“Bible History IS Secular History when given the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
Paul Harvey, during his daily radio broadcasts, made famous the statement “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the unfamiliar stories behind the familiar stories of men, feats, events and situations. Did you know the same is true of many “bible stories” found in the Old and New Testament scriptures? The following may not be quite the same as Mr. Harvey’s reviews of history, events and people, but they can be just as stunning, revealing, informative, and mind opening.
This publication will look at dozens of these surprising “aha moments” from scripture. Some will startle, some readers will find them particularly satisfying, and some will realize that history and the Bible are the same thing; a review of what was and remains an actuality. The Bible stories in scripture are space-limited and cannot publish everything surrounding, coinciding, or consequential to these stories. Some Bible time events are well-known and others not quite as well known but none the less found in scripture with a correlating “aha moment”. NOTE: The Bible and history are contemporaneous.
Included in this website are messages from others who serve our God; i.e. studied individuals such as ministers and Bible teachers.
Let’s explore some of these aha moments in scripture and have a ton of fun while doing so!!
– Dr. J
Jeremiah 27 (an amazing aha moment)
If we carefully read chapter 27 of Jeremiah, and have studied end time events according to the Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Zechariah, 2 Thessalonians, especially Daniel 11, and let’s throw Revelation in just for a kicker, we can see some amazing future events; i.e. End Time.
First…why is it called End Time? Good question? Let’s jump back to the very first book and chapter in the Bible: Genesis1:5&6, “He named the light ‘Day’ and the he named the darkness ‘night’.” There was evening and there was morning. This was the first day.”
Second…there is nothing here to suggest this was a Sunday or any other day of the week. It simply states this is the beginning or creation of time. God is infinite so the saying, “a day is as a thousand years to God” simply means time is a creation; not an eternal thing without beginning, without end or without measure. Thus, “End Time” simply means the same thing as a new earth and a new heaven. It is timeless. It will have a beginning but is eternal so time will then not exist.
We know from psychological studies that there are three types of learners; The visual, auditory and kinesthetic. God leaves no stone unturned in Jeremiah. The words spoken by Jeremiah are good for the auditory learner but, they challenge the kinesthetic and visual learner. Chapter 27 considers this. God is so wise. He has Jeremiah put on a visual demonstration that the kinesthetic can also relate to in order to GET THE MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR.
“This is what the LORD said to me: “Jeremiah, make a yoke out of straps and poles. Put that yoke on the back of your neck.”
This is a visual and touchable (Kinesthetic means using our other senses other than hearing or seeing) example of the same warning. But this time it includes those visiting Jerusalem from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. Jeremiah’s message is sent via the ambassadors and visitors of these countries to the King of Judah. We won’t take the time to repeat previous lessons, but these mentioned countries have direct connections with Abraham beginning 1500 years earlier.
- Edom or people of Mt Sier are descended from Esau.
- Moab is a descendant of Lot through one of his two daughters.
- Ammonites are the same as Moabites but through a second daughter of Lot.
- Tyre and Sidon are territories where The Tribe of Dan migrated making alliances with during the time of the judges when they were not satisfied with Judaism. Also, some members of the original Tribes of the dispersed Northern Kingdom of Israel fled there during the Assyrian dispersion of these ten tribes.
Amazing aha moment in scripture: Here is the futuristic probability and parallel prophecy as stated about Israel’s End Time; i.e. Jacobs Trouble and the Tribulation. These are very likely to be the battle grounds between the king of the north and the king of the south as prophesied in Daniel 11. This addresses both the future End Time and the immediate future of these kingdoms specifically mentioned in 27:3. These same territories will be the battle ground of Nebuchadnezzar’s military march to which Jeremiah has consistently prophesied in Israel.
These territories are also part of the Promised Lands Joshua and his leadership never conquered or took possession. God promised to “enlarge the land holding of Israel: if they followed his commandments and worshiped only him. They didn’t so God didn’t enlarge; at that time. (See the study on Revelation in this website.)
What a proclamation God makes in 27:5…”I made all things including eretz (earth). I can give it to whomever I wish.”
In the very next verse, close examination of words used is critical. 27:6 begins by saying. “and now I have given all these lands to…” (the Babylonians). Look at the phrasing. It does not say God has given these lands to the Babylonians. It is written, God has now given… The word “now” is ‛attâh which means, at this time. It also means that there will be times when he gives this land to others such as End Time. Once again God calls Nebuchadnezzar “His Servant.” This is better explained in Daniel, Ezekiel and Ezra, but not at this time in this article.
Another learning moment: Jeremiah specifically states Babylonian ruler-ship will follow “his son and his son’s son.” This should do away with the debate of other so called theologian experts that there are other kings of Babylon fitted between the rule of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Belshazzar falls to the Medes and Persians per Daniel’s interpretation of the writing on the wall in the king’s parlor while he is entertaining his other kingdom Lords.
Verse 8 in Jeremiah 27 is a bit of an oddity. God is not only cursing Israel (Jerusalem) but its neighboring nations. He says (v8) that if they do not put their neck under the “yoke” of Babylon, he will punish them; i.e. the other nations or kingdoms around Judah. It almost appears that somehow Nebuchadnezzar and God Almighty are somehow in cahoots. God call Neb His servant, yet Neb has other gods in his kingdom.
Let’s understand this phenomenon. Nebuchadnezzar probably did not know that he was a servant or instrument of God. God identifies Nebuchadnezzar as his servant mostly because he is fulfilling God’s will over those nations (v3); all of them are related to Abraham. This means, like Israel and Judah, they all once knew the true God. Also like Israel and Judah, they have taken other gods into their culture of worship.
Some bible students including ones who call themselves scholars get the names and reigns of of this quick change in leadership in Judah. Here is why…In 598 BC, Jehoiakim died during the siege of Jerusalem and was succeeded by his son Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin). Jerusalem fell within three months. Jeconiah [aka: Jehoiachin] was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar, who installed Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother, in his place. Scripture is not confusing who is king of Judah. It is those trying to cut the fine line of Judean kings into conflicting dates; often to the dismay of a bible student.
