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Jeremiah

June 3, 2009

(Including Lamentations)

Background

I. Jeremiah’s Calling Jeremiah 1:1-17

II. Jeremiah’s Proclamations Jeremiah 2:1-8:3

  1. Judah’s Unfaithfulness                    Jer. 2:1-3:5
  2. Repent and Return                           Jer. 3:6-4:4
  3. God’s Trumpet Sounds                    Jer. 4:5-4:31
  4. Truth and Consequences                Jer. 5:1-31
  5. Destruction is Coming                      Jer. 6:1-30
  6. Repent or Perish                                Jer. 7:1-8:3

III. God Laments over Judah’s Sin Jeremiah 8:4-17

IV. Jeremiah Laments over Judah’s Sin Jeremiah 8:18-9:22

V. Words of Wisdom Jeremiah 10:1-12:17

  1. God is Greater than Your Idols          Jer. 10:1-16
  2. Prepare for Destruction                      Jer. 10:17-25
  3. The Mosaic Covenant is Still Valid   Jer. 11:1-17
  4. Vengeance Belongs to the Lord           Jer. 11:18-23
  5. The Lord is Just                                        Jer. 12:1-17

VI. Illustrated Prophesies Jeremiah 13:1-20:6

  1. A Linen Belt, Wineskins, and Consequences     Jer. 13:1-27
  2. Drought, Prayer, and Judgment                               Jer. 14:1-15:21
  3. Celibacy, Gatherings, Curses, and Hope              Jer. 16:1-!7:13
  4. The City Gates and the Sabbath                               Jer. 17:14-27
  5. The Potter, Plans, and Prayer                                  Jer. 18:1-23
  6. A Pot, a Dump, Destruction, and Persecution  Jer. 19:1-20:6

VII. Jeremiah’s Depression Jeremiah 20:7-18

VIII. Specific Prophesies Concerning Judah’s Kings Jeremiah 21:1-23:8

  1. To King Zedekiah                             Jer. 21:1-14
  2. To Judah’s Last Four Kings          Jer. 22:1-30
  3. Their King is Coming                      Jer. 23:1-8

IX. Beware of False Prophets Jeremiah 23:9-40

X. Details Concerning God’s Wrath Jeremiah 24:1-25:38

  1. God’s Remnant                                   Jer. 24:1-10
  2. Judah’s Captivity                              Jer. 25:1-14
  3. God’s Judgment on the Nations  Jer. 25:15-38

XI. The Boldness of God’s Servant Jeremiah 26:1-29:32

  1. Facing Death                                  Jer. 26:1-24
  2. Confronting Kings                      Jer. 27:1-22
  3. Confronting False Prophets    Jer. 28:1-17
  4. Addressing the Exiles                Jer. 29:1-32

XII. Messages of Hope Jeremiah 30:1-33:26

  1. Israel Will Be Restored               Jer. 30:1-31:40
  2. Jeremiah’s Faith in Action        Jer. 32:1-44
  3. God is Faithful, Period               Jer. 33:1-26

XIII. Obedience is Important Jeremiah 34:1-35:19

  1. King Zechariah’s Mistake              Jer. 34:1-22
  2. The Recabites’ Faithfulness         Jer. 35:1-19

XIV. The Persecution of Jeremiah Jeremiah 36:1-38:20

  1. Writings Burned                  Jer. 36:1-32
  2. Imprisoned                            Jer. 37:1-21
  3. Temporarily Silenced      Jer. 38:1-28

XV. A Historical Account of Judah’s Fall Jeremiah 39:1-43:13

  1. The Fall of Jerusalem                   Jer. 39:1-18
  2. Jeremiah is Freed                           Jer. 40:1-6
  3. Gedaliah is Killed                           Jer. 40:7-41:15
  4. Johanan Consults the Lord         Jer. 41:16-43:13

XVI. Jeremiah’s Final Prophecy Jeremiah 44:1-30

XVII. Miscellaneous Prophecies Jeremiah 45:1-51:64

  1. To Baruch                      Jer. 45:1-5
  2. To Egypt                       Jer. 46:1-28
  3. To Philistia Jer. 47:1-7 D. To Moab            Jer, 48:1-47
  4. To Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and the Far East           Jer. 49:1-39
  5. To Babylon                    Jer. 50:1-51:64

XVIII. Two Important Historical Accounts Jeremiah 52:1-34

  1. King Zedekiah and Jerusalem’s Fall               Jer. 52:1-30
  2. King Jehoiachin’s Good Fortune                    Jer. 52:31-34

XIX. Epilogue Lamentations 1-5

Background:

Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, a priest at Anathoth located in the tribal
area of Benjamin just 3 miles NE of Jerusalem. Jeremiah, no doubt, was a Levite.
He is thought to have lived from 650BC to 582 or 68 years. Jeremiah prophesied
approximately 40 years [626-587 BC] to the people and leaders of Judah. The
northern kingdom, Israel, had been exiled over a hundred years earlier. During
his life he saw Assyria and Egypt as the two great powers, he saw Egypt removed
as a power, and he saw the Babylonians rise to replace Assyria. He grew up during
the reign of Manesseh and Amon and prophesied during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoahaz,
Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Of all those kings, only Josiah was considered
to be good in the eyes of God. So Jeremiah prophesied from the reign of Josiah
until Judah’s exile in 586 BC. To get more information with respect to his contemporaries
and history, refer to the charts in the Forward on this section of OT Prophets.

Jeremiah’s words and this lengthy book bearing his name were probably written
and assembled by Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary and friend. This assembly is not
believed to be in chronological order but more so by themes or topics. Jeremiah
tends to emphasize ones personal relationship to God more so than that of the
nation Judah. In addition to his prophesies, Jeremiah also contains passages
of pure history.

Israel [Judah] was in its’ last days during Jeremiah’s prophetic days. Therefore,
it would be wise on our part to consider his message as if it were given in
the last days of our nation. We must consider how America is similar to Judah.
Are we guilty of the same sins as Judah? Has God planned a similar fate for
us? In what ways does America need to change? In what ways do we as individuals
need to change? These questions are critical toward interpreting Jeremiah correctly
and applying God’s Word to both our national and personal situations today.

Jeremiah’s Calling                            Jeremiah 1:1-17

Jeremiah’s calling as God’s prophet to Judah began in the thirteenth year
of King Josiah and lasted through the eleventh year and fifth month of King
Zedekiah’s reign or until Judah went into exile and was destroyed.

Jeremiah is a prophet driven by God’s Word more so than by visions. He is
intimate with God’s Word and intimate personally with God. He was conceived
by his parents to fulfill this special calling by God. He was born to be a prophet
[vs. 5]. Jeremiah evidently understood his calling at a young age and was resistant.
But God assures the young Jeremiah and exhorts him to obey. Jeremiah is to follow
God’s leading and be bold. He will be in tough situations but not to fear. God’s
promise to Jeremiah is fourfold:

  1. I will lead you.
  2. I will go with you.
  3. I will rescue you.
  4. I will give you the words to speak.

God promises to be the “perfect boss”. Jeremiah must promise to obey
God, to submit to His Will, and to yield to God’s leading.

To show Jeremiah how they are going to work together, God gives Jeremiah two
visions. Through these two visions, God emphasizes His sovereignty over what
is to happen. First God is watching to see that His Word is fulfilled. This
could mean two things; God is watching Jeremiah to confirm his obedience and/or
God is watching over Judah to discern their receptiveness to His Word. I believe
both are true. Jeremiah has a responsibility to proclaim God’s Word and Judah
has a responsibility to receive God’s Word. Acceptance of God’s Word brings
forth Grace. Rejection of God’s Word brings the promise of God’s punishment.
In either case, God’s Word is being fulfilled. Unfortunately the Word of the
Lord from Jeremiah is no more accepted than that of Isaiah 100 years earlier.
Judah will hear and see but not understand or comprehend. God knows their hearts
and, therefore, gives Jeremiah the second vision of a boiling pot representing
disaster coming from the nations to the north. Jeremiah is called to proclaim
but in proclaiming he is not to expect miracles. Things begin well with King
Josiah’s reforms but they deteriorate quickly again after his death. God is
going to judge Judah for her wickedness, for turning away from Him and for worshipping
idols.

In closing, God repeats His promises to Jeremiah. He is to proclaim God’s
Word to Judah and not be afraid. God will protect Him. God will be with Him.
And God will rescue Him.

As Christians, as God’s people, we too have been called to proclaim God’s
Word. Jeremiah was called specifically to be God’s prophet. Regardless of our
vocation, we are no different. God is watching to see if we really believe what
He says, if we obey Him, and if we are willing to follow His lead. We are to
proclaim His Word boldly without fear. God gives us the same assurances He did
to Jeremiah. He will go ahead of us. He will come beside us. And He will come
behind us. We are His soldiers doing battle for Him but God stands with us to
protect us. Our belief in God’s promises is revealed through our boldness or
lack thereof. It is time we reassess our real objective in life. Are we a child
of God, called? Are we obedient to His calling? Are we more timid than bold?
Would we rather play it safe than take risks? It’s easy for us to believe God
goes ahead of us and with us but do we trust Him to come behind us, to be our
protector and to rescue us? Are we willing to become unpopular “Jeremiahs”
to our culture? To do so we must BELIEVE GOD. We must believe:

  1. God has given us a special calling.
  2. God is going ahead and leading us.
  3. God is working along side of us and showing us what to say and do.
  4. God is coming behind us to reap His harvest and rescue us when we are down.
  5. God is protecting our front, our sides, and our rear.

Believe Him

Follow Him

Obey Him

Love HiServe Him

Trust Him

Remember, God keeps His Promises!

Jeremiah’s Proclamations                            Jeremiah 2:1-8:3

Judah’s Unfaithfulness                                                Jer. 2:1-3:5

Jeremiah is told to proclaim the Word of the Lord in Jerusalem outlining their
fall from grace. In the desert during the Exodus, God considered them to be
holy. They were His children and anyone who attacked them were punished by God.
He was their protector because He loved them. These words are not just to those
living in Jerusalem but to all of Judah and to all of Israel and assumes some
people living in the northern kingdom had found refuge in the south before their
exile. Note that Jeremiah refers to Israel even though Judah and Benjamin are
the only tribes left in the land. This is another indication that God still
thinks of Israel as one nation and not the divided nation since the time of
Solomon’s death.

This section is loaded with questions from God. It’s almost as if God is having
a conversation with Himself as Jeremiah presents God’s case to the people. There
are two major questions:

  1. What fault did you find in Me [God] that caused you [Israel] to stray. Don’t’
  2. you remember it was I who brought you out of Egypt and gave you this land? [Jer.
  3. 2:5-6]
  4. Why do you [Israel] bring charges against Me [God]? [Jer. 2:29]

Then there are the supplemental questions:

  1. Has a nation ever changed its’ gods? [Jer. 2:11]
  2. Is Israel a slave by birth? [Jer. 2:14]
  3. How did you turn into such a wild vine? [Jer. 2:21
  4. How can you say "I am not defiled"? [Jer. 2:25]
  5. Can your gods save you? [Jer. 2:28]
  6. Why do you think you can do as you please? [Jer. 2:31]
  7. How can I return to you if you have divorced Me and married another [Jer. 3:1]
  8. Why do you question My reasons to be angry with you? [Jer. 3:4-5]

Let’s begin with question #1 where God asks them what He did that caused them
to turn away from Him and to stop consulting Him. After all God was the one
who brought them out of Egypt into the Promised Land. God led them through the
wilderness providing them with water and food. God cared for them and protected
them. God delivered them out of slavery in Egypt and planted them in a fruitful
land so they could worship Him and He could be their God, their Savior, and
their King. But all Israel defiled their land by rejecting God and entering
into idolatry. It wasn’t just the people who became Godless, it was the priests,
the leaders, and the prophets; those who should know the true God. Therefore,
God will contend with them for three generations [vs. 9] because they rejected
Him and sought false gods to worship [vs. 11].

Judah [Israel] has committed two serious sins. First, they have rejected God
and God’s blessings [vs. 13]. Secondly, they have sought out their own gods
and seek to provide their own blessing. They have rejected God and made themselves
god. They have become enslaved to themselves. Their man-made decisions have
resulted in waste, destruction, and oppression. Instead of asking God for His
wisdom, they trusted in their own wisdom and treaties made with the surrounding
Nations. Basically, they have chosen to enslave themselves through treaties
with Egypt and Assyria, the two major powers. God through Jeremiah says theses
decisions will come back to haunt them and the gods they now worship can not
help them [vs. 19].

Israel has mentally, physically, and spiritually broken away from God. Idolatry
is rampant. Israel was planted as a cultured holy sanctified vine to bear much
fruit in the Promised Land but has now become a corrupt unrighteous wild vine
incapable of producing good fruit for the Kingdom of God. Israel is all image
but no heart [vs. 22]. They are all lies and no truth [vs. 23]. They have lost
their purpose and direction. They seek God but they do not find Him because
they prefer idols [vs. 24-25]. Israel is in a state of disgrace. They run to
idols for help while rebelling against God who is the only God capable and powerful
to help them.

The second major question has to do with charges Israel is making against
God because they prefer idols. In one sense, the question could be reversed.
That is, why are You [God] making these charges against us [Israel]? But the
question has to do with “me”, singular meaning God. Regardless, God’s
answer is the same. God has brought punishment upon them because of their adulterous
behavior. The problem is that God’s punishment has had no effect in turning
Israel’s hearts back to Him. In fact, they have responded by killing the prophets
who spoke boldly for the Lord.

Israel’s rejection of God is complete and runs deep. They not only have ignored
God in preference to idols but they have forgotten God, forgotten who He is
and what He did for Israel. They have forgotten God’s Law yet claim they are
innocent of any sin and that judgment will not come upon them. But God says
they are wrong. They will be disappointed in the lack of support available from
their treaties with Egypt and Assyria. God says they will be surprised at the
judgment He is planning for them because of their sin. They are going to another
land as prisoners of another people.

God continues to debate with Israel through Jeremiah equating the relationship
between God and Israel to that of a dissolved marriage. Once trust is broken,
it is impossible to restore [Jer. 3:1-2]. God gave them a fruitful land, a blessed
land, and Israel has defiled it, ruined it. It no longer is productive because
rain has been withheld as a result of their sin. They may call to God but they
refuse to repent and change their ways. They refuse to give up their worship
of idols. Israel has condemned themselves based on the decisions they have made.
God has no choice but to judge them and their sin for God is holy, righteous,
and just.

After this lengthy passage we must ask ourselves theses questions:

  1. Who is my God? Ex. 20:2-3 The First Commandment
  2. Is God really jealous? Ex. 20:4 The Second Commandment
  3. Is God serious about punishing sin? Ex. 20:4
  4. What is my relationship to God? How does it compare to my relationship to my god?
  5. What is my relationship to Godly people living near and dear to me?
  6. In what ways might God be angry with me?

Israel, God’s chosen people, refused to remember what He had done for them.
Their refusal to remember led to their forgetting God which led to their forsaking
God which led them to seek other gods which leads to God’s punishment and eventually
the pouring out of His wrath.

We are fortunate. We have Israel as an example to warn us. We are to remember
who God is and what He has done. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to reveal Himself
to us and to shed His blood on the cross to pay our debt for sin once and for
all time. Great is His love for us. Therefore, He has every right to be jealous
and angry when we spurn His love and seek other gods. Our other gods can not
do what He has already done; died for our sin and rose again so that we might
have the hope of eternal life. He has conquered the wages of sin, death [Romans
6:23], and promises life eternal to all who remember Him, depend on Him, trust
in Him, believe in Him, love Him, follow Him, obey Him, and serve Him. Therefore,
we are to examine ourselves and let Him examine us to make sure the god we worship
and call upon is the Lord, God Almighty. There is One God, the Creator and our
Redeemer. Let us never forget Him or forsake Him. Let Him be Lord for He is
worthy.

Repent and Return                                                Jer. 3:6-4:4

In Chapter 2 Jeremiah uses the term “Israel” as the whole nation
or Judah. There is no distinguishing between the northern and southern kingdoms.
In the remainder of Chapter 3 Jeremiah recognizes the two kingdoms and compares
them.

Jeremiah begins the Lord’s message by drawing attention to the northern kingdom,
Israel. They were exiled approximately 100 years earlier and no longer exist.
God asks them to remember what they had done, committing adultery with God by
worshipping idols. God expected Israel to repent and return to Him but was forced
to divorce them instead. Unfortunately, Israel had a negative influence on Judah’s
behavior and Judah has followed in Israel’s footsteps [vs. 8]. Judah has returned
but not with her whole heart [vs. 10]. King Josiah’s reforms, as a result of
hearing God’s Word and restoring the Temple, has slowed Judah’s decline but
it evidently hasn’t had a redeeming effect. See II Kings 22-23 and II Chronicles
34-35 for a historical perspective. Josiah was considered the last “good”
king of Judah because he followed the Lord and set about to reform Judah and
return her to the Lord. Jeremiah, therefore, is encouraging Josiah in his work
through this proclamation.

God, at this time, thinks more of faithless Israel than unfaithful Judah [vs.
11]. It is hard for us to comprehend just how far Judah has strayed from God.
God tells Jeremiah to ask Israel [those who were left behind] to return to Him
and accept His mercy. All they have to do is repent of their idolatry and God
is ready and willing to accept them back as His bride, His chosen children.
He asks them to meet Him at His temple in Jerusalem [formalize new wedding vows].
This probably was timed for the reinstituted Passover celebration initiated
by Josiah. God is saying repent, come, and let’s start over with a clean slate.
God will provide prophets and priests to teach and lead them in knowledge and
understanding of His Word and His way.

God also seems to understand that this is not about to happen quickly [vs.
16]. He recognizes that when this happens the Ark will no longer be important.
What will be important is the New Covenant through His Son, Jesus Christ. At
this time the Lord will rule in Jerusalem [the Millennium] and all nations will
acknowledge Jesus Christ as King of Kings. Judah and Israel will finally be
reunited, worshipping the Lord together [vs. 18]. God declares He is ready and
willing to accept them back as sons when they are ready and willing to follow
Him.

The remaining verses, Jeremiah 3:21-4:4, is a call for Israel [both Israel
and Judah] to return to the Lord. They have been unfaithful and have forgotten God
but He promises to lead them back if they will acknowledge Him as Lord and God
[Jeremiah 3:21-22]. He, God, will be their Savior [vs. 23]. To be led back,
Israel must acknowledge her sin and destroy her idols. Then God’s blessing will
return. Jeremiah then quotes Hosea’s call to break up their unplowed ground
[soft hearts instead of hard stubborn hearts] and return to the Lord [circumcise].
Refusal will bring God’s wrath upon them.

God gives us a choice. We can continue down our path of stubbornness and sin,
ignoring that He is God and has the power to save us and cleanse us from sin
OR we can acknowledge our sin and ask Him to lead us in His ways and His righteousness,
making us His sons. God wants to bless each of us as a father blesses his children
and as a husband blesses his wife. But we must be willing and submit to His
Will. We must be willing to Repent of our sin and Return to Him to Receive His
Mercy and Redemption. God is willing to accept us. The question is “Are
we willing to accept God?” Israel did not accept God and, thus, became
recipients of God’s wrath. What about us? What about you? What about me?

