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JEREMIAH - AN OUTLINE
OF SOME OF THE EVENTS
RELATING TO CHAPTER 5
PROVIDING SOME BACKGROUND
AND CASTING AN EYE TO OUR CONTEMPORARY FOREGROUND
It seems good to provide some sense of the development in the tragedy of ancient Jerusalem as shown in Jeremiah; and in so doing, it enables us to view further the developments both ancient and modern, and to trace outcomes to our own time.
The sequence of the events which here concern us is as follows.
Jeremiah is called to pronounce prophecies, affecting both nations and the disposition of things to come, having been appointed before birth by the Lord, for this task (Jeremiah 1).
In His divine foreknowledge, God both knows His own plans and how all things will duly fit together for His purposes (cf. Romans 11 and Ephesians 1:11, Isaiah 46:10-11) Jeremiah is too young in his own view, for such a godly commission, but receives divine assurances of power in support and protection in pronouncements. He does not rebel.
In Jeremiah 9, you see the prophet in heart moved to weep day and night for 'the slain of my people,' seeing in advance what is to be, and pronouncing the judgment on the land.
THE NATION FALLS FURTHER AND FURTHER
In Jeremiah 23, you find the exposure of false prophets, running but not sent, who should rather have been seeking salvation in repentance and faith for the people, but who yet refuse. God will appoint the Messiah to rule in the end, but in the interim, what is the chaff to the wheat ? (Jeremiah 23:25-29), and what are their false religious enthusiasms compared to the truth God announces, His word which can break rock!
Jeremiah 25 finds precise announcements to the nations, naming several, concerning the doom now coming, and Israel is appointed a 70 year exile in Babylon for its poisonous pretensions and pretences concerning God.
Jeremiah 36 shows a late King in Judah, Jehoiakim, and the end of the road for the civil abuse of the things of God. Given a scroll of Jeremiah's prophecies for his action and reform, he cuts it with his pen-knife and casts it into the fire. Promised the burial of an ass for such an asinine thing, he was bound as if to be taken to Babylon, and later in his reign was confronted by various nations, and may have been killed in battle outside Jerusalem, where his body would lie.
Like slain King Ahab before him, whose blood dripped from the chariot, he 'slept with his fathers' but this is by no means to imply peaceful death! He was succeeded by young King Jehoiakin whose reign was short and who was sent to Babylon. The nation was already not its own, subjected to others, as it had been in the first place, to sin. So did the irony turn, and the fire begin to burn.
A new King, Zedekiah is enthroned, but not only has the land taken by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (36:6), but this King made a covenant with the invader, by which he might rule; but then he broke even that covenant! While God had appointed that Israel be taken to Babylon, as if the land were to be free of its people, for 70 years, yet Zedekiah not only tried to breach this, but in breaking covenant with Nebuchadnezzar asked for the destruction that came. In this case, both God and man were against his presumption, and although Nebuchadnezzar would so act, in the end of the matter, Babylon itself was doomed as in Jeremiah 50-51, and so the assailant became a proverb for destruction, its mound for centuries in the desert.
The doom of Babylon was far greater than that of Jerusalem, which was only for a time. Cruel in its execution of its commission, it was dealt doom in no small measure and for no short time!
PROGRESS IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE PROPHET
We turn now to Jeremiah in the days reaching to and then in that of King Zedekiah.
Jeremiah 17 shows the prophet making an amazing offer that if they only cease bearing burdens on the Sabbath, if only make this day holy again, then the destruction would not come; but even in this, they were unwilling. God KNOWS what is to be, but He also knows the heart and seeks it. His knowledge because it is true, in no way hardens His heart, but it does enable predictions such as He makes.
Again in Jeremiah 34, we see double dealing with slaves, not meant to be kept as they kept them, those of their own people: and they obeyed God in their extremities, and released them, only to have second thoughts and bring them back once more into illegal captivity.
"You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty,
every one to his brother and every one to his neighbour.
" 'Behold I proclaim liberty to you,' says the Lord,
'to the sword, to pestilence...' "
They became more and more case hardened, romancing about relief, but not even practising it for others! not even when commanded by the law.' Such things were like leaving the highway; then there was the impact!