27:12 tells us that God instructed Zedekiah to “Bring your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live. Jeremiah raises the question: “Why will you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the LORD has spoken concerning any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?” Great question but the answer is too obvious. We don’t wish to be in bondage to Babylon!!! King Zedekiah remained a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar for 10 years then he rebelled. He paid a high price (v15) for doing so.
Obviously there were many false so-called prophets in the lands during this time. True prophets don’t lie. Those contradicting Jeremiah’s prophets would better be identified as Sooth-Sayers. The rest of chapter 27 is Jeremiah challenging the false prophets to approach God and ask him to protect the Temple vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had not yet removed and taken to Babylon. Whether they did is not recorded. Then Jeremiah concludes this chapter by telling them in a soon but later date, even these precious Temple vessels will be removed to Babylon, but God promised that they will be returned after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity ends.
Read Daniel and discover how and when this happens. All of it according to what Jeremiah had said would happen. Jeremiah 52:6 elaborates a bit on this fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel also discusses this time and fall of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40:1) as does 2 Kings 25:27. This is ten years after Nebuchadnezzar installs Zedekiah on the throne in Jerusalem; i.e. 588/587 B.C.
Next blog: Chapter 28. A false prophet named Hananiah challenges Jeremiah and makes a prediction (or false prophecy) about the captured people of the Tribe of Judah and the Temple vessels. It is a very bold statement but…. (see the next article on Jeremiah 28)
Jeremiah 26 (The Trial of Jeremiah continues)
“…believing that they (Judeans) were safe from the consequences of their actions (Jer. 7:10). As a result of their continual rejection of God’s Torah and their belief that the Temple would guarantee their safety, Jeremiah announced that the Lord would destroy the Temple of Jerusalem in the same way he had allowed the sanctuary at Shiloh to be destroyed” http://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/421/JBQ_421_5_mariottiniuriah.pdf
We all know the old saying, “here we go again.” This is poor Jeremiah’s task once again even after so many years of warning his people to actually sound like it is him who threatens them, even after his trial of sorts in chapter 2 (and 26). We pointed out in two previous blogs per this Jeremiah study that the people of the Kingdom of Judah held the Temple (Jerusalem) in greater esteem than they did their worship of God. In fact, those in Judah felt God had an to them since the Temple stood in Jerusalem; not the place of worship their northern brothers (cousins from the ten other tribes) had set up in Samaria; now defunct and emptied of Israelites in the Kingdom of Israel.
JIV NOTE: Chapter 26 is history prior to chapter 25 and 24; it was the first year of Jehoiakim’s rule as king. Chapter 24 is after Jehoiakim is taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Chapter 25 is during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s rule and the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule in Babylon. In a very real sense, Jeremiah is not a sequence of events but a list or recorded history of them. I as the web page blogger will eventually summarize Jeremiah putting the chapters into a sequence for the sake of the bible student and blog reader.
If we think back in secular-bible history, perhaps the reader may just now be discovering and made aware of this knowledge, *Shiloh was the former place of worship (a tent) prior to the Temple being built by Solomon. It is where the Ark of the Covenant was placed then stolen by the Philistines. It was as now in Jeremiah, a time that the people had fallen back into self-gratification over worship of Jehovah God. At that time of the Judges (400 years) and King Saul, King David, then King Solomon (120 years), Israel was a confederacy of tribes, then a combined nation; not two separate kingdoms North and South with individual kings. The Kingdom of Judah was always ruled by descendants of King David.
*Psa 78:60 “He [God Jehovah] abandoned his place at Shiloh, the Holy Tent where he lived among the people.” (here we go again)
Where is Shiloh? Here the tabernacle was set up after the Conquest ( Joshua 18:1-10 ), where it remained during all the period of the judges till the ark fell into the hands of the Philistines. It was in central Palestine, totally secluded, and forgotten until it was rediscovered by Dr. Robinson in 1838. It was in the Tribal Territory of Ephraim on the north side of Bethel (http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/shiloh/).
Can God change His mind? Read Jeremiah 26:3 “…if they change (their ways), then I will change my mind about my plans to punish them…” (ESV).
However 26:5 pretty much establishes the weak probability of these Israelites (Tribe of Judah) paying attention to Jeremiah. It says, “I have sent my prophets to you again and again, but you did not listen to them.” If they didn’t listen “again and again,” it is highly unlikely they will do so now, but God is patient. (here we go again)
Verse 6 of Jeremiah 26 is and became the consequence of the Judeans not changing their ways and returning to their God-Jehovah. It tells us that God assures them that not only will the Temple in Jerusalem be demolished with Him abandoning it like in the Tent of Worship in Shiloh, so will the great city of Jerusalem fall to rubble; all at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.
JIV NOTE: Since this is a dual or parallel prophecy in Jeremiah, it is also a prophecy of End Time yet to happen in history; i.e. Zechariah and Revelation prophecies. Consequences are similar. (here we go again)
It must absolutely be pointed out that there is a Hebrew word of huge significance to the End Time parallel prophecy of Jerusalem in 26:2. It is the use of the word “curse” in the King James Version. In the Hebrew this word is qelâlâh, pronounced *kel-aw-law’. It means total vilification by others. Is this not what is happening right now in our time? The status and acceptability of Israel as a whole and Jerusalem in particular is vilified by nation after nation, Arab after Arab, global leaders, Hollywood stars, Prime Ministers, Presidents (not Trump however), and even large numbers of those nation-states that are members of the United Nations.
So does the reader still think that End Time is a far-off distant event? Think again my friend. Read the newspaper and watch the news. Even the fake news has some degree of prophetic truth….”deceitful warnings and news intended to lead people astray.” (here we go again)
*kel-aw-law’ (total vilification) is from the root word kaw-law’ in Hebrew; “the end, finished, completed, terminated, destroyed, or to cease.” Remarkably, it is the same word used in End of Time prophecy discussed in the Old Testament.
