Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in verses fourteen through twenty-one of the sixteenth chapter. “Therefore!” This particular passages begins with the word “therefore,” and immediately follows the same word which is found in the previous verse. In the thirteenth verse we find these words spoken by the Lord—“Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour” (Jeremiah 16:13). In the thirteenth verse we find the prophet Jeremiah declaring to the house of Judah that the Lord was going to cast them out of “this land”—the land of Canaan, which was the land of promise, inheritance and blessing—and cast them into a land which they knew not. The Lord was going to deliberately and intentionally cast His own chosen people out of the land of Canaan into the land of the Chaldeans where they would serve other gods day and night. It’s quite interesting that the same God which brought them up out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey is the same God that cast them out of the land of promise into a land of captivity. The Lord took the house of Judah—which at this time was only the two remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin—and cast them out of the place of promise and into the place of captivity. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of these words, for the same God who brought the children of Israel into the land of inheritance, promise and blessing also took and cast them out of that land and into a land of captivity and exile. WHEN INHERITANCE AND PROMISE GIVE WAY TO CAPTIVITY AND EXILE! The Lord did to the houses of Israel and Judah exactly what He did to Adam and Eve after they sinned and transgressed in the Garden of Eden. In the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find Adam and Eve transgressing the command of the Lord by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were cast out and removed from that place where the tree of life was, and were forced to journey east of the garden. Just as Adam and Eve were cast forth and cast out of the garden after transgressing the command of the Lord, so were the houses of Israel and Judah cast out of the land of inheritance and blessing into a land of captivity and exile. What’s more, is that when the children of Israel wandered through the wilderness they attempted on multiple occasions to return unto the land of Egypt where they ate of leaks and honey and over pots of meat. It’s worth noting that once they crossed the Jordan River and entered into the land of Canaan, they no longer sought to raise up for themselves a leader who will lead them back into the land of Egypt. There would come a day when the children of Israel would be cast forth out of the land of Canaan, yet it would not be because they raised up for themselves one who would lead them out. When we come to these two verses found in the sixteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find two distinct declarations. In the thirteenth verse we find the Lord declaring how He was going to cast them out of the land of inheritance and cast them into a land of captivity. In the fourteenth verse, however, we find something entirely different being declared by the Lord. In the fourteenth verse we find the prophet Jeremiah declaring that the days were coming when it would no longer be said “The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” Up until that moment the children of Israel could look back over their long history and point to that singular event when the Lord entered the land of Egypt and struck both land, man and cattle alike with ten distinct plagues. The houses of Israel and Judah had the incredible testimony of the Lord’s deliverance of their fathers from their slavery, their oppression, and their bondage in the land of Egypt. They were able to look back and point to that moment in their history when the Lord brought them up out of the land of Egypt and began leading them in and through the wilderness before bringing them into the land of Canaan. The children of Israel could look back over their history and proclaim the testimony of deliverance from slavery. The children of Israel could look back over their history and declare the testimony of deliverance from bondage. They could look back over their history and speak of their deliverance from the oppression of Pharaoh and his Egyptian task masters. In the fourteenth verse the Lord of hosts speaks of what was perhaps the single greatest testimony the children of Israel had up until that moment of time. Up until that moment in time the children of Israel could look back and point to their deliverance from the land of Egypt as the catalyst which would culminate in their being brought into the land of Canaan. When we come to the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of this chapter we find two distinct realities being spoken of by the Lord of hosts—the first reality is the testimony of being brought forth and being brought up out of the land of Egypt, while the second reality is the testimony of being brought up from the land of the north, and being brought back into their own land. On the one hand we have the testimony of being brought out and brought into, yet on the other hand we have the testimony of being brought out and brought back into. One speaks of entrance, while the other speaks of return, for the Lord delivered the children of Israel from their slavery so He could bring them into the land of Canaan, while He brought them forth from their captivity to bring them back into the land.
