Jeremiah – Chapter 24

figsFigs 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:

[6] 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.

[7] 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.new earth

*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.

miniJimRev. Dr. Jstark May 25, 2017

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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 7

Book of JeremiahIf a given people have the Temple of God in their midst, might they think that they are indestructible because GOD’S HOUSE is in their town? This is similar to a very big guy standing between you (us) and someone who wants to fight or defeat us. What we forget is the attitude and idea of the big guy. Is he going to do anything to prevent an attack? Does he even care? Might he be a person in who we put hope but it is not in his mind to protect those who had previously abandoned him? Have we previously given the big guy little recognition?

This is the opening scenario in Jeremiah 7. This chapter is full of “what ifs.” We will concentrate on them with this blog. Most quotes will be from the CEV and when not, the translation used will be identified. We strongly recommend one reads this chapter before delving into the blog review and study of chapter 7.

The Kingdom of Judah is on the verge of collapse yet no one in Judah, the king, synagogue leaders, and general population wants to acknowledge it. The previously ruling dynasty of the Middle East was Assyria. Babylon under the leadership of Nabopolassar through off the overlord of Assyria and began the road to Middle East dominance. His son Nebuchadnezzar finished the job his father began by conquering Judah and defeating Egypt.

Now that the reader is up to date, let’s look at the defiance and bad attitude of the Kingdom of Judah just before this time of Assyria’s fall and Babylon’s rise to power.

Jeremiah was told by YHWH – God to stand by the gate of the Lord’s house and announce: “Confess or be punished for 70 years under the rule of a kingdom where you do not even know the language” [paraphrased]. Recall in our chapter 6 study, the people and leadership of Judah, to a soul, did not live an honest life.

Pay attention, people of Judah! Change your ways and start living right, then I will let you keep on living in your own country.” [v3]

Here is another one of those promises that begins with an “If you will….” God can do anything as He is sovereign, but man has a free will. We opt in or out; God only offers. To stay neutral means to NOT TO OPT IN so the end result is the same.

Verse 4 is unusual for scripture. It is common to find “verily, verily I say unto you.” But, here is something repeated three times.

‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

God is not speaking here. It is the voice of the people of Judah and the leadership of false prophets. In modern terminology one might ask, who are you trying to convince? Me or you? Verses 5-7 list the prerequisite conditions God sets for preventing being overrun and dispersed into captivity by the Babylonians.

  1. Amend your ways
  2. Amend your deeds
  3. Execute justice
  4. Do not oppress the stranger or traveler, widow, poor
  5. Shed not innocent blood (child sacrifice)
  6. MOSTLY… get rid of those useless idols of stone, wood, wealth, position, influence

Verse 7 helps us to understand why in verse 4 screaming multiple times that “this is the temple of the LORD” is useless. The Lord is not IN THE TEMPLE TO SERVE THEIR PURPOSES handing out good enough certificates of protection. He has been abandoned by Judah for idols and other gods. It is just a building. This bothers me personally to realize the many churches where the LORD is not part of the service or worship and praise. They offer words to bounce off the ceiling but never get to the Lord’s ears. They sing catchy tunes with spiritually meaningless lyrics. They preach that God is Love and pass over the fact that He is also JUST.

Jer 7:9 You steal and murder; you lie in court and are unfaithful in marriage. You worship idols and offer incense to Baal, when these gods have never done anything for you.

Jer 7:10  And then you come into my temple and worship me! Do you think I will protect you so that you can go on sinning?

Ever hear the phrase NO BRAINER? It fits well with the above two verses. Somehow I think they people of Judah may be looking back at the Ark of the Covenant protection during times of battle and war. I like how Jon W. Quinn puts it… They were wrong about that [too]. It was at Shiloh where the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines and the unfaithful people of Israel defeated (1 Samuel 4:10-11). It was as if they believed that the ark was like a lamp and God was a genie inside enslaved to whoever possessed the ark. That was certainly a mistake. What Jon is saying is that the Temple of the LORD is not going to protect an evil.

3d rendering words lie and believeJeremiah 7:8 reminds us of how some search the scriptures for support of whatever stance or issue for which s/he needs that third-person validation. “…ye trust in lying words that cannot profit.” In other words, we search or listen for that which supports our pre-desired opinion or outcome, then ignore the context or rest of the verse or chapter. As a 20 year college professor and Dean, I often saw this in papers from students. Instead of looking for the truth after stating a supposition, s/he only keeps that which supports his or her desired outcome. Commentators constantly say, “they believed lies.” We disagree. They desire it [lies] to be right as this is how they wish to live their lives.  People do the same thing today by taking scripture out of context in a way it supports his or her lies, or self-deceit.

In Jeremiah 7:11 God – Jeremiah puts it all on the table. “You are thieves, and you have made my temple your hideout” [CEV].

I guess standing in a garage does not make one an auto mechanic. Neither does attending college make one a scholar. This is verse 11 in layman terms. Showing up to church and tithing does not make one a Christian. We hasten to remind our readers of James 2:19 and Romans 10:9 & 10.

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.

Romans 10:9,10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jeremiah is not being unkind however today he would be crucified by the news and social media for being so very politically incorrect, discriminating and offensive of others rights to “shut him up.”

Dr. jStark

 

 

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.