Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Carried to Babylon - Jeremiah 27

Jeremiah 27:22 "They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, saith the LORD; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place."

For us, God's plan does not seem like the best plan when it involves pain on our part. The cleft of the rock may not seem like a very good place until the storm comes.

Jeremiah told the people to submit to the captivity. There were false prophets who told them not to submit and that every thing would be fine if they would just resist. God's plan was for them to go into captivity and stay together until the day he brought them back into Canaan.

The slavery days in Egypt were a trying time and no doubt very bad times for families. But out of that pain came forth a nation. Where 70 entered Egypt, a nation came out. There is travail with birth.

Here is the message sent out to the surrounding area from the LORD:

v5-6 "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. (Isaiah 45:12) v6 And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him."

God is very specific. Nebuchadnezzar (notice the name now has an 'n' instead of an 'r') would reign then his son and his son's son. God has given all nations to him and his sons, Those who do not submit will be consumed. v8. The LORD even calls Nebuchadnezzar his servant. So the false prophets were wrong.

The purpose of the captivity was punishment in in one respect but also was to preserve the nation.

v9 "Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon.

Many wonderful stories came out of the time of the captivity. We will read them later, the Lord willing.

I'm reminded of Acts where the persecution came and the preachers were dispersed into other nations. I wonder if they would have stayed in Jerusalem where it all happened, if the persecution had not come. It is a bitter cup but the gentiles have the gospel.

So, in compassion, the message is again sent out so that everyone knows the right thing to do.

v17 "Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live, wherefore should this city be laid waste?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shiloh Remembered - Jeremiah 26

Jeremiah 26:6 "Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth."

We will remember Shiloh (not the Civil War site) in the Bible as the place where the tabernacle and the ark once sat. The Philistines defeated Israel there and took the ark. Thousands of Israelites were slain. I Samuel 4:10-

Shiloh: (the place of rest) a city Judges 21:19 17 miles north of Jerusalem. Joshua 18:1 Where , the Tabernacle was set up and remained for 300 years.

The message of this chapter is that the priests and council did not like the message God sent Jeremiah to deliver, so they sought to kill Jeremiah.

v3 "If so be they will hearken, and turn every ma from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings."

The message was one of warning and compassion. But the leaders held fast to their sinful ways and would not repent but rather wanted to kill Jeremiah as if that would solve their problem. It is the old "kill the messenger" mentality.

v8 "Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets, and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die."

So there was a hearing for Jeremiah with the princes as the sort of court. At first, the people went with the priests and prophets but then they changed sides and went with the princes who were to let Jeremiah live. For Jeremiah stood firm.

v16 "Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die; for he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God."

So then the elders spoke up.

v17 "Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying."

They reminded the people of Micah and how Hezekiah responded to his message in a good way. And of Urijah who also had a strong message for Israel. So the elders were Jeremiah's defenders and Jeremiah lived a long life.

v24 "Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death."

It must have surely been an intense day. The priests and prophets were taking it on themselves to judge Jeremiah until the princes heard the commotion and came up the hill to see what was going on. Then as the people swayed from one opinion to the other, the elders finally stood up.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Cup of Fury - Jeremiah 25

Jeremiah 25:15 "For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it."

This seems to be the final warning before the captivity. (We will read on to see.) Jeremiah tells them, I got up early to warn you but you would not listen. Now, the day is at hand.

Proverbs 1:25 "But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and y our destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer, they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me, For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof."

So from Proverbs we see a picture of the conditions before the captivity of Israel. The Lord appealed to the people and the leaders but they would not listen. Now, He is angry.

v7 "Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt."

Jeremiah was told to take the cup around to various nations. We are given a list in verses 18-26. I believe it was a symbolic cup to tell them that there was no escape from what was to come. They must drink of the cup.

v28 "And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink."

v32 "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth, from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth."

It was, undoubtedly, to be a great time of upheaval. But there is an end to it. Isn't it true, that if we can see an end to something, we can hope at least.

v12 "And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations."

