Pottery and Prayer Time

December 12, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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A potter would not be questioned for casting out marred clay. God should not be questioned for casting out unrepentant, unregenerate sinners, although, by His wonderful, matchless grace, and as a unique, omnipotent “Potter,” He is also free to “re-create” the clay – to make it something new. Either way, He is not unjust. Useless clay doesn’t “deserve” to be made useful.

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;

Jeremiah 18:6-7

Jeremiah had repented of questioning God’s goodness, and was now fully back on board with God’s program, as God, through him, reminded the people for the umpteenth time that they had brought this on themselves.

Jeremiah began to pray imprecatory prayers in response to the plots and schemes of the nation’s leaders against him.

Then said they, Come and let us devise devices 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 smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

Jeremiah 18:18

They twisted his words in similar ways to what the Pharisees would try to do to Jesus centuries later.

Give heed to me, O Lord, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.

Jeremiah 18:19-21

This is not a New Testament Christian prayer formula, but it was a God-pleasing prayer for an Old Testament prophet who was putting his own life on the line for people who refused to be helped, who wanted to shoot the messenger, and who hated God. We tend to express (or at least feel) angry and vengeful thoughts about people who get on our nerves, inconvenience us, or hurt us, while giving a pass to so much of the great evil going on in our world. Really, it ought to be the opposite. We ought to be indignant about the attacks on God, and to be longsuffering and forgiving about the personal attacks on us.

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.

Idolatrous Wife, Unhappy Life

November 4, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:

Jeremiah 43:2

So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.

Jeremiah 43:7

Jeremiah went to Egypt with the disobedient people who had rejected his true prophecies, and there the Lord had him act out his final “action sermon,” demonstrating that Egypt would not be a safe haven. It too would be conquered by the Babylonians, and the Lord would not spare the Jews, the way He would have if they had stayed in Judah.

Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.

Jeremiah 43:8-11

Jeremiah must have been frustrated to see the people keep turning to idols and practicing idolatry after all that had already happened to them becuase of it.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers.

Jeremiah 44:2-3

Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?

Jeremiah 44:7-8

We might look at this from a purely pragmatic standpoint and question their sanity. Why would they keep turning to false gods time and time again and expecting different results? Why were they so enamored with any god except the real One? It is in the nature of human beings to worship, but the carnal, unregenerate heart is at enmity with the True God, and despises Him. It will accept nearly anything OTHER than Him, no matter how foolish, how useless, how degrading.

It is often sad, and sometimes shameful, when husbands and wives are not on the same page, spiritually speaking. When the Jewish people who were left behind in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile sought refuge in Egypt, many of the wives resumed the same type of idol-worship that had brought the judgment of God down upon them in the first place. This placed their husbands in the precarious position of having to choose between loyalty to their wives and loyalty to the Word of God. We see similar situations today in Christian households where one spouse seeks to grow spiritually, but the other spouse is not on board, or where one spouse actually discourages the other from active participation and ministry in Sunday School and church. If you are married, you must strive to be a help, not a hindrance – a blessing, not a burden – to the spiritual welfare of your family.

Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,

Jeremiah 44:15

The men knew what their wives were getting involved in, but they looked the other way, or perhaps indulged them. Now they were having to give an account for what was going on the households over which the Lord had appointed them masters. Husbands, do not be afraid to correct your wife when it comes to the Word of God. Having a happy wife might make a happy life, but having an idolatrous, unrepentantly sinful wife will make a VERY UNHAPPY life. In fact, it may very well make a wreck of your life.

Wives, be careful of the influence you yield in your household. Your husband should be taking the spiritual leadership, but if he is not, do not tempt him to go astray, and do not put him in a compromising position – having to stand up for you against what is actually right.

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

Jeremiah 44:16-17

Perhaps the female deity Astarte, the “Queen of Heaven,” appealed especially to the women, but, whatever the case, both the men and the women had gotten to the point where they outright rejected the Word of God. Beware: a subtle compromise against God’s Word is not as far away from outright rebellion and rejection as you might think.

Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day. Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.

Jeremiah 44:23-27

A Reminder of Recompense

October 25, 2019 at 10:53 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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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.

