24 Oct Mid-Week Msg. – Jeremiah 3-5, Jeremiah The 2nd Study
- Reference: Jeremiah 3-5
- Date: 24 October 2012
Jeremiah 3-5 • Chapter Study
Chs. 2-6 are the 16 year old prophet Jeremiah’s 1st message to the people of Judah.
He preached this during the reign of good king Josiah.
But it’s a scathing denunciation of Judah’s idolatry.
He pleads w/ them to forsake their idols & return to the Lord.
As we’ve seen over the last 3 Sundays, the imagery God uses in these chs. is that Israel was a stubbornly wayward, cheatin’ hussy of a wife while He’d been nothing but a marvelous, faithful, outstanding husband to her.
Her idol worshipping was spiritual adultery.
And while God had patiently waited & pleaded with her to come back to Him alone, she refused.
So His long spoken warning of judgment was drawing near.
1 “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, And she goes from him And becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the LORD.
According to the Law, Deut 24, a divorced woman who married another man could not return to her first husband.
Yet Judah shamelessly pursued idols, then worshiped God at the refurbished temple in Jerusalem as though nothing had happened.
The people of Judah acted like a woman who’s having an affair w/half a dozen guys, then comes home at night to her husband as though everything is fine in their marriage.
God knew what was going on.
Yet He invites them to repent of their spiritual adultery & return to Him.
His willingness to forgive & restore is AMAZING!
2 “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian [horse] in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; You refuse to be ashamed. 4 Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth? 5 Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able.”
They couldn’t claim innocence.
Every hill had a pagan altar; every stand of trees held a pagan pillar.
Judah was a brazen harlot who sat by the side of the road selling herself cheaply.
She was like a mare in heat.
And for this, the nation has known God’s discipline:
The rains have been withheld; there’s been drought.
The land was polluted & defiled by their rebellion.
People are so concerned about the environment & pollution today.
The government rightly passes laws to prohibit pollution.
And while they restrict chemicals, they allow an equally dangerous form of pollution in moral perversion.
Laws are passed to protect the rights of those who engage in immorality.
6 The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. 7 And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. 9 So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD. 11 Then the LORD said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
The nation of Israel divided into 2 kingdoms during the reign of Solomon’s son.
Israel in the north had 10 tribes, Judah in the south had 2.
They had about equal territory.
While the kingdom of Israel had only a succession of wicked kings, Judah’s kings see-sawed back & forth in theit loyalty to God.
So about 150 years before Judah fell to the Babylonians, Israel was conquered & carried away captive by the Assyrians.
In Jeremiah’s time, that had already happened—and God speaks of it here.
Judah ought to have learned from what happened to Israel that worshipping idols is disastrous.
As least Israel had remained loyal to her idols while Judah couldn’t make up her mind who she was going to worship.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD. 14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Even though Israel had been defeated by the Assyrians & deported from their land, if individual Jews in the land of their exile would repent & return to the Lord, He would restore & bless them once again.
God was a faithful husband willing to be reconciled to his errant wife, IF she’d just do the right thing & come back to Him alone.
V. 15 is a precious promise.
If the people repent & return, God will return to them, return them to their land, & give them leaders who’ll lead according to God’s heart.
Oh how our nation & the Church today need leaders Like this. // Lord send us such leaders!
16 “Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the LORD, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. 17 “At that time Jerusalem shall be called the Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.
Now the prophet looks forward to the future great gathering of the Jews into their homeland.
They will be forever cured of their wandering hearts to worship & enjoy a new relationship w/the Lord that isn’t centered on pieces of furniture like the ark.
This is a glimpse into the future when the Messiah returns & sets up the Kingdom of God on Earth.
18 “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.
The rift between the northern & southern kingdoms will be forever healed. There will be one nation again.
We’ve seen the fulfillment of that prophecy in our own time.
The migration of Jews back to Israel began in the late 40’s & continues to this day.
Each year, thousands of Jewish immigrants make what’s called “aliyah” = The Return to Israel.
The group making up the largest number of these immigrants comes from the place foretold here in v. 18 = the North.
Waves of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union have flooded into Israel because of persecution & the poor economy.
Since 1986 over ¾’s of immigrants to Israel have been from the former Soviet Union countries.
It’s been called the Russian Exodus.
19 “But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ “And I said: ‘You shall call Me, “My Father,” and not turn away from Me.’ 20 Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” says the LORD. 21 A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. 22 “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.”
God appeals to them like a grieving father pleads w/His errant children.
Jeremiah is stricken w/the pathos of the appeal of God so he replies . . .
“Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God.
But Jeremiah is only 1 small voice in an entire nation that rejects God & turns a deaf ear to His appeals.
23 Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God Is the salvation of Israel. 24 For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth—Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”
1“If you will return, O Israel,” says the LORD, “Return to Me;
In other words – “If you’re going to do it – THEN GET ON WITH IT! Enough w/the dilly-dallying.”
and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved. 2 And you shall swear, ‘The LORD lives,’ in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; The nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him they shall glory.”
From the beginning it was God’s intent to bless all nations thru Israel.
Because Israel had forsaken Him, the blessing of the nations was hindered.
God’s plan was to bless Israel, then use her as a showcase to the world of what loyal obedience to Him leads to.
God blessing has 2 important purposes à
1) To demonstrate His love to us directly.
2) To bring others to faith in Him so they can be blessed too.
We’re blessed so that we CAN bless. // We are blessed, TO bless.
It’s important we understand that while we’re under the New Covenant & enjoy the blessings of God by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ,
God’s covenant w/Abraham & His descendants lives on.
That covenant, announced in Gen. 12, then elaborated later to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob has things in it that have yet to be fulfilled.
God always keeps His word.
Contrary to what some Christian theologians says, God is NOT done w/Israel.
The Church has NOT replaced Israel in the plan of God.
God’s promises to Israel have NOT been subsumed & spiritualized by the Church.
What God said to Abraham still holds: “I will bless those who bless you & curse those who curse you, and in you, all the nations of the Earth will be blessed.”
The surest way to general global peace & prosperity is the safety, security & renewal of the nation of Israel to their land & God.
If the United Nations was sincere in its pursuit of peace & prosperity for all nations, it would work to secure the Jews in their homeland – not do as they’ve historically done – which is to condemn Israel at every turn.
3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.”
God makes a direct appeal to the people of Judah; “Stop playing at religion & get serious about your relationship w/Me. Break up your fallow ground.”
Fallow ground was land that’s not known a pick or plow for a long time.
It’s hardened by the repeated rains & sun.
If it’s to be fruitful, it has to be broken up & turned over.
In the same way, if we’re not diligent to guard our hearts & keep them tender to the Lord, they can become hard by the frequent forces of the world.
We stop bearing spiritual fruit, & become like a patch of weeds.
How do we break up our fallow ground?
How can we cut away the fleshly crude that grows up around our hearts?
1) Stay in the God’s Word. Let it speak to you.
2) Pray & let the Spirit convict you.
3) Allow others to minister to us.
4) Sit under anointed teaching where the Holy Spirit can speak.
5) And most importantly, when God shows you something, respond promptly!
Nothing will harden our hearts quicker than delay.
Cultivate a prompt & cheerful obedience to God.
5 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: “Blow the trumpet in the land; Cry, ‘Gather together,’ and say, ‘Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities.’ 6 Set up the standard toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, and great destruction.” 7 The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, without inhabitant. 8 For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us. 9 “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the LORD, “That the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; The priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.”
Because they won’t repent & return, their judgment is certain.
The Babylonians are already on the way & will come to destroy the land.
10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘You shall have peace,’ Whereas the sword reaches to the heart.”
Wait! The Lord did NOT say this!
The false prophets were claiming there’d be peace & safety!
Even young Jeremiah was deceived by those who professed to be the oracles of God.
But God had NOT spoken peace.
He had counseled repentance & warned if it wasn’t forthcoming, judgment would be.
There are many voices claiming to speak for God today, just as in the days of Jeremiah & Isaiah.
We must be careful to hold these supposed prophecies up to the light & scrutiny of Scripture to see if they’re faithful to God’s revealed will.
So much of what’s said doesn’t square w/Scripture.
Yet because the speaker claims it is from Lord, it’s like we have to accept it or we’re accused of opposing the Spirit.
The false prophets of Jeremiah’s day said there’d be peace & safety.
They were loved because they told the people what they wanted to hear.
Yet idolatry & corruption were the status quo.
When Jeremiah came along & said judgment was coming—Ohhh! They didn’t like that!
They declaimed him for not going along w/the program. / They accused HIM of being false.
And when he wouldn’t shut up, they tossed him in prison.
Joel Rosenberg’s latest book is titled Implosion.
It identifies several trends that chart a path toward the decline & catastrophic fall of the US.
Joel doesn’t make a prophetic claim in the book.
He simply identifies where we’re headed if things continue on as they are.
The solution; the only apparent turn around to an inevitable collapse is a dramatic Revival, a Third Great Awakening.
Violent crime in America is up more than 400% since 1960.
After several years of leveling off, violent crime spiked significantly last year.
The Associated Press reports; “Violent crimes unexpectedly jumped 18% last year, the first rise in nearly 20 years, and property crimes rose for first time in a decade.”
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported [recently] that the increase in the number of violent crimes was the result of an upward swing in assaults, which rose 22% from 2010 to last year.
This year has seen murder sprees in Chicago & New Orleans, massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin.
We’re also seeing a record murder wave in small towns in America.
On the economic front: The national debt is at more than $16 trillion & climbing.
CNN reports: “It’s official. The U.S. government rang up a $1.1 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2012, according to final numbers released Friday by the Treasury Department. It marked the 4th straight year deficits exceeded $1 trillion.”
Even more distressing; we’re approaching bills of $57 trillion in unfunded liabilities, promises our government has made regarding Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid that we have no way of paying for.
The federal government borrowed approximately an additional $10,855 for each household in the US just over the past year. Our total debt now equals approximately $136,700 per household.
At the last debate on Monday night, though it was on foreign policy, both candidates admitted our national debt harms our security.
Admiral Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said if the debt continues to grow unbridled, the U.S. government will be constrained in its ability to pay for what it wants to do militarily and diplomatically. It will limit our leverage with foreign powers. Especially since other countries own close to half of all outstanding U.S. public debt, with China and Japan leading the list of creditors.
These trends are not sustainable. There is a point of no return, a point at which God removes His hand of grace and mercy and turns to judgment.
The history of Israel, then Judah, and a whole host of other nations proves this to be true.
If we don’t repent & return to the Lord, we too will face judgment soon.
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness toward the daughter of My people—not to fan or to cleanse— 12 a wind too strong for these will come for Me; Now I will also speak judgment against them.” 13 “Behold, he shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are plundered!”
When judgment comes it won’t be a breeze that ruffles their hair. It’ll be a storm that destroys.
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? 15 For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim:
Again Jeremiah appeals that they repent by calling them to look north & the example of Israel.
In vs. 16-21, Jeremiah is overwhelmed by the vision of battle & destruction he sees ahead for Judah.
His soul is crushed by the grief he feels at the pointlessness of their ruin & the loss of such incredible potential.
22 “For My people are foolish, they’ve not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”
Proverbs is clear – wisdom begins w/the fear of God.
To reject & ignore God, to discount Him is folly.
I get this magazine which reviews culture from a Biblical worldview.
It has articles & reports on what’s taking place in the fields of science, education, media, & government.
As I read about what the so-called experts, scholars, professors, scientists, & officials who reject God say & do, I alternate between laughter & anger at how truly clueless they are.
They are educated past the point of reason. They have multiple PhD’s but have not a lick of common sense.
The city of NY recently banned the sale of sugary drinks over 16 oz. because kids are overweight.
So instead of buying 1 20 oz. drink, they now buy 2 12 oz. cans of soda – & end up w/4 extra oz. of soda.
What?!?!? Did they really NOT figure out that was going to happen?
When man forgets or forsakes God, he loses His center & the ground of reality.
He can live for a while on the exhaust of a previous age that believed, but eventually that evaporates.
Then, all that’s left is the empty air that feeds the fiction man is alone to decide what’s real.
In vs. 23-29, Jeremiah describes the devastation that will sweep across the entire land & every city.
The Babylonians will make a complete end. There will be no escape!
30 “And when you are plundered, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, though you enlarge your eyes with paint, in vain you will make yourself fair; Your lovers will despise you; They will seek your life. 31 “For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor, the anguish as of her who brings forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself; she spreads her hands, saying, ‘Woe is me now, for my soul is weary because of murderers!’
They won’t be able to doll themselves up in seductive clothes & make-up to appeal to a new lover-nation to rescue them. // They’re consigned to judgment
1 “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her.
What a challenge is handed to Jeremiah!
God tells him to find anyone w/integrity. / If he can find 1 – judgment will be averted.
God said this because Jeremiah was so shaken by the vision of judgment he’d just had.
So God proves to him how ripe of Jerusalem was.
2 Though they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ à Surely they swear falsely.” 3 O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, “Surely these are poor. They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the judgment of their God. 5 I will go to the great men and speak to them, for they have known the way of the LORD, the judgment of their God.” But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds.
Jeremiah takes the challenge & goes out to find a righteous man of integrity.
He can’t find one!
Even the guys who used to look like godly leaders have been corrupted by the times.
6 Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many; their backslidings have increased.
These animals lived in the wild & unpopulated places, not urban areas.
If the chief citizens were killed by them it meant the population was so reduced, the land was a wilderness.
What would it mean if the leading cause of death in Oxnard was coyotes & cougars?
It would mean the situation was like that for Will Smith in the movie I Am Legend – minus the zombies.
7 “How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. 8 They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife.
Their prosperity was the gift & blessing of God.
Instead of being thankful, they’d been emboldened to pursue a lifestyle of sin.
In vs. 9-31, God contrasts His faithfulness w/their stubborn & unreasoned rebellion.
They’ve proven themselves more than worthy of judgment.
The wonder of it all is that God has waited so long. Look at v. 29 à
29 Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the LORD. ‘Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?’
Then this most amazing thing; even God is mystified by this à
30“An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: è
31 The prophets à prophesy falsely,
and the priests à rule by their own power;
and My people à love to have it so.
But what will you do in the end?
The very people charged w/the task of speaking to the people for God – the prophets,
And those who were supposed to speak to God for the people, – the priests,
LEFT GOD OUT of what they did.
They claimed to be His guys – but changed everything around to accomplish their own ends.
And the people, who were getting ripped off by these faker-frauds loved it!
A moment’s reflection would have told them they were getting ripped off & they knew it.
But they chose to pretend everything groovy & paid good money to the guys who would keep telling them pretty lies.
Just as today, in this election, we’re about to drive over a cliff, but it seems no one wants to hear it.
We’re like Thelma & Louise, top down, driving 80, hootin’ & hollerin.
Someone warns us a cliffs up ahead, an economist, a prophet, a pastor, an honest politician, but what does the public do? They turn the radio up so drown out the nay-sayers.
Don’t anyone dare rain on our good times.
That was Judah in the days of Jeremiah. And that’s the USA in our day.