, zealous for reform. According to 2 Chronicles 34:3, it was in the eighth year of Josiahs reign that he sought the Lord, and few years later began an aggressive campaign to purify Israel of idolatry and to return to the Lord.

       

      God called these two giants - both Josiah and Jeremiah - to serve Him and His people at the same time. Each supported the other, and though they did NOT leave behind an enduring transformed Judah, they served God faithfully and removed every excuse Judah might offer for the judgment that eventually came through Babylon.

       

       

      Josiah . . . Jehoiakim . . . Zedekiah…

       

      In this line of succession of the Kings of Judah, some are left out (Jehoahaz in 2 Chronicles 36:1-2 and Jehoiachin in 2 Chronicles 36:8-9).

       

      WHY?

       

      Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin were probably omitted in this verse because their reigns were so short, comprising only THREE months each.

       

       

      Until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the FIFTH month…

       

      In fact, portions of this book address the period AFTER the captivity (Jeremiah 44). Yet that was ONLY as a postscript to the catastrophic fall of Jerusalem.

       

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      Verses 4-5 tells us God’s call to Jeremiah.

       

      Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

       

       

      Then the word of the Lord came to me…

       

      Jeremiah had a personal encounter with the Lord. He was apparently raised in a godly, priestly home - yet he HAD to have a PERSONAL encounter with God and His word.

       

       

      Because many of his prophecies have echoes and hints of previous prophets of Israel, it seems that Jeremiah grew up knowing God’s word. His future life and thought were molded to a large extent by an EARLY STUDY AND ACQUAINTANCE with the utterances of the eight-century b.c. prophets such as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, and probably also by the lives and sayings of Elijah and Elisha.

       

       

      Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .I ordained you a prophet to the nations…

       

      Jeremiah was already a young man, but God wanted him to know that his call went back even FURTHER than his youth. Jeremiah existed in the mind and plan of God BEFORE he ever existed in his mother’s womb. God told Jeremiah this so that he COULD walk in God’s pre-ordained plan by his own will.

       

      This information was NOT given just to interest Jeremiah or to entertain him. It was given so that he would KNOW God’s will, be ENCOURAGED by that, and therefore ALIGN his will with God’s revealed will.

       

       

      And we studied and remember Paul speaks of his own call to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles in SIMILAR terms in Galatians 1:15-16.

       

       

      A prophet to the nations…

       

      Jeremiah's focus was upon Judah in the last decades BEFORE the Babylonians conquered it. Yet his work as a prophet was NOT only for Judah, but also for the nations - and for US today.

       

      In this respect Jeremiah was appointed a prophet for a world-wide ministry. This refutes the idea that the work of God’s servants was always provincial. God is the Lord of the nations, AMEN?!

       

       

      Verses 6-10 tells us Jeremiah’s objection and God’s response to the objection.

       

      Then said I: Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. But the Lord said to me: Do not say, I am a youth, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

       

       

      Ah, Lord God! This translates an expression of deep feeling, though the sense is hard to relate in English. Jeremiah knew this, and this was the bottom line, he was sovereignly ordained by God to do what he did. And it was never a matter of results. It was never a matter of his will. In fact, to show you that, look at verse 6 , “Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God,’” it sounds like Isaiah. “Woe is me.” Are you kidding? “Alas, Lord God, I don’t know how to speak, I’m no speaker and I’m just a youth. You’re looking at the wrong guy. I’m inadequate, I’m not qualified, I can’t do this.”

       

       

       

      Behold, I can not speak, for I am a youth…

       

      Jeremiah was probably anywhere from 17 to 20 years old at this time. Apparently, he felt that his youth prevented him from being a good or authoritative messenger of God’s word.

       

       

      Unlike Moses, whose protestations of inadequacy rang a little hollow, Jeremiah really was young, it seems, and inexperienced.

       

      How did Jeremiah overcome that sense of insufficiency, inadequacy? What took him beyond that was the clear indication that he had been predestined by God to this calling. By the way, whoever does NOT have a sense of being predestined by God to service will NEVER lead a spiritual revolution.

       

      SADLY, most people living in the church today have NO sense of divine mission, they are just bouncing from job to job and event to event, an engagement to engagement, and activity to activity.

       

      That’s the way they live, that’s the way they raise their kids. There’s NO sense of an overarching divine mission. There’s NO sense, and this is tragic, in the life of believers that the birth of every believer was ordained by God, the death of every believer was ordained by God, which means the middle was ordained by God and for purposes that advance the name of Christ and the glory of the Kingdom, and that’s the last thing on our priority list. If not Jeremiah, he knew that he had been called by God from before he was born, designed in the womb, separated from the womb, separated from the society, appointed to be a prophet and he had been called to fulfill his mission.

       

      Do not say, I am a youth…

       

      Though Jeremiah’s protest was true, it was irrelevant - and God did NOT want to hear it, nor did He want Jeremiah to say it. God insists on His right to call young people and to use them if they will LISTEN to His call and answer it.

       

       

      Do NOT say, I am a youth because God used David when he was a young man. As a young man David served his father faithfully in the shepherd’s field, killed a lion, and a bear protecting the flock, killed Goliath, served King Saul and was a commander in the Israeli army.

       

      Do NOT say, I am a youth because God filled John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit in the womb, told to us in Luke 1:15.

       

      You are NOT too young to be filled mightily with the Spirit of God.

       

      Do NOT say, I am a youth because God used Timothy as a young man, and through the Apostle Paul told him, 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

       

      Not only was he predestined by God, but he was provided by God what he needed. He says, “I don’t know how to speak and I’m a youth.” So the Lord says to him, “Don’t say I’m a youth, because everywhere I send you, you shall go and all that I command you, you shall speak.”

       

       

      Now the first thing you would say is, “What am I going to say? What am I going to say?” The educators say that the greatest fear that humans have is the fear of public speaking. Well the reason people have a fear of public speaking is very often related to the fact that they have no idea what to say, or they think that what they have to say isn’t important and most of the time they’re exactly right.

       

      In fact, some of the people who do most of the public speaking have the least to say and should be embarrassed about speaking. But when you have the most important message, that hesitancy has a way of disappearing, does it not? When you see the children on the brink of being consumed in the house fire, you really don’t stumble over the fact of whether you should publicly yell “fire, get out,” and grab somebody. It’s about the passion of it.

       

       

      You do NOT have to worry about what you are going to say because you are NOT going to have to invent it…you are NOT going to have to come up with it. I AM going to provide it. I AM going to give you the words to say. You are going to speak for Me. You are going to have divine wisdom. All that I command you, you shall speak and everywhere I send you, you shall go.

       

      That’s how any true minister, any true preacher that represents God has to approach ministry. I am predestined to this and I am provided the message. Jeremiah was resisted and hated and despised and abused.

       

      God spoke with both encouragement and persuasion to Jeremiah. He protested that he could NOT go because of his youth but God simply said, you shall go.

       

      Later, Jeremiah remembered his initial reluctance…

       

      Nor have I desired the woeful day; You know what came out of my lips; it was right there before You,” in Jeremiah 17:16.

       

       

      Though reluctant, Jeremiah could NOT hold back…

       

      Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name. But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not,” in Jeremiah 20:9.

       

       

      Do NOT be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…

      Jeremiah had TWO reasons to be afraid.

       

      FIRST, he was young.

       

      SECOND, his message was hard to hear.

       

      But the presence of God with him was greater than those two reasons.

       

       

      His reluctance may have been based on feelings of personal inadequacy when confronted with the almost hopeless task of recalling apostate Judah to a state of true repentance. To make matters worse, at an early stage in his ministry he was FORBIDDEN to marry, in Jeremiah 16:1-4, and the ominous reasons given made more clear than ever the fact that Judah stood under divine judgment.

       

      AND WE WHO HAVE STUDIED THE BIBLE, OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT, KNOW GOD TELLS US WHERE THOSE FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY, THOSE WHISPERS OF WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TO BELIEVE GOD CAN USE YOU? AND THE LISTS OF REASONS WHY YOU CAN NOT DO IT..COME FROM.

       

      WE KNOW WHETHER SUCH THOUGHTS WHISPER THROUGH OUR HEART AND MIND, WHETHER THEY COME AS OR AFTER READING ABOUT THE GREAT MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE WHO LOVED GOD, OR WHETHER SUCH FEELINGS COME FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS, OR EVEN OUR PASTORS...WE KNOW THOSE WORDS ORIGINATED IN AND FROM SATAN HIMSELF.

       

      SO SATAN HAS ALREADY STARTED IN ON JEREMIAH AND SOUGHT TO DESTROY HIS BELIEF, THAT IF GOD WAS FOR HIM, AND GOD WAS WITH HIM, HE COULD DO ANYTHING.

       

      WE, WHO LOVE JESUS AND CALL HIM THE SON OF GOD, LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, AND FRIEND FACE THESE SAME HEART, MIND, AND SPIRIT ATTACKS, DO WE NOT?

      AND MANY TIMES WE DO AS JEREMIAH DID.

       

       

      He SHRANK from his work again and again; he suffered intensely, not merely from the persecution of his foes, but in his own soul, in it fellowship with God and with his nation; he needed very special Divine sustenance.

       

       

      I AM with you…

       

      I will NOT only send you as other kings do their ambassadors, but I WILL go with you.

       

      And that leads to the third aspect of his calling, not only predestination and provision, but protection.

       

      Don’t be afraid of them, I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.”

       

      You have nothing to fear. You are called by Me. You are empowered by Me. You’re going to face opposition. You’re going to face antagonism and he certainly did, constantly.

       

      Nobody listened to him. Nobody paid attention to him. The nation didn’t turn. It was a very hard, discouraging 42 years and people hated what he said and hated him for saying it. If you want to do an interesting study some time in your Bible, find all the places where it says, “Fear not,”. WE FIND THAT COMMAND 365 TIMES IN THE BIBLE. ONE FEAR NOT FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

       

      And it’s not said just to little widows who did NOT know where their next meal was coming from, or orphaned children who did NOT know who was going to care for them and protect them. “Fear not” is said by God to Abraham, and Moses, and Daniel, and Mary, and Peter, and Paul because any human being, even the strongest leaders face the fear that comes with confronting people with the message they don’t want to hear. But you WILL have protection from God.

       

      Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth…

       

      In his vision, Jeremiah saw the Lord touch him in this personal way. As God touched the mouth of Isaiah at his call to the office of prophet, He also touched the mouth of Jeremiah (though in a different way).

       

       

      See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant…

       

      As a young man, Jeremiah was an unlikely candidate for such a ministry. Yet God knew what Jeremiah did not know, that Jeremiah WOULD HAVE AND GROW STRONGER TO HAVE the personality and character to fulfill this call as the years went on, BECAUSE GOD WAS WITH HIM.

       

      That is amazing. Jeremiah feared that he was nobody. He was young, he was NOT effective as a communicator, he was unskilled in oratory. The divine answer is, “Don’t worry about it, I am going to give you the words to speak. Don’t worry about the reaction, I will protect you from the enemies of that truth. And know this, that the words that come out of your mouth will shatter and build. They will tear down and they will plant. Your words will be destruction to people and nations and construction to other people and nations.”

       

       

      This IS the power that belongs to the one who proclaims the truth.

       

      The great power brokers in our world, the kings and potentates and the rulers have NO power…they have no power. The power they do have is the weakness of human power, or even worse, the power of the kingdom of darkness, neither of which can even approach the power of God. Kings, nations, empires boast of their power, yet the power in the world belongs to the mouths of the messengers of heaven. God picks up this obscure young man of about thirty years of age, from a tiny, little, obscure country and says, “I will set you over nations, over kingdoms of the earth. Your word will destroy and your word will build.”

       

      So this was his calling. He was on a divine mission. And, people, we live in a nation in a dire crisis of abandonment of God, headed for a holocaust of judgment.

       

      We ARE already under the judgment of Romans 1, we HAVE been turned over to our immorality, our homosexuality, and a reprobate mind. We ARE on the brink of divine judgment and what is needed is that the Kingdom of God and the representatives of that kingdom understand that our mission is divine.

      The reason for our birth, the reason for our death and our conversion in the middle is so that you CAN speak the Word of God to this culture on the brink of a holocaust. It’s a divine mission. That’s why we live.

       

      Secondly, what characterized Jeremiah was a direct message…a direct message. He did NOT pull any punches, we would say. He did NOT pamper, cajole, soft-soap, skirt issues. He did NOT say, “Well, we do NOT really want to talk about sin,” and he paid for it.

       

      Jeremiah did NOT spend his life trying to AVOID controversy, trying to make everybody HAPPY.

       

      IN chapter 14:7, you will hear him say, “We have sinned against God as a nation.”

       

      IN chapter 17:9, you will hear him say, “Your hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

       

      He preached against sin. He indicted the nation. He indicted the sinners for their sin categorically in chapter 3, chapter 9, chapter 11, chapter 19. He accused them of being involved in false religion…false religion. You have turned to idols from the true God.

       

       

      Jeremiah’s commission set the pattern of his calling, with its FOUR verbs of demolition and it TWO of renewal.

       

      As Isaiah speaks of the salvation of the Lord, Ezekiel of the glory of the Lord, and Daniel of the kingdom of the Lord, so Jeremiah incessantly proclaims the Lord’s judgment.

       

       

      See, I have this day set you…

       

      Jeremiah was definitely called, but he did NOT fulfill his call in his first year - or his first ten years. His 40-year ministry had several different phases, and taken together they fulfilled God’s call.

       

       

      The FIRST period of Jeremiah’s ministry took place under the protection of the godly king Josiah, who took advantage of turmoil in the surrounding superpowers (such as Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon) to reform the nation and turn it BACK to the Lord. During this time, Jeremiah went on a preaching tour through the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 11:6.

       

      Yet during this time the hearts of the people did NOT seem changed. He preached for 23 years but NO ONE seemed to listen in Jeremiah 25:3.

       

      He even faced many threats against his life in Jeremiah 11:19 and 12:6.

       

       

      After King Josiah died, things got WORSE.

       

      Jeremiah read a scroll of his collected prophecies to the NEW king Jehoiakim – and the king took the scroll, cut it in pieces, and threw it in the fire told to us in Jeremiah 36:22-23.

       

      In this general period, Jeremiah was chained and flogged told to us in Jeremiah 20:2, and survived a close brush with death in Jeremiah 26:10-11.

       

       

      His MOST difficult season was under another king, Zedekiah - who was set on the throne by the Babylonians, but did NOT continue to obey them. Jeremiah brought a message from God that must have seemed like madness to his generation.

       

      The message was that judgment through the Babylonians was inevitable - and they must prepare for it and submit to it. He wrote to those already exiled in Babylon, he told them to prepare for a 70 year exile and to have a peaceable attitude towards Babylon in Jeremiah 29:7, 10.

      He was regarded as a traitor and imprisoned in Jeremiah 37:11-16..

       

       

      Verses 11-12 tells us Jeremiah’s FIRST lesson in his training as a prophet.

       

      Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch of an almond tree. Then the Lord said to me, You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”

       

       

      Jeremiah, what do you see?

       

      Jeremiah would receive a message to speak, but before he could speak he had to see.

       

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “Before you can make an impression upon another person’s heart, you must have an impression made upon your own soul. You must be able to say, concerning the truth, I see it, before you can speak it so that your hearers also shall see it.”

       

       

      A branch of an almond tree…

       

      Jeremiah saw well. He not only understood that it was a branch, but was observant enough to know that it was a branch of an almond tree.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...Anathoth remains to this day a center for almond growing. The modern visitor to the area in the very early spring is promised the memorable and unforgettable sight of almond trees in bloom.

       

       

      This was young Jeremiah’s FIRST lesson in prophetic observance, and the lesson was simple. We might have thought that, as a preparation for his prophetical work, he would have seen mysterious wheels full of eyes, or flaming seraphs and cherubs, or the wonderful creatures that were caused to appear in the dreams of Ezekiel and the revelation to John. Instead of this, Jeremiah simply sees a rod of an almond tree; and, beloved friends, when you look into the Bible, you will see some very simple things there.

       

       

      WHY THE BRANCH OF AN ALMOND TREE?

       

      The significance of the branch of an almond tree was important in TWO ways.

       

      FIRST, the almond was well known as the FIRST tree to bud in the spring. This indicated that God was ready to quickly fulfill His word, just as the almond tree seems ready to bud.

       

       

      SECOND, the Hebrew word for almond tree is close to and derived from the Hebrew word for “watchful”, and this word is used in God’s response to Jeremiah.

       

      These verses contain a play on words that is lost in English but is vital for the force of the vision. The almond tree is “saqed” and God is watching “soqed” over his word to fulfill it.

       

      Verses 13-16 tells us Jeremiah’s SECOND LESSON in his training as a prophet.

       

      And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, What do you see? And I said, I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north. Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.”

       

      I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north…

      &nbs

    • February 15, 2018 7:56 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 2

       

      OPENS WITH...Broken Cisterns...The astonishing nature of Israel's sin.

       

      Verses 1-3 tells us The GOOD OLD DAYS.

       

       

      Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the Lord:

      I remember you,

      The kindness of your youth,

      The love of your betrothal,

      When you went after Me in the wilderness,

      In a land not sown.

      Israel was holiness to the Lord,

      The first fruits of His increase.

      All that devour him will offend;

      Disaster will come upon them, says the Lord.”

       

       

      Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem…

       

      This reminds us that the CORE of Jeremiah's work as a prophet were messages delivered to the southern kingdom of Judah, of which Jerusalem was the capital city.

       

       

      God often refers to Judah and Jerusalem as Israel in Jeremiah, though the northern kingdom of Israel (representing the ten northern tribes) fell to the Assyrians some 100 years BEFORE Jeremiah's work as a prophet. God refers to Judah and Jerusalem as representing ALL OF REMAINING Israel because it did.

       

       

      Far back in the days of Jeroboam and his original break with the southern kingdom of Judah, the legitimate priests and Levites who lived in the northern ten tribes did NOT like the Jeroboams idolatry. They, along with others who set their hearts TO SEEK the Lord God of Israel, then moved from the northern kingdom of Israel to the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Chronicles 11:13-16). So actually, the southern kingdom of Judah contained Israelites from ALL of the TEN tribes.

       

       

      I remember you, the kindness of your youth…

       

      Through Jeremiah, God made a HEART-FELT appeal to Jerusalem, drawing upon the memory of their past relationship. To say, "I remember how our wonderful our relationship once was" is a POWERFUL appeal.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "God recollects those zealous times, those happy seasons, those enthusiastic hours; and if we have come to an ebb, if we are now cold and almost dead, and have forgotten the better days, God has not forgotten them."

      When you went after Me in the wilderness…

       

      This has in mind the Exodus, when God led Israel through the wilderness. They were NOT perfect in their relationship with God then, but they had a LOVE for God and a TRUST in the Lord that was sorely LACKING in Jeremiah's days.

       

       

      Israel was holiness to the Lord…

       

      This is what God COMMANDED of Israel in the wilderness (Leviticus 11:45), and in some measure Israel fulfilled it. They were separated unto God as His own people and had LITTLE desire for the idols of Egypt or the Canaanites.

       

       

      All that devour him WILL offend; disaster WILL come upon them…

       

      In this season of special relationship with God, the Lord took SPECIAL CARE of Israel. Anyone who attempted to devour Israel, then disaster would come upon them. This was a great contrast to the judgment at the hand of Israel's enemies that would eventually come upon an UNFAITHFUL Jerusalem.

       

       

      Verses 4-8 tells us The GREAT ingratitude of rebellious Israel.

       

      Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:

      What injustice have your fathers found in Me,

      That they have gone far from Me,

      Have followed idols,

      And have become idolaters?

      Neither did they say, Where is the Lord,

      Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt,

      Who led us through the wilderness,

      Through a land of deserts and pits,

      Through a land of drought and the shadow of death,

      Through a land that no one crossed

      And where no one dwelt?

      I brought you into a bountiful country,

      To eat its fruit and its goodness.

      But when you entered, you defiled My land

      And made My heritage an abomination.

      The priests did not say, Where is the Lord?

      And those who handle the law did not know Me;

      The rulers also transgressed against Me;

      The prophets prophesied by Baal,

      And walked after things that do not profit.”

       

       

      What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me…

       

      God called the house of Israel to account for their REJECTION of Him and their pursuit of idols. He asked to know what fault there was IN HIM that caused their idolatry.

       

       

      I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness…

       

      God reminded Israel of how good and kind He HAD BEEN to them, giving them the bountiful country of Canaan.

       

       

      WE IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE BEEN RICHLY BLESSED WITH A BOUNTIFUL COUNTRY, FILLED WITH GOOD THINGS TO EAT, WATER, AND BEAUTY ALL AROUND US TOO.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      The events of the Exodus had happened some 800 years before Jeremiah's time. It's understandable (though not good) that Israel would come to take the blessing of the land for granted after some 800 years. There is less explanation for why we take the GOOD WORKS of God for granted sometimes only weeks later.

       

       

      You defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination…

       

      God clearly called the land of Israel His land and His heritage. Israel both defiled the land and made it an abomination through their idolatry.

       

       

      WHAT MUST GOD THINK OF THE SO-CALLED CHURCHES TODAY, THAT CALL THEMSELVES THE HOUSE OF GOD, AND FILL IT WITH IDOLS, IDOLATRIES, AND RITUALS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ALMIGHTY GOD AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH WHOM THEY CHOOSE TO WORSHIP, HONOR, PRAY TO.

       

       

      The priests did not say, "Where is the Lord?" and those who handle the law did not know Me…

       

      The religious leaders of Israel did NOT serve God or the people well. They did NOT seek the Lord (asking, "Where is the Lord?") and they did NOT teach the word of God (the law) from a personal relationship with God (did NOT know Me).

       

      Those who handle the law refers to the priests and the Levites, who were to teach, exposit, interpret, and apply the law for the people.

       

      The rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal…

       

      Civic and religious leaders did MORE HARM than good for the people of God and towards the Lord Himself.

       

      SADLY, IS THAT NOT TRUE TODAY AS WELL?! THE SOCIETAL, POLITICAL, LAW, AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS HAVE DONE FAR MORE HARM THAN GOOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND TOWARDS THE LORD HIMSELF.

       

       

      Verses 9-12 tells us The ASTONISHING NATURE of Israel's sin.

       

       

      Therefore I will yet bring charges against you, says the Lord,

      And against your children’s children I will bring charges.

      For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see,

      Send to Kedar and consider diligently,

      And see if there has been such a thing.

      Has a nation changed its gods,

      Which are not gods?

      But My people have changed their Glory

      For what does not profit.

      Be astonished, O heavens, at this,

      And be horribly afraid;

      Be very desolate, says the Lord.”

       

       

      Therefore I will yet bring charges against you…

       

      God would NOT allow this great sin on behalf of the leaders and people of Israel to go unaddressed. In formal fashion, God brought a legal complaint against Israel for their sin.

       

       

      See if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods?

       

      Since Israel liked to look to surrounding nations in imitation of their idolatry, God asked His rebellious people to look to even distant places (beyond the coasts of Cyprus or Kedar) and to ask…

       

      Do they forsake their gods?

       

      Strangely, the heathen around Israel were MORE faithful to their pagan gods than Israel was to the Living God.

      MACLAREN says it well, "Think, then, of the rebuke which the obstinate adherence of idolators to their idols gives to the slack hold which so many professing Christians have on their religion."

       

       

      But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit…

       

      The heathen nations WERE faithful to their gods even though their gods did NOTHING for them. Yet Israel had the God of all Glory who had blessed them in innumerable ways and they turned FROM Him.

       

       

      Be astonished be horribly afraid be very desolate…

       

      FIRST, this is an astonishment, that men can be so foolish, disloyal, and ungrateful.

       

      SECOND, Then it is something to fear, because a righteous God MUST answer such outrageous rebellion.

       

      THIRD, it is a desolation, because the result of judgment upon such rebellious people will leave little behind.

       

       

      Verse 13 tells us Broken cisterns, The emptiness and shame of Israel's idolatry.

       

       

      For My people have committed two evils:

       

      They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,

       

      And hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water."

       

       

      They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters…

      This was the FIRST OF THE EVILS of God's people - to forsake God.

       

      This is evil not only for its disloyalty and ingratitude, but also because it is foolish; God is the fountain of living waters, the never-ending supply of the good, pure, essential supplies of life.

       

       

      In the ancient near east a fountain of living waters - an artesian spring - was something special. It was a constant supply of good, fresh, life-giving water that came to you! In ancient Israel, water was a lot of work, but a fountain of living waters brought it right to you.

       

       

      And hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water…

       

      Having forsaken God's fountain of living waters, His people then worked hard (hewn themselves) for a greatly inferior supply (cisterns). Despite their hard work, all they ended up with were broken cisterns that can hold no water.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Directly water is stored in cisterns, it ceases to be living; it is stagnant, and the process of deterioration begins. Moreover, man can never hewn cisterns which will hold. They are all broken. We must live by streams, or we perish.

       

       

      MEYER says it well, "Leaving God, in whom alone man's thirsty spirit can find satisfaction and thirst-quenching, he hath set himself, with infinite labour, to hew out cisterns of gold and silver, cisterns of splendid houses and reputable characters, and lavish alms deeds, cisterns of wisdom and ancient lore. From any of these the hewer thinks he will obtain sufficient supplies to last him for life. At the best, however, the water is brackish, wanting the sparkle of oxygenated life; hot with the heat of the day."

       

      Verses 14-19 tells us God's people look to Egypt and Assyria and forsake the Lord.

       

       

      Is Israel a servant?

      Is he a home born slave?

      Why is he plundered?

      The young lions roared at him, and growled;

      They made his land waste;

      His cities are burned, without inhabitant.

      Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes

      Have broken the crown of your head.

      Have you not brought this on yourself,

      In that you have forsaken the Lord your God

      When He led you in the way?

      And now why take the road to Egypt,

      To drink the waters of Sihor?

      Or why take the road to Assyria,

      To drink the waters of the River?

      Your own wickedness will correct you,

      And your backslidings will rebuke you.

      Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing

      That you have forsaken the Lord your God,

      And the fear of Me is not in you,

      Says the Lord God of hosts.”

       

       

      Is Israel a servant? Is he a home born slave? Why is he plundered?…

       

      Earlier in the chapter (Jeremiah 2:3) God promised that He would defend an obedient Israel. Now through Jeremiah, God asked His people to consider the case of the Israel in the sense of the conquered northern kingdom, to remember WHY they were now slaves.

       

       

      The people of Noph and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head…

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Noph and Tahpanhes were both Egyptian cities. Noph is another name for Memphis, the ancient capital of lower Egypt, near modern Cairo.

       

      God here warned Judah NOT to trust in Egypt, which would (or perhaps had by that time) have broken the crown of your head by defeating and killing the good king Josiah in battle (2 Kings 23:29).

       

       

      Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the Lord your God…

       

      The reason was plain; Israel was captive, her people slaves, her cities burned because they forsook the Lord.

       

       

      Why take the road to Egypt why take the road to Assyria…

       

      God cautioned Jerusalem from looking to either Egypt (the waters of Sihor, the Nile) or Assyria (the waters of the River, the Euphrates) for help. The water of their rivers was nothing compared to the fountains of living water found in the Lord.

       

      IN OTHER WORDS...No matter how appealing the prospect of alliance with Egypt might be, Judah will suffer for it if she becomes entangled.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Sihor, 'blackness', is a sarcastic reference to the river Nile, one of the most highly venerated of Egyptian gods.

       

       

      Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you…

       

       

      If Jerusalem did continue on their destructive course, there would be more than enough correction and rebuke found in the consequences of their actions. They would certainly know therefore and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God.

       

       

      "The fear of Me is not in you," says the Lord God of hosts…

       

      Jerusalem FEARED attack from the Babylonians and therefore contemplated alliances with Egypt and Assyria. Yet the real problem was they did NOT fear the Lord, and the Lord God of hosts - that is, of heavenly armies. God was more than able to protect them if they REPENTED AND TRUSTED in Him.

       

       

      Verses 20-25 tells us The UNRESTRAINED pursuit of false gods.

       

       

      For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds;

      And you said, I will not transgress,

      When on every high hill and under every green tree

      You lay down, playing the harlot.

      Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.

      How then have you turned before Me

      Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?

      For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap,

      Yet your iniquity is marked before Me, says the Lord God.

      How can you say, I am not polluted,

      I have not gone after the Baals?

      See your way in the valley;

      Know what you have done:

      You are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways,

      A wild donkey used to the wilderness,

      That sniffs at the wind in her desire;

      In her time of mating, who can turn her away?

      All those who seek her will not weary themselves;

      In her month they will find her.

      Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst.

      But you said, There is no hope.

      No! For I have loved aliens, and after them I will go."

       

       

       

      You said, "I will not transgress," when on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down playing the harlot…

       

       

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

       

      God symbolically spoke of the idolatry of the conquered northern kingdom as prostitution. In going after idols, Israel was like a wife so unfaithful to her husband that she was a harlot, consorting with idols.

       

       

      Many of the pagan and Canaanite idols worshipped by the Israelites were essentially sex cults, honored with ritual prostitution. Their idolatry was often connected with sexual immorality with the use of male and female prostitutes.

       

       

      AND WE KNOW…

      The many references to abnormal sexual gratification underline one of the most prominent features of the Canaanite religion, where male and female cult-prostitutes were connected with IN the sanctuaries.

       

       

      Playing the harlot the degenerate plant of an alien vine though you wash yourself with lye…

       

      God used THREE strong images to describe the sin and shame of Israel.

       

      They were like a prostitute, like a weed, and like someone so dirty that NO lye or soap could make them clean.

       

       

      God has planted his people a thoroughly reliable stock hoping to gather a rich harvest of choice grapes. But she became a strange wild vine, a foul-smelling thing.

       

       

      Yet your iniquity is marked before Me…

       

      MEANING THEIR SIN LEFT BEHIND A DEEP STAIN, SO BLACK AND SO OBVIOUS TO GOD IN HEAVEN, THAT THEIR HARSHEST SOAPS, THEIR HARD WORK TO COVER OR ERASE IT...WAS FUTILE AND ONLY MADE IT LOOK WORSE BEFORE GOD.

       

       

      AND WE KNOW TOO…

       

      So ingrained is Judah's foul iniquity that no amount of washing with detergents can remove it. The supreme merit of Christ's work on Calvary is that it removes the dark stain of iniquity (1 John 1:7).

       

       

      See your way in the valley; know what you have done…

       

      This refers to the valley of Hinnom, the deep gorge that lies to the west and south of Jerusalem. This was a place of idolatry and hideous deeds.

       

      WHY?

       

      THE VALLEY OF HINNOM, was the foulest place on earth to God, because there all sorts of heathen rites were practiced, including the worship of Baal and the worship of Molech, where parents willingly gave their babies to be tortured, sexually used, and their blood drank, before tossing them into a burning, glowing red hot altar to die screaming. They considered it an honor to do so to their children, which were gifts from God. (Jeremiah 7:31-32; 2 Kings 23:10)."

       

       

      See your way in the valley; know what you have done…

       

      How could they claim innocence when they were carrying on their vile worship of Baal in the Valley of Hinnom with their child sacrifices?"

       

       

      A wild donkey used to the wilderness, that sniffs at the wind in her desire…

       

      The next images are of a camel (a swift dromedary) or a wild donkey in heat (in her time of mating in her month) with no control over her desire, allowing any and all to mount her.

       

       

      Just as young female camels are altogether unreliable, ungainly, and easily disturbed, so that they dash about in an apparently disorganized fashion.

       

       

      Apparently (according to Ryken and several others), when in heat, the female donkey goes after the male with abandon. "The female *** in heat is almost violent. She sniffs the path in front of her trying to pick up the scent of a male (from his urine). Then she races down the road in search of the male.

       

      Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst…

       

      The bare foot and constant thirst were marks of the exile and slave.

       

      This was the fate of the northern kingdom of Israel and would also be the fate of Judah if they did not turn to the Lord. Yet they answered God's heartfelt appeal with a resignation to their idolatry and fate: There is no hope I have loved aliens and after them I will go.

       

       

      Verses 26-28 tells us The SHAME of Israel.

       

       

      As the thief is ashamed when he is found out,

      So is the house of Israel ashamed;

      They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets,

      Saying to a tree, You are my father,

      And to a stone, You gave birth to me.

      For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.

      But in the time of their trouble

      They will say, Arise and save us.

      But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?

      Let them arise,

      If they can save you in the time of your trouble;

      For according to the number of your cities

      Are your gods, O Judah."

       

       

      As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed…

       

      The thief is ONLY ashamed when he is found out. He regrets getting caught and penalized, NOT for the crime itself. In the same way, Israel under exile was really only sorry they had been caught and had suffered for their sin.

       

       

      Saying to a tree, "You are my father"…

       

      Jeremiah described their foolish idolatry, worshipping things of wood and stone. The tree was a wooden idol representing Asherah, the leading female Canaanite deity. The stone represented Baal, the leading male Canaanite deity.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      These stone pillars have been found in excavations in Palestine. All that remains of the wooden poles is a post hole in which the rotted timber has left a different colored soil. There is enough archaeological evidence for these to indicate a widespread usage.

       

       

      AND...At each Canaanite shrine there was an asherah, probably a wooden pillar which was a formal substitute for a sacred tree, representing the female sexual element, and a mazzebah, or stone pillar, indicating the male element.

       

       

      AS WELL, There is strong satire here, for it is the female symbol [tree] that is called Father and the male symbol [stone] that is called You who gave me birth. Israel was confused about what she was worshipping when she ascribed to the gods of fertility her very existence.

      But in the time of their trouble they will say, "Arise and save us"…

       

      God knew that His people would reject useless idolatry when the great crisis came. Yet in that day, God would be justified to ask: "Where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?"

       

       

      Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of trouble…

       

      The idols Israel and Judah loved to worship did them NO good in the time of crisis. They worshipped many idols (for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah), but either collectively or individually they were of NO help in the time of trouble.

       

      According to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah…

       

      Among heathen nations every city had its tutelary deity. Judah, far sunk in idolatry, had adopted this custom.

       

       

      Verses 29-32 tells us God will NOT listen to Israel that has rejected Him.

       

       

      Why will you plead with Me?

      You all have transgressed against Me, says the Lord.

      In vain I have chastened your children;

      They received no correction.

      Your sword has devoured your prophets

      Like a destroying lion.

      O generation, see the word of the Lord!

      Have I been a wilderness to Israel,

      Or a land of darkness?

      Why do My people say, We are lords;

      We will come no more to You?

      Can a virgin forget her ornaments,

      Or a bride her attire?

      Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number."

       

       

       

      Why will you plead with Me? You have all transgressed against Me…

       

      In the previous lines God spoke of how His people would turn to Him in the time of their trouble, yet not out of true repentance; instead out of a mere desire to escape present consequences. Here God tests the repentance of Israel to see if they will return to Him through difficulty.

       

       

      Your sword has devoured your prophets…

       

      God's people were guilty of rejecting and murdering the prophets.

       

       

      Why do My people say, "We are lords; we will come no more to You"?

       

       

      God's people were guilty of pride, believing they did NOT need to come and humble themselves before the living God.

       

       

      Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number…

       

      Israel's rejection of God was unnatural. It is only natural for a young woman to treasure her ornaments, or for a bride to value her clothing. When God's people forget their God - who has done so much for them - it is an offense against all that is good and right.

       

       

      A bride her attire…

       

      Something like a wedding ring, "The bridal attire was a sash or girdle proclaiming her status as a married woman.

       

       

      Verses 33-37 tells us Israel will be disappointed in the false gods they have trusted.

       

       

      Why do you beautify your way to seek love?

      Therefore you have also taught

    • Topic » Jeremiah 3

    • February 15, 2018 7:49 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 3

       

      OPENS WITH...A Word to Backsliders

       

       

      Verse 1 tells us God says to His unfaithful people, "Return to Me."