Jeremiah 26:6-11 point out the typical human response. If one kills the messenger that action somehow voids the message. The rulers and people call for Jeremiah’s death. How similar to the life of Jesus some 600 years later. Killing the messenger was the solution to voiding his message. The Priests and religious leaders during the time of Christ thought: crucify Christ; void his message. How dumb! Go ahead and jump off of a 1,000 foot cliff after being warned it is a death jump. Don’t text while driving. Just visit the doctor but not follow his instructions. YES, just kill the messenger then take that leap. We will be safe because we killed the messenger. (here we go again)
Jeremiah does not back down at the threat of death by the hands of his tribal family members and Levite Priests. He simply says to do with him as they see fit but cautions them: to kill a true prophet of the Lord is to bring condemnation upon themselves and their precious city/country/kingdom [v 14 & 15]. This makes them decide that perhaps there is precedent to let him speak and go in peace. Jeremiah 25:19 reflects a time past when during the reign of Hezekiah the Prophet Micah gave the same warning as Jeremiah. He was released.
However, as the old Rock n’ Roll song goes…”and the beat goes on….”. Jeremiahs prosecutor(s) say: Jer 26:20 In the past there was another man who spoke the LORD’S message. His name was Uriah son of Shemaiah from the city of Kiriath Jearim. Uriah said the same things against this city and this land that of Jeremiah.
Jer 26:21 King Jehoiakim, his army officers, and the leaders of Judah heard Uriah and became angry. King Jehoiakim wanted to kill Uriah, but Uriah heard about it. Uriah was afraid, so he escaped to the land of Egypt.
Jer 26:22 But King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Acbor and some other men to Egypt.
Jer 26:23 They brought Uriah from Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim ordered Uriah to be killed with a sword. Uriah’s body was thrown into the burial place where the poor are buried. [ERV]
We have two different consequences for two different prophets who carried the same message. As students of the Word of God (Old Testament), we must wonder by now why God has been so patient and why these people of Israel so stubborn? Perhaps if we look closely at our own lives, we should ask the same question. The question to be made in Jeremiahs “day in court” before the people and leaders is which precedent do they follow; death as in the case of Uriah (King Jehoiakim) or life as in the case of Prophet Micah (King Hezekiah)?
Verse 24 gives us the answer… “There was an important man named Ahikam son of Shaphan who supported Jeremiah. He kept Jeremiah from being killed by the priests and prophets” (ERV).
JIV OBSERVATION: Many of us know about the prolonged movie series Star Wars. Many of the character actors are Jews; especially the heroes. Note their names and the parallels with bible names but usually with a slight change in their spelling. Ahikam is very similar in name to the Star Wars good guy Anakim. No spiritual application in this suggested correlation of names, but check out some of the other names. Here is today’s modern church and modern Christian…we know more about Star Wars than we do about the true historical beings in the bible. Go ahead and do some movie and bible study on your own. Don’t simply take my word for it. Seek and you shall find. (here we go again). This comparison is loaded with aha moments.
Dr. J The setting and time is evident with the opening verse in chapter 25; “the fourth year of Jehoiakim…, the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” This passage pretty much demonstrates that the Book of Jeremiah is more random in its recording of events than a sequence of events; none the less, the events are factual. Judah is about to go into a 70 year captivity of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar that is the entire essence of Jeremiah’s writings.
By this time in chapter 25 and for 23 years Jeremiah has been warning the leaders of Judah, both religious and secular, including the people of Judah that their captivity and deportation was coming. By this time it is a bit like the kid that cried “WOLF” over and over yet no wolf ever appeared; not yet anyway. However, the warnings of Jeremiah are about to come about. Jeremiah 25:1 tells us that Nebuchadnezzar is now the ruler in Babylon. However, the flip side of this is not Jeremiah crying wolf and no wolf, but how patient God has been with his people in the Kingdom of Judah.
There is a strong reminder and a bit of an oxymoron found in verse 5…”the Lord has given to your fathers of old (and forever)? There is an old gospel song that goes something like…”forever is a long, long time.” The people of Judah, as were the people of the now dispersed 10 Tribes of the Northern Kingdom Israel have held to the promise that the Lord God promised this possession and land as a FOREVER covenant. One of Jeremiah’s earlier encounters with the people of Judah is their claim to the fact “We have the Temple” [Jeremiah 7:4]. It isn’t so much that they can hide behind this building and God will simply keep his end of the Abrahamic Covenant. It is Judah rubbing the noses of the dispersed tribes of the Northern Kingdom in the fact that they did not have the Temple of Jerusalem but Judah did. The Northern Kingdom had Samaria in an attempt to prevent the northern Israelites from going to Judah to worship.
Jeremiah takes us back to the age-old condition of every single covenant and promise made to man in both the Old and New Testaments; “If you (do such and such first), then I” God will do what I promised. Judeans did not honor or worship God alone so they violated the contract covenant of God; a stupid thing to do.
25:9 is reminiscent of Jeremiah 1:15, both parallel prophecies of a near and a far distant future prophecy of end time. Kingdoms will come against Jerusalem and set troops and military at the next to the last word of verse 9; i.e. “perpetual.” In the Hebrew it is ‛ôlâm. This Hebrew word means now and in the distant future; past, present and always; a (still true today) fight over this land promised to Israel. Can we even look at the daily news and not see that this is still true today? Remember that denial is a river in Egypt (the Nile).
We know that this passage in Jeremiah is present and future prophecy as John writes in Revelation 18:22 a very similar passage regarding the same people of God (Israel as a whole) and the Promised Land.
“…and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more…” [Compare this Revelation 18:22 passage to Jeremiah 25:10]
“I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste” [Jeremiah 25:10]
Why, as many have asked, does God say in verse 11 after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity which God himself initiated will he then punish the Babylonians. On the surface this is a very good question. God even identifies Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 25:9 as “His [God’s] servant.” If one checks secular histories, we can find the answer. Nebuchadnezzar was given opportunities to accept the God of Israel as his God. However, he and his kingdom treated many of these captives with distain.
We see this in a short future when reading the book of Esther. The scene is still Babylon even though the Jews were released to return to Jerusalem decades earlier by the Persian King Cyrus. [Hmmmm? Do Iranians read their own history?) Esther, a Jew, has become the queen of Babylon, by now a province of Persia. Without spending time retelling this history of the how and when as the bible student can rediscover by reading the book of Esther, there is a plot at hand to destroy all remaining Jews in Babylonian provinces. It is thwarted through Esther, but the bottom line is the hate these Babylonians have and had toward; their citizens from Judah.
