The Consequences of Evil

January 8, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Jeremiah 52 repeats much of the history recorded in II Kings 24 and 25, and is placed at the end of the Book of Jeremiah as a transition to the Book of Lamentations. It focuses on the reign of King Zedekiah, who was the final king of Judah (not counting Jesus).

And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

Jeremiah 52:2

“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” could be a summary of all the kings mentioned in Jeremiah, except for Josiah, who is referenced only in hindsight, and it could be a summary of the majority of the kings of Israel/Judah, going all the way back to Saul. It would most certainly be a summary of your life, too – apart from Christ.

Chapter 52 also reminds us that Jerusalem was besieged by the Chaldean army, and ultimately conquered.

And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain.

Jeremiah 52:4-7

The Temple was destroyed.

Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:

Jeremiah 52:12-13

The Temple treasures were carried away into exile with the people.

Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon. The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away. And the basons, and the firepans, and the bowls, and the caldrons, and the candlesticks, and the spoons, and the cups; that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away.

Jeremiah 52:17-19

An overview of the sequence of these tragic events emphasizes:

1. Those who are the most religious are not immune to the worst corruptions.
2. Iniquity brings about destruction; God is more than capable of punishing the wicked.
3. Outward appearances provide a useless covering for wicked hearts in the sight of a God Who sees all.
4. God’s prophecies come to pass, and His Word shall go forth accomplishing all that He sets it forth to do.
5. There would be a restoration of the repentant remnant in Babylon; they would come back to Jerusalem.

Rising Early

November 25, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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In Chapter 24 God had Jeremeiah prophesy about a time when His people would turn back to Him with their WHOLE hearts: their affections, their thoughts, their wills would be toward God. He demands nothing less and He deserves nothing less. Does he have your WHOLE HEART?

Jeremiah Chpater 25 is sort of an epilogue to the previous 24 chapters, or, possibly, a prologue to the next section of the book. Jeremiah used a play on words to emphasize both his and God’s faithfulness in warning the people and calling them to repentance (to no avail).

From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

Jeremiah 25:3 (emphasis added)

Jeremiah had been at this now for 23 years. “Rising early” did not refer to the time of day, but to the origin and steadfastness of his ministry: 23 years of faithfulness in the face of opposition, rejection, danger, and frustration – but also hearing personally from God during that time.

And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

Jeremiah 25:4 (emphasis added)

Jeremiah was an early-riser, prophetically speaking, but God Himself had been “rising early” for centuries.

Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

Jeremiah 25:9

It might seem odd to see Nebuchadrezzar described as God’s “servant,” but not all of God’s servants know they are serving Him. God is well within His prerogative to “use” His creatures.

And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Jeremiah 25:12

Here is the first mention of the 70 years, which is how long the captivity would last.

For thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

Jeremiah 25:15
The cup of God’s wrath is what all unbelievers will have to drink, and they will drink it to their doom. It was referenced by Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Enemy nations and enemy kings were used by God to chasten and even punish His people, but those nations and kings were not guiltless. God did not create their evil or sin. He used it for His glory and the ultimate good of His people.

A Reminder of Recompense

October 25, 2019 at 10:53 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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When reading through the Book of Jeremiah, by the time you get to Chapter 50, it might seem to a casual reader as if Jeremiah has been speaking of Babylon in a positive light for a long time, but, remember, the Babylonians were not God’s people. He was using their own evil disposition and desire for conquest and power as His tool to ultimately punish and chasten His people. The Babylonians did not realize it, but, although they were in God’s hands, they were still accountable for their own sins.

The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.

Jeremiah 50:1-3

Just as Babylon had come from the north to conquer Judah, now the Medes and Persians would come from the north to conquer Babylon. There are many statements in the prophecies in Jeremiah 50-51 that had a then-contemporary element in Judah, Babylon, and Persia, but that have an ultimate fulfillment in Revelation Chapters 17 and 18.

Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.

Jeremiah 50:17-20

God could use the nation of Babylon but He would not truly bless it, because of its chief sin: its pride.

Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.

Jeremiah 50:31-32

God allowed the oppression of His own people because He truly loved them. When God allows your oppression, humble yourself. Do not starting announcing your own strength and perseverance and pride.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.

Jeremiah 50:33-34

God wants glory for himself, not for us apart from Him.

When Cyrus, King of Persia, conquered Babylon, he would (by God’s decree) show favor to the Judeans in exile in Babylon and allow them to go home and rebuild (which is what Ezra and Nehemiah are primarily about). Just as God had warned people to submit to Nebuchadnezzar so they could leave Jerusalem, He now commanded them to be ready to leave Babylon when Cyrus gave them that opportunity.

Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.

Jeremiah 51:6

The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.

Jeremiah 51:10

God wanted them to be firm in their resolve to leave. Fleeing a city of destruction should be an easy choice, but He knew how rebellious their hearts could be, and how wavering and frightened. He didn’t want them to be paralyzed by fear in a time of change and upheaval.