So, although Babylon is used to punish Israel, they themselves will receive judgment in 70 years. You can study Daniel to learn what it was like for those who remained true to God.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two Baskets of Figs - Jeremiah 24

Jeremiah 24:1 "The LORD showed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple o f the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon."

(Note: I noticed that in Jeremiah the king of Babylon's name was spelled with an 'r' after Nebuchad- while in Daniel it is an 'n' and makes the name as we pronounce it today.)

We have in this chapter a very simple illustration. One basket of figs would go off into captivity in Babylon and would be looked after by the LORD. The other basket of figs would try to stay in Jerusalem/Judah but would be scattered far and wide, never to return.

Jeremiah preached that trouble was coming but the local prophets preached that everything was just fine and not to worry. Jeremiah apparently told the people to submit to the king of Babylon. It was chastisement and so would have been the correct thing to do.

v5 "Thsu saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them tht are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the chaldeans for their good."

The last phrase being key "for their good." and "I have sent".

v7 "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."

People sometimes drift away from the LORD. It is then that as children they are punished. Punishment not from hate but from love. Punishment that is meant to draw the children back to doing the right thing. So it was with Israel, the remnant.

Not so for those who rebelled.

v9 "And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them."

If one just picked up the Bible and read this passage without reading the previous chapters, it would seem a cruel thing. But look back and it will be justified.

II Kings 24:4 "And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon."

Just one verse that tells of the evil that was going on in Israel.

They had been given a way to avoid this captivity and the scattering:

II Chronicles 7:14 "If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

But they would not.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pastors & Prophets - Jeremiah 23

Jeremiah 23:25 "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed."

Hebrews 4:13 "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

Of course, it means the Lord is watching.

This chapter deals with pastors and prophets who have told the people lies. The lie mentioned is that everything was going to be alright when in fact the enemy was at the door.

v1 "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD."

Pastors of our time are due the rest due their station. They have a great responsibility. The good ones have given up what ever life they may have had to devote their time and energy to a group of people who may or may not follow his teachings.

The caution here is that pastors are not to make stuff up. They are to preach what the Bible says, or as the Bible says what 'Thus saith the Lord." There are many truths in the Bible. As much as they have been preached for over 2000 years, they are still fresh and appropriate for our time.

v2 "Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold I will visit upon you the evil of your doings saith the LORD."

The people are being scattered for their disobedience but they were led by some people who made up things out of the imagination of the heart. There will be a new day when a righteous leader will come.

v5 "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice int he earth."

We are talking about the Messiah. He came to Jerusalem and was rejected but with purpose. It was to provide a time of grace for the Gentiles and all the world to come to Christ. When that work is finished, He will return to the throne of David.

v6 "In his days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Oh for that day to come. It is Israel's day but it is also the Christians day when our hope is come and we escape this wicked world.

(These studies have a lot to say about the rebellion of Israel but it is not meant as criticism. It is meant as a history review. We as Christians and as a Christian nation have done no better in staying by Bible teachings, as a whole. There are still the faithful and I am thankful for them.)

The balance of the chapter is devoted to the subject of the pastors' and prophets' misleading of the people.

v17 "They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you."

That shoots in the foot some of the modern day preaching of prosperity. Some say, 'just send us your money and you will in turn receive abundance and be healed and reap mountains of rewards on this earth in this life', or something like that. That is not necessarily true. We will be blessed but it may be peace in our heart instead of a piece of property, it may be joy over the well-being of another instead of complete health for ourselves. Christ was perfect, yet he suffered for the glory beyond the cross.

So if you have a dream, tell a dream. The truth comes from the Lord and we have it written down for us.

v28 "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD."

There we have it, a caution to lead the people correctly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Josiah's Sons - Jeremiah 22

Jeremiah 22:2 "And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates."

v3 "Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place."

Josiah started his reign when he was 8 years old and reigned for 31 years then was wounded in battle and died when he was 39. He was a good king.

