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 Final and Unforgettable Sight

July 23, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 39 deals with the complete conquest of Judah by Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar’s officers set up military rule in Jerusalem. Surrender was now too late. Everybody who had ignored Jeremiah’s warnings would have to face the consequences.

Of course, Zedekiah tried to flee, but he was easily tracked down and captured.

And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

Jeremiah 39:4-5

There had been some conflicting prophecies: one that Zedekiah wold be captured and taken to Babylon, and one that he would not live to see Babylon. Here is the grisly way that the paradox was resolved:

Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 39:6-8

What an awful image to have as the last thing you ever see. We do not know how long Zedekiah lived in Babylon, but he never actually saw the place.

Modern archaeological digs continue to confirm the destruction of the homes and buildings in Jerusalem after the siege. One deportation of the “best” citizens had occurred before. Now they sent pretty much everybody but the poorest of the poor to Babylon, and distributed lots of land to those left behind so that they could farm it and grow food for the Babylonian soldiers. God saw to it that Nebuchadnezzar was aware of Jeremiah and treated him favorably and turned him over to Gedaliah, the appointed governor. Jeremiah’s prophecies had come true, but God wasn’t finished with him yet. He still had much for him to accomplish.

The Woke Bloke Who Broke the Yoke

October 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 4 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 28 features a false prophet named Hananiah who stepped up to face Jeremiah and to challenge his message and authority. Even more dangerous than disregarding the Word of God is claiming that you yourself have a “word” from God when you do not. AND, even more dangerous still, is doubling down and claiming that God’s actual Word is false because it contradicts your own word. If you are partial to the Charismatic school of prophecy claims that God is giving extrabiblical revelation privately to “anointed” individuals today, then please take heed of this: Not all violations of God’s Old Testament law were considered to be capital offenses, but false prophecy certainly was.

Despite the risk involved with contradicting God and challenging His true prophecies, Satan has never had any difficulty in finding people willing to do it. Here, it would appear that his servant was the false prophet Hananiah.

And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.

Jeremiah 28:1-2

This is a reference to, and refutation of, Jeremiah’s use of the ox-yoke as a symbol of how the people’s only hope now lay in submitting themselves to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.

Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:

Jeremiah 28:3

Hananiah claimed that God told him the captives would be returned in two years, along with the accessories and implements used in Temple worship. This was another contradiction against Jeremiah, who, back in Chapter 25, had already revealed that God intended for the Babylonian captivity to last seventy years, not two years!

No doubt this emboldened the conspirators/ambassadors who had met together to form a secret alliance against Nebuchadnezzar. Here was a brash prophet claiming to speak in Yahweh’s name just like Jeremiah did, but saying that God would help them in their scheme. You can be sure that you will always find someone to support your unbiblical ideas if you look hard enough.

The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.

Jeremiah 28:8-9

Jeremiah, realizing that competing claims to speak for Yahweh were giving excuses for the leaders to put their faith in the false Hananiah, reminded them of the prophetic tradition of which he was clearly a part. It’s not that God NEVER sent prophets to encourage people with messages of hope; it’s just that He did not lie and proclaim “peace” through His prophets to people who were in clear breach of the Deuteronomic Covenant. And, more importantly, Jeremiah’s previous prophecies had already been confirmed. Many of them had already come to pass. Beware of counselors in your life who coddle you in your sin, or who never tell you hard truth.

Hananiah’s pride would not let him accept a wait-and-see proposition to determine who was really speaking God’s truth here. He became either very angry or very dramatic.

Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it.

Jeremiah 28:10

He snatched Jeremiah’s yoke from his neck and broke it. (Apparently Hananiah was a pretty strong dude.)

And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

Jeremiah 28:11

He acknowledged Jeremiah’s interpretation of the yoke as a symbol of Nebuchadnezzar’s dominance/protection, but, by breaking it, he was saying that God would break Nebuchadnezzar’s hold over the nations in two years. We can imagine everybody in the crowd looking at Jeremiah, who was not known for being violent, but WAS certainly known for being passionate and something of a loose cannon in their view… but he just meekly walked away.

He was not gone for long, however.

Then the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.

Jeremiah 28:12-13

He came back wearing a yoke of iron, as if to say, “Let’s see you break this one, Hananiah.” This symbol reminds us that in Revelation it is prophesied that Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

Jeremiah 28:15-17

Jeremiah showed that he did not leave the previous confrontation because he lacked courage or doubted his own prophecies. He returned to get right in Hananiah’s face, called him a liar, and basically pronounced his death sentence for false prophecy.

The Yoke’s on You!

October 1, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 10 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapters 27-29 deal with the battle between Jeremiah, the true prophet, and the false prophets who held the positions of favor and influence in the government. Jeremiah was no politician, but there is no doubt that God called him to minister not only in affairs of the heart, but in affairs of state at times also.

Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,

Jeremiah 27:2

Jeremiah was here called to use another object as a symbol and to preach an “illustrated” or “action” sermon. The yoke is a well-known Bible symbol because of it’s ubiquity in agrarian societies, where pulling-animals like oxen needed to be hitched to plows and carts. It is even used notably in the New Testament where Jesus said,

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:29-30

A yoke was a wooden collar attached with leather thongs.

Jeremiah had been put in stocks against his will, but now he was voluntarily wearing a yoke to make a point.

And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;

Jeremiah 27:3

The historical backstory is that Babylon, even prior to conquering Judah, had conquered other nations, such as Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Tyre-and-Zidon, and made them vassal states, with Babylon as their suzerain. Under suzerainty treaties the suzerain took tribute and submission from the vassal nation in exchange for “protection.” Zedekiah, acting as king of Judah, decided that he would join an alliance of these vassal states in a conspiracy against Babylon. Jeremiah knew that such a strategy would not help – and, in fact, would make things worse – because it would be opposed by God, Who had made Nebuchadnezzar His “servant.” Jeremiah showed up at the meeting of the ambassadors of these nations wearing an ox-yoke, and he had made or brought one for each of them to take back home to their kings!

And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.

Jeremiah 27:8

This would not have been popular political advice, but it carried the authenticity of God’s past dealing and covenant promises, and it was not really classified as “political advice” as much as it was true “prophetic warning.” Jeremiah’s desire for popularity was virtually non-existent, anyway.

Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:

Jeremiah 27:9

Divining and enchantment and sorcery were major red flags that should have immediately disqualified these “prophets” from gaining a hearing with the king, much less actually being heeded, and “dreamers” should have caused similar skepticism.

Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy unto you, saying, Behold, the vessels of the LORD’s house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you.

Jeremiah 27:16

The false prophets were predicting two years before the return of the captives with the accessories, furniture, and vessels used in Temple worship, but Jeremiah knew better.

Tangentially, why would Nebuchadnezzar take these Temple furnishings, anyway? Perhaps for their worth, since they were made from precious metals, but, more likely, for their ostentatious and arrogant display in the temples of his false gods, so they could be viewed as spoils of war. On the other hand, why would he leave any of the items at all? Maybe because he didn’t care if those left behind participated in Yahweh-worship, or maybe because he had so many treasures already that he wasn’t easily impressed. This reminds us that the devil doesn’t care if you go to church as long as your heart is not really participating in, or affected by, the worship of God. If he has lured you away from loving Jesus, he really doesn’t care that much what sort of motions you go through. The end of Jeremiah Chapter 27 tells us that those things would be taken to Babylon eventually, anyway, but would be ultimately brought back at God’s appointed time.

The Handwriting on the Wall

June 11, 2010 at 9:59 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Daniel | 11 Comments
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Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. He was the son of Nabonidus. He decided to have a feast and to use the cups and vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem. Even wicked King Nebuchadnezzar had not dared to use these sacred objects. Those who are completely corrupted by sin, and who have been given over to a reprobate mind, and who have run out of ways to create a new sensation, take pleasure in desecrating the holy.

The king and his court and guests not only defiled these objects by partying with them, but they compounded their sin and their insults by worshipping idols with them.

Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

Daniel 5:3-4

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

Daniel 5:5

Belshazzar’s knees were knocking together and he looked pale and shocked.

Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

Daniel 5:6

The queen heard what was happening.

Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

Daniel 5:10

She had a wrong motive: she wanted the party to continue. But at least she knew the right person to call for the interpretation.

Daniel was probably between 81 and 85 years old when this happened, so we can see him – the impervious elderly prophet and man of God, shaking his finger at Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.

Belshzzar offered Daniel gifts, but Daniel wasn’t interested in rewards on earth.

Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

Daniel 5:17

Daniel preached to him:

O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.

Daniel 5:18-19

These verses remind me of the famous quote that Lloyd Bentsen used on Dan Quayle years ago in a Vice-Presidential debate, concerning JFK. It’s almost as if Daniel is telling Belshazzar, “I knew Nebuchadnezzar. I worked with Nebuchadnezzar. I watched Nebuchadnezzar eat grass, son, and you, sir, are no Nebuchadnezzar.”

And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

Daniel 5:22-23

The written message on the wall – Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres – meant “Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided.” Belshazzar had been “numbered” by God – God knew all about him. He “had his number.” Also, Belshazzar’s “days were numbered.” He had been “weighed in in the balance,” and found wanting. The mightiest nations are to God as a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15). Peres or Upharsin meant “divided.” That very night the Medes and the Persians were waiting outside the city gate – they conquered the kingdom and divided it.