My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD. And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land; a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.

Jeremiah 51:45-46

We, too, must remember that God is in control, and not let our hearts be swayed by rumors or “fake news” that tells us God was wrong about something.

Surrender or Die

June 3, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapters 21-24 are not necessarily in chronological order after the time of Jeremiah’s life and ministry that have been described in the immediately preceding chapters, but they show that the kings of Judah during Jeremiah’s time WERE aware of his ministry. Around 588 B.C. the Babylonian army surrounded Jerusalem. King Zedekiah had attempted to secure an alliance with Egypt, but when he did not pay tribute to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was provoked into invading.

The king sent for Jeremiah, probably desperate for hope that Yahweh would intervene and rescue, but Jeremiah remained consistent, prophesying only judgment and wrath.

Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.

Jeremiah 21:4-5

The King and the officers would be captured and executed, but many people could survive by surrendering.

And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

Jeremiah 21:8

Note that obeying God is the way of life – the only way. Going any other way – disobeying God – is a way of death, and there are a million “other” ways.

He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.

Jeremiah 21:9

The sword, famine, pestilence (disease), and surrender had been previously given as choices, although none of them were “good” choices. All these were in keeping with the curses of the Deuteronomic covenant, but those who would go go out and fall down (surrender) before the Chaldeans would at least be spared. They would give their “life for a prey” – they would give up their freedom in exchange for continuing to breath. Surrender to God’s Word and His will would result in mercy. Rebellion against God and refusal to surrender to Him would mean conquest by earthly enemies who would delight not in mercy, but in subjugation, punishment, humiliation, and death. God does not want a partnership with rebels. He wants pride-destroying capitulation and total dependence on Him.

Don’t be Duped or Deceived by the Diviners and Dreamers

March 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 4 Comments
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By Jeremiah 29 the captives have become settled in Babylon. The time frame is roughly 597 B.C. There were still some people in Jerusalem, including Jeremiah himself, but there were false prophets in both places, so Jeremiah sent a letter to the people in Babylon.

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;

Jeremiah 29:1

There was no problem sending mail, even though this occurred during a time of unrest in Babylon’s rule. The Jewish people in Babylon were “captives,” but were still being allowed to live their own lives. They were supposed to be loyal to Nebuchadnezzar, but they could meet together and worship Yahweh if they wanted. They were allowed to keep some (probably most) of their earnings. “Exiles” would be almost as accurate a description of them as “captives” would.

Jeremiah’s instructions to them are sometimes characterized as “advice,” although “prophetic command” would be more correct.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

Jeremiah 29:4-7

He told them: Settle in, build houses. If you’re married, have another kid. If your kids are old enough, arrange a marriage – tell ’em to give you some grandkids.

It did not sound like this captivity/exile was going to be a short-term thing. Conspicuously absent from God’s instruction through Jeremiah were any exhortations to, “Resist the power! Start a rebellion! Go underground! Try to escape! Be lazy in your government job! Stay mobile!” No, this was a situation more like the ancient Israelites during the Egyptian years than during the Passover.

God did not even command them to pray for the fall of Nebuchadnezzar or their own release. He told them to pray for Babylon and for peace. He told them to support the nation where they lived. Today, we here in America live in an ungodly society. Pretty soon America may be considered a non-Christian nation (if it is not already, or if it ever was), but I hope that you are not hoping for anarchy. I hope you are praying for peace and stability in our government and in our land, so that it is safe for our children, and safe for us to preach the Gospel. I hope you are trusting God to make you a “good citizen,” even though we, as Christians, are aliens in this world with our real home in Heaven.

For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.

Jeremiah 29:8

Jeremiah warned the people not to be duped by the “double Ds:” diviners and dreamers. They were trying to deceive the people by telling them not to put down roots, and by telling them they were not going to be there for long.

For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:9

God knew the false prophets were lying. He did not give them their messages, nor speak to them at all.

For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:10-11

When you read through the Book of Jeremiah, and you get to this point, it seems odd that he would, after all of his prophecies of doom, gloom, judgment, and rebuke, be proclaiming a word of hope and a promise of restoration, but he was only doing so because it was true. Look at how God’s promises are purely unmerited grace, and are not tied to anything inherently good in the recipients of that grace: “I will visit you… I will perform MY good word… I will CAUSE [not allow or permit] you to return… I know the thoughts that I think TOWARD you… to give you an EXPECTED end…”

Their outcome was expected by God because He already knows the end from the beginning. Now it should have been expected by them, too. Their future was God’s future, because He had promised it.

