Jeremiah Chapter 36

Several things happen in this chapter of which we did not know in the previous 35 chapters. One thing to keep in mind, Jeremiah is going back to the reign of Jehoiakim; his 4th year out of his 11 years on the throne of the Kingdom of Judah. Jeremiah reminds the King that since the days of his father Josiah, the last God-fearing king on the throne, he has been warning Judah of their pending and irreversible doom. His prophecies didn’t only include Judah, but verse 2 informs us that he also prophesied about Israel (Kingdom of) and other nations as regards End Time; God’s judgement on those who are His chosen and those who are Gentile.

God tells Jeremiah to get a scroll and begin writing all that HE has told him. Baruch now enters the picture. Jeremiah calls upon him to take the dictations and write for him.  God tells Jeremiah to not only write it all down, but to read it to the people and the leadership of Judah. Jeremiah 36:4 is where we finally find out about Baruch being the one to actually write what Jeremiah had experienced and was told by God per his constant message and prophecy. This is simple to understand. God needed Jeremiah through the Holy Spirit to recall all that had happened up to this point; not spend a great deal of time actually writing.

At this time, Jeremiah is “shut up” as it says in the king James. There are a few translations that differ enough with this comment that it begs additional explanation. Some say “shut up;” a few say “restrained;” some translate “detained, banned, or not allowed to go there” It is simple enough to put it the way it was; Jeremiah was sequestered from preaching in the synagogue and  not allowed to venture anywhere. He had made enemies of his own kindred Tribe of Judah and its spiritual and secular leadership.

Then, by the direction of Jeremiah, Baruch took the scroll/manuscript to the Temple and read it aloud to the spiritual leadership.  This reading of the Jeremiah scroll had such an influence on the Temple leadership that they declared a fasting. Not only had the leadership heard what Baruch wrote then read, but so did many of the populace who were in the Temple at that time. Most of the “princes” and officials were not at the Temple. They were conversing in the King’s Court or Palace. They heard about Baruch reading the scroll and sent someone to fetch him. At first glance they were simply wanting to hear what had been read by Baruch even though it was something they had heard for years from the mouth of Jeremiah; the scrolls author.

Upon hearing what Jeremiah dictated to Baruch and after Baruch read to them in the King’s Palace, they suddenly felt a fear come upon them. These officials questioned Baruch as to where he had gotten the information to put on the scroll. He told them “from Jeremiah.” They felt it necessary to inform the King (Jehoiakim). We don’t know if it was a tattle-tail forwarding of information to the king or if they had a fear since the word came to them from someone other than Jeremiah. However, knowing King Jehoiakim’s hate for Jeremiah and the “surrender to Babylon message” Jeremiah kept repeating, the royal officials told Baruch to get Jeremiah and go hide in a secret place. They already knew how Jehoiakim would react. However, the royal officials kept the scroll in their possession.

scrollHere is where so many get the history of this event wrong. It was neither Jeremiah nor Baruch who read the scroll to the King. It was his servant Jehudi who read the words from the scroll.  Since it was winter time in Judah, the King was in his heated winter rooms of the palace. We know this as verse 22 tells us this is so. There was a fire in the fireplace in which Jehoiakim was sitting. AS Jehudi read from the scroll, the King would grab it, cut off the section Jehudi had read, than toss the scrap into the fire place. He had total contempt for the Word of God.

Here is another HOWEVER… those in the room did hear the prophecy so they KNEW what was coming. Somehow they and Jehoiakim figured by destroying the message, it would not come true as they were “not afraid.” Some of the leaders from the Temple tried to get King Jehoiakim to not tear up and burn the scroll. He refused them. As it reads in Jeremiah 36:26…the king ordered both Jeremiah and Baruch arrested. But… these men sent to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah came back empty handed. They could not find the men.burning book

So still being free of the clutches of the King, God told Jeremiah to re-dictate the message to Baruch and write it once again. There is a sever consequence for having burned the scroll. God tells Jeremiah that after re-writing the book to go and tell Jehoiakim the penalty for having done so. It is a brutal commandment from God and punishment to Jehoiakim.

“So this is what the LORD says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: Jehoiakim’s descendants will not sit on David’s throne. When Jehoiakim dies, he will not get a king’s funeral, but his body will be thrown out on the ground. His body will be left out in the heat of the day and the cold frost of the night.” [Jeremiah 36:30]

This warning should have brought Jehoiakim to his knees. It didn’t. We find out later on that this is precisely what happened to King Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians were less than honoring to their captors. There are exceptions but this will not be one of them. During the rewrite of the Book of Jeremiah, the final verse in chapter 36 tells us that some additional information was added at this time…”And many other words like those messages were added to the second scroll.” We do not know what was added and what was in the original scroll text before Jehoiakim burned it piece by piece. We do know that all in the original text was rewritten and “some additional words were added.”