In Jeremiah 37 we find the prophet leaving the beleaguered city to deal with some land of his, but in this he is taken to be deserting, decamping, defecting to Babylon, as if he were making himself safe when in fact his truthful challenge to his own nation was obviously all but a death sentence! Feelings ran high, and the princes imprisoned him, though earlier in the day of King Jehoiakim, they at first feared when they read the words of the prophet from the Lord. Now they were hardened.
In Jeremiah 37:10, we see that their fate, which was mercifully limited as a city, in that after 70 years they would be back, was sealed. Even if the army invading were stricken, each wounded man would STILL rise up and invading, burn the city of Jerusalem! he announced in the name of the Lord.
Put in prison (Jeremiah 37) by their orders, Jeremiah is approached by King Zedekiah, who brings him out of the prison compound. "Is there any word from the Lord ?" the devious king enquires (37:17).
"There is," the prophet replied. "You will be delivered into the hand of the King of Babylon."
Jeremiah meanwhile requested deliverance from the prison, and was put into the court of the prison. The relief was short, for then the princes, perhaps fearing any secret deals, and intent on disobeying the Lord and not surrendering, had him put into a worse thing, a pit in dangerous territory, letting him down with ropes, to a place where he might sink and die, and even starve. Here there was "no water, but mire" (38:6).
Jeremiah is pitied by a eunuch of the King, Ebed-Melech, who persuades his royal master to have the prophet brought out of this slow murder. He went further and spoke to Jeremiah. Again the King seeks to the prophet:
"I will ask you a thing. Hide nothing from me!"
Always the King is expecting special treatment, deals, without real surrender to the Lord.
"If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death ?
And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.,"
replied the prophet.
PLEASE, he said, surrender, and save both yourself and the city. What tenderness: 'Please!' from a lamenting prophet, empathising with the judgment so near to his people, to an impure prince! How does the Lord long for a better heart and a better mind and a better way for those who throw away their opportunities, and disregard even His importunities! (cf. Ezekiel 33:11 and Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.).
Fear of what might happen to him if he surrendered, gripped the King and he would not surrender.
Thus, together with the princes and the people, many leaders being caught up in
and disfaith*1 (cf. Jeremiah 5:31),
the King fell into his own net.
What he feared and what he found became the same thing, except if possible worse, because in his fear, he had refused to trust in the Lord, who alone could have broken the circuit of failure and ruin. What perversity of spirit is this which because of fear solicits what it fears, and because it will not trust, evacuates its own deliverance. Again, what the Lord stated would happen, without repentance and return, did happen, and the fiction of self-trust, self-reliance, self-arbitrage, was left with the appalling horror of the devastated, robbed and pilloried city, like a dream when a man awakens from some drug.
What was feared is there; and what was there, it is gone...
So does the Lord always fulfil His word, in things great or small, but not without the pity which led at last to the Cross of Christ, that great centre of atonement, for one as for many, even for anyone who receives His word and Him who speaks it, not as a manageable cult symbol, but as truth. It is better to put your trust in the Lord than in city or nation or doctor or philosopher; for what He says, He does, and what He has done, is a wonder for all time, broader than the heavens, a splendour for all the earth (Galatians 6:14). But as to this world, it will not hear (John 14:30), and as the city of Jerusalem in that day was burnt, so will be the case for this world, only at last, this will be yet more final and absolutely fatal for it (II Peter 3, Matthew 24:35). It is well to heed His word who speaks to those to whom He gave power both to speak and to listen to Him.
It is wise then to look back to ancient Jerusalem.
What was feared is there; and what was there, it is gone... So does the Lord always fulfil His word, in things great or small, but not without the pity which led at last to the Cross of Christ, that great centre of atonement, for one as for many, whoever receives His word and Him who speaks it, not as a manageable cult symbol, but as truth. It is better to put your trust in the Lord than in city or nation or doctor or philosopher; for what He says, He does, and what He has done, is a wonder for all time, broader than the heavens, a splendour for all the earth. But as to this world, it will not hear (John 14:30), and as the city of Jerusalem in that day, so will be its fall, only at last, more final and absolutely fatal for it. It is wise then to look back to ancient Jerusalem.