A Pre-Church Sermon

October 2, 2019 at 6:40 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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The events of Jeremiah Chapter 7 probably took place after the death of Josiah, and shortly into the reign of Jehoiakin. This was a new sermon – known as the Temple Sermon – where God sent Jeremiah to preach in what should have been the most unlikely place – the place where preaching should not have been needed – but really where it was the most needed.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.

Jeremiah 7:1-2

Jeremiah stood at the entrance of the Temple, rather than inside. Imagine a preacher standing at the main entrance of your church on Sunday morning and preaching to the people coming in without the consent or authorization of your pastor before they even get to the auditorium where he is planning to preach.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

Jeremiah 7:3

“Ways and doings” refers to the way they were living throughout the week – unlike the show they were about to put on inside the Temple.

Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.

Jeremiah 7:4

They superstitiously repeated the mantra, “the temple of the LORD,” but the part that was a lie was that they emphasized the place over the Person. They thought a temple was worth visiting, but did not care if the Lord was worth obeying.

Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 7:12

Jeremiah wasn’t authorized to drive them out of the Temple. He was limited to preaching, but he saw people bringing animals and grain and things to sacrifice, and he reminded them of what God thought about their so-called “sacrifices” and their so-called “offerings.”

For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

Jeremiah 7:22-23 (emphasis added)

And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.

I Samuel 15:22

But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Jeremiah 7:24 (emphasis added)

They weren’t listening to the Word of God. They were listening to their own hearts, which is an extremely bad idea, because because hearts not transformed by God are evil hearts. They like the false better than the true. They like fake gods better than the real God. They like fake prophecies better than hearing about the “old paths.” They like to “imagine” better than “obey.” They like to get “counsel” from the flesh or the world better than the Counselor who demands submission. I hope that you don’t want to go to a fake church. We all need to belong to a church where our fakery is called out and replaced by truth. We don’t want to get so deceived that we think we’re going forward with God when we’re really racing backward with the devil.

For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.

Jeremiah 7:30

During Manasseh’s reign the idolatry had become so public and open that idols were actually set up in the Temple, and, even after Josiah’s “reforms,” people continued to worship idols in their homes, and perhaps secretly brought them into the Temple when they attended worship.

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

Jeremiah 7:16

The people were so far gone – reprobate – that God did not even want Jeremiah to pray for them.

Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

Jeremiah 7:17

Jeremiah had seen how wickedly they behaved in their public dealings, but God revealed what they were doing in private also.

The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Jeremiah 7:18

The “queen of heaven” was Asherah (also known as Ishtar, from which the name Easter is partly derived), who was thought to be the queen of the “heavenly” area we call “outer space,” and, even though she was primarily a female cult deity, the fathers and the children were also involved in making little cakes shaped like a woman and ritually pouring out drink offerings to worship her.

Gleaned Grapes and Scrapped Silver

September 20, 2019 at 10:15 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah the prophet once warned God’s people:

They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

Jeremiah 6:14

Jeremiah was downright angry because false prophets had given the people a false sense of security and a false view of God by telling them that God was okay with their sin, as long as they lived in a nation where there was a good church, and as long as people kept up the appearance of loyalty to His Covenant. But God would show them what He really thought of their hypocrisy (Jeremiah 7:20).

As Christians, we must – with God’s help and by His mercy and grace – get serious about obeying Him. If we are trusting our standing with God to our geographical location (the “Christian” South), or to our “conservative” culture or government, or even to the fact that we “belong” to a church, then we are in grave danger. God knows what we like to do, how we think, what we say, and the ways we act on Monday through Saturday, not just for a couple of hours on Sunday.

There is a message of thoroughness throughout Jeremiah Chapter 6 that hearkens back to Chapter 5 where Jeremiah went to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem looking for one righteous man. Now God was saying that the invading enemy will be just as thorough when executing punishment.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.

Jeremiah 6:9

These invaders would not make a cursory sweep through the land, wreaking havoc in a general way. No, they would go back – just like a vineyard worker would go back over the grapevines, with a basket, meticulously making sure each and every grape was plucked off. One righteous person could have spared the nation, but no unrighteous person would be spared.