Immediately in the next chapter (C37) we find that Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiakim from the throne and installed his uncle to the throne of Judah, albeit a puppet king at best. We should be reminded that during this history of Judah, they were pawns of Egypt and then Babylon. Jehoiakim’s older brother had only ruled for three months when Necho II, Pharaoh of Egypt, had him removed and Jehoiakim installed.

“Rabbinical literature describes Jehoiakim as a godless tyrant who committed atrocious sins and crimes. He is portrayed as living in incestuous relations with his mother, daughter-in-law, and stepmother, and was in the habit of murdering men, whose wives he then violated and whose property he seized. He also had tattooed his body” [Jewish Encyclopedia].

JIV: Tattooed? Is this God’s feeling about such a practice?

In short, Jehoiakim was a bottom of the barrel ruler in Judah. He paid a severe price for it. There was another prophet during this time by the name of Uriah Ben Shemaiah. He apparently told the king the same things as did Jeremiah per his evil living style. Uriah suffered death at the hands of Jehoiakim for it. We find this information back in Jeremiah 26:20-23. Uriah Ben Shemaiah fled to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Jehoiakim but was soon sought out and arrested. Upon his being returned to Judah, Jehoiakim had him executed. This is all we hear of and know about this “other prophet.”

Recall that back in Jeremiah 1 God told Jeremiah he would suffer for being a prophet but he would protect him from being executed.

How fitting it was to be that King Jehoiakim had slaughtered then tossed this minor prophet into the slums of a pit to rot and be exposed to the heat and wild animals. This is precisely what Jeremiah told Jehoiakim would be his own death treatment. It should have scared him but it only showed his contempt for prophets of God and God himself.

miniJimRev. Dr. Jstark
October, 2017

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Jeremiah – Chapter 26

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 destroyedhttp://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/421/JBQ_421_5_mariottiniuriah.pdf

herewegoagainWe 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 kant 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)herewegoagain

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)herewegoagain

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)herewegoagain

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)herewegoagain

*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)herewegoagain

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.herewegoagain

miniJimRev. Dr. Jstark – June, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 22

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.

dielikedonkeyHow 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.signetring
  • 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).

miniJim

Dr. JStark

June, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 21

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.”escape

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 unrighteousnessbut only if and when we confess them.time

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.if

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…

Ray Stedman,

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.

miniJimRev Dr. Jstark March 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremiah – Chapter 17

Dr. JThis 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].engrave forebver

“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…

    1. Bad things happen to those who put their trust in man
    2. Bad things will happen to those who depend on human strength as it means trusting God is not primary.
    3. 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
    4. 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.
    5. To know God is to (study) know his covenants with man.
      1. They are confident even during a dry season
      2. Like a tree next to a brook that does not seasonally run dry
      3. Their leaves are always green
      4. They always produce fruit.
    6. The human mind is deceitful and can call bad good and self-justify any evil committed.
    7. 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.

miniJimRev. Dr. Jstark

February 2017

 

Jeremiah – Chapter 14

drought.jpegDrought, drought and more *drought. This does not mean a season of little or no rain. It means several seasons of dry arid weather. The oddity of drought in this land can’t be avoided. It is or WAS the land of milk and honey [Deuteronomy 31:20].What happened? Rabbi Yuval Cherlow once said, “The health of the land depends on our responsible behavior.” This is secular thought. What he didn’t say was what God told Israel over and over, “If you worship me, I will bless the land I have given you. It is a Promised Land. If you don’t then…” Jeremiah was the last prophet before the demise of Israel as an independent kingdom; this chapter and a few others is his warning from God to them.

*Prolonged drought in California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, the Southeast and northern east coast states. Hmmmmmm? Since October of 2016, huge amounts of moisture have refilled the reservoirs or places where water levels had dropped to serious lows; i.e. October of this year. Prayers for this country have gone up from many Christians and churches per saving this country and the national elections. Franklin Graham prayed on the steps of every State capital this past summer. He prayed for God to forgive America. One can’t help but wonder if there is a connection. I report the facts. You decide for yourself!

The Talmud interpreters try to minimize God’s involvement by identifying the milk as that from goats and honey meaning the figs grown there [http://www.myjewishlearning.com]. But that does not support the fact God called it “an already existing land of milk and honey.” Did someone forget the huge crop of grape clusters brought back by the original 12 spies sent into the land by Moses [Numbers 13:27]? This was hundreds of years before this drought in Israel.

