Read Jeremiah 21:1-14
As I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah I was once again struck by the timely message it holds for our nation's leaders. In the previous chapter Jeremiah was thrown in the stocks because of his prophecies. In this chapter, Pashhur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, whose father was a priest, are purposely seeking him out for guidance. They are on a mission for the king (whom Jeremiah has been prophesying against) and their actions seem to acknowledge that Jeremiah is a true prophet from God.
So they asked Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord on what they should do about Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who was making war against them. In other words, they believed (or rather King Zedekiah believed) that if they begged God for help He would ignore all the warnings Jeremiah had been prophesying about and Nebuchadnezzar would leave them alone. Up until this point in time Jeremiah's prophecies about their coming destruction at the hands of the King of Babylon, were met with derision. But suddenly those prophecies started coming true and so they rushed to Jeremiah for advice on how to make it stop. They believed they could bargain with God.
They were wrong.
Jeremiah gave them startling news. They weren't just going to war with the King of Bablyon, they were going to war with God Himself.
Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls; and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath (Jeremiah 21:4-5, NKJV).
For years they had ignored Jeremiah's warnings to repent and return to God before it was too late. Now, when all seemed lost instead of repenting, they were looking for an easy way to escape the coming judgment. And God provided it, but it was costly.
“Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans [Babylonians] who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him" (Jeremiah 21:8-9, NKJV).
The Lord decreed that those who remain in the city would die by sword, famine and pestilence, but if they willingly went out of the city and defected to the Babylonian side, they would live. So the people of Zedekiah's kingdom had a choice to make. Reject their allegiance to him and their beloved Jerusalem and defect to the Babylonian side, thus saving their lives, or stay and fight a losing battle. As for King Zedekiah, his fate was already sealed.
The Lord reminded King Zedekiah that since he was from the Davidic line he had a responsibility to execute justice in his land for the oppressed. But Zedekiah was a wicked and arrogant king and the Lord knew this, so He told him he would be punished for his wickedness and Jerusalem would be destroyed. He knew King Zedekiah would never bow to another king and pledge allegiance to him. He would never defect to Babylon. He couldn't. He was the king of Judah, his pride wouldn't let him. He would fight against the Lord and lose.
It doesn’t matter how rich you are, how powerful you are or who you are related to, in the end God judges our hearts and our actions. King Zedekiah was a covenant king, responsible for the welfare of the people and ensuring that God alone was worshipped and glorified. But he was wicked and his arrogance lead him to believe he was untouchable. Imagine his surprise when the Lord waged war against him through the King of Babylon.
Governments from all over the world today act much the same way – with arrogance. Unafraid of the consequences of evil deeds. We need only to look at the current wicked President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, to see arrogance and defiance towards God and man in action. We see this kind of arrogance from leaders all over the world. Like Vladimir Putin, who long ago should have had sanctions against him because he has supplied the arms that contributed to Assad's murderous reign. We see it in terrorist groups like ISIS who are constantly shaking their fists at God by bombing churches and beheading Christians - just daring Him to stop them.
And one day He will, and those in power will have to answer to the King of Kings face to face for their wickedness, unless they heed the warning Jeremiah gave to King Zedekiah to repent and return to God.
As we draw closer to the Lord’s return, it is becoming more and more apparent how arrogant and wicked our leader’s in government are. They make decisions that affect millions of people and lead their nations further and further away from God. Today, I thank God for godly leaders but pray for those who do not acknowledge Him, to repent and return to Him before it is too late. Will you join me?
Oh, that my head were waters,
Today while studying Jeremiah 9, I was struck by a few things. First, was Jeremiah's obvious distress. He basically says that if his head were full of water, his eyes would be like a fountain of tears. That's a lot crying. He was known as The Weeping Prophet for a reason. This tells me a lot about Jeremiah the person:
The most interesting thing about Jeremiah for me though, is that he wasn't just a prophet for the Jews. He was a prophet for the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). God appointed Him to speak to ALL people. And thousands of years later, remarkable as it is, the book of Jeremiah is still doing exactly that. At least it is for me. The warnings in this book have seemed to parallel what our world is going through today, convincing me once again that ALL of God's Word (not just the New Testament) is relevant for Christians. Those who say we are not bound by the Old Testament and never bother reading it, do themselves a disservice, because it is in the Old Testament that we find lessons we can take to heart and learn more about the ways of our unchanging God.