I like to look out for instances in the Bible which remind me of everyday sayings that we use today. Daniel Chapter 5 is a veritable cornucopia of common expressions:
Knees knocking together
The handwriting was on the wall
Weighed in the balance
Your days are numbered
I’ve got your number

Character and Integrity Part 4

September 15, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Daniel | 13 Comments
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Let’s review some of the physical, material things we have examined to learn something about character and integrity. We said that an official NFL football has more integrity than a Nerf football, because water will easily seep into a Nerf, but a real football has a quality of soundness and impenetrability. We said that, for storing sandwiches, zip-lock bags have more integrity than birdcages, because they make an airtight seal. In addition, they are known for having a better character for this purpose, even though birdcages may look more ornate or beautiful.

Today, we look at another facet of integrity and character in the comparison between a steel ball and a ball of Play-Doh. Neither of these is especially permeable. Therefore, we might conclude that they both have integrity. However, the steel ball actually has the greater integrity and character, because, in addition to being impervious to water, it resists being molded into a different shape by outside forces.

One of your three main enemies – “the world” – wants to attack your character and integrity primarily because of greed – the love of money.

Think about the people in films and magazines and on the internet who pose naked. They are appealing to the sin of lust. There is a market for it. People are lustful – they want to see that kind of thing. But people aren’t naturally inclined to go around naked. The world entices them into doing it to make money. Then a cult develops – you are “told” that attractive people get famous by doing it, so, if you are attractive, people will really like you if you do it, too, or, if that’s too much for you, then the world tells you that it is alright to at least act promiscuously for the same purpose.

The world is in the business of getting you to buy things. Most of the things the world wants you to buy are not practical or even comfortable. If you don’t believe me, go to a high school football game this Friday night, and watch the boys and girls spending inordinate amounts of energy hitching up their pants or brushing their hair out of their eyes.

The antidote to the greed promoted by the world is found in the Bible. Let’s look at the example of Daniel in the Bible. The events in the Book of Daniel take place in 605 B.C., after Jerusalem is taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old when this occurred.

Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. He is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15.

Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. And they were royalty (Daniel 1:3-4). The Babylonians changed their names. “Daniel” meant “God is my judge.” “Belteshazzar” meant “Bel protect his life.” “Hananiah” meant “the Lord shows grace.” “Shadrach meant “command of Aku (the moon-god).” “Mishael” meant “who is like God?” “Meshach” meant “who like Aku?” “Azariah” meant “the Lord is my help.” “Abednego” meant “servant of Nego.”

As Jews, living under the Old Testament Covenant, they were not supposed to eat defiled food. When pressured, they chose the Word of God over the king’s food. When disobeying ungodly authority, they were gracious toward that authority.

They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else (Daniel 1:18-20).

These Jewish young men were taken captive to Babylon, and they were treated well in many ways, but, in Scripture, Babylon represents our enemy, the world.

Geographically, today’s Iraq is the old Babylon. Saddam Hussein wanted to be the new Nebuchadnezzar.

The original Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel and his friends to serve in the royal palace, and he wanted young men with his idea of integrity. The problem was that he wanted them to conform. So, as a representative of the world, he began to put pressure on them – the same kind of pressure that the world puts on Christians today.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

“Conforming” is caused by pressure from without. “Transforming” is caused by change and growth from within. Remember our illustration? Play-Doh can be conformed by pressure from outside, but the pressure won’t make it grow.

Concerning Daniel and his friends, the Babylonians changed their home, their ideas, their language, their diet – even their names. This is what we would call a form of brainwashing. Most people today were brainwashed as children to believe in a type of evolution which contradicts the Bible. They have been brainwashed to believe that the Earth is “billions and billions” of years old, when, according to the Bible, it’s only around 6000 years old.

Daniel resisted being conformed to the world of Babylon by purposing in his heart to obey God. He remembered that he was in a foreign country. Christians today are in a foreign land. If you are a Christian, the place of your physical address is not your real home.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

When the world puts pressure on you to conform, follow the example of Daniel. Strengthen your integrity and your character. Do what it says in Romans 12:1-2. Start off each day by surrendering your body to the Lord (present your bodies a living sacrifice). Renew your mind in the Word of God every day. Pray. Daniel was automatic. He prayed three times every day, no matter what. Then “prove” God’s will – put it in action. Prove God’s will, not your own will.

Daniel and his friends proved they could be faithful in little things, so God gave them the chance to be faithful in great things (Luke 16:10), like the fiery furnace and the lion’s den.

Daniel made a “stand” (Daniel 1:4; 1:5; 1:19; 2:2; 2:31). “Standing” carries the connotation of “standing for something.” You know the old expression, but it’s still true: If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything. Daniel and his friends were thrown into the fiery furnace for standing up when everyone else fell down and bowed down.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13

Christians are not called to be undercover agents – going along to get along with the world. God is looking for someone who won’t CONFORM. He is looking for someone who is TRANSFORMED.

God has some great plans for you. Don’t settle for just being popular or having a great career or falling in lust. Those things are going to pass away. Things done for God’s glory will last forever.


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