Jeremiah was deeply troubled at this, but he also understood that God was right in doing it. As a prophet, he faithfully conveyed God’s Word, but, as a human being – as a Godly man – he was torn between sympathy for the people, and frustration over their stubbornness. He was torn between a desire to see God’s mercy and a thirst to see God’s righteous vengeance. Jeremiah was not some unfeeling megaphone, merely amplifying God’s message to crowds of people without understanding what he was communicating. He was deeply compassionate, but he was also moved with a passion – a zeal – for the holiness of God.

To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

Jeremiah 6:10

Not only were their hearts figuratively uncircumcised, but their ears were figuratively covered with flesh, so that it was like they were deaf to the truth. Jeremiah must have thought something like, “If I preach repentance, what’s the point? It’s not like anyone will heed the warning. Once they hear that I am preaching a message from the Lord, they shut down. They have prejudged His righteous commands and revelations as irrelevant, unpleasant, and distasteful.”

Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.

Jeremiah 6:11

Jeremiah was resolved to preach God’s Word, however, because now he more fully understood the Lord’s anger. He was commissioned not only to build, but to “throw down,” too. Every category and age group would get the same message: “You will get what have you have earned.”

The invading enemy would be thorough grape-gatherers, and now the Lord assigned Jeremiah to be a thorough metallurgist.

I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.

Jeremiah 6:27

He would prove that these people were corrupt through and through – all the way to the the heart.

They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.

Jeremiah 6:28

The idea is that a metallurgist would place silver ore into a pot, and begin a process of purifying the silver, getting rid of less valuable metals like brass and iron.

The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.

Jeremiah 6:29

Jeremiah would make the fire hot, and mix in lead to attract the cotmaninants, but it would not work, because all of the wickedness had permeated these people. Any would-be silver could not be distilled out.

Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

Jeremiah 6:30

They were all dross. The purifying was pointless. It was time for the whole batch to be discarded. Human beings can be given over to a reprobate mind. There is an urgency in getting to our friends before they become so enmeshed in sin and wickedness and worldliness that it is too late.

A Wonderful and Horrible Thing

September 18, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Jeremiah had failed to find anyone righteous in Jerusalem that could serve as reason for God to stay His hand of judgment (although one day Jesus would fulfill this foreshadowing type – by being the One Who was truly righteous, and the One Who would accomplish both God’s justice AND mercy), so God made it clear that the ominous “invader from the north” would come, and that the destruction and devastation would be horrible.

Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.

Jeremiah 5:15

This refers to the language of the Babylonians.

Their quiver is as an open sepulcher, they are all mighty men.

Jeremiah 5:16

The quivers where the Babylonian archers kept their arrows were compared to graves that were gaping wide and were never filled up with the bodies of those they would kill in battle.

And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.

Jeremiah 5:17 (emphasis added)

“Trustedst” is translated from the Hebrew batach, which somewhat fittingly sounds like “buttock” since it has a connotation of something on which people can “fall back” for safety. Today, we have a tendency to trust in the same things they did: our food supply, our savings, our transportation systems, our national and personal defenses. Too often the Lord seems merely speculative to us when it comes to our safety, but the reality is that He’s the most trustworthy thing in existence, and there are consequences to placing our trust elsewhere. He’s not content to be one of many alternative candidates for our trust.

They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

Jeremiah 5:28

Their whole society was corrupt.

Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Jeremiah 5:29

The Lord would pay them a “visit,” but this would not be a visit for a spot of tea or a polite chat. This would be a visit of vengeance.

Jeremiah 5:30 says, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;”. How could something be simultaneously wonderful AND horrible? Was the prophet suffering from a bout of schizophrenia? Did the people of Judah get a secret kick out of haunted-house style scares? It is important to read the verse not just from our own point of view, but to try to read it from God’s point of view and the other nations’ point of view. From our point of view what God was going to do could not be wonderful, but from God’s point of view it was wonderful because He was working out a greater good. Furthermore, in modern English “wonderful” always has a pleasant connotation, but here it describes something to stop and wonder at in amazement. It was “wonderful” to God that the people would do such a “horrible thing,” but it was also a great “wonder” for the people to see God amazingly bring such astounding devastation on His own covenant people.

Going Under the Knife

September 3, 2019 at 11:38 am | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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The prophet Jeremiah’s adult life had been spent trying to talk about God’s Word with people who did not want to hear or heed it. As the culmination of some of his most terrifying prophecies approached, the Lord had Jeremiah and his assistant, Baruch, write His prophecies down in a scroll (Jeremiah 36:2).