       

       

      They say, If a man divorces his wife,

      And she goes from him

      And becomes another mans,

      May he return to her again?

      Would not that land be greatly polluted?

      But you have played the harlot with many lovers;

      Yet return to Me, says the Lord.”

       

       

      If a man divorces his wife may he return to her again?

       

      Jeremiah seems to have in mind the command in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 which says that when a man divorces his wife and she becomes the wife of another man, she must not return again to her first husband.

       

       

      This law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 sounds strange to our modern age where it is not completely uncommon for a wife to return to her first husband after a second or third husband. The sense behind it was that it made the ideas of both marriage and divorce seem of little consequence, as if one might say: "I can divorce her, and remarry her later if I want to." God wanted to speak to that thinking and say, "No you can NOT treat divorce and remarriage so casually. I WILL NOT allow it."

       

      Would not the land be greatly polluted?

       

      Deuteronomy 24:4 says, her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. God connected disobedience to this law regarding remarriage to a defilement of the land, making it greatly polluted.

       

       

      But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me…

       

      God wanted His unfaithful people to know that though returning to the first husband might be wrong on a human level, it was NOT wrong between God and His people.

       

      The line, "Yet return to Me," says the Lord is a bit of a mystery to translators. Some (as the NKJV and NLT) translate it as an invitation from God to Israel. Others (such as the NASB and ESV) translate it as an accusation, God accusing Israel of wanting to return to Him lightly or wrongly.

       

      NASB: But you are a harlot with many lovers; yet you turn to Me.

       

      ESV: And would you return to Me?

       

      NLT: But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, says the Lord. Yet I am still calling you to come back to me.

       

      Since in the rest of the chapter God repeatedly DOES invite Israel to return to Him, and the thought of this return is presented in a good sense, it is best to take it as rendered in the NKJV: as a plea from God to His people for them to return to Him.

       

       

      CONFUSION, MISINTERPRETATION, OR NOT UNDERSTANDING ONE VERSE, IS ALWAYS CLEARED UP WHEN WE READ THE ENTIRE CHAPTER AND NOT TAKE IT PIECE MEAL AS SO MANY WRONGLY DO.

       

       

      Verse 2 tells us The depth of their depravity.

       

      Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see:

      Where have you not lain with men?

      By the road you have sat for them

      Like an Arabian in the wilderness;

      And you have polluted the land

      With your harlotries and your wickedness."

       

       

      Where have you not lain with men?

       

      God asked His people to look up to the heights - that is, the high places where altars to pagan gods were often built. According to the picture, upon these desolate heights they committed spiritual adultery with pagan gods.

       

       

      WE KNOW...This verse alludes to the worship of Baal and Asherah, which included sex with temple prostitutes at hilltop shrines.

       

       

      The word 'RAVISHED' [lain with men] is especially powerful. It is an obscene word for sexual violence. Although God's people have been looking for a good time, they have been getting raped. False gods are always abusive." (Deuteronomy 28:30, Isaiah 13:16, where the word is translated ravished).

       

      By the road you have sat for them…

       

      Here God used the picture of a common street prostitute to illustrate the spiritual adultery of Israel. The idea was that they sought out these idols and offered themselves to them.

       

       

      Like an Arabian in the wilderness...

       

      "Jeremiah likened the national preoccupation with licentiousness to an Arab freebooter waiting in concealment to plunder a passing caravan, or to a wayside prostitute soliciting clients.

       

      Sin was NOT searching for them; they searched for it.

       

      You have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness…

       

      Israel considered their idolatry and sacrifice to pagan gods to be of little consequence. Many of them probably told themselves that they were NOT forsaking the Lord, only adding the worship of these other gods. God saw their sin for what it was, and noted that it polluted the land.

       

       

      Verses 3-5 tells us The penalty of their sin and how they should have repented.

       

      Therefore the showers have been withheld,

      And there has been no latter rain.

      You have had a harlots forehead;

      You refuse to be ashamed.

      Will you not from this time cry to Me,

      My Father, You are the guide of my youth?

      Will He remain angry forever?

      Will He keep it to the end?

      Behold, you have spoken and done evil things,

      As you were able.”

       

       

      Therefore the showers have been withheld and there has been no latter rain…

       

      Spiritually, Israel's idolatry polluted the land - therefore God withheld the rain they needed for crops and food. This had special irony, because many of the pagan gods they went after were associated with weather, rain, and fertility, such as Baal and Ashtoreth.

       

       

      Some of those ancient idol worshippers in ancient Israel went after the idols exactly FOR the rain and agricultural abundance they hoped their idolatry would bring. They were terribly wrong; their pursuit out of God's will left them less satisfied than before.

       

       

      You have a harlot's forehead; you refuse to be ashamed…

       

      God observed the LACK of shame among Israel for their idol worship. Their conscience was dead to its proper workings.

       

       

      Will you not from this time cry to Me: God told Israel what they should do.

       

      1. They should CRY OUT unto the Lord with urgency and desperation.

       

      2. They should LOOK TO Him as their Father and their guide.

       

      3. They should SEE THEMSELVES as those who need guidance and help, as a youth needs guidance and help.

       

       

      4. They should HOPE that God would not remain angry with them.

       

       

      Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able…

       

      Instead of crying out to the Lord and coming with humble repentance, Israel continued in their evil as they were able - hoping to get away with as much as they could.

       

       

      Verses 6-10 tells us God speaks to Jeremiah about backsliding Israel, treacherous Judah.

       

      The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, Return to Me. But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense, says the Lord.”

       

       

      In the days of Josiah the king…

       

      Josiah was one of the BETTER kings of Judah, and in his reign there was an aggressive campaign to purify Israel of idolatry and to return to the Lord. God no doubt used these words from Jeremiah as part of this work.

       

      Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done?

       

      God reminded Jeremiah (and those who heard this prophecy) that the northern kingdom of Israel was deeply idolatrous, yet God still called to them saying, "Return to Me." Sadly, she did NOT return and perished as a kingdom some 100 years BEFORE Jeremiah began his prophetic work.

       

       

      Her treacherous sister Judah saw it…

       

      The southern kingdom of Judah should have learned from Israel's idolatry, refusal to repent, and fall. Instead, her treacherous sister Judah did NOT fear, but went and played the harlot also.

       

      It's easy for us to think Judah was crazy and ask how they could have missed such obvious lessons. Yet we see the modern world repeating the SAME mistakes and sins as previous fallen empires and cultures.

       

       

      Through her casual harlotry: "The Hebrew text reads literally 'through the lightness of adultery'; that is, adultery mattered so little to her that she participated in the same evil practices as her sister Israel and polluted the land.

       

       

      Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense…

       

      It seemed that Judah had learned NOTHING from the sin and consequences that came upon the northern kingdom of Israel. Whatever repentance they did offer was NOT from the whole heart, but only in pretense.

       

       

      On a human level it is difficult and perhaps dangerous to judge the repentance of another person. We should be generous in our assessment of someone's repentance. Nevertheless, repentance only in pretense is a REAL phenomenon, and God KNOWS when repentance is insincere and only for show.

       

       

      True confession, unfortunately, is a harrowing and humiliating experience, and thus seldom encountered, whether in individuals or nations.

       

       

      MORGAN reminds us, “In his days there had been great reform outwardly. The king had wrought with a true passion for righteousness, but as Huldah, the prophetess, had told him, the reforms, so far as the people were concerned, were unreal, they did not touch the deepest things in life."

       

       

      Verses 11-13 tells us God tells Jeremiah to INVITE Israel to return and find mercy.

       

      Then the Lord said to me, Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

      Return, backsliding Israel, says the Lord;

      I will not cause My anger to fall on you.

      For I am merciful, says the Lord;

      I will not remain angry forever.

      Only acknowledge your iniquity,

      That you have transgressed against the Lord your God,

      And have scattered your charms

      To alien deities under every green tree,

      And you have not obeyed My voice, says the Lord."

       

       

      Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah…

       

       

      This is a startling statement, considering how deeply the northern kingdom of Israel gave themselves to idols. Nevertheless, we can think of several reasons why Judah's sin was even worse.

       

      1. Judah had the example of Israel to learn from, and advantage that Israel did not have.

       

       

      2. Judah was closer to the temple and center of true worship.

       

      3. Judah had better and more spiritual kings than Israel had.

       

      4. Judah's problem was treachery and the pretense of repentance; Israel was more honest in their sin.

       

       

      Return, backsliding Israel…

       

      God told Jeremiah to invite Israel - though they were scattered in exile throughout the Assyrian empire - to return to Him. The key to their return was this: Only acknowledge your iniquity. This honesty was what Judah lacked and was the key to Israel's restoration to right relationship.

       

      The 'backslider' (turn away) is invited to 'come back' (turn back).

       

      The sense is something like, "Slide back to Me, backslider."

       

      Here there is NO promise that God would restore the northern kingdom to its land and realm. Instead the promise seems to be of restored relationship with Yahweh, their covenant God.

       

       

      The sense seems to be, "Judah has not repented honestly, only in pretense. Perhaps Israel will honestly repent if I invite them."

       

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us Return and be restored.

       

      Return, O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

       

       

      Return, O backsliding children…

       

      Here God speaks to BOTH "sisters" (Jeremiah 3:7) Israel and Judah and invites them to return to Him.

       

       

      For I am married to you…

       

      Significantly, God said that He gave Israel a certificate of divorce (Jeremiah 3:8). Yet here He says to both Israel and Judah, "I am married to you." God was willing to ignore the previous divorce if they would only return to Him.

       

       

      These pleas: "Return, O backsliding children" and "For I am married to you" have great depth of feeling. This is NOT a cold, dispassionate God; this is the Lord full of warmth and compassion, pursing His wayward people.

       

      I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion…

       

      God promised restoration and repatriation for the remnant that would return to Him.

       

       

      I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding…

       

      After the blessing of restoration and repatriation, God promised the blessing of good and godly spiritual leadership, giving an instructive description of what leaders among God's people should be.

       

       

      1. They should be given by God (I will give you), not by human ambition or presumed calling.

       

      2. They are given to the people of God (I will give you) for their care and service unto them.

       

      3. They should be shepherds, caring for the flock of God.

       

      4. They should be according to God's heart in the way they serve and lead God's people.

       

      5. They should feed God's people with knowledge.

       

      6. They should feed God's people with understanding.

       

       

      Verses 16-17 tells us Return and know the presence of the Lord.

       

      Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days, says the Lord, that they will say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord. It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.”

       

       

      When you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days they will say no more, "The ark of the covenant of the Lord"…

       

      Jeremiah looked forward to Israel's ultimate restoration, marked by gathering in the land and by the presence of the Lord Himself, not merely the representation of God seen in the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

       

       

      It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it...

       

      Jeremiah looked forward to the day when the reality of God's presence among men surpassed the symbol of it represented by the ark of the covenant. It would so far surpass it that when the reality comes, no one would think of the ark of the covenant any longer.

       

      The ark will not be restored because it will no longer be necessary as a symbol of God's presence. The times of ceremonial emphasis will pass away. The actual glory of God in the presence of his people will be sufficient, and therefore the typical glory will not be missed.

       

       

      At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it…

       

      Jeremiah looked forward to the day when Israel would be the leading nation of the earth, with the Lord Himself enthroned in Jerusalem and the nations coming to give Him honor.

       

      No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts…

       

      Jeremiah looked forward to the day when the nations would be genuinely transformed as they recognized the Lord and His work from Jerusalem.

      Without calling it the NEW covenant, Jeremiah speaks of some of the benefits of the NEW covenant as will be later developed in Jeremiah 31:31-33.

       

       

      Verse 18 tells us A PROMISE of restoration.

       

      In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.”

       

       

      In those days…

       

      In the previous lines (Jeremiah 3:16-17) God promised many of the features that would later be developed in the promise of the new covenant. Here we learn of more that will happen in those days.

       

       

      The house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel…

       

      Long before, the twelve tribes of Israel split into two competing kingdoms. God here looked forward to the day when Judah and Israel would be together again, and no longer separated by their ancient civil conflict.

       

       

      And they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given…

       

      The promise of return to the land is again promised to both Judah and Israel. God will gather them to the land again.

       

       

      Verses 19-20 tells us The problem of restoring the treacherous house of Israel.

       

      But I said:

      How can I put you among the children

      And give you a pleasant land, beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?

      And I said:

      You shall call Me, My Father,

      And not turn away from Me.

      Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband,

      So have you dealt treacherously with Me,

      O house of Israel, says the Lord.”

       

       

      How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land…

       

      Rhetorically, God asked how backsliding Israel and treacherous Judah could receive such a blessing as the restoration to the land.

       

       

      You shall call Me, "my Father," and not turn away from Me…

       

      Answering His own question, God pointed to an inner transformation that would take place among His people, despite their past treachery. This inner transformation is another feature of the NEW covenant.

       

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us The weeping of a repentant Israel.

       

      A voice was heard on the desolate heights,

      Weeping and supplications of the children of Israel.

      For they have perverted their way;

      They have forgotten the Lord their God.

      Return, you backsliding children,

      And I will heal your backslidings.

      Indeed we do come to You,

      For You are the Lord our God.”

       

       

      Weeping and supplications of the children of Israel…

       

      Jeremiah prophetically SAW Israel in true repentance, crying out to God from their desolation. Such deep repentance was necessary because they had perverted their way and forgotten the Lord their God.

       

       

      Here is the consciousness of sin in its essential character, and that produces godly sorrow. The distinction between mere remorse and repentance is here already, in the 'weeping and supplication.

       

       

      Return, you backsliding children. Indeed, we do come to You…

       

      Jeremiah spoke of the day when the children of Israel WOULD respond to God's call to return and be healed from their backsliding, recognizing their need and who their God is (for You are the Lord our God). This was a contrast to how they had previously forgotten the Lord their God.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "He says, 'Return, ye backsliding children.' I notice that he does not say, 'Return, ye penitent children.' He pictures you in your worst colors, yet he says, 'Return, ye backsliding children.' I notice also that he does not say, 'Heal your wounds first, and then come back to me;' but he says, 'Return, ye backsliding children,' with all your backslidings unhealed, - 'and I will heal your backslidings.'"

       

       

      The words of Jeremiah 3:21-22 show several things about backsliding.

       

      1. Backsliding brings desolation (on the desolate heights).

       

      2. Backsliding is worthy of great mourning (weeping and supplication).

       

      3. Backsliders may return right from their wayward place (the high places, the desolate heights).

       

      4. Backsliding is shown in a perverted way.

       

      5. Backsliding is shown in forgetting God (they have forgotten the Lord their God).

       

      6. Backsliding is something only children of God can do.

       

      7. Backsliding is a decision to turn from (return).

       

      8. Backsliding is disease to be healed from (I will heal).

       

      9. Backsliding is corrected by the recognition of a wrong way (we do come to you).

       

      10. Backsliding is corrected by the recognition of having forgotten God (for You are the Lord our God).

       

       

      Verses 23-25 tells us The lasting shame of idolatry expressed in a statement of true repentance.

       

      Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills,

      And from the multitude of mountains;

      Truly, in the Lord our God

      Is the salvation of Israel.

      For shame has devoured

      The labor of our fathers from our youth—

      Their flocks and their herds,

      Their sons and their daughters.

      We lie down in our shame,

      And our reproach covers us

      For we have sinned against the Lord our God,

      We and our fathers,

      From our youth even to this day,

      And have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”

       

       

      Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills…

       

      In their idolatry, Israel often built altars on high places - the tops of hills. God reminded them that these hills, these high places and the false gods they represented were of NO HELP in their day of need. Instead, in the Lord our God IS the ONLY salvation of Israel.

       

      For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth - their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters…

       

      Upon those altars to pagan gods upon the hills, generations of Israelis sacrificed their flocks and herds and even their sons and daughters (figuratively and sometimes literally). It was all a shame that devoured.

       

       

      The 'shameful' thing (v.24, the article is emphatic in the Hebrew) is Baal, the god of shame. In 11:13 and Hosea 9:10, Baal and shame are identified.

       

       

      We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us…

       

      This shame was constant and could not be done away with until the children of Israel genuinely repented and returned to the Lord.

       

       

      We have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God…

       

      This is the appropriate expression of broken repentance that should mark God's backsliding children. There is NO excuse or explanation given.

       

    • February 15, 2018 7:43 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 4

       

      OPENS WITH…The Terror of Coming Judgment

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Blessings to a returning and repentant Israel.

       

      If you will return, O Israel, says the Lord,

      Return to Me;

      And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight,

      Then you shall not be moved.

      And you shall swear, The Lord lives,

      In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness;

      The nations shall bless themselves in Him,

      And in Him they shall glory.”

       

       

      Return to Me…

       

      This carries the same theme from Jeremiah 3, where Yahweh PLED with Israel to stop their backsliding ways and to return to Him. The call went out to Israel, with ALL tribes and BOTH kingdoms in mind (Jeremiah 3).

       

       

      If you will put away your abominations out of My sight…

       

      For Israel, returning to the Lord meant they had to put away their idols (abominations). They could not hold on to their idols and still return to Yahweh, even as an adulterous spouse cannot continue to hold on to their illicit lover and genuinely return to their marriage partner.

       

       

      The term abominations was used in Hosea 9:10 and also by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel of pagan deities and their associated cultic rituals.

       

      Then you shall not be moved. And you shall swear, "The Lord lives"…

      These were TWO REWARDS that would come to a returning, repentant Israel.

       

      FIRST, they would have security (not be moved).

       

      SECOND, they would be restored to real relationship with Yahweh, able to swear, "The Lord lives."

       

      There are some, THEN AND NOW, who at one time claimed to walk with God and experience Him, and then departed from outward profession. Some of those, in their departure, claim that their experience with God was all an illusion and go on to deny the reality of God and His revelation in Jesus Christ. If those would return to the Lord in true repentance, they would be able to once again swear, "The Lord lives."

       

       

      In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him they shall glory…

       

      This is the understanding of the Lord that belongs to those who return to Him and repent. Once again they see His true, good, righteous character, and His blessing to the nations.

       

       

      Verses 3-4 tells us Breaking up the fallow ground.

       

       

      For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

      Break up your fallow ground,

      And do not sow among thorns.

      Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,

      And take away the foreskins of your hearts,

      You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,

      Lest My fury come forth like fire,

      And burn so that no one can quench it,

      Because of the evil of your doings.”

       

       

      Break up your fallow ground…

       

      God invited Judah and Jerusalem to return to Him from a hardened condition. Fallow ground is uncultivated farmland, especially ground that was plowed before but has laid dormant for a year or more. It is hard to plow, but no useful crops can be grown until the fallow ground is broken up.

       

      Fallow ground implies prior fruitfulness

       

      Fallow ground needs some hard work to break

       

      Fallow ground implies some resistance

       

       

      And do not sow among thorns…

       

      This probably has in mind what does grow upon fallow ground - weeds and thorns. It's not as if nothing grows upon fallow fields, simply nothing useful grows there. Spiritually speaking, returning Judah must put their energy into prepared, repentant hearts.

       

       

      Circumcise yourselves to the Lord…

       

      Jeremiah switched images, moving away from the idea of an unplowed field to the idea of a baby boy's circumcision, in obedience to the covenant of Abraham. Instead of taking away the literal foreskin, Judah had to remove the foreskins of your hearts, cutting away the flesh in covenant dedication to the Lord.

       

       

      Lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it…

       

      God drew His people with kind words, but also told them of the consequences of continued rejection. If they did not return, judgment was waiting.

       

       

       

      Verses 5-8 tells us a description of God’s vision of coming judgment.

       

       

      Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:

      Blow the trumpet in the land;

      Cry, Gather together,

      And say, Assemble yourselves,

      And let us go into the fortified cities.

      Set up the standard toward Zion.

      Take refuge! Do not delay!

      For I will bring disaster from the north,

      And great destruction.

      The lion has come up from his thicket,

      And the destroyer of nations is on his way.

      He has gone forth from his place

      To make your land desolate.

      Your cities will be laid waste,

      Without inhabitant.

      For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth,

      Lament and wail.

      For the fierce anger of the Lord

      Has not turned back from us.”

       

       

      Blow the trumpet in the land…

       

      In his prophecy, Jeremiah saw an army come from the north to destroy an unrepentant Judah and Jerusalem. They busily prepared a defense (assemble yourselves go into the fortified cities), but it would be of NO help.

       

      The blowing of the horn (shopar) announced a state of emergency (Amos 3:6). Hearing it citizens would flee for safety behind the walls of their fortified city.

       

       

      The description is the more vivid because he uses the prophetic present, which sees the judgment as already in progress, so certain is its fulfillment.

       

       

      The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way…

      This was prophetically fulfilled when the Babylonians conquered Judah.

       

       

      There is debate as to if the invasion so vividly described came from the Scythians, the Assyrians, or the Babylonians. The scripture points to it being the Babylonians. "The fact remains that God's word through Jeremiah not only made no mention of the Scythians, but decisively excluded them at certain points. It was Babylon, a generation later, which would bring all this to pass.

       

       

      Clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail…

       

      Jeremiah pictured God's people finally repenting, yet when it was TOO late to prevent the terrible judgment.

       

       

      Verse 9 tells us The EFFECT of the coming judgment.

       

       

      And it shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord,

      That the heart of the king shall perish,

      And the heart of the princes;

      The priests shall be astonished,

      And the prophets shall wonder.”

       

       

      The heart of the king shall perish…

       

      When the terrible judgment comes, even the nobility of Judah will lose their courage and hope.

       

      The priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder…

       

      AMAZINGLY ENOUGH...EVEN AFTER ISRAEL’S CAPTIVITY AND JEREMIAH WARNING THAT JUDAH WOULD FACE THE SAME IF THEY DID NOT REPENT...When the terrible judgment comes, the spiritual leaders will NOT know what to do - because they did not return to the Lord, break up the fallow ground, and circumcise their hearts in answer to God's invitation.

       

       

      Verse 10 tells us In a brief interlude, Jeremiah considers the difficult nature of judgment.

       

       

      Then I said, Ah, Lord God!

      Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem,

      Saying, You shall have peace,

      Whereas the sword reaches to the heart.”

       

       

      Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem…

       

      Jeremiah wondered if God had NOT greatly deceived His people when He promised, "You shall have peace." Seemingly, God promised peace to His people when an astonishing judgment would come upon them instead (Jeremiah 4:9).

       

      Here we have an outburst, in which the prophet said what he thought. Many men think things like this who never utter them.

       

      Yet it could be said that it was not the Lord who promised peace, but false prophets who claimed to speak in His name. Another use of the phrase "You shall have peace" (in the New King James Bible) is found in Jeremiah 23:16-17, where they are the words in the mouth of FALSE prophets who prophesied peace to those who despised the Lord.

       

       

      It wasn't the Lord God who greatly deceived the people and Jerusalem; it was the false prophets who promised peace when JEREMIAH told them judgment was coming instead.

       

       

      Whereas the sword reaches to the heart…

       

      Instead of peace, judgment would come to an unrepentant Israel, causing the kingdom to die and many with it.

       

       

      Verses 11-12 tells us The sobering announcement of coming judgment.

       

       

      At that time it will be said

      To this people and to Jerusalem,

      A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness

      Toward the daughter of My people—

      Not to fan or to cleanse—

      A wind too strong for these will come for Me;

      Now I will also speak judgment against them.”

       

       

      A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness toward the daughter of My people…

      Jeremiah announced that judgment would come upon His people and upon Jerusalem, and it would be like a wind that destroys.

       

       

      Not to fan or to cleanse - a wind too strong tor these will come…

       

      The judgment that would come like a wind would be so strong that it would not be like a fan, cooling the people; nor to cleanse with a gentle wind. It will destroy and bring judgment, like a wind too strong.

       

       

      Verse 13 tells us A vision of the coming judgment.

       

       

      Behold, he shall come up like clouds,

      And his chariots like a whirlwind.

      His horses are swifter than eagles.

      Woe to us, for we are plundered!”

       

       

      He shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind…

       

      The instruments of the announced judgment would move quickly. They would come as quickly as clouds move through the sky, their chariots as fast as whirlwinds, and their horses faster than eagles.

       

       

      Woe to us, for we are plundered! The speed of the instruments of the Lord's judgment indicated that they would be unstoppable. They would succeed in conquering and plundering God's people.

       

       

      Verses 14-18 tells us An APPEAL to Jerusalem.

       

      O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,

      That you may be saved.

      How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?

      For a voice declares from Dan

      And proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim:

      Make mention to the nations,

      Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem,

      That watchers come from a far country

      And raise their voice against the cities of Judah.

      Like keepers of a field they are against her all around,

      Because she has been rebellious against Me, says the Lord.

      Your ways and your doings

      Have procured these things for you.

      This is your wickedness,

      Because it is bitter,

      Because it reaches to your heart.”

       

       

      O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness…

       

      Judah had made a show of repentance, but only in pretense (Jeremiah 3:10). Jeremiah begged the people to wash their heart from wickedness, not only their outward actions.

       

       

      How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? The wickedness in the heart of the people of Judah brought the threat of God's judgment, but it wasn't just a heart problem; it was also a problem with evil thoughts. They indulged their evil thoughts and allowed them to lodge within their mind.

       

       

      Charles Spurgeon preached a wonderful sermon on this text, titled Bad Lodgers, and How to Treat Them. He explained how evil thoughts were like bad renters or lodgers in a property. "Now, the Lord says, 'How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?' for they are all vain-these delays, these false promises, these self- deceptions. How long shall it be that they shall throng the avenues of your soul and curse your spirit?"

       

       

      Spurgeon described why evil thoughts are like bad lodgers:

       

      1. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers because they are deceitful

       

      2. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers because they pay no rent; they bring in nothing good

       

      3. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers because they waste your goods and destroy your property

       

      4. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers because worse than damaging your house, they damage you

       

      5. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers because they bring you under condemnation

       

       

      Spurgeon then suggested what one should do with these bad lodgers:

      1. Give them the eviction notice at once

       

      2. If they refuse to leave, then starve them out

       

      3. Sell the house out from under them; put the house under new ownership

       

       

      Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country…

       

      This is the reason why there was an urgent, passionate appeal to truly repent - because judgment was coming in the form of an invading army.

       

       

      Like keepers of a field…

       

      Like men guarding their crops in their fields they settle down to occupy and lay siege to the land. The picture is an apt one since a largely rural population was very familiar with the small shelters or booths erected by sheepherders and farmers to protect their flocks and crops (IN Isaiah 1:8).

       

       

      Your ways and your doing have procured these things for you…

       

      Before the judgment came God gave Judah and Jerusalem clear warning that the judgment would be their fault and not God's. It would be bitter and reach to their heart, but it would be because of their wickedness, not God's unfaithfulness.

       

       

      Verses 19-21 tells us The anguish of soul on the part of those who face judgment.

       

      O my soul, my soul!

      I am pained in my very heart!

      My heart makes a noise in me;

      I cannot hold my peace,

      Because you have heard, O my soul,

      The sound of the trumpet,

      The alarm of war.

      Destruction upon destruction is cried,

      For the whole land is plundered.

      Suddenly my tents are plundered,

      And my curtains in a moment.

      How long will I see the standard,

      And hear the sound of the trumpet?”

       

       

      O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart!…

       

      Jeremiah prophetically spoke in the voice of the one plundered by the invading army to come. It was not only an army of material destruction with the loss of land and tents and curtains, but a true affliction of the soul.

       

       

      Pained: "Is a word for intestinal discomfort. Literally, Jeremiah was 'sick to his stomach' about what was going to happen to Judah.

       

      How long will I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?

       

      In the voice of the prophetic future, Jeremiah wondered how long the destruction and plunder of the invading army would last.

       

       

      Verse 22 tells us The Lord speaks to the condition of His people.

       

      For My people are foolish,

      They have not known Me.

      They are silly children,

      And they have no understanding.

      They are wise to do evil,

      But to do good they have no knowledge.”

       

       

      For My people are foolish, they have not known Me…

       

      God accurately diagnosed their problem when He noted that Judah was foolish, and especially so in their lack to true knowledge of God. Yet Yahweh was generous enough to still call them, "My people."

       

       

      They are silly children, and they have no understanding…

       

      It is unlikely that the people of Judah saw themselves as silly children and without understanding. They probably saw themselves as sophisticated and wise.

       

       

      They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge…

       

      God explained their pretended wisdom. They were indeed wise, but in the ways of evil. When it came to doing good, they had no knowledge.

       

       

      So perverse were they that their only skills lay in doing evil. Of doing right they knew nothing.

       

       

      Verses 23-26 tells us With prophetic insight, Jeremiah considers the might and power of God.

       

       

      I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void;

      And the heavens, they had no light.

      I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled,

      And all the hills moved back and forth.

      I beheld, and indeed there was no man,

      And all the birds of the heavens had fled.

      I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness,

      And all its cities were broken down

      At the presence of the Lord,

      By His fierce anger.”

       

       

      I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form and void…

       

      In turning around the images from Genesis 1, Jeremiah gives a poetic and powerful picture of the utter devastation that would come upon Judah in the coming judgment.

       

       

      The heavens, they had no light the mountains, and indeed they trembled all the hills moved back and forth indeed there was no man all its cities were broken down…

       

      The judgment Jeremiah prophetically saw was complete, and it all happened at the presence of the Lord, by His fierce anger.

       

      AND WE KNOW...FROM OUR STUDIES...Similar pictures are used to describe the Day of the Lord, looking forward to the ultimate passing of this world before the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:12-13, Revelation 21:1, Isaiah 65:17).

       

       

      The point for Jerusalem and Judah was plain…

       

      The God who could devastate the entire earth by His presence and fierce anger could easily bring judgment to them through an invading army. They needed to remember the greatness of the God they had offended.

       

       

      Jeremiah rightly used this poetic imagery to describe the horror that would come upon Judah in the Babylonian invasion. Yet we should consider that the fullness of God's judgment - even worse than what Judah experienced - came upon Jesus Christ, God the Son, as He was crucified and judged as our substitute.

       

       

      Verses 27-29 tells us The certainty and complete nature of the coming judgment.

       

       

      For thus says the Lord:

      The whole land shall be desolate;

      Yet I will not make a full end.

      For this shall the earth mourn,

      And the heavens above be black,

      Because I have spoken.

      I have purposed and will not relent,

      Nor will I turn back from it.

      The whole city shall flee from the noise of the horsemen and bowmen.

      They shall go into thickets and climb up on the rocks.

      Every city shall be forsaken,

      And not a man shall dwell in it.”

       

       

      The whole land shall be desolate; yet I will not make a full end…

       

      God promised that judgment would come to Judah and Jerusalem, but the desolation would not be complete. God would not make a full end of the place of His people in that land.

       

       

      After this, and after the vision of a deserted landscape in Jeremiah 4:23-26, the saving clause in verse 27, 'yet I will not make a full end', shines very brightly.

       

      For this shall the earth mourn and the heavens above be black…

       

      In some way creation itself suffers with the judgment that comes upon God's people. We know that creation groans until the completion of God's plan (Romans 8:20-22). Apparently, creation also sympathized with Israel's humiliation, even as it would rejoice in her restoration (Isaiah 55:12).

       

       

      Every city shall be forsaken, and not a man shall dwell in it…

       

      God promised that the judgment to come upon Judah was both inevitable (I have purposed and will not relent) and would be complete, with no cities successfully holding out against the coming invaders.

       

       

       

      Verses 30-31 tells us The vanity of hoping to appeal to the invading army of judgment.

       

      And when you are plundered,

      What will you do?

      Though you clothe yourself with crimson,

      Though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,

      Though you enlarge your eyes with paint,

      In vain you will make yourself fair;

      Your lovers will despise you;

      They will seek your life.

      For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor,

      The anguish as of her who brings forth her first child,

      The voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself;

      She spreads her hands, saying,

      Woe is me now, for my soul is weary

      Because of murderers!”

       

       

      When you are plundered, what will you do?

       

      Through Jeremiah the Prophet, God asked Judah this important question. Perhaps they thought they could somehow appeal to the invaders as a woman might adorn and decorate herself to appeal to a man. Yet God warned them, "In vain you will make yourself fair."

       

       

      Your lovers will despise you; they will seek your life…

       

      There was no way to decorate themselves enough to soften the judgment. It was certain. Instead of outward decoration, true repentance was their only hope.

       

      IN OTHER WORDS, GOD SHOWED JEREMIAH HOW THEY WOULD RESPOND...An enemy army was on the march. Yet God's people dressed up like prostitutes, putting on fancy red dresses with spangles and sequins. They took out all their gaudy jewelry and cosmetics.

       

       

      I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor…

       

      Instead of seductive words from an adorned woman, Jeremiah prophetically heard a woman crying in pain and fear, as if she were giving birth. The screaming came from the daughter of Zion, who in the misery of her judgment finally understood her condition.

       

    • February 15, 2018 7:35 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 5

       

      OPENS WITH...Jeremiah 5 – God tells Jeremiah He has been searching for a Righteous Man but finding none.

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Looking for someone who seeks truth.

       

      Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem;

      See now and know;

      And seek in her open places

      If you can find a man,

      If there is anyone who executes judgment,

      Who seeks the truth,

      And I will pardon her.

      Though they say, As the Lord lives,

      Surely they swear falsely.”

       

      If you can find a man who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her…

       

      Speaking through Jeremiah, God exposed the corruption of Jerusalem of Jeremiah's day. It was as if there was NOT even one man who did right and sought after truth.

       

      We think of Jeremiah as a predecessor to the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who reportedly carried a lamp through Athens in the daytime, searching for an honest man. Jeremiah searched for a righteous man (who executes judgment) who sought the truth. If even one could be found, God would spare His judgment against Jerusalem.

       

      This is a staggering statement from God to Jeremiah. We know Jeremiah was a righteous man, but remember Jeremiah was from Anathoth, NOT Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:1).

       

      One may also say that God today still searches and looks for one man who executes judgment and who seeks the truth - and finds only the One Man, Jesus Christ. He is the One Man who can save ANY city or individual from judgment.

       

      They say, "As the Lord lives," surely they swear falsely…

       

      God tells and shows Jeremiah HE could find MANY who perceived themselves to be RELIGIOUS people in Jerusalem - many who would swear by the Lord and say, "As the Lord lives." Yet God could NOT find anyone who sought the Lord in sincerity.

       

      Verse 3 tells us Jeremiah's prayer.

       

      O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth?

      You have stricken them,

      But they have not grieved;

      You have consumed them,

      But they have refused to receive correction.

      They have made their faces harder than rock;

      They have refused to return.”

       

      O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth?...

       

      Jeremiah appealed to God who saw and cared about truth among men. He prayed with a sense of amazement at the CHOSEN AND WILLING BLINDNESS, HARDNESS AND STUBBORNNESS of heart among God's people.

       

       

      You have stricken them, but they have not grieved…

       

      Jeremiah mourned over the lack of repentance and brokenness over sin among the people of Jerusalem. They were stricken yet NOT grieved; consumed yet NOT corrected. Despite all they had and would endure, they have REFUSED to return TO THEIR LORD GOD.

       

       

      Verses 4-5 tells us Jeremiah's plan to appeal to the great men of Jerusalem.

       

      Therefore I said, Surely these are poor.

      They are foolish;

      For they do not know the way of the Lord,

      The judgment of their God.

      I will go to the great men and speak to them,

      For they have known the way of the Lord,

      The judgment of their God.

      But these have altogether broken the yoke

      And burst the bonds.”

       

       

      Surely these are poor, they are foolish; for they do not know the way of the Lord…

       

      As he searched for a righteous man, Jeremiah was amazed at the spiritual and moral foolishness of the people of Jerusalem. Then he considered that perhaps it was because they were poor and uneducated (foolish). This explained why they do not know the way of the Lord.

       

       

      I will go to the great men and speak to them…

       

      Jeremiah then turned to the great men, the aristocrats of Jerusalem. With all their education and advantages, surely a righteous man could be found among them.