In Jeremiah 6:27 we are told that God has set Jeremiah as an assayer and strong tower among God's people. An assayer is someone who is an inspector of metals. He judges their value. So Jeremiah is out among the people and he is assessing them. He knows they are unworthy and God knows he knows. So God makes a decision and says:
Behold, I will refine them and try them;
How are metals tested? They are put through the fire to see how well they stand up. It's called a refiner's fire. In Revelation 3:18 Jesus says: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich.” In my book He Who Has an Ear, Who the Seven Churches of Revelation are Today, I explained it this way:
To refine gold, it must be hot enough to burn away the dross or impurities.It is known as a “refiner’s fire” and this is what Jesus was saying the Laodiceans needed to go through. They needed to be refined or tested so all the dross in them could be cleaned out. Then they would be truly rich. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s this: When God wants to deal with something about me He knows I’m not seeing clearly or haven’t worked towards refining, I can be sure I’ll go through a trial. Of course, when those trials go on for months, one starts to wonder, “What am I not getting?” But it may simply be that the dross is gone but God knows He has to “test the gold,” as it were, to see if it endures.
Jeremiah's people were about to be put through the refiner's fire. Not only would they be tested with the horrors of war, (they would end up going into captivity for 70 years) but the land would also be put through the fire. God said:
I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a den of jackals.
You may be wondering why God would punish the land. Jeremiah asked the same question and God said it was because the people had forsaken His laws. They had not obeyed His voice or walked according to it (Jeremiah 9:13-14). Instead, they had walked "according to the dictates of their own hearts." Their sin polluted the land. So what was God's solution?
“Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles,
What God was about to do in response to the unrepentant hearts of His people would be (essentially) bitter for them to drink or endure. Since they refused to obey Him or listen to Him anymore, He was not only going to bring destruction to Jerusalem and its surrounding cities, but He was also going to send them among the heathen nations (Gentiles) they had followed after.
How Does This Apply to Us Today?
Only the blind cannot see what is happening in the world today. We are rushing headlong toward God's judgment once again. For those who know the Lord, don't be surprised if you find your troubles in life increasing. Rejoice if they are, because the Lord is preparing you for the future. All Christians will go through a refiner's fire at some point. Be strong, stand firm and you will come out shining like gold.
To those who do not know the Lord, this is your warning from Jeremiah, me and all Christians everywhere who beg you to repent and turn to God to be saved. Jesus is coming again and He will not be coming as a meek shepherd, but as a righteous judge.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead." - Acts 17:31
God set Jeremiah as an assayer - to test the people to see if they were worthy. Today, we have an intermediary, who stands before God on our behalf. His name is Jesus and one day He will come again to judge the living and the dead. He alone will decide if we have stood the test and have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Will you be found worthy when He returns?
We looked for peace, but no good came
Today as I finished up my study of Jeremiah 8, I was struck by several things that made me feel the grief and agony Jeremiah felt when God warned him judgment was coming upon his people. He had been warning the people that God was going to deal with them harshly, and soon, if they didn't repent. However, the priests and false prophets were telling the people the exact opposite. They kept assuring them that everything was fine. God would not judge them or harm them in any way because He loved them too much. This is the refrain of many modern day preachers in the Emergent Church movement like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, who say that God is a loving God and no one on earth is going to hell. They reject all verses in the Bible that say otherwise because they simply cannot accept that God is capable of divine wrath. By teaching this "no one goes to hell" or "there is no hell" theory, they are taking Jesus off the cross and making His death insignificant. Why? Because it was due to God's wrath over disobedience and sin that Jesus came in the first place. If there is no hell or no punishment to come in the hereafter for those who refuse to repent, then why did Jesus come? So now these modern preachers say, Jesus saved us from all that. We no longer have to fear God because everyone is saved and everyone wins. By doing that however, no one feels the need to repent and turn back to God. Life just got easier - eat, drink and be merry - because it really doesn't matter what we do - God is a loving God who would never harm anyone.
The dangers of this type of modern day preaching is what Jeremiah was dealing with from the priests and prophets of his day, who kept insisting the same things. They were probably even telling the people not to listen to Jeremiah as he stood at the gates of the temple every day, warning of impending destruction. To them, Jeremiah was just a crazy man preaching about the end of the world. And what does the world do with people like that? They tune them out and continue on their way - much to their detriment.