Repent of your sin;

Return to the Lord God; and be

Redeemed as His children/bride and, thus,

Receive the blessings He has reserved for us.

God’s Trumpet Sounds                                               Jer. 4:5-4:31

Refer also to my comments on Hosea 8:1-13:16 answering the question of “Why
the Lord Blows His Trumpet”.

God blows His trumpet warning Judah of disaster and destruction from the north.
They are to go to the fortified cities and/or Jerusalem. Even with the pending
destruction and disaster, God in His mercy wants to save as many as possible.
The planned disaster from the north will descend upon Judah like a lion seeking
his prey [vs. 7]. He will have already destroyed other nations and now he sets
his sights of Judah destroying the land and cities on his way to Jerusalem.
It is a time of mourning. What is to happen is far greater than the kings anticipate.
Even the priests and prophets will be surprised by the total destruction taking
place [vs. 9]. Neither politics, war, or religious observances can stem the
wave of destruction coming. The people are deceived into thinking peace is possible
but God’s judgment can not be stopped by any means available to man [vs. 10].

God’s judgment comes swiftly. A large army is coming from the north bringing
disaster and besieging the fortified cities of Judah. Salvation will come [individual,
not national] to those who repent of their sin. As a nation, Judah has been
unrepentant, has forgotten God, and has turned to idolatry. They are responsible
for God taking this action against them [vs. 18]. It’s like having the wind
knocked out of you. They have no strength, they can not move, and they are at
the mercy of their conquerors.

Jeremiah’s personal lament concerning this coming disaster begins with verse
19. Jeremiah is in anguish because he has heard the Lord’s trumpet. He sees
disaster upon disaster. Land and homes are in ruin. The armies come, wave after
wave after wave. Everything that burns has gone up in smoke cutting off the
light of day and night. Everything is leveled. Even the mountains quake. The
people and animals, even the birds, are missing. The land is ruined but not
destroyed completely. The Lord’s wrath is complete. Judah is no more, gone.
The evil of Judah has been destroyed.

Disaster comes to those who test God by doing as they please. History verifies
this. God is patient but when He blows His trumpet, man does not have the means
or the power to stop what God wills. Salvation comes to those who heed His Word,
repent of their sin, and honor Him with genuine love and worship. There is no
other way to be saved. May we hear Him, may we know Him so that He will know
us and call us His people. Glory be to God Almighty.

Truth and Consequences                                    Jer. 5:1-31

Jeremiah is instructed to look for just one person in Jerusalem [other than
Jeremiah] who is honest and seeks the truth [Godly]. God says you will find
people who swear by His Name but they don’t follow Him. Jeremiah questions the
need to go because God already knows the result. God has disciplined Judah/Jerusalem
but they have become even more hardened against God. They have refused to repent.

Jeremiah goes out and observes the poor [vs. 4]. They are the oppressed and
the uneducated. They have not had an opportunity to learn about God. They have
been shunned. Therefore, they do not know the way of the Lord. Nobody has ministered
to their needs.

Jeremiah observes the leaders next [vs. 5]. These are people who have had
every opportunity to learn about God. But all have turned away from God and
rebelled.

Therefore, God is sending the likes of lions, wolves, and leopards to attack
and destroy them. Judah’s rebellion is great. God con not forgive them when
they have forsaken Him in favor of idols. God has blessed them but lust has
overtaken them. They are in a “take” mode, greedy, instead of a “share”
mode of love. Neither Israel and now Judah has been faithful to God. The people
no longer believe God is sovereign [vs. 12]. Their prophets speak falsehoods.
Jeremiah will speak for the Lord proclaiming His judgment upon the people [vs.
14]. God will raise up a nation [Babylon] who will destroy their crops, kill
their young people, kill their animals, destroy their vineyards, and level their
fortified cities. God is just and will destroy Judah, but not completely. They
will be exiled and become slaves once again.

God now sends Jeremiah to Judah proclaiming the results of Jeremiah’s confirmation
of God’s inventory of faithful followers. The conclusions reached are not complimentary.

  1. They are foolish and senseless [vs. 21].
  2. They do not fear or show respect for God [vs. 22].
  3. They have stubborn and rebellious hearts [vs. 23].
  4. They do not acknowledge God’s involvement in their harvests [vs. 24].
  5. Their men are wicked, practicing deceit and oppression [vs. 26-28].
  6. Their prophets lie, their priests have their own rules, and the people think all is well [vs. 31].

Therefore, God’s only choice is to punish Judah for her sin.

God justly destroys the wicked but only when there is zero chance for repentance,
only when no one is committed to obey Him and do His Will. Therefore, God is
merciful in proclaiming His justice. God gives us every opportunity to repent
of our sin and follow Him. Therefore, we condemn ourselves by the decisions
we make. God takes inventory of His creation before He decides upon the necessary
correction. It is important that we take inventory just as Jeremiah was instructed.
That inventory includes our nation, our culture, and our selves. We are to repent
of our sin, preach repentance, and let others know the consequences of an unrepentant
heart. Repent and be God’s spokesman, God’s true prophet to those with whom
we come in contact. When people have forsaken God, be a Jeremiah. “Jeremiahs” are not popular but they speak the TRUTH.

Destruction is Coming                                                  Jer. 6:1-30

This proclamation is really a continuation of what Jeremiah began with Chapter
4 verse 5. Chapter 5 is somewhat of an interlude where God takes inventory verifying
that His planned judgment is just. It is just so now we have more warnings as
to what is coming now that the Lord is blowing His trumpet.

The people of Benjamin are to flee as are the people of Jerusalem. The trumpet
of the Lord is sounding throughout all of Judah and Benjamin. Tekoa in Benjamin
is cited. That was the city of Amos who prophesied approximately 150 years earlier
to Israel, the northern kingdom, prior to their exile. What happened to Israel
is happening to Judah. Destruction is coming from the north [vs. 9] through
what once was Israel but now is controlled by the Assyrians. The nomadic shepherds
living in Judah will migrate toward the fortified cities, particularly Jerusalem,
thinking they will be protected [vs. 3].

Verses 4-8 tells of battle preparations against Jerusalem by their enemy from
the north [Babylon]. They attack at night after building siege ramps against
its walls. This is taking place because Jerusalem is a wicked and violent city.
Even so, God in His mercy gives them a warning asking them to reconsider their
ways and turn back to Him. But nobody is listening [vs. 10] so God’s wrath is
coming [vs. 11]. Nobody will be spared; not children, young men, husbands, and
wives. Houses and land ownership will be taken away by those who practice deceit
and are greedy. This includes those who call themselves priests. They take the
possessions of those in need of protection and food under the false pretence
that they have the power to bring about peace [vs. 13-15]. But they too will
fall to the invaders from the north.

God, in His mercy, gives them another chance to repent and make the right
choice to follow His ways [vs. 16]. He exhorts them to listen to God’s true
prophets. But they can not hear or will not listen because their ego is so great.
Humility is a lost virtue. Consequently, destruction is coming.

Life will become difficult. Infighting will ramp up. Frustrations and disagreements
will take up their time and priorities and they will not see what is coming
from the north [vs. 21-22]. A large and mighty army is coming. All Judah and
Jerusalem will be gripped in fear [vs. 24]. Those outside the city walls will
be slain. Mourning will be a daily emotion [vs. 26].

All this is happening so that the Lord can sanctify His people, refine His
people, remove their sin, and purify them as a metal worker purifies metal in
a furnace to remove the dross. Israel/Judah still has great value in God’s eyes.
But it must be fired, devastated, destroyed, refined, and cleansed to bring
back their value to God. That is the purpose for which God is sending this army
from the north to invade Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem. God does this because
He loves His people even when they refuse to love him or acknowledge Him as
God.

So God’s true character is revealed even when He sends us disasters to get
our attention, to punish our sin, and to cleanse us from unrighteousness. God
is patient, merciful, compassionate, persistent, persevering, just, righteous,
holy, and, above all, LOVING. Let us discard our egos and put on humility that
we might hear His warnings and accept His grace. That is the first priority
God has given us if we are to be called His children.

Repent or Perish                                          Jer. 7:1-8:3

See Luke 13:1-3 and Lesson 71 in my New Testament Commentary. Jesus used the
theme of this passage in challenging His people during His first advent.

Jeremiah is told to speak theses words from the temple gate. This gate was
probably the one between the inner and outer courts where people gathered to
hear the Word of the Lord spoken and taught. However, such preaching was probably
rare at that time in history because of Judah’s apathy toward God. This message
is directed at those who have come to worship God thinking that these people
were not as hardened or stubborn as those who did not worship. Theses people
were the most likely candidates to hear and accept the Lord’s message to repent.
The message is simple. Repent or die [vs. 3].

The people of Judah have been led astray by deceptive words; words other false
prophets and/or priests have spoken in this very place [vs. 8]. Jeremiah is
to reveal their sins of oppression, injustice, shedding of blood, following
other gods, stealing, murder, adultery, and hypocrisy [vs. 3-10]. It is impossible
to truly worship God when they refuse to obey God’s statutes. Confession is
absolutely necessary for genuine worship.

Before speaking, God sends Jeremiah over to Shiloh for a history lesson and
to show He is faithful to His Word. Shiloh was where the Israelite’s worshipped
upon entering the Promised Land. It was their center of worship during the Judges
and Samuel. At that time Israel was already engaged in worshipping the idols
of the people they were to cast out of the land. As a result of their wickedness,
God destroyed this area. According to archeological studies, the Philistines
destroyed Shiloh in 1050 BC. God tells Jeremiah He will likewise destroy His
Temple in Jerusalem for the same reasons He destroyed their worship center at
Shiloh. God will not be mocked by false worship by people of unrepentant hearts.
God will remove His place of worship and remove those people from His presence.

God instructs Jeremiah not to intercede on their behalf [vs. 16] but to observe
how dedicated they are to worshipping false gods. Their sin is so great that
God’s wrath must be poured out on His people. Sin must be destroyed. Judah has
broken their covenant with God [vs. 21-26]. They have disobeyed God and refused
to listen to Him. They preferred other gods and to walk in their own ways. They
refused to listen to God’s prophets and evaluate who they were and what they
were doing. God’s Law was no longer their standard for life and therefore, they
are not worthy of living in the Promised Land. God commands Jeremiah to share
this message with Judah but not to expect them to listen to it or hear it. In
fact, God tells Jeremiah to cut off his hair and throw it away as an illustration
of what God is going to do with Judah [vs. 29].

Verses 7:3-8:3 may or may not have been part of Jeremiah’s message. I believe
this was God’s personal revelation to Jeremiah after Judah refused to listen.
God tells of their idolatry including the sacrifice of their children in the
Hinnom Valley. This is one of three valleys surrounding the City of David. The
other two are the Kidron Valley and the Tyropean Valley. The Hinnom Valley was
a waste dump then and it still is today. The people of Judah slain by the “army
from the north” will be laid in this valley. Even graves will be robbed
[from the caves and tombs surrounding Jerusalem] and the bodies dumped into
this valley. This is the ultimate shame. When the “army from the north”
comes, death will be preferred over life. Hope is gone and the future is blank.

This message is clear and simple. We are to confess our sin. We are to repent
or perish. We are to repent and live.
Refusal to confess and repent leads to
physical and spiritual death. Repentance leads to physical and spiritual life.
Choose to walk with God and in His ways according to His statues.

God Laments over Judah’s Sin                                  Jeremiah 8:4-17

Jeremiah is told to tell of God’s emotions over Judah’s refusal to repent.
Even God has difficulty understanding why the people He created and chosen refuse
to repent and continue in their apostasy after all the good God has bestowed
upon them and the fact that His discipline toward them has had zero effect [vs.
4-6].

Judah, including her religious and political leaders, talk right but refuse
to do right. They act like hypocrites. They twist the truth and make lies. They
have rejected the Word and Wisdom of God [vs. 8-9]. They are greedy, deceitful,
and speak of peace when there is none. Nothing is considered wrong. The majority
makes the rules. Absolute truth doesn’t exist. Truth is what they make it, not
what God has decreed. Shame is non existent. Therefore, Judah will fall because
of God’s punishment for their sin. They will give their wives to others including
their lands. See verses 10-13. Judah will no longer exist as a nation.

Judah is told to seek shelter in her cities because of her sin. They will
not see peace or healing, only terror which will come from the north through
what was once Dan [vs. 14-17].

God’s Word is truth. God’s Word is absolute. He is the Creator God and sovereign
ruler overall. Refusal to accept Him as God and to place our laws over His Law
is the ultimate rejection of Him. God is holy, righteous, and just. He has no
choice but to take corrective action to remove sin from ruling His creation.
Let us evaluate our actions and attitudes, repenting of our sin, and commit
to restoring our relationship with Him and obey His statutes. We are to worship
Him and follow Him, glorifying His Name before all people.

Jeremiah Laments over Judah’s Sin                               Jeremiah 8:18-9:22

After hearing God’s sorrow, Jeremiah expresses his sorrow in that His Lord,
their God, is far away. God has left Judah, abandoned her because of her idolatry.
Jeremiah is crushed, disappointed, frustrated, and filled with horror because
God has given up trying to save them and has declared His wrath is coming. Judah
is wounded deep from sin and is dying. Hope is gone.

Beginning with Chapter 9, Jeremiah expresses his desire to mourn but can’t.
He is emotionally spent. He wants to leave Jerusalem and be alone because Judah
has rejected God. Jeremiah remembers God’s words of concern; “they do not
acknowledge me”. [Jer. 9:3]

God takes over the emotional state of Jeremiah by conversing with him and
explaining once again just why He is doing what He is doing. First God warns
Jeremiah not to trust his fellow man and get caught up in their deceit and lies.
This should serve as a warning for us too. Deceit is everywhere God is not honored.
Next God returns to discuss openly with Jeremiah the fact that He has no choice
but to “refine” them [vs. 7-9] because of their sin [deceit]. God
weeps at their sorry state too. Judah has lost sight of God and His magnificent
creation. Therefore, God is bringing destruction upon them.

Jeremiah continues to lament in verse 12 over what God has decreed. Judah
has heard but failed to respond to God’s warnings through Jeremiah’s warnings
and the warning of the other prophets of God.

God continues to explain to Jeremiah why He is justified in doing what He
is doing. Judah has forsaken His Law and followed idols. Therefore, God will
scatter them and destroy them. God uses “women” as a metaphor for
Judah. They are called to cry and mourn over their state. They are to teach
their children about what will happen and why. They are not to boast about their
past accolades but mourn over their sin, humble themselves, return to the Lord,
and boast about the kindness, justice, and righteousness of the Lord. That is
what will remove God’s remorse and bring joy to His heart. See II Corinthians
10:12-17.

Judah is not the only nation under God’s scrutiny and punishment. God is just
and all who dishonor Him and His Law will be punished. God’s playing field is
level. God doesn’t play favorites. We are not to boast of another nation’s problems
or destruction. We are to examine ourselves and follow God, boasting of Him
and not of ourselves. All prideful nations will fall according to God’s hand
and timing. The length of our survival is dependent upon our acknowledgment
of God’s sovereignty and our adherence to His Word. God does not like to discipline
His creation but neither does he tolerate disobedience without repentance.

Words of Wisdom                                               Jeremiah 10:1-11:17

God is Greater than Your Idols                                       Jer. 10:1-16

In verses one and two, Jeremiah advises not to follow the ways of other nations
and not to fear signs in the skies. What he is saying is don’t worship idols
and don’t be superstitious because God is sovereign and in control. Things do
not happen without God’s approval or permission.

Idols, wooden ones, are the way of other nations. They are shaped, covered
with precious metals, and fastened down so they won’t fall over. They can’t
speak or walk and they can’t do any harm or good. They are worthless.

Now God is great, mighty in power, and worthy of worship [vs. 6-7]. No one
is like God. No one is equal to or above God. Idols may look beautiful but there
is only one true living and eternal God who is sovereign over the earth and
the nations [vs. 10].

Idols can’t make anything. They can’t even reproduce. They can only tarnish,
rot, burn, and disappear. They are more mortal than man who made them. They
are frauds and not worthy of worship but worthy of being mocked, made fun of.

On the other hand, God created the earth and the heavens by His power, wisdom,
and knowledge. The earth flourishes through the storms and rain He creates.
God even is the creator of His people Israel. He is special. He is the Lord
God Almighty.

It begs the question “How stupid can we be”? Surely man, who was
created by God, has more sense than to worship idols. We must use our God-given
mind and logic. We are to be reasonable, use our common sense, and look to God
for wisdom and understanding. Let’s be honest in considering our ways. Who or
what takes priority in our lives? Who or what do we worship? Is it power, prestige,
position, education, wealth, politics, family, children, etc? Where is the worship
of the Lord God Almighty in our priorities? We must restructure our priorities
around God, the only person worthy of our worship. Failure to do so initiates
destruction like that forecasted for Israel in the next section.

Prepare for Destruction                                           Jer. 10:17-25

Judah is told to get ready to leave the Promised Land. They are no longer
worthy of inhabiting it. They are currently under constant siege. Someone is
always trying to remove them or oppress them. They are being weakened for an
easy and quick takeover [vs. 18].

Jeremiah takes it personally, recognizing Judah’s wound can not be healed
and they must endure the consequences. They are entering a state of helplessness
[vs. 19-20]. Their leaders lack understanding and refuse to seek the Lord [vs.
21]. Their destruction is coming. They should be able to hear the army approaching
from the north.

Jeremiah prays acknowledging God’s sovereignty over Judah and all men. Jeremiah
prays for mercy lest they be completely destroyed. Jeremiah prays that other
nations who refuse to acknowledge God and who are attacking Judah will also
experience God’s wrath.

As Christians, we must remember to pray for our nation asking God for mercy
in dealing with our sin. Our nation’s idols are power, wealth, and position.
We want to be #1 in everything. That is OK as long as acknowledging the Lord
God Almighty comes first and it’s His Will that we have power, wealth, and influence
over others. We must recognize and acknowledge the source of our blessing, the
source of all blessings, the Lord God Almighty. Failure to do so guarantees
us the same fate as Israel/Judah. Therefore, let us pray. Let us pray for our
nation, that we seek the Lord God and His Wisdom in all that we say and do.
Remember, God is sovereign over all things. God is sovereign over all His creation.
Pray, pray, and pray for God’s wisdom and mercy.

The Mosaic Covenant is Still Valid                                Jer. 11:1-17

Jeremiah is told to go speak to Jerusalem and Judah reciting the Mosaic Covenant.
The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant [see Ex. 19:5; Lev. 26, 27; Deut
27, 28]. God blesses those who obey His Law and curses those who disobey His
Law. Obeying God’s Law guarantees fellowship between God and His people, Israel
[Judah]. Judah is no longer following God’s Law and, therefore, they are subject
to God’s curse. God is telling Judah that the covenant He made with Israel’s
forefathers is still valid and “in play”. Jeremiah closes out verse
5 with a resounding “Amen”. Jeremiah agrees. God’s covenant with Israel
needs to be told. God is governing Israel according to that Covenant.