Now, what does chapter 12 hold for us:

Drought is the theme of chapter 14. Other than God telling Jeremiah to “not pray for these people of Judah” [V14], Jeremiah’s confessional plea, and questioning God’s ability to keep the promises to the fathers of his chosen people are of chapter 14. Let’s consider these points as a basic chapter 14 outline. But we need to fill in and explain some of the details for the bible student.

The Drought…

Since both Judah and Israel kingdoms [once the nation of Israel] existed in the Levant. It is an area of great lands, fertile for crops, grass for herds, and well-watered. God used its strength against them as a form of punishment. God was once again trying to get their attention. Jeremiah writes in verse 12 that God sees them as wanderers; not place to place, but god to god. The very first verse says “God came to Jeremiah concerning the drought [dearth].” Obviously it was a serious subject. There was no debate that a great need for reservoir water existed; and a great need for rainfall.

Here is an interesting side note about the idol-god Baal, the predominant idol in Judah during this time. One of the defining characteristics of Baal is, as the David Guzik Commentary puts it: “Baal was thought to be the god of weather and rain. Many ancient Israelites were drawn to Baal worship because they wanted rain.” How ironic. The very god that Judah was worshiping as the god of weather and rain was a god that could not provide conducive weather and desperately needed rain. This rain-god theory is supported many years earlier by the confrontation of the Prophet Elijah, the 600 priests of Baal and Jezebel in I Kings 18:19-40. The northern Kingdom of Israel under King Ahab was in a drought situation and for the same reason, worshiping false gods.

https://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-stories/chapter-34-elijah-and-the-priests-of-baal?lang=eng

Their situation was the same then, years of no rain in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Ahab was king at this time. Jezebel was queen and devoted to Baal. Once again God was punishing the Kingdom of Israel for their unfaithfulness (wandering feet that go god to god while ignoring the only God; (Jeremiah 14:10). The idol-rain-god Baal failed them back then also.

JIV NOTE: The existence of King Ahab is historically; i.e. secularly supported outside of the Bible. Shalmaneser III documented in 853 B.C. that he defeated an alliance of a dozen kings in the Battle of Qarqar; one of these was King Ahab of the northern Kingdom of Israel. [Kurkh Monolith, discovered in 1861 by the British archaeologist John George Taylor]

In verse 2 we read that Judah mourned…but for the wrong thing. They did not mourn their lost relationship with God, but their loss of water and comfortable way of life. It is suggested by some theologians including us, the reason verse 3 says the nobles (fathers) sent their little ones to fetch water was that the drought had become a self-survival exercise; their servants had left to seek a life of self-existence since their landlords  could no longer provide them a living or life.

Even the animals of the wild and open fields suffered greatly; the deer; the cattle; the sheep and goats; the wild donkeys [14:4-6].

Now Jeremiah, the ever faithful Judean, pleads with God to make things right for God’s name sake [v7 and again in v14]. He admits the sins of Judah are great but does not confess or speak for the people. Why? God appointed him as a young prophet to condemn Judah for their sins; not to plead for them. He identifies God as “the hope of ISREAL” (not just Judah) and the one who has redeemed them from other troubles. In short, Jeremiah pleaded “God you did it before so do it again.”

Isn’t this like many Christians today? One gets into trouble then pleads with God to get him or her out of that trouble. Frightfully, making promises during the plea-bargaining with God that they do not fulfill.  Jeremiah is getting quite pointed in his comments to God by his time. Why are you (God) a stranger like one to whom only occasionally visits this land? Are you (God) a powerless warrior? Where are you (God) in this time of need?

Jeremiah already knew the answers but was hoping to change God’s mind as had some of ReminderIsrael and Judah’s ancestral prophets and leaders. V10 should have scared these Chosen People right out of their evil ways but it didn’t. It only made Jeremiah more determined to petition God for relief. God points out Judah’s sin: “The people of Judah really love to leave me. They don’t stop themselves from leaving me. So now the LORD will not accept them. Now he will remember the evil they do. He will punish them for their sins.” If the Lord God will now “remember the evil they do,” it defaults back to a time when God opted to not remember their sins. The word ‘remember’ in the Hebrew is zâkar. It means to “make note of; to put it to record.”

At this point God changes the subject while Jeremiah continues to act as an intercessor (attorney) for Judah. God heats up the pending punishment of Judah by telling Jeremiah to not even pray for these people because he will turn a deaf ear to his and their prayers. In other words, at this point God has spoken and the consequences are now irreversible. There is an often unspoken reason that God will bring them into punishment even if (v11) they repent, fast, cry, wail, use sackcloth and ashes, or offer burnt offerings. It is because the people of Judah do not want to return to God. They want to return to their life style, worshiping other gods AND feel protected since they have the Temple of God. They got caught and this is now their sorrow. WE have the Temple they say, but forgot to worship God in it.