INHERITANCE CAN BE THAT WHICH WE ARE BROUGHT INTO! INHERITANCE CAN ALSO BE THAT WHICH WE ARE RETURNED TO! If there is one thing the Old Testament reveals, it’s that inheritance is something that can be taken possession of as we march throughout the land dispossessing enemies and adversaries and putting our feet on the necks of kings. On the other hand, however, inheritance can also be that which we must return to and familiarize ourselves with once more. I can’t help but think of how likely it was that a generation—perhaps two generations—were born in the midst of captivity which never knew the inheritance. I am reminded of one of the psalms recorded in the book of the Psalms, and how the words contained within this psalm reflect what was more than likely a common theme within the hearts and minds of those who experienced the captivity and exile in the land of the Chaldeans. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sin us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, raise it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed’ Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones” (Psalm 137:1-9). There was that initial and original generation which witnessed the three distinct waves of captivity and exile as Nebuchadnezzar brought men, women and their children up out of the land of Israel and brought them into the land of the Chaldeans. In fact, the prophet book of Daniel is perhaps the single greatest book that helps describe what it was like in that place of captivity, as Nebuchadnezzar sought to completely erase their heritage and their inheritance. Once removed from their land and brought into this new and strange land, Nebuchadnezzar sought to destroy all traces of Israel and Judah from their hearts and minds, for he sought to condition them to life within the land of the Chaldeans. There was that initial generation which experienced the breach of Jerusalem, and the eventual destruction of the city of Jerusalem as it fell before Nebuchadnezzar and his army of Chaldeans. There was that generation that hung up their harps and wept by the rivers of Babylon, as it was being demanded of them to sing the songs of Zion.
THE TESTIMONY OF DELIVERANCE FROM SLAVERY! THE TESTIMONY OF DELIVERANCE FROM CAPTIVITY! If there is one thing we must learn, recognize and understand, it’s that there are two distinct testimonies. On the one hand there is the testimony of being delivered out of slavery, out of bondage, and out of oppression, as the Lord brought you up out of the land of Egypt. It’s worth noting that there are and there were perhaps those who viewed this generation which experienced the captivity and exile of the land of Chaldea and point their fingers at that generation. There would be those who look upon that generation and point judgmental and critical fingers at this generation, for this was the generation that essentially lost the Promised Land. This generation—the one that was removed from the land of Israel—was the generation that was brought into the land of the Chaldeans, and there forced into a life of captivity and exile. It would be very easy to point the finger of that generation which were cast out and driven forth from the land of Israel, while completely neglecting and ignoring the fact that the generation which was delivered out of and brought forth out of the land of Egypt was the same generation which forfeited the place of inheritance. That first generation witnessed the ten plagues of the Lord which completely devastated and destroyed the land of Egypt, yet that generation could not enter into the land of Canaan because of their doubt, because of their unbelief. The first generation experienced deliverance from the slavery, the bondage and oppression of the land of Egypt, yet that same generation was also the generation that repeatedly grumbled, complained and murmured against Moses, Aaron and even the Lord. That first generation experienced the deliverance from the land of Egypt, yet that first generation made more than one attempt to raise up for themselves a leader who would bring them back into the land of Egypt. It was that first generation that would rebel against the Lord on more than one occasion, and as a result would experience and incur the judgment and correction of the Lord. THE GENERATION THAT FORFEITED THE INHERITANCE! THE GENERATION THAT ENTERED INTO THE INHERITANCE! THE GENERATION THAT LOST THE INHERITANCE! THE GENERATION THAT RETURNED TO THE INHERITANCE! There were essentially four distinct and four different generations which existed in the history of the children of Israel—that first generation which forfeited the inheritance, that second generation which entered into and took possession of the inheritance, that third generation which lost and were removed from the inheritance, and that final generation which returned and were brought back into the inheritance.