Jeremiah obeys God and prophesies concerning God’s covenant with Israel. Judah
responds with a deaf ear, ignoring Jeremiah’s cry to listen [vs. 7]. Judah refuses
to acknowledge their covenant with God. They have broken their covenant and
are determined to follow their own rules and worship idols. Not only has Judah
broken the covenant, they have abandoned God [vs. 10]. Consequently, God will
bring disaster upon them and when they cry out, He will not listen [vs. 11].
Judah has turned down their opportunity to hear God’s Word, repent of their
sin, return to the Lord, obey His Law, and receive His blessing. God’s patience
has come to an end.

God tells Jeremiah once again not to pray for Judah because He will not listen.
God knows Judah’s heart. They have no interest or intention of honoring Him
and, therefore, have lost their right to remain in the Promised Land [vs. 14-15].
Israel/Judah was once a vibrant and live fruit tree testifying of God’s love
and blessing to all who follow Him. Now the tree is dead and is ready to be
cut down and burned [vs. 16-17] all because they forsook God and turned to idols.

We now have a New Covenant in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. All who believe in
Him and confess His Name before man will be saved [Romans 10:9-10]. The Mosaic
Covenant is still on the books [valid] but the New Covenant is the only covenant
governing our salvation. God is loving, merciful, and patient but there are
consequences for disobeying Him and for following other gods [idols]. God is
also just, righteous, and holy. He will bring forth His wrath upon our stubborn
and sinful behavior. Accept Christ, His death and resurrection, asking forgiveness
for your sin. Receive Him as your Savior and obey Him in loving service. Open
your heart to the Holy Spirit and let Him teach you and lead you. That’s what
God was relaying to Judah through Jeremiah in reminding them of their covenant.
Judah refused to listen. What about you? God is still faithful to His Covenants.
What about you?

Vengeance Belongs to the Lord                                           Jer. 11:18-23

An alternate title could be God Protects His Servants. In these verses we
learn that God makes Jeremiah aware that the men of Anathoth are plotting to
kill him. No doubt these men befriended Jeremiah, deceiving him into thinking
they agreed with his prophecies. Jeremiah felt like a protected lamb when, in
fact, he was being led to slaughter. When God reveals this plot to him, Jeremiah
prays that the Lord take action against them. In making this request, Jeremiah
reminds God that he has been faithful to the best of his ability. God does take
action promising to kill the young men and their sons and cause the women to
die in a famine. The people of Anathoth will all die. There will be no remnant.
God has spoken.

God protects His servants and He administers justice to those who are opposed
to His Will. God protects His servants on earth and sometimes affords us His
ultimate protection, taking us to be with Him in heaven. God’s servants have
a purpose to fulfill on earth. We go home to heaven only upon completing our
purpose. Faithfulness is the key character trait we must have to finish the
job God has given us and gifted us to complete. Trials, troubles, and temptations
are ever present but God is faithful and will protect His faithful servants.
See Matthew 25:14-30. Focus on being faithful to your calling and let God deal
with life’s roadblocks.

The Lord is Just                                                    Jer. 12:1-17

In many ways, this portion of scripture is a continuation of Chapter 11. Jeremiah
has been informed that God will protect him from the wicked deceitful men of
Anathoth who planned to kill him. Jeremiah acknowledges that God is righteous
but he questions God’s justice. He understands God is handling his own personal
situation with respect to Anathoth but questions why God’s system of justice
doesn’t extend to all who are wicked and ungodly. In fact, Jeremiah sees the
wicked flourishing. They seem to have fewer problems coping with life and they
are prospering, contrary to God’s promise to curse those who do not obey His
statutes. Jeremiah, on the other hand, is obedient to God and is constantly
being tested. His life is being threatened but the wicked are literally getting
“by with murder”. Jeremiah asks a valid question, a question we often
ask ourselves. Jeremiah even goes as far as telling God what to do [vs. 3].
He acknowledges God is pressuring all of Judah, those who are righteous and
the wicked, through lack of rain resulting in famine-like conditions but the
people still believe God is not sovereign nor does He even see or care, assuming
He exists [vs. 4].

The Lord gives Jeremiah a lengthy answer similar to the answer Job received
from the Lord when asking why he had suffered so much loss and yet had not forsaken
God [Job 38-41]. Let me summarize God’s answer as follows:

  1. I am testing you to strengthen you because people are betraying you, even your own family [vs. 5-6].
  2. I am abandoning My people Israel to her enemies [vs. 7-9].
  3. You are right, Judah’s leaders are corrupt, have led people astray, and made decisions contrary to the good of the nation [vs. 10-11].
  4. Destruction is descending upon the whole nation through war and famine [vs. 12-13].
  5. Those who are sent to uproot Israel/Judah will also be uprooted in due time [vs. 14].
  6. I still love Israel, have compassion for them, and will restore them to the Promised Land when they acknowledge Me as the Lord God Almighty [vs. 15-16].
  7. All nations who do not follow my statues will be destroyed [vs. 17].

God assures Jeremiah He is just and sovereign in His righteousness. God is
saying “Trust Me and do not lose patience for I am God and will destroy
all who do not acknowledge Me as Lord God Almighty”. God is faithful but
His timing is different than our expectations. We are to trust Him knowing that
He is faithful to His unchanging Word. Jeremiah’s question is valid. But so
is God’s answer. We are to trust in God’s faithfulness anticipating the future
and not concern ourselves with the present. It is easier said than done but
it is necessary for living with a positive upbeat attitude and having hope for
the future and eternity.

Illustrated Prophesies                                        Jeremiah 13:1-20:18

A Linen Belt, Wineskins, and Consequences                      Jer. 13:1-27

God is instructing Jeremiah what to do as well as what to say hoping to get
the attention of at least some of His people residing in Jerusalem and Judah.
Scholars believe the linen belt purchased by Jeremiah symbolizes the belt of
the same material worn by the priests [vs. 11]. It is new, unblemished, and,
therefore, considered pure and holy as was Israel when they entered the Promised
Land. The belt is not to touch water but was hidden in a rock crevice near Perah
where it became stained and useless. According to the Lord, this illustrates
what has happened to Jerusalem and the people of Judah. They have become proud
[stained], wicked, stubborn, and idolatrous making them useless as God’s people
and unable to proclaim His Name among the nations.

Wineskins hold wine but theses wineskins are destructive in that they cause
drunkenness leading to poor decisions such as trusting in themselves [more pride]
instead of the Lord. For a New Testament perspective read Matthew 9:14-17 and
Ephesians 5:15-21. Instead of being filled with the Spirit of God, Judah is
drunk with wine giving rise to internal and external conflicts. Their decisions
end in chaos and they will destroy themselves. They have lost their true and
sane perspective of who they are and what they are to be.

Consequently, Jeremiah exhorts Judah to listen to the Lord, to discard their
pride, to give glory and honor to God, and to walk in the light instead of darkness.
Verses 15-17 speak directly to Jeremiah’s illustration of the linen belt. See
also I John 1:5-10. Refusal to return to God will mean captivity for Judah.

Verses 18-19 are in direct reference to the drunkenness of Judah’s leaders
caused by the wine they are drinking. Conflicts arise such that they lose their
authority to govern, cities will be uninhabited, and Judah will be exiled.

Judah’s allies will become her enemy. Judah will no longer be an entity because
of her sin. She is unable to change her ways and, therefore, will be scattered
like chaff. Judah’s adultery, idol worship, has led to her downfall leaving
them with two questions:

  1. Why has this happened? [vs. 22]
  2. How long will this last? [vs. 27]

Our pride, thinking we know best, is the quickest way in which we can fall
from God’s favor. Pride cultivates stubborn behavior and deaf ears. Pride blocks
our ability to reason. Pride leads to fantasy whereas humbleness leads to sanity.
Pride leads us away from God whereas humbleness leads us toward God. Consequences
and behavior are directly related. God warned Judah through Jeremiah and God
is warning us through Jeremiah. Listen to God. Listen to Jeremiah. Listen! Take
heed of what God says. Set aside pride and humble yourself before His throne.
Obey God and receive His blessing, the blessing He gives through His mercy and
grace.

Drought, Prayer, and Judgment                                  Jer. 14:1-15:21

First, the land is experiencing a natural drought. God is withholding rain
to get Judah’s attention. In addition to the land, the people are parched and
mourning. Even the wealthy can not find water with all the assets at their disposal
[vs. 3]. This drought is all encompassing. All the people, the nobles, the land,
and the animals are affected.

Jeremiah prays [vs. 7] to the Lord interceding on behalf of Judah. He confesses
that their sin and apostasy is great and asks God to act. He acknowledges that
God is their only hope, the only one able to save them in this time of need.
Jeremiah acknowledges that God has left Judah because He is like a stranger
or traveler to them [vs. 8]. Yet Jeremiah recognizes that God is still nearby
[vs. 9] and that they are still God’s chosen ones. Jeremiah requests that God
not forsake them in their time of need.

God answers Jeremiah and says “No”. His will for Judah is not the
same as Jeremiah requested. Judah has ignored Him. They have sinned against
God and He is holding them accountable. God is acting like a loan officer calling
into account a person who has refused to pay according to the agreed upon contract.
Judah has failed to pay. That is, she has failed to keep her covenant with God;
to honor Him, to worship Him, and to place their faith in Him. They have accepted
His gifts of mercy, forgiveness, and grace and then squandered them with loose
living, idolatry, deceit, murder etc. God’s patience has run out. He requests
Jeremiah not to pray on their behalf [He has done this at least twice before]
because He is through listening. God’s judgment is coming via warfare, famine,
and plagues.

Secondly, Judah is experiencing a spiritual drought [vs. 13-14]. False prophets
are deceiving the people. Their message is just the opposite of Jeremiah’s messages
from God. Theses prophets will be proved wrong and die. They and their followers
will die by the famine and the sword of God’s wrath.

Jeremiah is sent by God to prophesy against these false prophets [vs. 17].
They will be crushed by the sword if they flee from Jerusalem and they will
be crushed by famine or disease if they stay in Jerusalem. Jeremiah mourns and
confesses to God their sin, asking that the Lord show them mercy, acknowledging
that only God has the power to save them [vs. 22-23]. Jeremiah is burdened for
Judah even though God has told him not to bother praying. It seems Jeremiah
wants to deliver Judah a message of hope whereas God’s Will is that he deliver
a message of doom.

God tells Jeremiah that even Moses and Samuel could not change His mind [Jer.
15:1]. Judah’s judgment is sure and Jeremiah’s mission is to preach judgment
[vs. 2]. Judah is to die by the sword, famine, and in captivity. They are to
be killed, devoured, and destroyed. They will become an object lesson to other
nations as to what will happen if they choose to ignore God and seek after idols.
Manesseh, Hezekiah’s son, was a very evil king, just the opposite of his father
[II Kings 21:1-18]. King Ahaz started Judah’s downfall. Manesseh assured it.

God then gives insight into His emotions toward all who refuse to acknowledge
Him as Lord God Almighty [vs. 6]. God’s emotions drive His actions to destroy
Judah. Judah will be conquered, reproduction slowed, people destroyed, and numerous
widows left. Their destroyer will be young and swift. Assyria is dying [vs.
9] and cannot save Judah. God’s anger is swift and sure.

Jeremiah prays for his own salvation, no longer interceding on behalf of Judah
[vs. 15]. He expresses his faithfulness and obedience to God [vs. 16]. He has
been set apart from his people because he was set apart by God [vs. 17]. God
assures Jeremiah that as long as he obeys God, seeks to do His Will, and seeks
those who would repent and turn back to the Lord, he will remain God’s spokesman.
God will protect him from the wicked and redeem him from the violent [vs. 19-20].
Evidently Jeremiah was tired and no longer wanted to be God’s spokesman. He
saw little hope and needed assurance of God’s hope for him personally.

This is a large section and probably should have been divided up differently
but there is a certain cohesiveness to it. First there is drought. Judah’s natural
drought is a result of their spiritual drought. Second, God’s patience has a
limit and at this point God has turned off “His phone” and turned
His attention to orchestrating His punishment upon Judah. And third, He willingly
assures His true children [Christians] that He will protect and preserve them
from evil. They may experience God’s wrath but they will be protected from the
evil surrounding them. Fourth, we learn that God uses nature and nations as
instruments of His Divine judgment. Discernment is critical to know when these
are “natural” occurrences and when these might be specifically orchestrated
by God to remind us of His sovereignty calling us to repent of our sin and return
to Him.

Judah is a sober illustration to us as a nation and as individuals reminding
us that:

  1. God is a jealous God.
  2. God is sovereign over His creation.
  3. God does not tolerate sinful behavior and will judge it.
  4. God is merciful but His patience has a limit.
  5. God exercises all His options to remind us of Him that we may repent of our sin and return to Him.
  6. God assures His Faithful Children of His protection and redemption.
  7. Testing God’s limits guarantees our destruction.

Celibacy, Gatherings, Curses, and Hope                                   Jer. 16:1-17:13

This is another large portion of scripture that deserves a closer look than
I am giving it here. To begin, we have three illustrations to consider. The
first is directed toward Jeremiah where he is told not to marry. Refusing to
marry and have children, although ordained by God, will save him much heartache.
God’s punishment will affect all Judah, the righteous and the unrighteous. God
has promised to protect the righteous but that does not mean they will spared
hardship and mourning. In fact, Jeremiah continually mourns for Judah now. Just
imagine how great his mourning would be if it affected him in a more personal
way. Humaneness is set aside when God’s punishment of Judah arrives in the form
of warfare, famine, and disease [plagues].

Next, God instructs Jeremiah and the people not to express compassion and
comfort for those who are mourning because, He, God, is unwilling to offer compassion
and bring comfort to His disobedient, idolatrous, and sinful people. Again,
this is the opposite of what God has called us to do but He is trying to make
a point and get Judah’s attention concerning their current relationship to God.
He has abandoned them. Therefore, true compassion and comfort is not available.

God says much the same for those holding family celebrations because very
soon all celebrations will cease. Any and all current reasons for joy and gladness
will turn to sadness and mourning.

Jeremiah is told to expect people to challenge his words asking “Why?”.
Jeremiah is to make it very clear that Judah has:

  1. Forsaken God [vs.11].
  2. Placed their faith in idols [vs. 11].
  3. Refused to keep God’s Law [vs. 11].
  4. Behaved wickedly [vs. 12].
  5. Followed evil instead of obeying God [vs. 12].

Therefore, God is removing them from their land and His favor into the hand
of unknown nations. This is God’s curse toward them.

But there is hope [vs. 14-15]. Judah will eventually come to her senses and
be restored. Her memory will not be their exodus from Egypt but their return
from exile into their land once again. God will restore them. It’s His promise
to them.

Presently, Judah’s people will be hunted as a fisherman hunts for fish. God
promises suffering for their wickedness and sin, particularly for their idolatry
[vs. 16-18]. Jeremiah expresses hope for the future [vs. 19] but now God’s power
and might is being sent against Judah to teach them and let them know that He
is the Lord God Almighty.

Chapter 17 continues to give us insight into Judah’s idolatry. It is throughout
their people, their land, and their culture. It is embedded in their hearts,
their spirit, their worship [altars], and their children. Whatever wealth they
have in their treasury and in God’s temple will be plundered. Even they as a
people will be taken as plunder to become slaves of their enemies [vs. 3-4].
Judah is cursed because they have forsaken God. Instead of a flourishing tree
planted in the Promised Land, Judah will be bush trying to survive in the desert.
Judah could have been that tree had they trusted in the Lord. Judah could have
flourished among the nations. But God searched their heart and found it filled
with deceit and foolishness. They have forsaken God, the one whose water guarantees
life.

God is serious concerning idols, those things which are given a higher priority
and authority in our lives than God, the one who created us, who redeemed us,
and desires to bless us. Let us examine our hearts as God examines our hearts.
Let us discard any idols and return to Him. May He heal us, forgive our sin,
and save us from our wicked ways. May we possess living water, His Holy Spirit,
that we may learn and grow in His ways and become a blessing to others.

The City Gates and the Sabbath                                           Jer. 17:14-27

Verses 12 and 13 could have been included with this section. Those two verses
seem to transition between the thought of God searching our hearts [vs. 10]
and Jeremiah asking for God’s forgiveness in verse 14 by drawing attention to
God’s dwelling place among the people. Most Bibles will not divide this as I
have but I thought it fit with an underlying theme defined as the “Word
of the Lord” in verses 15 and 20. The healing Jeremiah asks for is the
forgiveness and removal of sin. Confession is important and we need to confess
often, at least daily, so nothing stands in the way of our worshipping God and
obeying His Will. Jeremiah is being challenged as to when God’s Word of destruction
is coming. Jeremiah has been a faithful prophet and is awaiting God’s protection
at the time of disaster.

God sends Jeremiah to the main gate into Jerusalem and also to all the other
gates to declare the Word of the Lord. God wants all who go in and out of Jerusalem
to hear His Word. Instead of talking about when the Lord’s disaster is coming,
Jeremiah is instructed to talk about worshiping the true God. Judah evidently
is ignoring the Sabbath in favor of commerce [vs. 22]. Jeremiah is to challenge
them to keep the Sabbath as they go in and out Jerusalem’s gates. Probably Jeremiah
was preaching this message on the Sabbath. The people are bringing offerings
but failing to keep the Sabbath holy. They are coming with their sacrifices
and then it’s business as usual. No time is given to true worship. They are
going through the motions and then on to something else, the buying and selling
of goods.

Look around and compare our Sabbath [Sunday] with what is described here.
Perhaps it would be wise for us to reevaluate our activities. Are we rushing
to church and rushing to buy and sell afterward? Is our mind focused on the
Lord or wandering in self-interest? We can’t seriously worship the Lord if we
aren’t focused on Him. Compared to what He has given us, His Son, and how He
has blessed us, God doesn’t demand much in return. But we do owe Him His due,
our undivided attention and worship. We need to keep our Sabbath holy, loving
Him and our neighbor, serving Him with thanksgiving, praise and honor. Let us
set aside our idols and worship Him, glorifying His Name.

The Potter, Plans, and Prayer                                     Jer. 18:1-23

Jeremiah is instructed to visit the potter’s house to receive the Lord’s message.
Jeremiah goes and sees the potter remolding a pot that didn’t come out the way
the potter envisioned. God’s message to Jeremiah was that this defective pot
represents Judah and God is going to remake Judah into a people more to His
liking. In order to remake the pot, the potter must destroy the former, add
water [the Holy Spirit], and start over. That is God’s plan for Judah. God’s
sovereignty extends to all nations, not just Judah [see vs. 7-10]. Nations who
disobey God and then repent of their evil will be restored. Nations who do good
but turn to evil will be subject to God’s judgment. All this is decided by the
potter [God] as he shapes the vessel on his wheel. The potter knows the vessel
because his hands are on the vessel at all times. Likewise, God knows the hearts
of the nations and is sovereign over all of them.

