WHEN PROPHETS PROCLAIM THE WORD OF THE LORD AND KINGS BRING CLEANSING TO THE LAND













Today’s selected reading transitions from the prophetic book of Isaiah and directly into the prophetic book of Jeremiah. The passage that is before me for consideration today is the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah—the chapter which describes in great detail, length and measure the call of Jeremiah. FROM REVIVAL TO CAPTIVITY! FROM RENEWAL TO EXILE! FROM AWAKENING TO CAPTIVITY! Before examining the call of the prophet Jeremiah, it’s incredibly important and imperative that we first understand the times in which he prophesied. When you begin reading the first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will read these words—“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that 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, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month” (Jeremiah 1:1-3). The reason I set forth such concepts as “from revival to captivity” and “from renewal to exile” is because such concepts help describe the times in which Jeremiah prophesied according to the word of the Lord. In the second verse of this first chapter we read that the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah began “in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah,” and did so “in the thirteenth year of his reign.” It’s necessary to pay close attention to this reality, for it reveals the tremendous tragedy that would befall the nation and kingdom of Judah. In fact, if you journey back to the books of Second Kings and Second Chronicles you will uncover the great renewal, restoration, revival and awakening which took place during the days of Josiah king of Judah.

 “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned themwithout Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incsense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinton, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the first to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chambers of AHaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had bujilded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabiates, and for Milcom the abimnatnion of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchures, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed these words…And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:4-20).

 What’s so telling about the words which we read in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that Jeremiah began prophesying according to the word of the Lord in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah. This is actually quite remarkable—especially when you consider it in light of the text we read in the twenty-second chapter of the book of Second Kings. In the twenty-second chapter of the book of Second Kings we read that Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and that he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. We also read that Josiah “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” In the third verse of this particular chapter we read how “it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people.” This would prove to be incredibly significant, for it would be in the midst of, and in response to this appointment of the king that Hilkiah the high priest would find the book of the Law in the house of the Lord. The task which the king had ordained and appointed for Shaphan would actually result in the book of the law being found in the house of the Lord. WHEN THE BOOK OF THE LAW IS PRESERVED IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! WHEN THE LAW OF THE LORD IS PRESERVED IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! I can’t help but find it absolutely astonishing that the book of the law of the Lord seemed to have been preserved in the house of the Lord, and at the appointed time, that book would be found and presented to the king. WHEN THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF THE LORD IS PRESERVED IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD AND PRESENTED TO THE KING! It would be in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah that Hilkiah the high priest would not only find the book of the Law, but would also read it in the presence of the king. It would be the reading of the law of the Lord in the presence of Josiah that would so prick his heart and convict him that he would rise up immediately and act upon what he had just heard. Please make a special note of the year in which the book of the law of the Lord was found in the house of the Lord and read in the hearing of Jeremiah, as well as the year in which Jeremiah began prophesying according to the word of the Lord.

 FROM THE PROPHETIC WORD OF THE LORD TO REVIVAL! FROM THE PROPHETIC WORD OF THE LORD TO AWAKENING! FROM THE PROPHETIC WORD OF THE LORD TO RESTORATION! I can’t help but find a tremendous significance in the year Jeremiah began prophesying according to the word of the Lord and the year the book of the law of the Lord was found in the house of the Lord. In essence, first came the releasing of the prophetic word of the Lord, which would in turn be followed up by the finding of the book of the law of the Lord. I can’t say for sure that the release of the prophetic word of the Lord directly led to and resulted in the finding of the book of the law of the Lord, but I will say there is a definite connection between the two. When considering the fact that the southern kingdom of Judah would go into captivity, I can’t help but see a tremendous tragedy found within it, for their captivity came on the heels of both the release of the prophetic word of the Lord through Jeremiah, as well as the rediscovery of the book of the law of the Lord. During the days of Josiah king of Judah, both the word of the Lord began to be released, as well as the law of the Lord was rediscovered. Josiah reigned as king over the kingdom and nation of Judah during days of the prophetic word of the Lord, as well as during days of the law of the Lord. During the days of Josiah king of Judah we not only find the written word of God as being manifested in the rediscovering of the book of the law of the Lord, but we also find the spoken word of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah. WITHOUT EXCUSE! When the southern kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem went into captivity, they did so without being able to offer up any excuse before the Lord. There was absolutely no room for any excuses before the Lord, for not only had they encountered the spoken word of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah, but they also encountered the written word of the Lord through the book of the Law of the Lord. The days of Josiah were characterized both by the prophetic word of the Lord, as well as the written word of the Lord. In the thirteenth year of Josiah—when he was twenty-one years old—the prophet Jeremiah was ordained, appointed and raised up by the Lord of hosts to deliver the word of the Lord in the southern kingdom of Judah. Five years later the prophetic word of the Lord would be accompanied by the written word of the Lord, as the book of the law of the Lord was found in the Temple. WHEN THE WRITTEN WORD OF THE LORD ACCOMPANIES THE SPOKEN WORD OF THE LORD! WHEN THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD AND THE SPOKEN WORD OF GOD MINISTER SIDE BY SIDE IN A GENERATION!