       

      But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds…

       

      Jeremiah's search among the great men of Jerusalem ended in disappointment. They also were rebels; perhaps educated rebels, but rebels AGAINST God nevertheless.

       

       

      Verses 6-9 tells us The penalty that will come to a rebellious city.

       

      Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them,

      A wolf of the deserts shall destroy them;

      A leopard will watch over their cities.

      Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces,

      Because their transgressions are many;

      Their backslidings have increased.

      How shall I pardon you for this?

      Your children have forsaken Me

      And sworn by those that are not gods.

      When I had fed them to the full,

      Then they committed adultery

      And assembled themselves by troops in the harlots houses.

      They were like well-fed lusty stallions;

      Every one neighed after his neighbors wife.

      Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord.

      And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?”

       

      Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them…

       

      Most see the lion and the wolf and the leopard described here as pictures of the coming invaders. Yet it is also possible that Jeremiah ALSO pictured Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah desolate and given over to wild animals. The coming war of judgment would send Judah back to much more primitive times.

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW…

       

      The lion represents strength, the desert wolf ravenous, and the leopard swiftness - ALL traits of the Babylonians. Because we remember Nebuchadnezzar is called [a lion] for his cruelty, a wolf for his voracity, and a leopard for his slyness and swiftness.

       

      AND HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE CONFIRMS THAT…

       

      Many towns were destroyed at the beginning of the sixth century b.c. and never again occupied. Others were destroyed and reoccupied after a long period of abandonment in Judah.

       

       

      When in more faithful and obedient times Israel came into the Promised Land, God used nature to fight FOR them.

       

      Deuteronomy 7:20 and Joshua 24:12 speak of how God sent the hornet to chase away Israel's enemies. Now in their rebellion, God sent nature to work AGAINST Israel instead of for them.

       

       

      God promised this to a disobedient Israel in Leviticus 26:22, “I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number.”

       

      Jeremiah anticipated the fulfillment of this warning FROM THE LORD..

       

       

      Your children have forsaken Me when I had fed them to the full…

       

      Judah's sin was all the WORSE when considered as simple ingratitude. God had done SO much for them, yet spiritually speaking they committed adultery.

       

      Their spiritual adultery - going after pagan gods - was also connected to sexual adultery. The so-called worship of pagan gods often involved ritual prostitutes and sexual immorality. The ideas of spiritual and sexual adultery were connected and combined.

       

      Then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses…

       

      Jeremiah not only saw multitudes going to the so-called sacred prostitutes, but they were organized as if an army (by troops). This was a powerful and poetic description of how given over the LARGE MASSES OF HIS PEOPLE were to pagan worship and ritual prostitution.

       

      THOMPSON, referring to Albright’s From the Stone Age to Christianity, tells us, "There was a sexual aspect to religion throughout the Fertile Crescent, although the goddesses of fertility played a much greater role among the Canaanites than among any other ancient people. Sacred prostitution was an almost invariable accompaniment of the cult of the fertility-goddesses in Phoenicia and Syria."

       

      "They preferred to call the temple prostitute a zona (profane woman) rather than use the Canaanite term qedesa (holy woman)."

       

      Shall I not punish them for these things?

       

      As Jeremiah searched Jerusalem he found no righteous men or men of truth. He did find spiritual rebels and adulterers. This was a nation due for judgment.

       

       

      Verses 10-13 tells us Prophets of wind, prophets of fire and destruction without a complete end.

       

      Go up on her walls and destroy,

      But do not make a complete end

      Take away her branches,

      For they are not the Lords.

      For the house of Israel and the house of Judah

      Have dealt very treacherously with Me, says the Lord.

      They have lied about the Lord,

      And said, It is not He.

      Neither will evil come upon us,

      Nor shall we see sword or famine.

      And the prophets become wind,

      For the word is not in them.

      Thus shall it be done to them.”

       

      Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end…

       

      Destroyed walls usually signaled a complete end; but not with the God of Israel. Here is a promise to bring restoration and revival - a promise partially fulfilled in the rebuilding work of Ezra and Nehemiah, and fully fulfilled in the restoration of Israel to their Messiah, Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation.

       

       

      Take away her branches…

       

      The branches of the vine have not borne the fruits of righteousness, and so will be burned up while the stock will be saved. This figure is reflected very closely by Christ in John 15:1-6.

       

       

      They have lied about the Lord, and said, "It is not He"…

       

      When the false prophets assured the people of Judah and Jerusalem that their present problems were NOT warnings and corrections from the Lord, they lied about the Lord. When they promised, "Neither will evil come upon us," they lied about the Lord.

       

      DO WE NOT SEE THIS TODAY, ACROSS THE GLOBE, IN SO CALLED RELIGIOUS GODLY PULPITS. THOSE FALSE PREACHERS, TEACHERS, PROPHETS, AND PRIESTS WHO PROCLAIM NOT DESTRUCTION AND JUDGMENT ON THE WORLD, NOR THE NEED FOR ON YOUR FACE REPENTANCE, NO RETURNING TO THE LORD, BUT THEY PROCLAIM GOD WANTS YOU HAPPY. REVIVAL IS COMING. REJOICE, GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE IN THIS LIFE. HEAVEN ON EARTH IS COMING.

       

      JUST AS JESUS TOLD THESE PIOUS ELITIST SELF-ORDAINED RELIGIOUS PHARISEES, SCRIBES, AND ROMAN LEADERS OF HIS DAY IN JOHN...YOU DO NOT KNOW ME, YOU DO NOT KNOW ALMIGHTY GOD, YOU REJECT HIS WORD, AND YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS.

       

      THEN AND NOW, THE LORD IS WARNING SO CALLED RELIGIOUS ICONS AND THEIR MAN-CREATED RELIGIOSITIES OF WHAT THEIR REJECTION, THEIR FALSE TEACHINGS, AND THEIR FALSE GOSPELS WILL EARN THEM...NOT HEALTH, WEALTH, WISE, AND AN ETERNITY IN HEAVEN, BUT DESTRUCTION, AND AN ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE.

       

       

      SOME FALSE RELIGIOUS LEADERS THEN AND NOW HAVE SAID OF THIS CHAPTER OF JEREMIAH, Perhaps these false prophets meant well and hoped to encourage Judah and Jerusalem. Perhaps the false prophets actually believed their own message. Nevertheless, they lied about the Lord - which is a serious and grievous sin. In our own day, we say to false prophets, even those who mean well and believe their own lies: STOP lying about the Lord and His Word. Give them the TRUTH and save your and their souls.

       

       

      And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them…

       

      The false prophets were nothing more than wind - movement without substance. God's word was NOT in them, and their so-called prophetic words were from them, THEIR OWN WISDOM AND MOST HEARING AND BELIEVING SATAN AND HIS DEMONS WORDS WHISPERED INTO THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS, BUT NONE OF IT WAS from the substance of God's word.

       

       

      AND MANY BELIEVE the phrase the prophets have become wind refers to how the people regarded the TRUE prophets of God – WHO PREACHED AND TEACHED AND WARNED ONLY GOD’S WORD –- They regarded them only as windbags.

       

       

      And we need to remember in Jeremiah’s day, mainly the priests had God’s word and they were to give the people ONLY GOD’S WORD, HIS TRUTH, HIS KNOWLEDGE, AND HIS PROMISES, WARNINGS, AND WISDOMS. So many were deceived because they trusted without doubt, prayer, or seeking to make sure they were being taught God’s truth.

       

       

      TODAY, MANKIND DOES NOT HAVE THAT EXCUSE. THE BIBLE IS THE MOST PUBLISHED AND PRODUCED BOOK ON THE PLANET. It is now available on apps, on the internet, as well as within almost any store in the world. So mankind, has EASY ACCESS to The Bible, and can SEEK and LEARN and KNOW the truth of God’s word. Then and now, that is why the harshest judgments and a special place in the Lake of Fire is reserved for those so called Religious leaders, THOSE SELF-PROCLAIMED GODLY MEN AND WOMEN, PROPHETS AND PROPHETESS who deceived and misled the lost, hurting, and seeking in their flocks. They are LIARS AND PROSTITUTES IN THE EYES OF ALMIGHTY GOD and they will NOT BE SAVED AS THEY BELIEVE, THEY WILL DIE IN THEIR SINS AND SPEND ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE.

       

       

      Verses 14-17 tells us The word of the prophet of fire.

       

      Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts:

      Because you speak this word,

      Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire,

      And this people wood,

      And it shall devour them.

      Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar,

      O house of Israel, says the Lord.

      It is a mighty nation,

      It is an ancient nation,

      A nation whose language you do not know,

      Nor can you understand what they say.

      Their quiver is like an open tomb;

      They are all mighty men.

      And they shall eat up your harvest and your bread,

      Which your sons and daughters should eat.

      They shall eat up your flocks and your herds;

      They shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;

      They shall destroy your fortified cities,

      In which you trust, with the sword.”

       

       

      I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them…

       

      In contrast to the prophets of wind mentioned in the previous verse, God would make Jeremiah a prophet of fire - whose words would announce the devouring judgment to come. As a true prophet, Jeremiah's words would have substance - but unpleasantly so.

       

      IT IS INTERESTING THAT MANY REMEMBER AND REFER TO JEREMIAH AS THE WEEPING PROPHET, WHILE OUR LORD JESUS REFERS TO HIM AS THE PROPHET OF FIRE!!!!

       

       

      Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar…

       

      Jeremiah repeated the promise that God would bring a mighty army of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, later fulfilled by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar.

       

      Their quiver is like an open tomb…

       

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

       

      They would be invincible because their quivers would be filled with death-dealing arrows, always bringing more destruction. Every arrow could be depended on to slay someone.

       

       

      Verses 18-19 tells us The divine logic behind judgment.

       

      Nevertheless in those days, says the Lord, I will not make a complete end of you. And it will be when you say, Why does the Lord our God do all these things to us? then you shall answer them, Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.”

       

       

      I will not make a complete end of you…

       

      The gracious promise is again repeated. Though devastating judgment would come to Judah and Jerusalem, God would NOT forsake His covenant people and would bring restoration.

       

      Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours…

       

      The explanation for God's judgment was basic and sensible. The people of Judah and Jerusalem served foreign gods; now God will send them to serve the people of the gods they worshipped.

       

       

      Verses 20-25 tells us The foolishness of failing to learn from nature.

       

      Declare this in the house of Jacob

      And proclaim it in Judah, saying,

      Hear this now, O foolish people,

      Without understanding,

      Who have eyes and see not,

      And who have ears and hear not:

      Do you not fear Me? says the Lord.

      Will you not tremble at My presence,

      Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,

      By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?

      And though its waves toss to and fro,

      Yet they cannot prevail;

      Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.

      But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart;

      They have revolted and departed.

      They do not say in their heart,

      Let us now fear the Lord our God,

      Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season.

      He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

      Your iniquities have turned these things away,

      And your sins have withheld good from you.”

       

       

      Hear this now, O foolish people…

       

      Through Jeremiah, God spoke to Judah and Jerusalem, exposing their spiritual and moral foolishness in resisting and rejecting Him.

       

       

      Though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail…

       

      Jeremiah used the illustration of the ocean and the sand. The waters of the sea continually pound upon the sand, yet the sand remains and the sea remains within its bounds. The analogy is clear: if the ocean cannot prevail against the sand, God's people will NEVER prevail in their rebellion against Him.

       

      MEYER says it well, "God has chosen to arrest the advance of the mighty billows by a barrier of sand-grains. There are many illustrations of this in the history of the Church. The pride of the persecutor has been arrested by the prayers and tears of men, women, and children, who have had no more strength in themselves that a bank of sand-grains, but have succeeded in arresting the might of their foes."

       

       

      But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart…

       

      God's people did NOT learn the lesson that nature clearly teaches - that it is foolish to fight against God.

       

      SPURGEON adds, "God here contrasts the obedience of the strong, the mighty the untamed sea, with the rebellious character of his own people. 'The sea,' saith he, 'obeys me; it never breaks its boundary; it never leaps from its channel; it obeys me in all its movements. But man, poor puny man, the little creature whom I could crush as the moth, will not be obedient to me.”

       

      Your iniquities and turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you…

       

      God described the blessings of rain and harvest and then told Judah why they did NOT have those blessings in abundance. Their sins had withheld good from them; it was NOT God's fault.

       

       

      Your iniquities, your sins…

       

      The two words used here for Israel's breaches of covenant are common in the OT, but may have some special point here. The first, “awon”, is related to a root which means 'to wanted, err,' and the second, “hattat” to a root meaning 'to miss the mark.' Israel had both wandered away from Yahweh and failed to reach the goal set for her.

       

       

      Verses 26-29 tells us the wickedness of those who do not care for their fellow man.

       

      For among My people are found wicked men;

      They lie in wait as one who sets snares;

      They set a trap;

      They catch men.

      As a cage is full of birds,

      So their houses are full of deceit.

      Therefore they have become great and grown rich.

      They have grown fat, they are sleek;

      Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked;

      They do not plead the cause,

      The cause of the fatherless;

      Yet they prosper,

      And the right of the needy they do not defend.

      Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord.

      Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?”

       

       

      They lie in wait as one who sets snares; they set a trap; they catch men…

       

      In using the picture of a bird-catcher (a fowler), it is possible that Jeremiah had in mind those who steal men unto slavery. It is more likely that he had in mind those who use their positions of power and influence to become great and grow rich, at the expense of the weak and needy.

       

       

      "The metaphor of the bird-catcher runs through the passage. As the fowler's basket is filled with birds, so the houses of these wicked men are filled with treachery or 'deceit.”

       

       

      They do not plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless…

       

      Instead of taking advantage of the weak and needy, these wicked men should have used their positions of power and influence to do good for them.

       

       

      Yet they prosper…

       

      Their prosperity was NOT from the blessing of God. It was the result of their own sinful ambition and enterprise - and therefore invited the judgment of God (Shall I not punish them for these things?).

       

       

      Verses 30-31 tells us The false prophets and the people who love them.

       

      An astonishing and horrible thing

      Has been committed in the land:

      The prophets prophesy falsely,

      And the priests rule by their own power;

      And My people love to have it so.

      But what will you do in the end?”

       

      An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land…

       

      These were strong words, introducing something that was truly horrible in the eyes of God.

       

       

      The prophets prophesy falsely…

       

      The first astonishing and horrible thing was the false words of the pretended prophets. They claimed to speak in the name of the Lord, yet they spoke falsely.

       

      MORGAN says, “Prophets of God are the nations truest servants and friends. False prophets are the worst enemies of the nation. Their popularity is the last evidence of national decay."

       

      And the priests rule by their own power…

       

      The SECOND astonishing and horrible thing was that the leaders among by God's people rule NOT by the love and leadership of God, but by their own power. Their authority and leadership was of man, not of God - like the leadership of the Gentiles later described by Jesus (Matthew 20:25-26).

       

       

      And My people love to have it so…

       

      The THIRD astonishing and horrible thing was that God's people were perfectly HAPPY to have false prophets and corrupt leadership. This reminds us that popularity among God's people is never to be regarded as a guarantee that one speaks for the Lord or leads in the godly manner.

       

       

      But what will you do in the end?…

       

       

      Though the false prophets and corrupt leaders were LOVED among the people of God, there was NO true foundation to their work. There was NO substance, and nothing stable to rest upon in the end. Disaster would come and the false prophets and corrupt pleaders would be of NO help in that day.

       

       

      THE FALSE TEACHERS AND FALSE PROPHETS OF TODAY, SHOULD READ THIS AND UNDERSTAND...THEY MAY FILL STADIUMS AND MEGA CHURCHES, THEY MAY BE BELOVED, WEALTHY, AND FAMOUS, BUT THEY HAVE NO FOUNDATION IN JESUS OR HIS WORD AND WILL DIE IN THEIR SINS, FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW THE LORD OR HIS WORD NOR DO THEY FEAR HIM AND FEAR THE COST OF ALL OF THE PEOPLE THEY LEAD STRAIGHT TO, INTO, AND THROUGH THE GATES OF HELL AND AN ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE.

       

       

      MACLAREN says it well, "Ah, dear young friends, if I could bring some of the living and some of the dead, and set them to witness here instead of me, they would burn in on you, as my poor words never can do, the insanity of living without a satisfactory and sufficient reply to the question of my text, 'What will ye do in the end?'"

       

    • February 15, 2018 7:21 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 6

       

      OPENS WITH...Full of the Fury of the Lord and warnings of judgment.

       

       

      Verses 1-5 tells us Disaster from the north.

       

       

      O you children of Benjamin,

      Gather yourselves to flee from the midst of Jerusalem!

      Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,

      And set up a signal-fire in Beth Haccerem;

      For disaster appears out of the north,

      And great destruction.

      I have likened the daughter of Zion

      To a lovely and delicate woman.

      The shepherds with their flocks shall come to her.

      They shall pitch their tents against her all around.

      Each one shall pasture in his own place.

      Prepare war against her;

      Arise, and let us go up at noon.

      Woe to us, for the day goes away,

      For the shadows of the evening are lengthening.

      Arise, and let us go by night,

      And let us destroy her palaces.”

       

       

      O you children of Benjamin…

       

      The southern kingdom of Judah BEGAN when the TWO tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained FAITHFUL to the line of David in the days of Rehoboam and Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). Because of the place of the tribe of Benjamin in the southern kingdom, God sometimes referred to it as Benjamin.

       

       

      Gather yourselves to flee from the midst of Jerusalem…

       

      The idea was that a siege army would come to the capital of the southern kingdom, and those WISE enough to see it would flee the city BEFORE the siege army surrounded and conquered Jerusalem.

       

      SIGNAL FIRES was an ancient method of military communication.

       

      I have likened the daughter of Zion to a lovely and delicate woman…

       

      Judah liked to think of themselves as beautiful and refined. Yet a lovely and delicate woman can NOT stand before an invading army. They would be terribly mismatched in the coming invasion.

       

      To the pasture of Zion the shepherds…

       

      (for this description of the invaders we will study it fully later in Jeremiah 12:10) drive their flocks of soldiers, eager to feed upon the richness of the area.

       

      Prepare war against her…

       

      "The Hebrew verb for Prepare (qaddesu) may suggest the religious rituals preceding a battle in the ancient institution of the holy war.

       

       

      Woe to us, for the day goes away, for the shadows of the evening are lengthening…

       

      God reminded Judah that time was running out. Even though this judgment would NOT come for many years, the tipping point that made it certain was much closer than they thought. Soon, the army of Babylon would come to Jerusalem to destroy her palaces.

       

       

      Arise, and let us go by night…

       

      The coming invaders were so urgent they would attack at night, not even waiting for day.

       

       

      Verses 6-8 tells us A siege against Jerusalem.

       

       

      For thus has the Lord of hosts said:

      Cut down trees,

      And build a mound against Jerusalem.

      This is the city to be punished.

      She is full of oppression in her midst.

      As a fountain wells up with water,

      So she wells up with her wickedness.

      Violence and plundering are heard in her.

      Before Me continually are grief and wounds.

      Be instructed, O Jerusalem,

      Lest My soul depart from you;

      Lest I make you desolate,

      A land not inhabited.”

       

       

      For thus has the Lord of hosts said "Cut down the trees, and build a mound against Jerusalem"…

       

      Jeremiah understood and explained that the coming siege against Jerusalem was God's work. Though they were the strange instruments of God's work, one could not simply blame it on the Babylonians as if God had nothing to do it.

       

      She is full of oppression in her midst…

       

      Jerusalem's lack of love for God was demonstrated by a lack of care and concern for their fellow man. Being full of oppression was both a HORIZONAL (from man to man) and a VERTICAL (from man to God) phenomenon.

       

       

      She wells up with her wickedness…

       

      IN THE EYES OF GOD, Jerusalem is Sin City. There is always a fresh supply of evil welling up like poison within her and overflowing into her streets.

       

      Be instructed, O Jerusalem…

       

      Even within the announcement of judgment is the inherent invitation to receive the wisdom of God and avoid the threatened calamity. It was an invitation that Judah would not properly receive.

       

       

      Verses 9-12 tells us The FULLNESS of the fury of the Lord.

       

       

      Thus says the Lord of hosts:

      They shall thoroughly glean as a vine the remnant of Israel;

      As a grape-gatherer, put your hand back into the branches.

      To whom shall I speak and give warning,

      That they may hear?

      Indeed their ear is uncircumcised,

      And they cannot give heed.

      Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them;

      They have no delight in it.

      Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord.

      I am weary of holding it in.

      I will pour it out on the children outside,

      And on the assembly of young men together;

      For even the husband shall be taken with the wife,

      The aged with him who is full of days.

      And their houses shall be turned over to others,

      Fields and wives together;

      For I will stretch out My hand

      Against the inhabitants of the land, says the Lord.”

       

      They shall thoroughly glean as a vine the remnant of Israel…

       

      God warned Judah that they would be picked clean by the Babylonians, even as those who gleaned the remaining grapes from a vine took everything they could.

       

       

      To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear?

       

      We sense the frustration of Jeremiah; he speaks, but no one listens. Their ears are NOT spiritual, as if their ears were uncircumcised - and they regard God's word as a reproach, something to be ashamed of and avoided.

       

      Indeed their ear is uncircumcised…

       

      The Old Testament speaks many times of uncircumcised hearts and lips, but this is the ONLY mention of the uncircumcised ear. Stephen used this figure of speech in speaking to the Jewish council in Acts 7:51.

       

       

      The word of the Lord is a reproach to them…

       

      Means The Lord’s word to them is an object of derision; and they despise it.

       

       

      They have no delight in it…

       

      Their low regard for the word of the Lord was evident in this. The word of the Lord was of NO delight to them; they took NO pleasure in it or found NO sweetness in it. This was an indication that the people of God were RIPE for judgment.

       

       

      Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord…

       

      Because God's people were full of oppression and wickedness and would NOT listen to the word of the Lord, God was full of fury against them - and was weary of holding it in.

       

       

      For I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land…

       

      The judgment to come upon Judah would impact EVERYONE. It would affect the children, the young men, and the aged; both the husband and the wife, and even the fields would feel it.

       

      THEN AND NOW WE SEE A RISING DERISION OF THE LORD’S WORD. WORSE EVEN, WE SEE SUPPOSED CHRISTIAN’S WHO DO NOT READ THE LORD’S WORD AND FIND IT TEDIOUS AND BORING. CHURCHES ARE CLOSING, AND ATTENDANCE IF ANY IS FOR POLITICAL AND SOCIETAL POLITENESS. THEY FAR PREFER MODERN MAN’S TICKLING THE EAR PLATITUDES, AND POSTULATIONS THAN THE HOLY WORD OF THE LORD. THE CHURCH AND THIS LOST REJECTING WORLD ARE RIPE FOR JUDGMENT. THE LORD TOLD US OVER 2000 YEARS AGO, JUDGMENT WAS COMING...AND WE TODAY STAND AT THE VERY PRECIPICE OF IT NOW!

       

       

      Verses 13-15 tells us The sins of prophets and priests.

       

      Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,

      Everyone is given to covetousness;

      And from the prophet even to the priest,

      Everyone deals falsely.

      They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,

      Saying, Peace, peace!

      When there is no peace.

      Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?

      No! They were not at all ashamed;

      Nor did they know how to blush.

      Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

      At the time I punish them,

      They shall be cast down, says the Lord.”

       

       

      Everyone is given to covetousness everyone deals falsely…

       

      God looked at the culture of the Kingdom of Judah and saw how thoroughly greedy and corrupt it was. Even - or perhaps ESPECIALLY - the prophet and the priest were part of the greed and corruption.

       

       

      They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly…

       

      God not only condemned the more obvious sins of covetousness and corruption, but also the subtle sins of the prophets who used smooth words to comfort and calm the people when they should be alarmed and provoked to repentance.

       

       

      Healed the hurt of my people slightly has the sense, "they dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.

       

       

      Saying, "Peace, peace!" When there is no peace…

       

      These were the smooth words of the false prophets, assuring Judah that everything was fine when in fact it was not.

       

      Peace, peace is a wonderful message to bring, and one that most people WANT to hear. The problem is that sometimes it is NOT true. Sometimes there is war and conflict that we MUST deal with whether we would like to or not. Most significantly, there are times when God's word to His people is not peace, but "repent" and "prepare for judgment."

       

      They may be saying peace, peace, when there is no peace, in many ways.

       

      They may do it, by silence, refusing to refer to evil practices. They may do it by speaking of evil as though it were only the under-side of good, and inevitable thing. They may even do it in denying that there is any such thing as evil.

       

      In a sermon titled A Blast of the Trumpet Against False Peace, Charles Spurgeon suggested a few ways that many people receive a false peace.

       

       

      1. Some have FALSE peace because they live FOR entertainment and excitement, distracting them from higher things

       

      2. Some have FALSE peace because they tell themselves there is NO God and therefore NO accountability before Him

       

      3. Some have FALSE peace because they are IGNORANT of the things of God and need to be TOLD the truth of their responsibility

       

      4. Some have FALSE peace because they intend to do better LATER in life and such future wishes are enough to make them right

       

       

      They were not at all ashamed…

       

      For all of Judah's many sins, they were NOT genuinely ashamed at all; nor did they know how to blush. It was as if the normal workings of the conscience were damaged or burned over, and they were NOT ashamed over what they should be.

       

       

      Verses 16-17 tells us The opportunity for GOD’S wisdom IS REJECTED.

       

       

      Thus says the Lord:

      Stand in the ways and see,

      And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,

      And walk in it;

      Then you will find rest for your souls.

      But they said, We will not walk in it.

      Also, I set watchmen over you, saying,

      Listen to the sound of the trumpet!

      But they said, We will not listen.”

       

       

      Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is…

       

      Even though they were in such a bad place, there was wisdom available for Judah. One place they would find wisdom was in the old paths - looking to heir history and forefathers, to learn from what God had done in and through them before.

       

       

      FEINBERG says, "The ancient paths and the good way are the same; they are the way of repentance, reconciliation, fear, and love of God. They were the ways of the Mosaic tradition."

       

      SADLY TODAY, Many despise the old paths. Perhaps they seem old fashioned or terribly un-cool. Yet there is wisdom - life saving wisdom - in the old paths of God's word and work in days gone by.

       

      1. To benefit from the old paths, God told them to position themselves (stand in the ways)

       

      2. To benefit from the old paths, God told them to look for them (see)

       

      3. To benefit from the old paths, God told them to ask for them, to desire them

       

      4. To benefit from the old paths, God told them to see them as the good way

       

      5. To benefit from the old paths, God told them to walk in it - to actually obey and follow God as indicated by His word and work in days gone by

       

       

      Then you will find rest for your souls…

       

      This is the rich reward for seeking, seeing, and walking in the old paths. This is a reward that can NOT be matched by anything.

       

      Jesus likely quoted Jeremiah 6:16 (rest for your souls) in Matthew 11:29:

      Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

       

      But they said, "We will not walk in it"…

       

      Despite God's instruction and invitation, Judah rejected the wisdom of the old paths. Even though watchmen called attention to them, as if blowing the sound of the trumpet. Yet they said, "We will not listen."

       

      A phenomenon of the modern age - especially through the internet and other media - there are many who consider themselves God’s watchmen, feeling they have a UNIQUE AND NEW REVELATION, word, instruction, or rebuke for the people of God that can be ignored only at great cost. THE ENTIRE BIBLE IS OUR ETERNAL WATCHMAN. It may be true that God sends His people watchmen; yet there is a great difference between those who are SENT BY God and those who are self-appointed. The difference can often be seen in the manner and heart of those who consider themselves watchmen.

       

      GOD CALLS AND PLACES A LOVE AND DESIRE TO SHINE, SHARE, AND SHOW HIS WORD. TOO MANY TODAY, ENTER INTO THE MINISTRY, EVANGELISM, THE PULPITS SEE IT AS A GOOD JOB, A PATH TO FAME, ACCLAIM, AND WEALTH. THOSE WHO DO SO, ARE PROVEN TO BE SELF-CENTERED, SELF-ELEVATING SEEKERS OF THE WORLD’S BEST...AND COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE LORD, HIS WORD, OR HIS SHEEP, MUCH LESS THE LOST WORLD.

       

       

      Verses 18-20 tells us God tells the whole world the result of Judah's rejection of wisdom.

       

       

      Therefore hear, you nations,

      And know, O congregation, what is among them.

      Hear, O earth!

      Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—

      The fruit of their thoughts,

      Because they have not heeded My words

      Nor My law, but rejected it.

      For what purpose to Me

      Comes frankincense from Sheba,

      And sweet cane from a far country?

      Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,

      Nor your sacrifices sweet to Me.”

       

      Hear, O earth! God spoke to both the nations, warning them of the calamity to come upon His people.

       

      FEINBERG tells us, "Ordinarily edah ('congregation.' KJV) refers in the OT to Israel, but here it must mean the Gentiles. The Gentiles are being alerted to what is to happen to Judah.

       

      I will certainly bring calamity on this people - the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words…

       

      This was an important aspect of the guilt of God's people. They did NOT heed the word of God, and therefore became corrupt in their thinking. The coming calamity was the fruit of their thoughts.

       

       

      Your burnt offerings are not acceptable…

       

      The people of God continued bringing offerings and sacrifices to God, even expensive frankincense from Sheba. Yet because they did NOT heed God's words or accept His law, the sacrifices were NOT acceptable.

       

      THE MANY MAN-CREATED RELIGIONS WHO CLAIM TO BE GOD’S PEOPLE NEED TO READ THIS SCRIPTURE. ALL OF THEIR POMP, CIRCUMSTANCE, RITES, AND RITUALS AND IDOLATRIES ARE NOT ACCEPTED BY GOD….EVER!

       

      YES, even their religious ceremony - even sweet smelling sacrifices - could NOT cover over their basic rejection of God's word and ways.

       

       

      Verses 21 The stumbling blocks.

       

      Therefore thus says the Lord:

      Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people,

      And the fathers and the sons together shall fall on them.

      The neighbor and his friend shall perish.”

       

       

      I will lay stumbling blocks before this people…

       

      God would deal with His people directly. The coming judgment was NOT an accident of the expansion o the Babylonian Empire or geopolitics between Babylon and Egypt. The Lord SET this stumbling block.

       

      The stumbling blocks were the Babylonians, and instruments of God's judgment and correction against Judah.

       

      Jeremiah's context is different, but we naturally connect this with the idea that Messiah is the cornerstone and those who reject Him stumble over it (1 Peter 2:7).

       

      The fathers and sons together shall fall on them…

       

      God again tells of the universal character of this judgment coming against Judah. None would escape it; both the fathers and sons together, the neighbor and his friends shall perish.

       

       

      Verses 22-26 tells us The terror of the coming judgment.

       

       

      Thus says the Lord:

      Behold, a people comes from the north country,

      And a great nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth.

      They will lay hold on bow and spear;

      They are cruel and have no mercy;

      Their voice roars like the sea;

      And they ride on horses,

      As men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion.

      We have heard the report of it;

      Our hands grow feeble.

      Anguish has taken hold of us,

      Pain as of a woman in labor.

      Do not go out into the field,

      Nor walk by the way.

      Because of the sword of the enemy,

      Fear is on every side.

      O daughter of my people,

      Dress in sackcloth

      And roll about in ashes!

      Make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation;

      For the plunderer will suddenly come upon us.”

       

       

      A people comes from the north country, and a nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth…

       

      God AGAIN warned Judah that the Babylonians WOULD come to be the messengers of God's judgment against them.

       

      They are cruel and have no mercy…

       

      The coming Babylonian army would bring terrible misery, and Judah would react with anguish, pain, fear, and mourning.

       

       

      Verses 27-31 tells us God's people judged as metals are tested.

       

       

      I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people,

      That you may know and test their way.

      They are all stubborn rebels, walking as slanderers.

      They are bronze and iron,

      They are all corrupters;

      The bellows blow fiercely,

      The lead is consumed by the fire;

      The smelter refines in vain,

      For the wicked are not drawn off.

      People will call them rejected silver,

      Because the Lord has rejected them.”

       

      I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people, that you may know and test their way…

       

      God sent Jeremiah to assess the spiritual condition of God's people and to do it from a position of strength (a fortress). Figuratively, the prophet was like metal working testing and refining precious metals.

       

       

      The picture used at the end of Jeremiah 6 works something like this:

       

      Judah was like the metal, claiming to be precious (such as gold or silver)

       

      Like a precious metal, Judah was tested and refined with fire

       

      Lead was put in to act as flux, to draw the impurities to itself

       

      The Prophet Jeremiah was like the bellows, used to create an intense heat

       

      Yet Israel - the supposed precious metal - was so hard and impure that the refining work was useless.

       

       

      They are bronze and iron, they are all corrupters…

       

      The people of God were NOT like a soft metal that could be refined and purified (like silver or gold). Instead, they were hard like bronze and iron.

       

       

      The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed…

       

      The fire was as hot as the bellows could make it and the refining agent (lead) was consumed - yet the supposedly precious metal was not refined.

      The smelter refines in vain, for the wicked are not drawn off…

       

      Despite the best efforts of the smelter - God's prophets such as Jeremiah - the wicked among God's people did NOT repent and thereby be drawn off in the sense of making a more pure people of God.

       

      Jeremiah felt that his task was similar to that of a silver-refiner (in Malachi 3:3), but it is now clear that his prophetic 'fire' has been unable to remove the impurities from the natural 'silver'.

       

      People will call them rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them…

       

      At the end of it all, everyone KNEW that Judah was disapproved by God and in the sense of sparing them from judgment, they the Lord has rejected them.

       

       

      KIDNER says it well, "This picture of the prophet's words as a refiner's fire makes its point not only by its vivid detail but by its tragic outcome. For it emerges that the people of Judah are not, so to speak, precious metal marred by some impurities, but base metal from which nothing of worth can be extracted."

       

    • February 15, 2018 7:11 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 7

       

      OPENS WITH…Preaching at the Temple Gate

       

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us SUPERFICIAL trust in the temple and external religion.

       

      The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lords house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.”

       

       

      Stand in the gate of the Lord's house…

       

      God told Jeremiah to publically preach this word from the Lord, and to do it right at the gate of the temple. Jeremiah needed plenty of courage and boldness to do his work.

       

      It's easy to imagine Jeremiah speaking to the busy crowds of people and priests coming in and out of the temple area. Perhaps many stopped to listen, but apparently NONE truly heard his word from the Lord.

       

      Since his message was delivered to ALL the people, it was most likely preached during one of the great religious festivals, such as Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles, when the whole nation came to Jerusalem to worship.

       

       

      Jeremiah 26 also has Jeremiah preaching at the temple gate in the FIRST year of the reign of Jehoiakim, in a sermon with many of the same themes. Some think this is the same sermon as in Jeremiah 26, others think it is an earlier delivery of a similar sermon, delivered in the same place. Jeremiah 26:8-11 indicates that after that sermon, Jeremiah was attacked and threatened with death.

       

       

      Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place…

       

      God offered to hold back on promised judgment if Judah would truly repent - NOT only in words, but in their WAYS and DOINGS.

       

      Do not trust in these lying words, saying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord"…

       

      The crowds at the temple obviously had some trust in the temple and its service. Jeremiah boldly warned them that their trust was unfounded and dangerous. External religion and rituals would NOT help them if they failed to REPENT AND AMEND their ways and doings.

       

      We can imagine how one of the false prophets of Jeremiah's day might twist the Scriptures to "prove" that the temple could never be conquered.

       

      HOW?

       

      1. God promised an everlasting dynasty to David (2 Samuel 7:12-15)

       

      2. God chose Zion as His early abode (Psalm 132:13-18)

       

      3. Jerusalem and the temple were miraculously saved from destruction from the Assyrian army more than 100 years before (2 Kings 18:13-19:37).

       

      Surely THE FALSE PRIESTS AND PROPHETS SAID, this proved God would NEVER allow Jerusalem or the temple to be conquered.