He had several sons which were not good leaders. The Bible says they did evil.

v11 "For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more;" See I Chronicles 3:15 where he is also called Jeheahaz in Chronicles 36:4.

Well, some of the names were changed by Jeremiah, probably to show their standing at the time. It was common in the Bible to depict character or some other meaning i.e. Jeremiah 20:3 with Pashur changed to Magormissabib after he smote Jeremiah.

Shallum or Jeheahaz reigned 3 months and was carried away never to return.

v18 "Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying Ah my brother! or Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or Ah his glory!"

v24 "As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;"

Coniah is called Jehoiachin in II Chronicles 36:5. Again, Jeremiah is using another name. I think it could have been a way to wipe them from history or to separate them from the great kings of Judah at least. It does serve to confuse the tracing of their history. See all II Kings 24:12.

Verse 30 tells us the final judgment.

v30 "Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah."

We can again read the Kings and Chronicles to see the evil things going on when these people were kings.

Hezekiah was a good king. His son Manasseh was evil. Amon his son did evil. Josiah, his son was a good king and followed Hezekiah's example.

II Chronicles 34:27 "Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God... v28 Behold I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same.

35:25 "And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel; and behold they are written in the lamentations. (4:20)

Although there were some good kings during the end, before the captivity, there were also evil kings which reigned over the end and they expressed the evil that caused the judgment to come.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life and Death - Jeremiah 21

Jeremiah 21 : 8 "And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death."

This verse illustrates why we should always read scripture in its context. We would think of this verse (for the Christian) as a choice between choosing salvation or rejecting salvation. That is not the case for this verse.

v9 "He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey."

Jerusalem is surrounded and the judgment of God is being finalized. Under a siege, a city is basically starved out. The enemy knows that if they wait long enough, the people inside will run out of food. Disease will set in and victory will come without a frontal assault.

In the first part of the chapter, the very man who smote Jeremiah (Pashur) was sent by the king to Jeremiah to try to get some help for their situation. It must have pressed on the man's ego to have to go to Jeremiah.

v1 "The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur, the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,"

The Bible makes it clear who these men were that went to Jeremiah. It is important to have a witness with credentials.

They did not hear what they wanted to hear.

v4 "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.

v5 "And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath."

After begging Israel to repent of their idol worship and the form of 'obedience' they had, the LORD has had enough of rebellion and it is time for chastisement. I find it interesting that the LORD still introduces himself as the LORD God of Israel. They knew who he was.

v14 "But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD; and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it."

See the Kings for the story.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

He Smote a Prophet - Jeremiah 20

Jeremiah 20:1-2 "Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD."

First off, it was the previous chapter Pashur was referring to where Jeremiah broke the vessel in the valley of the son of Hinnom causing it to be a place of death and the origin of the name for everlasting punishment that we have in our New Testament (which is hell).

Secondly, Pashur did not like the prophesy and got angry enough to hit Jeremiah over it. He tossed him in the stocks then called for him the next day.

It is amazing to me that the governor of the house of the LORD would have stocks so handy, that he would smite a prophet and be so far from God that he would hurt the messenger instead of being concerned about the message. It shows how far away from God they really were.

v3 "And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib."

These are important names. Pashur means freedom. Magormissabib means 'terror on every side'. So by the symbolic name change the destiny of this priest governor is changed for his actions toward the prophet of God.

v4 "For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the and of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword."

v5 "Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labors thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon." See II Kings 20.

We see in these verses the surroundings of the governor Pashur stripped away. He looses his friends and the treasures he apparently regarded as his own taken away. Now we see his personal sentence.

v6 "And thou, Pashur and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies."

Now, he learns that he will loose his position, his life and that he will not be buried in the precious tombs of Zion where the kings are buried. As we will see in the next chapter, he will live long enough to ponder these things.

The balance of the chapter deals with Jeremiah and the distress he must have felt over the situation, for he said he tried not to speak of it anymore but that it was a fire inside him and he could not refrain.

v9 "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay."