For those who are geographically challenged as am I, this Babylonian territory is known today as Iraq and a goodly area of western Iran (old Persia). With this in mind, Jeremiah’s prophecies as noted above, are perpetual; i.e. ‛ôlâm. In short, this is the destruction that is also found during the Tribulation; the 7 seals, 7 vials and 7 trumpets and the doomed kingdom and attempted world rule of the anti-Christ. [See Jeremiah 25:13, 14 and 15]
Jeremiah 25:17 reads as if Jeremiah personally went throughout the lands and kingdoms and brought the “curse of the cup of wrath” to each nation and kingdom. He did no such thing. This is the future of end time prophecy even yet today to become history. Verse 19 through 26 makes it obvious it is inclusive of a future prophecy of end time. The list goes on and on per who is involved in this drinking from the cup of wrath from God. Who this includes in the closing events of what we know as this earth and heaven today is reinforced in verse 29… “kole yashab eretz;” all the inhabitants of the earth. We know that Nebuchadnezzar’s forces did not conquer the world and all its inhabitants so this is obviously a prophecy of end time.
JIV NOTE: I must add some historical knowledge for the reader at this point. In Jeremiah 25:25 where a few nations and kingdoms within the list of “soon to be destroyed” or required to end time [25:15] “drink of God’s wrath-wine” is a place called Elam. This area currently within Iran was settled by descendants of Shem, one of Noah’s three sons who survived the Great Flood. How soon we forget our DNA lineage. (ESV)
Verse 26 entrenches this future prophetic fact. It leaves no room to think otherwise; ”…all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth.” Where is their question or doubt as to this prophecy being a future event yet to happen? Secular histories do not record such an event as already happened.
Gill’s Commentary clearly writes: “his [God’s] judgments should come upon them in such a manner as that they should be obliged [drink of the wine] to part with all their riches, power, and authority; and should fall and sink into such a ruinous condition, as that they should never be able to the more to a prosperous one.” (emphasis mine)
Jeremiah 25:29 – 33 leaves even less room to wiggle out of this prophecy taking a giant leap into the future and end time prophecy. It is powerful and pointed. Note what is highlighted to help grasp the facts of this event. (ESV)
Jer 25:29 For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the LORD of hosts.’
Jer 25:30 “You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: “‘The LORD will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
Jer 25:31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with ALL flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the LORD.’
Jer 25:32 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!
Jer 25:33 “And those pierced by the LORD on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.
What we know per Zechariah 14:4, this passage in Jeremiah, the 7 Sealed Scrolls of Revelation (chapters 5-8), and Daniel 12:4 is Jerusalem will be surrounded and attacked by anti-Christ (Satan) and the nations of the world. Then Jesus will return with feet (boots on the ground) Mount of Olives. He will then destroy the global powers attacking Israel/Jerusalem. Go those who wonder, the USA is not mentioned as excluded. This highly suggests that the Christian believers have been raptured and all that is left is those who reject the Holy Word of God and the salvation offered through Jesus Christ.
Rev. Dr. Jstark June, 2017
Figs are not uncommon in the Middle East particularly in Israel. Just as olives, figs are native to this land. However, not too many people have visions or figs. Jeremiah did in chapter 24. He saw two baskets of figs. One basket was full of good figs, but the second basket of figs was too rotten to eat.
God’s message to Jeremiah is another example of the pending doom and gloom for the Kingdom of Judah. We will return to this thought in a paragraph or two. First, Jeremiah 24:1 gives us a specific example of who Nebuchadnezzar desired to first be taken into captivity to Babylon. It reads in the ESV:
“After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah [aka: Jehoiachin and Coniah] the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, carpenters and the metal workers,…” [emphasis mine]
Nebuchadnezzar knew what he wanted per resources and skilled labor. The empire of Babylon was growing and he needed skilled labor, not just laborers or captive slaves. This included the likes of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (aka: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego). He took the best of the best.
Interesting but not sure of its implication is the fact Jeremiah described the figs were VERY good or VERY bad; not just good or bad. Jeremiah 24:4 states that this is when he gets it; i.e. the message of the Lord came to him.
Oddly God tells Jeremiah that the good figs represent the Judeans taken into captivity, not the ones left free to roam in their homeland. Verses 6 and 7 go on to support this by saying:
 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
If one reads on we discover that very few of these captives returned to their home land. Not so much due to dying there, but by choice NOT to return when release after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. So, what does God mean in verses 6 & 7 of Jeremiah 24? Let’s begin by looking at the first sentence in verse 6…I will bring them back to this land.” A quick read of this first sentence leaves the assumption this means after the 70 years of captivity. This is not what it actually states. That is a false assumption. God has always promised as in covenanted with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (aka: Israel) to bring them back to the Promised Land. This is end time prophecy yet to be fulfilled.
The bad figs are those people who will remain as in left behind, in Judah. Jeremiah 24:8 to the end of this chapter paints a very gloom ending for these who are left behind. In a sense, it parallels the people of earth who remain after the Rapture of the church. Few theologians see this in this passage so I will qualify it as a JIV (Jim’s Introspective View). However, in my heart of hearts I see the strong parallel.
God says I will punish them with terrible disasters, people will tremble with fear, people will be forced to seek refuge or forced to go to foreign lands, they will be cursed and called names, war and hunger will be rampant, disease and sword will strike them down, they will finally disappear from the land… (this is key to JIV), and the land will be *void of these rotten figs.
*This is the New Earth and the New Heaven prophecy, void of those who refused Christ. The rotten (sin) will be gone as Satan is bond then a thousand years later is cast into eternal Lake of fire from which there will be no escape or another chance given to him or others who ultimately reject the Holy Spirit and Christ.
Little is new to this chapter of Jeremiah. God once again requests that Jeremiah go to the King of Judah and restate and remind them of God’s promises but only IF the Judeans and leadership of Judah follow God’s commandments. There is a bit of “new look” in that God refers to the leadership of the Kingdom of Judah, both secular and religious, as shepherds. But according to the claim of in verse one, how have these Judean leaders scattered them and driven them away?