The city with its people was to be bundled into quite unnecessary ruin, fire, horror, with cruelties almost unimaginable as shown in the book of Lamentations. Surrender to the will of the Lord is the beginning of peace, when His grace is shown and His ways are known (Proverbs 1, 8, Isaiah 48:18). Failure to surrender is the invitation to hardening, proud folly, subjection to what is unworthy, blighting of the spiritual understanding and a fraudulent attitude to the Lord. Jerusalem, alas, as a whole, in its final orientation, took this disastrous step of disfaith, and after much forbearance from the Lord, the final scene, as with the Titanic, was set.
The strike came, and for 70 years Jerusalem lay desolate.
THE PERFORMANCE OF THESE THINGS -
MOVING TO CURRENT AND COMING EVENTS
God however is judge, not of one only, but of all.
In Jeremiah 50-51 we see the payment to be exacted from rampaging Babylon, for it is never wise to be too forward in executing judgment, and it is right to have HEART in what you do! Forever was Babylon cursed; and indeed that city was to give its name to the great final kingdom, noted by Daniel in Daniel 2 and 7-8, there 'Babylon' being another name for Rome as you see in Revelation 17*2.
And as to Rome, that recipient of the now extended name of Babylon, 'Babylon The Great' (Revelation 17:5,9), this has its own doom noted, the finale for it in Revelation 18, with its own devastation by fire, before the final coming of Christ in power (Revelation 19).
In view of its background from the Babylonian Empire (leading on to the destruction of Jerusalem and dismemberment of the holy items in the Temple, taking these also into exile), this name read with Jeremiah 50-051 is one of infamy. As to that Empire which assailed Jerusalem, it was a body to which the Lord gave due recompense for their spirit of labour in harsh cruelty as it assaulted Jerusalem. Thus its own capital became a ruin to remain along with its seven wonders of the world, once given such fame, and its multiple modes of worship have become an historical prelude for the now broadened Babylon the Great, which has a spirit of seduction and ruin of its own, which was to be, and now is, invested in Rome in its famous religion.
This religious centre has thus become a new repository for divine wrath and ruin, or an extended one, now invested with a spirit of wickedness, refaced in Rome as in Revelation 17:5,9, which has provided a central station for the continuation of the assault on His people, one not afraid to act destructively towards His spiritual temple (I Peter 2:2-9 cf. Ancient Words ... Ch. 14), both in spiritual false teaching*3, and in violence.
As a centre, it becomes an association focus for many of this spirit of inclusivism and assault on the truth of God in the Bible, and His Christ. In so doing, it has been making various new aspects for salvation*4,
new sites for worship and new arrogance for its CEO, the pope, despite Matthew 23:8-10.
As Babylon, the Empire, ruined Jerusalem, which nevertheless after the appointed 70 years (forecast in Jeremiah 25) was rebuilt, and was itself punished in perpetuity on this earth, so does the spirit of Babylon, typified in the false prophet of Revelation 19:20 and the spirits which went abroad in this earth as in Revelation 16:13ff., receive its ruin. So does its gross and insulting tilt at the truth of the Bible and the deity of Christ in its practical application become the ground of a proverb, as with Babylon. How may it run ?
Is THIS the power which sought to subdue the Church of Jesus Christ by subterfuge, propaganda, irrational assault and illicit conduct! (cf. Isaiah 14:16 which provides the format). How despicable! Babylon, in its final format (Revelation 18:4-5,17-20), Babylon the Great in its last crusade, will lie once more in defeat, this time in more direct spiritual shame, not only eternal on earth, but in heaven above!
The Church, the living body of the Lord Jesus Christ of which HE is the Head, however, this will, while suffering much as did Jerusalem under Babylon, from the invasions and depredations of false teachers, fraudulent counsellors, false prophets and various schismatics, which like Hezekiah in his day, it must face manfully, courageously, will not die. It will stand like Jerusalem under Hezekiah, not fall like that city in Zedekiah's day. Since its Head is He who was dead and behold! He is alive for evermore (Revelation 1:19), He will uphold it though it seem defeated (as in Revelation 11:7-12), and when its testimony on this earth is completed (as in Revelation 6:9ff.), it will be called, "Come up here!" as also in Matthew 24 and I Thessalonians 4; and there it will go, while the Babylon of this earth laid waste (Revelation 19), and the continuation of its spirit of illicit spiritual enterprise, floundering to its last, meets its end in judicial fire.
