“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
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.
I needed to go to the store for some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.
I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.”
It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?”
“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded proudly.
“Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve.”
“Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. “How old are you Denny?”
“How old am I now, Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.
“You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.”
I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone’s attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.
Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him.
I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, “Blue Roses” are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God.
She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?”
Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God’s garden.”
She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless you!” and then I had tears in my eyes.
May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE , whichever differences that person may have, don’t turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other family member. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.
From an old dandelion! Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest up to God!
“People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”
Dr. J “This sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond: It is engraved upon the table of the heart…” (KJV).
Powerful picture words in the opening verse of Jeremiah 17. In this case the CEV is more understandable and not off doctrine… [The CEV is written plain English. At times excludes important words in a given verse or passage not giving a good picture of the verse’s intent].
“People of Judah, your sins cannot be erased. They are written on your hearts like words chiseled in stone or carved on the corners of your altars.”
This statement throws the doors of theological debate wide open, as if the doors are torn from its hinges. Unforgivable and eternal? Not really. What message is God telling Jeremiah to convey to his people? He is telling them (Judah) through Jeremiah that he (God) has tried for centuries to make a point they (all Israel) keep rejecting. There is only one GOD and he will not accept any other god before him; nothing; nada; gar nichts…! This is also why we find later in Jeremiah 31:33: (NIV) “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” God simply tells Jeremiah to convey to the people of judah there is a price to be paid for their persistence and pentchant toward departing from or replacing worshiping HIM for other values first in thier life.
Jeremiah 17 is full of things for us to put in our heart and recall daily. Let’s discuss them as we go through this chapter today. An immediate aha moment can be found in the first four verses of Jeremiah 17. The Hebrew 70 scholars and scribes who translated their own Hebrew scrolls into Greek under the instructions of Ptolemy of Egypt opted to not include them in the Septuagint or first Greek translation. If we look closely at these four verses it is easy to see how scolding and incriminating they are to the Jews and their scribes.
Verse 1 is blunt. There is little to NO wiggle room for misunderstanding. Rejection by ideologists, yes! Even the translators of the Hebrew by the hired scribes of Levite descent did not wish for the Greek to see it. But then so is God’s offer to salvation. Their continual sin and returning to it is so reprehensible, God is no longer going to defend them as his pride and joy. Yes Israelis remain Gods chosen, but we might identify this scene as being sent to one’s room for a 70 year timeout.
Judeans at this time is similar to what God did to this in individual Pharaoh of Egypt during the final five plagues. Pharaoh kept hardening his own heart until God finally refused to offer any intervening spirit to convince this ruler to “Let my people go.” He turned Pharaoh lose to his own vises. This example of the time of Pharaoh and his heart is similar to what is happening to those of Judah, civilian and ruler-leaders, at this time in the life of Jeremiah. God released them to their own vises.
Verse 2: The idols and particularly the Asherah poles are seldom discussed or properly identified in other commentaries or from the pulpit. The Asherah Pole is the same thing in practice as the dance poles used in strip clubs. They are for one purpose and it is the youth of Judah who hang around them lusting and fantasizing. This is the “children” referred to in V2. Not really children but more like a den of sin and enticement for those of early ages.
Verse 3: God tells Judah (Israel) that what they had will now belong to others. Possessions are one of the greatest identities of these people. It is all about self, wealth, pleasure and thinking themselves exclusive; nothing about true worship. ..throughout all their borders.” It means not only Jerusalem but all of Judea including the already occupied lands of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel (10 Tribes).
Verse 4: Strangely enough, verse four is Arab-Islam’s claim to what they say was formerly the blessing of Jacob but now the blessing by default to the descendants of Esau and Ishmael. In other words, this passage if out of context could read, “Israel/Judah, you have now forfeited God’s blessing that Jacob stole from his twin brother Esau. I am giving it back to its rightful owner the first born of Abraham (Ishmael) and the first born of Isaac (Esau). I will cause you to serve your enemies; an anger that will be forever.” Only is this true when taken out of context. God will fulfill all of his promises (covenants).
We can easily see why the Hebrew translators DELIBERATELY left these verses out of their writing of the first Greek copy of the Hebrew bible (Old Testament) that being the XXL or Septuagint. They begin their translation with 5th verse as it can be applied across the identities of the human race; not exclusive to the Jew (Israelite).
Jer 17:5 I, the LORD, have put a curse on those who turn from me and trust in human strength. (CEV)
Jeremiah 17:5-10 are applicable to all (kole in the Hebrew) mankind. Jeremiah steps aside from criticizing Judah specifically and takes a global look at the dynamic nature of God and his original creation. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) mistakenly returns to Judah by inserting their name in verse 9. I am not familiar with any other translation that does the same thing. Taking liberties with God’s true word is dangerous both to the author who takes the liberty and to those who use a given translation exclusively in his or her bible studies.
