Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Deliberate Rebellion

Jeremiah 7:17-34

“Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.  Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?” (Jeremiah 7:17-19)

The Jews were like children deliberately being bad to show their disrespect for their parents or teachers.  The young ones who don’t really understand are set to gathering firewood for their Dads to build a sacrificial fire and their mothers to prepare sacrifices to other gods, including the queen of heaven, deliberately to upset God.   while such behavior by their children may be infuriating to the parents, the actions reveals the immaturity and lack of judgment of the children will one day have to deal with the consequences of their actions.  The same was true for the Jews.  Frustrating as it might be for God, they were the ones who would have to pay for their actions. 
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.” (Jeremiah 7:20)

A wise parent will chastise their children for deliberate disrespect and disobedience, and God is a wise father.  He’s going to take action against their behavior, burning everything in the land so that everyone suffers for their part. 

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh.  For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” (Jeremiah 7:21-23)

The Jews had decided they could just go ahead and commit sin and as long as they offered the burnt offerings to God he would ignore their sin.  He said they just as well offer those burnt offerings to the other gods or eat themselves.   God wasn’t even interested in the sacrifices themselves. He was interested in whether they would do what he asked them to.  His promise had been that if they would obey him, recognizing Him as their God, he would bless them and everything would turn out well. 

“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.  Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.  Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.  But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.” (Jeremiah 7:24-28)

From the time they left the land of Egypt, God had sent his prophets to remind the people what God required, but the people ignored instructions and commandments, Stubbornly doing as they pleased, and becoming increasingly rebellious.  God is sending Jeremiah to warn them again, knowing they are not going to listen.  He was to warn them that because they refused to obey or pay attention to his correction, they no longer knew what was right or benefited from it.

“Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.  For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.  And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.” (Jeremiah 7:29-31)

Under the laws of the Nazarite vow, if a person broke the conditions, he was to shave his head and start over.  This is the concept here of acknowledging they had broken their covenant with God and were sorry.  They were willing to start over and do what was right because what they were doing was unacceptable.  They had set idols inside the Temple itself, and had reestablished the worship of Molech, offering their own children as sacrifices at the altar of Tophet in the valley of Hinnom, though God had forbidden them to do so. 

“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place.  And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.  Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.” (Jeremiah 7:32-34)

The name Tophet comes from a word meaning contempt.  By sacrificing their children to get their way, they were showing their contempt for God by destroying the children he gave them, just as abortions do today.  When he judges them they will no longer demonstrate their contempt for God there.  Instead, it will be called the place of slaughter because the Lord will cause so many to die there that there isn’t even enough space for all of them to be buried there.   Scavengers will consume the bodies because there is no place to bury them and not enough people left to do the job, or even to fend them off.   When Babylon defeated Israel the third time this prophecy was fulfilled.  The battle of Armageddon will result in a similar destruction of the Antichrist’s army in the valley of Megiddo, as described in Revelation 19:17-21.

Friday, June 26, 2015

They Have Chosen Lies Instead Of Truth

Jeremiah 6:22-7:16

“Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.  They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.

We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.  Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.  O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.” (Jeremiah 6:22-26)

God had repeatedly warned Judah and Jerusalem that he was going to bring the Babylonians against them because of their sin.  Once again he reminds them that Babylon was a world power that had even been able to block Assyrian expansion and defeat the Assyrian army, destroying any resistance without hesitation or concern, and that they will be coming against Jerusalem.  Jeremiah says the people are aware of the threat and are terrified to the point of being impotent.  They are afraid to open the gates or go outside for fear they will be destroyed and spend their days in depression and misery like a mother who just lost her only son because they are afraid the attack will come. 

“I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.  They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.  The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.  Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.” (Jeremiah 6:27-30)

God has placed Jeremiah among the people like a tower or fortress where they can turn for safety, much like a police station in a rough area today.  The captain or chief of that station soon learns the attitudes of the people around them.   Judah was like a ghetto area where everyone is involved in gangs and criminal activity.  Every effort to make changes was met with opposition and the crime continues even as they complain how bad things are.  They are as stubborn and resistant to change as a piece of brass or iron, insisting on going their own way even though it is destroying them like a person who tries to melt lead but the fire gets out of control and destroys the furnace itself.  The lead is lost into the fire and his work is wasted because he didn’t take away the trash and other flammable materials.    