He seems to feel very depressed for it was a depressing situation. He had to tell the truth but he stood as the only human who told the people the truth. Yet, he knew the outcome, that captivity was coming. Maybe he said to himself, as we do, 'what's the use'. But he kept on. He even wondered why he was born. After all, it was Jeremiah's nation too.

v18 "Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?"

Even prophets get discouraged. Yet he kept on. see I Kings 19:10

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Broken Vessel - Jeremiah 19

Jeremiah 19:11 "And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again, and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury."

I pondered this chapter as I prayed for my family this morning. I had already read it over several times but the broken vessel seemed so final. I wondered what lesson there was and what hope there was for a broken vessel.

First we should keep it in context. What was Tophet anyway? It was a place in the valley of Hinnom where human sacrifices were offered to Molech. It is also known as the place of the sun, the place of fire, the valley of slaughter. The sacrifice of infants to fire-gods was kept up here. eventually after Josiah spread bones there to stop the practice it became a cesspool for the sewage of Jerusalem. It became Gehenna to indicate the place of eternal suffering. It is translated hell in the gospels.

v1 "Thus saith the LORD, go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests v2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee."

There was a reason why such judgment was pronounced here. As we saw from the bit of history above, it was an evil place. Israel had turned to gods and idols and every kind of worship that they could imagine.

v4 "Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;"

We have here a nation that has been built by God and protected by God. Yet they have turned from him and even forgotten him. Forsaken is a sad word.

Then, I returned to the broken vessel and wondered what lesson of good could I draw from it. Then I thought of the potter in his shop. I have heard of how they would from time to time pick up a piece of a broken vessel and use it to shape a new vessel they were making. Then I thought of Israel in the Bible and the church. Isn't it true that, as Christians, we draw heavily from the Old Testament and the history of the people of Israel.

In a way, we are shaped by the broken vessel Israel. We learn from their greatness and their great God. We, as a church, are a new vessel shaped by the old.

Even broken Christians can shape other Christians. Every life is a lesson that others can learn from. Even the 'don't does' of others can be a warning to those who would do right.

We look at their greatness and their turning away. We look at the lovingkindness of God toward them and the stern chastening they received. From these stories, we learn much about ourselves and the importance of the sacrifice Christ made. We are indeed sinful and hopeless on our own. It took a sinless person to die for our many transgressions.

Try as we may to do the right thing and live a good life, we are still prone to turn back to sin or to yield to temptations. Thank God, we have a refuge, a city of refuge, a place to run when we come to ourselves and see that we have wrong God. We also forgiveness and a place to start over. We do not have to be the broken vessel in the valley of Hinnom.

Being a Christian is a better way.

I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

He is justified in doing so because Christ took our place and carried our sins to the cross.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Potter's House - Jeremiah 18

Jeremiah 18:2 "Arise, and go down to the potter's house; and there I will cause thee to hear my words."

The Bible is full of stories and examples to explain a hard truth. Jeremiah is sent to the potter's house to illustrate to him what is happening to Israel and why. The potter is making a vessel but something is wrong. It is not the potter that is in error.

v4 "And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the Potter to make it."

The vessel was marred. We have to retrace the history of Israel and that of humanity. We must remember the garden where Adam and Eve yielded to temptation putting a stain and impurity into man. We must remember the journey from Egypt where Rachel hid the instruments of idol worship to take on their journey. We must remember the actions of Israel when they entered Canaan and disobeyed by not doing away with ALL the inhabitants. The result was that idol worship was still in the land and it gradually made its way into the lives of the people.

v6 "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD, Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel."