Quotes to all mankind from 17:5-10…
- Bad things happen to those who put their trust in man
- Bad things will happen to those who depend on human strength as it means trusting God is not primary.
- To be like this is like a bush in an isolated part of a dry parched desert. It lacks any knowledge of fertile, well-watered environments
- Those who trust “fully” in the Lord will be blessed. This does not mean or include those who simply believe in God or a supreme being. They fully believe but not fully trust.
- To know God is to (study) know his covenants with man.
- They are confident even during a dry season
- Like a tree next to a brook that does not seasonally run dry
- Their leaves are always green
- They always produce fruit.
- The human mind is deceitful and can call bad good and self-justify any evil committed.
- V10…”But I am the LORD and can look into a man’s heart (mind)” (ERV).
- Although the CEV does miss in its interpretations from time to time, they do put it in plain English. 17:10b…”I [God] will make sure you get what you deserve.” The ERV puts it… “I (God can) give each person the right payment for what they do.”
A unique characteristic of some birds such as the Quale (Partridge) is it will sit on or steal the eggs of another bird until they hatch. But the birds do not recognize the surrogate mother. They will fly the coop. The ERV v11 puts it well in comparison to humans:
“Sometimes a bird will hatch an egg that it did not lay. Those who cheat to get money are like that bird. But when their lives are half finished, they will lose the money. At the end of their lives, it will be clear that they were fools.”
Look closely at this passage (above). It does NOT SAY wealth in and of itself is a sign of misgivings or wrong doing. It is the wealth gained unjustly or by cheating that condemns him or her who selfishly gathers it.
Jeremiah again beginning in verse 13 shifts thought. First he praises God just like the opening of the Lord’s Prayer. We should begin every prayer with a praise to and recognition of who God is. Simply put, He is sovereign.
Verse 13b is something we all need to pay attention to. (KJV) “…and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD,…” Written in the earth means their value is now like the dust. It will easily be swept away.
Jeremiah asks God a question in verse 15. It shows the depth of Judean’s contempt for God. They actually challenge the prophecies of Jeremiah by saying PROVE IT! If God has said it, let it happen now because we challenge your prophecies and HIS authority to accomplish it. WOW! What dangerous grounds to be upon. Jeremiah who once pleaded with God to forego his condemnation of Judah now asks God to fulfill it (V18). Jeremiah aches in heart and soul for his countrymen. Their arrogance and stiff-necked attitudes are the issues at stake and for which God has already condemned them in verse 1. It hasn’t happened (yet again; forgetful memories they have) so they feel immune. Woe onto men who feel their superiority and self-reliance.
Jeremiah again switches topics and begins discussing the Sabbath Day. The last few verses of Jeremiah 17 including Exodus 20:8-11 is the basis of 7th Day Adventists (and Judaism) setting aside Saturday as the day of worship instead of Sunday. We can discuss this topic in the future as it has holes, but not in this blog. One three simple considerations: On what day was man created? Was it identified by God as anything other than sequential day 6? What day of a week was the 7th day if there were no calendars back them; just a sequence of days?
JIV NOTE: Beginning with verse 24 but prefaced with v19 – 22, God offers another “If you ____, then I will ____. Just like every covenant promise made by God in the Old and New Testament we are given the same condition. If we firs do this or that, then God will fulfill his end of the offer; and offer made by GOD, not man. Somehow this also has hints of End Time conditions. It also includes a promise beyond the 70 year Babylonian captivity they (Judah) has yet to endure.
The Covenant Promise: (in short) Honor the Hebrew Sabbath “Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David…”. For how long? The end of this same verse says forever. Read this passage closely. It refers ONLY to entering the gates of Jerusalem, God’s holy city, bearing a load or work detail (V24). People will come from throughout the lands to worship but the reference to the Sabbath work load is in reference to bringing the work load into the city of Jerusalem via any of its 12 gates.
Once again this supposition of it being exclusive per work on the Sabbath, the concluding verse on chapter 17 states in part… “‘But if you [Judeans] don’t listen to me and obey me, bad things will happen. If you carry loads into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, you are not keeping it as a holy day…’”
END NOTE: Something for each of us to remember about bad habits “One cannot break a habit. S/he can only replace it with something else, good or bad” (Jstark). Israel replaced their worship of the true God with works of their hands and other motionless and useless gods. They could not simply stop their false worship as many good Kings of Judah tried to do without returning to a full-faith worship of Yahweh.
There is something similar to this passage and a well tilled and cultivated garden. Initially it appears to be without weeds. Then, they begin to appear amongst the crop or garden. They were either hidden weeds (sins) or inherited from it environment. This is Israel of old.