This is a two-fold answer:
First: By them not being an example unto God, the sheep have followed in the examples set and taught by of their so-called leadership. They even have hired false prophets who claim ‘all is well.’ After all they claim, “we have the Temple” is what they stand behind so we (Kingdom of Judah) are protected even if God isn’t front and center in their individual lives. They saw their northern cousins in the Kingdom of Israel carried away 120 years earlier and nothing has happened to ‘good ol’ God protected Teflon’ Judah for decades. Conclusion? They must be blessed.
In the short of it, Judean leadership has chased its people away from worshiping and depending on the one true God of Israel.
Second: The religious and ruling sectors of Judah have been cruel to the poor, taken advantage of them for personal gain, lied to them, given them false prophetic hope, and slanted the judicial system to the advantage of the ruling class. Jeremiah 23:2c states, (ESV) “Behold, I (have yet to) will attend to your evil deeds, declares the Lord.” They are going to get their deserved punishment and it comes with God’s promise attached to it.
Jeremiah 23:3 jumps to a prophecy yet to be fulfilled and only will be fulfilled after the Tribulation. God will re-gather his people (sheep) scattered throughout the globe and eventually bring them home to a much larger and totally safe Israel (Zion/Jerusalem). A fascinating little comment in verse 4… “ánd none will be missing.” Any question left with this comment that NONE will be missing? Since verse 6 says the *one that will be raised up to execute a future and prophesied justice, fairness, righteousness, and rule with wisdom is named “The LORD is our righteousness.” There is only one who can fit this bill; i.e. Jesus.
*It is in his day JUDAH and ISRAEL will be saved [23:6a).
In HIS day… This is at the 2nd advent of Christ. NOTE: This verse declares that the divided nation of old Israel; Kingdoms to the north and the south, will be united in Israel (Judah and Israel) when Christ returns to the Mount of Olives and calls or brings them back to their promised land.
Jeremiah 23: 11-15 is another example of “if you (us) ____, then I (God) will _____.” God points out the injustice in Judah and then explains to Jeremiah the consequence of such a life style. Even the false prophets are accused of prophesying in the name of Baal. These prophets are so arrogant they no longer even claim to be prophets of God Jehovah; any god will be fine as a so-called prophet. However, one must still keep going back to the promise to Israel (not the church) in verse 8:
[CEV] “…instead, you will call me the Living God who rescued you from the land in the north and from all the other countries where I had forced you to go. And you will once again live in your own land.” This verse does suggest that we are talking about an Israel after-the-fact of the Tribulation.
In a very real sense, but cannot be proven with scripture, this is possibly similar to the Promised Land for the church of real believers. We will once again live in a Garden of Eden. This is not the actual promise but it is symbolic enough to put our faith and trust in Jesus so we get to the Promised Land as believers.
Jeremiah 23:17 is very similar to today: False declarations and promises by false ministers within shallow denominations. Today’s church tends to be a mile wide and only 1” deep in the Word of God and understanding. We see banners and signs in churches and billboards that read, “God is Love.” There is nothing wrong with this statement as it is true, but only tells us of half the truth. It is what is left out by these half true statements that we discover in the last sentence of v17. According to their false prophets and many ministers today is the claim that “The Lord has promised that everything will be fine” (CEV). What is missing is the fact that God is also a JUST GOD; Revelation 20:11-13. So, what was true of false prophesy back then is inadvertently still true today. Yes, God is love, but he is also a just God. If this is not so, then why is there any reason for a final judgment; Bema Seat or Great White Throne? We have false proclamations in the very churches we attend.
Jer 23:20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
Do you catch the meaning of this verse and the last sentence? In the latter days YOU will understand it clearly. This does suggest a scenario of after the fact of the Tribulation. It also may suggest the gained knowledge is too late and the life God gave us is now on trial.
Verse 22 is very similar to what is going out from shallow preaching of the Word of God. It reads…Jer 23:20 But if *they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds. *Who is the THEY in this verse? This is any who give out false doctrine and promises of anything God has not ordained as solid truth. Sadly and so true, those who wish to tickle the ears of their congregations fall into this same truth. They preach what sounds politically correct and not from what Ephesians 5:13 states; i.e. being a light that reveals evil; i.e. expose it, not to try and learn tolerance.
23:28b is like a summary of the above frustration of God. It asks in part…”What has straw in common with wheat declares the LORD?” Many people if not most can tell the difference between straw, hay and wheat. In a way they look similar but the difference is in its value. Wheat has a nutritional value to all; humans and animals alike. Straw fills the belly but has no food value. One can and will die of starvation even if his or her stomach is full (of straw). The straw here is the false doctrine preached via the prophets and today’s empty message sermons.
Jeremiah 23:30 is another warning too often missed by the reader and sometimes the teacher/preacher. There are two thoughts that come from this verse; the obvious and the more subtle. Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. The obvious is limited to the prophets. They sing off the same song sheet without regard to its truth. Just like we today sing songs in church declaring our faithfulness, worship and/or faith, but only sing the words without applying or intending to apply what the words say. We quote the Lord’s Prayer but don’t live the words we are reciting. Similar to today’s political battle grounds where so-called reporters say the same thing as if they have, and they have, mutually agreed upon.
The second thought is those who steal God’s words then spin them to fit motives, agendas, and political correctness.
So, in conclusion, what do we do about all of this? The answer is given to us in Jeremiah 23:33.
“When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the LORD?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden,…”
We may find this appalling; violating every rule of political correctness by being so honest. But then, why do we need to say this exposing evil? Simple, the truth shall set us free – John 8:32.
Book of Jeremiah Chapter 22 Summary
Student Note: Chapter 22 deals with the last four kings of Judah, though not in chronological order. The historical order was: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah
- God tells Jeremiah to go to the King of Judah and bring him a message.
22:3 Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.
- The resident alien??? Hmmm. This means the outsider; i.e. non-Jewish person who still lives within Judah. Even today this is true of Arab citizens of Israel. They get the same protection, opportunities, and justice as does some Judean or Israelite living in Judah; 2017.