 I absolutely love that the prophetic word of the Lord began during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah, and that the written word of the Lord was rediscovered in the eighteenth year of his reign, for at one point in time the written and spoken word of the Lord would meet and collide in the midst of the inheritance of God’s people. There was a generation that not only experienced the prophetic word of the Lord according to Jeremiah, but would also experience the written word of the Lord through and according to the book of the Law of the Lord which was found in the house of the Lord. REDISCOVERING THE LAW OF THE LORD IN THE PLACE WE LEFT IT! REDISCOVERING THE LAW OF THE LORD IN THE PLACE WE LOST IT! REDISCOVERING THE WORD OF THE LORD IN THE PLACE WE FORSOOK IT. I am utterly and completely amazed at the reality that the book of the Law of the Lord was found in the house of the Lord—in the very house which was called by His name. The Lord deliberately and intentionally allowed the book of the Law of the Lord to be found in the house of the Lord, for He desired the written word to accompany and minister side by side with the spoken word. The Lord in His sovereign plan and purpose allowed the prophetic word of the Lord to rise first, yet just five years later He would cause the written word of the Lord to be found. It would be the finding and the rediscovery of this written word of the Lord that would so consume the heart of Josiah that he would move throughout the land of Israel and Judah with such reckless abandon before the Lord. It would be the rediscovery of the written word of the Lord that would cause Josiah to unleash a powerful wave of restoration, a powerful wave of cleansing, a powerful wave of awakening and renewal in the midst of the land. WHEN THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD MEETS THE SPOKEN WORD OF GOD AWAKENING SPRINGS FORTH! WHEN THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD AND THE SPOKEN WORD OF GOD COLLIDE, RENEWAL BREAKS FORTH IN THE EARTH! We dare not miss the tremendous importance of this principle, for when renewal and awakening broke forth in the land, not only was the prophetic word of the Lord present and manifested in the land, but so also was the written word of the Lord present. Pause for a moment and consider the thought that not only was Jeremiah prophesying according to the word of the Lord, not only had the book of the Law of the Lord been rediscovered and read in the hearing of the king, but there was also a powerful renewal, awakening, revival and cleansing which took place within the land. The Lord began with the release of the prophetic word of the Lord, then allowed the book of the law of the Lord to be found within the house of the Lord, and ultimately led to a complete overhaul of the wickedness, the abomination, the transgression, the iniquity and the idolatry that was so pervasive within the land.