But what does the Bible say about people like that?
If we are "out of our mind," as some say,
So here we have Jeremiah warning the people of their destruction and no one is listening to him. Why? They are listening to the priests and prophets who have authority. To them Jeremiah had no authority, so they thought he's crazy. Don't we have the same thing going on in the world today? People think Christians are crazy because we warn others that they could go to hell for all eternity if they don't repent of their sins. They call us fools because we believe Jesus is returning soon. They call us intolerant because we believe, like God, that sin is sin. And they call us self-righteous because we believe anyone who doesn't come to faith in Christ will not be saved.
What they fail to realize (and this was the same for Jeremiah's people) is that we warn of these things not out of self-righteousness, but out of a deep concern for the lives of those who do not know God. Jeremiah expresses his concern for his fellow man this way:
For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.
And isn't that what every Christian feels when trying to get the message of salvation across to others? We feel the heart of God, who does not want anyone to suffer or perish in their sin. We hurt for those who are lost. But it is not self-righteousness. We feel this concern for the lost because we have the Holy Spirit within us. This is why we cannot be silent, for it is the Lord's Holy Spirit who urges us to speak!
Jeremiah would find out that the people would only listen to those in positions of authority. To them he was just a street-corner preacher holding up a sign of impending doom. A crazy person. And today we find the same attitude in our world. People will only listen to those in positions of authority and unfortunately, some of those people are like the false priests and prophets of Jeremiahs' day. Jeremiah lamented this by saying something that is so prophetic for today:
The harvest is past,
In the future, this will be the sad refrain of many. God will have reaped His harvest and those left behind will realize they are not saved - it will be too late by then. Jeremiah realized that for his people that time was upon them and he cried:
Is there no balm in Gilead,
Gilead was a region east of the Jordan River. It was known for its spices and medicinal herbs (Genesis 37:25). Jeremiah wished that someone would come and heal his people of their sin. Now, let's take this a little further and compare it to our great physician - Jesus Christ. He is the balm in Gilead! He is the solution for the spiritual health of all people today. And Satan knows that, which is why there is so much apostasy in the church today - he's been working overtime because he knows this world is winding down. The harvest is about to finish and the summer (this golden age of God staying His hand against the world) is about to end. Jesus is coming soon and He will be coming as a righteous judge. The time for repentance therefore, is now - not when you see Him coming in the clouds. By then it will be too late.
Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them;
Today I am in chapter six of Jeremiah. I have found this study fascinating because even though it is about the Jewish people and a warning from God to them that judgement was coming, I can see there are acute similarities between our world and theirs.
For the last five chapters, God has been voicing His displeasure over the wickedness of His people. He has, through Jeremiah, given them fair warning about their impending doom. This is a precedent God has set throughout history. When judgement is coming, He sends a prophet to warn the people.
But who are our prophets today? How do we receive warnings from God? We get our warnings from scripture verses like today. We get them all throughout the Bible. Our final warning being the Revelation of John. We don't have to look far to see that we are living in a world similar to Jeremiah's. Jeremiah's world was filled with the following, and sadly, our world is the same:
Is there a way we can escape judgement?
The same way that was offered to Jeremiah's people is offered to this world today.
Stand in the ways and see,
This world is in danger because, like Jeremiah's people, the people of today refuse to heed the warnings. They refuse to repent, and instead they continue to mock God and promote immorality. There are Christians who claim to follow God, but they have so closely aligned themselves with the world it is hard to distinguish them from unbelievers. Sexual promiscuity, divorce and adultery are rampant in the church. Should we be shocked that judgement is coming?
But unlike Jeremiah's day, we have a Redeemer who came to earth to stand in the gap for us. To save us from eternal punishment. All we have to do is confess our sins and sincerely repent. Jesus is waiting for all to come to Him to be saved.
But how much longer will God contend with man?
The signs are all there. Our world is the same as Jeremiah's. Jesus said in Matthew 24:37, "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
The book of Jeremiah has shown me the conditions that led to judgement in his era are present in ours. If people think God is not going to act - and soon - they are fooling themselves. We need to sound the trumpet and raise the alarm and if we look foolish in doing so, then so be it. I'd rather look a fool in warning people of their impending doom, than to stand before God ashamed that I did nothing.
Jesus' is coming soon.