- Jeremiah’s supposed to go through the usual repentance speech: change your ways and stop oppressing widows and orphans, don’t shed innocent blood, and make sure you punish robbers, (yadda-yadda).
- 22:4 “If you do__?___, then I will__?__.” Just as every promise or covenant in the Old and New Testaments, all is conditional on us to first follow God and Jesus allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is obvious Jeremiah is delivering a message of “stop that sinning” to the rulers. God’s patience is growing short.
- If they, Judah, heed this advice, they’ll have righteous kings in the future. But if they don’t, the city will be destroyed and without a Jewish king [until the return of Jesus].
- What is confusing about this prophecy from Jeremiah to the King(s) of Judah, administrators and Priests? Nothing is confusing or complicated about it. However, it seems to be too simple for the simple minded leaders of Judah to comprehend, desire, and put into action. They want to create a god in their self-centered ways instead of the other way around.
- At that time, per Jeremiah, things in and around the Judean palace might seem as lush as Gilead or Lebanon. But God will turn the land into a desolate waste if the rulers don’t respond accordingly.
Gilead or Lebanon? 22:6b Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon; yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
Sadly this is precisely what eventually happens to Judah. After their Babylonian 70 year captivity, they were little more than a shadow of their previous self and greatness. America has need of this same understanding. We may have been given a temporary reprieve with the election of someone who respects Israel and more than once has been seen with a bible in hand.
- The destroyers will cut down their best cedars and burn them.
- Hebrew is a fascinating language since it has specificity in the use of words even when they appear closely related. The word “destroyers” is shaw-khath’ and the word for “worship”, is shaw-khaw; the opposite or antithesis of “destroyer,”. This is precisely why this author encourages bible students and readers to use multiple translations in personal bible study. So close in spelling are these two words but so antipathetic to each other in meaning by changing ONE LETTER.
- All the nations will see Judah’s destruction and gossip about how they were destroyed for disobeying God.
- The word “nations” in some translations should read “Gentiles of other nations”; i.e. those outside of Israeli descent. It may be discussed within other nations by gossip, wonder, or awe, but it will be those in-the-know who will wonder what happened to a once powerful and religious nation. Did their God desert them?
- Don’t weep for the dead, says God—weep for the people being sent into exile.
Jeremiah 22:10 [God] says to not weep for the dead but pray for those who will be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. The “he” mentioned in this verse is King Jehoahaz who is soon to be taken captive to Egypt. Shallum, the second king of the four remaining kings of Judah, also called Jehoahaz, was the son of Josiah. He was carried captive into Egypt and died there without seeing his native land any more.
God says that King Shallum [Jehoahaz] will die in exile and never see Jerusalem again.
How to Die like a Donkey
- God says that rulers who exploit their workers to build fancy palaces for themselves will end up suffering.
o Jer 22:17 But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.”
Might this be a close description of the world news today, here and around the world; N. Korea, Syria, Middle East, Iran, Turkey, Yemen, Ukraine, Politburo of Russia, the streets and courts of America?
- A bigger palace doesn’t make someone a true king—ruling righteously does.
- This is the center of issue with Israel since day one. They put so much emphasis on THINGS and little on worship. They even claim protection as they have the Temple of God, their religious ceremonies, Grand Pupa priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees; a class order similar today as is true in India.
- Regarding King Jehoiakim and his arrogance, God says that people won’t lament his death and he’ll be buried like a donkey. He also burned the scrolls of Jeremiah.
o Jer 22:19 “With the burial of a donkey he [Jehoiakim] shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
Wish a better description of “buried like a donkey?” Jehoiakim, the third king, built his palace with unpaid labor and would be dragged . . . out of . . . Jerusalem, to die unlamented. He would be buried with the burial of a donkey that is, tossed into a ditch so says Jeremiah. What a way to win friends and influence people. He must have missed that Dale Carnegie book or course.
- The people should go cry in Lebanon and other places since their lovers (allies) have been crushed.
- Too many ministers and bible students miss the meaning of verse 20; chapter 22. Judah is told to cry with others outside their own country as they too will suffer similar fates at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.
- The people of Israel seldom obeyed God for long. It’s been like this for generations.
- During prosperous times God forewarned all of Israel and Judah that their prosperity may get in the way of their worship; i.e. pay a tithe and move on without much consideration of fellowship with God the rest of the week. What about us (you and me)? Does our prosperity or deprivation bring us closer to God?
- So they’ll all get taken into captivity along with their allies.
- The word “allies” may be a bit misunderstood. How were they allies? In part as neighbors who lived at this time without wars between them and Judah. But more so, allies in the cruelty about to be brought upon each of them by the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar.
- As for the next king after Jehoiakim, Coniah (aka: Jehoiachin), God says that even if Coniah wears the signet ring on his hand, he will tear him off. He and his mother will both be sent into exile in Babylon, where they will eventually die; never return to Judah.
- Verses 25 – 27 offer a bit of insight as to why Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. returned to Jerusalem after 70-year Babylonian captivity with less than 1% of those taken into the Babylonian captivity. It isn’t that so many will die in Babylon before Cyrus the Mede releases the Jews from captivity. It is because so few will desire to go back to Jerusalem where the homes and city are in total ruins and be required to rebuild the Temple.
- Zechariah had a vision about him (Zechariah 4).;
- Haggai prophesied to him (Haggai 1 and 2).
When nothing is going wrong to us individually, that is of which we are aware, life in the fast lane is bliss. But, as our knowledge grows our surroundings, enforinment, or culture within which we live and our understanding of outcomes or consequences increases, bliss becomes tainted. This is precisely the situation King Zedekiah finds himself in chapter 21. He suddenly realizes, better said, he finally accepts as true knowledge with the beginnings of understanding, what Jeremiah has been prophesying is now surrounding the cities of Judah and Jerusalem; i.e. Babylonian troops.