 Jeremiah began prophesying during the days of Josiah—days in which the book of the law of the Lord would found, and days in which the land and house of the Lord would be cleansed. Jeremiah prophesied for five years before the Lord allowed the book of the Law of the Lord to be found and rediscovered in the house of the Lord. I believe there is a tremendous significance in the fact that the book of the law of the Lord was found and rediscovered in the house of the Lord, for that is always where the law of the Lord is rediscovered in the lives of men and women. It is in the house of the Lord where the word of God is rediscovered by men and women who have perhaps neglected, rejected, despised, and even ignored it. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Lord of hosts Himself allowed the book of the Law of the Lord to be found in the house of the Lord, for He preserved it within that very place. Let us pay attention to and recognize this very powerful reality, for the Lord has always and will always preserve His word in the house of the Lord. WHEN THE WORD OF THE LORD IS PRESERVED IN THE PLACE OF PRESENCE! WHEN THE WORD OF GOD IS PRESERVED IN THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE! WHEN THE WORD OF GOD IS PRESERVED IN THE PLACE OF WORSHIP! It is absolutely tremendous that the word of God was not only preserved in the place of presence, but it was also rediscovered in that same place of presence. The Lord allowed the book of the Law of the Lord to be found, for there would be a collision of the book of the law of the Lord with the word of the Lord, as a prophet speaks the word of the Lord and a king cleanses the land. WHEN PROPHETS PROCLAIM THE WORD OF THE LORD AND KINGS BRING CLEANSING TO THE LAND! During the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah—not only was there a prophet in the midst of the land, but there was also a king whose heart was right before the Lord. I can’t help but be utterly blown away at the fact that before the southern kingdom of Judah went away into captivity and exile, they not only experience the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, but they also experienced the awakening and renewal of Josiah. WHEN THE PROPHETIC MINISTRY OF JEREMIAH COLLIDES WITH THE RESTORATION OF JOSIAH! At one point in time, the Lord not only had Jeremiah the prophet proclaiming the word of the Lord in the land, but He also had Josiah the king bringing cleansing to the land. Despite the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, and the actions of Josiah, the city of Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Judah still went into captivity. The Lord raised up a holy prophet, and the Lord raised up a righteous king, and yet a people still went into captivity.

 I believe the release and raising up of the prophetic word of the Lord, as well as the rediscovery of the book of the law of the Lord were actually distinct acts of mercy and warning to the people of Judah. The Lord in His mercy raised up a prophet to proclaim His words in their midst, but He didn’t stop with merely raising up a prophet. The Lord also raised up a godly and righteous king whose heart would be sensitive to the word of God. The Lord raised up the prophetic voice and ministry of Jeremiah during the days of a king whose heart was sensitive to the Lord, and who did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. The Lord first raised up the prophetic voice of Jeremiah in the midst of the land, and then allowed that voice to be followed up by the written law of the Lord. It’s almost as if the Lord allowed the book of the law of the Lord to be found in the house of the Lord—not only to accompany and work side by side with the prophetic word, but also to confirm the prophetic word of the Lord. We must see the incredibly powerful picture that not only did the Lord raise up the prophetic word and voice of Jeremiah, but the Lord also caused His written word to be found and rediscovered. I find it absolutely awesome that the Lord caused the book of the law of the Lord to be rediscovered in the house of the Lord, for there is a powerful prophetic truth that is contained within it. Not only did the Lord preserve the written word in the house of the Lord, but He also allowed it to be rediscovered in that very place. We dare not miss the significance and importance of this, for there are a number of men and women whom the Lord is leading back to the house, for it is there at the house where they will rediscover the word of God. THE WORD OF GOD IS STILL WHERE IT’S ALWAYS BEEN! THE WORD OF GOD IS STILL WHERE YOU LEFT IT! I am convinced that if you are one who needs to rediscover the word of God within your life, you need return to the house of the Lord, for it is there in that place where the word has been preserved. Not only this, but the overwhelming question then becomes what will you do with the law of the Lord once you have rediscovered it. Hilkiah rediscovered the word of the Lord and he not only gave it to another to read, but that book was then showed unto the king. In essence, it isn’t enough to rediscover the book of the law of the Lord in the house of the Lord, for such a rediscovery warrants a strong and powerful response. Hilkiah discovered the word of God in the house of the Lord and gave it to Shaphan the scribe. Shaphan the scribe would then read the book of the Law of the Lord and then shew it unto the king. The king would ultimately be convicted and moved by the words contained in the book of the Law of the Lord that he would rend his garments and immediately act upon what he had just heard. Oh that there would be a generation of men and women who when they read or hear the word of the Lord immediately act upon it and respond. In the days of Jeremiah the prophet of the Lord, Josiah stands as a powerful example of one whose heart was tender and sensitive to the word of the Lord. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not our heart is tender and sensitive to the word of the Lord.