We might, at first glance, see a potter who was ready to cast aside the piece he was making. But the potter being a professional sees that even though the vessel he intended is not possible, upon turning the clay, he sees another possibility. He does not cast aside the clay but continues to work with it until he creates a second vessel, not the original design but still a vessel. At no time here do we see the clay out of the potter's hand.

v7-8 "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. "

The point here is that it is in the power and the right of the potter to do with as he pleases with the clay. It should be no surprise that the LORD deals kindly with the clay and makes it again. It should also be noted that in remaking the clay, it must be remolded, pulled apart, packed together, flooded with water in just the right places, the impurities plucked out. I am not a potter but I can imagine that it might be necessary to flatten the clay in order to pick out the impurities.

The we go back to the reality of the rebellion of the people.

v15 "Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble int heir ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; ....v17 I will scatter them..."

I have but touched on the potter and the clay. To clarify the statement for those who may not have studied the Bible. The Potter is the LORD and we are the clay. He molds us as he sees fit. Can the clay tell the potter what to do? We can no more tell our heavenly Father what to do.

The potter knows the clay.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hope - Jeremiah 17

Jeremiah 17:7-8 "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."

It is such a wonderful passage of scripture. It is no wonder that some people go through the storms of life and seem to be unshaken. They are looking not out across the barrenness of a waterless world but at the cool waters of the river of life which began when we are saved and runs through the street of New Jerusalem.

Here in the midst of judgment and with the enemies at the gate and captivity, like a dark cloud overhead, is hope.

v1 "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond; it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;"

But the children have not been taught the commandments and to fear God.

v2 "Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills."

When Israel goes away into foreign countries and are standing naked before other nations, these words will be branded on their hearts to remember why they are no longer in their great nation.

Jeremiah is sent to proclaim the what and why of the events.

v4 "And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not; for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever."

It is not a lite thing the Lord does. He did not just fly over and decide that the nation was doing some things wrong. He searched what was in their heart and saw their intentions.

v9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."

So, it is a righteous judgment that is made. It is like the honest person who is caught in a wrong and suffers some consequence : "I deserved that." He says.

The summary is found in verse 13 and should be a reminder and a warning for us all.

v13 "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters."

Well, I don't know if this is what that means but it does give an example: Israel forsook the LORD and much has been written of their tragic history since that day. The glory of the kingdom and the captivity. Still there is hope for those who trust the LORD.

We should not be too quick to judge Israel, that has been done by the just judge, we should consider that it also applies to an individual life. When we forsake the LORD, we always serve the consequence.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Lost Favor - Jeremiah 16

Jeremiah 16:13 "Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favor."

I have experienced a little of the strange land feeling while I was in the military. I remember pulling into a harbor and seeing a large Buddha sitting on a hill overlooking the harbor. The image was about as large as the hill it sat upon. Of course, coming from the Bible belt of the USA, I was shocked to see something besides the cross representing religion. It was strange to me but I was in a land accustomed to the image.

So it must have been for Israel when they were carried away into captivity and saw images of strange gods at every turn. But in this chapter they are still being offered hope.

v15 "But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers."

In summary, the generation being addressed here was raised by fathers that did not teach them the ways of the commandments. In some cases their were good teachers but the children rebelled. In general, the people are worshipping idols. The consequence will be much like when the children of Israel failed to believe good after the report from the spies in Exodus and that generation died in the wilderness except for the few who did believe.

v17 "For mine eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hid from my face, neither is there iniquity hid from mine eyes."

Look at these two verses. At great cost, the people Israel are learning a hard lesson that there is but one LORD.

v20-21 "Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is THE LORD."

Israel has been chosen by God.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Forsaken - Jeremiah 15

Jeremiah 15:6 "Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting."

I don't know why I thought of this but maybe it has some bearing. An old preacher told the story: "A young man who had been raised by loving parents was in rebellion against them. He even became abusive. Still wishing to enjoy the benefits of food on the table and a warm place to sleep with a roof over his head. He stayed home but disrupted the household and disregarded the wishes of his parents. One day the dad stood in the sons way at the door as he was about to go on another of his nightly 'adventures'. He would come staggering in sometime in the night. The dad said you are not leaving this house tonight. "I'm a man, I can do as I please!" He cried. The son pushed, shoved and struck out at his dad. The dad responded with a fist to the young man's chin and the son went down. The son looked up and said "But you are my daddy and I'm just a child." The dad replied: "You were a man a minute ago."

