Open Up and Say “Ah”

January 31, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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There have been many Jeremiahs, but two Jeremiahs really stand out in the history of the world. One was the famous prophet of the Book of Jeremiah in the Bible. The other one was a bullfrog featured in the 1971 hit song, “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, which starts starts off with the lyric, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine.” Okay, I will admit I am little biased about the latter Jeremiah due to the fact that I performed that song, to much consternation, in front of my K4 class at the First Baptist Church preschool back in the day, along with dance moves that were more enthusiastic than graceful.

For now, we will stick with discussing the Biblical Jeremiah, whose book is found in the Old Testament section of major prophets between Isaiah and Lamentations. It was written by the Holy Spirit through Jeremiah himself.

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

Jeremiah 1:1-2

Jeremiah’s father was a priest, so this means that Jeremiah probably thought he was going to be a priest also, but the Lord had other plans for his life. The Lord spoke to him directly in Josiah’s 13th year as king, when Jeremiah was probably about 20 years old. The life of a priest was not necessarily easy, but it could be very mundane: teaching the law, overseeing temple sacrifices, inspecting lepers and other clean and unclean citizens, and a steady income. It was a noble profession, but it dealt much more with external religion than with the hearts of men and women. The job a prophet was way different.

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

Prophets were often unpopular. They had to say exactly what God told them to say. Their lives were unpredictable. They didn’t get a steady paycheck, or even room and board. Their provision came directly from God, but that requires more palpable trust. Additionally, prophets were needed when the people were disobeying and getting involved in idolatry. Whereas priests were concerned with external religion, prophets spoke directly to the heart. In a time when God’s people had forsaken His law, Jeremiah was supposed to tell them the truth about God’s justice, wrath, faithfulness to His promises, and, yes, His love.

In Jeremiah’s day, God’s people were engaging in fornication as a means of pagan worship, they were doing this in order to promote fertility in their agriculture, and they were sacrificing their own children. You might think, “How barbaric!” but I’m afraid their wickedness would not hold a candle to us today. Our culture promotes fornication (sex outside of marriage), which results in unwanted pregnancies, and, therefore, sadly, sometimes abortion and other complications and and cruelties, and this is now considered okay in order to keep the population down and protect the environment. The devil does not have lot of new tricks. He’s been lying and tempting people with the same sins since the beginning.

God told Jeremiah that He knew him before he was created: before he was “formed in the belly.” God chose Jeremiah way before Jeremiah even had any consciousness, much less an ability to decide whether he would choose God. God set him apart for a special purpose. He was sanctified to serve God with his life (“and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,”). God chose his career (vocation) for him (“and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”). You and I need to recognize those same truths about ourselves.

God knew you before He made you. He chose you for himself before you were born. He is in charge of your life, so, whatsoever you do, you are called to do it for Him. But what was Jeremiah’s response?

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

Jeremiah 1:6

He did not receive this news with pride or even confidence. How would you receive it? Do you like to speak in front of large groups of people? How about when you know they are going to absolutely hate what you have to say? How about speaking before “the nations” – the whole world?

Jeremiah said, “Ah.” How do we read this? Did he sound like a patient having his tonsils examined by a doctor? Was he nearly speechless? Was the “ah” a gagging sound, an attempt to prove he wouldn’t be a good spokesman-prophet? Or was he saying “ah” in the tone of Sherlock Holmes finding a clue” “Ah-ha!”? Perhaps he sounded philosophical, like Confucius rubbing his beard thoughtfully and saying “ahhhh.” I don’t think so.