       

      All of this reasoning was faulty, even if scriptures could be twisted to support it. Their FALSE REASONING forgot that:

       

      1. God always holds the inner spiritual reality to be greater than the outward form.

       

      2. Any Scriptural reasoning that gives cover for and license to sin and idolatry is WRONG and FAULTY.

       

       

      We today do NOT say, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord" as they did in Jeremiah's day. Today some say, "I go to church, I go to church, I go to church." Or, "I'm a conservative, I'm a conservative, I'm a conservative." Or, "I'm Calvary Chapel, I'm Calvary Chapel, I'm Calvary Chapel." NONE of these things make one right from God apart from truth faith and true repentance.

       

      MEYER says it well, "Men may perform the most sacred rites, and yet perpetuate the grossest crimes."

       

      Verses 5-7 tells us Real repentance and its reward.

       

      For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.”

       

       

      If you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings…

       

      Through Jeremiah, God explained to the people what real repentance looked like.

       

      If you thoroughly executed judgment between a man and his neighbor…

       

      The courts of ancient Judah had become corrupt and honest judgment could not be found there.

       

      If you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow…

       

      God cared about how His people treated the weak and defenseless in society, and noticed when these weak ones were oppressed instead of helped.

       

      Do not shed innocent blood…

       

      People were murdered, apparently in the name of religion (in this place). "Nor could Yahweh tolerate the judicial murders which broke out from time to time in Israel and were evidently perpetrated also during the reign of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:23)."

       

      Or walk after other gods to your hurt…

       

      Idolatry was always a danger, even for those who came to do business at the temple. This shared loyalty (to both the Lord and the idols) was always to their hurt.

       

      We notice that of these FOUR aspects of demonstrated repentance, only ONE of them deals with a man's relationship with God; three of the four deal with man's relationship to his fellow man. God cares about how we treat one another, and true repentance will extend into the way we treat each other.

       

      Then I will cause you to dwell in this place…

       

      The previous promises of an army of judgment and exile from the land would be set aside if Judah did truly, deeply repent - not only with words, but with action.

       

      In the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever…

       

      Apparently, God considered the promises of the land given to Abraham and his covenant descendants to be an enduring gift all through the history of Israel.

       

      There are some who mistakenly say that the words of Joshua 21:43, 45 say that God completely fulfilled the land promise to Israel, and therefore after that point they had no more claim to the land. Yet a passage like this - written more than 600 years after God's word to Joshua - shows that the land promise to Israel continued forever and ever.

       

       

      Verses 8-11 tells us Trusting in lying words regarding a temple that is a den of thieves.

       

      Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it, says the Lord.”

       

       

      You trust in lying words that cannot profit…

       

      This was a bold thing to say to the crowds at the temple gates. Yet they needed to know that they could not steal, murder, commit adultery and walk after other gods thinking the customs and rituals of temple observance could cover it.

       

      And then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name and say, "We are delivered to do all these abominations"…

       

      Jeremiah had in mind those who believed that their temple rituals and obligations gave them permission and cover to sin in these ways.

       

      This was the practice of later Roman Catholic granting of indulgences, and is the SAME spirit of that unbliblical practice.

       

      Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes?

       

      Instead of being a place where God was truly sought, where sacrifices were sincerely offered, and where repentance was true - the temple had become a den (a gathering and hiding place) of thieves.

       

      Men may dwell in fellowship with Him, and so in strength and rest, if their ways are in harmony with His will. But the temple is NOT a refuge for men who are living in rebellion against Him. It gives security and rest to obedience souls. It offers NO security to men if they are living in sin.

       

      Jesus quoted this "den of thieves" line from Jeremiah 7 in Matthew 21:13 (also recorded in Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46) to speak of the corruption of the temple service in His own day. When the temple should have been a house of prayer for all nations, it had become a den of thieves.

       

      Behold, I, even I, have seen it…

       

      Normally a den of thieves operates in secret. Through Jeremiah, God wanted His people to know that He DID see their hidden, secret sins.

       

       

      Verses 12-15 tells us The example of Shiloh.

       

      But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works, says the Lord, and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren—the whole posterity of Ephraim.”

       

      But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel…

       

      Jeremiah spoke to the crowds at the temple gate and asked them to compare Jerusalem and the temple grounds to Shiloh.

       

       

      Shiloh was the central city of Israel - the religious center - for almost 400 years. It was the place where the tabernacle of meeting and the altar of God stayed for this long period.

       

       

      Shiloh enjoyed all this glory for hundreds of years, but it came to an end abruptly. First, when the Philistines in overran Shiloh (1 Samuel 4); finally when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel many years after that (Psalm 78:58-60).

       

       

      By Jeremiah's day Shiloh had been in ruins for a long time, and it showed that hosting the house of God or the ark of the covenant did not mean that judgment was impossible. As it came to Shiloh, it could come to an unrepentant Jerusalem.

       

      RYKEN tells us "The archaeological evidence shows that Shiloh was destroyed twice over - once by the Philistines and once when the Assyrians carried the northern tribes into captivity. When Jeremiah told the people to go to Shiloh he was telling them to go to the place where God is not." (Ryken)

       

       

      I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer…

       

      Judah's greatest sin was ignoring the word of God so plainly and persistently brought to them. This made them without excuse.

       

       

      Therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust as I have done to Shiloh…

       

      God promised to bring the same judgment to Jerusalem that came upon Shiloh.

       

      God used Shiloh as a lesson. "Go to Shiloh," He says. "Look what happened to a place of spiritual privilege and glory when they forgot about Me. The same will happen to you if you do not turn again to Me." Many cities are filled with empty and decrepit old churches; these are like Shiloh - places where God was once worshipped and honored, but no more.

       

      The lesson should be sealed in our heart: no matter how much spiritual progress, or privilege, or glory one might have, it can all be turned to nothing if we stop listening to God and cultivating our relationship with Him.

       

       

      Verses 16-19 tells us THE PRICE OF PROVOKING THE LORD...Don't pray for those who provoke the anger of the Lord.

       

      Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger? says the Lord. Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?”

       

       

      Therefore do not pray for this people…

       

      It would seem that the sermon at the temple gates was finished, and now God spoke to Jeremiah about the hardened people. They were past prayer; God simply told Jeremiah, for I will not hear you.

       

       

      There is something along these lines in the New Testament, at 1 John 5:14-16, where John explained that there are some people - at least in theory - who are beyond prayer, and therefore prayer should not be made for them.

       

       

      The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven…

       

      The idolatry of Judah and Jerusalem was a family affair. Each member of the family had their own role to play in honoring pagan gods such as the queen of heaven.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      The 'queen of heaven' was the Babylonian Ishtar, identified with the planet Venus, whose worship, similar to the cults of the Canaanite goddesses, Asherah, Ashtaroth and Anath, was probably introduced into Judah by the apostate king, Manasseh (2 Kings 21:3ff).

       

      "The word cakes (kawwanim) is of foreign origin, occurring against only in Jeremiah 44:19, where the same cult is described." (Harrison) "A female deity is foreign to Old Testament theology; so the implication is that this cult was of non-Hebraic origin." (Feinberg)

       

       

      There is goddess worship in the Roman Catholic religion, where Mary is sometimes given the title 'The Queen of Heaven.' This title sets off alarm bells for anyone who knows the book of Jeremiah.

       

       

      Family worship is a most amiable and becoming thing when performed according to truth. What a pity that so few families show such zeal for the worship of God as those apostate Israelites did for that of their idols!

       

       

      Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?

       

      It was true that the sins of Judah provoked the Lord to anger, but it was also true that their sins provoked themselves to open shame.

       

      Verse 20 tells us God's answer to the provoking of His anger.

       

      Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place—on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched.”

       

       

      Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place…

       

      Judah provoked the Lord to anger, so it was appropriate that the anger eventually be poured out, and poured out upon the land as well as upon the people.

       

      It will burn and not be quenched…

       

      The anger of the Lord would not relent until its full purpose was accomplished.

       

      Verses 21-26 tells us Disobedience and sacrifice.

       

      Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.”

       

       

      Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat…

       

      The burnt offerings were to be completely burnt before God. Here God said, "You aren't giving these burnt offerings to Me anyway, so you might as well just eat them as you do your other sacrifices."

       

      "The essential feature of the whole burnt offering was that it was entirely consumed by fire (Leviticus 1:9, 13), unlike the other offerings, where at least a portion was shared by the priests or the worshippers. God here is virtually saying, 'What does it matter to Me; eat the lot!'" (Cundall)

       

       

      For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices…

       

      When God gave Israel the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, there was nothing about sacrifice or priesthood. That only came later, once Israel had accepted the covenant (Exodus 24:1-8). The point is clear: God's first priority for Israel was obedience, and sacrifice and the priesthood were secondary.

       

       

      "Jeremiah was really indicating that the order of revelation was indicative of the relative value of obedience and cultic observances."

       

       

      "The Hebrew idiom permits denial of one thing in order to emphasize another (cf. for a parallel Luke 14:26). The idiom does not intend to deny the statement but only to set it in a secondary place." (Feinberg)

       

      It was not wrong for them to sacrifice, but their sacrifices were in vain because they were not pursuing holiness." (Ryken)

       

       

      This is what I commanded them, saying, "Obey My voice"…

       

      What God had to say about sacrifice in the Old Covenant was rather small compared to what He had to say about simple obedience. It was clear at the temple gates that Judah still loved to bring sacrifices to the altar, but what God really wanted was their obedience, that they would walk in all the ways I have commanded you.

       

      This is much the same thought as 1 Samuel 15:22: Then Samuel said: Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

       

       

      Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward…

       

      Sacrifice continued, but obedience stopped. Instead of following the Lord, they followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts. The heart of man or woman isn't necessarily a good guide to God-pleasing behavior.

       

       

      This "follow your heart" mentality made the people of Judah feel good, but it did not bring them true blessing and progress. They went backward and not forward. It made them worse than their fathers. Morally and spiritually they were in a state of regress, not progress.

       

      Verse 27 tells us The frustrating work of Jeremiah the prophet.

       

      Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you.”

       

       

      You shall speak all these words to them…

       

      God gave Jeremiah a solemn commission to speak to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. It wasn't Jeremiah's ambition or even his natural desire.

       

       

      They will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you…

       

      This word to Jeremiah repeats the thought from earlier in the chapter. Jeremiah 7:13 says, I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer. God's word through the prophet was God's word and it was proper to regard it as such.

       

       

      Verses 28-31 tells The evil of idolatry.

       

      So you shall say to them, This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth. Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath. For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight, says the Lord. They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.”

       

       

      So you shall say to them…

       

      In light of their hardened rejection of Yahweh and His words, Jeremiah was to bring the following message to them.

       

       

      The Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath…

       

      There are several reasons listed why God so radically punished Judah.

       

      This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord…

       

      They continued with their superficial rituals such as animal sacrifice, but had long abandoned simple obedience.

       

      Nor receive correction…

       

      Worse than their disobedience was their inability to be corrected. There was no helping a people who would not receive correction.

       

      Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth: In rejecting the truth of God, they gave themselves over to lies and falsehood.

       

       

      Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights…

       

      The command for Judah to cut off your hair was either as an expression of mourning (as in Job 1:20 and Micah 1:16) or of a Nazirite vow ended by defilement.

       

       

      THOMPSON adds, "The cutting off of the hair was a symbol of grief (Job 1:20; Micah 1:16). The Hebrew text reads literally 'Cut off your crown (nezer).' The hair was looked on as, in a sense, a diadem. To cut off the hair was to bring down Israel's pride."

       

       

      FEINBERG adds, "The charge stems from the fact that the Nazirite's hair was the mark of his separation to God (Numbers 6:5). When he was ceremonially defiled, he had to shave his head. So Jerusalem because of her corruption must do likewise."

       

       

      They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it…

       

      The people and priests of Judah were so insensitive to the honor of Yahweh that they set up idols in the very house of the Lord, the temple.

       

       

      Surely they did not put an idol into the holy place or the most holy place; but in some side room of the temple complex. Nevertheless, the idols were abominations. "It would be like setting up a Shinto shrine or opening up an adult book shop in your church fellowship hall. Even if everything else in the church remained the same - pews, Bibles, songbooks - the place of worship would still be defiled." (Ryken)

       

       

      They have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and daughters in the fire…

       

      Worse than the idolatry in the temple was the actual human sacrifice carried out right in the region of Jerusalem.

       

      The high places…

       

      RYKEN adds, "The 'high places' of Biblical times were not always very high. These particular high places, for example, were down in a valley. It was an inaccessible rocky ravine south and west of the City of Jerusalem. But a 'high place' is a shrine, a raised platform built out of stones for the purpose of worship."

       

       

      "Topheth probably derives from the Hebrew word for 'fire-place' (cf. Isaiah 30:33).

       

       

      The Valley of the Son of Hinnom lies south of the temple mount in Jerusalem. It was used as both a garbage dump (with continually smoldering fires) and a place of child sacrifice.

       

      Some think that child sacrifice in ancient Canaan and Israel was rare, and resorted to only in times of great distress. It's hard to say how common it was, but it was practiced even by kings. "Ahaz, King of Israel, sacrificed his own son in the fire (2 Kings 16:3). The same thing happened in Manasseh's day, when children were sacrificed to the gods of Canaan (2 Kings 21:6)." (Ryken)

       

       

      The Valley of Hinnom gives us the idea of Gehenna in the New Testament. Gehenna is a Greek word borrowed from the Hebrew language. In Mark 9:43-44, Jesus spoke of hell (gehenna) referring to this place outside Jerusalems walls desecrated by Molech worship and human sacrifice (2 Chronicles 28:1-3; Jeremiah 32:35). It was also a garbage dump where rubbish and refuse were burned. The smoldering fires and festering worms of the Valley of Hinnom made it a graphic and effective picture of the fate of the damned. This place is also called the lake of fire in Revelation 20:13-15, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

       

       

      Which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart..

       

      Unlike many of the Canaanite deities, Yahweh never commanded human sacrifice. God could say that it never did come into His heart to ask such a thing; it totally went against His nature.

       

      RYKEN adds, "Some scholars point out that the priests of Topheth may have used the Torah to justify child sacrifice: 'You must give me the firstborn of your sonson the eighth day' (Exodus 22:29-30). They were taking that verse out of context; it had nothing to do with child sacrifice."

       

      The incident of Abraham's interrupted sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22) was an emphatic way for God to say, "I do not want human sacrifice."

       

      Verses 32-34 tells us The dead in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom.

       

      "Therefore behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate.”

       

      It will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter...

       

      God would answer the idolatry of Judah and the outrageous practice of human sacrifice with devastating judgment. There would be a grotesque slaughter in that valley.

       

      The dead corpses in that place would also be disgraced by having no proper burial, and by being food for scavenger birds with no one to frighten them away.

       

      For the body to remain unburied, thereby, providing food for carrion birds and rodents, was a thing of unspeakable horror for the ancient Hebrews. Ironically, their sanctuary would become their cemetery as the treasured homeland was ravaged.

       

      For the land shall be desolate...

       

      When judgment came upon Judah, it would seem that all happiness and hope had departed from the land. No more would there be the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness.

       

    • February 15, 2018 7:04 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 8

       

      OPENS WITH...No Cure for Senseless Rejection of God

       

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us The DISGRACED remains of those FALLEN in judgment.

       

      At that time, says the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. They shall spread them before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and which they have served and after which they have walked, which they have sought and which they have worshiped. They shall not be gathered nor buried; they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth.”

       

       

      At that time…

       

      This connects with the severe judgment announced in the closing verses of Jeremiah 7. The prophet saw the Valley of Hinnom filled with rotting corpses, food for scavenging birds.

       

       

      They shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah . . .the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets…

       

      Jeremiah prophetically saw a FINAL indignity given in judgment to these great transgressors who rejected Almighty God. Even the bones of the wicked who died before the Babylonians came would be disgraced; they would NOT be gathered nor buried; they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth.

       

      This custom of raising the bodies of the dead, and scattering their bones about, seems to have been general. It was the highest expression of hatred and contempt.

       

      Verse 3 tells us CHOOSING death rather than life.

       

      Then death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of those who remain of this evil family, who remain in all the places where I have driven them, says the Lord of hosts.”

       

      Then death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of those who remain…

       

      The misery of the residue that survived the Babylonian invasion would be WORSE than life. Death would look to them like a welcome relief.

       

       

      Who remain in all the places where I have driven them…

       

      The survivors of the Babylonian invasion would be FORCED refugees, exiled out of the Promised Land into foreign lands.

       

       

      Verses 4-7 tells us Judah's stubborn REFUSAL & FOLLY to return.

       

      Moreover you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord:

      Will they fall and not rise?

      Will one turn away and not return?

      Why has this people slidden back,

      Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding?

      They hold fast to deceit,

      They refuse to return.

      I listened and heard,

      But they do not speak aright.

      No man repented of his wickedness,

      Saying, What have I done?

      Everyone turned to his own course,

      As the horse rushes into the battle.

      Even the stork in the heavens

      Knows her appointed times;

      And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow

      Observe the time of their coming.

      But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord.”

       

       

      Why has this people slidden back, Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding…

       

      Through His prophet Jeremiah, the Lord expressed AMAZEMENT that Judah would NOT return to Him. After all, when one falls they rise again. When one turns away, they then return. Yet Judah was caught in a perpetual backsliding.

       

       

      Will they fall and not rise? Will one turn away and not return?

       

      If men fall it is naturally expected that they will return. In the case of Jerusalem this had NOT been so, their backsliding had been perpetual. There was NO sign of repentance.

       

       

      Everyone turned to his own course, as the horse rushes into the battle…

       

      Men were determined to go their OWN way, as determined and as energetic as the horse is as it rushes into the battle.

       

       

      Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times…

       

      It was an amazement that birds (the stork, the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow) all UNDERSTAND the seasons of the year and how they MUST respond to them. Yet the people of God were IGNORANT; My people do NOT know the judgment of the Lord. They were worse off than birds with small brains.

       

      Spurgeon preached a sermon titled, Migratory Birds. He began, "We shall mark these migratory birds, and set the wisdom of their instinct in contrast with the folly of mankind." Spurgeon proceeded to make the following four points:

       

       

      1. The migratory birds KNOW when to come and go.

       

      2. The migratory birds KNOW where to go.

       

      3. The migratory birds, by some strange instinct, also KNOW the way to go.

       

      4. The migratory birds show their wisdom by actually going to the sunny land.

       

       

      Verses 8-9 tells us The FOLLY of rejecting the word of the Lord.

       

      How can you say, We are wise,

      And the law of the Lord is with us?

      Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.

      The wise men are ashamed,

      They are dismayed and taken.

      Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord;

      So what wisdom do they have?”

       

       

      We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us…

       

      This is what the people of Judah said of themselves. They were so self-deceived that they actually believed they were wise, and that they walked according to the law of the Lord.

       

      Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood…

       

      God reminded Judah that NOT all who study and teach the word of God do so honestly. There are some who use their pen to work falsehood, NOT truth.

       

      Bible translators, preachers, teachers, and professors would do well to REMEMBER THIS. You can slap HOLY BIBLE on the cover, and change, edit, omit, delete whatever you will. You can preach YOUR MAN-CREATED ISMS, Universalism, follow teach, and share The Message, The Shack, and call it GOD’S UPDATED AND ENLIGHTENED WORD...but God sees, God knows, and He is furious with those who believe themselves and this new age have BETTER AND DEEPER WISDOM AND CLAIM TO KNOW MORE than Almighty God. AND DARE TO CHANGE ONE JOT OR TITTLE OF HIS WORD WITHOUT PAYING AN ETERNAL PRICE FOR SUCH LIES AND DECEPTIONS.

       

       

      They have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?

       

      Though they claimed to have both wisdom and Biblical truth, they had NEITHER. In rejecting God's word, they rejected wisdom. They had none.

       

       

      "When men reject the word of GOD, 'What manner of wisdom is in them?' The answer is that the manner of such wisdom is, to quote James, 'earthly, sensual, devilish' (James 3:13).

       

       

      Verses 10-13 tells us The judgment to come upon those who reject the word of the Lord.

       

      Therefore I will give their wives to others,

      And their fields to those who will inherit them;

      Because from the least even to the greatest

      Everyone is given to covetousness;

      From the prophet even to the priest

      Everyone deals falsely.

      For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,

      Saying, Peace, peace!

      When there is no peace.

      Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?

      No! They were not at all ashamed,

      Nor did they know how to blush.

      Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

      In the time of their punishment

      They shall be cast down, says the Lord.

      I will surely consume them, says the Lord.

      No grapes shall be on the vine,

      Nor figs on the fig tree,

      And the leaf shall fade;

      And the things I have given them shall pass away from them.”

       

       

      Therefore I will give their wives to others, and their fields to those who will inherit them…

       

      Because they did not hold the word of God dear, God would take what WAS dear to the people of Judah, MEANING THEIR SPOUSES, CHILDREN, TITLES, WEALTH, AND FAME and give those things to others.

       

       

      Everyone is given to covetousness; from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely…

       

      Repeating words from Jeremiah 6:13-15, Jeremiah points out that selfish corruption had become SO much a part of life in Judah that it could be said that everyone deals falsely and yet they were NOT at all ashamed.

       

      AS FAR AS THE LORD IS CONCERNED, ANY CORRUPTION OF HIS WORD IS DAMNABLE, BUT I THINK TODAY, WITH THE WORST OF THE WORST BEING THE QUEEN JAMES BIBLE AND THE INCLUSIVE BIBLE, WITH A RAINBOW CROSS ON ITS COVER, IS EDITED AND REVISED TO COMFORT, INCLUDE, AND OPENLY SUPPORT AND CONDONE LGBT AND OTHER ALTERNATIVE SEXUAL PERSUASIONS AND WHILE THE PUBLISHER WISHES TO REMAIN UNKNOWN, PINK NEWS, PROUDLY STATES THAT REVEREND J. PEARSON OF SAN FRANCISCO’S HOLY INNOCENTS EPISCOPAL CHURCH IS THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THESE TRANSLATIONS.

       

       

      The repetition in these verses as compared to Jeremiah 6:13-15 was NOT accidental. It was done on purpose, because Judah needed to hear this message, and delivering it one time was simply NOT enough.

       

       

      Therefore they shall fall among those who fall they shall be cast down…

       

      Because the moral and cultural rot was SO DEEP among the people of Judah, God promised to bring a thorough judgment. Like a grape vine or a fig tree picked clean, God promised, I will surely consume them.

       

       

      Verse 14 tells us Fleeing to the fortified cities under the judgment of God.

       

      Why do we sit still?

      Assemble yourselves,

      And let us enter the fortified cities,

      And let us be silent there.

      For the Lord our God has put us to silence

      And given us water of gall to drink,

      Because we have sinned against the Lord.”

       

       

      Let us enter the fortified cities, and let us be silent there…

       

      THE LORD SHOWED JEREMIAH A VISION OF the people of God fleeing to the fortified cities as the Babylonian invaders entered the land. They could only do so in silence, because they knew they had ignored God's warnings and invitations to repent.

       

      For the Lord our God has put us to silence and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the Lord…

       

      When the invading army came they would understand the greatness of their sin - but by then it would be too late.

       

      Verses 15-17 tells us Looking for peace, finding trouble.

       

      We looked for peace, but no good came;

      And for a time of health, and there was trouble!

      The snorting of His horses was heard from Dan.

      The whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of His strong ones;

      For they have come and devoured the land and all that is in it,

      The city and those who dwell in it.

      For behold, I will send serpents among you,

      Vipers which cannot be charmed,

      And they shall bite you, says the Lord.”

       

      We looked for peace, but no good came…

       

      Those in Judah who heard and believed the message of the false prophets - the message, Peace, peace! (Jeremiah 8:11) - these deceived ones looked for peace, but NO good came.

       

       

      They have come and devoured the land and all that is in it…

       

      Instead of peace, the Babylonian invaders came with snorting horses and an army so big that the whole land trembled.

       

      I will send serpents among you, vipers which cannot be charmed…

       

      The false prophets and priests had convinced the people of Judah and Jerusalem that they could find a way to maneuver around the coming judgment. They would find, to their great sorrow, that God had sent them serpents which can NOT be charmed.

       

      WE HAVE AN OCEAN OF FALSE TEACHERS AND FALSE PROPHETS SAYING...ALL PEOPLE GO TO HEAVEN. NO ONE GOES TO HELL. WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN. GOD IS NOT MAD AT MANKIND. THE JUDGMENTS EXPOSING THE RELIGIOUS ARE NOT FROM GOD, BUT FROM EVIL MAN. GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE. WE CAN HAVE HEAVEN ON EARTH NOW. WE WILL BRING PEACE TO THE WORLD. WE WILL USHER IN THE 1000 YEAR REIGN OF GOD. WE ARE CALLED TO UNITE ALL BELIEFS AND ALL ISMS INTO HARMONY. THERE IS NO HELL, BUT FOR THE ONE WE CREATE IN OUR MINDS. GOD IS WAITING ON US TO BRING UNITY, PEACE, AND LOVE FOR ALL THINGS AND ALL MANKIND. WE ARE ALL GODS. GOD VISITS US TO ASK OUR OPINION. GOD SHARES BREAKFAST WITH ME EACH MORNING TO ASK FOR MY HELP. I AM GOD ON EARTH.

       

       

      Verses 18-19 tells us A vision of Judah in exile.

       

      I would comfort myself in sorrow;

      My heart is faint in me.

      Listen! The voice,

      The cry of the daughter of my people

      From a far country:

      Is not the Lord in Zion?

      Is not her King in her?

      Why have they provoked Me to anger

      With their carved images—

      With foreign idols?”

       

      I would comfort myself in sorrow; my heart is faint in me…

       

      With desperation, Jeremiah prophetically saw the tragedy that followed upon the devastating Babylonian invasion.

       

       

      The cry of the daughter of my people from a far country…

       

      This was the cause of Jeremiah's desperation. The daughter of his people no longer lived in the land God promised them. Instead, their cry was heard from a far country.

       

       

      Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her?

       

      In amazement, Jeremiah wondered how his people ended up in exile. He wondered if God had left His own land; if He no longer reigned as a King in Zion.

       

       

      Why have they provoked Me to anger with their carved images - with foreign idols?

       

      God answered Jeremiah's question with questions of His own. The problem was NOT that God had abandoned the land of Israel; the problem was Israel HAD abandoned God.

       

       

      Verse 20 tells us The despair of conquered Judah.

       

      The harvest is past,

      The summer is ended,

      And we are not saved!”

       

       

      The harvest is past, the summer is ended…

       

      In a mostly agricultural society, everyone understood that summer was the season of growing, ending with harvest. It should be a time of abundance and fulfillment.

       

       

      CUNDALL adds, " 'Harvest' refers to the main cereal harvest, whilst 'summer' refers to the vintage harvest (grapes, etc.) in early autumn. If one failed, it was possible that the other would see the people through the winter, but if both failed, starvation confronted them."

       

       

      And we are not saved!

       

      This was the sad lament of conquered Judah, even into the exile. Season had come that there should be abundance in the land, yet there was not. They had to face the sad fact: we are NOT saved!

       

       

      "It was a proverbial saying meaning that people had lost every opportunity given them by God, and now were entirely without hope."

       

       

      Jeremiah 8:20's analogy is that of a double failure, first of the field-crops, then of the summer fruit, heralding a winter that hardly bears thinking about.

       

       

      SPURGEON adds, “We thought that God would help us in the days of harvest; but the harvest is past.

       

      We dreamed that he would chase away our enemies when the summer months had come; but the summer is ended, and still Chaldea has her foot upon Judeas neck, still we drink the wormwood and the gall, and our enemies open their mouths at us.

       

      The harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us Jeremiah's pain-filled question.

       

      For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.

      I am mourning;

      Astonishment has taken hold of me.

      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?”

       

       

      For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt…

       

      Prophetically looking into the future, Jeremiah ached with the hurt of his people. He was in mourning and full of astonishment.

       

       

      Jeremiah could mourn over the sufferings of his people because of his sympathy and love for them; yet his very message spoke doom to them.

       

       

      Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there?

       

      Jeremiah not only saw the hurt of his people in exile, but he also could see NO help for them. There was NO medicine, there was NO physician; all was sadness and mourning.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Gilead was the land just east of the Jordan River. It was known for its healing balsams. Scholars have been unable to determine how the balm of Gilead was made, but it seems to have been a soothing, aromatic resin made from a tree or a plant. It might be compared to aloe vera.

       

      GOD SAYS...I CHANGE NOT.

       

       

      WE ARE ALL SINNERS, DESERVING OF ETERNAL DAMNATION...YET GOD SENT HIS PRICELESS AND MOST PRECIOUS SON TO DIE FOR US ALL. ALMIGHTY GOD WAS THEN, AND IS EVEN MORE SO NOW AMAZED AT THE WORLD’S REJECTION JESUS CHRIST ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR LOST MANKIND.

       

      MANY PEOPLE SAY THE OLD TESTAMENT IS ANTIQUATED AND NO LONGER RELEVANT. THOSE WHO SAY SO, DO NOT KNOW THE LORD GOD.

       

      WINSTON CHURCHHILL said it well, “THOSE WHO FAIL TO LEARN FROM THE PAST, ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT THEM.”

       

    • February 15, 2018 6:59 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 9

       

      OPENS WITH…What to Take Glory In

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Jeremiah says to The Lord Not enough tears.

       

      Oh, that my head were waters,

      And my eyes a fountain of tears,

      That I might weep day and night

      For the slain of the daughter of my people!

      Oh, that I had in the wilderness

      A lodging place for travelers;

      That I might leave my people,

      And go from them!

      For they are all adulterers,

      An assembly of treacherous men.”

       

       

      Oh, that my head were waters…

       

      In the close of the previous chapter, Jeremiah lamented Judah, as The Lord prophetically let him see them conquered and exiled. Continuing that thought, he poetically expressed the idea that he did NOT have enough tears or time to adequately express his grief over the slain of the daughter of my people.

       

      Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for travelers; that I might leave my people, and go from them...

       

      Jeremiah was filled with sorrow over the coming judgment upon Judah, but he was also filled with a sense of disgust over their sin. He wanted to leave his people, and get away from the corruptions of Jerusalem and Judah.

       

       

      Verses 3-6 tells us Judah given over to deception and lies.

       

      And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.

      They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.

      For they proceed from evil to evil,

      And they do not know Me, says the Lord.

      Everyone take heed to his neighbor,

      And do not trust any brother;

      For every brother will utterly supplant,

      And every neighbor will walk with slanderers.

      Everyone will deceive his neighbor,

      And will not speak the truth;

      They have taught their tongue to speak lies;

      They weary themselves to commit iniquity.

      Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit;

      Through deceit they refuse to know Me, says the Lord.”

       

       

      Like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies…

       

      Jeremiah vividly described how given to deception the leaders and people of Judah were. They lied with forethought, with skill, with power, with intent. Their bent tongues sent for arrows of lies.

       

       

      It is significant to remember that this comes at the conclusion of a section where Jeremiah desperately lamented the fall and exile of Judah (Jeremiah 8:18-9:6). In the depth of his grief, he still could NOT forget they DESERVED this calamity. Their rejection of God and devotion to the lie made all that came upon them deserved.

       

      For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me…

       

      This explains why Judah's leaders and people could lie so easily. They were mired in evil and far from real relationship with God. They did not know Him in a true, relational, honoring way.

       

       

      They do not know Me…

       

      "The verb yada, 'know,' denotes much more than intellectual knowledge but rather that deep intimate knowledge that follows the personal commitment of one life to another."

       

       

      Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth…

       

      Jeremiah observed how deep and how wide the sin of lying and deception was among the leaders and people of Judah. It was a culture given over to deception, far from truth in either daily matters or in broader concepts.

       

       

      Jeremiah's dark description of Judah also describes today's culture. We live in an age when the very idea of absolute or objective truth is commonly rejected. When truth is NOT valued, societies crumble.

       

       

      Many intractable problems in today's world are actually problems of truth. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, horrific lies about the Jews are officially promoted and widely believed in the Arab world. If the Arab world only heard and believed the truth about Israel and the Jews, their supposed reasons for hatred would largely vanish.

       

       

      Through deceit they refuse to know Me, says the Lord…

       

      This is the greatest cost of embracing and promoting deception. Since God is a God of truth, those who love the lie have a fundamental distance from Him.

       

      Verses 7-11 tells us The fact, reason, and result of coming judgment.

       

      Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:

      Behold, I will refine them and try them;

      For how shall I deal with the daughter of My people?

      Their tongue is an arrow shot out;

      It speaks deceit;

      One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth,

      But in his heart he lies in wait.

      Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord.

      Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?

      I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains,

      And for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation,

      Because they are burned up,

      So that no one can pass through;

      Nor can men hear the voice of the cattle.

      Both the birds of the heavens and the beasts have fled;

      They are gone.

      I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a den of jackals.

      I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.”

       

       

      I will refine and try them…

       

      Remembering the picture of the metal refiner (Jeremiah 6:27-30), God again told Judah that He would refine them. The heat and melting to come were certain. Yet the purpose was also certain - not to destroy, but to refine and ultimately to purify.

       

       

      I will refine and try them…

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "The Lord is so resolved to save his people, that he will use the sternest possible means rather than lose any of those whom he loves."

       

       

      Their tongue is an arrow shot out; it speaks deceit…

       

      Using images from the previous verse, God explained one reason why Judah was a certain target of His judgment. The ingrained and institutionalized DECEPTION, LIES, UNTRUTHS among the leaders and people of Judah invited His strong correction.

       

       

      Such a nation as this…

       

      THOMPSON explains, "The use of the term goy for Israel may represent the transfer to Israel of a term which was regularly used of non-Israelite peoples. Its use here suggests that Jeremiah had come to regard the people as no different in their behavior from the goyim, the peoples outside the covenant."

       

       

      They are burned up, so that no one can pass through…

       

      With a prophet's vision of the future, Jeremiah saw the destroyed and burned cities and villages of Judah. There was NO civilization, only a heap of ruins. There were NO more livestock and farm animals, only a den of jackals. All this would be the result of the coming Babylonian invasion.

       

       

      Divine justice sets the fire of indignation burning. Nothing excites God’s wrath more than continued falsehood and deceit, unkindness, unbrotherly conduct, and unholiness of life. Put all these evils together, and you have more than enough God-provoking sins calling for an avenging visitation.

       

       

      Verses 12-16 tells us The cause and result of judgment summarized.

       

      Who is the wise man who may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken, that he may declare it? Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness, so that no one can pass through? And the Lord said, Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them.”

       

       

      Because they have forsaken My law have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it…

       

      God told Israel in His word what they should believe and how they should live. Yet the leaders and people of Judah rejected His word and disregarded God's law.

       

       

      But they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals…

       

      In rejected the word and guidance of God, Judah did not stop believing and serving something. Instead they lifted their own hearts to the place of God in their life, and the served the pagan gods of the surrounding culture (the Baals).

       

       

      It could be said that God designed us to be worshipful, obedient beings. If those instincts for worship and obedience are not directed toward the living God and His word, they will be directed somewhere else. In Judah's case, they were directed toward self and cultural gods.

       

       

      HARRISON on Baal worship: "This lewd, orgiastic cult had proved attractive to many generations of Israelites. It is clear from a reading of the religious and legendary texts of Ugarit that many of the cultic practices associated with Baal and the fertility cult were heavily orientated toward sexual activity."

       

       

      I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles…

       

      God would not ignore the disobedience and idolatry of Judah. He promised to answer it with bitter judgment and exile.

       

       

      Verses 17-21 tells us Calling for the mourning women.

       

      Thus says the Lord of hosts:

      Consider and call for the mourning women,

      That they may come;

      And send for skillful wailing women,

      That they may come.

      Let them make haste

      And take up a wailing for us,

      That our eyes may run with tears,

      And our eyelids gush with water.

      For a voice of wailing is heard from Zion:

      How we are plundered!