I am thoroughly convinced there is a powerful prophetic picture that is wrapped up and contained within these four generations, as these four generations present us with a tremendous picture of four different types of men and women that exist and are present among us in these Last Days. There are those men and women among us who are represented by that first generation—that generation which experienced deliverance from the land of Egypt, and salvation at the Red Sea, yet when the time came to rise up and enter into the inheritance, they forfeited it because of their unbelief, their doubt, and their fear. This generation would not be struck dead at the border of the inheritance, but would be forced to spend the next forty years wandering in and wandering through the wilderness until each and every one of them perished in the midst of it. Pause and consider for a moment that the same generation which experienced deliverance from Egypt and salvation the Red Sea would be the same generation that whose bodies would fall in the wilderness and would be buried there in the wilderness. That first generation—though they experienced deliverance and salvation—would wander in and through the wilderness for forty years with and for the express purpose of dying and perishing in the wilderness. That generation which came up after them would be the generation that would actually enter into the land of inheritance, promise and blessing after crossing over and passing through the Jordan River. There was that first generation which passed through the waters of the Red Sea as they entered into the wilderness, while there was that second generation which would pass through the waters of the Jordan River as they entered into the land of Canaan. It would be the generation that passes through the river that would enter into and take possession of the land of Canaan. What’s more, is that the same generation which experienced the parting of the waters of the Red Sea was also supposed to be the generation that passed through the waters of the Jordan River and entered into the land of Canaan. That first generation only experienced deliverance out of Egypt and passing through the waters of the Red Sea, while completely missing out on passing through the Jordan River and entering into the land of Canaan. Let it be said, and let it be known that the Lord doesn’t deliver you out of Egypt and cause you to pass through the waters of the Red Sea only to allow you miss out on passing through the waters of the Jordan River, entering into the land of Canaan, and taking possession of the Promised land. It has never, it is never, and will never be the Lord’s intention to deliver you out of slavery, bondage and oppression only to let you wander in the wilderness for forty years until that time comes for you to perish and go the way of all the earth.
What we read in the one-hundred and thirty-seventh chapter of the book of the Psalms are words written, spoken, and most certainly felt and thought by all those who experienced the forceful removal from the land of inheritance, and being brought into the land of the land of captivity and exile. These words were words which were written by those who enjoyed the land and place of the inheritance, yet had also experienced being thrust forth from the land and cast into the land of captivity and exile. There was one generation which forfeited the inheritance because of doubt and unbelief, while there was another generation that lost the inheritance because of transgression and rebellion. If we point the finger at one generation, we must also take good, hard look at the other generation and understand that that particular generation was not innocent themselves. There are those among us in the pews of our churches who although they have been delivered from the slavery, bondage and oppression of Egypt, have been unable to enter into the inheritance prepared for and promised unto them. There are those among us who although they have experienced salvation through the waters of the Red Sea, have been unable to enter into and take possession of the inheritance that has been prepared for them. There are those among us who although we have been set from from the sin and slavery and Egypt and have experienced salvation at the waters of the Red Sea have been forced to wander aimlessly in the wilderness because we are unable to enter into the inheritance. There are others among us who have been able to rise up and enter the land of Canaan, and have taken up sword and shield to take possession of the inheritance. There are those among us who have marched through the land of Canaan and have witnessed the walls of Jericho come crashing down and have put our feet on the necks of our enemies and adversaries. There are others among us who have enjoyed the inheritance for quite some time, yet as a result of, and because of our disobedience, transgression and rebellion, we have been thrust forth and cast out of our inheritance. Like Adam and Eve who were cast forth and cast out of the garden of Eden we have been cast forth and cast out because of our willful disobedience, transgression and rebellion. Like the house of Israel that was cast out of the northern kingdom and cast into the land of the Assyrians, we have been cast out of the inheritance and cast into a strange land which we knew not. Like the southern kingdom of Judah we have been cast out of the land and have been cast into the land of the Chaldeans where we were given to captivity and exile for an appointed period of time.
CAPTIVITY HAS AN APPOINTED TIME! CAPTIVITY HAS AN ORDAINED END TIME! One of the most profound truths about the captivity which the house of Judah would face is that it had an expiration date and an appointed time to draw to a close and draw to an end. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Jeremiah would prophesy—words which were written and recorded in the twenty-ninth chapter of this same prophetic book. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens,. And eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. For thus saith the <rod of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you and expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 29:4-14). With these words, the Lord of hosts not only declares that their captivity and exile has an appointed duration and an appointed end, but they were also encouraged and instructed to increase in the midst of captivity. Even though they were removed from the land and place of their inheritance, they were not to diminish or decrease, but were to increase and multiply. In fact, it was through the increase and multiplication of the children of Israel in the midst of their captivity that they would be preserved according to the word of the Lord. It would be through their increase and multiplication and the peace of the city of their captivity they would be preserved.