Nor will Israel fail to have its place, not only back in its appointed land, as now, but in its spiritual renewal as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, Romans 11 and Micah 7. No more spiritual tutor (Isaiah 43:21), but recipient of the same grace which reaches all who come to the 'tree' of faith in Christ (Romans 11), there will it fulfil Ezekiel 37's long promised two-stage restoration, first to the land and then to the Lord*5.
Long has been the path to this; great the
obstinacy of unbelief, but have Gentiles been any different ? They too
have wandered and strayed and fleeced people with false prophecies and hideously
tortured not only the faithful, but the faith! Many have been their idols, not
only in Romanism but in multitudes of false faiths, ludicrous and almost
comic parodies of Christianity daring still to use its name, just as false
prophets in Israel used to use the name of the Lord for their forlorn and
specious spiritual enterprises (cf. Jeremiah 23). There is none to obtain glory;
it is only the Lord (Isaiah 2:17), for He alone will gain glory in that
day; but in Him and for Him and through Him, comes the glory of the Lord, which
will bringing triumphant blessing to His body, whose light has come.
From both quarters, they come, the people of the Lord to provide themes in one great symphony such as delights Paul to recount (Romans 11:25 to the end). Here the Gospel of divine grace through faith, freely provided and available, it remains as does all the word of the Lord, till fulfilled; and as to the Gospel, it is the crux itself, the Lamb receiving glory and praise forever (cf. Revelation 5), even He who with the Father BECOMES the very temple itself in heaven (Revelation 21;22).
To this next phase, then, that of Israel's spiritual return to the Lord in great numbers as in Ezekiel 37 and Zechariah 12, with a vast awakening as also in Micah 7, an eventual arising to faith, we now approach so nearly that the agents, those chosen for it, are already in place, back in Jerusalem (as forecast by Christ in Luke 21:24), like actors already on stage, awaiting their lines!
It is then notably in Ezekiel 36-37, as in Jeremiah 23 and Micah 5, that we see the return eventually of the nation, Israel, which would, alas, not only betray itself in the day of Jeremiah, but even betray the Lord when He became incarnate (as in Isaiah 48:16ff., 7, 9, Micah 5). Even then (as in Isaiah 49:7, 52-53), unwilling once more, dismissing Him only themselves to be dismissed a second time, they inherited a long age of suffering. There are much better things to inherit, and these now exposed directly these 2000 years, they will meet in their delayed return. This, it will be with all that thrill of a change from NOT MY PEOPLE, to MY PEOPLE, thus joining in this with the Gentiles (cf. Romans 9:26), who once alienated, are now also counted MY PEOPLE. Indeed, this applies to all those who believe and come and receiving the gift of repentance, receive Christ in heart and mind and soul, known to Him when He makes up His jewels, one and all (Malachi 3-4). It is as Paul depicts it direct, in Romans 9:24.
Long, then, did their
exile and suffering proceed,
as in Hosea 1-3, Ezekiel 36-37, till at last in repentance (as in Isaiah
after so very long a time, they come back in those two blessed and
merciful stages. First it is to
their land (Ezekiel 37:4), and then to their Lord (37:9), as also so
graphically shown in Zechariah 12:10-13:1. It was as it is, to Him they come: to
Him who provided as He declared so mercifully and dramatically and indeed
practically, in Hosea 13:14. It is HE who for Jew or Gentile, is the source of
the devastation of death and the regal ransom which pays and the redemption
which brings even adoption to sinners who believing, receive Him by faith in
free grace. It is He, there, God Himself, who does this payment, He who could
and did say: "Before Abraham was, I am!" (John
8:58), to whom every knee will bow (Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:9-11).
THEN the Lord, the Messiah as in Psalm 2 and 110, Psalm 9, 45, 67 and 99, Revelation 20, rules the earth, and not Judah alone! for He is light to the Gentiles as well (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). Now nearly all these things are already fulfilled.
But what of the message ?