In v13, Jeremiah points out to God that there are other “so-called” prophets in the land making contrary prophecies; like God didn’t already know this? These are what is called “tickle the ear” prophets; something like “tickle the ear ministers” today. Their messages are anything but from God, the bible or the scrolls. They sound wonderful if only they were truthful, but they aren’t. After all, Israel has the Temple so why would God leave them? He didn’t! They left HIM!!!!

The word “consume” in v12 needs to be understood. It is “kâlâh” in the Hebrew. The intent is to convey that the fertility, milk and honey of Judah that once knew will come to an end; cease to exist. This is precisely what happened including during their 70 banishment to Babylon.  They had gone from a land of plenty to a land that is now desolate, without much water, wind torn territory, and greatly reduced in population. This became the opportunity for the surrounding Gentile neighbors to move in and claim it as their own land. This is still the debate and issue today in the Middle East. Arabs believe the Jews (Israelis) lost their right to the land. They forget as conquered people themselves; Assyrians and Babylonians (Persians) moved them to this land when they removed them from their original home lands. This was a common practice of victorious nations at this time.

Consumed by the sword can simply mean that the existence of a self-ruling Judah would be the result of and under the rule of someone’s sword. Conquered or controlled by the sword.

JIV NOTE: Most people do not connect the Judah Jeremiah is talking about in chapter 14 is today called the West Bank. The West Bank is the territory Jordan captured from the new Israel in 1948 and then occupied it with undesirables in their own land. Today’s West Bank IS THE JUDAH OF JEREMIAH. Today’s Palestinians have a home land. Jordan is 80% Palestinian Arab. Jordan occupied this part of Israel in order to force its undesirables into that territory. Yasser Arafat was one of them. The PLO didn’t exist until 1963. (To not know history is to delete it –Jstark)

What the false prophets of Judah are saying in their ‘tickling of the ears’ prophecies, God calls a LIE in v14. However, the people prefer to believe them over Jeremiah. How closely this resembles Daniel’s and Revelation’s end time message when people will totally fall for the lies rather than the honest truths. Even if one only considers the two witnesses [Revelation 11:1-14], the people of this world or in this case of the two witnesses, most of the people of Judah will once again opt to not side with the truth. “When one does not understand their own history, they are destined to delete it from memory” (Jstark, 2017). In other words, within one or two generations, it never happened.

If one questions God’s anger and deep disappointment of Israeli’s from the Tribe of Judah, re-read v10a. It says. “Thus said Jehovah concerning this people: Well they have loved to wander,…” THIS people? He doesn’t even call them His people at this time. This is very similar in meaning when in the New Testament Jesus on the cross cries, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” [Matthew 27:46].

It will be bad for these people of Judah (Prophets, priests, rulers and residents) who fake a worship of the true God because they have the Temple, but put other values in front of God and first in their lives while actually sacrificing to Baal and other false gods. V16…And the people to whom they prophesy shall be slain and cast out in the streets of Jerusalem,…There will be no one to bury them.” Their death will be so sudden and their removal from the Promised (West Bank) Kingdom of Judah will be swift. Those who try to resist the Babylonians will die on the spot and left for the wild beasts and birds to devour.

Note in V16d God says it is not his punishment but “the calamity they deserve” (NIV). He simply allows it to happen. After all, Babylon is already invading, rampaging and conquering the former lands of the Assyrians and Egypt. God simply removed his protection. If the king and the leaders of Judah did as Jeremiah instructed them to do, just surrender, none of these consequences would have happened. God promised in a later passage that the Babylonians will suffer for their brutality.

V18 explains the vast dismay of Judah. Those in the field of battle will be slain by the Babylonians. Those who are sick and starving within the walled cities of Judah and particularly Jerusalem will be left to die; those already dead in the streets will simply be ignored by this invading army of Nebuchadnezzar. Their leaders and most of the remaining population will be transported to Babylon; a place and a language they do not know. This is explained in the historical reference to what happened to Daniel, *Hananiah, **Mishael and ***Azariah (Hebrew) also known in the Babylonian Chaldean language; *Shadrach, **Meshach, and ***Abed-Nego.

Now Jeremiah gets down right pointed in his conversations with God. Do you despise Judah? Why have you afflicted *us? We cannot be forgiven or healed? FOR YOUR NAME’S SAKE (putting the responsibility back onto God’s shoulders a second time) SAVE JUDAH [v21].

*Jeremiah already knew the consequences of Judah’s sins. Why he would include himself in their ranks by saying US is a human attempt at avoiding the obvious. If I tell God that he is also doing this to Jeremiah, then perhaps Jeremiah’s credentials will bring salvation (forgiveness). God doesn’t bite.