Jeremiah is told to relay this example to those living in Jerusalem. They
are a defective pot on God’s wheel and He is preparing to destroy them and start
over. God’s plan of destruction can be avoided if they repent the same as hardened
clay responds to the water [Holy Spirit] on the potter’s hands. But Judah refuses
to respond and, in fact, is openly defiant [vs. 12]. Therefore, God will destroy
them as they exist and start over.

God never does anything without telling us why He is doing what He is doing.
Verses 1-11 illustrates why He is destroying Judah. Verses 13-17 describe what
and how along with the why. First we learn that God [and in this case, nature]
is constant. Snow is on the mountain providing water. Likewise, God is revealed
in the snow and water. Judah’s problem is that they have quit looking toward
the mountain, God, and have sought idols. Therefore, God is going to remove
them from their land, scatter them. Judah will no longer be able to see the
face of God, the snowy mountain top, but will only see God’s back, the dirt
beneath their feet as they leave the land.

Jeremiah/God gets the peoples attention [vs. 18] but their response is wrong
[see also vs. 12]. They plan verbal attacks against Jeremiah’s prophecy so the
false statements from their priests and wise leaders will continue to be heard,
a message stating all is well and peace is present [see Jer. 6:14].

Starting with verse 19, Jeremiah pleads his case before God. They have dug
a pit for Jeremiah. Jeremiah asks God to remember the good he has done by being
obedient in prophesying God’s Word to the people. Jeremiah now prays that they
be punished instead of him. Instead of praying for God’s mercy, he is now praying
for God’s punishment. Jeremiah asks God to do something right then and now because
his life is at stake.

Listen closely to what God is telling us through His Word and His servants.
We who believe in Him are His prophets telling forth His plan of redemption.
We can expect persecution as did Jeremiah. Depending on the situation, there
is a time to plead for mercy and there is a time when it is acceptable to pray
for God to intervene and judge His enemies. Err by asking for mercy but listen
to the Holy Spirit. He will tell you when to ask for God’s intervention of mercy
or God’s intervention of judgment. God is patient but His patience does end.

A Pot, a Dump, Destruction, and Persecution                      Jer. 19:1-20:6

Jeremiah is told to buy a clay pot, gather together some of Judah’s leaders
and priests, and walk out the Potsherd Gate to the Hinnom Valley. There Jeremiah
prophesies that Judah and Jerusalem will fall and be destroyed just as what
has happened to most things in the valley. The Hinnom Valley was the garbage
dump for Jerusalem and it evidently was also the place for sacrificing animals
and children to idols such as Baal. It will also become the place where they
dump the bodies of the innocent who are falsely accused and killed. Thus we
see just how far Judah’s culture has deteriorated and how debased they have
become. They are no different, and perhaps even worse, than the peoples Israel
was to kill when occupying the land during the time of Joshua’s leadership.

Judah and Jerusalem will be ruined [vs. 7] just like the things in their dump.
The people of Judah and Jerusalem will be slaughtered and there will be no time
for mourning or burial. The animals and birds will feed on their carcasses just
like they do on the garbage in the Hinnom Valley. In fact, Judah’s siege will
be so great that they will be forced into cannibalism. Judah will be smashed
just as Jeremiah breaks the clay pot he brought with him [vs. 10]. Jerusalem
will be defiled because of their idolatry and become like a dump. Jerusalem
and its’ inhabitants will become a heap of trash together with their high places
of idol worship.

Beginning with verse 14, Jeremiah returns to the temple courtyard and continues
announcing that disaster is forthcoming. All of what Jeremiah has prophesied
to this time is coming upon them. No doubt this is near the end of Jeremiah’s
prophetic work. Pashur, a priest, arrests Jeremiah [Jer 20:1], has him beaten,
and places him in the stock near the Gate of Benjamin on temple mount for 24
hours. Jeremiah is released and he immediately pronounces judgment against the
priest. Pashur will personally see the terror of God’s wrath at the hand of
the Babylonians and the plundering of Judah’s wealth. Pashur’s life will be
spared while seeing his friends killed. He will be exiled to Babylon and will
die there. This is the first indication of who God’s “terror from the north”
is; Babylon.

God has gotten Judah’s attention but they go after God’s messenger, Jeremiah,
instead of humbling themselves and seeking God and His forgiveness. They still
refuse to turn from their evil ways. They are slaves to sin and unable to free
themselves. Where do we stand with God? What is His attitude toward us? Do we
love God and hate evil like Jeremiah or do we love evil and hate God like Judah?
Are we searching our hearts and evaluating them against God’s standard or are
we happy to evaluate ourselves against man’s standard? Take heed of God’s Word.
God loves those who seek Him but He definitely will destroy those who refuse
to acknowledge He is the Sovereign God over all creation. Let’s daily humble
ourselves before His throne confessing our sin and seeking His forgiveness.
Let us commit to faithfully serve Him because of His grace through His Son,
Jesus Christ, who died that we might have life. Let us commit to being faithful,
as did Jeremiah, to the task God has for us.

Jeremiah’s Depression                                          Jeremiah 20:7-18

This is a fitting closure to the section of Prophesies we have just read.
God has finally gotten Judah’s attention but it does no good. Nothing changes.
Jeremiah complains to the Lord beginning with verse 7 of Chapter 20. He remembers
God’s promise to protect him and claims God has deceived him by allowing him
to face persecution and insult. He has just been released from the stocks on
temple mount and continues to hear people talk about doing him harm. Fear has
entered his mind. But Jeremiah also recognizes that he is unable to stop what
God has assigned him to do. He is filled with the Spirit of God and can not
stop prophesying to Judah and warning them of the coming disaster.

Jeremiah comes back to his senses in verse 11 proclaiming that God is with
Him and will prevail over his accusers. He asks God to deal with them so he
can remain fully committed to serve God. Jeremiah praises God [vs. 13].

As soon as he finishes praising God, Jeremiah falls back into deep depression
[vs. 14-18] wondering why he was even born. All he experiences is trouble and
sorrow. Instead of joy, he experiences shame. He is not loved by any of his
fellow-man. His message is depressing. His ministry lacks success in his eyes.

Jeremiah was born with a purpose to do a special job for God. He was gifted
to do what he did in obedience to God but he doesn’t like it. He praises God
for being at his side with him but is distraught at having to bear bad news
against his own people who have forsaken God.. These two chapters [19 &
20] tell of a very difficult two days in the life of Jeremiah. God’s illustrations
of the broken pot in a dump ground outside Jerusalem’s wall hit the mark and
brought more stress into Jeremiah’s life. Unfortunately, the people of Judah
and Jerusalem refuse to listen to what they heard and continued to forsake God,
the one who gave them their land.

We as Christians are born to serve God too. Some of us will have a relatively
easy life of service and some of us will serve under great stress. But God,
in His wisdom, has created us and gifted us for His Divine purpose. Learn to
praise God in the good times and the bad times. It’s OK to complain but let
us always praise God for being with us, supporting us, and encouraging us when
under stress and persecution. Committing to obey God is not always comfortable
but it is always rewarding in the end. Let us not dwell on the present but look
toward the future. Praise God because He keeps His promises. Let us ask His
help that we may keep our promises to Him.

Specific Prophesies to Judah’s Kings                             Jeremiah 21:1-23:8

To King Zedekiah                          Jer. 21:1-14

King Zedekiah sends Pashur [probably a person in his court] and Zephaniah,
a priest, to Jeremiah asking if the current attack against Jerusalem will end
in Judah’s favor instead of Nebuchadnezzar’s favor. Judah’s king actually wants
to inquire of the Lord for a change. To put this chapter in historical perspective
we must understand the following facts [read II Kings 24:18-25:21].

  1. Nebuchadnezzar had previously conquered Jerusalem in 597 BC taking King Jehoiachin
  2. prisoner and exiling him, his court, and army to Babylon.
  3. Then Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah as king over Judah.
  4. King Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar after 8 years on the throne causing Nebuchadnezzar to lay siege on Jerusalem again in 588 BC, King Zedekiah’s ninth year of his eleven year reign.
  5. Consequently, more people were exiled in 586 BC at the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and the end of Zedekiah’s reign.

Therefore, this story and prophecy takes place between the years 588-586 BC
during Nebuchadnezzar’s siege on Jerusalem [vs. 4].

Jeremiah answers King Zedekiah’s request by repeating his previous prophesies.
God is in this battle fighting against Jerusalem [vs. 5]. The people and animals
in Jerusalem are going to suffer and die by the sword, by famine, and the resulting
plagues. Jerusalem has a choice; die fighting or surrender and be exiled [vs.
8-9]. Nebuchadnezzar will destroy Jerusalem and burn it [II Kings 25:8-9].

In the remaining verses 11-14, Jeremiah sends back further instructions to
King Zedekiah saying to practice justice and rescue the oppressed in the time
remaining until Jerusalem falls again [about two years time]. He also says,
“Make no mistake, God will fulfill this planned punishment for Jerusalem”
[vs. 13-14].

Once God’s punishment has been set in motion, He does not turn back. God has
been very patient and Judah, likewise, has been very stubborn. God is faithful,
fulfilling His Word through His prophet Jeremiah. This is a warning for each
of us. Let us not be so stubborn in our refusal to repent that we exceed God’s
patience and everlasting punishment. Now is the time to come humbly before Him,
confessing and repenting of our sin, seeking His forgiveness, and committing
to follow Him. Do not delay. The decisions we make right now can involve life
or death. Listen and hear what God is saying through His Word.

To Judah’s Last Four Kings                                              Jer. 22:1-30

It is thought that the message given in verses 1-10 was to King Zedekiah.
The king’s name is not mentioned but Jeremiah’s message is similar to that given
to Zedekiah in Chapter 21 and the other three kings named preceded him chronologically.
It is also possible that it is a generic message to all of Judah’s kings. However,
the message to the king is more important than who he is. Before these kings
[assuming the first king is Zedekiah] was King Josiah, the last good king of
Judah. Jeremiah’s message is straight forward.

  1. Do what is just and right.
  2. Rescue the oppressed.
  3. Respect foreigners, orphans, and widows.
  4. Do not shed innocent blood.

All these were common mistakes made by the last four kings of Judah plus idolatry.

Following the quidelines above will extend the life of Judah. Failure to follow
these guidelines will bring destruction to David’s throne and to the palace
[vs. 6-7]. People will pass by and ask why the once glorious city of Jerusalem
now lives in ruin. The answer is because Judah forsook the Lord God and worshipped
idols. Judah is told not to weep for the dead king [Josiah] but for the exiled
king making this a natural transition to Jeremiah’s message given to King Shallum
[Jehoahaz] who was exiled to Egypt after ruling for only 3 months. His short
time on Judah’s throne is marked by unrighteousness, injustice, slave labor,
and visions of his own greatness [vs. 14]. He did not follow in his father Josiah’s
footsteps [vs. 15-16]. Instead Shallum was dishonest, shed innocent blood, and
oppressed and extorted his subjects.

Jeremiah’s next message is for Jehoiakim who followed Shallum to Judah’s throne
and ruled for eleven years. When he dies, nobody will mourn because of his great
wickedness [see II Kings 24:1-4]. During his reign Nebuchadnezzar conquered
all the territory from the Euphrates Rive to Egypt, eliminating all of Judah’s
allies [vs. 20-22].

Jeremiah also has a message for Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. He ruled for
only 3 months before Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon where he died. None
of his children would ever reign over Judah.

We need no further proof that God does exercise judgment upon those who disobey
Him. Take heed and learn from this history.

Their King is Coming                                     Jer. 23:1-8

Bad things are forecasted for Judah’s leaders because they are acting more
like wolves among God’s people [sheep] than the shepherds they were intended
to be. Judah’s leaders are being held responsible for turning the people away
from God instead of leading them into a closer relationship with Him. Therefore,
they will be punished for their sin. At this time in Judah’s history, their
leaders believe they are above reproach and can do no wrong. They believe their
works are honorable and not punishable. Sinning is not possible for them. They
are arrogant. They are god. God through Jeremiah says that they are absolutely
wrong and will be punished for their evil ways.

Judah’s leaders will have no part in redeeming the people during their exile
[vs. 3]. This is God’s work, identifying His faithful people and bringing them
back to the Promised land. God will chose shepherds who love His Word and will
teach the people and lead them. Theses leaders will be fearless in obeying God
when facing outside challenges. [Read Zechariah, Haggai, and Ezra] When times
are tough, these new leaders will stand tall along side the people instead of
running to a foreign land like King Zedekiah [vs. 4].

Their true King is coming declares Jeremiah in verse 5. He will be a descendent
of David, the Righteous One, who is wise and just. This King of Righteousness
will save Judah and bring safety to Israel. This prophecy is only partially
fulfilled. This King, Jesus, has come but He came as a lamb to save us from
our sin. He will come again as the King of Kings, saving Israel from destruction
and ruling from Jerusalem for 1000 years. His reign will be known for peace,
righteousness, and justice [see Rev. 19:11-20:6]. This King is Israel’s hope
[vs. 7]. Their thinking will change. They will no longer relate back to their
exodus from Egypt but relate to their exile and return from Babylonia. Upon
their return to the land, Jesus came. Upon their return to becoming a nation
in 1948, their King [and our King] is coming.

The King is coming. Halleluiah! Amen!

Jesus, the Son of God, a descendent of David, the Righteous One, has come
and was slain as God’s sacrifice for all our sin. He gave Himself that we might
live. Jesus offers eternal life with Him to all who believe in Him and place
their faith in Him. Jesus is coming again, just as He promised while on earth,
to be our King. Trust Him for He is faithful. Just as He has kept His promises
to Israel, He will keep them to each of us. Let us look forward to his coming
again and seeing Him face to face. Let us bow before Him in humble adoration
now as our Savior and Lord and in the future as our King eternal. He is the
King of Kings. He is our King of Kings. He is my King of Kings.

Yes, my King is coming. What a glorious hope we have. Halleluiah! Amen!

Beware of False Prophets                                Jeremiah 23:9-40

Jeremiah begins by expressing his disappointment over what the Lord has revealed
to him concerning the “prophets” of Jerusalem [vs. 9-10]. These prophets
are one of the main reasons why Judah is experiencing famine. God has withheld
rain because the people are adulterous [turned from God to idol worship]. Instead
of speaking out against idol worship, these prophets have condoned it and even
profited from it. God declares them to be godless and wicked [vs. 11] and, therefore,
He will bring them down through disasters, removing them from power and from
His Kingdom [vs. 12].

These “prophets” are no different than those who used to prophesy
in Samaria prior to Israel’s exile. They, perhaps, are even more wicked because
they committed both spiritual and physical adultery. They say one thing yet
do another. They refuse to speak out against evil and, in fact, even side with
those who do evil. They act like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and God destroyed
them.

Verse 15 alludes to their punishment. Bitter food and poisoned water can be
a metaphor for people finally realizing their prophesies have been false and,
therefore, turn against them or we can consider these words as literal and the
beginning source of the disease and plagues God has promised will come. Regardless,
the wickedness of these false prophets is specifically targeted by God.

The Lord through Jeremiah advises the people not to listen to these prophets
because they speak of a false hope and a false peace [vs. 16-17]. They do not
ask God for His Word but speak only from what they think [vs. 16, 18-22]. Therefore,
God’s wrath will come upon them and Judah. God’s judgment is just for He is
omnipresent [vs. 23-24] and omniscient. God knows all and is all. It is impossible
to hide from Him. God is omnipotent and will hold us accountable just as He
is holding the priests, prophets, leaders, and all Judah accountable.

Not only are the false prophets liars, they are dreamers. They are the chaff
and not the grain; worthless. Nothing they say is original coming from God.
They repeat each others lies, boast of their position, and lead the people astray.

Beginning with verse 33 we are exhorted to challenge those who would lead
us and verify they speak the truth. It is recommended that we not follow our
leaders blindly but ask them how, when, and where they inquired of the Lord
and specifically what the Lord said. Be specific in asking of the Lord and expect
the Lord to give a specific answer. Beware of broad brush generalizations that
come from several mouths. God speaks clearly and specifically to those who come
before Him with honest and humble hearts, those who seek the Lord’s Word and
refuse to spin it for their own political and/or personal gain.

Verses 33-34 refer to our responsibility in holding our spiritual leaders
accountable. We are warned in verses 8-22 that not all our spiritual leaders
are right with God. All spiritual leaders and lay people have a responsibility
to see that God’s Word is spoken truthfully and with clarity.

Details Concerning God’s Wrath                     Jeremiah 24:1-25:38

God’s Remnant                                     Jer. 24:1-10

The first exile of Judah’s people went with their King Jehoiachin in 597 BC
[see II King 24:8-17]. Scholars estimate 10,000 people were exiled to Babylon.
These exiles were the educated, professional, and skilled people of Judah. The
Lord describes Judah as being two baskets of fruit. There is a basket of good
fruit and a basket of bad fruit. The good fruit represents these first exiles
taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. God promises to watch over them, give
them a heart for Him, build them up, and replant them in the Promised Land [vs.
6-7]. The basket of bad fruit represents King Zedekiah and exiles taken from
Jerusalem in 588BC, those who were not exiled, and those who had fled to Egypt
earlier. These people will be persecuted, killed, starved, and disease ridden
until they all die.

God knows the hearts of the exiles before they are exiled. He knows which
ones will respond to His discipline and His Word. Daniel and his friends were
among them as were people like Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and Haggai. These
were the leaders God chose to bring His repentant people back to the Promised
Land. God knows your heart too. God knows what it will take for each of us to
accept Him as Lord. God’s will is that all will be saved [II Pet. 3:9] but He
also knows many will continue to reject Him. Which basket of fruit are you?
Are you seeking God or rejecting Him? To be redeemed by God, our hearts must
be softened and humbled so as to accept His love, mercy and grace. Let us turn
from our wicked ways, repent of our sin, and ask His forgiveness that we may
become His redeemed children enabling us to live in His heavenly land forever.

Judah’s Captivity                                            Jer. 25:1-14

Verse 1 specifically dates this particular prophecy as taking place in the
fourth year of King Jehoiakim’s reign and in the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s
reign in Babylon. See II Kings 23:34-24:5 for further background. Jeremiah’s
original message was that of repentance so that Judah’s captivity would be avoided
[vs. 5-6]. Jeremiah preached such a message for 23 years [vs. 3] but Judah did
not listen. Because Judah refuse to listen and obey God but continued to do
evil and worship idols [vs. 6-8], Jeremiah went throughout Jerusalem and Judah
prophesying that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would come from the north conquering
those nations surrounding Judah and Judah too. Babylon’s army brings destruction
and horror to the land, leaving it desolate. Joy and gladness no longer is possible.
Marriage ceremonies cease as does the production of oil from olives, one of
the key industries of that time [vs. 10]. All these nations, including Judah,
will serve Babylon for 70 years.

