The Fireproof Truth

August 30, 2019 at 10:52 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 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.

The Lord Our Righteousness

June 5, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Josiah reigned for 31 years and had been relatively good king. Three of his sons and one of his grandsons were the last four kings of Judah, but they were all wicked. Jehoahaz (also known as Shallum) only ruled for three months before the Egyptian pharaoh (Necho) took him to Egypt where he died.

For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more: But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.

Jeremiah 22:11-12

Jehoiachim (also known as Eliakim or Johoiakim) ruled for eleven years before he died.

Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 22:18-19

Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah or Coniah) ruled for three months before Nebuchadnezzar conquered him and took him to Babylon where he died.

As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.

Jeremiah 22:24-25

Zedekiah, the last king, saw Jerusalem destroyed. The Babylonians killed his sons and then blinded him. He died in Babylon, too.

Out of the survivors of the Babylonian conquest, though, Jeremiah promised a Messiah.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Jeremiah 23:5-6

Yahweh Tsidkenu means “the Lord our Righteousness,” and He would be a king descended from King David who would execute judgment and justice in the earth, but how would that be a comforting promise? A righteous king and a just judge would punish the unrighteous, and that’s exactly what we are. The comfort is found in the word “OUR.” This king would somehow clothe us with His righteousness, and, even more to the point, He would BE our righteousness. He would execute justice upon Himself in our place, and transfer to us His righteousness, effectively trading places with us until the wrath of God against us was satisfied. We know Him more particularly as Jesus Christ. What a Savior!

1. I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

2. I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

3. Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

4. When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Savior must be.

5. My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

6. Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

7. Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This watchword shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne

It’s Not such a Small World after All

February 29, 2012 at 11:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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King Josiah desperately wanted his nation to escape God’s wrath. Their only chance was to hear from, and to start to obey, the Lord God Almighty. The best way (better than dreams, visions, words of knowledge, signs, wonders, or feelings) for the people of God to hear from God is by reading the Bible.

And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.

II Kings 23:2

It’s not that surprising that King Josiah went up to the house of the Lord. It’s not that surprising that the priests and the prophets needed to hear the Word of the Lord. What is surprising is that King Josiah understood the importance of everyone else hearing the Word of the Lord, too – both the great and the small.

Wherever you are in your Christian life, however much or however little influence you may think you have, you are not too small to make a difference for the Lord. (If you believe you are too small to make a difference, then you have obviously never been in bed with a mosquito!) Whoever you are, whatever your position in the Body of Christ, somebody, somewhere, at some time, is watching you, and looking to you for encouragement or guidance. You might be just one person in the world, but you might also be the world to one person! Make sure the Words of God’s Book are going into your ears, and make sure they are being carried out in your life.

Don We Now Our Strange Apparel

December 28, 2009 at 10:58 am | Posted in Zephaniah | 8 Comments
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If the Hezekiah in Zephaniah 1:1 is “King Hezekiah,” then the eponymous Zephaniah was the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah. In any event, we do know that the minor prophet Zephaniah ministered during the reign of King Josiah, and that Josiah led the nation of Judah in what looked like a spiritual revival. He found the Book of the Law and sought to enforce it.

However, the “revival” may have been just a government-enforced or peer-pressure-induced outward show. We see this sort of thing in churches today. One example is youth camp meetings. A group of teenaged children will spend Friday and Saturday night at a retreat, playing games, listening to “Christian rock,” and supposedly getting “fired up for the Lord.” They will show up during the Sunday morning service, and go racing back and forth like stampeding cattle in front of the church, showing how “on fire for God” they suddenly are. There will be a great deal of pressure among them to do what everybody else is doing, and then all of their parents and the “church elders” will give them pats on the back and laugh it up at their shenanigans. They will be allowed to play around with the church’s microphones, instruments, and sound equipment, like little kids set free in dad’s tool shop, and everybody will congratulate themselves on how “we’re really reaching the youth for Jesus.”

But a few days later these worldly teenaged children are back to their old stunts. You will not see them showing respect for their elders, helping with church clean-up, opening doors for ladies, or doing any heavy lifting. You will see no fruit of growth in the Word, no sign of a prayer life. If you offer to get up a “youth activity” trip to the movies or a party, they are gung ho, but they will have no desire to start up a Bible study or go door-to-door soulwinning. This is because they have been conformed, and not transformed.

So, we cannot be sure if the “revival” of Josiah’s time was real or was just this sort of outward show. But if it was in fact genuine, then Zephaniah may have been that rare thing – a prophet whose message was actually heeded. Since Zephaniah does not mention the “revival” of Josiah (but since we know he preached during Josiah’s reign), it may be that his prophecies had an effect on Josiah.

I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

Zephaniah 1:4

Baal was the false god whose priests had been slain by the prophet Elijah. Chemarims refers to the priestly robes which were supposed to be white for Jewish priests, but which were now black due to the influence of the pagan priests. It also refers to the zeal and enthusiasm of their unholy worship, as they tried to show how “wild” they could get.

God had prescribed worship of Himself to be done in order. The false priests could make a lot of hay by saying, “That sort of God-prescribed worship is boring. You need to get free from that. Oh, we’re still going to worship Yahweh – but we’re going to use the contemporary tools and methods – and we are going to get wild.” This technique was very seductive, and it’s very seductive today.

And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

Zephaniah 1:5

The false priests deliberately brought the idea of angels into their worship, so that they could still claim they worshiped something close to God. They shouldn’t have been swearing by the Lord and by Malcham at the same time – any more than I should make a vow to the Lord and to Allah. Can you imagine someone at a Christian wedding taking his marriage vow before God and Allah at the same time? Or a deacon standing up in a Christian church to pray over the offering in the name of God and Allah?

God did not take this lightly.

Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

Zephaniah 1:7

It was as if God was saying, “You want to invite ME to a party for Baal? For Malcham? I’m preparing something for you – hold your peace – shut your mouths – you’re going to be My guests now…”

And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

Zephaniah 1:8 (emphasis added)

The priests would be sorry they had ever worn those black robes. Will there be modern Christians who will be sorry they wore that skull and crossbones t-shirt even though they slapped the name of Jesus on it? The false priests were suddenly confronted with the hypocrisy of all their Ammonite and Moabite fashion-wear which they had bought at Spencer’s in the mall of Judah. God calls these mixed-message garments “strange apparel.”


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