Jeremiah 29:11 is an important verse, and it is encouraging, and it should be cherished, but do not wrench it out of its context and slap it on a coffee mug without properly understanding it. It was originally intended as an encouragement for the captives in late 5th Century Babylon. It does have a PRINCIPLE we can apply to us today. God HAS promised, accomplished, and is working out, the ultimate salvation of those who are in Christ Jesus by HIS grace and power. It is true that the thoughts He thinks toward us are superlatively amazing – because of the blood of Christ – but this is not a promise about somebody’s heart surgery, or new job, or real estate investment, or that perfect memory-making trip to your favorite vacation destination. It is not even, strictly speaking, a promise that your family member or loved one will be saved. These are God’s thoughts. He knows them and they are GOOD, but we do not know all His thoughts. We only know the ones He has revealed.

Listening with One Ear

July 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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There was a time when God’s people were in captivity for a period of 70 years as chastening for their disobedience and idolatry. During that time, they formally fasted and wept in the fifth and seventh months of each year. These practices were done in obedience to God’s law, but they were done halfheartedly, and God was not deceived.

Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

Zechariah 7:5-6

How often are we guilty of observing some type of religious routine without really doing it for the Lord? Have you ever read your Bible or done your devotions with only half of your mind engaged? Doing the assignment or reading the regularly scheduled passage without really listening for the voice of God to speak to you personally? How often do we sit through church sermons with one ear attuned to the preaching of God’s Word and the other ear tuned to other matters, drifting in and out of attentiveness as though we were attending a history lecture or a math lesson while waiting for the school bell to ring?

There is a real danger that, in our selfishness and laziness, we will miss out on what God wants us to know. His Word and His Spirit were not given for our amusement and they are not optional if we are to live victorious Christian lives. God has given us a great gift in being able to listen to His voice through the reading, preaching, and teaching of His Word. The consequences of listening casually without really hearing can be dire.

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

Zechariah 7:11-14

A man with only one ear engaged when God is speaking may not necessarily hear half as MUCH as the man with two ears, but the problem is that he only hears half as WELL.

Acting Out Against Acting Up

October 26, 2011 at 10:55 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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Ezekiel the priest heeded God’s call to be a prophet.

The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

Ezekiel 1:3

He fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Ezekiel 1:28

God picked him up and told him to stand up, be still, listen, don’t be afraid. He had something important to tell him.

And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Ezekiel 2:1-2

Christians go to church to be in the presence of God corporately with other believers, to hear the Word of God through the preaching, and to get our instructions from God. Although we might experience some overpowering emotions when we hear from God, we need to remember that one of the main reasons for attending church is to prepare for battle. We are there to get our marching orders, not to indulge in an emotional outburst.

Christian churches welcome unbelievers, and these who are sin-sick may certainly be excused for their extreme reactions to the truth or (hopefully) their exuberant rejoicing when they hear the Good News for the first time. Christians, though, need to remember that we are to yield our members to righteousness, and not to the emotional desires of the flesh.

After Ezekiel got up, he ingested the Word – God caused him to “eat” it.

But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

Ezekiel 2:8

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezekiel 3:1-3

God’s people were captives in Babylon.

Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Ezekiel 3:15

Even though they were captives and they were not living the right way, God was promising them a victorious return to Jerusalem. Ezekiel was supposed to prophesy to them using “action sermons:” wordless plays in which he would act out spiritual truth.

But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 3:25-26

Using a tile, he acted out the siege of Jerusalem.

Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

Ezekiel 4:1-2

Then he had to lie down a certain way for a certain number of days and only eat certain things at certain times.

And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege. Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

Ezekiel 4:8-9

Can you imagine lying 40 days on one side and 390 on the other side? The significance was the 40 years of wandering by the Israelites in the wilderness after they left Egypt, and the 390 years of kings from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.

To enact the famine in Judah, the Lord had Ezekiel alter his physical appearance. While these sermons were being acted out Ezekiel became quite a spectacle. People were showing up to watch. He cut his hair and his beard.

And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.

Ezekiel 5:1

Then he burned one-third of it on the “siege brick” to represent the famine and the pestilence of the siege.

Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.

Ezekiel 5:2

A second third he hacked to bits with a sword, and the last third he scattered in the wind, representing the Jews taken to Babylon in captivity, who were spread and lost among the Gentiles. A small amount he bound up in the hem of his garment – representing the “remnant.”

Leading by Example

April 12, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Ezra, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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The city of Jerusalem was in ruins. The temple there had been destroyed. The city walls were breached and broken. The Jewish people were in captivity in Babylon. Then, one day, God caused a faithful group of His people to return to Jerusalem to undertake the imposing task of rebuilding the walls, repopulating the city, and restoring the temple.

Progress was being made until around 530 B.C. For about 10 years the people were forbidden to continue by the Persian king, Artaxerxes, and they worked on their own houses, rather than the house of God.

Two main factors got God’s people back on track, and motivated them to resume God’s work. One was Godly preaching.

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.

Ezra 5:1

There is power in the prophesying (preaching) of God’s Word.

The second factor was that the ones doing the preaching were not afraid to get their hands dirty, and set a Godly example by practicing what they prophesied.

Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

Ezra 5:2, emphasis added

Spiritual leaders are often called upon to use their mouths, but they should also be willing to use their backs.


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