V32 God immediately challenges Jeremiah with a counter-question. He asks, ”Do the worthless idols bring rain or the skies themselves send down rain?” This is enough to snap Jeremiah back into God’s reality reminding him with whom he is arguing to whom he is offering a defense. Jeremiah simply replies in the last verse, ”No, it is you oh Lord.”

In our next chapter, God gives Jeremiah a very good counter-explanation as to the irreversible consequences for Judah’s continuing sins.

Rev. Dr Jstark
January 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 4

“If thou wilt [KJV & the JPS; Jewish Publication Society]….” are the opening words of chapter 4. There is not a single covenant or promise in the bible not prefaced with something ifsimilar to “IF THOU WILT,” then the condition of what it is God expects in return for his extra blessings. If we commit, then God will commit. If we don’t commit, then God is not held to a different standard since it is HIM who sets the standards; not the other way around.

Jeremiah had the same message to both the dispersed throughout the known world Tribes of the Northern Kingdom and the still existing Kingdom of Judah. Although Jeremiah already knew the people, leaders, King and Synagogue members would not listen, he still carried the message. We are not called to save souls, but to share the Word of God and our testimony.

As the CEV translation puts it in 4:1… The LORD said: Israel, if you really want to come back to me, get rid of those disgusting idols.

The ESV translation says… “If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver,…”

No matter how it is translated it boils down to If we; then HE will…! But, Jeremiah 4:2 does not stop there. He explains the credentials of the Lord: swear to the Lord who lives, is truth, is just in judgment, and righteous, [then back up to the last sentence of verse 1] then shalt thou not [be] remove[d]. Judah is facing the fact that Babylon is on the move and conquering the nation-states around them. Once they were subject to Assyria but Nabopolassar, King of a re-established Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s father, defeated Assyria in 609 B.C. (secular records). Nebuchadnezzar later conquered Judah in two separate stages; 597 B.C. and 587 B.C. He reduced the population of Judah each time. People like Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego went with the first deportation.

NOTE: Parts of Assyria and Babylon fall within and overlap modern day borders of Iraq. The reader should keep in mind that all Israelis are Semitic, but not all Semites are Israelis. Abraham had other sons through Keturah [Genesis 25:1] and we must not forget Ishmael. His descendants are also Semite but today we know them as Arabs.

shovel in the ground in the vegetable garden, on a background of green onions

Break up the fallow ground

Verse 3 of chapter 4 actually begins a new paragraph. Jeremiah changes thoughts. “For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”   The next several verses explain what Jeremiah is telling the leaders of Judah. At verse 7 he explains the consequences and prophecy of not “breaking up the fallow ground.” We might say in modern terminology in 7-9, the alarm clock has been set. Choice is still available for the people and leadership of the Kingdom of Judah but it is either/or and no neutral choice. In verse 7 we read that “the destroyer of the Gentiles” is about to descend upon Judah; i.e. Nebopolassar conquered the Gentile nations then his son, Nebuchadnezzar captured and deported Judea/Jerusalem.

Jeremiah, a true prophet of God, and those who called themselves prophets but were not of God and falsely tickled the ears of the king of Judah, had many run-ins and collision courses. We will learn more about these as we progress through Jeremiah. Jeremiah 4:10 sets the stage for this and is a point in history where Jeremiah himself challenges God… “LORD God. You have not told the truth to the people in Judah and in Jerusalem. You have told them, “You will have peace”. But soon the sword will kill us.’ Jeremiah is looking back at previous and historical promises (covenants) God made with His chosen people and to what the false prophets were saying (Jeremiah 6:13,14). Simply put and as already pointed out in our opening paragraph, Judah did not stay faithful to God, so God no longer was held to his promise of safety. In simple terms, it is similar to one breaking a treaty. Once an agreement is violated, then the other party is no longer held to his agreement or terms.

For the student of Middle East studies and bible history, this website gives a great brief perspective. http://www.worldology.com/Iraq/assyrian_empire.htm

The circumcision of the heart referred to in verse 4 is explained in verse 14… (ESV) “wash (circumcise) your sins from your heart.” Verse 13-18 goes back 120 years; a reminder that what God did to the Kingdom of Israel, the ten northern tribes, is about to happen to Judah and the now absorbed Tribe of Benjamin. See verse 15 for the specific identity where often the Tribe of Ephraim is synonymous with an identity of the northern tribes.

At verse 19 we once again get a change in Jeremiah’s topics or paragraphs. This verse is a bit like one with a bad case of the flu and one’s abdomen is telling him or her there is cause for great alarm. No time remaining to consider alternative solutions. To carry this further, verse 20 where it reads “SPOILED” one could just as easily have used the analogy from the flu and insert “SOILED.” Gross? Yes, but the truth is not to be denied. “IN A MOMENT” (4:20b) says God through Jeremiah.