God’s patience has ended. Judah did not listen to God’s prophets and they
are not listening to Jeremiah now. Judah is subject to Egypt now and will soon
become subject to Babylon. God’s wrath upon Judah is about to begin and it should
not be a surprise to Judah. They have been warned repeatedly.

Interestingly, Jeremiah’s prophecy has a sense of balance and justness. After
Babylon has fulfilled its’ role as a servant of the Lord God Almighty, they
will be conquered because they have practiced evil and oppressed the nations
they have conquered. All nations who ignore God’s statutes will eventually become
subject to God’s wrath. Nations [Babylonia] will receive the same punishment
they gave to the nations they conquered. So we now understand that God can even
use evil to accomplish good. He is sovereign over the nations and all things.

How is God speaking and warning us as individuals? How is God speaking and
warning our nation? Are we listening and repenting or ignoring Him and continuing
to do what pleases us. Do not our political leaders promise they can solve all
our problems and bring us happiness? Take heed America. Take heed all people.
Listen to God’s Word. Let’s not try God’s patience any longer. Instead, let
us repent [as a nation and as individuals], seek the Lord with all our hearts,
and place our faith in Him. Only then will we experience true joy, happiness,
and peace. Only then will we prosper. Only then will we be saved from being
destroyed. Take God’s Word seriously, walking with Him and in Him. His way is
righteous and just.

God’s Judgment on the Nations                                  Jer. 25:15-38

This portion of Scripture may be more symbolic than literal. And then again,
perhaps Jeremiah did leave Jerusalem for a period of time to bring God’s message
to the people surrounding Judah. After all, Jeremiah was not exactly loved.
Regardless, Jeremiah’s cup of wine is God’s message to the nations. It is not
a pleasant message. Those who hear it will be afraid and not be able to think
clearly or rationally. A means of preventing the Lord’s wrath will not be evident
or possible. Theses nations now understand they are no longer in charge of their
destiny. God is in control as He always has been.

It appears that Jeremiah did take God’s message on the road [vs. 18] beginning
with Jerusalem, the cities of Judah, and the nations. Some nations are near
and some are far away. However, with the nations warring against each other
and against Jerusalem, there is ample opportunity for Jeremiah’s message to
reach the kings in charge of these nations. Communication among the nations,
slow by today’s standards, did exist because the nations traded with one another.

Every nation is subject to God’s judgment. Nations exist and governments exist
to promote right [Romans 13]. Failure to do so is sin and God will judge sin.
The nations lack the power to resist God’s judgment [vs. 28]. The Lord is going
to start with Jerusalem but all people will be subject to His judgment [vs.
29]. No one or any nation will be exempt. The words written in verses 30-38
seem to reflect the time of God’s wrath described in Revelation 18 and 19 and
after Christ’s millennial reign [Rev. 20:7-10] even though God will always judge
according to His Will and His time. Verses 34-38 speak specifically against
the leaders of theses nations who ignore God, worship idols, and do evil according
to God’s Law.

Jeremiah’s message concerning God’s wrath seems to be all encompassing instead
of specific. It is a warning for all peoples and all nations. All are included
because the nature of man is sin.

Jesus saves but the Father purifies. Failure to acknowledge God as God leads
to disaster. God is sovereign over the nations and over sin. God came to be
incarnate through Christ Jesus, conquering sin and enabling us to be forgiven
and redeemed. May we as individuals and as nations place our trust and faith
in Him, Lord God Almighty, Creator of all that is. May we in America acknowledge
the Lord God as the one and only true God. Only then can we avoid His wrath
and disaster. Let us take God’s message seriously. History proves God is faithful
and true to His Word.

The Boldness of God’s Servant                              Jeremiah 26:1-28:17

Facing Death                                            Jer. 26:1-24

Jeremiah is directed by God to go to the temple courtyard and prophesy to
those coming to worship. This is probably the place where Jeremiah visited often
to give his messages of warning. God commands Jeremiah to “tell them everything”
in verse 2. He is not to change God’s message in any way [see Rev. 22:18-22
for a similar command]. God is hoping the people will listen, repent, and turn
back to worshipping Him. Repentance will put off the coming of God’s wrath.
This statement of hope is what motivates Jeremiah to keep preaching even though
his messages seem to bear little fruit. God’s message to the people is simple.
They must repent or die [vs. 4-6]. The past glory of Israel and Jerusalem will
end unless the people listen to God’s prophets and repent.

I presume Jeremiah’s message was longer, more detailed, and more fiery than
recorded here [see vs. 8]. The priests, the prophets [false], and the people
heard Jeremiah and they seized him. In fact, they judged Him and said he should
be killed. They claimed his message, that Jerusalem would be destroyed, was
false and placed unwarranted fear into the people. Their sentence is recommended
to King Jehoiakim’s officials when they arrive on the scene [vs. 11].

Jeremiah does not back away or down from his sentence but continues to prophesy
telling these officials and the people that disaster will come unless Judah
repents. They can do what they want with Jeremiah but he is not going to quit
prophesying and he is not going to change his message [vs. 13-14]. If they choose
to kill him they will have innocent blood on their hands because he is speaking
on behalf of God [vs. 15]. The officials seem to either be afraid or have some
sense of right and wrong, disagreeing with the priests and false prophets concerning
the fate of Jeremiah. In fact, they even recall Micah prophesying a similar
message during the reign of King Hezekiah [vs. 18]. They recall that King Hezekiah
sought the Lord’s favor and avoided disaster. These officials are afraid of
precipitating another disaster. After all, they have already sought out and
killed another prophet, Uriah, who was preaching the same message. This conflict
ended when Ahikam, one of King Josiah’s officials [the last godly king], came
forward in support of Jeremiah. Thus, God continued to fulfill His promise to
protect Jeremiah, His chosen prophet.

We who speak boldly in obedience to God will face persecution and even death.
We of faith are not to fear persecution and even death. We of faith are not
to fear persecution or death but expect it. Obedience to God is not popular
on earth but it assures us of eternal blessings. As a people we have a choice.
Repent or die. Obey and live. Our bodies may die but our lives live on. Be bold
in the face of death as was Jeremiah. Let the glory of God be seen in each one
of us as we serve Him.

Confronting King[s]                        Jer. 27:1-22

Zedekiah is in his fourth year as king over Judah [Jer. 28:1] when Jeremiah
heard from the Lord once again. This is about 593BC. King Nebuchadnezzar of
Babylon has risen to power and conquered Judah and Jerusalem in 597 BC along
with many surrounding nations. Kind Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah, a son
of Josiah, to rule after removing King Jehoiachin, his army, the elite, and
the temple vessels to Babylon in 597 BC.

Jeremiah is told to make a yoke and wear it, probably while waiting at the main
entrance to the King’s Palace. Jeremiah is to get word to the envoys of Edom,
Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon that they are to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. It
is speculated that these envoys were meeting with King Zedekiah to plot their
rebellion against Babylon. Zedekiah did rebel is 588 BC. Jeremiah proclaims
that the Lord God Almighty, who created heaven and earth and all its’ inhabitants,
is sovereign and will accomplish His Will which is that all nations will be
subject to Babylon [vs. 4-7] for up to three generations. Those nations who
do not serve Babylon will be subject to war, famine, and plagues until they
are destroyed [vs. 8]. Evidently all these nations had false prophets and diviners
who were telling their kings not to be concerned with Babylon’s power. Jeremiah’s
message is to submit to Babylon if they wish to survive as a nation in the future
[vs. 11].

Zedekiah is given the same message [vs. 12]. Jeremiah tells Zedekiah that
he is listening to the wrong people [vs. 14]. These are false prophets who are
lying and are not sent from the Lord. Following their advice will lead to destruction
[vs. 14-15].

Jeremiah takes this same message to the priests and anyone who might have
influence with the King. Evidently the priests were listening to those prophets
who said King Nebuchadnezzar was going to return the temple vessels he had taken
four years earlier. Jeremiah counters and says that even what vessels remain
will be taken to Babylon [vs. 21-22]. The only way to save Jerusalem from ruin
and to save further desecration of the temple is to be subject to Babylon.

Who are we listening to for advice concerning our future? Sometimes the truth
hurts and is not what we want. We want the future to match our vision and not
what is planned by the Sovereign Lord God who created all things. We have God’s
Word, the Bible. We have access to the truth. But do we heed it? Sometimes we
would rather listen to our government and their advisors because they say what
we want to hear. As I write this, we are in a financial crisis affecting the
whole world. Much advice is being given, followed, and enacted in order to prevent
a financial collapse. I trust it will work but Revelation predicts that one
day all financial markets will collapse. So where do we place our faith? There
is only one surefire solution. Jesus Christ. He alone has the power to save
us from our sin and in the end, resurrect us unto eternal life [John 6:40].
Read His Word, obey it, and place your trust in Jesus. Only then will we possess
true peace of mind in times of crisis on earth.

Confronting False Prophets                              Jer. 28:1-17

Chapter 28 is a continuation of Chapter 27 in that Jeremiah is still wearing
his yoke and exhorting the people to subject themselves to Babylon. Verse 1
defines the year this takes place. Jeremiah is met by the false prophet Hananiah
in front of the priests and other worshippers gathered in the temple courtyard.
Hananiah prophesies that God has told him Babylon’s yoke will be broken in two
years and the temple vessels returned from Babylon. Hananiah also says that
all the exiles will return including King Jehoiachin. The first four verses
could represent details missing from Jeremiah 27:16-18 or it could be another
distinct confrontation. No doubt there was more than one in this time of conflict
and uncertainty. In Chapter 27, Jeremiah confronts the false prophecies with
what the Lord has told him. In this chapter, Jeremiah says “Amen”
to the false prophet Hananiah. In essence, Jeremiah is saying “I hope Hananiah
is right” but listen to me [vs. 6-7]. The true prophets predictions come
true [vs. 9]. Judah has two years and then they will know if Hananiah is a true
prophet or a false prophet. Hananiah reinforces his prophecy by taking the yoke
off Jeremiah and breaking it. Jeremiah takes a wait and see attitude.

Instead of continuing a public confrontation, the Lord advises Jeremiah to
seek a private conference with Hananiah [vs. 12-13]. Jeremiah tells Hananiah
that he broke a wooden yoke but that the real yoke that God has placed on the
nations is made of iron and can not be broken. Jeremiah proceeds to tell Hananiah
that he has not been sent by God and that his prophecy is a lie. In fact, Jeremiah
says the Lord is going to require his life that year because of his false prophecy.
Three months later Hananiah died. I don’t know why God did not choose to validate
Jeremiah over Hananiah by making this confrontation more public. Perhaps it
is because He knows their hearts and it was His way of assuring Jeremiah and
protecting him from harm so he could continue the Lord’s work.

It is critical we know the Lord and communicate with Him daily. It is critical
we know and understand His Word. It is critical that we consider His Word inerrant
and infallible so we do not rationalize it to fit our desires. We must continually
discern who is speaking truth and who is not. False prophets always existed
among God’s people and certainly in the time of Jeremiah. Therefore, we can
expect that false prophets exist within those known as God’s people today. We
have a responsibility to confront false teaching, and to reveal it as false
so as to keep the Word of the Lord pure and true. Know God’s Word so we too
can confront these false doctrines publicly and privately according to God’s
Will.

Addressing the Exiles                         Jer. 29:1-32

Jeremiah writes a letter to the elders, priests, prophets, and people exiled
to Babylon with King Jehoiachin in 597 BC. These were the first exiles and were
Judah’s “cream of the crop”, Judah’s most intelligent and capable
citizens. Evidently, communication between Babylon and Jerusalem was commonplace
between King Zedekiah and King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah gave his letter to Elasah,
one of the couriers between the two capitals.

Jeremiah gave the following instructions in his letter [vs. 4-23].

  1. Build a home and settle down [vs. 5].
  2. Marry, have children, and increase in number [vs. 6].
  3. Seek peace and prosperity where you reside [vs. 7].
  4. Don’t listen to the diviners and false prophets among you [vs. 8-9].
  5. The Lord will fulfill His promise and bring you back after 70 years havepassed [vs. 10].
  6. The Lord has plans to prosper you in His Promised Land, giving you hope and a future [vs. 11].
  7. Eventually you will call on the Lord and He will listen. You will seek the Lord with all your heart. That’s when God will gather you and bring you back [vs. 12-14].
  8. God will continue to punish us who are still in the land with war, lack of food, and disease because we do not listen to the Lord and we have a king, Zedekiah, who refuses to listen [vs. 15-16].
  9. Neither are you who are exiled listening to the Lord. You are listening to Ahab and Zedekiah [following the lead of] who will soon be put to death [burned in the fiery furnace] by King Nebuchadnezzar because they committed adultery and lied [vs. 19-23]. [ Ahab and Zedekiah are false prophets and have no relationship to King Ahab or King Zedekiah.. ]

Jeremiah’s letter ruffled the feathers of Shemaiah, one of the exiles. He
wrote a letter back to the residing priest in Jerusalem, Zephaniah, and to all
Jerusalem’s inhabitants asking why no one has taken action to arrest Jeremiah
and place him in stocks and neck irons for his letter telling them to make their
homes in Babylon. Zephaniah showed the letter to Jeremiah who responds with
another letter to the exiles stating that Shemaiah will be punished by the Lord
for rebelling against God’s Word. Shemaiah will not have any descendents and,
therefore, will not see what good things the Lord will do among His people in
Babylon.

Our lesson from this chapter is important. We are not to mock, distort, challenge,
or distort the Word of God. We are to accept it, obey it, honor it, and revere
it. His Word is TRUTH. His Word is holy as He is holy. We are to trust His Word
for it is infallible and inerrant. Unfortunately, many Christian denominations
no longer accept this truth. They still accept many of the tenants of the Christian
faith but they discount the seriousness of accepting all of God’s Word as truth.
Their foundation is weakened and they are subject to God’s discipline and possible
rejection. This is a serious charge but just as true today as it was in the
time of Jeremiah. Be warned and take heed. Do not fall into the same mind set
as these false prophets of Judah. Accept all of God’s Word as truth.

Messages of Hope                                          Jeremiah 30:1-33:26

First, this is one of the most discussed and important passages attributed
to Jeremiah. However, even some scholars disagree that Jeremiah is the author.
This section speaks about the restoration of Israel [singular] but historically
this restoration has not yet been completely fulfilled. To put this section
in context, the Lord first came to Jeremiah is a vision or dream while sleeping
[Jer. 31:26]. Since Jerusalem was under siege, the time was most likely around
588-586 BC, the last two years of King Zedekiah’s reign during King Nebuchadnezzar’s
final siege caused by King Zedekiah’s rebellion. Chapters 30-31 are poetic,
created as a result of Jeremiah’s pleasant dream. Chapter 32 records Jeremiah’s
response to God’s promise of restoration and Chapter 33 gives us further information
regarding God’s planned restoration of Israel.

Israel Will Be Restored                                          Jer. 30:1-31:40

These words were to be written, not spoken [vs. 2]. In fact all of Jeremiah’s
words were to be written. They are that important. Therefore, we have a very
complete record of God’s effort to bring Judah to repentance and to obey God.
Verse 3 is important in that it speaks of both Israel’s and Judah’s restoration
as a single nation. This speaks of a future restoration, not just Judah returning
from Babylon. God’s plan is unity; unity of all tribes into one nation and unity
of His children with Him, united without schisms.

It is best to keep verses 4-11 in complete context, unified as a single thought.
Then we see that certain things mentioned could represent Babylon’s current
conquest of Judah or it represents a tribulation to come, Daniel’s 70th week.
Although some of these words reflect Judah’s current situation, all of theses
words tell of an even more distant future. I prefer the later interpretation
while acknowledging that Judah’s current situation has similarities, a precursor
of what is to come in the distant future.

Mental, physical, and emotional anguish is present in verse 4-7 resulting
in cries of terror. Peace is gone and all hope with it. A simple and profound
statement is made at the close of verse 8. Paraphrased it says Jacob [all Israel]
will live in troubled times but will be saved. In a way this points to Judah’s
Babylonian exile but it defines more completely all Israel during the “last
days” and God’s saving of Israel out of the Lord’s Day of Wrath. True,
there is a day of wrath for Judah but there is a future day of wrath coming
for all mankind. Verse 8 can refer to Judah’s release to return but it also
describes a time when they are a nation again serving God and “King David”
[Jesus Christ]. Israel [Judah] was not free of foreign rule until 1948. Today,
verse 8 is fulfilled but verse 9, referring to their allegiance and acknowledgment
that Jesus Christ is their God and King, has yet to be fulfilled. Today, Israel
seeks and calls on God but they have yet to believe in Jesus. Verse 10 tells
of God’s faithfulness. They should not fear or lose hope. It speaks of Jacob,
all Israel. Judah will return in 70 years but Israel, the northern kingdom is
an unknown. Since 1948 the Jewish people have been returning from all over the
world. Therefore, it is safe to assume that all Jacob is returning and will
continue to do so. Verse 11 speaks of their salvation as a nation and the destruction
of all nations in which they have been scattered. True, Babylon was destroyed
but in the last days all nations who war against Israel, God’s people, and God
will be destroyed. Only then is this prophecy completely fulfilled.

Verses 12-17 seem to return to Judah’s current state. They have an incurable
wound which cannot be healed by themselves or their allies. They are enemies
of God, guilty, and subject to God’s punishment. But God can and is going to
heal them [vs. 17]. All nations who devour and plunder Israel will be devoured
and plundered by God. Verse 18 talks about the rebuilding of Jerusalem [Jerusalem's
walls were fortified by Nehemiah in about 440 BC] and the thanksgiving, rejoicing,
and worship which takes place when the temple is rebuilt and dedicated [about
515 BC under Ezra's leadership]. Verse 21 could refer to Nehemiah, the governor
appointed over the returning exiles but it is also a foreshadowing of God’s
Son. God’s purpose of destroying sin is just [vs. 24]. He did just that through
the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

One can also view verses 19-24 as futuristic. The descendants added to Jacob
[vs. 19] could represent gentiles. Paul’s writing in Romans 11, especially verses
25-27, seems to address the theme in these two chapters of Jeremiah and, in
particular, Jeremiah 30:19-24. We then are God’s people through faith in Christ
[Jer. 30:21-22]. Thus, we end on the same note as the previous paragraph. God
judges sin.

I believe it is best to consider both interpretations as accurate and correct.
Although detailed, this prophecy is more general than specific. It tells what
is to happen and not how. God controls the “how” through His sovereignty
according to His Will and His purpose. This is the beauty of God’s inspired
Word. The same words speak truth in different situations. God’s Word is always
relevant and applicable in our lives regardless of our time on earth. His Word
never changes and it will “never pass away” or become irrelevant.
Praise God!