Because they have allowed the sin to continue unchecked, it will result in the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah and the results will be unusable, like silver that has been oxidized as a result of overheating.   God will not accept what is left.     

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.    For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:1-7)

Jeremiah was commanded to stand at the entrance to the Temple and warn the people that they if they would change their way of life, they would be allowed to stay in their land.  They would have to quit listening to lies about how they should serve the Lord.  They would need to make major changes, going back to the old standards of justice, being completely fair to everyone involved.   they would need to quit taking advantage of people who were unable to protect themselves and quit allowing the killing of innocent people.  They would also have to quit putting other things and people in god’s place.  If they would do so, God would allow them to continue to live in the land he had given their ancestors. 

“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.  Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?  Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.  But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.” (Jeremiah 7:8-12)

The Jews had trusted false teachings, adopting things that God had forbidden as being what he had commanded, even though those things were harmful rather than beneficial.  They could break everyone of God’s commandments and come into the temple, claiming they were doing what God had put them there to do.  As a result the church had become a refuge for thieves and con artists.   If they would go back to Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was originally set up when they first conquered Israel, they could see what God would do to a place that turned their back on him.   Shiloh had lost its influence long before, but when the Assyrians conquered Israel, the entire population was relocated to other countries. 

“And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.  And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.  Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.” (Jeremiah 7:13-16)

Because Judah and Jerusalem had refused to pay attention when God warned them, despite repeated efforts, he is going to do the same thing to Jerusalem that he did to Shiloh.  He will move them out of his land and destroy Jerusalem as completely as he removed the descendants of Ephraim out of Israel and destroyed Shiloh.    Jeremiah was not to waste his time praying for their deliverance or protection because God would not be listening. 

There comes a point where it is wrong to keep praying that God would withhold judgment for wickedness.  At that point we can only pray that they will listen to what God has to say and repent.  It is wrong to ask Him to let them get by with their sin, and He will not honor that prayer.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

They Asked For It

Jeremiah 6:2-21

“I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.  The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.  Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.  Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.” (Jeremiah 6:2-5)

Jerusalem is like a beautiful woman who wears beautiful clothing is flirtatious.  Guys swarm around her like flies, vying for her attention and showing off their wealth.   Eventually her flirtatious behavior and refusal to choose just one suitor leads to jealousy and fighting and they turn on her, stalking, beating and hurting her.   Though she may not realize it, and it is politically incorrect to say, by playing with their emotions, she is asking for it as surely as a man teasing and abusing a dog is asking to get bitten.    Jerusalem and Judah have brought their problems on themselves. 

“For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.  As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.  Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 6:2-8)

God has called for a siege against Jerusalem.  The standards of right and wrong have been totally ignored and they take advantage every way they can, spreading the attitude beyond their boundaries like water splashing out of a fountain.  It leads to violence and theft and people are constantly complaining about what has been done to them.  If they don’t listen, God will turn his back on them and allow total destruction, leaving the land unoccupied. 

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.  To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” (Jeremiah 6:9-10)

When God sends their enemies against them, they will be a thorough as a grape picker, making sure they get all the grapes, even going back to check the vines they have already picked.  Unfortunately Jerusalem isn’t listening, and there is no one who seems interested,  They are so caught up in what they are doing that they refuse to listen to the warnings, getting angry at those who try to tell them. 

“Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.  And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD. Jer 6:13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.  They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:11-14)

Because they refuse to listen at all, attacking him when he tries to warn them, God is now angry at them, and tired of holding in his frustration.  He’s going to allow it all to come out, and everyone from the children who are out playing and the college students will feel the results.  Both families and the elderly will be killed or lose their homes and their businesses and marriages destroyed.  God will cause them to suffer because they have been so greedy that even the religious leaders cannot be trusted, although they have tried to make people feel better by telling them it’s okay and they don’t need to worry about it. 
“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.  Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” (Jeremiah 6:15-16)

They are not ashamed of their sin or embarrassed at being caught but flaunt as if it was something to be proud of.  As a result, they will be destroyed along with other wicked people, losing their prestige when God comes in judgment.  If they would just step back and look at what is happening, and go back to old ways, doing what is right, they would find peace and satisfaction, but they have refused to do those things. 

“Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.  Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.  Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.” (Jeremiah 6:17-19)

God sent prophets and teachers among them to remind them to listen to the warnings, but they said they didn’t want to know and weren’t going to pay any attention to them.   Other nations and those among them who care should listen and see what they are doing so they understand what He is going to do.  Terrible things are going to happen to them, but they are the natural results of the attitudes and actions they have chosen, refusing to listen to God’s word and ignoring his laws and principles. 

“To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.  Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish.” (Jeremiah 6:20-21)

What value is there in offerings of sweet incense and sugar cane from exotic places?  It is like an unfaithful husband bringing his wife a bottle of perfume or a box of candy to try to appease her, while refusing to stop seeing the other woman.   It is insulting for him to imply what he has done is that unimportant.  It was insulting to God for the Jews to go completely against Him, then try to appease Him with such meaningless gifts.    They are not acceptable.  God is going to cause situations to arise where they might stumble or fall, and observe what happens.  When they do he will use the actions against them to destroy them, like a woman who caught her husband in another affair.   

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Despite Their Sin, God Will Not Destroy Judah Completely

Jeremiah 5:18-6:1

Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.  And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.” (Jeremiah 5:18-19)

Like a husband who still loves his wife that has been unfaithful to him, while he refuses to support her or come to her rescue when she gets into trouble, he will not kill her or have her killed, God will not have Judah completely destroyed.  When they ask why he doesn’t give them the things they want or need, the prophet is to tell them it is because they have taken another mate and he no longer owes them anything, and when they lose their home it is their own fault. 

“Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?

But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” (Jeremiah 5:20-24)

The prophet is to point out that Judah, though they can clearly see and hear pay no attention to what they observe and have no respect for God.  They are not afraid of his tremendous power, even though he has created the sea in such a way that it cannot run up over the land, and that no matter how big the waves get or how far they go up on the shore, they ultimately run back into the sea.  They deliberately revolt against his boundaries and run away to escape him.  They never even consider turning back to God to receive his blessings, though he is the one who gives the rain, deciding when it should come and had set aside a period of dry weather for harvest. 

“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.  For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.  As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.  They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:25-29)

Their sin and deliberate rebellion have prevented them from receiving the blessings God has for them.  As Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  Wicked men use their authority and prestige to entrap people, and their family power and reputation is founded on dishonesty and fraud that is dependent on everything being kept locked up.  If anything gets out it will all disappear like bunch of birds in a cage, but at the moment they are rich and highly respected.  They ignore and excuse things that wicked people do, ignoring wrongs done to the weak and helpless, and ignore their rights.  How can God overlook such behavior, especially when they do it and claim his authority for doing it? 

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

It is a horrible thing which was being done in Judah.  The prophets were lying about what God had commanded and the priests were following their teachings rather than the laws God had written for them, with the full approval of the people who preferred it that way.  It wasn’t much different than what we see today when nationally known speakers and authors recommend things that contradict what God has said and the pastors and preachers adopt it as the proper way of doing things.   People flock to their churches because they love being so contemporary and up to date.   What will they do when they face the consequences of their actions?

“O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.” (Jeremiah 6:1)

The tribe of Benjamin had chosen to Go with Judah and worship god when the kingdom was divided after Solomon’s death.  Now Judah has turned away from God as well, and He warns the tribe of Benjamin and their most respected leaders to separate from Judah and warn all their people because Judgment is coming in the form of an invasion from the north and the destruction of Judah.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reason for Judgment To Come

Jeremiah 5:1-17

“Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.  And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.” (Jeremiah 5:1-2)

God challenges them to go through the streets and see if they can find a single individual who cares about the truth or is interested in fair dealing and justice. If they can find even one, he promises to forgive them. But he knows there isn’t one.  Even when they religiously state the “Lord liveth,” it is just the words they are expected to say but they don’t really believe it. 

”O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. ” (Jeremiah 5:3)

God knows the truth about everything, He knows that they have even ignored his efforts to correct them, stubbornly going their own way and refusing to turn or listen, like some spoiled child or rebellious teenager.   

“Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.  I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.” (Jeremiah 5:4-5)

As he looked, Jeremiah initially made the same mistake our society so often makes.  He assumed that the ones who were doing wrong had been poor and deprived and as a result didn’t have any idea of What God was offering.  He went to the wealthy and powerful, who had experienced the blessings of God and been taught to trust him.  What he found was that they had the same attitude and had rejected the ethical and moral standards they had been taught as completely as the poor had. 

“Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.” (Jeremiah 5:6)

Because they have rejected God completely, they will live in fear of the wild animals that have never posed a serious threat.  Lions will come out of the forest to attack them and wolves will attack their livestock and pets.  Leopards will even come into the city and attack People.  Everyone who goes out alone will risk being attacked and killed because the sins and disobedience of Judah will result in drought and famine that forces the animals to the city in search of food. 

“How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.  They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:7-9)

How can they expect God to just keep on ignoring their refusal to make things right?  Their children no longer even pretend to worship God, but base everything on the idols they worship.  When he blessed them with food and belongings, they turned to other things as the source of the blessings, flocking to those who were involved in the idolatry as if to a brothel.   It was a lot like Americans crediting their success on our political system and flocking to the preachers of the prosperity gospel, trying to combine religion and business, despite the fact that Jesus said in Matthew 6:24.  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  How can God overlook their ongoing unfaithfulness and not take action any longer?

“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD'S.  For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.  They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.” (Jeremiah 5:10-13)

Because Israel and Judah have betrayed their God, Depending on others to protect them instead of him, he says that their defenses are to be destroyed and walls torn down.  When God has defeated their purposes, trying to get them to honor their covenant, they have insisted it wasn’t Him and that He wouldn’t allow anything bad to happen to them.  They consider His prophets who warned of judgment as of no more importance than the wind in the trees, and their message as not being from God.  As a result, their defenses will be taken away. 

It was very much like a woman I know, who, after leaving her husband, determined to move out of state with their children and got very angry when she learned that state law prohibited such a move.  She told her husband she knew he thought it was God who stopped her, but it couldn't be because those laws were already on the books.  Apparently never occurred to her that God could use laws that were already on the books, and didn't have to do a special miracle to stop her.

“Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.  Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.  Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.  And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.” (Jeremiah 5:14-17)

Because they insist that God’s warnings are not from Him and that his efforts to stop them are not his doing, he will make their statements like fire, inciting the people to self-destruct.   He will cause an ancient nation whose language they don’t know to destroy them, taking everything they produce and leaving the strongest cities in poverty and ruins.     

Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem a few years after this prophecy was made, setting thim as a satellite state.   Because the Jews rebelled and refused to believe it was God who had caused it they rebelled, and he was forced to invade and capture Jerusalem two more times.  The third time, He destroyed the city, tearing the walls down completely and carrying away all but the poorest of the people as captives.  Later prophecies of Jeremiah will go into greater detail.   

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Their Only Hope

Jeremiah 4:14-31

“O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?  For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.  Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.  As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.  Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.” (Jeremiah 4:14-18)

The Jews in Jerusalem had already demonstrated that their new gods were unable to save them.  If they were to have any hope of deliverance, they were going to have to elicit God’s help, and that would require them getting rid of their wicked attitude.  As long as they continues to have the same attitude and think the same way, they will continue to act in a way that is offensive to God and he will not help them.  The message has already gone out to their enemies that god is no longer protecting Jerusalem and the spies have been watching.  It is their own rebellious refusal to obey God that has put them in the position they are in because it is the heart attitude not just a momentary indiscretion.    

“My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.  Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.  How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?  For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” (Jeremiah 4:19-22)

Like a father watching an older child getting involved in alcoholism or drugs, God is pained in his heart as he watches Judah.  He cannot help trying to warn them of the dangers of their actions.  He already hears the sound of the sirens coming and seen their deteriorating health and self-control.  This leads to arrests, damage to their own and other’s property, arrests and legal problems.  Like a bunch of drunks, Judah doesn’t understand His love and resents God’s efforts to help them.  Like the drunk or addict they can always figure out how to get the money to support their habit even though they can’t buy groceries for their family or pay their bills.   

“I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.  I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.  I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.  I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.” (Jeremiah 4:23-26)

When God first created the world, it had no particular shape and there wasn’t any light, and the mountains and hills were not firmed up but moved like a soft dough.  There were not people or animals nor even any plants.  What are now jungles and forests and rich fields were barren. 

“For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.  For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.  The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.” (Jeremiah 4:27-29)

No matter how much God allows to happen on the earth, He will not let it go back to the point where He started, where there was nothing.  He will completely destroy the earth and the heavens, according to II Peter 3:10-14.  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

He will save those who have obeyed him, and will create new heavens and a new earth for them.  The new earth will be thoroughly detailed when it is made, as Revelation 21:1-2 describes.  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  He will not destroy all the people and start over from scratch like he did originally.   