      We are greatly ashamed,

      Because we have forsaken the land,

      Because we have been cast out of our dwellings.

      Yet hear the word of the Lord, O women,

      And let your ear receive the word of His mouth;

      Teach your daughters wailing,

      And everyone her neighbor a lamentation.

      For death has come through our windows,

      Has entered our palaces,

      To kill off the children - no longer to be outside!

      And the young men - no longer on the streets!”

       

       

      Consider and call for the mourning women…

       

      As he thought about the great calamity that was to come upon disobedient and idolatrous Judah, Jeremiah prophetically did something logical. He called for the mourning women to be ready to do their job, because there would be a lot of mourning to do.

       

       

      FEINBERG explains, "The 'wailing women' were professionals employed to arouse relatives and others at funerals to outward display of their grief. They used plaintive cries, baring their breasts, flailing their arms, throwing dust on their heads, and disheveling their hair (2 Chronicles 35:25; Ecclesiasts 12:5; Amos 5:16; Matthew 9:23)."

       

       

      We are greatly ashamed, because we have forsaken the land, because we have been cast out of our dwellings…

       

      This was the mournful complaint of those fortunate enough to survive the terrors of the Babylonian invasion. They would lose everything and be taken as forced refugees to another land.

       

       

      For death has come through our windows, has entered our palaces…

       

      Not all would be so "fortunate" as to face exile. Many would die as the Babylonians invaded, including children and young men.

       

       

       

      Verse 22 tells us A vivid description of judgment.

       

      Speak, Thus says the Lord:

      Even the carcasses of men shall fall as refuse on the open field,

      Like cuttings after the harvester,

      And no one shall gather them.”

       

       

      Even the carcasses of the men shall fall as refuse on the open field, like cuttings after the harvester…

       

      Jeremiah thought of those slain by the invading Babylonians, and how their dead bodies lay in the fields of battle and destruction like cuttings after the harvester.

       

       

      FEINBERG again explains, "The custom was for a reaper to hold in his arm what a few strokes of his sickle had cut. Then he put it down, and behind him another laborer then gathered it into bundles and bound it into a sheaf. So death was to cover the ground with corpses, but the carcasses would lie there unburied because of the paucity of survivors and the great number of dead."

       

      And NO ONE shall gather them…

       

      This was a double disgrace. To the mind of the ancient Hebrew, death was bad; but the desecration of the dead body through failing to care for and bury the corpse was a kind of DOUBLE death.

       

       

      Verses 23-24 tells us How to prepare for the coming calamity: a true knowledge of God.

       

      Thus says the Lord:

      Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,

      Let not the mighty man glory in his might,

      Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;

      But let him who glories glory in this,

      That he understands and knows Me,

      That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.

      For in these I delight, says the Lord.”

       

       

      Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom…

       

      Speaking on behalf of Yahweh, Jeremiah described the things that men normally glory in - wisdom, might, riches. Perhaps for a modern age Jeremiah would have added fame as a fourth thing that men take glory in by nature.

       

       

      To glory in something is to celebrate it, and to proclaim it as THE SOURCE of one's happiness and satisfaction. We think of a champion athlete glorying in the trophy just won. As they hold the trophy high, they proclaim - through their actions, words, facial expressions, everything - this was my goal, this is my satisfaction, my happiness, and I celebrate it now.

       

      But let him who glories glory in this…

       

      God did not rebuke man's instinct to look for glory; instead, God guided that instinct to its proper destination. The problem with man is NOT that he longs to glory in something; the problem is that he generally glories in the WRONG things, leading to his own hurt, the hurt of others, and most seriously, to offend HIS Creator.

       

       

      Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me…

       

      God says, "Direct your desire to glory in something in the right place - toward Me." We can take true glory, even the greatest glory in the understanding and knowledge of God.

       

      The false things men take glory in - wisdom, might, riches, fame - are not only misguided, they are lower. The greatest glory, the highest aspirations, the greatest exultation are fulfilled in God and our true understanding and knowledge of Him.

       

      One way to state the problem of humanity is that it constantly allows itself to be satisfied with these low and lesser glories. In the understanding and knowledge of God are greater wisdom, might, and riches than can be known merely among men.

       

       

      That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: This understanding and knowledge of God has specific characteristics. It is NOT an unspeakable mystical experience; it is:

       

      1. An encounter with His loving kindness, the hesed or covenant-love of God to His people.

       

      2. An encounter with His judgment, His discerning between what is right and wrong.

       

      3. An encounter with His righteousness, His absolute goodness and purity of moral character.

      For in these I delight…

       

      God delights in the display of His nature, His character; and when it is known and understood by humanity. It makes Him happy when people know Him as He really is.

       

       

      Verses 25-26 tells us A warning to those who REJECT the knowledge of the Lord.

       

      Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised— Egypt, Judah, Edom, the people of Ammon, Moab, and all who are in the farthest corners, who dwell in the wilderness. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.”

       

       

      I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised…

       

      In the day of God's judgment, the religious ritual of circumcision will NOT matter. God will judge on the basis of those who truly understand and know Him, as reflected in their life.

       

       

      HARRISON explains, "Trimming the hair away from the temples ( Jeremiah 49:32) was forbidden in the Law (Leviticus 19:27), and the reference here may be to certain Arab tribes who did this to honor Bacchus (Herodotus iii. 18)."

       

       

      For as all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart…

       

      The covenant people of God may have performed the ritual of circumcision, but spiritually speaking they were just as the uncircumcised nations.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "You see that Judah is sandwiched in between Egypt and Edom. Those who were the people of God are put in the same category with the accused nation, because they had forsaken God, and mixed up with them."

       

    • February 15, 2018 6:53 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 10

       

      OPENS WITH...The GREATNESS of Yahweh over the Idols of the Nations

       

       

      Verses 1-5 tells us The custom of the decorated tree made an idol.

       

      Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel.

      Thus says the Lord:

      Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;

      Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,

      For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.

      For the customs of the peoples are futile;

      For one cuts a tree from the forest,

      The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.

      They decorate it with silver and gold;

      They fasten it with nails and hammers

      So that it will not topple.

      They are upright, like a palm tree,

      And they cannot speak;

      They must be carried,

      Because they cannot go by themselves.

      Do not be afraid of them,

      For they cannot do evil,

      Nor can they do any good.”

       

       

      Do NOT learn the way of the Gentiles…

       

      At the end of Jeremiah 9, God pointed out that His people were like the uncircumcised nations in their lack of knowing God and their wicked conduct. Here is a plea to separate themselves from the foolish customs of the nations THAT WORSHIP TREES AND MAKE THEM INTO IDOLS, that do not know God.

       

       

      Do not learn the way of the Gentiles…

       

      "The verb learn (Hebrew tilmadu) may have overtones of 'becoming a disciple.' Hence one translation is, 'Do not be disciples of the religion of the nations.'"

       

      Why did so easy a target as idolatry need so many attacks in the Old Testament? Jeremiah 10:9 suggests one reason: the appeal of the visually impressive; but perhaps verse 2 goes deeper, in pointing to the temptation to fall into step with the majority...TO NOT BE SET APART FROM THE WORLD.

       

      Do NOT be dismayed at the signs of heaven…

       

      Through the use of astrology, ancient people often discerned signs and warnings from the sky, seeing fearful things in the signs of heaven.

       

       

      The signs of the heavens referred to are not the sun, moon, and stars, or signs of the zodiac, meant by God to be signs (Genesis 1:14), but unusual phenomenon like eclipses, comets, and meteors, which were supposed to portend extraordinary events.

       

       

      For the customs of the people are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest they decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple…

       

      Jeremiah described the pagan custom of cutting a tree, setting it in a special place, decorating it, and worshipping it. The worship of the tree is indicated by the warning, Do not be afraid of them, in the sense that one would give reverence to a pagan idol.

       

      Jeremiah mocked the idolatry of Judah, especially as it imitated the idolatry of the surrounding nations. Similar passages mocking the idolatry of the heathen are found in Isaiah 40:18-20 and 44:9-20. Yet, it's difficult to read this description and condemnation of an ancient pagan custom and not immediately think of the custom of the Christmas tree as practiced in the modern Christian world.

       

      If, based on a passage like this, a Christian would be convinced that they should not have a Christmas tree or even celebrate Christmas, then they should stand in that conviction. It is good to remember what Paul wrote: whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

       

      Nevertheless, there are many reasons to believe that despite some similarities, the differences are even greater and do not prohibit the modern custom of the Christmas tree IF THE HEART AND PURPOSE IS TO CELEBRATE JESUS’ BIRTH AND NOT SANTA CLAUS.

       

      Jeremiah spoke regarding the customs of the Gentiles, and in the modern world the appropriate celebration of Christmas is an expression of believe in God and His Son, NOT a custom of unbelievers.

       

      Jeremiah spoke of believers borrowing customs of unbelievers; in the modern world, when an unbeliever has a Christmas tree, it is a case of unbelievers borrowing the customs of believers.

       

      Jeremiah spoke of a tree regarded as an idol, and (properly understood) the modern Christmas tree is not an idol. If for a family it is or becomes an idol, it should be discarded with.

       

      Jeremiah spoke to a time in history when trees were often directly connected with idolatry, either literal trees or their representations (Jeremiah 2:27). Chaldeans, Wiccans & other Earth religions believed & still do believe and worship the trees, the earth, rocks, rivers, and skies as their Gods. This is what Jeremiah is referring too.

       

      Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good…

       

      Jeremiah gently mocked the idolatrous worship of inanimate objects such as decorated trees. No particular reverence should be given to them; they are powerless to do anything, either good or evil.

       

      The line in Jeremiah 10:5. They are upright, like a palm tree is also translated like a scarecrow in a cucumber field. The idol is worthless; "It is like an immobile and speechless scarecrow in a patch of cucumbers."

       

       

      Verses 6-10 tells us The greatness of God over all idols.

       

      Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord

      (You are great, and Your name is great in might),

      Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?

      For this is Your rightful due.

      For among all the wise men of the nations,

      And in all their kingdoms,

      There is none like You.

      But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish;

      A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.

      Silver is beaten into plates;

      It is brought from Tarshish,

      And gold from uphaz,

      The work of the craftsman

      And of the hands of the metalsmith;

      Blue and purple are their clothing;

      They are all the work of skillful men.

      But the Lord is the true God;

      He is the living God and the everlasting King.

      At His wrath the earth will tremble,

      And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.”

       

      Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord…

       

      Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel is different than the inanimate idols men worship. The pagan gods are altogether dull-hearted, foolish, useless, and not real.

       

      A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine…

       

      As it did then, for lovers and followers of Almighyt God and Jesus Christ, I am saddened beyond belief that anyone would actually BLINDLY AND WILLING cling to, pray to, bow down, worship ANY man made thing. Do they not understand the very ACT of clutching, clinging to, praying for, bowing to, worshipping images of Mary, the dead prophets, the disciples, the apostles, a priest, a preacher, a pope, or anyone else is an ABOMINATION TO JESUS. Giving honor to anything or anyone above Almighty God’s precious Son is SACRILEGE, BLASPHEMOUS, AND AN ABOMINATION.

       

      They are all the work of skillful men. But the Lord is the true God…

       

      The inescapable contrast between Yahweh and the idols of the nations is that they are the work of men's hands; He is the Creator of those very hands.

       

      Men make idols...NOT ALMIGHTY GOD.

       

      ALMIGHTY GOD makes men."

       

      AND WE KNOW FROM PREVIOUS STUDIES...As for the idols, they spared no expense in decorating them; blue and purple are their clothing: These were the most precious dyes; very rare, and of high price.

       

      At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation…

       

      The gods of the nations were nothing; the projections of the corrupt imaginations of men. Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, is the God who exists, intervenes, and brings judgment.

       

      Verses 11-16 tells us The glory of the Creator God.

       

      Thus you shall say to them: The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.

      He has made the earth by His power,

      He has established the world by His wisdom,

      And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.

      When He utters His voice,

      There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:

      And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth.

      He makes lightning for the rain,

      He brings the wind out of His treasuries.

      Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;

      Every metalsmith is put to shame by an image;

      For his molded image is falsehood,

      And there is no breath in them.

      They are futile, a work of errors;

      In the time of their punishment they shall perish.

      The Portion of Jacob is not like them,

      For He is the Maker of all things,

      And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance;

      The Lord of hosts is His name.”

       

       

      The gods that have NOT made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth…

       

      In the contrast between Yahweh and the idols, Yahweh pronounced the doom of the pagan gods.

       

      Jeremiah 10:11 may have been a popular anti-idolatry proverb or saying of that time, quoted in Aramaic.

       

      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH...DID YOU KNOW...

      It is the ONLY verse in Jeremiah in Aramaic, a language quite similar to Hebrew, and the chosen language of Jesus Christ.

       

      He has made the earth by His power…

       

      In contrast to the pagan gods, Yahweh is a living, active God who made the earth and established the world, and who stretched out the heavens.

       

       

      The prophet Jeremiah’s final word on idols given to him by God is that they are not only worthless, but also a work of mockery, worthy only of being ridiculed.

       

       

      Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge…

       

      Jeremiah spoke to the FOOLISH conduct of those who make and worship idols. Many of the idols recovered by archaeology are not even beautiful; surely they are futile, a work of errors.

       

      The Portion of Jacob is not like them…

       

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

       

      Yahweh is different than the idols worshipped among the Gentiles. He is the Maker, He has chosen Israel as the tribe of His inheritance, and He is the God of heavenly armies (The Lord of hosts is His name).

       

      The Portion of Jacob…

       

      The idea is that in some sense, Yahweh belonged to the people of Israel. "A man's 'portion' referred to some possession that belonged to him."

       

      Verses 17-18 tells us A warning to hurriedly flee from the invaders.

       

      Gather up your wares from the land,

      O inhabitant of the fortress!

      For thus says the Lord:

      Behold, I will throw out at this time

      The inhabitants of the land,

      And will distress them,

      That they may find it so.”

       

       

      Gather up your wares from the land…

       

      Jeremiah prophetically saw the invading army of the Babylonians, coming as an instrument of God's judgment. He warned the people of the land to quickly prepare.

       

       

      I will throw out at this time the inhabitants of the land…

       

      Despite whatever hurried preparations they might make, none would be able to stand before the judgment of God against Judah. They would be cast out of the land.

       

       

      I will throw out is a vivid phrase; it literally means to slingshot out. God will cast Judah out of the land that fast, that hard, and that far. "I will easily and speedily sling them, and sling them into Babylon; so God will one day hurl into hell all the wicked of the earth.

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW…

       

      As it turned out, following Nebuchadnezzar's second invasion in 587 b.c. destruction was widespread. Modern archaeological investing has shown a uniform picture. Many towns were destroyed at the beginning of the sixth century b.c. and never again occupied. There is no known case of a town in Judah proper which was continuously occupied through the exilic period.

       

       

      Verses 19-20 tells us Jeremiah’s prayer. A prayer in the voice of those under the Babylonian invasion.

       

      Woe is me for my hurt!

      My wound is severe.

      But I say, Truly this is an infirmity,

      And I must bear it.

      My tent is plundered,

      And all my cords are broken;

      My children have gone from me,

      And they are no more.

      There is no one to pitch my tent anymore,

      Or set up my curtains.”

       

       

      Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is severe…

       

      Jeremiah prayed in the voice of someone enduring the Babylonian invasion to come. The prayer is filled with pain and distress.

       

      My tent is plundered my cords are broken. My children have gone from me, and they are no more…

       

      Jeremiah captures the despair, shock, and loneliness of those who would endure the severe season of judgment.

       

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us The trouble that comes from dull-hearted shepherds.

       

      For the shepherds have become dull-hearted,

      And have not sought the Lord;

      Therefore they shall not prosper,

      And all their flocks shall be scattered.

      Behold, the noise of the report has come,

      And a great commotion out of the north country,

      To make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals.”

       

       

      For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, and have not sought the Lord…

       

      In thinking of the despair of Judah under the Babylonian invasion, Jeremiah also considered a significant part of the cause. The leaders of Judah - both spiritual and political - did not seek the Lord.

       

      THIS IS A CLEAR WARNING FROM THE LORD TO HOW HE FEELS ABOUT corrupt prophets and priests and political leaders who seduced the people from the truth, were persons that made no conscience of prayer; hence all went to wrack and ruin.

       

      Therefore they shall not prosper, and their flocks shall be scattered…

       

      The unfaithfulness of the shepherds meant trouble for them, and for the people they were supposed to faithfully lead. No one would benefit from their dull-hearted, detached from the Lord leadership.

       

      MEYER says it well, "We must avoid generalizing too widely, but on the whole, it is incontestable that a dwindling flock and waning cause point to prayerlessness perhaps on the part of the members, but almost certainly on the part of the shepherd himself."

       

       

      Verses 23-25 tells us A humble plea to God for recompense to the invading army.

       

      O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;

      It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

      O Lord, correct me, but with justice;

      Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.

      Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You,

      And on the families who do not call on Your name;

      For they have eaten up Jacob,

      Devoured him and consumed him,

      And made his dwelling place desolate.”

       

       

      O Lord, I know the way of man in not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps…

       

      As Jeremiah considered the great judgment to come upon Judah through the Babylonian army, he also considered that God sent them. The Babylonians did not think of this apart from God; He would direct their steps.

       

       

      Morgan also connects this with the prior discussion of idolatry. "The idols which men make are always man's attempts to project, from their own inner consciousness, gods to whom they can yield obedience; or in other words, the making of idols is an attempt on the part of man to direct his own steps.

       

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "This was Jeremiahs consolation, 'I do not know what Nebuchadnezzer may do; but I do know that "the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." I know that, in Gods eternal purposes, every step of Judah’s way is mapped out, and he will make it all work for his own glory and the good of his chosen people in the end.'

       

       

      O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing…

       

      Know that the great judgment to come was directed by God, Jeremiah appealed to God for mercy. He knew that Judah must be corrected, but asked for God to show mercy and to not destroy His people.

       

      Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You…

       

      When Jeremiah considered that God would use the Babylonians as the instrument of His correction against Judah, he asked God to also judge them.

       

      SPURGEON wisely adds, "So he asks God, instead of smiting his own children, to smite his enemies, and knowing what we do about the Babylonians, we do not wonder that Jeremiah put up such a prayer as that."

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW...JEREMIAH’S PRAYER WAS ANSWERED.

       

      "This was fulfilled in the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar was punished with madness, his son was slain in his revels, and the city was taken and sacked by Cyrus; and the Babylonish empire was finally destroyed!"

       

      JOHN MACARTHUR says, Of the book of Jeremiah, we learn THREE things about God and the PROMISES from Him in our calling from Him.

       

      FIRST: Divine Preparation by God.

       

      Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

       

      God says Jeremiah, long before you were ever conceived, long before you were ever woven as the psalmist calls it in your mother's womb, long before you were ever born, I had decided that you were to be My prophet for a unique place, a unique time.

       

      In other words, you have been prepared by Me. That's a divine preparation. God gives in these very brief words the biography of Jeremiah. In fact I believe it's eleven short Hebrew words. But it's a life history. And it extends from eternity past to the time of Jeremiah's proclamation to the nations. He is a man called by God from before he was ever conceived to a divine mandate. That's a compelling thing. That's a driving force in the life of one who belongs to God. To know that long before we were ever born we were set for a certain purpose. That sense of mission is an overpowering and compelling thing.

       

      When men face a crisis inevitably they come up with a program. When God faces a crisis, he starts with a baby. Always. When God wants to deal with a crisis it is a man he calls. Unique and chosen and prepared and gifted. All in His sovereignty.

       

      That extends to ALL OF US WHO LOVE JESUS CHRIST. For you were predestined in Christ BEFORE the world began. You were chosen in Him from BEFORE the foundations of it. Your name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life BEFORE ever the world was spun into space.

       

      God not only designed that you should belong to him but designed that the Spirit of God would redeem you and gift you to serve within the framework of the kingdom in a unique way that NO ONE ELSE could match.

       

      Every believer in the Kingdom of God is under divine mandate to fulfill a task, an obligation, a ministry. We were created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk even in them.

       

      And yet it's so tragic most people in the church have no sense of divine mission. Have absolutely no sense of mandate. It's as if all of life was a smorgasbord from which they could choose whatever they wanted.

       

      There are no compelling things. No compunctions. It doesn't make much difference whether you go to church or play golf. I mean it really doesn't matter. That's your choice.

       

      There is NO sense of compelling. There is NO overwhelming sense of mission. And we become so busy with creature comforts and so busy with fitting into the current fashion of the world that that sense of mandate just is NOT there.

       

      God help us to get the sense of mission. I was thinking about it this week. I don't know if you SHARED JESUS with an unsaved friend or unsaved family member. Perhaps you did. Perhaps you didn't. Perhaps it NEVER even entered your mind to do that. If you name the name of Christ and ask yourself if you're compelled in your service to God. Do you know what your spiritual gift is? Are you using that gift? Are you compelled to use it? Do you feel burdened in your heart and a sense of some shame if you are not using it? Are you left with a bit of guilt because you don't do what you really believe in your heart you ought to do and what God's Word says to do?

       

      Jeremiah wasn't the only person who was to be a witness to the nations. The whole of his nation were to be witnessing to the nations. But they weren't doing that and Jeremiah stood out as absolutely unique.

       

      You who have been chosen by God to be separated.

      You who have been chosen by God to be unique.

      You who have been chosen by God to be pure.

      You who have been chosen by God to confront the paganism of the nations around you. Why do you choose the world and all that it offers instead of God?

       

      Because you have no sense of mission. You have no sense of mandate. You have no sense of separation. You fail to be separate.

       

      It's my conviction in the day in which we live that the church has lost its separateness. The church has become "the world". We're so engulfed in it. We're so up to our ears in materialism and creature comfort and scheduling our life around the things we want to do rather than the things God wants us to do. Christianity has become sort of a sick subculture in many ways. With people more concerned about their own feelings than they are about the mission.

       

      SECONDLY: GOD promises Divine provision.

       

      Jeremiah admits that. He says, "Alas, Lord God. But I do not know how to speak because I am a youth." As best we can reconstruct he was probably about 30 years of age, the age of our Lord when he began his ministry. And there's a lot of anguish here. Alas, Lord God. It is very much like woe is me in Isaiah 6. I'm not adequate. And Jeremiah shutters at the thought of such a task as being prophet to the nations, doing what the people of God failed to do. I cannot! I'm unqualified! I am a child! Does that sound familiar? Moses said it. Gideon said it. And Isaiah said it. I can't do it!

       

      We can ALL understand that feeling of being fearful and inadequate. But notice the response of God.

       

      Jeremiah 1:7-8, "But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say I am a youth because everywhere I send you you shall go.'"

       

      In other words, I'm gonna make your way prosperous. You're gonna start and I'm gonna make sure you finish. "And all that I command you, you will speak." You're not gonna be without words. "Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord." That's the very same promise the Lord Jesus gave with the command called the great commission. "And, lo, I am with you always." You're not going alone. That's the divine provision.

       

      And I want you to notice. He says I'm young and I'm unskilled. I'm unprepared. I don't know what I'm gonna say. Know this, our success is NOT dependent on our voice. It's NOT dependent on our looks. It's NOT dependent on out experience. It's NOT dependent on our abilities. It's NOT dependent on our homiletic cleverness. Our success is dependent on the passion of our heart. And THE PASSION FOR JESUS AND HIS WORD in our heart will ride right over the top of all of our own personal inadequacies.

       

      And God adds a promise, "They will fight against you but they will not overcome you for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord." What a wonderful promise. A promise of provision.

       

      REMEMBER God said to Abraham, "Fear not." God said to Moses, "Fear not." God said to Daniel, "Fear not." God said to Mary, "Fear not." God said to Peter, "Fear not." God said to Paul, Acts 27:24, "Fear not." And that's essentially what he's saying to Jeremiah. Because everyone who is to stand in a unique place of service to God has a very natural fear. Paralyzing human emotions of inadequacy. And the promise of God comes I'll be there.

       

       

      NOW THE THIRD: GOD’S DIVINE POWER

       

      Jeremiah 1:9-10, "Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth and the Lord said to me, 'Behold I have put My words in your mouth.'" See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

       

      I have set you - that literally means in a position of supervising. Since I am the ruler of the universe, you're my vice ruler. You're in charge. It's amazing. God picks out a little young man, very obscure, 30 years of age, from a tiny little country and says, "I set you over the whole earth." Why? Because you speak My Words. That's the issue. That's the mandate. To recognize that if we're called to confront it with the Word of the Living God.

       

      And what is it of the Word of God that we speak? What do we say to this generation? What do we give them? Well, if we listen to the people out there in this PC World, we're supposed to give them a little bit of self-esteem and we're supposed to soft soap and skirt issues and try to be popular and make them feel good and give them a lot of sensation and some sentimentality. But what did Jeremiah give them? What are they to hear from us?

       

      Jeremiah 14:7, "Although our iniquities testify against us, oh Lord act for Thy name's sake. Truly our apostasies have been many. We have sinned against thee."

       

      That's the message. The message is to confront sin.

       

      Jeremiah 17:9. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately wicked."

       

      We are to confront a dying nation with its sin. The message needed today is not a message of self-esteem. It's not a message of sentimentality. It's not a message of psychological self-help. It's not a message of positive thinking. It is a message of sin. Of two TRUE choices: salvation grace in Jesus alone or eternal damnation.

       

      The society in which we live needs to be blatantly indicted for its false religion. That's the SECOND sin that Jeremiah is concerned about that I would mention to you. False religion. The people have drifted away from a covenant of God into idolatry.

       

      False religion is a deceitful religion. A religion that says oh, yes God. We worship you. We worship you. We worship you. But the heart is after false gods. Sounds so familiar to me. The false gods of our society. The false religions of our society are myriad. Everything from the worship of self, materialism, the earth, animals, spiritualism, universalism clear to the false religious systems created by man, not God, that are highly defined and high in profile of rites, rituals, idol worship, and far preferred over The Lord and His Word.

       

      One of the major sins I believe of the death of our own nation is the proliferation of false Christianity, the proliferation of liberalism, cults, self-worship, atheistic humanism, replacement theology, word of faith doctrines, universalism, progressive Christianity, we are all God’s children, we are all going to heaven, and false evangelicalism. ALL of them parading and proclaiming everywhere as THE TRUTH. False religion is not anything new. But it inevitably dominates a nation headed for judgment, then and now.

       

      The Lord God calls the false prophets, priests, preachers, goddesses, imams, apostles, and teachers of any of the above USELESS windbags that means they are NOTHING but hot air. They preach a lot of platitudes and a lot of sermonettes for Christianettes. And a lot of possibility thinking and a lot of other stuff. Psychology and whatever. They give their own ideas. They consider them more important than the Word of God. No respect for truth. Where is the teaching and proclamation of the Word? The delusion is so pervasive in that land of Israel and of Judah then, and around the world today, the delusion is so pervasive that even the prophets are deluded.

       

      Why?

       

      They forsook the only source of water, the one who gave the living water, Jesus Christ. The one who is the fountain of life, the Living God. The second thing they hewed for themselves cisterns or wells, broken cisterns that can hold no water. They hold dirt, dust, dead animals, debris. No water. Man endeavoring to work out his own salvation by his own self-styled religion leaves the clear, fresh water of God for empty, broken wells.

       

      The people in Jeremiah’s day did not have easy access to and could not majorly afford Old Testament scrolls...so they DEPENDED on the priests to READ them the truth, teach them the truth, TELL them the truth.

       

      People today do NOT have that excuse. We do NOT have to DEPEND ON any person to tell us what The Lord, what The Bible says.

       

      People today have easy access to the Bible. Even if you are in the far reaches of the world you have cell phones, radios, internet & satellite connections. And free apps to see, hear, and read The Bible. If the Old English KJV is hard to read and understand, you have the NKJV, NASB Bible that are easier to read, translated into almost every language under heaven and stay true and accurate to The Lord’s word.

       

      I have said it before, there are 10,000 of gods in this world, then and now. The Lord Jesus reads our hearts. The Lord KNOWS if we are His or not, but that is not the point. Many say God bless you and most who hear that are not bothered by that at all.

       

      Why?

       

      Many fals

    • February 15, 2018 6:44 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 11

       

      OPENS WITH...A Broken Covenant and a Conspiracy & a curse upon

      covenant breakers.

       

       

      Verses 1-5 tells us The covenant and the curse.

       

      The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say to them, Thus says the Lord God of Israel: Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey My voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be your God, that I may establish the oath which I have sworn to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. And I answered and said, So be it, Lord.”

       

       

      Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah…

       

      God spoke to Judah about their failure to keep the ancient covenant Israel made with God at Mount Sinai in the days of Moses (Exodus 24:1-8).

       

       

      In that Sinai (or Mosaic) covenant, "God promised to supply all the material and spiritual needs of the infant nation in return for undivided worship and obedience.

       

      Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant…

       

      When Israel made the covenant with God at Mount Sinai, there were specific curses pronounced against those who violated the covenant (Deuteronomy 27:15-26). Here, God simply promised that He would ENFORCE the terms of the covenant made in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt.

       

       

      From the iron furnace…

       

      This is the THIRD place in the Scriptures where Israel's agony in Egypt is described as an iron furnace (also at Deuteronomy 4:20 and 1 Kings 8:51). Some think that a part of Israel's slave labor in Egypt was to work as slaves in literal iron furnaces.

       

       

      To give them "a land flowing with milk and honey"…

       

      God fulfilled ALL His obligations of the covenant, even blessing Israel with an abundant land. It was the children of Israel who did NOT obey their obligations of the covenant.

       

       

      And I answered and said, "So be it, Lord"…

       

      There is a vast difference between the liturgical 'Amen' which is merely conventional, and which in the saying means nothing; and the Amen which comes out of the deep inner agreement of mind and heart and will with the purposes and methods of God.

       

       

      Verses 6-8 tells us The command to preach the message of the broken covenant.

       

      Then the Lord said to me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, Obey My voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but which they have not done.”

       

       

      Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem…

       

      Jeremiah's assignment was to PREACH THIS MESSAGE of the broken covenant and its consequences in Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah.

       

       

      For I earnestly exhorted your fathers…

       

      God gave the people of Israel MANY warnings and encouragements to do what was right under the covenant. He wanted their obedience and did all He could to cultivate and encourage it. Using a figure of speech, God even rising early and exhorting them.

       

       

      Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart…

       

      Instead of following God's instructions and warnings, they went their own way followed their own heart. Therefore God said, I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant.

       

       

      Verses 9-10 tells us The CONSPIRACY of disobedience.

       

      And the Lord said to me, A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.”

       

       

      A conspiracy has been found…

       

      God told Jeremiah that the men of Judah and Jerusalem were organized in a conspiracy. Perhaps on a human level they were unaware of the coordination of the conspiracy, and perhaps spiritual forces of wickedness in high places organized it. Yet it existed and mattered just the same.

       

      So attractive were the depraved Canaanite fertility rites, and so widespread the resultant idolatry in Israel, that it appeared as though the people had deliberately plotted to renounce their covenantal obligations and espouse apostasy.

       

      They have turned their back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words…

       

      The conspiracy was a work of both BREAKING the commandments of God, and REFUSING to hear the warnings of God. It ended up being a conspiracy to break their covenant with God.

       

       

      Verses 11-14 tells us The CURSE to come upon the covenant breakers.

       

      Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble."

       

      I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape…

       

      This was simply the promise consequence of disobedience under the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).

       

       

      The inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in their time of trouble…

       

      One way the people of Judah broke the Mosaic Covenant was by their WORSHIP OF THE FALSE & PAGAN GODS of the surrounding nations. When Yahweh cursed them under the terms of that covenant, they would find NO HELP help from those gods.

       

       

      For I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me…

       

      The false gods would be silent because they were nothing. The Lord God of Israel would be silent as an expression of His judgment against His people.

       

      Of all the curses that might come upon a people, surely one of the most terrible is the SILENCE OF GOD in our time of trouble or need.

       

       

      Verses 15-17 tells us The disappointment of rejected love.

       

      What has My beloved to do in My house,

      Having done lewd deeds with many?

      And the holy flesh has passed from you.

      When you do evil, then you rejoice.

      The Lord called your name,

      Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit.

      With the noise of a great tumult

      He has kindled fire on it,

      And its branches are broken. 

      For the Lord of hosts, who planted you,

      has pronounced doom against you for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah,

      which they have done against themselves to provoke Me to anger in offering incense to Baal.”

       

       

      What has My beloved to do in My house, having done lewd deeds with many?...

       

      God regarded Israel as His beloved; yet they played the part of the unfaithful spouse, being unfaithful to false gods. Therefore, God appropriately asked why they were still in His house.

       

      When you do evil, then you rejoice…

       

      This is the description of a sin-sick society. Not only do they sin; they openly rejoice in their evil.

       

       

      The Lord called your name, Green Olive Tree, Lovely, and of Good Fruit…

       

      This describes the expressions of love and endearment God gave to Israel. He loved them tenderly and deeply; yet they returned His love with unfaithfulness. They rejected God's endearment and love.

       

       

      He has kindled fire on it, and its branches are broken…

       

      Though God once held His people in such dear regard, that would not stop His appropriate judgment against them. Though He had planted them, He still pronounced doom against them for their stubborn sin and idolatry.

       

       

      Verses 18-19 tells us Jeremiah's knowledge of the CONSPIRACY & THREAT against him.

       

      Now the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I know it; for You showed me their doings. But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter; and I did not know that they had devised schemes against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be remembered no more.”

       

       

      Now the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I know it…

       

      God showed Jeremiah the doings of his enemies. This was an example of divine protection over the prophet. The day might come when God would allow Jeremiah to lay down his life in faithfulness to the Lord; but that day was not yet.

       

       

      But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter…

       

      This was Jeremiah's state before God warned him (I did not know that they had devised schemes against me). He was defenseless before God showed him that his enemies wanted to cut him down like a tree.

       

      As Matthew 10:36 observed, a man's foes shall be those of his own household.

       

       

      Verse 20 tells us Jeremiah's prayer and confidence.

       

      But, O Lord of hosts,

      You who judge righteously,

      Testing the mind and the heart,

      Let me see Your vengeance on them,

      For to You I have revealed my cause.”

       

      But, O Lord of hosts…

       

      Knowing the threat against his life, Jeremiah did the right thing - he prayed. He began his prayer addressing God as the Lord of hosts, a title recalling that God is the commander of heavenly armies.

       

      You who judge righteously, testing the mind and heart…

       

      Jeremiah prayed for protection, but not to be shielded as an evildoer. He looked for God's protection to be given according to His righteousness and perfect wisdom.

       

      Let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have revealed my cause…

       

      Properly, Jeremiah understood that vengeance belonged to the Lord (as in Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19). He revealed his cause to God and would trust Him to deal with it.

       

       

      Verses 21-23 tells us God's promise to punish the ones who threatened to kill Jeremiah.

       

      Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, lest you die by our hand— therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment.”

       

       

      Thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life…

       

      The village of Anathoth was Jeremiah's home (Jeremiah 1:1). It was the people of his own village who WANTED to kill him.

       

      Much of Jeremiah's work was done during the days of the reforming King Josiah. One thing Josiah did was to shut down the disobedient and unauthorized sacrifices on the high places, outside the altar at the temple in Jerusalem. The local priests at Anathoth may have RESENTED that their shrine was shut down, and may have hated Jeremiah because he SUPPORTED Josiah.

       

       

      THOMPSON reminds us, "There would have been some strong reason why Jeremiah's fellow citizens took such strong action against him, although such actions are not unknown even today in the Middle East. Sometimes members of a family will set out to kill a kinsman who has brought disgrace on the family."

       

       

      Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, lest you die by our hand…

       

      This WAS THE THREAT they made against Jeremiah. It was clear that what they hated was the message from God that he brought.

       

       

      Behold, I will punish them…

       

      God promised to bring particular judgment against the men of Anathoth. Jeremiah must have had mixed feelings about this; he was happy that God defended him and would recompense his enemies, but no doubt grieved at the judgment to come upon the men of his own village.