Like many of us, if suddenly God came to us and said, “Forget all your life’s plans, I need to you to get up and give a speech to the whole world telling them exactly what they don’t want to hear, and, by the way, as a prophet of God, if you get anything wrong, you have to die,” we would probably say “Ahhhhh!” in a terrified exclamation like the wide-eyed and open-mouthed passenger on the world’s scariest roller coaster. That is probably closer to what the word means in the original Hebrew. It was used to express a grunt of pain. I hope you and I have not gotten so comfortable with the Word of God that it no longer produces in us a guttural, primal reaction – yes, even an emotional response – a palpable and passionate cry, depending on the condition of our heart when we read or hear it, that God is not pleased… or that God loves us… or that He has called us to the greatest service that we could never deserve… or that He would send His Beloved Son to die for a sinful worthless wicked wretch like me.

God Hurts Those Who Help Themselves

January 17, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Chapter 45 is a very short chapter in the Book of Jeremiah. Chronologically it can be paired with Chapter 36 because it deals with Baruch, Jeremiah’s faithful assistant who had written down Jeremiah’s prophecies in a scroll, only to have the scroll seized and burned by the king. Baruch subsequently copied them down again. Although not mentiond in Chapter 36, apparently Baruch got discouraged as he suffered through persecution with Jeremiah, because in Chapter 45 God had Jeremiah encourage him with a personal Word.

Baruch had a brother on the king’s staff, so leaving Jeremiah for a more comfortable position was an option for him, but God promised to take care of him because of his perseverance.

Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch: Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest. Thus shalt thou say unto him, The Lord saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land. And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.

Jeremiah 45:2-5

“I’m going to do what’s best for me.”
“Always look out for number one.”
“Make sure to build up your self-esteem.”

These statements are examples of selfishness masquerading as pop psychology, and, even for those of us who try to avoid talking this way, we have to admit that all of us have a tendency to think of our own best interest first and foremost. There is no more popular section in the library or bookstore than the “self-help” section. However, God, through the prophet Jeremiah, issued a strong warning against this mind-set: “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…” (45:5). It would not be wrong for you to pray that the Lord would use you in a great way, but neither would it be wrong to pray for God to use your friend in a great way and to let you carry his bags. Former church leaders who may have lost their qualifications to lead can still be great helpers and assistants, and God often greatly blesses those who labor behind the scenes. We might recognize Billy Graham or D.L. Moody in Heaven with all their crowns, but we might wonder who that anonymous church janitor or bus driver over there is with 10 times as many crowns.

As Jeremiah began to prophesy to the nations around Judah – nations which would also experienced defeat at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army – he used some striking imagery, describing them as stampeding heifers, slithering serpents, and chopped-down trees. This is a good reminder to parents and grandparents of young children, and those who work in children’s ministry, that we can draw spiritual lessons from the things we find in nature. Children are often drawn to animals, trees, flowers, and water, and these, being given to us as blessings from God, can be easily adapted as illustrations to make a point about faithfulness, obedience, provision, or courage.

Egypt was dealt with first because Egypt’s army looked mighty. The image used is of the Nile River overflowing its banks in a great flood.

Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.

Jeremiah 46:8

However, God said that when the Babylonian army came their Pharaoh would be exposed as just a noise-maker (a “bigmouth”).

They did cry there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he hath passed the time appointed.

Jeremiah 46:17

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north. Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation. The voice thereof shall go like a serpent; for they shall march with an army, and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood. They shall cut down her forest, saith the Lord, though it cannot be searched; because they are more than the grasshoppers, and are innumerable.

Jeremiah 46:20-23

Chapter 47 deals with the Philistines – longtime enemies of God’s people  – even though they had actually tried to join the alliance with Judah and the other nations against Babylon. Their doom would be so scary that even fathers would run away, abandoning their children (which back then would be seen as the ultimate in cowardice, but today is just another Tuesday in America).

At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands;

Jeremiah 47:3

Chapter 48 addresses the Moabites, descendants of Lot through his incestuous relationship with one of his daughters, who were another longtime enemy of Judah, and who had also joined the alliance, along with Ammon, against Babylon. Moab was a very proud nation, and of course God always opposes the proud.

How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war? Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts. The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast.

Jeremiah 48:14-16

They would turn into frightened doves hiding in a cave.