Beginning Chapter 31, God declares He will become the God of all Israel once
again and He will give them rest. This is futuristic and represents the millennial
reign of Christ. Only then are God’s people at peace with the world. Verses
3-6 represent the freedom and peace God’s people enjoy during Christ’s reign.
We in Christ have this hope today but Israel’s still in the future. God’s love
for Israel is being manifested but they are still in the process of being built
up. Israel today is productive but they have yet to worship God, let alone His
Son Jesus Christ as their God. They still trust in themselves. Unfortunately,
we are no different.

Verses 7-14 represent the remnants return from Babylon but it more fully represents
the future return of all Israel [Ephraim in verse 9 represents the northern
kingdom] to their land of promise. Judah came back from Babylon but not with
rejoicing. Those returning were disappointed, mourning, frustrated, and subject
to hard labor to restore the devastation that had occurred. They wanted to give
up and would have were it nor for the leadership of Nehemiah and Haggai. But
there is hope for the future as stated in verses 15-20. Theses verses seem to
offer hope for Judah and Benjamin that Israel will one day be united as a single
nation. This has been happening since 1948 [see verses 16-17]. Jewish people
are still living in disgrace in many countries [vs. 19] but not in Israel. Therefore,
they continue to return [vs. 21-22]. A new united and prosperous Israel is prophesied
in verses 23-25 and we are privileged to see that happen in our lifetime. Jeremiah
awakens refreshed knowing all the bad and evil that is happening to Judah will
someday disappear and Israel will once again be united as a nation, united with
God, and united in glorifying His Name. God’s will and purpose will reign among
His people because God will judge sin [vs. 27-30]. A new covenant is coming,
Jesus Christ, who will be the Savior of Israel and all mankind. Through His
Spirit we will know Him in our hearts and minds. They will all know Jesus as
Lord [34]. Verses 35-36 declare the truth of this prophecy because God has the
power to create and is sovereign over all He has created. There will come a
day [in the future] when Jerusalem will be built for the Lord and not demolished.
Jerusalem was rebuilt after the exile but destroyed again by Rome in 70 AD.
It is being rebuilt again today in preparation for the Lord’s return as King
of Kings [vs. 38-39].

Jeremiah’s Faith in Action                                        Jer. 32:1-44

This account occurred in the 10th year of King Zedekiah’s reign. Jerusalem
is already under siege by King Nebuchadnezzar’s army. What little glory Judah
has left will be completely gone in 1 year. Jeremiah is under arrest and confined
in the palace courtyard. He is not in prison but neither can he go throughout
Jerusalem, especially to the temple, to prophesy [vs. 2]. Jeremiah is confined
because of what he has been prophesying that Jerusalem will fall and Judah will
be exiled to Babylonia for 70 years. King Zedekiah, appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar
and now rebelling against him, will also be taken to Babylon [vs. 5].

Jeremiah receives word from the Lord that his cousin is coming to visit him
requesting Jeremiah buy his field [see Lev. 25:24-25] in Anathoth, the homestead
of Jeremiah’s family. Jeremiah does buy it in obedience to the Lord and in obedience
to God’s civil law. The transfer of ownership documents are witnessed, one copy
sealed and another copy unsealed, and placed in clay jars for safe keeping.
Jeremiah knows these documents will not be needed for 70 years, not by him but
by his kinfolk returning from exile.

Jeremiah’s faith is in accordance with what he has been prophesying. There
will come a time when Israel will return and the buying/selling of land will
begin again. With that done, he prays. I don’t believe this was a “secret
prayer” but a public prayer for those around him to witness. Jeremiah praises
God as Creator, as a loving God, as a mighty God, as a purposeful God, and as
a just God [vs. 17-19]. Jeremiah acknowledges God’s miracles during Israel’s
exodus from Egypt including their occupation of the Promised Land. He closes
his prayer by acknowledging God’s hand in bringing Jerusalem under siege because
Judah failed to follow God and obey His laws [vs.24].

Although Jeremiah’s audience is small, he continues to prophesy in the palace
courtyard. His message has not changed. King Zedekiah and his court can hear
the Lord’s message if they wish. Jeremiah says the Babylonians will conquer
Jerusalem and burn it [vs. 28-29] because the people have provoked God by worshipping
idols and doing evil. The people have followed their kings and not their King
of Kings.

In spite of this calamity, God promises to bring them back to live in safety,
to be His people, and so He will be their God. Israel and Judah will return
to their land and return to God. Israel will have an everlasting covenant with
God, a new covenant which is Christ the Lord [vs. 40]. God will bless Israel
and prosper them. They will buy and sell land again and return to the former
glory. God is practicing “tough love” in order to redeem His people.
They will return in 70 years, but their glory is yet to come because they have
yet to acknowledge God’s new everlasting covenant through Jesus Christ.

God is Faithful, Period                                                  Jer. 33:1-26

This Chapter refers to the second time the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah
while imprisoned in the palace courtyard. The first time was recorded in Chapter
32. God requests Jeremiah to call upon Him and He will reveal even more concerning
His plans to restore Israel. First God, who created all things [vs. 2], is going
to hide His face from Jerusalem because of their wickedness. As a result, many
will die fighting the Babylonians where their siege ramps are built. So many
will be slain that the dead bodies will fill in the areas where the city removed
houses built against the city walls where the siege ramps were built. [vs. 4-5].

Next the Lord promises to bring health and healing to the city, including
peace and security. Both Judah and Israel will return from captivity to aid
in the rebuilding. All Israel will be cleansed from sin and forgiven by God.
Only then will God’s blessings be evident. Israel will be unified in praise
and honor to God. All people will be in awe of its’ prosperity and peace. This
prophetic promise has yet to be fulfilled. Jerusalem and Israel existed after
the exile and they exist today. They are prosperous but they have never known
peace or security nor are they fully committed to God. What Jeremiah is prophesying
is still in the future. Verse 10 explains that the cities of Judah and Jerusalem
will once again be filled with joy and the people will give thanks to God for
His enduring love. Israel will once again be what they once were in the days
of David and Solomon [vs. 11]. Agriculture will be the backbone of their prosperity
[vs. 12-14] and that is happening today.

But first God must bring forth His Savior, His Righteous Branch, a descendant
of David, to do what is right and just. This must happen before Jerusalem and
Judah can be saved and live in safety. This Savior is called The Lord, Our Righteousness.
To put this in perspective, Christ, The Branch, has come and died for our sins
and the sins of Israel. He is Our Righteousness to all who believe in Him and
place their faith in Him. And He, Christ, is coming again as King to reign on
David’s throne [vs. 17]. Then verse 18 indicates the Levites and priests will
revive the Old Testament worship practices, thank offerings but not for atonement
of sin because Christ has already atoned for our sin once and for all and now
acts as Savior, Lord, King, and Priest.

God then declares that this promise is true and will be fulfilled. He is the
Creator God and sovereign over all. He has the power to fulfill His Promises.
The only way this promise can be broken is if the people can change night and
day. That is not remotely possible so this promise is secure and will be fulfilled
by our Creator God [vs. 19-22]. People [other nations] are saying God has rejected
His chosen people and, therefore, despise them. But God reminds Jeremiah that
He is the Sovereign One over His creation and He will restore them and have
compassion toward them [vs. 25-26].

In summary concerning Chapters 30-33:

  1. God gets angry when His people rebel and sin against Him.
  2. God punishes sin with His wrath and with a love that endures forever.
  3. God employs “tough love” to bring His people to repent of their sin and return to worship Him as Savior, Lord, and King.
  4. God keeps His Promises and blesses those who return His love with thanksgiving and praise.
  5. God’s one and only purpose is that we be unified with Him, in Him, and for Him. [See also my commentary notes on I Cor. 1-2 and Eph. 1-2.]

We can be assured that God willingly practices tough love on all His people
who chose to rebel against Him. God will do all in His power to bring us back
to Him with a humble and repentant heart capable once again to acknowledge His
unconditional and enduring love in worship of Him, our Savior, our Righteousness,
our Lord, our Creator, and our King.

God is that great. God is that big. God is that faithful, period. Let us Praise
His Name!

Obedience is Important                                           Jeremiah 34:1-35:19

King Zechariah’s Mistake                                               Jer. 34:1-22

Chapter 34 also takes place during the last two years of King Zechariah’s
reign while King Nebuchadnezzar was laying siege to Jerusalem and the surrounding
cities. Perhaps this prophecy triggered Jeremiah’s confinement in the palace
courtyard or perhaps he was just prevented from being among the people. Regardless,
Jeremiah has a means of getting the Lord’s message to King Zedekiah either personally
or by messenger. God’s message is that Jerusalem will fall and be burned. King
Zedekiah will be captured and exiled to Babylon to meet face to face with king
Nebuchadnezzar. The King will not be slain but will die a natural death and
be honored as were former kings but it will take place in Babylonia instead
of Judah.

Verse 8 seems to imply that the prophecy in verses 1-7 came after the King
decided to free the Hebrew slaves, both male and female in Jerusalem. This was
done in accordance with God’s Law [see Ex. 21:1-11; Lev. 25:39-55]. Note that
Israel was not to make slaves of their own people. This enactment was probably
done for selfish reasons and not to suddenly obey God’s Laws. Freeing the slaves
probably was done to provide flexibility in their fighting force and/or other
community duties aimed at preventing the Babylonians from entering Jerusalem.
The strategy probably didn’t work and the freed people went back to being slaves
again.

God expresses His disappointment with King Zedekiah’s decisions [vs. 12-16]
and, ironically, tells Judah’s leaders that they are free to die by the sword,
by famine, and by plagues as He previously told them. Perhaps this simple act
of obedience would have caused God to reconsider His planned punishment to some
degree but He is now moving forward as planned because they broke their own
covenant. Verse 21 alludes to the fact that Babylon’s army withdrew temporarily
and is now being called back by God to take and burn Jerusalem, thus fulfilling
all that He prophesied through Jeremiah.

Small acts of obedience mean much to God because obedience is important to
Him. God chose His people for the purpose of obeying His Laws and worshiping
Him. Doing so releases His blessings. God is gracious, merciful, and loves us
unconditionally. He wants what is best for us. What is best is that we obey
Him, love Him, and worship Him. Let us never forget the importance of obeying
Him. Let us accept His grace and mercy and not test it as did King Zedekiah
and Judah [Deut. 6:16; Luke 4:12].

The Recabites’ Faithfulness                                           Jer. 35:1-19

This historical event occurred about midway through Jeremiah’s prophetic life
during the reign of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah is told to invite the Recabite family
to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem for a wine tasting party. The Recabites
were descendants of the Kenites who were descendants of Caleb. They were nomads,
loved the Lord, and followed strict rules. In modern society we would equate
them with the Amish colonies. The Amish and the Recabite both live in the culture
but not in accordance with the culture. Jeremiah brings them into one of the
side rooms of the temple and serves them wine. Frankly, the Recabites would
not have come if they knew all they were to be served was wine. They did come
[vs. 4] but they did not drink [vs. 6] because they followed the rules laid
down by their forefathers which were not to drink wine, not to build houses,
not to cultivate fields, but to live as nomads. That was their history; that
was their culture; that was their way of life and they continued to follow it
in obedience to their forefather’s decrees. Evidently they were driven from
their nomadic life into Jerusalem as a result of King Nebuchadnezzar’s first
attacks on Judah between 605-598 BC.

This “wine tasting party” was to serve as an example of what the
Lord expected of His people; steadfast faithful obedience to His Word. The Recabites
had no difficulty refusing to participate in activities counter to their internal
laws and culture. They obeyed their forefathers yet Judah refuse to obey their
Father, the Lord God, who called them His Children. Judah also refuses to obey
God’s prophets.

God was calling Judah but they did not listen let alone obey [vs. 15-16].
Therefore, Judah and Jerusalem are going to experience the disaster prophesied
by God’s prophets, including Jeremiah.

Obedience brings a special blessing from God. Because the Recabites have been
faithful to God and to their forefathers, they and their descendants will always
have at least one person in their midst who is faithful and obedient to the
Lord. The heritage of the Recabites is special. It is God-fearing.

Obedience to God is important. It is special and it is a privilege. Our obedience
provides a foundation for our descendants to also be obedient. Our obedience
to God in one generation assures our next generation will have some one who
is also obedient to God. Look for those who were obedient and are obedient in
your own heritage. Then let’s ask ourselves if we are loyal to our heritage
such that we are raising descendants who will be obedient to God. Doing so is
worship to God. Yes, obedience to God is important and assures us of receiving
God’s special blessing upon our descendants. Be like the Recabites, not the
people of Judah. Be obedient. It’s important.

Let me go a little further. Culture differs even between communities. Christians
are often heard to criticize other believers because of their “legalism”.
We think because they adhere to strict rules that they place emphasis on being
saved by keeping the rules instead of by grace through faith. It can be true
but more often than not it is a misconception. It is OK to be different, particularly
if it is perceived as living a holy and righteous life. But that lifestyle must
always point to Christ as the source of our salvation. It must never emphasize
works. It must emphasize obedience to Christ, to live Christ-like having love
and compassion for others. We must always be humble servants of our Savior.
We are not to come across to others as “holier than thou” and arrogant.
We must express thanksgiving always for His love and sacrifice on our behalf
to pay for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Our lifestyle must always
point to Jesus, our Savior and Lord, the Creator God, and the King of Kings.
It must never point to “self”. He is the Savior of all man, not just
the chosen few. Accept Jesus as your Savior and obey Him as Lord.

The Persecution of Jeremiah                             Jeremiah 36:1-38:28

Writings Burned                                                   Jer. 36:1-28

Jeremiah is instructed to write the Lord’s Words given through Jeremiah concerning
Israel, Judah, and the other nations on a scroll. This instruction comes about
midway through Jeremiah’s prophetic life. God wants His Word preserved so that
Judah might hear the Lord’s prophecy, see that what Jeremiah prophesied came
to pass, and turn from their wicked ways so God can forgive them. God is using
all the tools He has at His disposal to get Judah to change direction and return
to Him. Jeremiah obeys God and dictates the Lord’s Word for Baruch, Jeremiah’s
secretary, to write on the scroll.

Jeremiah already has been restricted and can not go to the temple so he instructs
Baruch to take the scroll on a special fasting day and read it aloud to the
many people coming to worship. Jeremiah is hoping the Lord’s Words will be accepted
and the people who hear them will repent. Evidently it took almost a year to
write the scroll because Baruch doesn’t read them until the 9th month of the
5th year of King Jehoiakim’s reign. Judah’s elders hear the words Baruch is
reading and he is summoned to the palace court to read them to Judah’s officials.
They are struck with fear and learn the Jeremiah dictated these words. They
advise Baruch and Jeremiah to hide but they keep the scroll. The King is notified
and the officials are requested to read from the scroll before King Jehoiakim.
The king shows no respect for God’s Word and cuts it into pieces and burns it.
The King wants Jeremiah and Baruch arrested but they have been hidden by the
Lord and can not be found.

Jeremiah is then instructed by the Lord to write a second scroll and prophesy
that King Jehoiakim will not have his descendants on Judah’s throne and he will
not be buried or honored in death as was the custom for Judah’s kings. All the
Kings’ children and attendants will be punished for their wickedness.

The Word of the Lord is sacred. It is truth. It will never be void for it
is eternal [Is. 55:11]. It is for our instruction [II Tim.3:15-17]. We are to
revere it, accept it, and obey it. Failure to do so brings destruction as per
King Jehoiakim. Revering it leads to repentance and eternal life. God’s Word,
which reveals His Son and His Will, is the foundational document of our Christian
faith. Every time we pick up the Bible and read it we are holding God in our
hands. Learn to love it and learn to love God. Loving God and loving God’s Word are one in the same. You can’t have one and not the other.

Imprisoned                                                     Jer. 37:1-21

This account takes place during the last two years of King Zedekiah’s reign
and the last two years of Judah as a nation [588-586 BC] . Jeremiah has been
free thus far and able to come and go as he pleases. King Zedekiah sends Jehucal,
probably an official from his court, and Zephaniah the priest to ask Jeremiah
to pray for Judah. Judah was sacrificing to idols but the King desires to cover
all the bases. He wants to ask God’s help but he doesn’t have a clue as to who
the real God is. Babylon’s army has backed off because Egypt’s army has arrived
on the scene [vs. 5-7, 11]. But the Babylonians will return to capture the city
and burn it. Perhaps this lull in fighting caused by Egypt coincided with King
Zedekiah’s decision to free all the Hebrew slaves [see Jer. 34]. Judah is deceived
into thinking the Babylonians are leaving but that is not true. God’s plan for
destroying Jerusalem will happen even if the Babylonian army was defeated and
they were left with only wounded men [vs. 9-10].

Jeremiah decides to leave Jerusalem and check on his property. But he is arrested
at the gate by a captain in Judah’s army and accused of deserting Judah for
Babylon [vs. 13]. Jeremiah is taken to the officials where he is beaten and
imprisoned in the house of the King’s secretary, Jonathan. This is not the same
as his house arrest described in Jeremiah 32-33 but preceded it [see Jer. 37:21].
Jeremiah is placed in a dungeon. King Zedekiah calls Jeremiah before him and
asks what the Lord says. Jeremiah’s message is the same; the king will be handed
over to the king of Babylon as he previously said [Jer. 34:1-6].

Jeremiah pleads his case before the King asking what crime he has committed
and noting that his prophecies have been more accurate than those who have been
advising the King. As a result, Jeremiah does not go back to the dungeon but
is placed under house arrest, given food [bread], and confined to the palace
courtyard.

Obeying God’s Word doesn’t assure us of an easy life. In fact, it most likely
assures us of persecution just as our Lord received while on earth. God promises
to protect us from harm but, more often than not, God’s protection involves
our transfer home after completing our assignment for His Kingdom. Do not fear
persecution but take joy in it and trust God. [I Peter 4:12-19].

Temporarily Silenced                                        Jer. 38:1-28

This incident most likely took place while Jeremiah was under house arrest
and confined to the palace courtyard in that Jeremiah remained in the courtyard
after it ended [vs. 13]. The officials of King Zedekiah did not appreciate the
advice Jeremiah was prophesying, to surrender to Babylonia and live whereas
failure to surrender would result in death. To these officials, this was demoralizing
and bordered on treason. The officials complain to the King and Zedekiah gives
them authority to do whatever they want to silence Jeremiah. So they place Jeremiah
in a dried up well belonging to the King’s son, Malkijah, in the courtyard of
the guard.

A Cushite [Ethiopian] official of the King hears what has happened and visits
the King, who is holding court at the Benjamin Gate. He tells the King that
his other officials have acted wickedly and that Jeremiah the prophet will die
of starvation when the city runs out of food. In other words, Jeremiah will
be left to die when the Babylonian siege is successful. Thus, King Zedekiah
reverses his previous decision and authorizes Jeremiah to be brought up out
of the cistern but remain in the courtyard. Note the compassion shown Jeremiah
in verses 11-13. Perhaps Jeremiah was already in a weakened state from having
little food or water. It appears the Cushite lowered himself into the well to
aid Jeremiah and make sure the ropes did not physically damage Jeremiah.