We dare not, cannot, must not and should not neglect, ignore or despise this truth, for this truth has the awesome power to deliver and set us free if we will let it. The house of Judah was cast forth out of the land of the inheritance, and were cast into the land of captivity and exile, yet their captivity had an expiration date. Did you know that captivity has an expiration date? Did you know that your captivity has an expiration date? Did you know that the Lord has ordained and orchestrated an appointed end to your captivity and to your time in exile? In other words, you weren’t destined to remain in captivity and exile. In addition to the fact that you were instructed to increase and not decrease in the midst of your captivity and exile, it was appointed unto you to rise up and march forth out of the land and place of your captivity. With that being said, however, it’s necessary for us to recognize and understand that when the Lord brought the Jewish people out of the land of their captivity and exile, He didn’t do it after the same manner He had done with their ancestors in the land of Egypt. There were no plagues that would decimate, destroy and devastate the city of Babylon. There was no death of the firstborn, nor would the blood of lambs be required to be placed upon the doorposts of their houses. There was no one who entered into the land of the Chaldeans demanding of Nebuchadnezzar, or even of Belshazzar, saying, “Let my people go!” When it came to their being brought forth from the midst of their captivity and exile, they would march forth simply because it was the appointed time for them to do so. Their being brought forth out of their captivity and exile would be the direct fulfillment of the word which the Lord had spoken through His servant Jeremiah. In fact, it would be the prophet Daniel who would read the words of Jeremiah while in the midst of Babylon and would discern the length of time for their captivity to be seventy years. It was declared unto Jeremiah that the captivity would last only seventy years, and it be discerned by Daniel that the captivity would last seventy years alone. In other words, the enemy and adversary could not keep them held in captivity and exile any longer than the Lord had a ordained and appointed for them. There is a powerful prophetic truth that is contained in this thought, for the adversary cannot hold you captive any longer than the Lord has ordained and appointed. Eventually the Lord can and the Lord will raise up Cyrus who will issue the decree of your release. Eventually there would be one who would be raised up by the Lord who would release the decree of your deliverance from captivity and would bring about your return to the land of inheritance, promise and blessing.
I absolutely love that it was declared unto Jeremiah, and it was discerned by Daniel concerning the length of time of their captivity, for it reveals the incredible reality that surrounds the appointed time of deliverance. What’s more, is that both slavery and captivity seem to have an appointed time, for the Lord declared unto Abraham that his descendants would be strangers and slaves in a foreign land for four-hundred and thirty years. Oh that we would recognize that slavery and bondage has an appointed time decreed by the Lord, and that at the appointed time the Lord will release and raise up that which can and that which will set you free. Captivity and exile has an appointed time decreed by the Lord, and at that appointed time—and not a moment sooner—the Lord will raise up that which will bring about your release and return. RELEASE AND RETURN! I believe this is a message which needs to be heard and understood by countless men and women in this generation, for the Lord has decreed their release and return. Do you know that? Do you know that the Lord has ordained, and the Lord will orchestrate your release and return at the appointed time? Moreover, even before Jeremiah began to speak prophetically on behalf of the Lord, the Lord would reveal the means by which He would release and return His people, as through the prophet Isaiah the Lord spoke of Cyrus whom he would raise up as His servant. Let us not lose sight of this incredibly powerful reality, for although you might be experiencing captivity within your life right now, you were not destined to remain in your captivity. The Lord has raised up One who came to set the captive free, and who has been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to preach the opening of prison doors to those stuck in prisons. The chains you wear today aren’t meant to hold you captive and keep you bound for the rest of your life. The prophet Jeremiah saw a day coming when the people of God would no longer identify themselves by their deliverance from slavery, bondage and oppression, but their deliverance from captivity. The days would come when the children of Israel would no longer point to the miracle of being brought forth from the land of Egypt, but to the miracle of being brought forth out of their captivity and exile. The Lord would do something completely and entirely new within their lives, for the Lord would bring them forth from their captivity, and would allow them to return to the place of their inheritance. This same reality is true of many within this generation, for the day is coming when you will bear the testimony of a God who was able to bring you out of your captivity—even captivity which came as a result of your own disobedience, rebellion and transgression. The Lord has ordained and appointed a time when you can rise up, return and go back to that place which marks your inheritance, your promise and blessing.
I feel the overwhelming and incredible need to close with the story of the prodigal son, for the account of his life is but one more example that reveals and proves that we can return home. “A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven ,and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be marry: for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.l And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:11-19).