JIV INSIGHT: Pashhur son of Malkijah is not the same Pashhur we discussed in chapter 20. The second Pashhur is mentioned in Jeremiah 21:1. The “Zephaniah” mentioned in the same verse is NOT the same man who wrote the Book of Zephaniah. *Zephaniah the author is Zephaniah the son of Cushi and one of the twelve Minor Prophets. Zephaniah in verse 1 of C21 is Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, a Levite priest.
*Zephaniah the son of Cushi and author of the Book of Zephaniah is the great, great grandson of King Hezekiah of Judah but he is NOT the same Zephaniah (Levite) mentioned in chapter 21.
Are you confused? Me tooJ
When one looks down the road of potential trouble (such as Babylonians on the march in this chapter) we try to take escape or evasive action. NOW Jeremiah is suddenly important to the leaders of Judah, both the religious (Zephaniah) and the secular (Pashhur). We see this in the selection of these two as negotiators sent from King Zedekiah to Jeremiah.
Verse 2 is very telling. The bible tells us that God looks at the true intent of the heart (kavanah, chavanah, sometimes spelled cavanah). It is an easy to question the motives of the religious and secular leadership of Judah. Here is verse 2 from the ESV:
“Inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”
There is nothing in this request from King Zedekiah to Jeremiah to pray for the sin of Judah and its leadership or a hint of repentance. The intent of their heart is to escape or evade; not return to the God of Israel. They are hoping that God will deliver them as he has done in the past histories of Israel as a nation and later as the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.
Good verses to keep in mind at this point include:
James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…but only if and when we confess them.
Jeremiah 21 verses 4 and 5 are a comparison and contrast with Jeremiah’s tenure in history and the coming Apocalyptic End Time but we can draw comparisons. Verse 4 is very similar to both Jeremiah’s and End Time but the oxymoron with End Time is found in verse 5. Verse four tells us that the weapons of Judah will be useless against such an enemy (Babylon) just as as they will against a 200,000,000 man enemy of End Time. Both times God will bring the enemy into the city of Jerusalem itself. However, in verse five, God says (ESV) “I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm.” In End Time Revelation 19:15 we are told Jesus will fight the battle for Israel against the overwhelming odds circling Jerusalem; destroying the enemies of Judah/Israel with the words of his mouth.
“On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place” (Zechariah 12:6). “On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:9). (the 200,000,000 man army destroyed)
Verse six it is similar in events coming to the world during the 2nd [black] and 3rd [red] horsemen of the Apocalypse; pestilence, disease, starvation, death on a great scale. But verse 7c needs a bit of insight. It reads: “and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.” This is NOT GOD doing the smiting, but Nebuchadnezzar and his armies.
Verse 8 & 9 are conditional promises just as stated in previous articles from this website regarding God’s intervention or help… “If you do ____, then I will do ____”. The total statement goes through v10 but here is the gist of it. “…and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.” But verse 8 also gives a condition of choice, just like we have today. It says, understand that I will let you choose to live or die” (but you must___.) This too is very similar to End Time issues surrounding Jerusalem (Revelation 12:6 where the woman referred to is Israel). We can learn much about the end of the Church age by studying the O.T. histories of actuality an alternative word for Israel. Much is foreseen in Daniel and spoken of in Matthew 24. It is in Luke 21 (20-24) where we draw the parallel of Jerusalem being surrounded by enemy. We also can’t leave out references in Zechariah 14:1-3 or Joel 2:1-10. There are strong parallels in each of these passages.
NOTE: The bible student will look up these passages where the casual reader will read on. Both may be students of the Word but the casual reader is seeking awareness and the student who searches is fulfilling a need for knowledge and understanding.
Jeremiah 21:14, the final verse in chapter 21, leaves no wiggle room. It reads… (ERV) “You will get the punishment you deserve. I will start a fire in your forests that will completely burn everything around you.'” This message is from the LORD.”
However, lets’ summarize these past and future events discussed in chapter 21 by what Ray Stedman writes. He is referencing Matthew 24 but implying Jeremiah 21…
Who are they who must flee so urgently when the last days begin? Who dare not hesitate long enough even to go back into the house to pick up a wrap, but must immediately head for the hills? There is no need to wonder, for the Lord says plainly, “those who are in Judea” Now Judea is a geographical part of the land of Israel, ancient Palestine. It comprises the hill country surrounding the city of Jerusalem and includes the city as well. It is to the residents of Jerusalem and Judea that this warning is addressed. Furthermore, the Lord’s mention of the Sabbath establishes the fact that these residents of Judea are Jews. He urges them to pray that their flight will not be in the winter, with its distress of cold, or on the Sabbath, with its travel limitations, for Jews are allowed to travel only a short distance on a Sabbath day. Later in this passage these Jews are called “the elect” (“for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened”), and this makes clear they are believing Jews, that is, men and women of faith who know and love Jesus Christ as Lord and are prepared to live or die for him. They are not Christians in the usual sense of that term, referring to those who are members of the church, for we are told that in the church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free. Jews are not to be distinguished from Gentiles within the church. These distinctions, we are precisely told by the apostle Paul, have been invalidated in the church. The “middle wall of partition” has been eliminated; there are no distinctions of background, race or religious training that are recognized within the church of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Christians, we are told, are free from the law and no longer observe special days, special feasts, new moons and Sabbaths. In his letter to the Colossians the apostle Paul clearly speaks of the fact that the Sabbaths were included in those shadows which were done away in Christ. But here the Sabbath distinctly will be a restricting factor in the flight of these people. Here then will be a class of people who cannot be identified with the present day church but with Jerusalem. These people will be Jewish believers in Christ who will be converted after the removal of the church and before the time of the Great Tribulation.
(God says He can change His mind)
Over 30 times in Jeremiah a chapter begins with something similar to “The Lord spoke to me about such and such or said…” Jeremiah was in constant contact with the Lord [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18].
In chapter 18 we find God telling Jeremiah that he is no longer satisfied with the Israel-Judah of His original design and is going to remake them. Remake them into what is a later chapter.