A gentile official expressed more compassion for Jeremiah than his own people.
This is similar to the scenes at Christ’s crucifixion. Pilate saw no reason
for Christ to die but followed the request of the Jewish leaders. Some Roman
soldiers beat Christ and nailed Him to the cross but one soldier remarked that
“surely this was a righteous man”. And later, the gentiles were more
open to the gospel [that Christ died for their sin] than were the Jews. People
do not always want to hear the truth. King Zedekiah’s officials didn’t. The
Jews didn’t in Christ’s time. And people still refuse to accept the gospel message
today. But that doesn’t give us reason to stop preaching. Jeremiah didn’t. Christ
didn’t. And we shouldn’t either. Enabling the Holy Spirit to reach just one
life is worth any suffering we might experience. We are to be willing; willing
to preach the Truth and willing to suffer for the Truth so that others may know
the Truth. That is our purpose; to love God and serve Him faithfully.

Jeremiah is called before the king again to give him counsel. Jeremiah fears
for his life and Zedekiah vows to protect him. This meeting is held in secret.
None of the King’s officials are nearby [vs. 16]. Jeremiah repeats what he has
been prophesying. Surrendering to Babylonia will save the King’s life and the
lives of the people. Evidently some Jews have already deserted because Zedekiah
is afraid they will turn on him if he surrenders. King Zedekiah has made some
bad decisions and his people are suffering. The King is now looking for the
best course of action on behalf of his family and the people. His pride is gone
and he has been humbled. He is seeking the Lord’s advice but it is too late.
The damage is done. The king is looking for a way to save face but there is
only surrender.

Don’t wait. Surrender to the Lord now before it is too late. Take the advice
of the prophets, the apostles, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Humble yourself before
God, seek His forgiveness, surrender to the Lord God, receive His Spirit, and
serve Him for all eternity.

Remember, God’s Word will still be heard even if His servants are temporarily
silenced.

A History of Judah’s Fall                                           Jeremiah 39:1-43:13

The Fall of Jerusalem                                            Jer. 39:1-18

This historical account begins in the 9th year and 10th month of King Zedekiah’s
reign marking the date King Nebuchadnezzar’s army began laying siege to Jerusalem’s
wall. Babylonia’s army was successful and Jerusalem’s wall broke down in the
11th year and 4th month of King Zedekiah’s reign. Therefore, officially the
siege lasted 1 ½ years. Some scholars date it differently and believe
the siege lasted 2 ½ years. But God’s Word is pretty clear here. This
account portrays more calm than chaos. No doubt chaos existed but the inhabitants
of Jerusalem were in a weakened condition. Most of the killing had taken place
while fighting at the wall and surrender came quick and easy when the wall was
breached. Immediately Babylonia’s officials set up court at the Middle Gate.
Arms were turned in and the people sorted for exile. King Zedekiah takes this
opportunity to flee with his remaining army at night and heads east to escape.
But they are captured near Jericho and brought to King Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah,
north of Damascus. There King Nebuchadnezzar kills the king’s sons, puts out
Zedekiah’s eyes, and takes him prisoner.

Babylon exiles all the inhabitants of Jerusalem except for the poor and upon
leaving, burns the city. Nebuchadnezzar’s commander, Nebuzaradan shows mercy
to the poor by giving them land with which to raise crops and live.

Nebuchadnezzar knows about Jeremiah and his prophecies. Judah refused to hear
Jeremiah but Babylon’s army heard and learned that Jeremiah was sympathetic
to their cause and was the reason some deserted Jerusalem and sought refuge
with the Babylonian army outside their walls. The Babylonians find Jeremiah
in the palace courtyard and later placed him under the care of Gedaliah, an
Israelite who was appointed governor over the Judahites remaining in the land.
In the meantime, Jeremiah is probably still in bonds at Ramah, the staging area
of the exiles before matching on to Babylon. Jeremiah seeks out the Cushite
official in King Zedekiah’s court who was instrumental in releasing Jeremiah
from the dungeon and assures him that he will not be killed because of his position
but will live [vs. 15-17]. Considering the tense of the verbs, this most likely
happened just as the wall was being breached.

All the information given in this chapter is true but it is not necessarily
in chronological order. One has to read at least two more chapters and then
take a birds-eye view to put together the correct scenario in chronological
order.

Both Jeremiah and the Cushite were in harms way but they received God’s mercy
and grace because they trusted in God. God is fulfilling His Promise to care
and protect those who love Him [Jer. 13:19-20]. The same promise holds true
for we who confess Him as Lord and Savior. We may find ourselves in difficult
if not impossible situations, including death, but God will be there to rescue
us. This is especially true when we die. God promises eternal life to those
who trust in Him. I take this promise literally. For we who are His Children,
God comes and rescues us from experiencing death before our fleshly body dies.
We are with Him before our loved ones are without us. That is His gift of eternal
life.

Jeremiah is Freed                                                 Jer. 40:1-6

After being freed from the palace courtyard, Jeremiah was with the other exiles
staged at Ramah prior to their journey to Babylon. Nebuzaradam, King Nebuchadnezzar’s
commander, has Jeremiah under his care at Ramah where he removes his chains and
tells him he is free to go to Babylon or free to stay. While freeing Jeremiah,
Nebuzaradam repeats Jeremiah’s prophecies [vs. 3]. It is because of Judah’s
sin and their refusal to obey God that this disaster has happened.

Jeremiah, given a choice, chooses to stay in Judah. Nebuzaradam advises Jeremiah
to check in with Gedaliah, the newly appointed governor. This was done so as
to formally transfer Jeremiah’s care and safe keeping from Nebuzaradam to Gedaliah.
Before leaving, Nebuzaradam gives Jeremiah a gift and provisions for his journey.

God is indeed sovereign over both the big and the little things. His prophet,
Jeremiah, is receiving special care. God gives him his freedom as a gift for
obeying Him in theses troubling times. In much the same way, God frees us to
become just like Him when we acknowledge His Son as our Lord and Savior. We
are freed from sin through faith; freed to become like Him; freed to love God
and to love others. We are freed because we trust God.

Gedaliah is Killed                                                       Jer. 40:7-41:15

With the fall of Jerusalem, Judah’s army stationed in the countryside is scattered,
small, but still functional. There are six divisions led by Ishmael, Johanan,
Jonathan, Seraiah, the sons of Ephai, and Joazaniah. They hear Gedaliah has
been appointed governor over the remaining Jews so they meet with him at Mizpah.
Gedaliah reassures them that serving Babylon will be good, not bad, and that
they should disperse to their respective areas and live a normal life, raising
food while watching over the people living in their areas.

Upon learning that all is not bad and that the people are returning to raise
crops, the Jews who migrated or escaped to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries
begin returning to the area surrounding Mizpah to be under the protection of
Gedaliah and to grow and harvest food. This is a fertile region so they are
very successful in sustaining their lives.

Johanan, one of the remaining army officers, learns that Ismael has pledged
his allegiance to Ammon and is planning to kill Gedaliah. He travels to Mizpah
to warn Gedaliah and ask permission to kill Ishmael. Gedaliah refuses to grant
Johanan’s request because he doesn’t believe the rumors. He doesn’t believe
an Israeli army officer would not remain loyal to an Israeli governor. Or perhaps
he is too proud of his position and believes he is too powerful for assassination
to happen. Evidently, he is a good and capable administrator with a blind side.
Seven months later, Ishmael and his men have dinner with Gedaliah and kill him,
including the Jews at Mizpah and the remaining Babylonian soldiers. In the meantime,
80 men and their families have taken an oath, shaved their heads, torn their
clothes, and are bringing their offerings to worship God at Mizpah. They come
to Mizpah because Jerusalem has been destroyed and this is the new capital city.
Evidently an altar for worship has been erected here [Jer. 41:5]. Ishmael and
his men act like they are mourning, meet the worshippers, bring them to Mizpah,
and kill all but 10 men. Ishmael takes them captive together with those remaining
in Mizpah, women and children, and set out for safety in Ammon.

Johanan hears about the slaughter at Mizpah and sets out after Ishmael. Johanan
and Ishmael fight at Gibeon where Johanan prevails and saves the captives. But
Ishmael and eight of his men escape.

The lesson we can learn from this story is “know your enemy”. God
is sovereign and promises to protect us but that doesn’t mean we can ignore
good advice or ignore potential enemies. God has blessed us with a discerning
mind and He expects us to use it. When Jesus sent out His disciples to minister
He instructed them to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves”
[Matt 10:16]. Read also I Peter 5:6-10. Peter teaches us to depend on God but
watch out for Satan, who prowls like a lion. This passage clearly teaches us
about the “balance” we are to have as Christians; ever trusting, ever
wary, and ever confident. God is in control but Satan is continuously looking
for openings to destroy good. So be wary and resist Satan when he comes knocking.
He looks innocent but he is the great deceiver.

Johanan Consults the Lord                                         Jer. 41:16-43:13

Johanan rises as the leader of the Jews left behind in the land after defeating
Ishmael and his band of rebels. The Jews fear for their lives after leaving
Gibeon and travel to Garuth Kimham near Bethlehem. Johanan and his army officers
approach Jeremiah and ask him to consult with the Lord as to where they should
go and what they should do. Johanan and his officers make some bold statements
in Jeremiah 43:5-6 and promise to obey the Lord whatever He says. It has been
many years since such statements concerning the Lord’s Will have been made by
any Jewish leaders.

Jeremiah prays to the Lord God and ten days later calls Johanan, his officers,
and the people to tell them what God has said in answer to their questions.

God says “If you stay in the land”:

  1. I will make you strong.
  2. I am with you and you need not fear Babylon.
  3. I will have compassion on you and restore your land.

God says “If you do not stay in the land and disobey me by going to Egypt”:

  1. You will all die by the sword, famine, or the plague.
  2. You will experience the same disaster God’s wrath poured out on Jerusalem.
  3. You will be cursed, condemned, and never see the Promised Land again.

Jeremiah exhorts the people to stay and not go to Egypt. The Lord has also
revealed the true hearts of these remnants. They asked Jeremiah to consult the
Lord promising to obey Him but they had already made up their minds. Jeremiah
42:21 makes this very clear. In fact Chapter 43 begins by describing their leaders
as arrogant and calling Jeremiah a liar. Their attitude is that God is lying.
In fact they believe Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, was a greater influence on
Jeremiah than God [Jer. 43:3]. Essentially, they came to God under false pretense.
They asked to consult God when they really wanted confirmation from God. They
said the right words but thought the wrong thoughts. Their hearts were no different
than the hearts of those who were marching in exile to Babylon.

So this remnant travels to Egypt according to their will, not God’s Will,
and settles in Tahpanhes. What seems unusual is that Jeremiah went with them
[Jer. 43:8]. Why didn’t he stay? The only good reason he went with them would
be so he could continue ministering to them and encourage them to repent and
return. You see, Jeremiah’s ministry was to those left behind. God already had
assigned Ezekiel and Daniel to minister to those exiled to Babylon. God is not
yet willing to give up loving His people and getting them to love Him in return.
God’s love is unconditional but His blessings are conditional.

Upon reaching Egypt, Jeremiah continues to prophesy saying that they are not
safe and that the hand of Nebuchadnezzar will reach Egypt and he will do the
same thing to Egypt as he did to Judah and Jerusalem.

It is good to seek the Lord’s advice but seek Him with an open and honest
heart. God knows your heart. God knows you are going to lie before you do it
just as He knew Peter would betray Him before He actually did. Before you ask
God’s Will, always ask God to cleanse your heart first. Cleansing before requesting
usually leads to obedience instead of disobedience. Get it right and we live.
Get it wrong and we die. Simple isn’t it. But our arrogance makes it difficult.
Confession of sin is necessary if we are to obey His voice.

Jeremiah’s Final Prophecy                                  Jeremiah 44:1-30

This is one of the saddest and most disappointing chapters in Israel’s/Judah’s
history. They have gone beyond rebelling against God or believing in God; they
have disowned God. They don’t need God and they don’t want God. They believe
God, who created the universe and chose them as His people, doesn’t even exist.
As I’ve stated before in my studies of prophecy concerning the Last Days, and
these are certainly last days for Judah of 70 years, God doesn’t condemn man
but man condemns himself. God’s wrath comes upon man because that’s what man
wants. Man prefers God’s wrath to the option of humbling himself and worshipping
God. Man’s pride and foolishness negates any common sense he might have.

This is the last prophecy uttered by Jeremiah but it is no different than
what he has been saying for the last 10-15 years. He is in Egypt and the Judean
remnant has multiplied and lives in at least three different cities along the
Nile River. In verses 2-6 God reminds them of their past. Judah and Jerusalem
are in ruins and they are living in Egypt because they did evil in God’s eyes
and worshipped idols. God sent them prophets, including Jeremiah, but the people
did not listen to them. They continued in their evil ways and continued their
worship of idols until God poured out His wrath on them and laid ruin to their
cities and land.

In verses 7-14, Jeremiah points out to the remnant in Egypt that they are
following and continuing the same practices as their ancestors. In so doing,
they are provoking God’s anger by worshipping idols. Continuing to do so will
bring destruction upon themselves. They are continuing to practice wickedness,
refusing to humble themselves and follow God’s law, and remain proud. Therefore,
God will bring upon them the same judgment they endured in Judah. He will subject
them to the sword, famine, and plagues such that they will die. None who escaped
to Egypt will ever see their land again.

The pride and arrogance of those Jews living in Egypt is pointed out in verses
15-19.. They refuse to listen to Jeremiah and actually say they will continue
to do as they please and as they do now. In other words, leave us alone. In
fact, they believe they have been better served and blessed when worshipping
idols. They have food and they haven’t suffered harm so, obviously, Jeremiah
is lying.

Jeremiah tries again to reason with the people in verses 20-23. Then in verses
24-29, Jeremiah pronounces the Lord’s judgment against the people. God/Jeremiah
gives up and says they can go their own way but He will bring them harm instead
of good. They will perish by the sword and famine until they all are destroyed.
The few people that may return to their land will be their descendants or fugitives.
The people will soon realize who is right; Jeremiah or them; God or them. God
gives them a sign saying He will hand the Pharaoh Hophra over to his enemies
just like He did with King Zedekiah. Hophra was indeed killed by internal enemies
in 568 BC, only eighteen years after Jerusalem fell. But the Jews in Egypt didn’t
care, a sad epitaph indeed.

Are you listening to God’s Word or don’t you care either? Do you believe God’s
Word is Truth or just another lie? Does God exist or is your pride blinding
you? Take heed and take heart. If we truly seek God and His Truth, He will find
us. Let’s not let our pride and success of the moment blind us from seeing His
sovereignty and eternal truth. God promises eternal life to all who believe
in His Son, Jesus Christ. Believe because God keeps His promises. He did in
Jeremiah’s time, He does it today, and He will do it tomorrow. Believe!

Miscellaneous Prophecies                                     Jeremiah 45:1-51:64

The assembly of Jeremiah’s prophecies is more topical than chronological perhaps
because they were not written down for future reference until midway in Jeremiah’s
prophetic life. Consider Chapters 45-52 as appendages, writings found after
the books’ initial assembly.

To Baruch                                                                     Jer. 45:1-5

This prophecy relates to Jeremiah 36 and is personal. Baruch expressed sorrow
and a lack of hope with what he was recording of Jeremiah’s prophecies. He was
worrying and unable to sleep. So Jeremiah encourages him with words received
from the Lord. The Lord is going ahead with his plan to destroy Judah so you,
Baruch, should not make any specific plans for the future. But the Lord will
watch over you and you will escape with your life. In other words, the disaster
will be great but you will live. For his faithfulness, God gives Baruch a message
of hope.

To Egypt                                                                   Jer. 46:1-28

This prophecy is dated 605 BC after the Egyptian army was defeated at Carchemish
by King Nebuchadnezzar. This was a significant battle because it signaled Egypt’s
decline and the rise of Babylonia. Verses 3-12 is a sonnet describing the attitude
of Egypt [vs. 8-9] and the outcome of the battle [vs. 10-11]. Not only is Egypt
soundly defeated and retreating, Babylon is going to march on Egypt, destroy
Memphis, and take captives into exile [vs. 19]. Egypt will fall to the Babylonian
army [vs. 22-24] because of her idolatry [vs. 25]. However, Egypt will rise
again [vs. 26].

Verses 27-28 offer hope to Israel/Judah. One can interpret theses verses in
three ways. First, Jacob many times refers to the northern kingdom Israel. They
already have been destroyed, exiled, and scattered to the surrounding nations.
Therefore, theses verses offer hope of returning to the Promised Land. Second,
Jacob may refer to Judah and their pending exile to Babylon. They are not to
fear their destruction because God will not completely destroy them. God will
punish Judah for her sin but promises peace and security in the future. Third,
Jacob may refer to a united Israel. The northern kingdom has been destroyed
and Judah will soon be destroyed. But God promises them a future of peace and
security. This points to their condition when Christ reigns for 1000 years before
the new heaven and a new Jerusalem replaces the existing heaven and earth [Rev.
20]. All three interpretations are true but I personally prefer the later. Israel
has never experienced true peace and security since their respective exiles
and will not until Christ comes again.

Our hope as Christians and Israel’s hope is that Christ is coming again to
establish His Kingdom on earth before eternity begins. He has established it
today in His Church but He is going to establish it anew, Jew and Gentile alike,
in His Millennium reign. Only with Jesus Christ reigning as the King of Kings
will His people [Christians and Jews as believers in Christ] see real peace
and security. We have His peace and security today in our hearts and minds spiritually
and we also look forward in hope to experience His peace and security with Him
physically in this world and spiritually forever.

To Philistia                                                                        Jer. 47:1-7

It is not clear whether Pharaoh is Neco II or Hophra. Neco II attacked the
Philistine territory on the way to Babylon in about 609 BC. However, he was
defeated by the Babylonian army at Chemish and driven back to Egypt. The Babylonians
and Egypt did battle in Philistia for several years until Babylon retreated.
Then Neco II set out again in 601 BC and later Hophra moved the Egyptians close
to Judah causing Nebuchadnezzar to stop his siege of Jerusalem temporarily between
588-586 BC.

Verse 2 foretells the rise of Babylon and their large and swift army which
moves through nations like rising flood waters. Much of this conquest seems
to reflect the chasing of Egypt by Babylon through Philistia in 604 BC. The
Philistines are caught in the middle, their people killed, and their land and
cities destroyed. According to God’s Will, Babylon returned home [vs. 6] and
shortly thereafter began their siege of Judah in 597 BC. Babylon’s power is
rising because God is using them to conquer nations who have chosen to ignore
Him.

Our God is sovereign over all the nations. He even uses the ungodly to carry
out His Will against other ungodly nations. It is important for us to evaluate
our own faith in God. We are to compare ourselves to God’s standards and not
with others. Focusing on others instead of self will always cause us to be blindsided
by God’s planned discipline for sin. Acknowledge God as Lord and Savior if you
wish to avoid His discipline for sin. Listen to Him as He searches your heart
and reveals His Will in your life. Then let Him have sovereignty over all you
do. You will be greatly blessed. Any nation who follows the same path will be
blessed too.