At verse 23, then continuing through verse 29, Jeremiah goes back to Genesis 1:2. With this retreat, he prophecies forward to Luke 21:5-38, the book of Revelation, and the Book of Daniel when the mountains tremble, the birds flee, Jerusalem being in total chaos. God uses a vision and example of this end time event back in Jeremiah 1:13-15. It happened in 587 B.C. and will repeat itself during the Apocalypse of the Tribulation.

Verse 27 is a one-way promise from God himself. It is true of this time in scripture and of End Time as also portrayed in scripture. Similar to Daniel 11 if one wishes to do a bit of self-study.

“This is what the LORD says,

‘I will destroy the country.

But I will not destroy the whole country.”

Verse 30 of Jeremiah 4 is very pronounced and profound. Both the Northern Kingdom of Israel (sometimes referred to as Joseph; i.e. Ephraim his eldest son from Egypt) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah are referred to as the “wife of God.” The website found at http://www.hope-of-israel.org/yehovahswife.html is a good source for additional information per Israel as a whole being identified as a wife (of sorts) to God. Exodus 19:5 (through 8) is sometimes referred to as the “wedding vows between God and Israel. Exodus 19:5 is God’s vow and Exodus 19:8 is Israel’s vow.

Exodus 19:5  “…you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples,…”  (husband’s vow

Exodus 19:8 “…All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (a wife’s reply)

Also look back at Jeremiah 3:8.

We can summarize this portion of our study in Jeremiah 4 with the words of Hilda Bright, a blogger and studied individual. She uses the Easy English Bible and commentary. The following are her words commenting on verse 28 through end of this chapter (v31).

Verse 28 Jeremiah describes the earth as a person who is sad. The sky becomes black because the light has gone (verse 23).

Verses 29-31 The people in Judah heard the enemy coming nearer. So the people ran away. They were afraid of the arrows that the enemy used. The people in Judah tried to find safe places to hide. They went into the woods and into caves in the cliffs (Isaiah 2:19). Jeremiah describes how Judah tried desperately to be at peace with the enemy. He describes Judah like a prostitute. The prostitute puts on bright clothes. She paints on a black powder round her eyes. It makes her eyes look larger and more attractive. But it was no use for Judah to make herself look beautiful. Judah’s ‘lovers’ were Egypt and Assyria or Babylon. But they hated Judah and they wanted to kill her.miniJim

Rev. Dr. Jstark – December 2016

 

 

Appendix:

Source Date Events
2 Kgs 25:1; Ezek 24:1-2 10 Tebeth =
27 Jan 589 BC
Beginning of final siege.
Jer 34: 8-10 1 Tishri =
29 Sep 588
Release of Hebrew slaves at beginning of a Sabbatical year.
Jer 34:11-22; 37:5-16 Between Tishri 588 &
Nisan 587 = Oct 588 to Apr 587
Babylonians temporarily lift siege due to approach of Egyptian army. Slaves taken back. Jeremiah arrested as he attempts to go to Anathoth.
Jer 34:22; Ezek 30:20-21 7 Nisan =
29 Apr 587
Egyptians defeated. Siege resumes.
2 Kgs 25:2-4; Jer 39:2, 52:7;
Ezek 33:21, 40:1
9 Tammuz =
29 Jul 587
Wall breached. Zedekiah captured.
2 Kgs 25:8 7 Ab =
25 Aug 587
Nebuzaradan arrives at Jerusalem (cf. Jonah 3:3) from Riblah in Hamath and begins consultation with commanders in the field regarding the pillaging of the city.
2 Kgs 25:9-19; 2 Chr 36:18-19;
Jer 52:12-25
10 Ab =
28 Aug 587
Nebuzaradan leads forces into Jerusalem (cf. Jonah 3:4) to pillage, destroy, and burn the city and its temple.

 

Jeremiah – Chapter 3

This book tells us not only of the immediate future of Judah, but end time for all including the dispersed ten tribes of the northern kingdom. However, the first verse in Jeremiah 3 has an application per some translations that can send one off with the wrong emphasis. It has a parallel meaning to what Jeremiah is being told by God.

Jeremiah begins with something the Judeans and all of the Israelites already know about Hebrew law therefore comparing it to them as a people chosen of God to be his *special people, like a wife. He IS NOT talking or making an emphasis per marriage between a man and woman but is using it as a platform to help them understand (see the learning pyramid in this website) via their current knowledge of the Law. [Awareness – Knowledge – Understanding…]

*Jesus uses the same analogy with the church of the New Testament; i.e. the church being the bride of Christ. This is addressed in greater detail in previous articles published on this website. Israel, all of the Tribes, is the bride of God.