In the meantime, while these things develop, on the side of the glory of the Lord and His own counsel, the Gospel mission, till Israel returns to the Lord, has passed to all those who come to Him in any nation (Matthew 28:19-20), till at the end, Israel too returns to its Maker and Lord (cf. Jeremiah 23, Micah 7, Zechariah 12-13:1, Ezekiel 36-37*5, Romans 11),
This it does, unfazed, unfading, on the same spiritual terms (Galatians 1:6-9), and thus we Gentiles shall soon have more company in the same Gospel of the same Saviour on the same terms of repentance to life through grace by faith.
The core and centre is this same Jesus who stricken, a ransom far better than a city destroyed, is the Redeemer for one as for all who come to Him. We await His return (I Corinthians 11:34, Acts 1:7ff., I Corinthians 15, I Thessalonians 4). His nation has already returned as promised (cf. SMR Ch. 9), and we await their incorporation in His spiritual body, as many as resurge into faith when the events of Romans 11:25ff. occur.
It is far better to be redeemed in reality, regenerated through faith by grace, and surrendering all to the Lord (Luke 14:27ff.), to find from Him your commission, whether individual or church, and from Him to move with obedient delight, relish and in Him to worship. It is far better to be redeemed in reality, regenerated through faith by grace, and surrendering all to the Lord (Luke 14:27ff.), to find from Him your commission, whether individual or church, and from Him to move with obedient delight, regaled with relish and in Him to worship.
This term, disfaith, is defined as follows: a deadly and even devilish dynamic that seeks to delete faith, trust, reliance on the Lord, and all those things tending to this. It acts as a substitute for faith. Its target, in spiritual malignity, whether aggravated by conscious scheming or not, is found in the things of God.
Just as the antichrist is in effect, though blatantly fraudulent, the devil's 'messiah'
(I John 1:18, II Thessalonians 2), the 'man of sin' and not of salvation;
so there is this substitute of 'unclean spirits' (Revelation 16:12 cf. II Corinthians 11:4),
whose expansive, last day office is simply to deceive, being unholy spirits;
for the devil is an imitator of reality, a spiritual seducer,
and tries anything, for 'there is no truth in him'
and 'when he speaks a lie, he speaks of himself,' John 8:44.
Ultimately, through the man of sin, the antichrist (cf. II Thessalonians 2), the devil seeks to dissociate faith from its proper target, the Lord, and to associate it with devious desire, with himself, that he might scour the heavens and infest its source. His efforts as in Revelation 12, have been palpable enough; and his failure, as appears normal with pride, merely sharpens his appetite and makes the more furious his endeavours. So in shameless imitation of a blasphemy all but unthinkable, you have this polluted parallel: the sender, the devil, the sent one, the devil's messiah, the man of sin and the UNHOLY SPIRITS. The devil is not much good in unity, and so being a mere creation and derivative who has to the uttermost point used the liberty that love requires, for hatred instead, he infests with many evil spirits, what is seducible.
Before such, it is well to trust in the Lord, knowing that holiness is His (Psalm 111:9), for holy and awesome is His name: He does not just HAVE it, but He IS it, a fearsome, an awesome majesty inspiring a reverential awe, a submission to His splendour and a trembling delight (Psalm 2) at His humbling of Himself to behold the things of man. There is no terror in it, for the love which is His, embraces the heart, soothes the spirit and purges pollution (rather like a car wash when you have been on a large journey involving mud here and there, and resistance in many places), enabling fellowship at a friendly level, which however does not wisely approach a lax familiarity, but rather a delighted cognisance, that grows as one abides and obeys, in faith.
"He is in you is greater than he who is in the world," (I John 4:4). The Creator transcends ALL His creations. Who is the one who is in the world ? It is as in the preceding verse ?
"This is the spirit of antichrist which you have heard was coming,
and is now already in the world."
It is of this evil spirit and its head that Christ declared, as in John 14:30,
"The prince of this world is coming and he has nothing in Me."
See SMR pp. 946ff..
See SMR pp. 911ff.. See on overall coverage of this spiritual phenomenon, SMR pp. 1032-1088H. On the additions.
Attention is given here in A Question of Gifts as marked, which may be consulted, together with the above.
*5 See for example It Bubbles ... Ch. 10.