 When studying the first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, it’s necessary to note that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah who was the son of Hilkiah, of the priests which were in Anathoth. This is quite interesting, for for all intents and purposes, Jeremiah should have grown up to become a priest in the midst of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. Instead of becoming a priest in the land of Benjamin, Jeremiah was sanctified and ordained to be a prophet unto the nations. This same reality was found in the life of John the Baptist, for his father Zechariah was one of the priests which ministered during the time just before Jesus the Christ. The Lord took Jeremiah from among the priests and ordained him to be a prophet unto the the nations, and the Lord took John the Baptist from among the priests and ordained him to be the forerunner of the Messiah. It is necessary to understand and recognize this, for there are times when the Lord will completely go against the natural order and natural progression in order to accomplish His purposes. The Lord took two men from among the priests of Israel and ordained them to be His prophets. THE LORD WHO INTERRUPTS THE STATUS QUO! THE LORD WHO DISRUPTS THE NORM! If there is one thing Scripture reveals, it’s that the Lord can disrupt and interrupt the natural order and status quo any time He chooses and pleases. The Lord took two men from among the priests and ordained them to be prophets of the Most High, and the Lord used them to speak to their generation. The Lord sanctified Jeremiah from the womb, and ordained him to be a prophet unto the nations. The Lord ordained Jeremiah to go to all that He would send him, and to speak whatsoever He commanded him to speak. What’s more, is the Lord encouraged Jeremiah not to be afraid of the faces of those he would be sent, for the Lord would be with him to deliver him. The Lord set Jeremiah over the nations and over the kingdoms—to root out, to pull down, to destroy, to throw down, to build, and to plant. What an absolutely wonderful thought it is that the Lord would raise up Jeremiah and set him over nations and kingdoms. Moreover, the Lord didn’t merely ordain Jeremiah to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, but He also raised him up to build and to plant. It is absolutely critical that we see both of these realities, for there are a number of men and women who when speaking of the prophetic view it only in terms of pulling down, destroying and throwing down. They are so far to this extreme that they completely neglect and ignore the need to build up and to plant. Conversely, there are a number of men and women who are so far on the side of building and planting that they fail to see the need to pull down, to destroy and to throw down. A healthy prophetic ministry is one that incorporates both sides of the coin, and operates with a two-edged sword that builds and plants, and which pulls down and destroys.

 Jeremiah was the prophet who ministered from revival to captivity and from awakening to exile. Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry under a king whose heart was sensitive to the word of the Lord, while he would conclude his ministry under a king whose heart was callous, cold and hard to the word of the Lord. Jeremiah watched as Josiah went the way of his fathers, and as men rose up after him who led the nation down a dark and dangerous path. Jeremiah watched the powerful awakening and renewal which swept through the land under the leadership of Josiah, yet he would watch as that nation and people would turn their hearts on the Lord. Jeremiah would watch as a king would sit upon the throne who would have in his possession the written word of the Lord, yet every two or three sentences would cut pieces off and cast them into the fire. There was a king who rent and tore his garments at the sound of the word of the Lord, yet there was also a king who cut off and cast into the fire the prophetic word of the Lord. The question we must ask ourselves at this juncture is whether or not we are a Josiah whose hearts are sensitive to the truth contained within the word of God, or whether we are a Zedekiah who take a pen knife to the word of God and cast it into the fire. How do you treat and how do you handle the word of God within your life? How you answer this question can and will most certainly determine and dictate the course of your life in this generation. Oh that there would be a people in the earth whose hearts would be sensitive to the word of God, and who would respond with favor to the word of the Lord. Oh that there would be a people in the earth who would return to the house of the Lord to rediscover the word of the Lord which has long been absent their hearts and lives. Oh that I would be a man who would rediscover the word of God within my life—even if I am one who may continually make it a practice to read and study the word of God. Oh that I would be a man whose heart would respond to the truth contained within the word of God—even if that truth may offend, challenge and convict me. May there be a people who return to the house of the Lord to find that the word of God has been preserved within it in order that they might rediscover it.

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