Gavel Divorce Paper Decree Front
SUPPOSE that a man divorces his wife, then she marries another man. According to the Law of Moses, her first husband cannot return to her without defiling her second marriage. (Paraphrased). The second half of verse 1 states… “People in Israel, you have lived like a prostitute. You have loved many false gods. So do you think that you can return to me now?’ asks the LORD.”

Jeremiah then makes the analogy of Israel (Judah included) living like a prostitute.  They have taken in other gods of wood, stone, religion, all while giving very limited lip service to the monotheistic God of Judaism. Judah, even more so than did the Northern Kingdom of Israel, made alliances with other nations (kingdoms) to protect them or join them in a defense without consulting God as to their decisions to do so. They put their lives in the hands of other men and kingdoms rather than in the hands of God. In verses 4 and 5 Judah calls out to God as if they “really didn’t mean to leave him. Please get over your anger so we can be rescued from these men (other kingdoms) who wish to abuse us.” This has some rather strong resemblances to being a fox-hole Christian.

This was simply a repeated plea from the Israelites after each time of separation from their God and desperate moments (might this sound familiar personally?). If wanting to dig a bit deeper in your studies, go to the Book of Hosea and read it. You will find a brief outline of Hosea in a graphic form on the next page. Hosea actually married a prostitute and was commanded by God to do so. It was an example of things to come regarding Israel. Jeremiah is pointing back to Hosea in his analysis and warnings. Hosea was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom which by the time of Jeremiah, it no longer existed.

What Jeremiah is actually saying in these early verses of chapter 3 is: “oh Israel and Judah. You are my [God’s] wife who lived as a prostitute with other nations instead of depending on me. Do not expect me to simply dismiss your intentional acts of ungodliness. I will forgive in the end as promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but there will be a price to pay for your actions.” The oddity found in verse 11 is that God sees Judah as worse than their kindred northern cousins, long since these 10 tribes being dispersed and ceasing to exist as a kingdom after the Assyrians conquered them.

Judah had some good kings.  The northern ten tribes basically had un-Godly kings. So how might one justify God’s attitude per these cousins but two different kingdoms, that is, Israel being the worse of the 12 divided Tribes of Israel but lasting longer as a kingdom? It is not really that difficult. Judah too had several backslidden kings including child sacrifices. But the real taker is that 100 plus years earlier, the southern kingdom saw what God allowed to happen to the northern kingdom as judgment for their sins and did not learn from it. It is much like attitudes of people today when we think “it won’t happen to me.” Back up to verse 10; “they only pretend to worship or be loyal to me.”

Sunday only Christians… beware and leery of our own thoughts that Sunday attendance and desperation moments are evidence enough so that God thinks we have been loyal to him. Jeremiah 3:12 & 13 is a promise of fascinating reassurance. It reads:

V12 Go. Announce this message to the people who are in the north.

‘Israel, you have not been loyal’, declares the LORD.

‘Return to me.

I will not frown on you any longer.

I am kind and I am willing to forgive’,

declares the LORD.

‘I will not be angry for always.

v13  You must [first] admit that you are guilty.

You have refused to obey the LORD your God.

You have loved false gods everywhere.

You have worshipped them under every green tree.

You have not obeyed me’, declares the LORD.

“Return to me.” Even though the ten tribes in the north are at this time scattered throughout the known world, they can return to God in their hearts. This has still to happen even though Daniel, a student of Jeremiah’s writings, offered a prayer of confession for Israel as a nation from his captivity in Babylon [Daniel 9:1-19]. God says “I am willing to forgive.”

His one-person prayer may or may not be the confession God is seeking. Time will tell. However, in verse 13 of Jeremiah 3 we also read, “You must admit that you are guilty.” Daniel admits it, but what about the other millions of dispersed Israelites who by now have possibly forgotten that they are descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (renamed Israel)? The next line reads, “You have refused to obey the LORD your God.” It is more than confession but it also means a life lived IN GOD, just as the New Testament tells us [2 Corinthians 5:15] that we are to live IN JESUS. That means Christianity is a way of life; not just a religion. Just as true today with the lost ten Tribes of Israel, far too many Sunday Christians don’t get or don’t want this to be a condition of their salvation.

Adam Clark has one of the best commentary explanations for Jeremiah 3:14. He writes: 

“I will take you one of a city, and two of a family” – [Clark] If there should be but one of a city left, or one willing to return, and two only of a whole tribe, yet will I receive these, and bring them back from captivity into their own land.