       

      And the punishment is, Their young men shall die by the sword of the Chaldeans; and their sons and daughters shall die by the famine that shall come on the land through the desolations occasioned by the Chaldean army.

       

    • February 15, 2018 6:38 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 12

       

      OPENS WITH...Running With Footmen and Horses

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us Jeremiah's question to God.

       

      Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You;

      Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.

      Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

      Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?

      You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;

      They grow, yes, they bear fruit.

      You are near in their mouth

      But far from their mind.

      But You, O Lord, know me;

      You have seen me,

      And You have tested my heart toward You.

      Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,

      And prepare them for the day of slaughter.

      How long will the land mourn,

      And the herbs of every field wither?

      The beasts and birds are consumed,

      For the wickedness of those who dwell there,

      Because they said, He will not see our final end.”

       

       

      Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments…

       

      Jeremiah wanted to ask God a question, and he did so in an appropriate way - first recognizing and submitting to Gods' righteousness.

       

       

      Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

       

      Jeremiah asked a question that the Asaph also asked (Psalm 73). Hopefully without pride, Jeremiah understood that he was righteous and most of those in Judah and Jerusalem were wicked. Yet they seemed to prosper, while Jeremiah often suffered.

       

      The whole book of Jeremiah shows that there is a moral law operating in the world, but the prophet, smarting at this time under the attack on his life (Jeremiah 11:21), impatiently clamored for God to hasten up His process of judgment.

       

       

      You have planted them…

       

      Jeremiah considered that the wicked could enjoy any prosperity or pleasure unless God allowed it. The fruit they enjoyed ultimately came from God in one way or another.

       

      You are near in their mouth but far from their mind…

       

      The people Jeremiah had in mind were those who made an outward profession of religion, but did not really care about God and the things of God.

       

      But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You…

       

      Jeremiah contrasted his life with the life of the wicked - perhaps those who threatened him (Jeremiah 11:18-19). He knew that his life and heart were tested before God in a way that their lives did not seem to be.

       

      Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter…

       

      In the previous chapter Jeremiah felt that he was like a sheep for the slaughter (Jeremiah 11:19). He prayed that the wicked would now be put in that same place.

       

      How long will the land mourn…

       

      Jeremiah felt that because God did not answer the wicked with judgment, it brought mourning even to the land. Their careless attitude (He will not see our final end) had an effect even upon the natural world.

       

       

      Verses 5-6 tells us God's answer to Jeremiah.

       

      If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,

      Then how can you contend with horses?

      And if in the land of peace,

      In which you trusted, they wearied you,

      Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?

      For even your brothers, the house of your father,

      Even they have dealt treacherously with you;

      Yes, they have called a multitude after you.

      Do not believe them,

      Even though they speak smooth words to you.”

       

       

      If you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?

       

      God's answer to Jeremiah was both powerful and profound. Without directly answering the question (a more complete answer is given in Psalm 73), God encouraged Jeremiah to regard his present challenge as a preparation for greater challenges to come.

       

      Jeremiah was certainly in a challenge - like a hard fought race with the footmen. There was a sense of spiritual and mental and emotional exertion involved with the persecution from his fellow villagers from Anathoth and his question regarding the prosperity of the wicked and why God did not seem to deliver justice to them.

       

       

      Yet even with the appreciation of that challenge, there were greater challenges to come. By analogy, Jeremiah could expect to run against horses in the future. He needed to learn how to trust God and to draw on His strength in his present challenge, in order to prepare him for the greater challenges in the future.

       

       

      RYKEN adds, “If he found it difficult in Anathoth, how would he fare in the Jerusalem? Later on, Jeremiah would have to spend a night in the stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-3), confinement in a cistern (Jeremiah 38:6), and imprisonment in the court of the guard (Jeremiah 28:13). "The troubles he was having in Anathoth were nothing compared to the troubles he would have later in Jerusalem, Babylon, or Egypt. If you complain about the simple things God has already asked you to do, then you lack the spiritual strength to do what he wants you to do next."

       

      And if in the land of peace, in which you trust, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? This analogy supplies the same lesson as the analogy of the footmen and the horses. The present circumstance is a challenge, yet a greater one waits.

       

      SPURGEON adds, "He seems to have been a little afraid of the people among whom he dwelt. They had evidently persecuted him very much, mocked at him, and laughed him to scorn; but God tells him to make his face like flint, and not to care for them, for, says he, If thou art afraid of them, 'How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?' This ought to be a rebuke to every Christian who is subject to the fear of man."

       

       

      For even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you…

       

      For Jeremiah, the smaller challenge was the adversity and hatred he face from the men of Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21), men of his own village and family. The greater challenge was the multitude they had called against him.

       

      Do not believe them, even though they speak smooth words to you…

       

      The open adversity was another example of the smaller challenge; the bigger challenge would be the smooth words and flattery others would use against Jeremiah.

       

       

      Verses 7-8 tells us God abandons His people to their enemies.

       

      I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage;

      I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.

      My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest;

      It cries out against Me;

      Therefore I have hated it.

      My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture;

      The vultures all around are against her.

      Come, assemble all the beasts of the field,

      Bring them to devour!”

       

       

      I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage…

       

      Jeremiah spoke to the future when God will give His dearly beloved people into the hand of her enemies.

       

      THOMPSON clarifies, "The reference to house is not to the temple but to the people. My house is parallel to my heritage (inheritance), a familiar designation for the people of Israel in the Old Testament."

       

       

      My heritage to Me is like a lion in the forest; it cries out against Me; therefore I have hated it…

       

      According to Jacob's prophecy in Genesis 49:9, Judah was supposed to be God's lion. They fulfilled the lion-like role, but they roared against God instead of for Him - it was a roar of rebellion.

       

      My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture…

       

      The idea is of a bird that looks different and is therefore troubled by the other birds. Judah would be set upon by the surrounding nations.

       

       

      Verses 10-13 tells us The mournful harvest of the land.

       

      Many pastors have destroyed My vineyard,

      They have trodden My portion underfoot;

      They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

      They have made it desolate;

      Desolate, it mourns to Me;

      The whole land is made desolate,

      Because no one takes it to heart.

      The plunderers have come

      On all the desolate heights in the wilderness,

      For the sword of the Lord shall devour

      From one end of the land to the other end of the land;

      No flesh shall have peace.

      They have sown wheat but reaped thorns;

      They have put themselves to pain but do not profit.

      But be ashamed of your harvest

      Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”

       

      They have made it desolate; desolate, it mourns to Me…

       

      When the judgment comes upon the land of Judah, it will make the land desolate - because there will be no one to care for it (no one takes it to heart).

       

      Jeremiah 12:10 as, Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard. The Hebrew uses the familiar figure of a shepherd (pastor) as a leader of people, not necessarily spiritually.

       

      But be ashamed of your harvest because of the fierce anger of the Lord…

       

      God spoke to the invading Babylonians, warning them that they should take no pleasure or satisfaction in their harvest upon the cities and land of Judah. They would have to reckon with the fierce anger of the Lord.

       

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us A PROMISE of retribution and a PROMISE of restoration.

       

      Thus says the Lord: Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land.”

       

       

      I WILL pluck them out of their land…

       

      God warned those would attack and exile Israel, that He would also dispossess them of their land. Even though God used them as an instrument of His judgment, He would nevertheless judge them for their evil and brutality against Judah.

       

       

      God called these nations, My evil neighbors - yet He would use them to chastise His people. "God often uses one wicked nation to scourge another; and afterwards scourges the scourger by some other scourge.

       

       

      And pluck out the house of Judah from among them…

       

      God would deal with the invaders (the Babylonian Empire); but He would also take care of His people, and bring them back (pluck out) a remnant to return to the land and the promise once again.

       

      I WILL return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land…

       

      The promise of exile and judgment was sure; but so was the promise of compassion and return. Jeremiah need not despair at the seeming prosperity of the wicked and trouble of the righteous; God would move all things according to His perfect plan.

       

       

      Verses 16-17 tells us A merciful promise to the nations.

       

      And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, As the Lord lives, as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people. But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, says the Lord.”

       

       

      If they will learn carefully the ways of My people…

       

      God made a remarkable offer to Babylonians and to any who opposed His people. If they would turn to Him and swear by His name, then they could be established in the midst of My people. They could share in the blessing and goodness of God among His people.

       

       

      This reminds us that God's regard for Israel was NEVER based on race or ethnicity. It WAS based on love and faithfulness to Yahweh. Any nation who would honor the Lord in this way would gain the same benefits as belonged to ethnic Israel.

       

       

      CUNDALL adds, "It is remarkable to observe that these 'evil neighbours' (Jeremiah 12:14) are promised a share in a glorious future, following a chastisement similar to that inflicted upon His covenant-people, providing they accept the testimony of Judah to her Saviour-God."

       

      But if they do NOT obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation…

       

      The blessing for turning to the Lord was great; but the price for rejecting God was also great. They could expect the judgment of God, no matter their present prosperity or superiority.

       

    • February 15, 2018 6:35 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 13

       

      OPENS WITH...TWO WARNING SIGNS

       

      This chapter seems to be a compilation of several signs and prophetic words given to Jeremiah at different times.

       

       

      FIRST...The Sign of the Linen Sash.

       

      Verses 1-5 tells us HIDING the LINEN SASH.

       

      Thus the Lord said to me: Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water. So I got a sash according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock. So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.”

       

       

      Go and get yourself a linen sash…

       

      Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, told Jeremiah to take a sash and tie around himself as an object lesson. The sash was associated with the priestly garments both for the High Priest (Exodus 28:4) and the regular priest (Leviticus 16:4). Such a linen belt was a sign of DIGNITY & ROYALTY.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      If Jeremiah wore the traditional prophetic garb he would have been clothed in a fairly tight tunic of coarse material with a hair cloak over it. A linen girdle around his waist, such as was worn by priests and the rich nobility, would have made him something of a spectacle.

       

       

      Arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock…

       

      God commanded Jeremiah to make long journey, all the way north (and somewhat east) to the Euphrates River. This was in the direction from which the future conquerors of Judah would come. Once there, he was to bury the sash, presumably by the river.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      A three months disappearance by the prophet Jeremiah would have caused a stir in Anathoth, and his return without the girdle would have been cause for much comment.

       

       

      Verses 6-7 tells us Finding the decayed, useless sash.

       

      Now it came to pass after many days that the Lord said to me, Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there. Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing.”

       

       

      Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash…

       

      Some many days later, God commanded Jeremiah to take the long journey once again, this time to take the sash from the place he buried it.

       

      There was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing…

       

      Jeremiah found what he might have expected. The sash had deteriorated in the dirt and the moisture. It still existed, but it was ruined and good for nothing. It had nothing of the previous nobility and prominence that it once displayed.

       

       

      Verses 8-12 tells us Ruining the pride of the people.

       

      Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thus says the Lord: In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me, says the Lord, that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.”

       

       

      In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem…

       

      The noble sash was taken to the Euphrates and ruined. So also would Judah and Jerusalem be taken to the Euphrates (and beyond) in their coming captivity, and thus God would ruin the pride of His people.

       

      THOMPSON says it well, "Just as the girdle had been spoiled, so also would the gross pride of Judah and the gross pride of Jerusalem be destroyed."

       

       

      Shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing…

       

      At one time God had great use for His people Israel in the world, but they had so rejected God that at that point, they were profitable for nothing. This was through their three main sins.

       

      Who refuse to hear My words…

       

      The people of God had become hard and cold towards the word of God to them.

       

      Who follow the dictates of their hearts…

       

      The people of God instead trusted in their own hearts, and looked to self instead of the Lord.

       

      And walk after other gods to serve them…

       

      When they stopped listening to God and started following their own hearts, it led them to the corruption of idolatry.

       

      As the sash clings to the waits of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me…

       

      Just as a fine sash expressed beauty and nobility, so God wanted His people to be ornaments of His greatness to all the world. If they would cling to Him, they would be My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory.

       

       

      But they would not hear…

       

      Because of their stubborn and persistent sins against the Lord, Judah did not fulfill the noble and beautiful destiny God planned for them. They became useless and ruined like the buried sash.

       

      What was true for ancient Judah is true among God's people today. God's plan is to make His people a noble ornament, a decoration of His own presence and work. If we reject this noble calling, we become useless for His highest and best purpose - and our own.

       

       

      The Sign of the WINE BOTTLE.

       

      Verse 12 tells us Every bottle filled with wine.

      Therefore you shall speak to them this word: Thus says the Lord God of Israel: Every bottle shall be filled with wine. And they will say to you, Do we not certainly know that every bottle will be filled with wine?”

       

       

      Every bottle shall be filled with wine…

       

      This proverbial phrase had the sense, "Everything will fulfill its purpose." A bottle (actually a clay jar to hold wine, not a glass bottle) was meant to contain wine, so to say "every bottle shall be filled with wine" was another way to say, "everything shall fulfill its purpose" or "it will all be right in the end.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Bottle: "The “nebel” was the largest earthenware container used for storing wine (Isaiah 22:24; 30:14; Lamentations 4:2)."

       

      Do we not certainly know that every bottle will be filled with wine? The people's response showed their confidence in the principle of the proverb. If God had planned a noble and high purpose for Israel, surely it would be fulfilled - and good times would follow.

       

       

      Verses 13-14 tells us The people of Judah drunk and destroyed.

       

      Then you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land -- even the kings who sit on Davids throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem -- with drunkenness! And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, says the Lord. I will not pity nor spare nor have mercy, but will destroy them.”

       

       

      I WILL fill all the inhabitants of this land with drunkenness…

       

      Instead of fulfilling their purpose before God in a high and noble way, God's rebellious people would be filled with stupor and stupidity. If they had a fatalistic confidence in their destiny as the people of God, the Lord wanted to break it.

       

      I WILL dash them one against another…

       

      Bottles not only have destiny to be filled; they also have a destiny to be broken. God promised His rebellious people that they would face this destiny if they continued in their sin against Him.

       

      Jeremiah announced that God would fill the people with the wine of his wrath, and just as wine jars about which the people joked were smashed by dashing them one against the other, so God would destroy his people.

       

       

      How to respond to God's warnings.

       

      Verses 15-16 tells us HUMBLE yourself and give glory to the Lord.

       

      Hear and give ear:

      Do not be proud,

      For the Lord has spoken.

      Give glory to the Lord your God

      Before He causes darkness,

      And before your feet stumble

      On the dark mountains,

      And while you are looking for light,

      He turns it into the shadow of death

      And makes it dense darkness.”

       

       

      Do NOT be proud, for the Lord has spoken…

       

      Every time God speaks to us, we have the CHOICE to respond in pride or humility. We have the CHOICE to reject or resist the word of the Lord, or to humble ourselves before His authority. God warned Judah to take the humble path.

       

      Give glory to the Lord your God before He causes darkness…

       

      The promised judgment was not far away. There was urgency for Judah to turn to the Lord before the darkness came, before your feet stumble. In rejecting God they would become like mountain travelers trying to make their way through dangerous paths in dense darkness.

       

       

      Specifically, Judah could give glory to the Lord by recognizing His superior place and their proper place beneath Him. They could humbly confess their sin and reject their idols, which robbed God of His glory.

       

       

      Verses 17-20 tells us The PRICE TO BE PAID for not heeding God's warnings.

       

      But if you will not hear it,

      My soul will weep in secret for your pride;

      My eyes will weep bitterly

      And run down with tears,

      Because the Lords flock has been taken captive.

      Say to the king and to the queen mother,

      Humble yourselves;

      Sit down,

      For your rule shall collapse, the crown of your glory.

      The cities of the South shall be shut up,

      And no one shall open them;

      Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it;

      It shall be wholly carried away captive.

      Lift up your eyes and see

      Those who come from the north.

      Where is the flock that was given to you,

      Your beautiful sheep?”

      If you will NOT hear it, my soul will weep…

       

      This was Jeremiah's painful lament. He wasn't a dispassionate observer, throwing the thunderbolts of God's judgment against Judah. His eyes ran down with tears because of their sin and pride, and because soon, the Lord's flock has been taken captive.

       

       

      Say to the king and to the queen mother, "Humble yourselves"…

       

      If Judah's royalty would submit and surrender to God surely the people of the kingdom would follow. In this spiritual work the leaders HAD to take the lead.

       

       

      This word applied to the young king Jehoiachin and his mother Nehushta (2 Kings 24:8-16).

       

      They were perhaps already in Babylonia by this time, yet could still benefit if they humbled themselves before Yahweh.

       

      For your rule shall collapse, the crown of your glory…

       

      If the king and queen mother of Judah had a special responsibility to lead in repentance, they also had a special reason to do so. Because of their heights, the coming fall would affect them the worst.

       

       

      Where is the flock that was given to you, your beautiful sheep?

       

      The invaders from the north would take the people of Judah captive. Since a king was often thought of as a shepherd of his people, the picture of the invaders stealing the beautiful sheep of the king of Judah was especially appropriate.

       

       

      Verses 21-23 tells us The GUILT of those whom the Lord punishes.

       

      What will you say when He punishes you?

      For you have taught them

      To be chieftains, to be head over you.

      Will not pangs seize you,

      Like a woman in labor?

      And if you say in your heart,

      Why have these things come upon me?

      For the greatness of your iniquity

      Your skirts have been uncovered,

      Your heels made bare.

      Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?

      Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

       

       

      What will you say when He punishes you?

       

      When the promised calamity came upon Judah, they would have NO excuse. Though they did not listen to Jeremiah, he clearly warned them as the messenger of the Lord.

       

      For the greatness of your iniquity your skirts have been uncovered, your heels made bare…

       

      With strong images, God warned Judah that their iniquity was so great that the judgment coming against them would be as a severe violation.

       

       

      The idea here is that unfaithful Judah would be terribly and tragically violated by their conquerors, or that they would be humiliated and exposed as prostitutes for their continual spiritual adulteries (as in Isaiah 47:2-3; Hosea 2:3).

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Exposure of the secret parts (here euphemistically described as tearing off the skirt and mistreating the body) was the public disgrace heaped on prostitutes.

       

      The expression 'lift up the skirt' is a euphemism for sexual attack both here and elsewhere in the OT (Leviticus 18:6-19; Deuteronomy 23:1, 27:20; Isaiah 47:3; Nahum 3:5,).

       

      Under the savage metaphors the lesson is that a people that parts with its virtue - its morals, its integrity, its faith - will find itself not liberated, only cheapened: stripped of everything that gave it value and respect.

       

       

      Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil…

       

      Jeremiah quoted this proverb to warn the people that they were stuck in their sinful nature, and unable to change themselves. The answer was not first in national reform, but in national repentance and reliance upon the God who can change the nature of man.

       

      Evil, not only fitting them like a glove, not only deep-dyed, was by now something they could not more change or wish to change than the color of their skin.

       

      GOD CLARIFIES EVIL FOR US...MODERN MAN, PSYCHIATRIST, POLITICAL/SOCIAL CORRECTNESS PUNDITS KNOW THIS.

       

      Evil may be so ingrained in men that they find it impossible to change. Yet, especially from a broader Biblical perspective, we see the transforming work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

       

      The changes don't come all at once and they are not complete until we are resurrected in glory, but the transformation is nevertheless real. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin nor the leopard his spots; but the Lord God CAN transform men and women.

       

      Verses 24-25 tells us The determination of the Lord to scatter His people.

       

      Therefore I will scatter them like stubble

      That passes away by the wind of the wilderness.

      This is your lot,

      The portion of your measures from Me, says the Lord,

      Because you have forgotten Me

      And trusted in falsehood.”

       

       

      I will scatter them like stubble…

       

      Judah would not be conquered and exiled, but scattered across the Babylonian Empire and succeeding empires. This was their lot, the portion of your measures from the Lord.

       

      Because you have forgotten Me and trusted in falsehood..

       

      Even in this severe warning, God gave His people a roadmap back to His favor and blessing. Where they had forgotten God they must remember Him again, and where they had trusted in the falsehood of self and idols, they must turn away from them.

       

      Verses 26-27 tells us The exposed shame of God's people.

       

      Therefore I will uncover your skirts over your face,

      That your shame may appear.

      I have seen your adulteries

      And your lustful neighings,

      The lewdness of your harlotry,

      Your abominations on the hills in the fields.

      Woe to you, O Jerusalem!

      Will you still not be made clean?”

      Therefore I will uncover your skirts over your face, that your shame may appear…

       

      God's people chronically refused to humble themselves before the Lord (as in the plea of Jeremiah 13:18). Therefore they would face a far greater shame, one appropriate for their literal and spiritual harlotry.

       

      Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Will you still not be made clean?

       

      It was not only the Prophet Jeremiah who ached over the destiny of this stubborn, self-willed, idolatrous people. Yahweh Himself joined in the woe and the plea.

       

    • February 15, 2018 6:31 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 14

       

      OPENS WITH…JUDGMENT UPON FALSE PROPHETS

       

       

      Verses 1-6 tells us The droughts upon Judah.

       

      The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts.

      "Judah mourns,

      And her gates languish;

      They mourn for the land,

      And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up.

      Their nobles have sent their lads for water;

      They went to the cisterns and found no water.

      They returned with their vessels empty;

      They were ashamed and confounded

      And covered their heads.

      Because the ground is parched,

      For there was no rain in the land,

      The plowmen were ashamed;

      They covered their heads.

      Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field,

      But left because there was no grass.

      And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights;

      They sniffed at the wind like jackals;

      Their eyes failed because there was no grass."

       

       

      The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts…

       

      Apparently this section of Jeremiah’s prophecy came during a season when Judah was afflicted by droughts. Sustained or multiple droughts were always a life-or-death issue in an ancient societies where most made their living farming.

       

       

      Drought was also a special issue for ancient Israel and Judah, because the often-worshipped Canaanite idol Baal was thought to be the god of weather and rain. Many ancient Israelites were drawn to Baal worship because they wanted rain.

       

       

      Drought had been threatened for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:23-24) and was part of the covenant curses. The Lord’s purpose in sending the drought was to bring the nation to repentance.

       

       

      The word drought is plural here, indicating a series of such disasters, each one leaving the survivors less able to face the next.”

       

       

      Their nobles have sent their lads for water, they went to the cisterns and found no water…

       

      With both prophecy and poetry, Jeremiah described the great calamity of successive droughts in Judah. The people were brought low because of the lack lf life-giving water (they were ashamed and confounded).

       

      SPURGEON adds, “On the back of that confusion came despair; ‘they covered their heads.’ The Orientals cover their heads when in the deepest grief, as David did, when he went over the brook Kedron. It means, ‘I cannot face it. Do not look on me in my sorrow, nor expect me to look on you. I cover my head, for it is all over with me.’"

       

       

      The deer also gave birth in the field, but left because there was no grass…

       

      When God brought discipline or judgment to Judah through drought, it also affected animals and nature around them. Their sincere and sustained repentance would not only benefit themselves, but also the natural world.

       

       

       

      Verses 7-9 tells us A model of godly repentance in the time of drought.

       

       

      O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us,

      Do it for Your name's sake;

      For our backslidings are many,

      We have sinned against You.

      O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble,

      Why should You be like a stranger in the land,

      And like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?

      Why should You be like a man astonished,

      Like a mighty one who cannot save?

      Yet You, O Lord, are in our midst,

      And we are called by Your name;

      Do not leave us!”

       

       

      O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake…

       

      Using his prophetic imagination, Jeremiah thought of what true repentance would look like from Judah in response to the droughts. It began with an utter confession of guilt and an appeal to pure mercy, not what they deserved.

       

       

      O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in the land…

       

      Having come to God with humility and repentance, now the appeal sought to remind God that He was Israel’s Hope and Savior, and asked Him to not be a stranger to them and their great need.

       

       

      Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one who cannot save…

       

      With great confidence in God’s power and ability to save, Jeremiah imagined the repentant one appealing to God’s honor in the rescue of His people – that God would show Himself as one who can save.

       

       

      Yet You, O Lord, are in our midst, and we are called by Your name; do not leave us! The repentant one reminded God that He was near to Israel, and that they did belong to Him. He called upon God to act upon that nearness and identification.

       

       

      If only the nation had taken up this cry from the heart, and made it its own, then God could have shown forgiveness.

       

       

      Verse 10 tells us God’s response to the actual, shallow response of His people.

       

      Thus says the Lord to this people:

      "Thus they have loved to wander;

      They have not restrained their feet.

      Therefore the Lord does not accept them;

      He will remember their iniquity now,

      And punish their sins."

       

       

      Thus they have loved to wander; they have not restrained their feet…

       

      God responded to the imagined repentant one – they were just in the imagination. The Judah that actually existed loved to wander and did not hold themselves back from sin.

      Repentance, confession, humility before God that is only in the mind (or heart) but not in genuine action to Him is of no effect. It must go beyond a feeling. The repentance described in Jeremiah 14:7-9 was wonderful, but not real.

       

       

      Therefore the Lord does not accept them…

       

      Because the repentant one was only imagined, God would not accept an unfaithful people. He would remember and punish their sins.

       

      .

      Verses 11-12 tells us Exposing the false prophets and The futility of the certainty of God’s judgment.

       

       

      Then the Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence."

       

       

      Do not pray for this people…

       

      God gave a similar command to Jeremiah at Jeremiah 7:16-19. The people of Judah were at this point so hardened that they were past prayer; their course was set. God simply told Jeremiah, When they fast, I will not hear their cry.

       

       

      It is significant that God had to tell Jeremiah not to pray; the assumption is that he would pray and that God had to tell him not to. There is something along these lines in the New Testament, at 1 John 5:14-16, where John explained that there are some people – at least in theory – who are beyond prayer, and therefore prayer should not be made for them.

       

       

      I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence…

       

      The promised judgment would come. The insincere repentance offered would never be enough.

      The three items sword, famine, and pestilence were the regular accompaniment of war and are referred to several times in the OT.

       

       

      Verse 13 tells us Jeremiah reports the words of the false prophets.

       

      Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'"

       

       

      Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them…

       

      Jeremiah had a message in the name of the Lord to deliver to the people of Judah. Yet Jeremiah was not the only one who claimed to bring such a word. Others also claimed to be prophets.

       

       

      You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place…

       

      The message of the other prophets was that there would be deliverance from sword and famine. God would rescue. This was a hopeful, positive message that contrasted with what God gave to Jeremiah.

       

       

      Jeremiah probably hoped to explain or excuse the lack of repentance among the people and leaders of Judah. They didn’t truly repent because other prophets told them everything would be fine.

       

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us God’s assessment of these false prophets.

       

       

      And the Lord said to me, "The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, 'Sword and famine shall not be in this land'—'By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed!'"

       

       

      The prophets prophesy lies in My name…

       

      This was a direct and strong judgment. These pretended prophets did not truly speak in the name of the Lord; they prophesied lies.

       

       

      I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy a false vision…

       

      God claimed no responsibility for the words of those supposed prophets. The source of their words was the deceit of their heart. Their false prophecies came from themselves, not from the Lord.

       

       

      By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed…

       

      The false prophets who spoke words of peace and safety when it was a time to repent and prepare for judgment would themselves be special targets of the sword and famine to come.

       

       

      FEINBERG adds,“The people should have known that the Lord punishes sin, and they should not have believed the false prophets. The judgment of the nation is spoken of here because the people were willing to be deceived.”

       

       

      Verse 16 tells us God’s judgment on those who remain under the words of the false prophets.

       

       

      "And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them—them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters—for I will pour their wickedness on them."

       

       

      And the people to whom they prophesy…

       

      God did not consider those who received the words of the false prophets as without guilt. They were responsible for rejecting the words of the true prophets (Jeremiah and others like him) and for receiving the smooth but false words of the false prophets.

       

       

      Shall be cast out into the streets because of the famine and the sword…

       

      Hearing and believing the words of the false prophets did not make it true. They would suffer under the same judgment the false prophets said would never come.

       

       

      They will have no one to bury them…

       

      This was regarded as a special disgrace, magnifying the dishonor when God would pour their wickedness on them.

       

       

      Verses 17-18 tells us The pain of Jeremiah is weeping over the judgment to come.

       

      "Therefore you shall say this word to them:

      'Let my eyes flow with tears night and day,

      And let them not cease;

      For the virgin daughter of my people

      Has been broken with a mighty stroke, with a very severe blow.

      If I go out to the field,

      Then behold, those slain with the sword!

      And if I enter the city,

      Then behold, those sick from famine!

      Yes, both prophet and priest go about in a land they do not know.'"

       

       

      Let my eyes flow with tears night and day…

       

      It wasn’t a happy or triumphant thing for Jeremiah to know that he was a true prophet and those who said smooth things were false prophets. His pain at the calamity of coming judgment was far greater than any satisfaction in being right.

      The virgin daughter of my people has been broken with a mighty stroke…

       

      Jeremiah looked at the people of God for what they could have been – like a virgin daughter unto God – and grieved that there would be no escape from coming judgment, not in the field or in the city.

       

       

      FEINBERG adds, “He calls Judah ‘the virgin daughter – my people’ because she had been jealously kept from the idolatrous nations, as virgins are guarded in Oriental households.”

       

       

      Both prophet and priest go about in a land they do not know…

       

      Those who should have been a light and a guide to the people of God were themselves blind. This left little hope for the people of God to escape the coming judgment.

       

       

      Verses 19-20 tells us An astonished confession of sin and wickedness.

       

       

      Have You utterly rejected Judah?

      Has Your soul loathed Zion?

      Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us?

      We looked for peace, but there was no good;

      And for the time of healing, and there was trouble.

      We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness

      And the iniquity of our fathers,

      For we have sinned against You.”

       

       

      Has Your soul loathed Zion?

       

      Astonished at the calamity to come, Jeremiah was bold enough to wonder if God had cast off His people; if He had utterly rejected them, loathed them, and stricken them beyond healing.

       

       

      God told Jeremiah that He would not hear the prayers prayed for the people of Judah (Jeremiah 14:11). Yet Jeremiah could not stop praying. “In spite of it, Jeremiah continued to plead for the people.

       

       

      We looked for peace, but there was no good…

       

      Prompted by the smooth words of the false prophets the people of Judah hoped for peace and healing; but instead came trouble.

       

       

      For we have sinned against you…

       

      This was God’s desired result of the trouble to come upon them – to bring them to a full knowledge of their wickedness and iniquity. The hopeful but false words of the self-appointed prophets would not bring this result.

       

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us A plea that God would remember them in their misery.

       

       

      Do not abhor us, for Your name's sake;

      Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory.

      Remember, do not break Your covenant with us.

      Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain?

      Or can the heavens give showers?

      Are You not He, O Lord our God?

      Therefore we will wait for You,

      Since You have made all these.”

       

       

      Do not abhor us, for Your name’s sake; do not disgrace the throne of Your glory…

       

       

      Seeing nothing good in them upon which to appeal to God, Jeremiah prayed with a different approach. He asked on the basis of God’s name, on the basis of God’s rule and authority (the throne of Your glory), and on the basis of His covenant with them.

       

      This ground of reasoning anticipates the New Covenant…

       

      Under the New Covenant we believe God for help and blessing and favor not based upon who we are what we have done, but upon who God is and what He has done.

       

       

      Are there any among the idols that can cause rain?

       

       

      The chapter began with concern over the droughts. Now Jeremiah hopefully speaks for a repentant people who recognize that Baal or any of the other idols are powerless to cause rain. Not even nature separated from God can do it (can the heavens give showers?). The judgment of God, severe as it was, separated them from the idolatry and reliance upon the gods of the nations or nature to cause rain.

       

       

      Therefore we will wait for You…

       

      The humbled, surrendered, and submitted heart simply looks to God in patient reliance. The severe work of God’s strong correction upon His people has performed a merciful work.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:51 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 15

       

      OPENS WITH...The Painful Prayer of the Prophet & The inevitable destiny of Judah: FOUR FORMS of destruction.

       

      Verse 1 tells us The USELESSNESS of intercession for rebellious Judah.

       

      "Then the Lord said to me, Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth."

       

      Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me...

       

      Several times before God had told Jeremiah to NOT pray for the people, because their fate of judgment and exile was already certain (Jeremiah 7:16, 11:14, and 14:11). Adding to that previous thought, God said that even if two of the giants of the Old Testament - Moses and Samuel - were to intercede for Judah, it would NOT change their fate.

       

      Moses and Samuel were both known to be great men of intercession (Psalm 99:6-8). Moses seemed to change the destined judgment of Israel through his prayer (Exodus 32). Samuel prayed and the people were rescued from what seemed certain destruction (1 Samuel 7).

       

      My mind would not be favorable toward this people...

       

      By this Jeremiah understood that it was NOT as if he were a greater man of faith or prayer, the catastrophe could be avoided. Even if Moses and Samuel were present to pray for Israel, it would not be more effective than the prayers of Jeremiah.

       

      Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth...

       

      Judah will face its appointed and righteous exile out of the land.

       

      Verses 2-4 tells us The FOUR FORMS of destruction.

       

      "And it shall be, if they say to you, Where should we go? then you shall tell them, Thus says the Lord:

      Such as are for death, to death;

      And such as are for the sword, to the sword;

      And such as are for the famine, to the famine;

      And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity."

       

      And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction, says the Lord...

       

      the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

       

      Where should we go?

       

      God promised in the previous verse that Judah would be cast out of His sight and would be sent forth. Now God anticipated the question, "Where should we go?"

       

      Death, sword, famine, captivity…

       

      Some will go to death (actually, plague or pestilence), some will die in battle by the sword, some will perish through famine, and the remaining will go to the captivity. There would be NO GOOD ways to die.

       

      Four forms of destruction...

       

      Additionally (and poetically speaking), there would be FOUR WAYS a corpse could be dishonored after death. It could come through the sword, through dogs, through the birds of the heavens or through the beasts of the earth. It would seem as if all creation had gathered against judgment-ripe Judah to not only slay them, but to dishonor their dead bodies.

       

      For the corpse of a man to be dragged on the ground and then become carrion for bird and beast was too horrendous for an Israelite to contemplate. It was the ultimate in desecration of the dead.

       

      Because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah...

       

      There were sinful kings in Judah before and after Manasseh, and the people themselves did not obey and seek God. Yet there was something so horrific about the sin and rebellion of Manasseh that made judgment inevitable, irreversible.

       

      AND WHAT WAS MANASSEH'S GREAT SIN?

       

      The history of Judah tells the story of Manasseh's great sin (2 Kings 21:9-17). 2 Kings 21:16 summarized it as so: Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord.

       

      AND WE KNOW…

       

      The evil Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah - generally a good and godly king. He was therefore the worse, because he should have been better; and yet the worse again, because he was a ringleader of rebellion to others.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Yet - strangely, The monstrous Manasseh found personal forgiveness (2 Chronicles 33:12-13), but his legacy remained, both in the unrequired crimes of his regime against the innocent, and in the sins he had taught his people to embrace.

       

      I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth...

      Never was there a prophecy more literally fulfilled; and it is still a standing monument of Divine truth.

       

      YET...After judgment, mercy on the remnant.

       

      Verses 5-9 tells us Woe upon the widows.

       

      "For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem?

      Or who will bemoan you?

      Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing?

      You have forsaken Me, says the Lord,

      You have gone backward.

      Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you;

      I am weary of relenting!

      And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land;

      I will bereave them of children;

      I will destroy My people,

      Since they do not return from their ways.

      Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas;

      I will bring against them,

      Against the mother of the young men,

      A plunderer at noonday;

      I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly.

      She languishes who has borne seven;

      She has breathed her last;

      Her sun has gone down

      While it was yet day;

      She has been ashamed and confounded.

      And the remnant of them I will deliver to the sword

      Before their enemies, says the Lord."

       

      For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem?...

       

      Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, Yahweh asked Jerusalem to consider if anyone else cared for them and their coming crisis. There was no other who cared, who would bemoan their tragedy or take interest in their need.

       

      You have forsaken Me...