Through a series of events this scroll came into the possession of King Jehoiakim as he sat in his winter house warming himself by the fireplace. Predictably, the king did not like what was read to him, so he took out his “penknife,” (Jeremiah 36:23) and started cutting up the scroll and tossing it, page by page, into the fire.

While the point of this episode was to show the king’s utter contempt for God’s Word – such that he would actually try to destroy it – there is a certain irony in his choice of cutting instrument. A penknife is what we would today call a pocketknife – the kind with a blade that folds into the handle – but in Bible times it was more like a razor or a scalpel: a sharp blade used to whittle down the tip of a quill which would be dipped in ink and used for writing. What he should have been using to copy God’s Word, he was instead using to try to erase it.

King Jehoiakim thought he was “sharper” than God’s Word, but ultimately, of course, it is the Word of God that is “sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The Word of God might “cut” us at times, but, as any surgeon can tell you, cutting is an often-necessary first step in the healing and strengthening process.

The Fireproof Truth

August 30, 2019 at 10:52 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 36 shows us the origins of the scroll which would one day become the Book of Jeremiah as we know it.

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.

Jeremiah 36:1-4

Jeremiah was imprisoned and could not go into the Temple, so he had Baruch go read the scroll at the Temple during an offical fast, when the Temple would be very crowded. Word started getting around, and several government officals heard about it. This was clear evidence that Jeremiah had been right all along about the Babylonian invasion, and that the false prophets had been wrong. Some of the officials and scribes were afraid for Jeremiah’s sake (and rightly so), and were favorable to him, but, obviously, the most powerful officials were against him, and word ultimately got to the king.

So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.

Jeremiah 36:21-23

When people can’t stand to hear the Word of God they will sometimes try to refute it, sometimes try to ignore it, and sometimes try to hide from it. Here, the king tried to destroy it, but trying to destroy the Word of God is a hopeless endeavour.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8

Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.

Jeremiah 36:24

This is in contrast to King Josiah’s reaction when the Book of the Law was found the Temple during his time as king. When that happened everyone trembled. Now Josiah’s son and his officials did not tremble at all – even as God’s Word was rejected and burned.

Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.

Jeremiah 36:25

The king would have proabably had both Jeremiah and Baruch killed at that point, or at least beaten and thrown into prison again, but God supernaturally hid Jeremiah, and then proved that His everlasting Word could not be destroyed.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?

Jeremiah 36:27-29

It was the defiant earthly king, not God’s Word, that would be destroyed.

Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

Jeremiah 36:32

This scroll is what most likely became Chapters 1-25 of the Book of Jeremiah. When Baruch rewrote it he added the part about the king burning the first scroll and some other prophecies that were yet to come to pass.

There is not a ton of humor in the Book of Jeremiah, and, although King Zedekiah, the final king of Judah at the time of the Babylonian conquest, is not someone at whom we should laugh – being alternately tragic, pitiable, frustrating, and even confusing – there is a certain ludicrous aspect to his behavior in his final days on the throne as it related to Jeremiah.

Chapter 37 begins in or around 588 B.C.

And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 37:1-2

That King Zedekiah and his servants did not want to hear the Word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah has been well established at this point in the Book.

And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the Lord our God for us.

Jeremiah 37:3

They rejected him as a prophet, but they demanded that he ask God to rescue them. This would be like refusing to listen to the person who keeps telling you that breaking the law is going to land you in trouble with the police, and then calling him at 3:00 a.m. and demanding that he come bail you out of jail!

Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him into prison.

Jeremiah 37:4

Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart. For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.

Jeremiah 37:9-10

Jeremiah had been told not to bother praying, so he responded to Zedekiah’s demands with more preaching. His point was that even if the Chaldeans were all wounded and bleeding out, they still defeat Zedekiah’s troops and burn the city, because, even though they didn’t know it, they were on a mission from God.

At this point Jeremiah decided to go home to check on his kinfolks.

Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people. And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes.

Jeremiah 37:12-14

As he was leaving the city he was recognized as somebody who advocated surrender to Babylon, and he was arrested on charges of desertion. These were completely false charges, for nobody in the land was more loyal to his nation than Jeremiah.

Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.

Jeremiah 37:15

When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.

Jeremiah 37:16-17 (emphasis added)

When the king asked Jeremiah, “Is there any word from the Lord?” I wonder if Jeremiah thought, “SERIOUSLY??! Is there a Word from the Lord?! Let me see… I’ve only been proclaiming it openly for 25 years!” What a contrast! The king – afraid of his own counselors and advisors, sneaking in to see the man of God, hoping for some self-serving false prophecies – while Jeremiah, with everything to lose, just continues to faithfully repeat his true message.

A good lesson for us to take from this is: Learn the Word of God. Stand on the Word of God. Apply the Word of God in every season and circumstance – even when it seems like everbody wants to hear something else, or at least wants you to water it down.

Dissembling Hearts

August 12, 2019 at 10:29 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 40 marks the transition from the pre-exilic to the post-exilic period in Israel’s history. Nebuchadnezzar, for reasons that are not fully revealed to us, ordered that Jermiah be treated kindly. However, through some mistake, Jeremiah wound up being placed in chains with the other people who were being taken captive, and transported to Ramah, sort of a staging area for the final deportation to Babylon.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.

Jeremiah 40:1

The captain of the Babylonian guard recognized that this was contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, and gave Jeremiah a choice between going to Babylon and living a fairly comfortable life under Nebuchadnezzar’s protection, or remaining behind, trying to carve out a life in the ruins, with the people who were remaining in Jerusalem.

And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.

Jeremiah 40:4

Of course, for Jeremiah, it had never been about personal survival, nor did he really have a vested interest in making sure that Jerusalem itself remained inhabited. For him, it had always been about the people’s repentance and turning back to God. God’s people in Babylon would have other prophets, such as Ezekiel and Daniel, to minister to them. Jeremiah probably sensed that he would be more needed if he stayed in Jerusalem.

Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.

Jeremiah 40:6

Gedaliah’s family had a connection with Jeremiah throughout his ministry. Nebuchadnezzar saw fit to appoint him as governor over the ruined city of Jerusalem. He seems to have been level-headed and wise concerning his counsel to the people at the outset of the Babylonian occupation. Knowing that there would be no wheat harvest, he made sure they would harvest the summer fruits and grapes.

Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.

Jeremiah 40:12

His problems started, though, when the Ammonites, one of the conspirator-nations in the old plot against Babylon, used a man name Ishmael to plot the assassination of Gedaliah. Johanan, one of his loyal officers, discovered this plot, and offered to kill Ishmael before Ishmael could kill Gedaliah.

Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.

Jeremiah 40:15-16

Gedaliah did not believe him, and this ultimately would turn out to be his downfall.

Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah. Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

Jeremiah 41:1-2

Johanan’s warning proved to be correct.

But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.

Jeremiah 41:11-12

Johanan rescued the captives of Ishmael, although Ishmael escaped. The people were glad not to be taken to Ammon, but there was a potential problem with going back to Jerusalem.

Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.

Jeremiah 41:18

Ishmael had killed Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed governor, Gedaliah, and some of the soldiers that were with him. Johanan feared the reprisals of the Babylonians, who might just decide that it wasn’t worth it having to deal with these Jews and their attempts at treachery, and he thought going to Egypt might be another alternative, so they decided to go see Jeremiah, and to ask him to get a word from God about what they should do.

And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.

Jeremiah 42:2-3

Jeremiah wanted to help them, so he agreed that he would talk to the Lord on their behalf, but he warned them that, whatever God gave him, that’s what they would get from him – nothing held back. In response, they made a big show out of swearing that, if God would deign to give them instructions, they would surely be faithful to follow them.

Here is what God told Jeremiah to tell them:

And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.

Jeremiah 42:9-11

Of course, God knew it was unlikely that they would do what He told them to do, so He also sent a warning about what would happen if they didn’t, and, of course (remember, these were the “bad figs”), they broke their promise, and decided they would take their chances in Egypt. God’s people, in times of trouble in the Old Testament, seemed to have a weird, almost fetishistic fascination with Egypt, which is why Egypt is a picture of what the “world” is to New Testament Christians.

For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.

Jeremiah 42:20-22

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