Verse 1: “And the Lord told…” Jeremiah is about to get a visual lesson at a clay potter’s shop. There will be people there, in the streets and commercial center. Jeremiah is instructed to go there, observe the potter at work, and then speak to those around him when God puts the words in his mouth. In the same sentence (v2) Jeremiah may have been in a dream state as God tells him to RISE UP, arise,… The ERV leaves out the word “rise” but such a word indicates he is to get up. We know that in the working and waking hours craftsmen make their wares to sell in the afternoon markets. This is not of real important but we can glean from this that Jeremiah may have been hearing the Lord in a dream; i.e. in the spirit [John 4:24].
When Jeremiah “rises up” and gets there, the potter is busy. The potter however is in a sort of dilemma. He is not in the process of making what he originally planned with the lump of clay but is remolding it to something different. Why? V4 says: (ERV) “He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot.” Before going any further, this chapter is about God re-creating his chosen people of Israel-Judah into something other than his original plans… “But there was something wrong with the pot.” The potter was remaking the original pot into something still of value but different from his original design. But to remake or remold the clay, he had to first lay hands on it, clump it back into a heap, and then begin again.
- The Potter represents God
- The clay represents Israel-Judah
Verse 5: At this point Jeremiah gets the analogy of the clay, the potter and Israel. Note that it is NOT just Judah to which God is speaking through Jeremiah. How do we know (yada)? V6: “O House of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD…” (ESV). HOUSE OF ISRAEL? The ten northern Tribes of Israel were dispersed by the Assyrians into the neighboring lands far and near 120 years earlier. However, God still holds them as His chosen and His people. He isn’t pleased with them so chapter 18 explains what God plans. He is going to reshape them but using the same lump of clay. This will take many years and up to End Time. We will discuss this further in later chapters in this Jeremiah study.
Verses 7-10 God is declaring once again His total sovereignty over man. He can break us up, cast us out, reshape us or keep us under His thumb. It all depends on the attitude and heart of the kingdom, nation or people to which he is making this declaration; even America. Congress cannot prevent it and neither can some Circuit Court or federal judge. The promise, as we have discussed so often in our bible blogs once again fits the “If you_____, then I will _____.” God tells Jeremiah that if the people of any (v7) nation or kingdom repent, I, God can change my mind. God is not arbitrary in that He is unrelenting or merciless. However, we once again glean from this passage that God includes ANY group of peoples; not just Judah. But it goes both ways. A given people must continue (v10) or return from their evil ways of rejecting God. He will “relent of the good he intended for them” if they don’t. Be careful America. We were once a Christian nation but former President Obama set the record quite straight when in his ignorance declared America to “not just be a Christian nation (anymore)” (emphasis mine).
In this given situation the CEV translation is good: “…but [if or when] its people start disobeying me and doing evil, then I will change my mind and not help them at all” (18:10). In a sense God is still offering Judah-Israel the chance to be redeemed; no 70 year bondage in Babylon but only if…! In carefully reading this passage we can also reason that God’s original plan for man is good, not bad. We still have chapters 19-52 to discuss so it doesn’t end here. However verse 12 tells us the Judeans refuse the offer. How blatant can one be? Proverbs 12:1 tells us “he who loves correction loves knowledge; but whoever hates correction is stupid.”
By using a correlation with the snowcapped mountains of Lebanon and the waters that flow from these mountains in verse 14, God renounces his protection of the people of Judah; the one’s he now identifies as “this people.” God recognizes all the Tribes of Israel as arrogant and self-centered. As he did with the Pharaoh of the time of Moses, he turns them over to their own ways without his intervention, protection or influence. He does not bring the disaster as some teach. He allows it to happen. Babylon is already on a military roll through the Middle East conquering even their former masters the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, is identified as God’s servant in Jeremiah 27:6. This isn’t what it might seem to be at first read. We will discuss this in greater detail when we get to chapter 27. If you can’t wait, go to our study of the Book of Daniel. It is explained in one of these articles.
“For they have forgotten me…” (v15). A better translation of the word “for” in this verse would be “because.” “Forgotten” or epilanthanomai in the Greek, one of the longest Greek words used in scripture, means, to “put out of mind; totally neglect as opposed to reject.” God is not even a consideration by the peoples of Judah at this time. To put this in modern terms, absence does not breed a stronger bond; it breeds total forgetfulness. At this time in history, Judaism is no longer a way of life with God Jehovah, but it is a religion. We can see from this passage why 600 years later the Scribes, Priests, and Pharisees had no recognition of their Messiah Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem.
In verses 16 and 17 we get the purpose of the practice of modern day shunning or excommunication; a severing of all ties with an individual or group ostracized. (V17; ESV) Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.” The Jewish Publication Society Bible (JPS) puts it differently. They say that God will look upon THEIR backside instead of their faces. Think about this difference.
At this point in chapter 18 Jeremiah shifts gears. He points out to God that his own people are planning ways to remove themselves from the words of Jeremiah. They do it, initially, by declaring the Law of Moses and the insight of the Levite priests to be of a greater value than these words from Jeremiah. They are declared words, not prophecies. Besides, during this time and in previous chapters Jeremiah mentions that there are others who declare themselves prophets with words contrary to what Jeremiah says; i.e. the tickling of their ears. Recall in chapter 7 of Jeremiah these people declare they have the Temple. They forget that it is God not the Temple that is their protection.
There is a saying that goes something like this: “No good deed shall go unpunished.” In essence this is what Jeremiah points out to God in verse 20. “I have been good to the people of Judah but now they are paying me back with evil…” (ERV). The ERV adds that not only are his fellow countrymen plotting to wage a war of tongues (debate) with Jeremiah but they plan to kill him. However, Jeremiah has the divine protection of God (Jeremiah 1:17, 18). By this time and as expounded upon in later chapters, Jeremiah is asking God to pour out His wrath. “Let their children starve and let women lose their husbands” he says to God in verse 21.
If we look closely at what Jeremiah is asking of God, he is asking for judgment upon his own people due to their total rejection of the message he delivered to them from God. Not only do the Judeans reject the message, but plot to kill the messenger. How might we see this in light of today? We are the messenger but is there a limit to our rejection? Is there a point of no return? Might there be a time we “shake the soil from our feet as we leave a place that has rejected God, the message and the messenger? [Matthew 10:12; Luke 10:10-11] Read these passages and judge for yourself.