When that time comes, the entire earth will be affected and people will panic, but god will not be diverted from his purpose.  The people of Jerusalem themselves will be in terror of the enemies of God, hiding in the mountains and deserts, leaving the cities unoccupied. 

“And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.  For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.” (Jeremiah 4:30-31)

What do the Jews think they are going to do when that time comes?  Do they think that by fixing themselves up like a prostitute and offering themselves to their enemies they can convince them not to do anything to them?  Their enemies are there to kill them, not just to get sexual gratification.   They will be like a bunch of invaders who kill the babies before raping and killing the women.  They don’t understand their enemies will not be bought off.    

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Judah To Be Destroyed

Jeremiah 3:19-4:13

“But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.  Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.  A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.  Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 3:19-22)

How can God provide Israel with all the things he has offered them when they have refused to keep their part of the agreement?  They had promised to put Him first and be faithful to him but they have behaved like an unfaithful wife, moving in with some other man, but upset because their husband is angry and refuses to support them and give what she wants.

“Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.  For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.  We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 3:23-25)

The only hope for deliverance is from God.  their hopes for the gods of the various high places and idols has proven worthless.  They have lost the things their ancestors had worked to provide for them, losing the herds of livestock, and even their own children to marauders.  They are wallowing in their own humiliation, because they have consistently disobeyed and ignored God for generations.

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.  And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.  For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.  Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” (Jeremiah 4:1-4)

Despite their rejection, God still offers them hope.  If they will turn back to God, separating themselves from all the idolatry and focus on God himself, recognizing him as the true and living God, they will find themselves blessed and glory in him.  They need to go back to practicing the things they haven’t been doing and stop associating with the things that are not right.  They need to dedicate themselves to god and remove the things in their heart that interfere.  If they don’t, they will face God’s fury, like an unquenchable fire because of their wickedness. 

“Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.  Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.

“The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.  For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us.  And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder. ” (Jeremiah 4:5-9)

Like a herald with a trumpet, Jeremiah is to warn Judah and Jerusalem to flee to their fortified cities because Judgment is coming, they better not wait until morning because Judgment is coming from the peoples of the North.  The Messiah, who will destroy the Gentile nations will start by bringing judgment on Judah and Israel, leaving the land uninhabited and desolate.  They need to be mourning what is coming because God will not put aside his anger at their sin.  The rulers would lose hope and the priests and prophets be shocked and confused that god would allow such things to happen to them. 

“Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.  At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse, Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.  Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.” (Jeremiah 4:10-13)

Even Jeremiah felt like God had deceived Israel, promising peace when all they could see was destruction and despair.  They will not see what happens as God gently trying to remove some impurities and chaff, but as a terribly hot wind drying and blowing everything away.  God will come in like a tornado, destroying everything.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just Confess And Repent

Jeremiah 3:1-21

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

The prophecy continues with the idea of the unfaithful wife who has gone out looking for somebody to take her husband’s place.  It refers to the command in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.  “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.  And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

Under the Law a divorced woman who had remarried could not go back to her first husband, and a woman who was not divorced was to be executed for committing adultery.  Though Judah had repeatedly turned to other gods, making it clear they wanted nothing to do with Him, God was still offering them the chance to come back to him. 

“Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.” (Jeremiah 3:2)

They have followed so many gods it is easier to count the places where they haven’t worshipped other gods than the places where they have.  Judah had been like a prostitute finding a place alongside one of the caravan routes waiting for the camel drivers to come so she can ply her trade.  They have polluted the entire land by their idolatry and sin. 

 “Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.  Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?  Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.” (Jeremiah 3:3-5)

Because of their sin and idolatry, God has prevented the spring showers to start the seed growing or the final rain that brings the crop to maturity, resulting in famine and hunger.   Like a determined prostitute, Judah has refused to even acknowledge they have done anything wrong.  If they would do so and ask his forgiveness, God would eagerly forgive them and take them back.  Instead, they have accused him of wrong doing and done everything they could against him.

“The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.  And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.  And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.  And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.  And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:6-10)

Josiah was the last good, godly king of Judah.  About a hundred years before, Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians and the people relocated to other countries.  They had seen who completely Israel had been destroyed because of their sin.  Josiah did his best to turn the people back to God, and the people went along with him as long as he was there to insist, but as soon as he died the resumed the idolatry and sin they had done before, worshipping idols of stone and wood rather than God.  They were not sincere in their worship of God although it looked quite impressive and many point to it as a great revival.    

