Monday, August 17, 2015
Jeremiah’s Prophecies to Be Preserved For the Future
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.” (Jeremiah 30:1-4)
Jeremiah had prophesied for twenty years before Judah went into captivity, and time after time they saw his prophecies fulfilled. He prophesied for about twenty more years after Judah went into captivity and though almost no one acted on his prophecies, time after time the prophecies were fulfilled, demonstrating that they were from God. Finally, Jeremiah was directed by God to put all the prophecies God had given into a book to prepare for a future time when Israel and Judah will be reunited and return to the land of Israel as a free country.
Today, there are many questioning whether many other books should be included as part of scripture. In Ecclesiastes 12:12-14, Solomon warned, “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Quite simply, there are more books written than can ever be read, and trying to follow all of them will just exhaust a person and lead to confusion. We need to focus on doing what God has said, not trying to live according to everything that has been written.
The test of whether a prophet is from God or not is whether his prophecies are clear enough to be verified, and whether the short term prophecies came true, to indicate whether the others could be trusted. Some of the criterion for including or excluding writings from the canon of scripture were that the purported writer is named in other known records at the time he professes to be writing, that the writing style and information contained is appropriate for a writer to have known, in that time frame, that the writings do not contradict other writings that are known to be from God, and that they provide useful information about god and his working. Thus, though the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel is not included, because it is strictly the historical record of what those kings did, even though it is mentioned several times in I Kings. The book of Judith is an interesting story, but its claims cannot be verified. Others are historically inaccurate, indicating they were not written at the times they purport to have been and some contradict the teachings of known scriptures, indicating they were not directed by the same mind that directed the writing of other scriptures.
II Peter 1:21 tells us, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Real scripture was directed by God, not just the author’s own ideas, and thus should agree with the other things that God has directed. In verse 20 of II Peter 1, Peter states that the first thing that must be considered. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Quite simply, no scripture can be interpreted except in light of other scripture. Passages that contradict other scripture cannot be valid, and passages or interpretations which are not supported by other scripture cannot be trusted. Is it possible that some book or writing has been excluded that is in fact scripture? Perhaps, but thanks to the way scripture has been written, with every valid teaching occurring repeatedly, even leaving out one or more writings would not prevent our having a complete understanding of all scriptural doctrines. At most such a passage or writing would only provide support for what the Bible already teaches. It would not provide any new doctrines. Jeremiah’s statement demonstrates what Peter said.
“For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:5-7)
Jeremiah describes the situation just before the restoration of Israel and Judah as being like a woman in labor, in pain and distress. Daniel 9:24-27 tells us that there are seventy weeks or sevens of years, a total of four hundred ninety years that God will deal specifically with Israel. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
The first seven sevens or forty nine years refers to Judah’s return from Babylon and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple under the Persian Empire. Sixty two sevens or four hundred thirty four years after that Christ would come, and eventually be executed and another group would take control of Jerusalem. History proves that to have been the Roman Empire. Finally there will be a seven year period where a powerful ruler will first make a treaty with Israel, then break it and attempt to destroy them, and they will be miserable. At the end of that seven year period, popularly known as the Tribulation, God will restore Israel and Judah to their homeland and fulfill his prophecies.
“For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.” (Jeremiah 30:8-10)
At the end of the Tribulation, God will free Judah and Israel, reuniting them as a single nation as described in Ezekiel 37:21-22. “…Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”