       

      Ironically, Judah rejected and rebelled against the only One who cared for them. Instead of progressing, they had gone backward. God would answer their rejection of Him with His own kind of rejection of them, giving them over to judgment and destruction.

       

      I am weary of relenting!..

       

      Judah was most blind to it, but God had held back His judgment against Judah for a long, long time. They presumed upon God in relenting in His own judgment against them, never considering that one day He would become weary of it and relent no more.

       

      I will winnow them with a winnowing fan...

       

      The work of winnowing used wind to scatter the chaff, separating it from the valuable grain. God would soon scatter Judah and Jerusalem into exile, as if from a winnowing fan.

       

      Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas...

       

      Considering the destruction and judgment to come upon Judah, God mentioned all the widows that would come forth from those slain in battle and exile.

       

      She languishes who has borne seven...

       

      Bearing seven children would normally be considered a sign of great blessing - something of a perfect family. Now even that woman suffers and perishes; she has been ashamed and confounded by the great judgment of God to come upon Judah.

       

      Verse 10 tells us Jeremiah's personal woe.

       

      "Woe is me, my mother,

      That you have borne me,

      A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!

      I have neither lent for interest,

      Nor have men lent to me for interest.

      Every one of them curses me."

       

      Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me...

       

      In considering the severity of his message Jeremiah thought of the great woe he himself bore. Like Job, he wondered if it would be better if he was never born.

       

      A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth...

       

      The woe of Jeremiah lay primarily in the fact that he continually battled for the message God gave him to proclaim. His work as a prophet was filled with strife and contention that seemed to be set against the whole earth.

       

      Every one of them curses me...

       

      Jeremiah considered it remarkable that he should be so reviled by others when he had not defrauded them by either borrowing or lending to them dishonestly. Nevertheless, he felt cursed and not received by all.

       

      This is one of Jeremiah's most moving confessions. He was complaining of loneliness. His greatness lay in his sensitive nature that felt acute pain for his people and their doom. The hopelessness of the nation's situation and his own difficulties of his position weighed on him.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "One of the greatest trials to which the people of God are subject, in trying to serve their Master, is non-success. The seven lean kine, as they eat up the seven fat kine, sorely try the believers faith. Alas! our disappointments seldom come alone, but like Job's messengers, follow close upon each others heels. When a man succeeds, he continues to succeed, as a rule; he derives encouragement from what God has already done by him, and goes from strength to strength. Probably, however, there is more grace exhibited by the Christian, who, without present success, realises the things not seen as yet, and continues still to work on. To labor is not easy, but to labor and to wait is harder far."

       

      Verses 11-14 tells us Promise of help, promise of exile.

       

      "The Lord said:

      Surely it will be well with your remnant;

      Surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you

      In the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.

      Can anyone break iron,

      The northern iron and the bronze?

      Your wealth and your treasures

      I will give as plunder without price,

      Because of all your sins,

      Throughout your territories.

      And I will make you cross over with your enemies

      Into a land which you do not know;

      For a fire is kindled in My anger,

      Which shall burn upon you."

       

      Surely it will be well with your remnant...

       

      God promised Jeremiah - both personally and as a representative of his people - that they would not be utterly forsaken in their exile. God would give him favor among the enemy to come (I will cause the enemy to intercede with you).

       

      This was literally fulfilled; see Jeremiah 39:11, & Nebuchadnezzar had given strict charge to Nebuzar-adan, commander in chief, to look well to Jeremiah, to do him no harm, and to grant him all the privileges he was pleased to ask.

       

      Can anyone break iron, the northern iron and the bronze?

       

      Though God said He would take care of His prophet Jeremiah in the coming crisis, it did not mean that the fate of Judah generally had changed. The weapons of Babylon - made with strong northern iron and the bronze - would surely come against them.

       

      The finest quality iron (northern ore) in the 7th century B.C. came from the Black Sea region. Clearly the armaments of Judah would be insufficient to repel the Babylonian armies.

       

      I will make you cross over with your enemies into a land which you do not know...

       

      Not only was the judgment and conquest of Judah certain, but they would also be exiled from their land into the unknown land of their enemies.

       

      Verses 15-18 tells us The painful prayer of the prophet.

       

      "O Lord, You know;

      Remember me and visit me,

      And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.

      In Your enduring patience, do not take me away.

      Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke.

      Your words were found, and I ate them,

      And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;

      For I am called by Your name,

      O Lord God of hosts.

      I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers,

      Nor did I rejoice;

      I sat alone because of Your hand,

      For You have filled me with indignation.

      Why is my pain perpetual

      And my wound incurable,

      Which refuses to be healed?

      Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream,

      As waters that fail?"

       

      Remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors…

       

      Jeremiah did what other godly men in the Bible also did - he looked to God for protection and justice when persecuting for righteousness sake. Jeremiah could rightly say, "for Your sake I have suffered rebuke," so he could also right entrust whatever vengeance was appropriate unto God's care.

       

      Remember me...

       

      He is alienated from his people because of his witness, yet he has no choice but to proclaim God's word to a recalcitrant nation. He is a lonely, anxious man, yet one who rejoices that God dwells in his heart.

       

      Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart...

       

      As Jeremiah continued to plead his case before God, he declared to God his great love for and focus upon God's word.

       

      Jeremiah first found God's Word; neither neglecting nor taking it for granted.

       

      Jeremiah then ate God's Word; taking it in as food for the soul and receiving refreshment and nourishment from it.

       

      Jeremiah then regarded God's Word as the joy and rejoicing of his heart. He delighted upon the Word of God, and did so in his innermost being.

       

      For I am called by Your name...

       

      This interest and value placed upon God's Word seemed natural and appropriate for Jeremiah, because he knew that he was called by God's own name. Jeremiah would think it strange that anyone called by His name would not find interest and nourishment and joy in God's Word.

       

      I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers...

       

      Jeremiah pleaded his separation from those who did not value or love God's Word. He did so in wording suggestive of Psalm 1, which shows the blessing to attentiveness to God's Word.

       

      I sat alone because of Your hand...

       

      The separation from the mockers meant that there were times when the prophet sat alone, out of obedience and integrity to God and His Word.

       

      Why is my pain perpetual will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream...

       

      Jeremiah had a true trust in God and connection to His Word, yet this did not remove the crisis. There were still times when his pain seemed perpetual and he feared God might not be faithful to him - as an unreliable stream. This was a genuine challenge to Jeremiah's faith in God's goodness and power.

       

      Time was when Jeremiah thought of Yahweh as a 'fountain of living water (Jeremiah 2:13). But now he seems like waters that have failed.

       

      In his distraught state, Jeremiah charged the Lord with failure to fulfill his promises to strengthen him in his resistance against his enemies.

       

      Verses 19-21 tells us A promise to protect the prophet.

       

      "Therefore thus says the Lord:

      If you return,

      Then I will bring you back;

      You shall stand before Me;

      If you take out the precious from the vile,

      You shall be as My mouth.

      Let them return to you,

      But you must not return to them.

      And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall;

      And they will fight against you,

      But they shall not prevail against you;

      For I am with you to save you

      And deliver you, says the Lord.

      I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked,

      And I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible."

       

      If you return, then I will bring you back...

       

      God promised Jeremiah that despite the current rejection and the coming crisis there remained a promise of restoration. If he rejected the temptation to regard God as uncaring or unreliable and continued to take out the precious from the vile, he would continue to be a spokesman for God.

       

      In Jeremiah's heart there were unworthy thoughts of God, and these had found expression in his utterances. Let him purge his heart of such alloy (take out the precious from the vile), and devote himself only to the true gold of truth concerning God.

       

      It is ironic that God had to tell Jeremiah to repent. For years Jeremiah had been telling the people of Israel to turn back in repentance. But he had some repenting of his own to do.

       

      Let them return to you, but you must not return to them...

       

      It was important for Jeremiah to remain unmovable a prophet of God. The people of God could return to him, but he must not move from his place to accommodate them.

       

      I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall...

       

      If Jeremiah remained steadfast in his position as God's prophet, God would make him strong and unconquerable. God would fulfill His promise to deliver from the hand of the wicked and to redeem from the grip of the terrible.

       

      CUNDALL adds, "How gracious was God to His overwrought servant in the face of this querulous outburst! He did not write Jeremiah off as a failure, but showing him the worthlessness of such unfounded accusations, He indicated the way of restoration through repentance and divine strength."

       

      The promise of deliverance is expressed in THREE significant Old Testament verbs of "deliverance". They are found in such significant passages as the Exodus story, although they have a more general application. The total picture of deliverance is many-sided and each verb provides a different emphasis."

       

      Save…

       

      Its related nouns lay stress on the bringing out of those under restraint into a broad place.

       

      Deliver…

       

      Pictures the activity of one who snatches his prey from the grasp of a powerful possessor.

       

      Redeem..

      .

      Normally used in reference to liberation from the possession of another by the giving up of a ransom it came to refer to acts of deliverance in daily life.

       

      The heartening promises of verses 20-21 remind Jeremiah of his opening call, almost word for word (Jeremiah 1:18-19). They offer nothing easy. But the strength that they speak of, and the undefeated outcome, will be the glory of Jeremiah's ministry.

       

      THEN AND NOW...THESE THREE PROMISES ARE GIVEN TO US TODAY BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM AND CALL HIM LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, & FRIEND. I WILL SAVE. I WILL DELIVER. I WILL REDEEM.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:48 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 16

       

      OPENS WITH...Living Signs of Coming Judgment

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us Jeremiah commanded to NOT take a wife NOR to father children.

       

      "The word of the Lord also came to me, saying, You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth."

       

      You shall not take a wife...

       

      God gave Jeremiah a unique command, one that went against the general will of God for His people and against the strong cultural traditions of the Jewish people. Jeremiah was commanded to neither take a wife nor to have sons or daughters.

       

      In ancient Jewish culture (and among many observant Jews today) it was a shame and a dishonor to be single and childless. Marriage and childbearing were expected. Jeremiah's obedience to God's command would attract attention.

       

      Since marriage was the normal state of life for a healthy adult Hebrew male, abstinence for the reasons given would furnish a powerful object-lesson.

       

      Celibacy was unusual, not only in Israel, but throughout the Near East.

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Biblical Hebrew does not even have a word for bachelor.

       

      We should suppose that like most others Jeremiah looked for the blessings and benefits of marriage and parenthood. These there legitimate desires for him to have; yet in order to fulfill the call of God upon his life, he may need to deny such things to pursue the higher call. Jesus would later explain that His followers must be willing to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). According to the will of God for the individual believer, this may mean giving up otherwise legitimate pursuits.

       

      Under the New Covenant and among Christians, marriage and childbearing are STILL honored and one might say expected. Nevertheless, the New Testament gives specific honor and status to the unmarried, telling them to regard their state as a calling from God, even as Jeremiah (1 Corinthians 7:7-9; 7:26-35).

       

      They shall die gruesome deaths...

       

      This was God's reason for the unusual command to Jeremiah. The present time was so filled with distress and coming crisis that it was wise for Jeremiah to not marry or have children.

       

      This was much the same reasoning Paul used in advising contentment with the unmarried state in 1 Corinthians 7:26-35 - that they could find contentment in light of the present distress (1 Corinthians 7:26).

       

      His being denied a wife and children would be a warning that the family life of the nation was to be disrupted.

       

      Verses 5-7 tells us Jeremiah commanded to NOT mourn with others.

       

      "For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people, says the Lord, lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother."

       

      Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament...

       

      It was and is normal to mourn and lament with others in the time of death. Yet because God had taken away His peace from this people, Jeremiah WAS NOT to join with others in their formal expressions of mourning.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Not to show grief was abnormal and was cause for criticism. The rituals for the bereaved - even for those who lost a father or mother - would not be permitted. So Jeremiah would be denied the blessing of serving the sorrowing.

       

      Both the great and the small shall die in this land...

       

      Jeremiah was to stay away from occasions of mourning with others as a sign of the great calamity to come upon Judah, when death would be so widespread that the dead shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them.

       

      Cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them...

       

      When the coming judgment struck Judah, NONE of the mourning practices would be observed. Not those that were culturally accepted (break bread in mourning for them) nor those that were disobedient imitations of pagan rituals for the dead (cut themselves).

      Cut themselves...

       

      DID YOU KNOW CUTTING...IS NOT NEW?

       

      These are rites of self-mutilation, in which the mourners cut or gashed themselves and shaved the head and the beard. They seem to have been widely practiced in Israel (Jeremiah 41:45; 47:5; 48:37; Isaiah 15:2-3; 22:12; Ezekiel 7:18; Micah 1:16) even though they were forbidden.

       

      Verses 8-9 tells us Jeremiah commanded to NOT feast with others.

       

      "Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride."

       

      Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them...

       

      Just as Jeremiah was commanded to detach himself from normal family relationships and expressions of public mourning, so he was also to detach himself from PUBLIC celebrations. All these were done as signs of the coming judgment.

       

      What this meant to a heart as exquisitely tender as Jeremiah's can only be imagined. In the tight-knit community of Judah it was tantamount to a self-imposed excommunication.

       

      I will cause to cease from this place the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness...

       

      When the crisis of judgment came upon Judah there were be NO gladness or wedding celebrations. As a sign, Jeremiah was to live in his present day as if that judgment had ALREADY come.

       

      Verses 10-13 tells us Explaining God's judgment to the people of Judah.

       

      "And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, Why has the Lord pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God? then you shall say to them, Because your fathers have forsaken Me, says the Lord; they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor."

       

      Why has the Lord pronounced all this great disaster against us?

       

      Several times in the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord anticipated this question from the people and leaders of Judah and was concerned to answer it. It was important to God that they do NOT regard the calamity as misfortune or bad luck; they needed to see that it was a just response to their GROSS SINS, REJECTION, REFUSAL TO RETURN, AND THEIR REBELLION AGAINST GOD.

       

      Because your fathers have forsaken Me...

       

      This coming conquest and exile of Judah was NOT due to the sin of ONLY one generation. It was hardened rebellion over SEVERAL generations that brought Judah to their soon-to-come judgment.

       

      And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart...

       

      The sins of their fathers was enough to made them liable for judgment, but beyond that they added their own guilt. To the sins of their fathers (idolatry and rejection of the Lord's ways), they also worshipped self in a significant way.

       

      I will cast you out of this land into a land you do not know...

       

      Because of the collective guilt of their fathers and their own generation, conquest and exile were sure to come.

       

      There you shall serve other gods day and night...

       

      There Jeremiah ironically assures them that they will have the opportunity of indulging their desire for pagan worship day and night.

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us The wonderful promise of restoration from exile.

       

      "Therefore behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, but, The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them. For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers."

       

      Therefore behold the days are coming...

       

      The previous word from Jeremiah was about as dark as could be, with God promising I will NOT show you favor in the land of their coming exile. Yet as if God could not help Himself, that word of despair is immediately followed by a wonderful and gracious promise.

       

      No more shall it be said, "The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt"...

       

      God's deliverance of His people from Egypt was the central act of redemption in the Old Testament. Through the Passover celebration and in many other ways, God constantly reminded Israel of this great work.

       

      But, "The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them"...

       

      God made a remarkable promise - that there would be a new measure of His greatness and redemptive power. The new measure would be the return from captivity, when God would bring them back into their land.

      The reference to 'all the countries' shows that the prophet was predicting a restoration from a general dispersion after the Exile.

       

      There is a valuable spiritual analogy here. The initial work of redemption in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ is great; but the restoring work of the believer - when God brings a chastened child of His out of a metaphorical exile and back into His favor and promise - this work may sometimes be regarded as even greater. This is the principle God revealed to Jeremiah.

       

      Verses 16-18 tells us The zeal of God in pursing the people ripe for judgment.

       

      "Behold, I will send for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols."

       

      I will send for many fishermen...

       

      These were fishers of men, but in a negative sense. God would send metaphorical fishermen and hunters upon His rebellious people to capture them for the promised judgment and exile. They could not hide from the God whose eyes were on all their ways.

       

      The 'fishers' would first net the big haul, presumably a reference to deportation, to be followed by 'hunters', who would ferret out the individual survivors.

       

      I will repay double...

       

      I will repay them exactly what they deserve for their wickedness and their sin. Their punishment fit the crime.

       

      Because they have defiled My land...

       

      This explained one reason WHY exile was an appropriate answer to Judah's deeply sinful condition. Because they defiled the Lord's land, they would be cast out of that land for a season.

       

      The carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols...

       

      Either meaning the idols themselves, which were only carcasses without ANY REAL life; or the sacrifices which were made to them.

       

      But to be amazed at her tolerance of other gods is to be no less amazed at a generation - our own - which prides itself on religious pluralism and is embarrassed at the exclusive claims of Christianity.

       

      Verses 19-21tells us Yahweh glorified among the Gentiles.

       

      "O Lord, my strength and my fortress,

      My refuge in the day of affliction,

      The Gentiles shall come to You

      From the ends of the earth and say,

      Surely our fathers have inherited lies,

      Worthlessness and unprofitable things.

      Will a man make gods for himself,

      Which are not gods?

      Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,

      I will cause them to know

      My hand and My might;

      And they shall know that My name is the Lord."

       

      O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction...

       

      Despite the gloom of Judah's condition and their impending judgment, Jeremiah still found strength and refuge in the Lord.

       

      The Gentiles shall come to You...

       

      Not only would God fulfill the promise to restore His own people from their exile, but He would also do an even greater work. God promised to draw the Gentiles unto Himself, drawing them from the ends of the earth.

       

      Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthless and unprofitable things...

       

      This would be the repentant testimony of the Gentiles drawn to the Lord. They would see the vanity of their idols and unprofitable things.

       

      The thought of God's proven reality, over against the phantom gods of heathenism, opens Jeremiah's eyes to foresee the day when far-flung peoples will realize the hollowness of their religions and turn to the Lord.

       

      Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods?

       

      Let's face it. Can any be so silly, and so preposterously absurd? Yes, fallen man is capable of any thing that is base, mean, vile, and wicked, till influenced and converted by the grace of Jesus Christ.

       

      I will cause them to know My hand and My might...

       

      God promised a mighty revelation of His power and greatness to the Gentiles. This promise was fulfilled in the display of God's power and love through the work of Jesus and the ongoing presentation of that message.

       

      They shall know that My name is the Lord...

       

      In that way the nations would come to know that his name was Yahweh. But a name denoted one's character, and the very name Yahweh denoted a wide range of attributes not least of which as his power to save.

       

      Some Bible expositors are divided as to whether the Jews or the Gentiles are meant here. Actually, what is said will apply to BOTH; there is no need to exclude either one, confirmed to us in Ezekiel 36:23; 37:14.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:44 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 17

       

      OPENS WITH...The Folly of Misplaced Trust & the depth of Judah's sin

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us Pen and paper for Judah's sin.

       

      "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron;

      With the point of a diamond it is engraved

      On the tablet of their heart,

      And on the horns of your altars,

      While their children remember

      Their altars and their wooden images

      By the green trees on the high hills.

      O My mountain in the field,

      I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures,

      And your high places of sin within all your borders.

      And you, even yourself,

      Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you;

      And I will cause you to serve your enemies

      In the land which you do not know;

      For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever."

       

      The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron...

       

      As Jeremiah God's prophet begins to describe the character and extent of Judah's sin, he started with a figure that emphasized the hardness and strength of Judah's rebellion against God. Their sins were engraved deeply upon them, as if written with an iron pen, and with the point of a diamond. There was nothing superficial about their sinful state.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      A 'pen of iron' was used for cutting inscriptions in rock or stone. The point of the metaphors is not the hardness of the materials used, but the indelible nature of what is written.

       

      On the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars...

       

      Both the heart and the religious works of the people were deeply etched with sin. These bore the indelible marks of Judah's determined rebellion.

       

      The people's heart has guilt not only written all over it but etched into it, engraved beyond erasure. Only when God wrote his law on his people's heart could obedience replace rebellion.

       

      The reference to 'the horns of their altars' REFERS to the altars of Baal.

       

      While their children remember...

       

      Engraving upon a stone tablet lasts for generations, and so would the etching of sin upon the heart and the altars set a sinful course for coming generations. Their sin was written so deep and in such places that it would be read for generations.

       

      I will cause you to serve your enemies...

       

      For all this deeply ingrained sin - especially idolatry with wooden images upon the high hills - God promised to bring His judgment upon Judah.

       

      Verses 5-8 tells us The folly of trusting in man.

       

      "Thus says the Lord:

      Cursed is the man who trusts in man

      And makes flesh his strength,

      Whose heart departs from the Lord.

      For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,

      And shall not see when good comes,

      But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,

      In a salt land which is not inhabited.

      Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

      And whose hope is the Lord.

      For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,

      Which spreads out its roots by the river,

      And will not fear when heat comes;

      But its leaf will be green,

      And will not be anxious in the year of drought,

      Nor will cease from yielding fruit."

       

      CURSED is the man who trusts in man...

       

      One might say that this curse does NOT require the special activity of God; this curse is simply associated with trust placed on failing and fallible man. This is especially true because man can NOT make flesh his strength without also the heart departing FROM the Lord.

       

      He shall be like a shrub in the desert...

       

      Jeremiah pictured a weak, dry shrub in the desert about to die from drought. This is the picture of the one (believer or not) who trusts in man instead of the Lord; they are dry and unsustainable.

       

      BLESSED is the man who trusts in the Lord...

       

      In contrast, the one who trusts in the Lord will be like a tree planted by the waters, whose leaf will be green. Jeremiah drew on the images of Psalm 1, where the blessed man is the one who delights in God's word (Psalm 1:1-3). In some sense, Jeremiah thought trusting in the Lord to be the same as delighting in His word.

       

      Verses 9-10 tells us The folly of trusting one's own heart.

       

      "The heart is deceitful above all things,

      And desperately wicked;

      Who can know it?

      I, the Lord, search the heart,

      I test the mind,

      Even to give every man according to his ways,

      According to the fruit of his doings."

       

      The heart is deceitful above all things...

       

      To this point the Prophet Jeremiah has given some reason to be cautious about the inclinations and direction of the heart. He noted how the evil heart of the people of Judah had led them astray.

       

      Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart (Jeremiah 11:8)

       

      They prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart (Jeremiah 14:14)

       

      Each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me (Jeremiah 16:12)

       

      The heart is deceitful above all things...

       

      Our hearts often deceive us, presenting heart-fulfillment as the key to happiness. What we desire is often not what we need. The advice "be true to your heart" fails when the heart is deceitful above all things.

       

      In the OT usage the heart signifies the total inner being and includes reason. From the heart come action and will.

       

      And desperately wicked...

       

      The heart is not only deceitful, but also wicked - and desperately so. Many have been led to rebellion, disobedience, and great sorrow by following their heart, without challenging their heart and judging it by the measure of God's truth. "Follow your heart" is poor advice when the heart is desperately wicked.

       

      The sense of the Hebrew for "desperately wicked" seems to have sickness more than depravity in mind. "Unregenerate human nature is in a desperate condition without divine grace, described by the term gravely ill.

       

      Who can know it?

       

      The heart's deceit and wickedness are advanced enough that even the individual may not know or understand their own heart, and outsiders have even more difficulty in discerning the heart of others.

       

      I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind...

       

      Though knowing the heart of one's self or others is difficult and sometimes impossible, God searches, tests, and knows the heart and mind. It is wise to trust what God says about us more than what we think or feel about ourselves.

       

      Even to give to every man according to his ways…

       

      Because God perfectly knows the heart and mind of man His judgment is true. God knows to what extent the heart either justifies or condemns the doings of a man or woman.

       

      Verse 11 tells us The folly of trusting IN RICHES.

       

      "As a partridge that broods but does not hatch,

      So is he who gets riches, but not by right;

      It will leave him in the midst of his days,

      And at his end he will be a fool."

       

      As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right...

       

      Jeremiah just spoke to the folly of trusting one's heart. Now he states a proverb meant to show the foolishness of trusting in riches. Not all riches are condemned; only those gained not by right.

       

      It will leave him in the midst of his days...

       

      According to the ancient times, a partridge sits upon the eggs of other birds. When they do hatch, the chicks leave the partridge because they don't really belong to that bird. Even so, riches will leave a man when he stands before God in judgment. In the end he will be shown to be a fool for trusting in his ill-gotten gains.

       

      Verses 12-13 tells us The folly of failing to trust in the God of all glory.

       

      "A glorious high throne from the beginning

      Is the place of our sanctuary.

      O Lord, the hope of Israel,

      All who forsake You shall be ashamed.

      Those who depart from Me

      Shall be written in the earth,

      Because they have forsaken the Lord,

      The fountain of living waters."

       

      A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary...

       

      Jeremiah has shown the folly of trusting in anything other than the Lord; now he will show by contrast the greatness of trusting God who was symbolically enthroned at the temple in Jerusalem (the place of our sanctuary).

       

      The phrase throne of glory (or a glorious throne) is a reference to the temple where Yahweh's presence was known among his people.

       

      The throne is sanctuary; in the authority, the executive action, the government of that throne, man finds the place of safety and refuge from all the forces which are against him.

       

      O Lord, the hope of Israel...

       

      Yahweh was the true and confident hope of Israel, even if many turned away from Him. Those who did turn from Him would be noted and recorded (shall be written in the earth) and would come to shame for foolishly rejecting Him.

       

      Verses 14-17 tells us Jeremiah's prayer for deliverance and defense.

       

      "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;

      Save me, and I shall be saved,

      For You are my praise.

      Indeed they say to me,

      Where is the word of the Lord?

      Let it come now!

      As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows You,

      Nor have I desired the woeful day;

      You know what came out of my lips;

      It was right there before You.

      Do not be a terror to me;

      You are my hope in the day of doom."

       

      Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved…

       

      In contrast to the foolish people of Judah who trusted in man, in their own heart, or in riches, Jeremiah looked to Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel. Jeremiah was confident that healing or salvation from the Lord would be TRUE healing, TRUE rescue.

       

      It's hard to say if the healing Jeremiah cried out for was literal or spiritual in nature, and in the bigger picture it does NOT really matter. Either need is real, and God's ability to heal BOTH our physical and spiritual need is true and proven.

       

      You are my praise...

       

      Even in his need of healing and salvation, Jeremiah could praise God, even making God Himself his praise. Though in pride others demanded an immediate revelation of God and His power, Jeremiah was willing to wait and trust in the Lord.

       

      As for me...

       

      In a series of brief statements, Jeremiah defended and justified his ministry before God. He did this to contrast himself with those who demanded God bring immediate revelation and resolution.

       

      I have not hurried away from being a shepherd that follows You...

       

      Jeremiah was confident in his pursuit of God's call on his life.

       

      Nor have I desired the woeful day...

       

      Jeremiah spoke much of the judgment to come, but he did not desire it. It was a painful message for him to deliver.

       

      You know what came out of my lips...

       

      Jeremiah could appeal to God as the One who heard and judged his message, seeing that it really was faithful to the voice and the heart of God.

       

      You are my hope in the day of doom...

       

      Jeremiah proclaimed his trust and hope in God alone, not in the folly of most of the people of Judah.

       

      Verse 18 tells A prayer for the justification of God's prophet.

       

      "Let them be ashamed who persecute me,

      But do not let me be put to shame;

      Let them be dismayed,

      But do not let me be dismayed.

      Bring on them the day of doom,

      And destroy them with double destruction!"

       

      Let them be ashamed who persecute me...

       

      Jeremiah was part of a long tradition of prophets and men of God in Israel who cried out to God for defense. This was a prayer of vengeance, but a prayer that left vengeance in the hands of God.

       

      But do not let me be put to shame...

       

      Because he could defend and justify his work before God, Jeremiah confidently prayed that God would defend and justify him and bring his enemies and persecutors to shame, dismay, doom, and destruction.

       

      Verses 19-23 tells us Jeremiah delivers a message to the people: obey God's command of the Sabbath.

       

      "Thus the Lord said to me: Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; and say to them, Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. Thus says the Lord: Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction."

       

      Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem...

       

      At God's direction Jeremiah brought a strong and public word to all of Judah and Jerusalem, kings and commoners. Their response to this word would measure their surrender or rebellion to God.

       

      The gate of the children of the people...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The Benjamin Gate or the Gate of the Laity (my sons of my people) is of uncertain location, but was apparently used by persons other than priests and Levites.

       

      Bear no burden on the Sabbath day...

       

      Jeremiah simply repeated the Sabbath commands Israel originally agreed to as part of the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 20:8-11). He reminded them that this was as I commanded your fathers.

       

      But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction...

       

      Jeremiah delivered a clear message, rooted in prior revelation. Yet the kings and commoners rejected the word of the Lord and continued to treat the Sabbath as if it were any other day.

       

      Verses 24-27 tells us A PROMISED BLESSING for obedience and A PROMISED CURSE for disobedience.

       

      "And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully, says the Lord, to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the Lord. But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched."

       

      If you heed Me carefully...

       

      Jeremiah spoke for the Lord and promised the people of Jerusalem and Judah that if they radically obeyed even this one command God would preserve their city and their kingdom (kings and princes sitting on the throne of David).

       

      It wasn't as if the Sabbath was the only command important to God; this offer to Jerusalem and Judah was simple a TESTING point. If they were willing to radically obey God in this one point, it would indicate a true repentance and submission to God that would extend to all points. This one point of obedience or disobedience would stand for all others, just as the eating of forbidden fruit would stand for all obedience or disobedience for Adam in the Garden of Eden.

       

      The several regions of Judah are mentioned (v. 26); these were still possessed by Judah and Benjamin. The land of Benjamin was north of Judah. The lowland or Shephelah ('western foothills') was the low hills stretching toward the Philistine maritime plain, west and southwest of Judah, and was the center of agriculture. The hill country was the central region, with the wilderness of Judah stretching down to the Dead Sea. The Negev was the arid South (Joshua 15:21-32).

       

      But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem...

       

      The promise for obedience was great; the promise for disobedience was also significant. God would allow their obedience or disobedience on this one point to stand for all.

       

      Obviously - and tragically - Judah and Jerusalem did NOT return to the Sabbath at Jeremiah's word, and they faced the severe judgment of God.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      When God told them to hallow (REVERE/RESPECT/HONOR) the Sabbath, He told them to hallow the rest. The term Sabbath is derived from the Hebrew verb to rest or cease from work. The most important purpose of the Sabbath was to serve as a preview picture of the rest we have in Jesus.

       

      Like everything in the Bible, we understand this with the perspective of the WHOLE Bible, NOT this single passage. With this understanding, we see that there is a real sense in which Jesus fulfilled the purpose and plan of the Sabbath for us and in us (Hebrews 4:9-11) – He is our rest, when we remember His finished work we hallow the Sabbath, we hallow the rest.

       

      Therefore, the whole of Scripture makes it clear that under the New Covenant, NO ONE is under obligation to observe a Sabbath day (Colossians 2:16-17 and Galatians 4:9-11). Galatians 4:10 tells us that Christians are NOT bound to observe days and months and seasons and years. The rest we enter into as Christians is something to experience every day, not just one day a week - the rest of knowing we DO NOT have to work to save ourselves, but our salvation is accomplished in Jesus (Hebrews 4:9-10).

       

      The Sabbath commanded here and observed by Israel was a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

      In the New Covenant the idea IS NOT that there is no Sabbath, but that EVERY day is a day of Sabbath rest in the finished work of God.

      Since the shadow of the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus, we are free to keep ANY particular day - or NO day - as a Sabbath after the custom of ancient Israel.

       

      Yet we dare NOT ignore the importance of a day of rest - God has built us so that we need one. Like a car that needs regular maintenance, we need regular rest - or we will not wear well. Some people are like high mileage cars that have NOT been maintained well, and it shows.

       

      Some Christians are also dogmatic about observing Saturday as the Sabbath as opposed to Sunday. But because we are free to regard all days as given by God, it makes NO difference.

       

      But in some ways, Sunday is more appropriate; being the day Jesus rose from the dead (Mark 16:9), and first met with His disciples (John 20:19), and a day when Christians gathered for fellowship (Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2).

       

      Under O.T. Law, men worked towards Gods rest; but after Jesus finished work on the cross, the believer enters into rest and goes from that rest out to work.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:41 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 18

       

      OPENS WITH...Lessons at the Potter's House

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us Jeremiah visits the potter's house.

       

      "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: Arise and go down to the potters house, and there I will cause you to hear My words. Then I went down to the potters house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make."

       

      Arise and go down to the potter's house...

       

      As God sometimes did with His prophets, He instructed Jeremiah to learn a lesson through a living lesson, something from daily life.

       

      The vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter, so he made it again into another vessel...

       

      Watching the potter at work, Jeremiah noticed a lump of clay that seemed uncooperative. The potter decided to start again, making something that seemed good to the potter to make.

       

      Verses 5-10 tells us God's RIGHT to deal with His people as He pleases.

       

      "Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter? says the Lord. Look, as the clay is in the potters hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it."

       

      O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?

       

      Through the visit to the potter's house God spoke to Jeremiah and to all of Israel, reminding them of His sovereign right to do what He pleased with a marred or seemingly uncooperative vessel.

       

      In this illustration the clay has no moral choice or dimension, whereas Israel's disobedience was chosen again and again. The vessel at the potter's house was marred (Jeremiah 18:4); Israel marred themselves morally and spiritually before God.

       

      O house of Israel...

       

      Notably God called the southern kingdom - which technically was not the kingdom of all 12 tribes - the house of Israel. One reason was because there were truly representatives from all 12 tribes among the people of Judah from the migration of the godly from the tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel to Judah in the days of Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 11:13-16).

       

      If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent...

       

      The illustration at the potter's did not only demonstrate God's right to display judgment, but also His right to display mercy. He was free to work with a previously marred vessel if He chose to do so. Yet He was also free to take back good He had done to a nation if they did evil in His sight.

       

      The lesson of the potter's house was NOT primarily, "God can do whatever He wants." The main lesson is that God is free to respond to His people according to their own moral conduct and choices and previous promises do not restrict the exercise of His correction or justice. Man is never at the mercy of an unfeeling deity; it is in his power to repent and align himself with God's beneficent purposes.

       

      MEYER says it well, "He does not cast us utterly away; but puts us afresh upon the wheel, and 'makes us again 'Yield yourself afresh to God. Confess that you have marred his work. Humbly ask that He should make you again."

       

      Verse 11 tells Devising a plan of judgment.

       

      "Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good."

       

      Speak to the men of Judah...

       

      The lesson of the potter's house was meant to rebuke the false confidence of the men of Judah and Jerusalem. They believed that since they were God's covenant people that no harm could come to them. It made it easy for them to believe the positive words of the false prophets.

       

      Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you...

       

      God wanted the potter's house lesson to awaken them to the danger of impending judgment. Just as a potter fashions the clay, God fashioned disaster against His unrepentant people.

       

      Fashioning a disaster...

       

      "In verse 11 the Hebrew verb yoser (rsv shaping) has the same root as 'potter'. The choice is so deliberate as to reinforce the connection. The nation is to be moulded by means of the Exile."

       

      Return now every one from his way, and make your ways and your doings good...

       

      The lesson of the potter's house could also be taken as an encouragement, reminding them that repentance and surrender to God was not meaningless. God was free to relent from judgment if they did in fact repent in a meaningful way.

       

      Note carefully the cardinal rule of prophecy which is enunciated here, that both the promises and threats of God are not absolute but conditional.

       

      Note the urgency...

       

      SPURGEON says, "Men are quite willing to promise to return when they have gone a little further; when, perhaps, they will have gone past all possibility of returning; but 'now,' is always an ugly word to them. 'to-morrow,' they like much better. 'Now,' is a monosyllable which seems to Burn into their bosom like a hot coal, and therefore they pluck it out, and throw it from them."

       

      Verses 12-17 tells us The response of the people, and God's answer to them.

       

      "And they said, That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.

      Therefore thus says the Lord:

      Ask now among the Gentiles,

      Who has heard such things?

      The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing.

      Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon,

      Which comes from the rock of the field?

      Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?

      Because My people have forgotten Me,

      They have burned incense to worthless idols.

      And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,

      From the ancient paths,

      To walk in pathways and not on a highway,

      To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing;

      Everyone who passes by it will be astonished

      And shake his head.

      I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy;

      I will show them the back and not the face

      In the day of their calamity."

       

      That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans...

       

      Judah was in the tragic place of feeling it was hopeless to repent. It did not feel hopeless because they feared God would not respond as he promised. It seemed hopeless because they simply did not feel it was worth it to change the dictates of their evil heart simply because one prophet told them so.

       

      Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard such things?...

       

      God responded to their answer with astonishment. Not even among the Gentiles was there such foolishness and hardness of heart. It was like leaving pure waters (snow water of Lebanon) for strange waters, a muddy pool of filth. It was like leaving a safe and paved highway for unsafe pathways where men trip and fall.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The term seriqot, 'hissing' or 'whistling,' denotes that the land would become a spectacle so shocking as to cause passers-by to whistle in awe. The verse is remarkable for its striking assonance, with its s-sounds conveying the impression of hissing.

       

      I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy...

       

      The east wind is the sirocco, a hot dry wind coming from the eastern deserts.

       

      I will show them the back and not the face in the day of calamity...

       

      God commanded the priests of Israel to bless God's people, and part of that blessing was that the Lord would make His face shine upon you (Numbers 6:24-26). Soon Israel would sense the complete withdrawing of God's shining, favorable face upon them. They felt it was not worth it to repent; it would be far worse for them in failing to repent.

       

      When the Lord says he will show them his back and not his face, he means that his face will be hidden from them.

       

      Verse 18 tells us Jeremiah's prayer against THE PLOTS OF his enemies.

       

      "Then they said, Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words."

       

      Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah...

       

      We often think of Jeremiah as a lonely figure, a prophet standing alone for the cause of God. It's easy to forget that there were many who competed with Jeremiah for the ear of Judah and Jerusalem, hoping to give them comfort and encourage when God's message - the message through Jeremiah - was that of warning and judgment.

       

      The law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet...

       

      This was (in part) the message of the false prophets. If a man held the title of priest, he must have the law. If he were considered wise, he must have good counsel. If he were called a prophet, he must have a word from God. This was a mentality that pretty much denied the existence of corrupt priests, foolish elders, and unfaithful prophets.

       

      Jeremiah had been relentless in his condemnation of the three classes of officials referred to here, priests, wise men, and prophets. It is probably a fair inference that it was these men of the establishment who instigated the plot.

       

      A later prophet would state this in the reverse...

       

      Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; but the law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders. (Ezekiel 7:26)

       

      Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words...

       

      Jeremiah's enemies used the strategy of deliberate attack and denial against him. The strategy did not die with Jeremiah's enemies.

       

      Attack him with the tongue...

       

      Lying and false testimony are punished in the eastern countries, to the present day, by smiting the person on the mouth with a strong piece of leather like the sole of a shoe.

       

      Verse 19-20 tells us Jeremiah pleads for himself

       

      "Give heed to me, O Lord,

      And listen to the voice of those who contend with me!

      Shall evil be repaid for good?

      For they have dug a pit for my life.

      Remember that I stood before You

      To speak good for them,

      To turn away Your wrath from them."

       

      Give heed to me, O Lord, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me!

       

      Jeremiah first asked God to listen to him; then he asked God to listen to his enemies. Jeremiah believed that the fair God, the righteous God, would see that they were wrong and he was in the right.

       

      Remember that I stood before You to speak good for them...

       

      Jeremiah asked God to remember that he had prayed for these enemies, and prayed good for them - that God would turn away His wrath from them. This was the good he did for them; they repaid that good when they dug a pit for His life.

       

      Verses 21-23 tells us Jeremiah pleads against his enemies.

       

      "Therefore deliver up their children to the famine,

      And pour out their blood

      By the force of the sword;

      Let their wives become widows

      And bereaved of their children.

      Let their men be put to death,

      Their young men be slain

      By the sword in battle.

      Let a cry be heard from their houses,

      When You bring a troop suddenly upon them;

      For they have dug a pit to take me,

      And hidden snares for my feet.

      Yet, Lord, You know all their counsel

      Which is against me, to slay me.

      Provide no atonement for their iniquity,

      Nor blot out their sin from Your sight;

      But let them be overthrown before You.

      Deal thus with them

      In the time of Your anger."

       

      Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood...

       

      Jeremiah prayed a violent prayer against his enemies, asking for all kind of crisis and calamity to be poured out upon them both in this life (let their wives become widows) and in the next (provide no atonement for their iniquity).

       

      This is in the classic pattern of the imprecatory psalms, such as Psalms 10, 35, 58, and 59 where a strong and violent prayer is offered against an enemy.

       

      While such utterances may constitute a rather shocking revelation of Jeremiah's humanity, they are consistent with other maledictions uttered in the Lord's name, such as Psalm 137:9.

       

      Deal thus with them in the time of Your anger...

       

      The common link between Jeremiah 18 and these imprecatory psalms is that they bring the longing for vengeance to God and surrender it to Him - instead of taking it upon themselves. This is a good and godly impulse when one has been so severely wronged.

       

      Clearly there was no obligation resting on Yahweh to respond to every utterance of his servant. When he did respond, it was sometimes with a word of encouragement (Jeremiah 11:21-23) and sometimes with a word of rebuke (Jeremiah 12:5-6; 15:19).

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:37 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 19

       

      OPENS WITH...Tophet: The message at the Potsherd Gate.

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Preparation for the message.

       

      "Thus says the Lord: Go and get a potters earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you,"

       

      Go and get a potter's earthen flask...

       

      In the previous chapter God taught Jeremiah at the potter's house. God then told Jeremiah to take a clay bottle (earthen flask) to use for a spiritual illustration before some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The earthen flask was probably a small clay bottle with a narrow neck. It was easily broken and could not be repaired if broken. "The Hebrew noun baqbuq ('clay jay'), sounding like the gurgling of outpouring water. Jars that have been excavated range from four to ten inches in height.

       

      Centuries later the Apostle Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 4:7,"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." Paul's point was that the treasure and glory of God is set inside common and ordinary receptacles - His redeemed people.

       

      BUT HERE...Jeremiah's point is different. Having come from the potter's house (Jeremiah 18:1-11), God showed him how the potter could mold clay again into a new shape if it should seem resistant.

       

      Here, the clay is baked, hardened, and breakable. "If there is nothing so workable as a clay pot in the making, there is nothing so unalterable as the finished article. If it is wrong by then, that is that.

       

      Go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom...

       

      Twice previously (Jeremiah 2:23, 7:31) Jeremiah made mention of this terrible place, south of the temple mount in Jerusalem. It was used as both a garbage dump (with continually smoldering fires) and previously as a place of child sacrifice.

       

      "The valley of Ben-hinnom (cf. Jeremiah 7:31), south of Jerusalem, as a contemporary locale for Molech worship. Under Josiah the shrine was destroyed and later on the valley was used for burning garbage and cremating the bodies of criminals.

       

      The Valley of Hinnom gives us the idea of Gehenna in the New Testament. Gehenna is a Greek word borrowed from the Hebrew language. In Mark 9:43-44, Jesus spoke of hell (gehenna) referring to this place outside Jerusalems walls desecrated by Molech worship and human sacrifice (2 Chronicles 28:1-3; Jeremiah 32:35). It was also a garbage dump where rubbish and refuse were burned. The smoldering fires and festering worms of the Valley of Hinnom made it a graphic and effective picture of the fate of the damned. This place is also called the lake of fire in Revelation 20:13-15, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

       

      The name 'Potsherd Gate' probably to be identified with the Dung Gate (Nehemiah 2:13.

       

      Potsherd Gate may have acquired its name from the fact that potters whose workshops were near the gate dumped their broken vessels beyond the gate.

       

      Verse 3 tells us The beginning of the message at the Potsherd Gate.

       

      "And say, Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle.'"

       

      Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah...

       

      The kings of Judah needed to hear of God's coming judgment relevant to the Valley of Hinnom, because even some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children there.

       

      He used the plural 'kings' because the message was not only to the reigning king but to the whole dynasty that was responsible for the apostasy.

       

      AND THE BIBLE TELLS US...

       

      Ahaz, King of Israel, sacrificed his own son in the fire (2 Kings 16:3). The same thing happened in Manasseh's day, when children were sacrificed to the gods of Canaan (2 Kings 21:6).

       

      I will bring such catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle...

       

      As before, God promised great destruction and catastrophe to come upon this place associated with idolatry and child sacrifice.

       

      Verses 4-5 tells us The reason for the catastrophe to come.

       

      "Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind),"

       

      Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place...

       

      The idea of human sacrifice - rare or common - was so offensive to God, He called the place it was practiced an alien place. Judah's rebellion led them far, far from Yahweh.

       

      The verb nicker, 'make alien,' is a vivid and highly suggestive term. The place had been denationalized, so that it could not be recognized as Israelite.

       

      They have filled this place with the blood of innocents...

       

      Either the practice of child sacrifice was more widespread than yet confirmed by archaeologists, or God regarded even a little of this horrendous sin to be monstrous in its guilt.

       

      If anyone has ANY DOUBTS about how The Lord feels about killing/shedding innocent blood, such as those who murder their unborn babies, torture/abuse their innocent blood, use their babies as human shields, suicide bombers...reading Jeremiah 19 ends the debate or question. One born/unborn innocent life shed is MONSTROUS IN THE EYES OF GOD. And since Roe vs. Wade abortion decision was handed down 60 million babies have been murdered.

       

      To burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal...

       

      Child sacrifice was associated with a Canaanite deity known as Molech (Leviticus 20:2-5, Jeremiah 32:35). At least on some occasions, such offerings were also made to Baal.

       

      The destruction of the sanctuary in the valley of Ben-hinnom in the days of Josiah is referred to specifically in 2 Kings 23:10. Evidently the practice was revived under Jehoiakim, and it was to this that God had Jeremiah address.

       

      The offering of children to Baal, under his title of King, has sometimes been represented as a mere dedication rite, passing the child harmlessly over a flame toward the idol. Right here the truth is revealed by God himself, they WERE alive, they WERE sacrificed, they WERE burned to death our verse Jeremiah 19:5 and 7:31 leave no doubt that these were actual burnt-offerings.

       

      Which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind...

       

       

      Unlike many of the Canaanite deities, Yahweh NEVER commanded human sacrifice. God could say that it NEVER did come into His mind to ask such a thing; it totally went against His nature.

       

      The incident of Abraham's interrupted sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22) was an emphatic way for God to say, "I do not want human sacrifice."

       

      Verse 6-9 tells us The description of the catastrophe to come.

       

      "Therefore behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair."

       

      It will no more be called Tophet...

       

      Tophet (or in some translations, Topheth) was another name for the Valley of Hinnom. It was a name that associated it with pagan practices and child sacrifice.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      Topheth probably derives from the Hebrew word for 'fire-place' (Isaiah 30:33)." According to Roni Simon, an Israeli tour guide, in modern Hebrew the word still has the association with fire. If someone comes under gunfire, they might say "I'm under tophet." The name Topheth rhymes with bosheth, the Hebrew word for "shame."

       

      This place shall no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter...

       

      God here repeated a promise first recorded in Jeremiah 7:32 - that He would answer the idolatry of Judah and the outrageous practice of human sacrifice with devastating judgment. There would be a grotesque slaughter in that valley.

       

      The dead corpses in that place would also be disgraced by having no proper burial, and by being food for scavenger birds and the beasts of the earth.

       

      AND WE KNOW...For the body to remain unburied, thereby, providing food for carrion birds and rodents, was a thing of unspeakable horror for the ancient Hebrews. Ironically, their sanctuary would become their cemetery as the treasured homeland was ravaged.

       

      I will make void the counsel...

       

      Because this phrase in the original sounds something like the word used to describe the earthen flask, some think that Jeremiah symbolically emptied the bottle as he said this.

       

      I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues...

       

      The catastrophe would be seen both in terms of the death of the people and the destruction of the city.

       

      I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters...

       

      The city would be reduced to cannibalism, even as Samaria (the former capital of Israel) under siege from the Assyrians (2 Kings 6:26-29) and promised as a curse upon disobedient Israel (Deuteronomy 28:53-57). All this would drive the people of Jerusalem to despair.

       

      Verses 10-11 tells us The breaking of the flask.

       

      "Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potters vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury."

       

      Even so I will break this people and this city...

       

      God told Jeremiah to break the clay bottle as an illustration of the destruction to come. The clay bottle would break quickly and completely, and that is how God would bring judgment to Judah and Jerusalem.

       

      If a man or nation in spite of all the patient grace of God, persist in courses of evil and rebellion, then He will break in pieces. To find in the redeeming purpose of God a tolerance of sin, is of all evils the most terrible.

       

      They shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury...

       

      God wanted the demonstration done in the Valley of Hinnom (Tophet) because this is where the corpses of the slaughtered would be thrown into mass pits.

       

      Verses 12-13 tels us The meaning of the broken flask.

       

      "Thus I will do to this place, says the Lord, and to its inhabitants, and make this city like Tophet. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Tophet, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods."

       

      And make the city like Tophet...

       

      The Valley of Hinnom was a disgusting garbage dump and place of burning; all Jerusalem would have that see that kind of destruction. They would be destroyed like the broken flask.

       

      Because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven...

       

      Because the idolatry was spread throughout the city, God would bring this destruction throughout the city.

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us After the message of the broken flask.

       

      "Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lords house and said to all the people, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words."

       

      He stood in the court of the Lord's house...

       

      Jeremiah called the kings and rulers to hear him and see him enact the prophecy of the broken flask. Probably few of them took the trouble. For those who did not come to hear and see him, he brought the message to them, to the Lord's house.

       

      Because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words...

       

      The greatest sin of Judah and Jerusalem was not their particular sins themselves, it was their rebellion and refusal to hear God and receive His word and correction.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:34 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 20

       

      OPENS WITH..Jeremiah in the Stocks

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Jeremiah - God's spokesman in the stocks.

       

      "Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord."

       

      Pashhur the son of Immer...

       

      This leading priest apparently did NOT attend Jeremiah's dramatic sermon of the broken flask at the Valley of Hinnom. He heard ABOUT it, and did NOT receive it.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      The chief governor "was apparently the immediate subordinate of the High Priest and maintained order in the area of the Temple.

       

      Pashhur in this chapter was a fairly COMMON name; so we cannot be certain that the Pashhur in this chapter was the father of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 38:1).

       

      There were descendants of a Pashhur the priest who came back from the Babylonian exile with in the first return under Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:38).

       

      Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks...

       

      Jeremiah was beaten and had to endure painful public disgrace. He wasn't only regarded as a false prophet, but surely also as a traitor, discouraging the people who still trusted in help from God or Egypt against Babylon.

       

      The expression 'smote Jeremiah' is a technical one, and in all likelihood means that the official scourging of 'forty stripes save one' was administered.

       

      The stocks (mt mahpeket, from a root 'to distort') were a form of scaffold in which prisoners were detained in a twist-frame that crooked/clamped/confined position which produced cramped muscles.

       

      Which was by the house of the Lord...

       

      Ironically, all this was done near the temple - the center of Pashhur's power, and a very public place.

       

      Jeremiah was put in the stocks at the Upper Benjamin Gate - the northern gate of the upper temple court. It was one of the most conspicuous places in the city to make his shame/insult worse.

       

      Verses 3-6 tells us Jeremiah's message to Pashhur upon his release.

       

      "And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, The Lord has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. For thus says the Lord: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies."

       

      The next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks...

       

      Pashhur, the priest and chief governor, likely thought this to be a kind and humanitarian act. He didn't want to be overly cruel to Jeremiah and thought that he had likely learned his lesson.

       

      The Lord has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib...

       

      The meaning of the name Pashhur is sometimes given as freedom, sometimes as ease or peacefulness. The name Magor-Missabib means terror on every side. There was a startling contrast between the two names.

       

      I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends...

       

      Jeremiah showed that he did NOT intend to moderate his message. He boldly and plainly told the priest and chief governor that destruction was sure to come, and he would in some sense be in the center of it.

       

      I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon...

       

      Jeremiah's message was unchanged. Yahweh or Egypt or anyone else would NOT deliver Judah. The Babylonians would completely conquer them.

       

      And you, PashhurYou shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die...

      Pashhur's position as priest and chief governor would NOT help nor save him. He was one of those who prophesied lies, and he and his friends who heard him would ALL die in Babylon.

       

      Verses 7-8 tells us Jeremiah speaks to God of his own faithfulness.

       

      "O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded;

      You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.

      I am in derision daily;

      Everyone mocks me.

      For when I spoke, I cried out;

      I shouted, Violence and plunder!

      Because the word of the Lord was made to me

      A reproach and a derision daily."

       

      You are stronger than I, and have prevailed...

      Jeremiah explained to God that he was compelled to his prophetic work. He had NOT desired it or pursued it, yet God prevailed upon him to take on this prophetic work.

       

      I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me...

       

      Perhaps Jeremiah spoke in light of his recent experience of being set in the public stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-2). Stuck in the stocks, he was the object of mockery and derision, even as Jesus would later endure similar humiliation.

       

      The word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily...

       

      As a faithful messenger of the Lord, it was difficult for Jeremiah to endure the reproach and derision that came to the one who prophesied coming judgment and catastrophe for Judah.

       

      AND REMEMBER..Because Jeremiah's words remained unfulfilled for so long, people just ridiculed him whenever he spoke about the future.

       

      Verses 9-10 tells us Jeremiah resolves to stop his prophetic work.

       

      "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him,

      Nor speak anymore in His name.

      But His word was in my heart like a burning fire

      Shut up in my bones;

      I was weary of holding it back,

      And I could not.

      For I heard many mocking:

      Fear on every side!

      Report, they say, and we will report it!

      All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying,

      Perhaps he can be induced;

      Then we will prevail against him,

      And we will take our revenge on him."

       

      I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name...

       

      Jeremiah had to bear a painful price to remain a faithful messenger of God. On many occasions he contemplated either giving up or changing the message.

       

      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER THIS...

       

      It has often been observed that Jeremiah's doubts were NEVER expressed in public. Outwardly he was the firm, unyielding prophet of the Lord, conveying faithfully the divine will to his people. But when alone with God, the tensions of his position were revealed.

       

      But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones...

       

      Many times Jeremiah wanted to give up, but he could NOT.

       

      WHY?

      JEREMIAH TELLS US:

      He could NOT because he dealt with God's word.

      He could NOT because that word lived in his heart.

      He could NOT because that word burned in his heart like fire.

      He could NOT because that word pressed against his very being, as if it were shut up in his bones, requiring great energy to hold in (I was weary of holding it back)

       

      I could not...

       

      Though it cost him much pain and humiliation, Jeremiah could not not preach God's word, and preach it faithfully. It was NOT only that Jeremiah was compelled to preach - there were many unfaithful preachers and prophets in his time. Jeremiah was compelled to preach a message faithful to God.

       

      MEYER says it well, "We have sometimes been weary in God's service; but oh, it would be a greater weariness if we were dismissed from it. To speak is an awful responsibility and weight; but not to speak would be impossible."

       

      This is the burden of the Word of God.. Perhaps only those who have experienced it can understand it. To publish that word at times brings suffering; but to refrain brings far more terrible suffering. Paul understood this when he said, 'Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel.'

       

      For I heard many mocking...

       

      They mocked Jeremiah's message of fear and coming catastrophe. They waited for his stumbling, hoping an unfaithful life would invalidate the message, and then they could take their revenge on him.

       

      They called Jeremiah Magor-Missabib, 'terror on every side.' In other words, they took his rebuke of Pashhur and used it against him.

       

      Verses 11-12 tells us Jeremiah's confidence in God.

       

      "But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One.

      Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail.

      They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper.

      Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.

      But, O Lord of hosts,

      You who test the righteous,

      And see the mind and heart,

      Let me see Your vengeance on them;

      For I have pleaded my cause before You."

       

      HERE WE SEE SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT. JEREMIAH DID NOT FEAR SPEAKING HIS FEAR, SADNESS, ALONELESS, AND DOUBTS..HIS TRUE HEART BEFORE THE LORD. AND WE SEE AFTER HE DOES SO...HIS HEART IS EASED AND HIS FEARS SUBSIDE AND HE THEN REMEMBERS AND REMINDS GOD AND HOW MUCH HE TRUSTS THE LORD COME WHAT MAY.

       

      But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One...

       

      Despite the pain and difficulty of his work and his many enemies, Jeremiah found confidence in Yahweh as a mighty, awesome One. God's might and awe was a greater fact than his pain, humiliation, rejection, and beatings. God became bigger and his misery became smaller.

       

      Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail...

       

      The mighty God would work for and protect His faithful messenger. Jeremiah would realize that God was his shield and his great reward (Genesis 15:1).

       

      O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous, and see the mind and heart...

       

      Jeremiah was content to leave the matter to God and His wisdom and strength. The Judge of all the earth would do right.

       

      Verse 13 tells us Praising the Mighty God.

       

      "Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

      For He has delivered the life of the poor

      From the hand of evildoers."

       

      Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord...

       

      The prophet's heart overflowed with praise. He received the sweet strength found in true fellowship with God.

       

      He has delivered the life of the poor from the hand of the evildoers...

      It's wasn't as if Jeremiah's pain or problems were over. There was still much to come. Yet still, he was confident in the victory and deliverance of the Lord.

       

      Verses 14-18 tells us Grief and depression again.

       

      "Cursed be the day in which I was born!

      Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me!

      Let the man be cursed

      Who brought news to my father, saying,

      A male child has been born to you!

      Making him very glad.

      And let that man be like the cities

      Which the Lord overthrew, and did not relent;

      Let him hear the cry in the morning

      And the shouting at noon,

      Because he did not kill me from the womb,

      That my mother might have been my grave,

      And her womb always enlarged with me.

      Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow,

      That my days should be consumed with shame?"

       

      Cursed be the day in which I was born...

       

      With startling suddenness, Jeremiah slipped back into grief and depression, wishing that he had never been born.

       

      These verses do belong together. They may not belong together by logic, but who says the life of the soul is always logical? Jeremiah's curses follow his praises because that is the way it was during his dark night of the soul.

       

      Let that man be like the cities which the Lord overthrew...

       

      "The cities are Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain Genesis 19:24-28

       

      Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow...

       

      There was a purpose of God in setting this section of grief immediately after the section of faith and triumph - to show that trusting God did NOT make it all easy or triumphant for Jeremiah. The battle remained and reliance upon God had to be constant.

       

      Jeremiah thought his problems would be over if he was never born.

      The problem was that God called him before he was born or even conceived...

      Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

       

      Jeremiah traced his troubles back to the womb. But he did not go back far enough! God could trace his promises back before the womb.

       

      Consumed with shame...

       

      The shame he refers to is that of his inability to avert the catastrophe threatening his people.

       

      This section depicts a man loudly complaining about his lot in life, yet showing that he is still submission, loyal and obedient to God's will.

       

      If ever one's morale as a servant of God touches rock-bottom, we may reflect that Jeremiah has been there before, and has survived.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:30 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 21

       

      OPENS WITH...Speaking to King Zedekiah

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us The messenger from King Zedekiah.

       

      "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, saying, Please inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon makes war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all His wonderful works, that the king may go away from us."

       

      The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The Book of Jeremiah is NOT arranged chronologically. There is a substantial jump from the end of Jeremiah 20 to the start of Jeremiah 21. Jeremiah 20 ended in the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, who reigned for 11 years. Jeremiah 21 fast-forwards about 20 years, to the time when Babylonian armies are in Judah and Jerusalem is besieged.

       

      The episode, 588bc, transports us suddenly to the final siege of Jerusalem, some 20 years after the events of chapter 20. In this period Judah and Jerusalem did NOT fall in one decisive battle; it happened in stages.

       

      About 17 years before this Nebuchadnezzar FIRST came to Jerusalem in the reign of King Jehoiakim and subjugated the city and took captives from the best and the brightest of Judah, such as Daniel about 605 bc.

       

      About 10 years before this, Nebuchadnezzar came again in the reign of King Jehoiachin and carried away the treasures of Jerusalem taking more captives (such as Ezekiel), and he deposed King Jehoiachin (about 598 bc). He then put Zedekiah on the throne as a puppet king.

       

      By the time of Jeremiah 21 King Zedekiah's reign was almost over; Nebuchadnezzar returned a third time to destroy the city of Jerusalem and carry away the remaining people of Judah (about 586 bc).

       

      Zedekiah was the third son of King Josiah.

      His older brothers Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim (and his nephew Jehoiachin) reigned before him.

       

      When King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Melchiah...

       

      This was NOT the same Pashhur son of Immer who struck Jeremiah and put him in the stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-2) 20 years before.

       

      Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all His wonderful works, that the king may go away from us...

       

      King Zedekiah sent Pashhur to ask Jeremiah for a favorable word from the Lord. It was as if they NEVER heard what Jeremiah preached before.

       

      It was during the last extremity of the siege that Zedekiah sent this message to Jeremiah. His people and he had postponed their compliance with the warnings and invitations of God's love until the last possible hour, and now they were more eager for immunity from the consequences of their sins than to repent and return to God.

       

      According to all His wonderful works...

       

      King Zedekiah probably remembered the miracle of deliverance for Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah, when the Assyrian armies, led by Sennacherib, surrounded the city (2 Kings 18-19). He hoped God might send a miracle again.

       

      Verses 3-6 tells us The message to Zedekiah about Jerusalem's coming conquest.

       

      "Then Jeremiah said to them, Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, Thus says the Lord God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls; and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath. I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence."

       

      Thus you shall say to Zedekiah...

       

      We admire the boldness of Jeremiah, speaking so plainly and boldly to a king who had reigned ten years already.

       

      Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands...

      The prophecy of Jeremiah was right to the point. God would NOT do a "wonderful work" (Jeremiah 21:2) to rescue them from the coming Babylonian invasion. Their effort at defense would be unsuccessful.

       

      I will assemble them in the midst of this city...

       

      The Babylonians would not only besiege Jerusalem, they would breach the walls and be in the midst of the city.

       

      I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm...

       

      Judah would not only have to fight against the Babylonians, they would also have to fight against GOD Himself. He would fight against them, even in anger and fury and great wrath.

       

      I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence...

       

      War would not be the only cause of death in the devastation to come. Many would also die under disease and pestilence.

       

      Verse 7 tells us The message to Zedekiah about his own terrible fate.

       

      "And afterward, says the Lord, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his servants and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence and the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life; and he shall strike them with the edge of the sword. He shall not spare them, or have pity or mercy."

       

      Into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon...

       

      Those fortunate enough to survive the pestilence and the sword and the famine would not find deliverance. They would be taken as exiles out of Jerusalem and Judah and to the land of Babylon.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      Soon after this prophecy, the Babylonians captured Zedekiah. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7) He died there in misery and grief.

       

      He shall not spare them, or have pity or mercy...

       

      They could expect no mercy from Nebuchadnezzar in the coming war and exile.

       

      Strike them with the edge of the sword...

       

      The idiom 'put them to the sword' means to slay ruthlessly, mercilessly, without quarter.

       

      Verses 8-10 tells The message to Jerusalem in light of the coming conquest.

       

      "Now you shall say to this people, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good, says the Lord. It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire."

       

      Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death...

       

      Jeremiah spoke now to the people of Jerusalem, calling them to decision. Several times in Israel's history God set this choice before them.

       

      Remember Deuteronomy 30:15, "I have set before you today life and good, death and evil."

       

      Remember Joshua 24:15, "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

       

      Remember 1 Kings 18:21, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."

       

      He who remains in this city shall die but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live...

       

      Jeremiah told them that their only hope was in surrender. The leaders of Judah hoped to inspire the people to defend with courage and tenacity; Jeremiah told them that since God was against them, their only hope was surrender.

       

      Jeremiah did not say this because he was pro-Babylonian, though he was accused of being a traitor. He said this because he was pro-God.

       

      This is a paradox of spiritual life with God, much more clearly expressed in the New Testament: we gain life by surrendering it.

       

       

      "This surely is the exact counterpoint of the words which our Lord is recorded as having spoken on four different occasions: 'He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake, the same shall save it.'"

       

      If the battle was only against the Chaldeans, perhaps Jeremiah would urge the people on to courage and sacrifice, but that was not the case. God said, I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good. With God opposing them, continuing the battle was foolish.

       

      This is an enduring spiritual principle: When we struggle against God, our only hope of success is in surrender.

       

       

      Verses11-12 tells us God's Word to the House of David: A call to repent.

       

      "And concerning the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear the word of the Lord, O house of David! Thus says the Lord:

      Execute judgment in the morning;

      And deliver him who is plundered

      Out of the hand of the oppressor,

      Lest My fury go forth like fire

      And burn so that no one can quench it,

      Because of the evil of your doings."

       

      O house of David!

       

      God established the house of David as an enduring royal line until it was fulfilled in the Messiah (2 Samuel 7:12-16). God had a special interest in this royal line and here He spoke to them through Jeremiah.

       

      Because this section (Jeremiah 21:11-14) holds some hope for restoration if there is repentance, some think that it is from a previous time - before the crisis point of Zedekiah's reign. There was also a sense of confidence (Jeremiah 21:13) that likely did not exist once Nebuchadnezzar started to attack Jerusalem.

       

      Execute judgment in the morning; and deliver him who is plundered...

       

      God called the house of David - the king and royal family of Judah - to faithfully do their job in leading the kingdom. One of the basic responsibilities God has appointed to civil government is the application and execution of justice (Romans 13:1-7). God commanded them to fulfill their responsibility - with the strong implication that they had not done so.

       

      Execute judgment in the morning...

       

      Lest My fury go forth like fire and burn so that no one can quench it...

       

      If they did not radically repent, judgment was certain - and would come like fire.

       

      Jeremiah still held out hope - fruitlessly, as events later proved - that swift reformation of public and private life in accordance with the covenant ideals would avert imminent disaster.

       

      Verses 13-14 tells us The devouring fire.

       

      "Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley,

      And rock of the plain, says the Lord,

      Who say, Who shall come down against us?

      Or who shall enter our dwellings?

      But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says the Lord;

      I will kindle a fire in its forest,

      And it shall devour all things around it."

       

      Who shall come down against us?

       

      God said He was against those who felt safe and secure despite the coming judgment. Though they felt safe and secure as a rock of the plain, judgment was coming.

       

      O inhabitant of the valley...

       

      The inhabitant of the valley was Jerusalem, which had valleys on three sides.

       

      But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings...

       

      Despite their sense of safety, judgment like fire would come upon them - unless they radically repented.

       

      A fire in its forest...

       

      Some commentators have proposed that the reference is to the royal palace, which is called in 1 Kings 7:2 the 'House of the Forest of Lebanon' because of the considerable quantity of cedar used in its construction.

       

    • February 15, 2018 5:27 PM EST
    • JEREMIAH 22

       

      OPENS WITH...Speaking to the House of David

       

      Verses 1-5 tells us An urgent call to repent.

       

      "Thus says the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! Thus says the Lord: Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David. But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation."

       

      Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David...

       

      Jeremiah continued the prophecy from the previous chapter, directed to the house of David. This was a word specifically FOR the king. He should take sober care to listen because he sat on the throne of David.

       

      Execute judgment and righteousness...

       

      Jeremiah's first message to the king was very much like the message began in the previous chapter (Jeremiah 21:11-12). Speaking for God, he called upon him to perform his responsibilities as king in a godly and righteous way. This command assumes there was great corruption and injustice at the highest levels of the kingdom.

       

      If you indeed do this thing But if you will not hear these words...

       

      Jeremiah warned the king that repentance and the doing of justice would be rewarded; rejection would be punished. The choice was again set before Judah and her rulers.

       

      Verses 6-7 tells us The coming judgment.

       

      "For thus says the Lord to the house of the king of Judah:

      You are Gilead to Me, The head of Lebanon;

      Yet I surely will make you a wilderness,

      Cities which are not inhabited.

      I will prepare destroyers against you,

      Everyone with his weapons;

      They shall cut down your choice cedars

      And cast them into the fire."

       

      You are Gilead to Me, the head of Lebanon...

       

      These were choice regions in or near the Promised Land. God used these valued places to show how valued the house of David was to Him.

       

      I will prepare destroyers against you...

       

      God emphasized the point that He would NOT fight FOR them against the Babylonians. Instead He would fight against them, preparing the soldiers Himself.

       

      Verses 8-9 tells us The nations ask WHY?

       

      "And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, Why has the Lord done so to this great city? Then they will answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them."

       

      Why has the Lord done so to this great city?

       

      Jeremiah pictured the people of the nations seeing the destruction of Jerusalem and wondering why. Were these not the people of God? Was the God of Israel weaker than the god of the Babylonians?

       

      Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods and served them...

       

      The answer to the question of the nations was simple. It was because Judah departed from the Lord, forsaking their covenant with Him. Their idolatry led to this destruction.

       

      DO WE UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS?

       

      LOVE, TRUST, FAITH, AND DEPENDANCE ON OURSELVES, GOVERNMENTS, LEADERS IN THE MAN-CREATED FALSE RELIGIOUS, SOCIAL, AND POLITICAL WORLD IS OBSCENE TO THE LORD. THE LORD IS A JEALOUS GOD. WE MUST RUN TO JESUS, TRUST JESUS, READ/STUDY HIS WORD, AND STAY PRAYERFUL TO JESUS...FIRST...ABOVE ALL THINGS.

       

      GOD'S Message about the Sons of Josiah.

       

      Verses 10-12 tells us The message about Shallum (also called Jehoahaz).

       

      "Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him;

      Weep bitterly for him who goes away,

      For he shall return no more,

      Nor see his native country.

      For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: He shall not return here anymore, but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more."

       

      Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him...

       

      These poetic words were spoken regarding the death of King Josiah and the exile of his son Shallum (also known as Jehoahaz).

       

      The dead refers to Josiah, killed in battle at Megiddo in 609 b.c..

       

      Him who goes away refers to Jehoahaz (Shallum) who succeeded Josiah but was almost immediately deposed by Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:31-35). He was the brother of Jehoiakim.

       

      Concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah...

       

      Jeremiah said that the fate of Shallum, who reigned for three months before being deposed by Necho, was taken to Riblah and then to Egypt where he eventually died confirmed to us in: 2 Kings 23:33; 2 Chronicles 36:4. Shallum in exile was worse than the more heroic death of his father Josiah in battle.

       

      Verses 13-17 tells us The Message to Jehoiakim.

       

      "Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness

      And his chambers by injustice,

      Who uses his neighbors service without wages

      And gives him nothing for his work,

      Who says, I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers,

      And cut out windows for it,

      Paneling it with cedar

      And painting it with vermilion.

      Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar?

      Did not your father eat and drink,

      And do justice and righteousness?

      Then it was well with him.

      He judged the cause of the poor and needy;

      Then it was well.

      Was not this knowing Me? says the Lord.

      Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness,

      For shedding innocent blood,

      And practicing oppression and violence."

       

      Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness...

       

      In the custom of Israel's prophets, Jeremiah confronted Jehoiakim for his greed and injustice. He said that he and others of the house of David were guilty of:

      1. Unrighteousness and injustice

      2. Cheating working men (gives him nothing for his work)

      3. Selfish and indulgent luxury (I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers)

      4. Presumption (Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar?)

      5. Not following the good examples of their forefathers (Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness?)

       

      CUNDALL tells us more, "Faced with a crippling tax imposed by the Egyptians, he extracted this from his subjects by heavy taxation (2 Kings 23:33) and then embarked on a lavish palace-building scheme, forcing his subjects to work for nothing."

       

      I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers...

       

      Its width of space could not obliterate the memory of the forced and unpaid labor by which it had been reared. And God would plead and avenge the cause of those oppressed labourers.