“And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.  Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.  Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:11-13)

During the entire period of the kings, Israel had not even pretended to serve God, but had consistently served the idols.  Judah, on the other hand, had regularly made a big show of turning to God while not completely giving up their idols.  God was more pleased with Israel than with Judah because at least they had been consistent so he could effectively deal with their sin.  It is essentially the same thing the Lord said about the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-16.  “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”  There is more hope for those who have clearly refused God than for those who just play Christian.

Jeremiah was to go into Israel and tell them that if they would turn back to God and take responsibility for their sin, and admit they had been unfaithful and disobedient, God would forgive them.  The promise is also very similar to the promise the lord gave the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:18-20. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” By simply turning to god, the Laodicean Church could receive God’s blessings. 

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.  And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.  In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.” (Jeremiah 3:14-18)

God is still married to Israel, and if they will turn to Him, will bring a small remnant, one from a city or two from one family back to Israel and Jerusalem where they will be taught and led by their pastors or rabbis to serve the Lord, along with people from all the other nations.  When that time comes, there will be no focus on the Ark of the Covenant and keeping the law, because Christ will be there in Jerusalem.  Judah and Israel will be reunited, and they all will come back from the northern lands where they have been captives to the land of Israel.  The only thing holding them back is their refusal to acknowledge their sin and stop doing it.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Denial Is Not Innocence

Jeremiah 2:22-37

“For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways; A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.  Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.” (Jeremiah 2:22-25)

Israel was like a little boy who has used a bunch of hand sanitizer and insists he clean despite smudges of dirt on his face and arms and filthy clothing.  No amount of washing soda(nitre) and soap could take away the underlying sin.  They claim they have not worshipped other gods, but they need to look at what they have done.  They are like a camel or donkey in the estrus cycle, ignoring everything but their desires of the moment, even going without water and traveling so far as to make their feet sore to satisfy their cravings for the attention of some male and convinced that nothing else will satisfy them.   

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. “ (Jeremiah 2:26-27)

They are like a thief who has been caught, ashamed of being caught, but not of what they have done.   Their leaders, even those who are supposed to represent God, refer to a block of wood as the father or to a stone as their mother because they have turned their backs on God.  When they have serious problems they come to God demanding He save them. 

“But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.  Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.  In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.” (Jeremiah 2:28-30)

Why don’t the gods they have claimed made them save them if they have the power?  Why ask God when every town has their own god.  After all, they have violated their agreement with God and have ignored His every effort to correct them or work things out, and have killed the prophets he sent to warn them, like some kind of wild animal. 

“O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?” (Jeremiah 2:31)

The people are treating God as if he were a husband who has broken every promise to them,  Leaving them stuck in the middle of the desert with no supplies or in a land where the sun never shines.  Why are they saying they don’t need or want God any more.    

“Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.  Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.  Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.  Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.” (Jeremiah 2:32-35)

Is it that easy for a girl to forget her engagement ring or a bride to forget her wedding dress?  God’s chosen people have forgotten their God for untold years as if it meant nothing to them.  They have gone out of their way to look for somebody else instead and have encouraged others who didn’t know the Lord to do the same.  They have destroyed innocent people who tried to do right, and the proof of their guilt is obvious.  In spite of their obvious guilt, they insist he has no right to be angry at them.  He is begging them to acknowledge their sin. 
“Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.  Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them. ” (Jeremiah 2:36-37)

Judah was like a woman trying to change her life by finding a different husband, going from one guy to another.   Everyone except them knows the current affair will end just like the last one, with her blaming the guy and leaving with her head in her hands, weeping because her first husband isn’t sympathetic to her hurts.   He is not interested in hearing who bad the others were, and knows next time will not turn out any better.  Frustrated that The Assyrians had turned on them, Judah had turned to Egypt.  God warns that it will turn out the same way sooner or later.    

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Result Of Their Own Choices

Jeremiah 2:1-21

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.  Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:1-3)

When God led Israel out of Egypt, they were not hesitant at all about committing to keep the Law and serve him completely, much like a bride committing to her husband.  Anyone who in any denigrated him would make them very angry. 
“Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?  Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?

And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.  The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.” (Jeremiah 2:4-8)

Like a husband whose wife decides to leave him, God asks what he has done wrong that Israel is looking for so another God.  Why don’t they appreciate what he has done in setting them free from Egypt and caring for them through the years in the wilderness?  The nice home they have lived in and the abundant food he has provided means nothing to them.  They don’t even care enough to ask where he is or to get to know him.  Even the priests and pastors who claim to be so close to him ignore his requests and despise his opinions acting on the advice of other gods, rather than His.   

“Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.  For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.  Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.  Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.  For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:9-13)

God seeks reconciliation with then but if they will not listen he will try to make peace with their grandchildren.  Other nations remain faithful to their gods even though they are only carved figures having no power, but Israel has forsaken the God who has done everything for them, trading him for the idols of others.  It is like they have refused to use the spring that supplied their very drinking water and blocked it off, choosing to catch the rain water from the roof instead, but not taking the time to be sure the rain barrel they were using would hold water. 

“Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?  The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.  Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.  Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?  Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Jeremiah 2:14-19)

Israel’s people were not slaves forced to do their masters will, they had just run away in panic when they heard a young, inexperienced lion roar, leaving the land open to be conquered.  They had called on the Egyptians to come to their aid against the Assyrians and when the Egyptians took advantage of them and when they called for the Assyrians against the Egyptians, the Assyrians did the same thing.  It was their determination to trust the other nations instead of god that had gotten them into the mess they were in.   They need to back off and see how wicked and foolish their decisions have been. 

“For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.  Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” (Jeremiah 2:20-21)

Time after time god had delivered Israel and Judah from captivity and they promised to be faithful to him.  Many times they continued to worship those other gods even while they were making the promises like an unfaithful husband or wife who continues to see their paramour even while promising to be faithful to their mate.  God has done and given so much for them, how could they give it all up for such a degenerate and hopeless lifestyle?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Introduction To Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:1-16

“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.  It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.” (Jeremiah 1:1-3)

Jeremiah began his prophecy about seventy years after the death of Hezekiah, and about eighty years after Isaiah’s final prophecies, during Josiah’s reign over Judah.  Josiah was the last of the good kings of Judah.  After the discovery of the book of the law in the Temple, in II Kings 22. He redoubled his efforts becoming one of the best kings Judah ever had, and was responsible for the fulfillment of the prophecy against Jeroboam’s altar and religion made three hundred fifty years before.  After Josiah’s death, Judah moved steadily farther away from God.  Forty eight years after he began to prophesy, when Jerusalem was completely destroyed, Jeremiah would still be prophesying.

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

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

But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.  Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

God said He had known Jeremiah before he was ever conceived, and designated him as a prophet even before he was born.   It is essentially what David said in Psalm 139:13-16.  “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.   I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” 

While our DNA pattern may seem a result of random combinations, God has designated those combinations.  He already knows the fetus as a person long before it is born or even fully formed, and knows what they will do in life, even choosing them for special purposes. 

Like Moses, Jeremiah was hesitant to take the position fearing he didn’t know enough or wouldn’t be heard.   God told him not to feel inferior because He would tell him what to say.   It is the same as what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:19-20.   “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

The Jewish leadership would repeatedly try to kill Jeremiah, but God promised to protect him and after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Babylonian Empire would provide for him.  It was with this assurance that Jeremiah began his ministry.    

“Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.  See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

God gave Jeremiah a message and set him like a gardener to care for his estate.  He was to root out the weeds and cut down dead or diseased trees and vines and plant others where they were needed, using the message God had given him to warn and influence all the nations and kingdoms around them. 

“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.  Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.  And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.  For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.  And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.” (Jeremiah 1:11-16)
God then showed Jeremiah two visions, one of a newly planted almond tree, and another of boiling pot with its opening turned toward the North.  Just as a newly planted cutting begins to put out roots and grow within a few days, God would begin to fulfill his prophecies in a short time.  Ultimately, all the countries of the North will come to occupy Israel and Jerusalem, punishing them for their sin in rejecting God and turning to other gods.  A hundred years later, Daniel would explain this prophecy in greater detail in Daniel 11. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Ultimate Conclusion

Isaiah 66:15-24

“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” (Isaiah 66:15-16)

Prior to the Millennium, God will repeatedly use fire to punish mankind and try to convince them to turn to him.   Revelations 9:18 describes one such instance during the tribulation period.  “By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.”  At the end of the tribulation, because the followers of the Antichrist refuse to turn to Christ, even attacking him with the intent of destroying him, Christ will destroy the world government and set up the millennial kingdom.  Revelation 19:11-15 describes Him using the sword of his word to break the Antichrist’s and Satan’s power. 

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” (Revelation 19:11-15)

At the end of the Millennium, Revelation 20:7-9m describes the armies of the world being destroyed by fire.  “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.  And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

“They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.  For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.” (Isaiah 66:17-18)

Those who are worshipping in their own way, establishing their own standards of righteousness, practicing what God has forbidden and dabbling with other religions will be destroyed.  The messages to Pergamos and Thyatira in Revelation 2 carry the same warning that those who get caught up in this will be destroyed.  In Revelation 2:22-23, God warns those who have accepted the teachings of Jezebel; “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

“And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.  And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.  And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:19-21)

The survivors of the battle with the Lord will escape to other nations that have not been involved in the Antichrist’s plot, telling those nations about God’s power and victory.  As a result, they will enable the Jews to return to Jerusalem by whatever means is available in an effort to procure God’s favor.  Some of those who return will be given positions as priests and Levites. 

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.  And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.  And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:22-24)

Revelation 21 describes the new heavens and the new earth that God will make.  They will remain throughout eternity, and here god makes the same promise to Israel.  They will keep the covenants that they made with God, offering the sacrifices at the beginning of every month and every seventh day, but it won’t just be Israel, but every person worldwide, during the Millennial reign.  After the destruction of the Antichrist’s army, it will take seven months to bury all the bodies, and the bodies and graves will be a powerful reminder of God’s power.  Ezekiel 39:11-14 describes the period. 

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.   And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.  Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD.  And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search.”

Those who have attacked Christ, as well as all who have rejected his authority will be cast into the lake of fire, as described in Revelation 20:10-15)

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

Mark 9:43-48 describes what eh lake of fire is like.  “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mr 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

It would be better to go through life maimed or handicapped in some terrible way than to be cast into the lake of fire. Those handicaps or other injuries are temporary, only lasting until we die, whereas the judgment in Hell is forever and will never end.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Coming Blessings For Israel

Isaiah 66:5-14

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” (Isaiah 66:5)

Throughout Israel’s history, there have always been a few who sought to please God and aroused th anger of those who rebelled against him.   Some of their worst enemies have been descendants of their own ancestors, including the Edomites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Ishmaelites, and the Syrians.   Hebrews 11:35-38 describes some of the things they suffered.  “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” 

The day will come when God will reward those who have obeyed his commands and trusted him. At the same time, those who have rebelled and refused to obey, thinking themselves smarter than others, will be embarrassed by their willful sin and ignorance.  It is described much like the story of Cinderella, with the Girl who has been treated so badly being chosen by the prince.  Revelation 19:7-9 describes the rejoicing of the chosen.  “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” 

At the same time, those who have hated them and refused to do what is right will be destroyed, as Revelation 19:11-15 describes.  “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.   And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
“A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompense to his enemies.” (Isaiah 66:6)

God is a God of love, but he is also a God of vengeance.  He does not overlook and ignore deliberate rebellion.  Far too many people focus solely on the love of God, ignoring his righteousness.  When he speaks, it is wise to pay attention. 

“Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.  Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.  Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.” (Isaiah 66:7-9)

During pregnancy, there are several months of steadily increasing discomfort, which dramatically increases in the hours before the baby is born as a result to the changes in the mother’s body.    When Christ was born, Israel was not suffering as a result of his birth, but as a result of their own sin.  They didn’t even notice His birth.   It was like a mother conceiving and giving birth the same day.   God wouldn’t cause a pregnancy, then make the mother unable to deliver, leaving her to suffer.   

“Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.  For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.  As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:10-13)

Those who love Israel will be able to rejoice and those who have been saddened by her suffering will partake in her blessings in that day.  God will give her abundant peace and the blessings and power of the rest of the earth, and those who have supported her will be blessed, treated as a favored child, benefitting along with Israel from God’s blessings. 

“And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.” (Isaiah 66:14)

When this all takes place, Israel and her friends will grow like a plant in a good garden, carefully cared for by the gardener.  They will also see his anger toward those who interfere like seeing the gardener destroying weeds and bugs that hinder the plants growth.