In other words, a confession of one or two within a given family of Israel is possibly good enough for God to welcome back the entire tribe. This makes Daniel’s prayer in Danial 9 very significant. JIV NOTE: It can be noted that some commentaries simply skip past this verse therefore avoiding comment and commitment to what God is saying through Jeremiah. The answer is actually found in Jeremiah 31… (CEV) “Oh Israel, I [God] promise [to covenant] that someday ALL YOUR TRIBES will again be my people.”

NOTE: We are running out of blog space and reader patience, but Jeremiah 3:19-25 should not be skipped. (CEV; Contemporary English Version)

Jer 3:19  I have always wanted to treat you as my children and give you the best land, the most beautiful on earth. I wanted you to call me “Father” and not turn from me.

Jer 3:20  But instead, you are like a wife who broke her wedding vows. You have been unfaithful to me. I, the LORD, have spoken.

Jer 3:21  Listen to the noise on the hilltops! It’s the people of Israel, weeping and begging me to answer their prayers. They forgot about me and chose the wrong path.

Jer 3:22  I will tell them, “Come back, and I will cure you of your unfaithfulness.” They will answer, “We will come back, because you are the LORD our God.

Jer 3:23  On hilltops, we worshiped idols and made loud noises, but it was all for nothing– only you can save us.

Jer 3:24  Since the days of our ancestors when our nation was young, that shameful god Baal has taken our crops and livestock, our sons and daughters.

Jer 3:25  We have rebelled against you just like our ancestors, and we are ashamed of our sins.”

fulltimeWhat a conclusion for chapter 3; a true confession of guilt and a full-time return to honoring God as the one and only god. This means putting into second place all other things in life. Israel will eventually do just that. Though Israel today is basically populated and established by those few who descend from those who returned (536 B.C.) from captivity in Babylon, a time will come when they will be called from the four corners of the earth and return in mass to a nations with Jesus on the throne. It is verse 22 that is critical. God says, “I will tell them to come back…”

This is very likely to be an event that immediately follows the second advent of Christ when he returns to set up his millennial kingdom. Why? The compelling words are COME BACK, not go back. God and Jesus are already there setting up this Kingdom.miniJim

Truly an Aha – moment

AHA Moment

                                                         AHA

I was recently reading in the Compendium of World History that it was not uncommon for some Ashkenazi Jews (Israelites) to adopt European or sometimes called Christian names. They did this to hide their Jewish revealing names from those who were killing, harassing, and/or deporting them. However, they did something else to help keep their Israeli identity recognizable between themselves. They began the spelling of each “adopted European or Christian name” with the first letter of the tribe from which they originated.

Levi, Judah, Benjamin, Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Manasseh and Ephraim (Joseph). Joseph is dropped from these identities in exchange for his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. L, J, B, R, S, D, N, G, A, I, Z, Z, M, E. For some perhaps God-given reason the above and future persecution of these people, is the reason. The name Joseph is usually dropped from the naming or listing of tribes in the Old Testament therefore his offspring territories in Israel were identified as not the territory of the Tribe of Joseph but the Tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. Land in Canaan was allotted by Joshua to Manasseh and Ephraim, not Joseph.

Note that not one tribal name repeats or has the same first letter. This is not inclusive of all Israeli families in exile or within the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. However, many of them have totally forgotten over time this self-identifying code within each adopted name. Therefore, amongst themselves, this kept their tribal connection recognizable by other tribes but an enigma to outsiders. Sadly, it also became an enigma to their grandchildren and later descendants. So Letterman could mean from the tribe of Levi. Johnson could mean from the tribe of Judah. Gibbons could mean from the tribe of Gad….

What are the odds that humans would have 12 children (males) with one of these children (Joseph) having two of his own sons yet not repeat use of the first letter in naming each newborn son, Ephraim and Manasseh? Is it a coincidence that Jesus from the Tribe of Judah is another Bible code? It would be reckless to state that all names point to a coded descendant from a Tribe of Israel, but it would also be just as reckless to deny the probability of God’s hand in even the names given to these descendants of Jacob (Israel).

It would be insane to think this universal to all exiled tribal sub clans in the world today, but God had a reason for the naming of each tribe. Thinking a bit outside the box this could easily be one of those God-given reasons; Abram to Abraham; Jacob to Israel; Saul to Paul (apostle)… God (Jesus) changed names of others several times in scripture

Isaiah 43:1
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
John 10:14-15
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
John 10:3
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Exodus 33:17
And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

The FACT that the descendants of Israel in exile did this is a fact of secular history. The fact that the names given to each son of Jacob, without repeating the use of first letter, is quite unusual. Even the fact that Joseph had two sons who were adopted by Jacob as full sons of Jacob did not have names that broke this none duplication of first letters. Sure, it could all be another bible coincident. It would be turning a blind eye to ignore the possibility of God’s hand even in these names. Several times in scripture God renamed people for a reason.Dr. jStark