Rev. Dr. Jstark
The first and often least recognized end time prophecy is found in the curses God gave at the Garden of Eden. We know about Adam and Eve being expelled and cursed; we know about the Satan serpent. Man will be expelled from the Garden and labor but the sweat of his brow [Genesis 3:17-19] to feed his family. Women; I will now greatly increase your pain during child birth will *now have pain delivering children [Genesis 3:16]. There will be enmity between the serpent and the woman
- This passage as it reads suggests Adam and Eve already had children. If God is going to greatly increase the pain in childbirth. Eve must have something with which to compare labor pain so she already must have a child or two. One can’t greatly increase something with which s/he is not already familiar.
The snake in the Garden of Eden:
Genesis 3:14 & 15 state: God saith unto the serpent, `Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all the cattle, and above every beast of the field: on thy belly dost thou go, and dust thou dost eat, all days of thy life; and enmity I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he doth bruise thee–the head, and thou dost bruise him–the heel.’ [YLT]
This highly suggests the snake in the garden was not one that looked like the snake as we know it today…sneaking and sleuthing through the grasses and in the tree branches. Every depiction we have today of the Eve and Satan encounter shows the snake already belly-bound. This is NOT what scripture tells us. It says “from now on…”
Genesis 3:14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” The obvious is missed. Up to this point in the Garden of Eden incident, the snake did NOT crawl on its belly and eat dust. Our depiction of this moment in the history of mankind is totally wrong per imagery.
Genesis 3:15 tells us an end time prophecy most miss. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” It is found with careful reading…”he will crush your head.” Note the gender change from a woman to “he.” The King James uses the word “it.” None the less, the change in the ‘who’ is in the verse itself.
Israel is often identified as a woman in end time prophecies. Just as the church is the bride of Christ; i.e. an identity of a woman, so is the nation of Israel. As has been true since the start of the church age at the cross, Satan has bit at the heel of the church and the church has tried to crush the head of Satan through prayer and worship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Genesis 2 continue… (YLT) And Jehovah God doth make to the man and to his wife coats of skin, and doth clothe them.
Gen 3:22 And Jehovah God saith, `Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,’ —
It is obvious after reading v22 that there was another tree in the Garden; i.e. one of eternal life. Two or three conclusions for end time come from this verse in Genesis 3.
1. The other tree in the same Garden is one of eternal live eternal life. Jesus paid the wages of sin on the tree or cross on Golgotha and now we can take of it and live up to, through and beyond the end time.
2. There were never for bidden to eat from the Tree of Eternal life. Just as in end time we will not be forbidden to eat of the tree of life through Jesus or to eat of the deliberate deception of Satan.
3. This (#2) being true, then Angels and Satan’s motley crew are already eternal. This however does not make him, them or us without consequence for our sins.
There is another analogy that needs to be mentioned. The Tribe of Dan is NOT included in the 144,000 mentioned in either Revelation 7 or 14.” Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path that bites the horse’s heels, so that its rider tumbles backward.” (Gen. 49:16-18). Note the similarity of a snake and the biting at the heel; Genesis 3:15 and the prophecy of the Tribe of Dan in Genesis 49:16-18. The question not asked often enough is who is crushing the head of the snake? , “who is the ‘her’ in 3:15 who becomes a he in the next sentence?” Is it the horse’s heel and the rider? This is not as mysterious as one might make it to be.
We cannot write in a single blog the connectivity, but it is there for the student of the bible to seek and to find. What started in the Garden of Eden will end with the people of God (Israel) and the people of the Church (Jesus) having total victory of Satan.
What about the Tribe of Dan? When Dan “leaped out of Bashan” (Deuteronomy 33:22) after migrating north from the land area originally assigned by Joshua to that tribe, they conquered Laish (Judges 1:16-20) in northern sector of the territory of Bashan. They did not take the Lord God with them. They took idols and their wicked ways with them as the marched out of Bashan. They deliberately left the Promised Land refusing to conquer it.
We will go deeper into this historical and detailed filled discussion next fall in a series entitled, Which Way Did They Go?
Needless to say but we will anyway, the 144,000 mentioned twice in Revelation, do not include Dan. Dan left God behind, not the other way around. Dan’s offspring may be those who may be the last and perhaps the least to respond to God’s end time call. They may likely be some of those who respond in or during the tribulation; a time called Jacob’s Great Troubles. But, the Tribe essentially rejects the promise of the Promised Land. Consider this…what about modern day rejection of God even after knowing about the Promised Land in heaven? Can we give up on what Jesus promised us as believers and “do it our way?”
If one no longer feels as close to God as s/he once did; guess which one moved?