Israel was rebellious and disrespectful to God but they still wanted a protecting hand and blessings without having to follow any rules. Now is judgment day and payday is tough sometimes.

v1 "Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth."

Years of loving them, caring for them and blessing them have passed. The LORD is repaid with the sad word "FORSAKEN".

v4 "And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem."

Jeremiah pleads but to no avail. It is as if Jeremiah were given to Israel as a defense attorney but the guilt is undeniable. The sentence sure unless there is repentance.

The plea: v18 "Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?"

The answer: v19 "Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them."

Do you have the picture? Israel wants the blessings but not will not stop worshipping idols. Guidelines have been set down and conditions for blessings. They were agreed to by Israel. God has not changed, they did. So, we go on. It would be good to jump back to the Kings and Chronicles to review how it was while Jeremiah represented the LORD in the land.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

False Prophets - Jeremiah 14

Jeremiah 14:14 "Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart."

Jeremiah seems to be wondering about what he is told to tell the people. One the one hand the LORD is telling him that there will be great trouble and Jeremiah is suppose to convey that message to the people. But all the other prophets are telling the people that everything will be alright and that there will be peace in the land.

Patiently the LORD explains that the false prophets did not get their information from him.

Here are some of the things Jeremiah was to tell them v3 "...no water..." v4 "...no water..." v6 "...no grass..." It is a picture of gloom and doom that Jeremiah is told to tell the people. The false prophets, on the other hand, are telling them all is well, just keep doing what you are doing.

v9 "Why shouldest thou be as a man astonished, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not."

Jeremiah must surely know that he has a direct line with God, that he has the true message. At the same time, it must have been a hard message to absorb when he remembers the greatness of Israel and the way it was before the rebellion against God.

It is not that the LORD cannot save. It is that Israel is going under judgment and the LORD chooses not to save at this time in order to teach Israel a lesson.

v13 "Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. "

The big difference: Jeremiah says 'Thus saith the Lord" while the false prophets put in the big "I". The false prophets have neither the ability or the authority to make such a statement and the Lord calls them lairs.

v15 "Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed."

The chapter ends with a plea for the LORD to not turn against Israel.

v21 "Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory; remember, break not thy covenant with us."

It shows that Israel has not been listening to the words sent to them through the prophets. The verse on the one hand lifts up the Lord, then accuses Him of breaking the covenant when it is Israel that is worshipping idols and has turned away plea after plea to repent.

The answer next.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Pride - Jeremiah 13

Jeremiah 13:9 "Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem."

Pride is a subject that could take up many pages. Here we discuss the pride that is associated with arrogance. It is not, (I don't think) the way we use the word when we speak of our children.

Pride: conceit; haughty behavior - I think is the definition we are looking for.
arrogance: offensive exaggerating one's own importance

My thought on the matter is that we can be blessed by God to do certain things which put one in a position of leadership (and power) then the individual forgets that it is through God's power that they do what they do and begin to feel it is within themselves that they perform. That is arrogance and pride.

Proverbs 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

So we find Jerusalem and Judah about to fall. They have been begged to turn back to God even while the enemy is approaching with a great army, but they would not. After Jeremiah reasoned with God in the last chapter, we find here and illustration of the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.

v1 "Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water."

v4 "Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates and hide it there in a hole of the rock."

So Jeremiah does as he is told and after some days he is instructed to go and get the linen cloth and he sees how it is soiled and good for nothing. Such is the pride of Judah and Jerusalem, the LORD tells him.

v11 "For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear."

He goes on to say that the people will be drunk and staggering against each other and there will be no pity for them. The kingdom is lost because of pride. Although a physical enemy is approaching, the real enemy is within the nation itself.

v23 "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."

v27 "I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?"

II Kings 24:15 "And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon."