Jeremiah as you have never seen him before (Prt 1)
How Jesus Christ viewed the book of Jeremiah, Part 1, Chapters 1 thru 26 (Nov 99).
[Note: I have also added another letter to the end of my Sep 99 article.]
Like the book of Isaiah which (as I showed earlier) is a highly edited post-exile compilation of the writings of at least three different prophets, it appears evident that the book of Jeremiah is also a post-exile compilation of the writings of at least three different individuals. It clearly contains the writings or preaching of Jeremiah himself during the first half of his ministry, the writings of his scribe Baruch about Jeremiah (and at times dictated by Jeremiah) during the later half of his ministry, and some chapters at the end of the book that were evidently written by others long after Jeremiah's death. Since these writings by and about Jeremiah are put together with seemingly little regard for chronological order, it appears that like the Book of Isaiah, this book was compiled rather hastily. Numerous biblical scholars have suggested various ways in which the writings in the book of Jeremiah can be re-arranged to make more sense from a chronological standpoint. Indeed, there are significant differences in the way the chapters of the book of Jeremiah are arranged in various well-known translations of the Old Testament. For the purposes of my review of this book, I have decided to simply go with the order and translation found in the New King James (NKJ) version of the Bible.
Jeremiah ("Jehovah lifts up") was a Levite, the son of Hilkiah. Judging from the fact that he was raised in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, it appears that he was a descendant of the Abiathar line of priests who were deposed by King Solomon (1 Kings 2:26-35). Thus, he was not the son of the High Priest Hilkiah who discovered the "lost scroll' (the book of Deuteronomy) during the renovation of Solomon's Temple. This may have made it easier for him to severely criticize the actions and teachings of the Levite priests in Jerusalem (because they were not part of his immediate family). Jeremiah's contemporaries included the Old Testament authors Hosea, Joel, Amos, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, and Daniel. But it is unclear whether or not he viewed them as being among the apostate priests and false prophets whom he so frequently chastised.
An important thing to notice about Jeremiah's preaching is that whenever he specifically describes the offenses that were being committed by his fellow Israelites, those offenses are not only violations of the Ten Commandments, they all violations of either the first or the second of God's two most fundamental commandments (as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40). As was typical of the Levite thinking in those days, Jeremiah attributes acts of evil to God as well as acts of goodness and mercy (i.e., Satan hadn't been thrown out of his perception of heaven yet). The promoters of idol worship in the Gentile nations in those days taught pretty much the same way of thinking, but they attributed such powers to their beloved idols rather than to God. So in this respect, the teachings of the Levites in those days were only one step removed from the teachings of their Gentile religious counterparts. But it was a significant step, and Jeremiah's criticisms based on God's two most fundamental commandments helped lead to the next step which was taken by the third Isaiah (and Jesus)--to completely disassociate God from evil (i.e. to "cast Satan out of Heaven"--to remove evil from mankind's perception of God.). Unfortunately for a large percentage of mankind today, many of America's more popular religious leaders (Jack Van Impe, etc.) have yet to make that second step themselves.
As in our earlier biblical reviews, my own comments will be in [brackets], and I will use "2-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the second-heaven level of interpretation and "3-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the third-heaven (allegorical) level of interpretation.
Although I refer to situations in our present world to help illustrate the current relevance of Jeremiah's teachings, the way I am viewing Jeremiah's teachings is essentially the same as the way Jesus viewed those teachings (i.e. from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). More likely than not, this way of viewing Jeremiah will be a new experience for you.
So let's get on with...
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
[2-hvn. The above introduction was probably written by the compiling editor. Jeremiah's ministry began about 90 years after the Assyrians sacked Samaria (a.k.a. the Northern Kingdom). It lasted about 18 years under the rule of Josiah, three months under Jehoahaz, 11 years under Jehoiakim, three months under Jeconiah, 11 years under Zedekiah, and an unspecified number of years under some minor Judean leaders following the second destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. According to legend, Jeremiah was eventually stoned to death by the Judean refugees who forced him to flee with them to Egypt.]
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant." Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" And I said, "I see a branch of an almond tree." Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word." And the word of the LORD came to me the second time, saying, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north." Then the LORD said to me: "Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north," says the LORD; "They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land-- against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you," says the LORD, "to deliver you."
[2-hvn. This is similar to the account that the first Isaiah gave regarding his calling to serve God in the sixth chapter of Isaiah. It's unclear whether this visionary experience came to Jeremiah in a night dream, daydream, an inspired thought, or what. But it clearly had a profound effect on his life and teachings thereafter. Notice that the Lord tells him "up front" that Judah is destined to be sacked by invaders from the north "because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands." Jeremiah's mission was to try and save Judea by convincing them to repent and start FOLLOWING God rather than offending Him. Notice also that the Lord said that he had set Jeremiah "over the nations and over the kingdoms..." As we will see, this means that unlike the vast majority of his Judean contemporaries, Jeremiah had no particular loyalty or concern for "Judean independence" or "Judean national sovereignty." As far as Jeremiah was concerned, there was only one sovereignty that his contemporaries should be concerned about, and that was the sovereignty of God. The first Isaiah reflected such views to some extent, but Jeremiah adopted this way of viewing things completely. His view of the actions of nations was "from above" as well as from within.]
[3-hvn. The "almond tree" represents the tree of life (the tree of knowledge that one partakes of by following God's two most fundamental commandments). Figuratively speaking, Jeremiah was following a "branch" of that tree. The "a boiling pot" that was "facing away from the north" represents the local "national sovereignty system" of kingdoms in that region who fighting with each other while ignoring the coming threat from the north (the rising Babylonian Empire).]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them," says the LORD.' "
[2-hvn. Jeremiah frequently employed the Levitical practice of claiming "Thus says the Lord..." when communicating God's will (as he perceived it) to his Judean contemporaries. Some religious leaders today claim that since that Levitical practice fell out of use later on in the scriptures, God must have decided to no longer communicate directly with humans (which is absurd). Anyone who follows God's two most fundamental commandments can and will perceive all sorts of guidance from God.]
Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the LORD: "What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? Neither did they say, 'Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?' I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, 'Where is the LORD?' And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. Therefore I will yet bring charges against you," says the LORD, "And against your children's children I will bring charges. For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate," says the LORD. "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns--broken cisterns that can hold no water. Is Israel [Samaria] a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he plundered? The young lions roared at him, and growled; they made his land waste; his cities are burned, without inhabitant. Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the LORD your God when He led you in the way? And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backsliding will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you," says the Lord GOD of hosts.
[3-hvn The "fountain of living waters" mentioned above refers to teachings and guidance that comes from following God's two most fundamental commandments. Here God (through Jeremiah) is allegorically accusing the Judeans of seeking and "drinking" (believing) the "waters" (teachings) of Egyptian and Assyrian religious leaders instead.]
"For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, 'I will not transgress,' when on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality [i.e. the Tree of Life]. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me," says the Lord GOD. "How can you say, 'I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals'? See your way in the valley; know what you have done: you are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways, A wild donkey used to the wilderness, that sniffs at the wind in her desire; in her time of mating, who can turn her away? All those who seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they will find her. Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst. But you said, 'There is no hope. No! For I have loved aliens, and after them I will go.' As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, Saying to a tree [wooden idol], 'You are my father,' and to a stone [stone idol], 'You gave birth to me.' For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.' But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. So each city in Judea in those days had its own gods (idols) each having their own leaders and their own scheme of teachings. It was kind of like the splintering of Christianity into thousands of squabbling and competing "denominations"-all claiming to represent the "One God." From God's point of view, the Judeans in those days were essentially "aimless", willing to follow whatever spiritual winds happened to be passing by at any particular time.]
"In vain I have chastened your children; they received no correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a destroying lion. O generation, see the word of the LORD! Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of darkness? Why do My people say, 'We are lords; we will come no more to You'?
Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. Why do you beautify your way to seek love? Therefore you have also taught the wicked women your ways. Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things. Yet you say, 'Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.' Behold, I will plead My case against you, because you say, 'I have not sinned.' Why do you gad about so much to change your way? Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria. Indeed you will go forth from him with your hands on your head; for the LORD has rejected your trusted allies, and you will not prosper by them.
[2-hvn. So the Judean's sins included murdering true prophets of God as well as poor innocents. It is not clear as to when this chapter was written. We know from Jer. 26:20-23 that the prophet Urijah was hunted down, caught and murdered by King Jehoiakim himself, so this chapter may have been written shortly after Jehoakim came to power or about 20 years into Jeremiah's ministry.]
"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. "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 in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. 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. Will you not from this time cry to Me, 'My father, You are the guide of my youth? Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?' Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able."
[3-hvn. Here Jeremiah is using an allegorical practice begun by the first Isaiah of portraying Samaria, Judea, and/or the city of Jerusalem as a spiritual "harlot", because its inhabitants were following the teachings (and putting their faith in) local idols rather than in the Lord who created heaven and earth. The "showers" and "rain" he is referring to here represent guidance from God.]
The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: "Have you seen what backsliding Israel [Samaria] has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. 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. 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. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees."
[3-hvn. Jeremiah's reference to defiling "the land" shows that he was quite familiar with the allegorical scheme established by the authors of Genesis. The "land" Jeremiah is referring to represents man's perceptions of popular truths; the "stones" and "trees" represent stone and wooden idols.]
"And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense," says the LORD. Then the LORD said to me, "Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 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. 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. "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. And I will give you shepherds [prophets] according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 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. 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. 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. 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.' Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel," says the LORD.
[3-hvn. So here the Lord (through Jeremiah) is predicting that the descendants of Samaria and Judea will some day be reunited in "Zion" (a spiritual Kingdom of God), and that the "ark of the covenant of the Lord" will be no more. This is similar to the predictions in Revelation 21 regarding the "new heaven", "new earth", and "New Jerusalem." Once the people of the world finally recognize the importance of following God's two most fundamental commandments and commit themselves to doing so, the influence of traditional (satanically inspired) religious teachings and practices will become relegated to the trash bin of history. So in effect, this was an "apocalyptic vision."]
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. "Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. 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. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth--their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 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."
[3-hvn. In keeping with the allegorical scheme established in Genesis, "hills" and "mountains" represent popular truths. Those who destroy the credibility of a popular truth in effect "move a mountain" in the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths. Jesus Christ used this allegory in Matthew 17:20, "...for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."]
"If you will return, O Israel," says the LORD, "Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved. 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." For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: "Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. 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."
[3-hvn. This may have been the source of inspiration for Jesus' parable about the "sower" in Matthew 13. Here, as in that parable, the "ground" represents mankind's perceptions of popular truths, and the "seeds" represent fundamental teachings about the Kingdom of God (comprised of those who seek and follow God's two most fundamental commandments). Taking away the "foreskins of your hearts" represents a positive commitment to follow those two commandments, thereby removing natural human tendencies "of the flesh" to follow one's own criteria rather than God's criteria of truth and love.]
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.' Set up the standard toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, and great destruction." 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. For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us.
[2-hvn. Here you can see that like the first Isaiah, Jeremiah views the impending destruction of Judea at the hands of the Babylonians as being an act of God, due to the Judean's rejection of God's guidance. The third Isaiah and Jesus would view such destruction as being the Judeans "doing it themselves" as a result of their own misguided folly. This is one of the most significant differences between the teachings of the Levites and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus' view of God is AFTER Satan has been thrown out of heaven (mankind's perceptions of God).]
"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." 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." 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--
A wind too strong for these will come for Me; now I will also speak judgment against them. 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!"
[2-hvn. Just as Jesus could foresee the impending destruction of Jerusalem (in 70 AD due to the Jews' desire for "Jewish national sovereignty"), Jeremiah could likewise foresee the impending destruction of Jerusalem (in 586 BC for essentially the same reasons).]
O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim: "Make mention to the nations, yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field they are against her all around, because she has been rebellious against Me," says the LORD. Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches to your heart." O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried, for the whole land is plundered. Suddenly my tents are plundered, and my curtains in a moment. How long will I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? For My people are foolish, they have 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."
[2-hvn. So even though Jeremiah knew that the Judeans were in effect "asking for it", the inevitable reality of the bloody consequences that he was predicting pained him greatly. They were, after all, his neighbors.]
I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the LORD, by His fierce anger. For thus says the LORD: "The whole land shall be desolate; yet I will not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black, because I have spoken. I have purposed and will not relent, nor will I turn back from it. The whole city shall flee from the noise of the horsemen and bowmen. They shall go into thickets and climb up on the rocks. Every city shall be forsaken, and not a man shall dwell in it. [That didn't really happen] 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. 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!'"
[2-hvn. Because of passages like this, Jeremiah is often referred to as "the weeping prophet."]
"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. Though they say, 'As the LORD lives,' surely they swear falsely."
[2-hvn. Apparently, it was a common practice in those days to use the expression, "As the Lord lives" to reaffirm the truthfulness of what one was saying. According to Jeremiah, their use of that expression had become hollow and meaningless, sort of like those today who recite the Lord's prayer by rote and have almost no idea what they are asking for when they say, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."]
O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? [YES!] 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. 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. 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. 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.
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah blamed the political and religious leaders of Judea for the Judean's lack of understanding and regard for the way of the Lord. Since they were the ones who were claiming to represent God, such a placement of blame is quite appropriate. The fact the he was making a criticism like this indicates that this chapter was probably written long after the reign of Josiah (who had gone to extraordinaly lengths to establish the teachings of the Jerusalem Levites as the state-enforced religion of Judea).]
"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. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor's wife. Shall I not punish them for these things?" says the LORD. "And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches, for they are not the LORD'S. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me," says the LORD. They have lied about the LORD, and said, "It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them."
[2-hvn. Again, Jeremiah contends that Judea's impending destruction will be an act of vengeance by the Lord due to the Judeans' unfaithfulness and ungodly ways. He also hints here that a remnant of Judeans will survive.]
[3-hvn. His comment "Take away her branches, for they are not the Lord's" refers to branches of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" that had grown in the hearts and minds of the Judeans by using criteria other than God's two most fundamental commandments.]
Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts: "Because you speak this word, behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel," says the LORD. "It is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say. Their quiver is like an open tomb; they are all mighty men. And they shall eat up your harvest and your bread, which your sons and daughters should eat. They shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; they shall destroy your fortified cities, in which you trust, with the sword.
[2-hvn. Jeremiah is of course referring to the Babylonian Empire, which had sent emissaries to check out King Hezekiah's realm nearly 100 years earlier.]
"Nevertheless in those days," says the LORD, "I will not make a complete end of you. And it will be when you say, 'Why does the LORD our God do all these things to us?' then you shall answer them, 'Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.' Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying, 'Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: Do you not fear Me?' says the LORD. 'Will you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it. But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest." Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you. 'For among My people are found wicked men; they lie in wait as one who sets snares; they set a trap; they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit. Therefore they have become great and grown rich. They have grown fat, they are sleek; yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked; they do not plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless; yet they prosper, and the right of the needy they do not defend. Shall I not punish them for these things?' says the LORD. 'Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?' An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?"
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah predicted that the Babylonians would not only destroy Judea, they would take many Judean prisoners back to Babylon to serve as slaves, as the Assyrians had done to the Samaritans. Notice that Jeremiah points out that they will suffer this fate not only because they were serving foreign gods, but also because they did not "plead the cause of the fatherless" or defend the "right of the needy." In other words, they would suffer that fate because they had not only violated the first of God's two most fundamental commandments, they had also violated the second--God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves. Based on God's criteria, Jeremiah recognized that despite their claims, many of the so-call "prophets" of his day didn't represent God at all. As I have pointed out in earlier articles on this web site, the same holds true regarding many of our religious leaders in today's world.]
"O you children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee from the midst of Jerusalem! Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a signal-fire in Beth Haccerem; for disaster appears out of the north, and great destruction. I have likened the daughter of Zion to a lovely and delicate woman. The shepherds with their flocks shall come to her. They shall pitch their tents against her all around. Each one shall pasture in his own place. Prepare war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe to us, for the day goes away, for the shadows of the evening are lengthening. Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces."
For thus has the LORD of hosts said: "Cut down trees, and build a mound against Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished. She is full of oppression in her midst. As a fountain wells up with water, so she wells up with her wickedness. Violence and plundering are heard in her. Before Me continually are grief and wounds. Be instructed, O Jerusalem, lest My soul depart from you; lest I make you desolate, a land not inhabited."
[3-hvn. Notice the similarities between this portrayal of Jerusalem as an evil "daughter of Zion" and St. John's portrayal of the "Scarlet Harlot" in Revelation 17. Jeremiah urges his neighbors in the territory of Benjamin to flee from her, and predicts that she will be put under siege and plundered. Again, this must have been written long after the reign of Josiah.]
Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They shall thoroughly glean as a vine the remnant of Israel; as a grape-gatherer, put your hand back into the branches." To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD. I am weary of holding it in. "I will pour it out on the children outside, and on the assembly of young men together; for even the husband shall be taken with the wife, the aged with him who is full of days. And their houses shall be turned over to others, fields and wives together; for I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. In other words, Jeremiah perceived that the Lord was losing patience with Judea.]
"Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace.
[2-hvn. The same holds true today.]
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.' Therefore hear, you nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people-- the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words, nor My law, but rejected it.
[2-hvn. Considering how many of our well-known religious leaders have rejected God's two most fundamental commandments in order to preserve the bloodiest idol ever created by man (the concept of "national sovereignty"), what we have today is a case of "history repeating itself." The United States has already engaged in one war this year (Kosovo). Talk about peace? How many MORE wars will we get involved in next year, or in the following year in order to preserve our beloved mythological idol of "national sovereignty"?]
For what purpose to Me comes frankincense from Sheba, and sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet to Me." Therefore thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall on them. The neighbor and his friend shall perish." Thus says the LORD: "Behold, a people comes from the north country, and a great nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth. They will lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, as men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion." We have heard the report of it; our hands grow feeble. Anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor. Do not go out into the field, nor walk by the way. Because of the sword of the enemy, fear is on every side. O daughter of my people, dress in sackcloth and roll about in ashes! Make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation; for the plunderer will suddenly come upon us. I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people, that you may know and test their way. They are all stubborn rebels, walking as slanderers. They are bronze and iron, they are all corrupters; The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed by the fire; the smelter refines in vain, for the wicked are not drawn off. People will call them rejected silver, because the LORD has rejected them."
[2-hvn. As you can see, Jeremiah tried very hard to convince his fellow Judeans to repent and to start taking God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY. God's comment through Jeremiah that "Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet to Me" no doubt raised the ire of the Levite priests in Jerusalem and probably the political leaders of Judea as well. As we saw in our review of the book of Isaiah, Jeremiah was not the first to make such observations and claims. It takes a considerable amount of "intestinal fortitude" to challenge the sources of income of the "current establishment" like that. But then, as shown in both the Old and New Testaments, that's not unusual for true servants of God.]
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, "Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the LORD!'" Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.' For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. "Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Note how Jeremiah again criticizes the Judeans for ignoring God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves as well as for violating the first of God's two most fundamental commandments. Jesus probably had this passage in mind when he chastised the priests and money changers in King Herod's Temple, saying, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"]
"But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works," says the LORD, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren--the whole posterity of Ephraim [Samaria]. Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?" says the LORD. "Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?"
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah predicts that King Solomon's Temple will not be spared when Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians; just as the places of worship were destroyed in Samaria by the Assyrians. He also claims that because of the unfaithfulness and ungodly deeds of his Judean contemporaries, it will be God's will to destroy that temple, even though it was supposedly dedicated to Him.]
[3-hvn. The expression "queen of heaven" only appears in the book of Jeremiah. He was probably referring to some female deity representing the moon or perhaps a goddess of female fertility that was popular among the Judeans at that time.]
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place-- on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched." Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.'
[2-hvn. It's interesting that God through Jeremiah would say, "I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices." The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are laden with detailed instructions regarding various forms of burnt offerings and sacrifices. Was Jeremiah saying here that those instructions originated from the Levites rather than God? In light of the rest of his criticisms of the religious leaders of his day, that does seem to be the case. So I am not the first to point out that the Old Testament Levites did NOT represent God as they claimed to be doing when they taught or advocated violations of God's two most fundamental commandments. The first Isaiah also made this point in Isaiah 1:11-17. This, of course, soundly refutes the claims that our so-called "Christian fundamentalist" religious leaders have been making-that all of the teachings of the Levites and their claims about representing God should be taken "literally."]
Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.
[2-hvn. Here God through Jeremiah is saying that even the Judeans' highly revered forefathers largely ignored Him. As I have shown in my earlier articles on www.onesalt.com, this point is well supported in the Old Testament scriptures when viewed from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments.]
Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you. So you shall say to them, 'This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the LORD their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth. 'Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the LORD has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath.' For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight," says the LORD. "They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate.
[2-hvn. So the idolatry of the Judeans had actually gotten so bad that some of them were even burning their sons and daughters in a fire. It's a common practice of satanically inspired religious leaders and cult leaders to demand great sacrifices from their followers in order to "demonstrate their faith and loyalty." Once their followers do such things, the leader's control over their followers' hearts and minds is absolute, for most practical purposes. This was clearly happening to at least some Judeans in Jeremiah's day, and it is still happening among fanatical religious groups in our present age (e.g. the Jonestown massacre, the Branch Davidians, etc.) Such satanically inspired religious leaders have little if any power over those who are following God's two most fundamental commandments, because those who do can easily recognize that in spite of their claims, such religious leaders don't represent God at all. ]
"At that time," says the LORD, "they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. They shall spread them before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and which they have served and after which they have walked, which they have sought and which they have worshiped. They shall not be gathered nor buried; they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. Then death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of those who remain of this evil family, who remain in all the places where I have driven them," says the LORD of hosts.
Moreover you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Will they fall and not rise? Will one turn away and not return? Why has this people slidden back, Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return. I listened and heard, but they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, and 'What have I done?' Everyone turned to his own course, as the horse rushes into the battle. Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD."
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah is predicting that the Babylonians will even go so far as to desecrate the graves of the Judean's most revered former leaders. Because of their misdeeds, their bones and memories will be relegated to the "trash heap of history." Notice that God through Jeremiah even reefers to the Davidic line of rulers as an "evil family." They (including King David) did in fact do many evil things (when viewed from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). Jeremiah's comments in this regard no doubt did NOT go over well with the princes and administrators of Judea at that time.]
"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD; so what wisdom do they have? Therefore I will give their wives to others, and their fields to those who will inherit them; because from the least even to the greatest everyone is given to covetousness; from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; in the time of their punishment they shall be cast down," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Jeremiah had a tendency to repeat or slightly rephrase many of his points in sermon after sermon. He probably did this for emphasis to help ensure that his listeners remembered the points he was trying to make.]
"I will surely consume them," says the LORD. "No grapes shall be on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things I have given them shall pass away from them."'" Why do we sit still? Assemble yourselves, and let us enter the fortified cities, and let us be silent there. For the LORD our God has put us to silence and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD. We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and there was trouble! The snorting of His horses was heard from Dan. The whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of His strong ones; for they have come and devoured the land and all that is in it, the city and those who dwell in it. For behold, I will send serpents among you, Vipers which cannot be charmed, and they shall bite you," says the LORD.
[3-hvn. Allegorically, serpents and vipers represent satanic teachings that (like a vampire) tend to hurt or even kill those who believe and put their faith in them. The concept of "national sovereignty" is like that. Vicious rumors are also like that. As recorded in Numbers 21, Moses cured such a problem among the children of Israel soon after their exodus from Egypt by fashioning a copper serpent and holding it up to "expose it to the light of Day." Once the people recognized what was happening to them, those spiritual serpents or vipers lost their power over them. It's interesting that according to Jeremiah, the Lord (rather than Satan) was going to send such serpents and vipers to bite the Judeans as a form of vengeance. As I pointed out earlier, Satan had yet to be "thrown out" of Jeremiah's perception of heaven.]
I would comfort myself in sorrow; my heart is faint in me. Listen! The voice, the cry of the daughter of my people from a far country: "Is not the LORD in Zion? Is not her King in her?" "Why have they provoked Me to anger with their carved images--with foreign idols? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved! For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?"
[2-hvn. Jeremiah evidently got quite discouraged at times over his lack of success in getting the Judeans to repent (and thereby save themselves from the impending disaster).]
"Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for travelers; that I might leave my people, and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me," says the LORD. "Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers. Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves to commit iniquity. Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me," says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will refine them and try them; for how shall I deal with the daughter of My people? Their tongue is an arrow shot out; it speaks deceit; one speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait. Shall I not punish them for these things?" says the LORD. "Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, and for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that no one can pass through; nor can men hear the voice of the cattle. Both the birds of the heavens and the beasts have fled; they are gone. I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a den of jackals. I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant."
[2-hvn. This prophecy didn't exactly come true, as it turned out, because Judea continued to be inhabited by humans (including Judeans) even after the worst ravages of the Babylonians. Again it is worth noting that Jeremiah's assessment of their sins includes violations of God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves as well as their unfaithfulness to God. It also appears that Jeremiah's criticisms were probably somewhat excessive in their scope. If "everyone" was really doing all those evil things in those days, that would have included Hosea, Joel, Amos, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, and Daniel, because this chapter was obviously written long after the reign of Josiah--probably shortly before the Babylonian siege and sacking of Jerusalem.]
Who is the wise man who may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it? Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness, so that no one can pass through? And the LORD said, "Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "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, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them. Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for skillful wailing women, that they may come. Let them make haste and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run with tears, and our eyelids gush with water. For a voice of wailing is heard from Zion: 'How we are plundered! We are greatly ashamed, because we have forsaken the land, because we have been cast out of our dwellings.'" Yet hear the word of the LORD, O women, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth; teach your daughters wailing, and everyone her neighbor a lamentation. For death has come through our windows, has entered our palaces, to kill off the children--no longer to be outside! And the young men--no longer on the streets! Speak, "Thus says the LORD: 'Even the carcasses of men shall fall as refuse on the open field, like cuttings after the harvester, and no one shall gather them.' "
[2-hvn. Here we have more predictions of gloom and doom, apparently because Jeremiah's contemporaries refused to believe that such things could ever happen to them. It's interesting to note that in those days, it was a Judean practice to employ "professional mourners" or "skillful wailing women" to help emphasize the sadness of an occasion, which to me sounds a bit contrived. In the context of the dire consequences predicted by Jeremiah, it would hardly have been necessary to bring others in to help "orchestrate grief" among the survivors. Perhaps they theorized that such practices were needed to encourage people not to keep their grief suppressed within them.]
Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised--Egypt, Judah, Edom, the people of Ammon, Moab, and all who are in the farthest corners, who dwell in the wilderness. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart."
[2-hvn. His point here is that the Judeans of his day, who practiced circumcision, were really no better in the eyes of God than the uncircumcised Gentiles in neighboring countries, because they were "uncircumcised in the heart." Performing religious rituals does not make one a true servant of God. To be a true servant of God, one must seek and follow God's two most fundamental commandments. Those who seek and follow criteria other than God's two most fundamental commandments may consider themselves to be "wise", but from God's point of view, they are not.]
Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good."
[2-hvn. That's a great description of the futility of idol worship. The first Isaiah made similar points regarding idol worship. Nevertheless, even today, many people seem to love to worship idols or one form or another.]
Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might), Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You. But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine. Silver is beaten into plates; it is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the metalsmith; blue and purple are their clothing; they are all the work of skillful men. But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.
[2-hvn. Idols don't create life. God does.]
Thus you shall say to them: "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens. He has made the earth by His power, he has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, he brings the wind out of His treasuries."
[2-hvn. It is a common practice in today's world to attribute many of the things that God does to "Mother Nature", thereby diminishing people's perceptions of the true nature and power of God. Such false distinctions tend to relegate God to the realm of the "supernatural", thereby discouraging many from believing in God.]
Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by an image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their punishment they shall perish. The Portion of Jacob is not like them, for He is the Maker of all things, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; the LORD of hosts is His name. Gather up your wares from the land, O inhabitant of the fortress! For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will throw out at this time the inhabitants of the land, and will distress them, that they may find it so."
[2-hvn. Many people still believe that they can be protected by idols, charms, or flags in spite of the fact that such beliefs have been repeatedly disproven throughout the world for thousands of years. Why? Because some people can make money by "selling" such beliefs. Like "drug addiction", ideological addiction can be VERY dangerous--not only to ones own health, but to the health of others as well.]
Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is severe. But I say, "Truly this is an infirmity, and I must bear it." My tent is plundered, and all my cords are broken; my children have gone from me, and they are no more. There is no one to pitch my tent anymore, or set up my curtains. For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, and have not sought the LORD; therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. Behold, the noise of the report has come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals. O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O LORD, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, and on the families who do not call on Your name; for they have eaten up Jacob, devoured him and consumed him, and made his dwelling place desolate.
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah has allowed the teachings of Satan to influence him a bit, by wishing evil upon the Gentiles. This part appears to have been written after the city of Jerusalem was destroyed.]
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, 'Obey My voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be your God,' that I may establish the oath which I have sworn to your fathers, to give them 'a land flowing with milk and honey,' as it is this day."'" And I answered and said, "So be it, LORD." Then the LORD said to me, "Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: 'Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, "Obey My voice." Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but which they have not done.'" And the LORD said to me, "A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers." Therefore thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.
[2-hvn. This is, for the most part, a rephrasing of the points made in chapters 1 and 2.
"Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble. What has My beloved to do in My house, having done lewd deeds with many? And the holy flesh has passed from you. When you do evil, then you rejoice. The LORD called your name, green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit. With the noise of a great tumult he has kindled fire on it, and its branches are broken. For the LORD of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced doom against you for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke Me to anger in offering incense to Baal."
[3-hvn. The idea that the Lord "planted" Israel and viewed Israel as if it were an olive tree is clearly allegorical based on the allegorical scheme established by the authors of Genesis. Aside from the physical nation of Israel (and Judea), God's plan was for Israel to become a spiritual "Kingdom of God", "Zion", literally a "kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19:6). As shown in my earlier articles on this web site, the Levites effectively sabotaged that plan when they succeeded in convincing the children of Israel that only they were authorized to become priests. That was when the Israelites' most serious troubles began. Among other things, God has been challenging that ungodly distinction ever since.]
Now the LORD gave me knowledge of it, and I know it; for You showed me their doings. But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter; and I did not know that they had devised schemes against me, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be remembered no more." But, O LORD of hosts, you who judge righteously, testing the mind and the heart, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have revealed my cause. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, "Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, lest you die by our hand"--therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment."
[2-hvn. Apparently, Jeremiah was quite surprised to find that even by the people in his own hometown rejected him. So he predicted doom for them as well.]
[3-hvn. It's interesting to note that the Benjaminites from his home town of Anathoth apparently viewed Jeremiah as being a "tree" with "fruit" which they sought to "cut off" from the "land of the living" (or at least that's how Jeremiah viewed their decision to try an kill him). This suggests that perhaps in Jeremiah's day, 3rd heaven (allegorical) interpretations of the stories in Genesis were "common knowledge" among many of the Judeans, at least in the town of Anathoth.]
Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind. But You, O LORD, know me; you have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed, for the wickedness of those who dwell there, because they said, "He will not see our final end." If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? For even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, they have called a multitude after you. Do not believe them, even though they speak smooth words to you.
[2-hvn. This appears to be a continuation of Jeremiah's reaction to being rejected and threatened by people from his own hometown of Anathoth. He was clearly quite frustrated at this point in his life; his expressed desire that they be slaughtered did NOT come from God.]
"I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies. My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest; it cries out against Me; therefore I have hated it. My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture; the vultures all around are against her. Come, assemble all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour! Many rulers have destroyed My vineyard, they have trodden My portion underfoot; they have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate; desolate, it mourns to Me; the whole land is made desolate, because no one takes it to heart. The plunderers have come on all the desolate heights in the wilderness, for the sword of the LORD shall devour from one end of the land to the other end of the land; no flesh shall have peace. They have sown wheat but reaped thorns; they have put themselves to pain but do not profit. But be ashamed of your harvest because of the fierce anger of the LORD."
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah portrays God as mourning in a state of despair as well.]
Thus says the LORD: "Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit--behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land. And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, 'As the LORD lives,' as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people. But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. He continues to use negative arguments to try and persuade the Judeans to follow God's way, but evidently such arguments weren't working very well. It's clear by now that most of Jeremiah's Judean contemporaries didn't view Jeremiah as having much credibility.]
Thus the LORD said to me: "Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water." So I got a sash according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist. And the word of the LORD came to me the second time, saying, "Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock." So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. Now it came to pass after many days that the LORD said to me, "Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there." Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,' says the LORD, 'that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.' Therefore you shall speak to them this word: 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Every bottle shall be filled with wine."' And they will say to you, 'Do we not certainly know that every bottle will be filled with wine?' Then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land--even the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem--with drunkenness! And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together," says the LORD. "I will not pity nor spare nor have mercy, but will destroy them."'"
[2-hvn. Here the Lord through Jeremiah used that sash as sort of an ideological visual aid to help emphasize a point. The fact that it was ruined by the Euphrates River provides a subtle implication that the ruining of Judea will be done by the Babylonians.]
[3-hv. Then, according to Jeremiah, the Lord says he will make all of the Judeans drunk (with wine) before He destroys them. Some biblical commentators view the wine in this passage as an allegorical symbol of God's wrath, but I believe God (through Jeremiah) is making a more subtle point here. He is saying that the Judeans (including their Kings) will become so enamored with their own beloved (satanically inspired) teachings and beliefs that like drunkards, they will actually facilitate their own demise. Like Egyptian President Nassar who proclaimed in 1967 that his army was about to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth", they would in effect inflict great damage upon themselves by believing their own lies too much! As it turned out, the Judean kings really did act as if their judgement was clouded with drunkenness. Even after Judea became part of the Babylonian Empire, the Judean kings kept trying to rebel against Babylonian rule (for the sake of Judean "national sovereignty"). It was the Babylonians' reprisals in response those Judean rebellions that ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the leveling of King Solomon's Temple. Consequences like that quite often happen to people follow the ways and ideals of Satan.]
Hear and give ear: do not be proud, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, he turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD'S flock has been taken captive. Say to the king and to the queen mother, "Humble yourselves; sit down, for your rule shall collapse, the crown of your glory." The cities of the South shall be shut up, and no one shall open them; Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it; it shall be wholly carried away captive. [That turned out to be an exaggeration of what actually happened.] Lift up your eyes and see those who come from the north. Where is the flock that was given to you, your beautiful sheep? What will you say when He punishes you? For you have taught them to be chieftains, to be head over you. Will not pangs seize you, like a woman in labor? And if you say in your heart, "Why have these things come upon me?" For the greatness of your iniquity your skirts have been uncovered, your heels made bare. Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil. Therefore I will scatter them like stubble that passes away by the wind of the wilderness. This is your lot, the portion of your measures from Me," says the LORD, "Because you have forgotten Me and trusted in falsehood. Therefore I will uncover your skirts over your face, that your shame may appear. I have seen your adulteries and your lustful neighings, the lewdness of your harlotry, your abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Will you still not be made clean?"
[3-hvn. Since they rejected the light of God's two most fundamental commandments (as many of our present-day religious leaders have done), the Judeans were stumbling around as if in darkness. The expression "uncover your skirts over your face" is like saying, "I will expose your nakedness" (from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). That's what I have been doing by exposing (in my articles on www.onesalt.com) many of today's most popular but ungodly religious teachings. God's truth will NOT go away! Ultimately, many or our religious leaders will have to answer not only to God but to all future generations of mankind for the ungodly consequences of their satanically inspired teachings.]
The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts. "Judah mourns, and her gates languish; they mourn for the land, and the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. Their nobles have sent their lads for water; they went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded and covered their heads. Because the ground is parched, for there was no rain in the land, the plowmen were ashamed; they covered their heads. Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field, but left because there was no grass. And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights; they sniffed at the wind like jackals; their eyes failed because there was no grass."
[2-hvn. In those days, droughts were fairly common in that part of the world since they normally got very little rain from April through October. It was a common practice to collect as much rain water as possible in large earthen jars and cisterns (covered reservoirs) during the winter months. If it didn't rain much during the winter months, then the summer drought would be especially severe. The Old Testament prophets tended to blame the Lord for the weather (good or bad as it may be). Indeed, as Elijah demonstrated, if a person demonstrated an ability to accurately predict the weather, he was often viewed as having God-given "supernatural powers."]
O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name's sake; for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against You. O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in the land, and like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one who cannot save? Yet You, O LORD, are in our midst, and we are called by Your name; do not leave us!
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah viewed this particular drought as evidence that God had abandoned Judea.]
Thus says the LORD to this people: "Thus they have loved to wander; they have not restrained their feet. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; he will remember their iniquity now, and punish their sins." Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence."
[2-hvn. According to Jeremiah, God deliberately created the drought to punish the Judeans for their misdeeds and unfaithfulness, so praying and sacrificing for rain was useless, because the Lord had decided not to listen to such petitions.]
Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'" And the LORD said to me, "The prophets prophecy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, 'Sword and famine shall not be in this land'--' By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them--them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters--for I will pour their wickedness on them.' Therefore you shall say this word to them: 'Let my eyes flow with tears night and day, and let them not cease; for the virgin daughter of my people has been broken with a mighty stroke, with a very severe blow. If I go out to the field, then behold those slain with the sword! And if I enter the city, then behold, those sick from famine! Yes, both prophet and priest go about in a land they do not know.'"
[2-hvn. Again, God through Jeremiah points out that just because a prophet CLAIMS to represent God, it doesn't always mean that he really DOES represent God. I've seen many examples of religious leaders who "prophesy lies" in God's name in present-day America as well. Anyone can recognize such lies quite simply by asking, "Do the teachings of that religious leader conform with God's two most fundamental commandments?" Some of our most popular religious leaders aren't even trying to follow either one of those two commandments.]
Have You utterly rejected Judah? Has Your soul loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but there was no good; and for the time of healing, and there was trouble. We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You. Do not abhor us, for Your name's sake; do not disgrace the throne of Your glory. Remember, do not break Your covenant with us. Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, since You have made all these.
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah is attempting to intercede on behalf of his fellow Judeans; he's pleading with God not to deal with them so harshly. Well, it was worth a try.]
Then the LORD said to me, "Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, 'Where should we go?' then you shall tell them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity." ' And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction," says the LORD: "the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem. For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Or who will bemoan you? Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing? You have forsaken Me," says the LORD, "You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting! And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children; I will destroy My people, since they do not return from their ways. Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas; I will bring against them, against the mother of the young men, a plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly. She languishes who has borne seven; she has breathed her last; her sun has gone down while it was yet day; she has been ashamed and confounded. And the remnant of them I will deliver to the sword before their enemies," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Here God (through Jeremiah) says that even the remnant of the Judeans will be slain by their enemies. This seems to conflict with Jeremiah's other prophecies, which clearly predict that a remnant will survive and return to Judea. Notice that here Jeremiah places the blame on the misdeeds of the former Judean King Manasseh. So it appears that the above passage was written fairly early in Jeremiah's career , perhaps under the reign of Josiah.]
Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me. The LORD said: "Surely it will be well with your remnant; surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you in the time of adversity and in the time of affliction. Can anyone break iron, the northern iron and the bronze? Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder without price, because of all your sins, throughout your territories. And I will make you cross over with your enemies into a land which you do not know; for a fire is kindled in My anger, which shall burn upon you."
O LORD, You know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke. Your words were found, and I ate them [believe them], and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation. Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuses to be healed? Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, as waters that fail? Therefore thus says the LORD: "If you return, then I will bring you back; you shall stand before Me; if you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; and they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you," says the LORD. "I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible."
[2-hvn. The Lord kept His promise to protect Jeremiah from the wrath of those whom Jeremiah severely criticised--at least until (as legend has it) Jeremiah was stoned to death by some Judean refugees in Egypt. When one considers how often Jeremiah challenged the credibility and legitimacy of the religious and political leaders of his day, it's no small wonder that he actually succeeded in living that long. It seems that even though Jeremiah's contemporaries didn't like what he was saying and didn't believe his dire predictions concerning their future, many of them nevertheless respected him and considered him to be a legitimate prophet of God. As we shall see later, at least two of the Kings of Judea (Josiah and Zedekiah) actually valued Jeremiah's opinions, because they knew he wasn't afraid to tell the truth.]
The word of the LORD also came to me, saying, "You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place." For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: "They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth." For thus says the LORD: "Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people," says the LORD, "lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother. Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink."
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah was well aware that the career he had chosen was unsuitable for raising a family of his own. Furthermore, even if he did start a family of his own, if his prophecies came true (as he was convinced they would), the chances were that his family would end up being killed.]
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, 'Why has the LORD pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?' then you shall say to them, 'Because your fathers have forsaken Me,' says the LORD; 'they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.' Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that it shall no more be said, 'The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.' For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishermen," says the LORD, "and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols."
[2-hvn. So at this point in Chapter 16, God (through Jeremiah) is promising that there WILL be a remnant of Judeans who will return some day to Judea from many foreign lands. This self-fulfilling prophecy was HIGHLY significant, because (together with the prophecies of the first and second Isaiah) it inspired future generations of Judeans (who would become known as "Jews") to actually return (when "the coast was clear") and rebuild Judea, Jerusalem, and the temple. Were it not for these prophecies regarding the returning remnant, more likely than not, mankind's history of the Hebrew/Jewish religion would have ended within a generation or two after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem.]
O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, "Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things. Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods? Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know my hand and My might; and they shall know that My name is the LORD.
[Amen! This sounds a bit like an "end times" prophesy.]
"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars, While their children remember their altars and their wooden images by the green trees on the high hills. O My mountain in the field, I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures, and your high places of sin within all your borders. And you, even yourself, shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; and I will cause you to serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; for you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever."
[3-hvn. Jeremiah's allegorical reference to Judah as "My mountain in the field" refers to the ideological or religious role that Judea was supposed to be playing in the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths. But instead, although claiming to honor the Lord with their lips, the Judeans were acting much like their Gentile neighbors, or worse.]
Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; it will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool."
[3-hvn. Here Jeremiah once again describes how useless people become when they follow their own (often satanically inspired) criteria rather than God's two most fundamental commandments. The "trees of knowledge of good an evil" that grow in their minds are dry, weak, and tend to die off. God "tests the mind" of people by evaluating those "trees of knowledge" and their "fruits" according to His two most fundamental commandments.]
A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. "Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters." Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise. Indeed they say to me, "Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!"
[3-hvn. Jeremiah's reference to the Lord as a "fountain of living waters" refers to the way His to most fundamental commandments function as the source of lessons or teachings that help to promote life rather than death. In contrast, as shown in earlier articles on this web site, many of our present religious leaders (Jack Van Impe, for example) are peddling teachings (like national sovereignty worship) that tend to promote death rather than life.]
As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows You, nor have I desired the woeful day; you know what came out of my lips; it was right there before You. Do not be a terror to me; you are my hope in the day of doom. Let them be ashamed who persecute me, but do not let me be put to shame; let them be dismayed, but do not let me be dismayed. Bring on them the day of doom, and destroy them with double destruction!
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah strays toward Satan's teachings by actually pleading to the Lord to destroy his fellow Judeans "with double destruction." Like the Levites before him, Satan still resided in Jeremiah's perception of "heaven." But unlike the Levites before him, Jeremiah strongly favored the teachings of God rather than Satan. The Judeans did in fact suffer a "double destruction", but it wasn't so much that God did it to them or was granting Jeremiah's wish; they pretty much did it to themselves by ignoring God's guidance. Among other things, they bet their own lives and the lives of their families on the satanically inspired ideal of "Judean national sovereignty" (and lost everything).]
Thus the LORD said to me: "Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; and say to them, 'Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 'Thus says the LORD: "Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction. And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully," says the LORD, "to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the LORD. But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched."'"
2-hvn. Evidently, Jeremiah wasn't even able to convince his fellow Judeans to do such a simple thing as faithfully follow the Hebrew rules for observing the Sabbath. Since King Josiah pretty much forced the Hebrew religion on his people throughout his reign, the above passage shows that Josiah's religious "reforms" didn't stick. So God instructed Jeremiah to try and convince them to follow such rules simply by appealing to them. But, in light of the "double destruction" of Judea that took place after that, it appears that Jeremiah's appeals in this case "fell on deaf ears."]
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good."'" And they said, "That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart."
[3-hvn. Here the Lord through Jeremiah likens the Judeans to a clay pot being formed on a potter's wheel. Again, He warns the Judeans that he is "fashioning a disaster" for them if they don't repent and start following His ways. Like the first Isaiah, Jeremiah viewed the Lord as being the creator and destroyer of nations. Since then, however, it has become clear that nations are created and destroyed by men (often in a very bloody manner by men who falsely claim the represent God while doing so).]
Therefore thus says the LORD: "Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard such things? The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon, which comes from the rock of the field? Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters? Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway, To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and shake his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back and not the face in the day of their calamity."
[2-hvn. To Jeremiah it seemed almost unbelievable that the Judeans would turn their back on their Creator. Why wold the Judeans "burn incense" and provide sacrifices (a form of financial support) to worthless idols? Answer: they did so for basically the same reasons people today open their wallets or send checks to support religious leaders who teach fear, hatred, and the worship of national sovereignty while falsely claiming to represent God. Promoting idol worship was a profitable form of business in Jeremiah's day, and since the Levites' teachings were highly corrupted with the teachings of Satan, they found it difficult to compete with the promoters of idol worship. Keep in mind that idol worshipping was the "traditional" form of religion in that part of the world in those days.]
Then they said, "Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words." Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me! Shall evil be repaid for good? For they have dug a pit for my life. Remember that I stood before You to speak good for them, to turn away Your wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; let their wives become widows and bereaved of their children. Let their men be put to death, their young men be slain by the sword in battle. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when You bring a troop suddenly upon them; for they have dug a pit to take me, and hidden snares for my feet. Yet, LORD, You know all their counsel which is against me, to slay me. Provide no atonement for their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from Your sight; but let them be overthrown before You. Deal thus with them in the time of Your anger.
[2-hvn. From time to time Jeremiah found that his fellow Judeans were plotting to discredit him or perhaps even to kill him. His understandably frustrated reaction was to satanically plead to the Lord for their destruction (including their families). This may have been one of the reasons that his ministry, through prophetically accurate for the most part, was largely ineffective during his lifetime.]
Thus says the LORD: "Go and get a potter's earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you, and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle. Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind), therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair."'
[2-hvn. This is largely a restatement of the points made in Chapter 7, except in this case he is specifically addressing some of the elders and priests of Jerusalem.]
"Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury. Thus I will do to this place," says the LORD, "and to its inhabitants, and make this city like Tophet. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Tophet, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods."'"
[2-hvn. As you can see from this, the practice of using objects to serve as visual aids to help illustrate a point is not a modern concept.]
Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord's house and said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.'"
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah wasn't afraid to tell the truth to anyone who might listen. That was his mission in life.]
Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, "The LORD has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. "For thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. 'Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 'And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies.'"
[2-hvn. Jeremiah's prophecy here may actually have come true, but it wasn't exactly a godly thing to wish upon anyone. The name Pashhur means "security on all sides," but Jeremiah predicted that the Lord would make his name Magor_Missabib which means "fear on all sides." In fact, that is what the satanically inspired worship of "national sovereignty" tends to do; it tends to generate fear on all sides and to divert attention AWAY from following God's two most fundamental commandments. Also, like a spiritual vampire, it tends to "suck the life" out of those who worship it the most.]
O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; you are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, "Violence and plunder!" Because the word of the LORD was made to me a reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. For I heard many mocking: "Fear on every side!" "Report," they say, "and we will report it!" All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, "Perhaps he can be induced; then we will prevail against him, and we will take our revenge on him." But the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten. But, O LORD of hosts, you who test the righteous, and see the mind and heart, let me see Your vengeance on them; for I have pleaded my cause before You. Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For He has delivered the life of the poor from the hand of evildoers. Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me! Let the man be cursed who brought news to my father, saying, "A male child has been born to you!" Making him very glad. And let that man be like the cities which the LORD overthrew, and did not relent; let him hear the cry in the morning and the shouting at noon, Because he did not kill me from the womb, that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb always enlarged with me. Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah records that while he was in stocks, he was so deeply depressed that he wished he had never been born. But his faith in God helped bring him through that horrible experience.]
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, saying, "Please inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon makes war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all His wonderful works, that the king may go away from us." Then Jeremiah said to them, "Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, '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. "I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence. "And afterward," says the LORD, "I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his servants and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence and the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life; and he shall strike them with the edge of the sword. He shall not spare them, or have pity or mercy."'
[2-hvn. So King Zedekiah was aware of Jeremiah and considered him to be a true prophet of the Lord. He was hoping that Jeremiah would be a bearer of good news. Obviously, he wasn't that familiar with Jeremiah's past prophecies. As we shall see in Part II of this review, Jeremiah's prophecies regarding King Zedekiah's future did indeed come true (a fact that helped secure Jeremiah's place in Jewish history.)]
Now you shall say to this people, 'Thus says the LORD: "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 who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. "For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good," says the LORD. "It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire."' "And concerning the house of the king of Judah, say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, 'O house of David! Thus says the LORD: "Execute judgment in the morning; and deliver him who is plundered out of the hand of the oppressor, lest My fury go forth like fire and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. "Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain," says the LORD, "Who say, 'Who shall come down against us? Or who shall enter our dwellings?' But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings," says the LORD; "I will kindle a fire in its forest, and it shall devour all things around it."' "
[2-hvn. So at this point, late in his career, Jeremiah realized that his prophecies of doom for Judea and Jerusalem were indeed beginning to come true. Although restating his prophecies for King Zedekiah's ear, he toned down the righteous anger that was characteristic of his earlier prophesies of gloom and doom. The anger of the past was beginning to be replaced with horror and pity.]
Thus says the LORD: "Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, "and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! 'Thus says the LORD: "Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. "For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David. "But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself," says the LORD, "that this house shall become a desolation."' For thus says the LORD to the house of the king of Judah: "You are Gilead to Me, the head of Lebanon; yet I surely will make you a wilderness, cities which are not inhabited. I will prepare destroyers against you, everyone with his weapons; they shall cut down your choice cedars and cast them into the fire. "And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, 'Why has the LORD done so to this great city?' "Then they will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.'" Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him; weep bitterly for him who goes away, for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
[2-hvn. Here God through Jeremiah in effect tells the new King of Judea (Jehoiakim) this if he will simply followed God's commandment to love his neighbors (including strangers) as himself, he and his kingdom would be spared. Otherwise, his "house" (Davidic Line) and kingdom would suffer God's wrath for their unfaithfulness.]
For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum [Jehoahaz] the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: "He shall not return here anymore, "but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more. "Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor's service without wages and gives him nothing for his work, Who says, 'I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, and cut out windows for it, Paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion.' "Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?" says the LORD. "Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence."
[2-hnv. The prophecy above evidently took place soon after the Pharaoh of Egypt (Necho) killed Josiah in battle, marched into Jerusalem, arrested Josiah's son Jehoahaz who was filling in for this father, helped himself to many of the gold objects that decorated King Solomon's Temple and palace, and then installed Josiah's son Jehoiakin to serve as a vassal king under Egyptian rule. All this occurred because King Josiah, whom Jeremiah and Jerusalem's Levite priests generally viewed as being faithful to the Lord, nevertheless decided to start a military campaign against the Pharaoh of Egypt (because he feared the Pharaoh might eventually threaten "Judean national sovereignty"). Such are the ways of Satan. Satanic actions quite often end up creating the very outcomes that their evil perpetrators supposedly sought to prevent. If King Solomon were still alive and ruling at that time, he probably would have spared his kingdom all that grief by "cutting a deal" that was mutually beneficial to both sides (and perhaps agreeing to marry one of the Pharaoh's daughters--to the horror of the Levite priests).]
Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "They shall not lament for him, saying, 'Alas, my brother!' or 'Alas, my sister!' They shall not lament for him, saying, 'Alas, master!' or 'Alas, his glory!' He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem. "Go up to Lebanon, and cry out, and lift up your voice in Bashan; cry from Abarim, for all your lovers are destroyed. I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, 'I will not hear.' This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey My voice. The wind shall eat up all your rulers, and your lovers shall go into captivity; surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated for all your wickedness.
[2-hvn. Jeremiah clearly disliked Jehoiakim. As we shell see in Park II of this article, the prophecy above did indeed come true. For the sake of greed and "Judean national sovereignty", Jehoiakim eventually broke his ties with Egypt, sided with the Babylonians for about three years, and then rebelled against the Babylonians. That in turn lead to the first Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem. Jehoiakim (along with many of his fellow nobles, religious leaders, and their families) was deported to Babylon where he died. Jeremiah likened such a fate to the "burial of a donkey--cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem."]
O inhabitant of Lebanon, making your nest in the cedars, how gracious will you be when pangs come upon you, like the pain of a woman in labor? "As I live," says the LORD, "though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; "and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear-- the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. "So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. "But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. "Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol-- a vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, and cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD: 'Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days; for none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.' "
[2-hvn. Coniah (a.k.a. Jehoiachin, or Jechonias) served as king for only three months and was among those who were deported to Babylon after the first Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem. However, unlike his father, he was released from prison by Nebuchadnezzar's successor EvilMerodach and became part of EvilMerodach's court. Apparently, the Lord through Jeremiah must have changed His mind after saying above, "Write this man down as childless..." Matthew 11:12 lists him as an ancestor of Jesus Christ.]
"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!" says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: "You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings," says the LORD. "But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. "I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking," says the LORD.
[3-hvn. Here the Lord through Jeremiah refers to the Levite priests and prophets as false or incompetent "shepherds." He places the blame (primarily) on them for Judean's calamitous dispersal (because they were using God's name in vain by falsely claiming to represent Him while teaching and practicing violations of His two most fundamental commandments).]
"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. "Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' "but, 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.' And they shall dwell in their own land."
[2-hvn. There are many today who argue that this prophecy was fulfilled by the creation of the nation-state of Israel, but none of Israel's presidents has had the audacity so far to call himself or herself "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." In Jesus' day, most Judeans were expecting this prophecy to be fulfilled by some kind of a military hero, like King David, who would lead a rebellion against the Roman Empire and thereby give them "Judean national sovereignty." Instead, Jesus taught that this prophecy would be fulfilled by the establishing a SPIRITUAL "Kingdom of God" comprised of people who take God's two most fundamental commandments seriously. This can happen anytime, actually, once our religious leaders finally decide to commit themselves to following those two commandments. In the meantime, many of them seem to be more interested in acting and teaching in a manner that in many ways resembles the acts and teachings of the Judean religious leaders whom Jeremiah (and Jesus) severely criticized.]
My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the LORD, and because of His holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, and their might is not right. "For both prophet and priest are profane; yes, in My house I have found their wickedness," says the LORD. "Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery ways; in the darkness they shall be driven on and fall in them; for I will bring disaster on them, the year of their punishment," says the LORD. "And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: they prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err. Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: 'Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; for from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land.' "
[2-hvn. This is indeed how God views their teachings and conduct.]
Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace" '; and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.'" For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD has gone forth in fury-- a violent whirlwind! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings. "Am I a God near at hand," says the LORD, "And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?" says the LORD; "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the LORD. "I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!' "How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, "who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. "The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?" says the LORD. "Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? "Therefore behold, I am against the prophets," says the LORD, "who steal My words every one from his neighbor. "Behold, I am against the prophets," says the LORD, "who use their tongues and say, 'He says.' "Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," says the LORD, "and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Sock it to 'em, Jeremiah!]
"So when these people or the prophet or the priest ask you, saying, 'What is the oracle of the LORD?' you shall then say to them, 'What oracle?' I will even forsake you," says the LORD. "And as for the prophet and the priest and the people who say, 'The oracle of the LORD!' I will even punish that man and his house. "Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, 'What has the LORD answered?' and, 'What has the LORD spoken?' "And the oracle of the LORD you shall mention no more. For every man's word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. "Thus you shall say to the prophet, 'What has the LORD answered you?' and, 'What has the LORD spoken?' "But since you say, 'The oracle of the LORD!' therefore thus says the LORD: 'Because you say this word, "The oracle of the LORD!" and I have sent to you, saying, "Do not say, 'The oracle of the LORD!'" 'therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence. 'And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.'"
The LORD showed me, and there were two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. Then the LORD said to me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And I said, "Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad." Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. 'For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 'Then I will give them a heart to know Me, 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. 'And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad'-- surely thus says the LORD--' so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. 'I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. 'And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.'"
[2-hvn. This was evidently written late in Jeremiah's career under the reign of Zedekiah. After the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem the first time, they took the "cream of the crop" of Judea's educated elite back to Babylon and installed Josiah's son Mattahiah (whom they renamed Zedekiah) to rule over those who remained. Zedekiah means "Jehovah my righteousness." At first, Zedekiah began implementing reforms that tended to conform with God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, but eventually he strayed so far away from following God's two most fundamental commandments that the Judeans who had been deported to Babylon (many of whom were no doubt the objects of Jeremiah's severest criticisms) appeared to be "good figs" by comparison. Ultimately, Zedekiah's desire for "Judean national sovereignty" led to the second Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem during which King Solomon's Temple and palace were completely leveled.]
[3-hvn. Throughout the Old Testament, the physical nation of Judea is often represented allegorically as a "fig tree" and the spiritual nation of Judea is often represented as an "olive tree."]
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: "From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the LORD has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened. "And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. "They said, 'Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. 'Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.' "Yet you have not listened to Me," says the LORD, "that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.
[2-hvn. The preface to this chapter, which precisely identifies when it was written, was probably added at a later time by Jeremiah's scribe, Baruch.]
"Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Because you have not heard My words, 'behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the LORD, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. 'Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 'And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 'Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the LORD; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation.
[2-hvn. This is Jeremiah's famous prediction that the Judean's exile in Babylon would last for seventy years. To some extent, this may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy. In chapter 23 of Isaiah, the second Isaiah made a similar seventy-year prediction regarding the city-state of Tyre. In those days, most conquering kingdoms tended to last only two or three generations before they themselves were conquered by other conquering kingdoms. This was the nature of the "national sovereignty system" in that age (until the Roman Empire arose). So it didn't require "supernatural powers" to make such seventy-year predictions.]
'So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations. 'For many nations and great kings shall be served by them also; and I will repay them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands.)'"
[3-hvn. St. Paul may have had this passage in mind when he said in Galatians 6:7, "...for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."]
For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: "Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. "And they will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them." Then I took the cup from the LORD'S hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD had sent me: Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day; Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, and all his people; all the mixed multitude, all the kings of the land of Uz, all the kings of the land of the Philistines (namely, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon; all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands which are across the sea; Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who are in the farthest corners; all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed multitude who dwell in the desert; all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. Also the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.
[3-hvn. The "wine cup of fury" refers to teachings regarding wrath or vengeance that God will visit upon those who betray Him. According to Baruch, Jeremiah roamed the land far and wide to deliver these teachings...apparently will little success. It's hard for people to love a god who promises to do evil things to them. They may fear such a god for a while, but unless such promises of doom come true, they will eventually ignore such a god. Such satanically inspired teachings, which had long been part of the Levite tradition, were seriously degrading the effectiveness of Jeremiah's message and mission.]
"Therefore you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you."' "And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "You shall certainly drink! "For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth," says the LORD of hosts.' "Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: 'The LORD will roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation; he will roar mightily against His fold. He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will come to the ends of the earth--for the LORD has a controversy with the nations; he will plead His case with all flesh.
[3-hvn. WOW! In a mere seventeen words, "...for the LORD has a controversy with the nations; he will plead His case with all flesh", Jeremiah described the event that would eventually be referred to by Christians as "The Second coming of Christ."]
He will give those who are wicked to the sword,' says the LORD." Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, disaster shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the farthest parts of the earth. "And at that day the slain of the LORD shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground. "Wail, shepherds, and cry! Roll about in the ashes, you leaders of the flock! For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions are fulfilled; you shall fall like a precious vessel. And the shepherds will have no way to flee, nor the leaders of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and a wailing of the leaders to the flock will be heard. For the LORD has plundered their pasture, And the peaceful dwellings are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD. He has left His lair like the lion; for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the Oppressor, and because of His fierce anger."
[3-hvn. This can be interpreted to literally describe the second Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem, or (as shown in my article "What does the Second Coming of Christ REALLY mean?") it can be interpreted allegorically to describe the spiritual battle between good and evil that will accompany the Second Coming of Christ. America's "Battle Hymn of the Republic" provides a similar allegorical description of that spiritual battle ('Mine eyes have seen the glory of the Coming of the Lord, He has ....').]
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word. 'Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.' "And you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, "to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), "then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth."'
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah's prophesies of doom and gloom began in earnest not long after Josiah died. King Josiah had pretty much followed Jeremiah's advise regarding religious matters.]
So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. Now it happened, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, "You will surely die! "Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, 'This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without an inhabitant'?" And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. When the princes of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king's house to the house of the LORD and sat down in the entry of the New Gate of the LORD'S house. And the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and all the people, saying, "This man deserves to die! For he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears." Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and all the people, saying: "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city with all the words that you have heard. "Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; then the LORD will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you. "As for me, here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you. "But know for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing."
[2-hnv. Jeremiah had "true grit."]
So the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man does not deserve to die. For he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God."
[2-hvn. Notice that it is members of the royal family and the common people who are defending Jeremiah from the deadly plans of the Levite priests and prophets. It's not hard to figure out which group was working for Satan.]
Then certain of the elders of the land rose up and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying: "Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest." ' "Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah ever put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and seek the LORD'S favor? And the Lord relented concerning the doom that He had pronounced against them. But we are doing great evil against ourselves."
[2-hnv. Here is one case where Jeremiah's teachings actually did succeed in persuading some people to repent (for a while) during his lifetime.]
Now there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid and fled, and went to Egypt. Then Jehoiakim the king sent men to Egypt: Elnathan the son of Achbor, and other men who went with him to Egypt. And they brought Urijah from Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.
[2-hnv. So unlike the other members of the royal family, King Jehoiakim had no qualms about killing true prophets of God who had the audacity to criticize him. But, as we will see in Part II of this article, this didn't stop Jeremiah from criticizing him or anyone else who violated God's two most fundamental commandments.]
[Part II will cover chapters 27 through 52 of the Book of Jeremiah. Most of those chapters were written about Jeremiah by his scribe Baruch, so they contain more of a narrative history of what went on, especially the events surrounding the first and second Babylonian sackings of Jerusalem.]
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002