To Moab                                                             Jer. 48:1-47

The nation of Moab [see Gen. 19:30-36] suffered under Assyria [Is. 15:1-16:13]
and now is prophesied to suffer under Babylon. The sins of Moab are as follows:

  1. They trust in their deeds and riches. [vs. 7]
  2. They worship idols, particularly Chemash. [vs. 13, 35, 46]
  3. They trust in their army to defend them. [vs. 14]
  4. They are proud of their accomplishments. [vs. 17-18]
  5. They have defiled the Lord. [vs. 26, 42]
  6. They ridiculed Israel. [vs. 27]
  7. They are proud, conceited, haughty, and insolent. [vs. 27]

These sins are the same as they were in Isaiah’s time 150 years earlier. As
stated in my comments on Isaiah 15:1-16:3, Assyria’s King Sargon II is believed
to have fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy with his 3 year campaign. Also Sennacherib
[Assyria] followed more thoroughly and now Jeremiah prophecies Moab’s destruction
believed to have been fulfilled by King Nebuchadnezzar’s army in 582 BC, four
years after Jerusalem fell.

Jeremiah’s prophecy is more detailed than Isaiah’s prophecy but they are very
similar. The sins are the same and the cities destroyed are the same. Therefore,
it is possible that Isaiah’s prophecy is the same as Jeremiah’s prophecy. They
both prophesied the destruction of Moab and that did happen when the Babylonian
army swept through the country.

The results of Babylon’s conquest are:

  1. Cities will be ruined, disgraced, and captured. [vs. 1, 3, 9, 15, 18, 21-24, 41]
  2. No joy; people mourning and fleeing in terror. [vs. 4-6, 19, 28, 33, 38,43, 44]
  3. Crop land destroyed. [vs. 8, 9, 32, 33]
  4. Young men slaughtered. [vs. 15]
  5. Broken, ridiculed, and humbled. [vs. 17, 18, 20, 37, 39, 42]
  6. People held captive and exiled. [vs. 46]

God’s hand of judgment is being placed on Moab because of her sin. All nations
who practice idolatry and take pride in their accomplishments and wealth will
be subject to God’s judgment. Wake up America. We do not know when Gods’ patience
with us will end. It is time we quit worshipping our wealth and stop taking
pride in our power. We need to repent and humble ourselves before God, thanking
Him for our blessings. We need to glorify and worship God instead of ignoring
Him and removing all reference to Him in our culture. Forgive us Lord and grant
us mercy. What’s true of America is also true of each of us. We as individuals
possess the freedom and power to turn this nation back to God. But first we
must remove our own idols, repent, seek His forgiveness, and ask Him for mercy.
Then as God works in renewing our lives, He will also renew America. Let us
once again glorify God as individuals and as a nation.

To Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and the Far East              Jer. 49:1-39

I have chosen to combine these separate and specific prophecies into one section
because they are more obscure, less defined, and difficult to determine if or
when their fulfillment occurred.

The prophecy concerning Ammon [vs. 1-6] is a little more definitive. The reference
to Israel represents the northern kingdom which was exiled in 722 BC before
Jeremiah’s time. As a result of Israel’s exile, the Ammonites encroached and
settled in Israel’s vacated land and cities. The Lord sounds the battle cry
over Ammon’s many encroachments into Israel’s land and influencing idol worship
among God’s people. Historians presume that this prophecy was fulfilled when
Nebuchadnezzar’s army invaded the land and destroyed it’s cities in 581 BC or
five years after Jerusalem fell. In time, the Ammonites [descendants of Lot's
daughter] will be restored.

Verses 7-22 concern Edom, the descendants of Esau. Edom never had friendly
relations with Israel or Judah. Because Edom consists of mountains, they felt
safe. They were counter punchers; attacking and hiding. But the Lord declares
them vulnerable and will bring disaster upon them, driving them out of their
cities, killing them in their hiding places, and leaving them with orphans and
widows.

Even the innocent will be subject to God’s wrath. Edom will become like Sodom
and Gomorrah [vs. 18]. Edom will no longer exist.

Damascus is the capital city of Syria [Aman] and originally conquered by Assyria
and later by Babylonia in 605 BC. It was once a power, but no longer. It is
subject to being tossed about like waves on a sea [vs. 23-24].

The remaining verses, 28-39] concern Kedar, Hazor, and Elam which are cities/areas
east of Babylon. The significance of these prophecies is to show the rise of
Babylon and its’ complete domination of the people living around it. It is to
become the dominant world power and an instrument of Almighty God.

America is the dominant world power of the 20th and 21st centuries. We are
also raised up as God’s instrument but we suppress any acknowledgment of God’s
role or purpose because of ridicule internally and externally. Without a return
to our roots, freedom to worship God and to acknowledge Him before man, we may
soon find ourselves losing God’s favor because we have rejected God’s purpose.
This application is national but it can also be reduced to us as individuals.
We who believe in Jesus Christ must be faithful to our calling if we wish to
receive God’s blessing.

To Babylon                                                                  Jer. 50:1-51:64

This is a very long and extensive prophecy concerning Babylon written by Jeremiah
and sent to Babylon in the 4th year of King Zedekiah’s reign or 593 BC [See
Jer. 51:59]. This is written during the rise of Babylon as a world power. Babylon
has not yet reached her apex of glory, power, and wealth. This scroll was to
be read aloud to the people of Babylon and then weighted and thrown into the
Euphrates River as a symbol of Babylon’s future. Since this section is long
and detailed, I’m going to summarize it in a general fashion. Please take the
time to read it carefully for your own edification. After all it is God’s Word.

Thus, verse 2 begins as it does. This prophecy was being announced to the
nations, many who were in Babylon subject to them already or envoys on political
missions. Babylon will be captured by a nation from the north and laid waste.
Her gods, idols, will be terrorized and put to shame. Both people and animals
will flee [Jer. 50:2-3].

Babylon’s fall will be the beginning for the exiles from Israel and Judah
to seek the Lord and think about returning home [vs. 4-5]. God’s people are
in Babylon because they were led astray by their leaders and forgot God, sinning
against the Lord [vs. 6-7]. When the alliance from the north [Medes and Persians]
take over Babylon, God’s people are encouraged to begin their pilgrimage home
[vs. 8-9].

Babylon will be plundered, disgraced, and be least among the nations because
of the way they treated God’s people, expressing joy at being able to plunder
and kill them. They practiced oppression instead of compassion when conquering
Judah [vs. 10-13]. The fall of Babylon is going to release all Babylon’s captives
[vs. 16].

God has promised to spare a remnant of His people and the conquest of Babylon
will accomplish just that. God will forgive their sin and bring them back to
His Promised Land [vs. 18-20].

Babylon falls because they opposed God [vs. 24, 29]. True, they were God’s
instrument used to bring Judah to her senses and return her to God but they
themselves missed God’s message and purpose [vs. 33]. Nebuchadnezzar finally
got it but his successors did not [see Dan. 4]. The Jews will realize that God
is in control and still loves them [vs. 28]. God is treating Babylon just as
they treated those they conquered. Babylon has become arrogant, filled with
pride, and obsessed with wealth and power [vs. 31-32]. Soon Babylon will be
gone just like Sodom and Gomorrah [vs. 35-46] by an army from the north.

Chapter 51 continues the rhetoric of Babylon’s fall from power and reiterates
the need for the exiles, particularly Judah, to return home and become a witness
of God’s grace, mercy, goodness, and love Jer. 51:10].

Jeremiah 51:11 finally mentions the Medes’ involvement in the destruction
of Babylon. The cities’ fall will happen as an ambush and it will be suddenly
be filled with enemy soldiers [vs. 12-14]. See Daniel 5 for an eyewitness account.

God testifies as to His power and sovereignty in verses 15-16. He is God and
man made idols are worthless and foolishness [vs. 17-18]. He is the Creator
God and Lord Almighty [vs. 19]. God is also judge of His creation [vs. 24].
Verses 25-48 describe once again the fall of Babylon by the Medes and her allies,
all who have been summoned by God against Babylon. Note that the waters dry
up [vs. 36] and a sea rises over Babylon [vs. 42]. I interpret this to mean
the diversion of the Euphrates River by the Medes and their armies overrunning
the city.

Verse 49 again encourages the Jews to leave Babylon and return to the Promised
Land and Jerusalem. Israel/Judah has been disgraced because non-believers have
entered God’s temple. Babylon will be punished; destroyed. God will punish Babylon
for her sins.

There is one theme that comes forth from this prophecy. Those called by God
are to believe in God and obey Him. This is true for both gentiles and Jews.
Salvation comes to those who humble themselves before God, repent of their sin,
and place their trust in Him. Following the ways of man and worshipping idols
lead to destruction. Believing in God and obeying His Word leads to life eternal.
Learn this lesson, accept its’ truth, and live for Him, in Him, and with Him
forever.

Two Important Historical Accounts                        Jeremiah 52:1-34

King Zedekiah and Jerusalem’s Fall                                      Jer. 52:1-30

This account is nearly word for word that recorded in II Kings 24-25. That
is not surprising in that I and II Kings is believed to have been written by
the prophets. So what has been written in II Kings 24-25 could very well have
been dictated by Jeremiah. Some scholars, however, do not believe Jeremiah authored
Chapter 52. There is a similar account in Jeremiah 39 but it reads more like
a personal perspective. Jeremiah 52 is strictly history and, in particular,
the reign of King Zedekiah in verses 1-30.

Zedekiah is appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar at age 21 to rule over Judah.
He ruled for eleven years doing evil in the eyes of God just as Jehoiakim did.
God judged Judah because of all the evil they did, not just because King Zedekiah
did evil. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon so in his ninth year as king, King
Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, cutting off their food supply. Zedekiah,
his family, and his officials escaped at night but were captured near Jericho.
They were taken to King Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah where he killed King Zedekiah’s
sons and his officials. Then he proceeded to blind King Zedekiah and sent him
bound to Babylon and to prison where he died. The remaining priests, officials,
and commanders were rounded up in Jerusalem, taken to Riblah, and killed [vs.
24-26].

Beginning with verse 12 we learn the details about the destruction, burning,
and plundering of Jerusalem. Most of the skilled Jews were exiled prior to King
Zedekiah’s appointment. Those left are mostly poor. Some are exiled and some
are left behind with the rubble. Much of the temple treasury was plundered during
the first exile and now the remaining vessels are taken to Babylon. Most are
bronze but some of the dishes were gold and silver.

Verses 28-30 detail the three different exiles and the number exiled. Most
likely this is the number of men. But even if you multiply by 4, an average
family, you get less than 15000 people exiled. Some scholars discount the accuracy
of these numbers. However, if these numbers are accurate we have an indication
of the great number of Jews who died by the sword, famine, and plague as prophesied
by Jeremiah.

King Jehoiachin’s Good Fortune                                       Jer. 52:31-34

King Jehoiachin was not a good king. He reigned only 3 months before taken
prisoner by King Nebuchadnezzar. He receives mercy from Evil-Merodach, who ruled
for two years after Nebuchadnezzar, and lives out his life eating at the King’s
table. God, in His mercy, is preserving the line of David for renewal.

Epilogue                                                     Lamentations 1-5

Lamentations is not prophetic as is Jeremiah but it did not seem right to
exclude it from my study of OT Prophets. Actually, it is Jeremiah’s lament because
Judah failed to take his warnings seriously. Therefore, it seemed appropriate
to include it at the end of Jeremiah as an epilogue.

Scholars date its’ writing from 586 to 538 BC. My belief is that it was written
after the first major exile in 597 BC through shortly after the second [final] exile in 586
BC. More specifically, I believe it was written right after the second [final] exile
between the time Jerusalem fell and when Nebuzaraden, King Nebuchadnezzar’s
commander, rescued Jeremiah and turned him over to Gedaliah, the newly appointed
governor of those Jews being left behind in Judah. I say this because it is
difficult to outline this book and its’ themes are quite unified.

Many prefer to divide/outline Lamentations by chapter. That did not seem natural
so I am writing my comments as written by Jeremiah under four different perspectives
such as Jerusalem’s, Judah’s, God’s, and Jeremiah’s perspective. These four different
perspectives seem to switch back and forth. Each of the following paragraphs
will be from one of these perspectives.

The Perspective of Jerusalem                                  Lam. 1:1-17

A city that once was alive with activity is now dead. A city that was once
renown and great is now enslaved to Babylon. Jerusalem is in mourning. She has
no friends. Her people have been exiled and live among others. No one calls
her “home” anymore. She has no visitors and all forms of commerce
are bankrupt. The Lord brought her this grief because of her sin. Her beauty
is now a pile of rubble, her leaders have fled, and her treasures have been
plundered. She is a city without honor and without respect. All are amazed at
how quickly she changed. Desolation came when the ungodly entered her temple
of the Living God. Now those who remain must search for food on which to live.
She is suffering because of the Lord’s anger. The Lord gathered her people burdened
with sin and gave them to her enemies. She was overrun by a great and mighty
army and crushed as grapes are crushed in a winepress. No one there is able
to offer comfort and hope. She is looked upon as a leper, unclean. No one wants
to be identified with her. Her success has turned to failure because she rebelled
against God.

The Perspective of Judah                                        Lam. 1:18-22

All of Judah rebelled against a righteous God and suffered greatly including
the exiling of their future, their young men and women. They called on their
allies, their priests, and their leaders but they were more interested in saving
themselves than in saving the nation. All Judah is in torment and death abounds
because they have rebelled against God. Instead of receiving comfort, they hear
rejoicing over their destruction. Judah’s prayer is that God will someday deal
with her enemies as He has dealt with her. But right now her strength is gone.
She is unable to help herself.

The Perspective of God                                              Lam. 2:1-19

He, in His anger, has caused the downfall of all Israel. Israel was exiled
to Assyria in 722 BC and now Judah is destroyed and exiled to Babylon in 586
BC. All Israel is gone and all Judah is gone. God’s Promised Land is devoid
of His chosen people. The Lord has been Israel’s real enemy. A productive land
became unproductive. Her worship and sacrifices were no longer accepted. God
left His temple and commissions the enemies of His people to conquer His people.
It was God’s decision to let this happen. But that doesn’t mean He was happy
with what He had to do. In fact, God weeps over their state because of their
destruction. God still considers Israel His chosen people and it hurts Him to
see them starving. He wants to comfort them but they were intent on following
their false prophets instead of His prophets. God has done what He said He would
do. Israel’s foes have triumphed. As a result, all Israel is in mourning and
will continue in mourning until she cries out to the Lord God and acknowledges
Him as Lord and Savior.

The Perspective of Jeremiah                                          Lam. 2:20-22

Jeremiah asks God if He expected things to be this bad. What has happened
is unprecedented in Jeremiah’s eyes. Cannibalism is happening. People are killed
in the temple. Young and old have been killed or left to die. Has God no pity?
The people God entrusted Jeremiah to minister to have all died.

The Perspective of Judah                                                 Lam. 3:1-42

Initially one thinks this section continues to be associated with Jeremiah.
It is in a way but really is a smooth transition from Jeremiah to Judah when
considering the full context. This is one of the reasons why Lamentations is
so difficult to outline.

Judah has experienced God’s affliction and wrath. They are now walking in
darkness trying to find their way. The nation and its’ people have aged considerably
because of bitterness and hardship. They are more dead than alive. They are
like prisoners who cry out but nobody hears. They were attacked as if by bears
and lions. Their hearts have been pierced and their bodies broken. They have
lost hope. But yet there is hope. They remember their wanderings from God, they
remember His love, and they remember His faithfulness. So they will wait patiently
and hope for God to return. They will seek the Lord and wait for His salvation.
They recognize that God’s discipline has been for their good. Judah is coming
to terms with God and is accepting their punishment. They begin placing their
trust and hope in God’s compassion and love. They acknowledge God was just in
His affliction of Judah. They commit to examine their ways, to return to the
Lord, to worship Him, and to ask His forgiveness.

The Perspective of Jeremiah                                   Lam. 3:43-66

God has indeed disciplined Judah and left her. Judah is disgraced and has
suffered much ruin and destruction. Jeremiah cries over the great loss of life
and grieves for the widowed. Jeremiah was hunted by his enemies; the false prophets,
government officials, and ungodly priests. He was thrown in a well and left
to die but God heard his cry and told him not to fear. God had promised to protect
him and He did, redeeming his life and enabling him to continue ministering
to the people of Jerusalem and those who were left behind. Jeremiah asks the
Lord to judge his enemies for their deeds.

The Perspective of Jerusalem                                Lam. 4:1-20

Jerusalem’s wealth has been plundered. Jerusalem’s most talented people have
been exiled. Those remaining are wandering hopelessly without direction or purpose.
Many others have turned to begging or have died. Jerusalem’s devastation is
thought to be greater than that of Sodom. Any recognizable leaders are no longer
recognizable. The personalities and attitudes of the people have changed appreciably.
It would be better for those living if they had died. Cannibalism is common.
God’s wrath has completely consumed the city. Jerusalem was supposed to be safe
and secure from outside attacks. Those who were responsible for leading the
citizens away from God are now shunned and cast out. Jerusalem’s leaders sought
help but they were no match for the swiftness of Babylon. God’s anointed [King
Zedekiah] was unable to save them because God had anointed Babylon to punish
His people for their sins.

The Perspective of God                                             Lam. 4:21-22

Edom, your turn will come. [They were gloating over the destruction of Israel.]
You too will be punished for your sin and wickedness. Israel’s punishment and
exile will end. Edom should tremble whereas Israel should hope.

The Perspective of Jeremiah                                   Lam. 5:1-22

Jeremiah asks God to remember His people. Their inheritance, their homes,
their families, and their food supplies have been destroyed. They are struggling
to survive, seeking help from Assyria and Egypt. They are continuing to be punished
for the sins of their leaders. Even the slaves lord it over them and are better
off. They must risk their lives to find food. They have no roofs over their
heads for protection. Women are being exploited and the remaining elders sought
out and killed. The able bodied have become slaves. There is no music, no dancing,
and no joy to lift their spirits. They are sinners without a vision of hope. But
God reigns and is eternal. Therefore, Jeremiah prays that God will not forget
them for very long and will indeed keep His promise to restore them, return
them to their land, and renew them as His people as in the past. Even Jeremiah’s
hope is weakened, thinking that God may have rejected them forever.

The Lesson

Life has never been easy since sin came into man’s nature from Adam and Eve.
God’s sole purpose is to root out sin and redeem those He created. God will
do all in His power to destroy sin,
even coming to earth as a baby to live among
us and shed His own blood on the cross for all our sin. His great love and compassion
for His creation caused Him to send His Son to die in our place, paying the
debt for our sin, that we might humble ourselves before Him, repent of our sin,
ask His forgiveness, and seek to worship Him, serve Him, and glorify His Name.
God’s purpose is to restore us into fellowship with Him, to give us hope, and
to give us eternal life. Believe and receive His Hope eternal.

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