O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth. We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.

Jeremiah 48:28-29

There is a theme of the Lord opposing the pride that dwells in human hearts all throughout the Book of Jeremiah.

Chapter 49 is about the Ammonites, who were descended from Lot’s other daughter. They were related to the Jews by blood, but had been their enemies for centuries until tempted into joining the alliance out of fear of Nebuchadnezzar. Although their ancestor Lot had narrowly escaped the fire of his beloved Sodom, his descendants would experience it generations later.

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 49:2

Next, Jeremiah prophesied againts the Edomites, descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. This was another nation consumed by pride, who thought their rock-enclosed cities were impregnable against outside attack.

Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord. Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the Lord, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.

Jeremiah 49:16-18

Nebuchadnezzar would attack them like a lion.

Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?

Jeremiah 49:19

The Consequences of Evil

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

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

Jeremiah 52:2

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

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

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

Jeremiah 52:4-7

The Temple was destroyed.

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

Jeremiah 52:12-13

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

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

Jeremiah 52:17-19

An overview of the sequence of these tragic events emphasizes:

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

Pulling on the Reins

December 20, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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We know from what is recorded later on in Jeremiah Chapter 26 that Jeremiah was arrested after the sermon or series of sermons that concludes in Chapter 10. In Chapter 12, after getting the revelation from God about the plot against him, he questioned God with a discussion of a problem akin to theodicy. Jeremiah wanted to know why God was allowing this to happen to him while the wicked wre prospering. Job, Habakkuk, Asaph (Psalm 73), and others had struggled with similar ideas.

Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. But thou, O Lord, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

Jeremiah 12:1-3

Jeremiah could ask this honestly because God did in fact know his heart. If anybody had insight into God’s interest in the hearts of His people, it was Jeremiah. His error – partly – was that he knew God had tried the reins of the wicked and found their hearts to be wicked, and that He had tried Jeremiah’s reins and found his heart to be devoted. However, once reins are “tried,” that is when they can be trusted and used.

Jeremiah was praying about HOW he could get out of this instead of about WHAT he could get out of this.

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

Jeremiah 12:5

Jeremiah had shown himself true and passed the test, but the tests were also training for greater challenges to come. We never reach a plateau in our Christian lives. We are always called to higher service and greater levels of faithfulness.

Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.

Jermiah 12:10-11

God did not want Jeremiah to do what the people had done: get a blessing from God, take advantage of it selfishly, start believing it was an entitlement, fail to treat it as an investment-in-trust, use it up, then, having fooled themselves into thinking the goodness of it was self-generated or deserved, turn inward to find a replacement which would only point them back outward to anything but the real God.

Jeremiah (and God) Contra Mundum

December 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

Jeremiah 11:11

Notice that the Lord did not say that He would only allow evil to come upon them; He said He would BRING it. The point had come where He would not even relent and hear their prayers.

Then the Lord also revealed the second conspiracy: a specific conspiracy hatched by the men of Anathoth, Jeremiah’s home town, to kill him and to stop him from trying to interfere in their pagan idol-worshp, and from making it look like the priests of Anathoth were unpatriotic and on-board with this doom and gloom prophesying about the fall of Judah.

And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings. But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.

Jeremiah 11:18-19

This revelation must have devastated Jeremiah, but he knew, even though the whole land was against him – even his kinsmen in his home town – that he was not “Jeremiah contra mundum.” It was really Jeremiah AND GOD against the world. When God is with you, you can defeat any enemy, overcome any circumstance, escape from any trap, get the victory over any sin, conquer any depression, bring forth joy and beauty and praise from any calamity.

But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.

Jeremiah 11:20

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

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

Jeremiah 50:1-3

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

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

Jeremiah 50:17-20

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

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

Jeremiah 50:31-32

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

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

Jeremiah 50:33-34

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

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

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

Jeremiah 51:6

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

Jeremiah 51:10

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

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

Jeremiah 51:45-46

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

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.

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