When the People Are Captive and the Prophet Is Shut Up










Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in the thirty-third chapter. This particular chapter of Scripture opens up with the word of the Lord coming unto Jeremiah—and not just coming unto Jeremiah, but coming unto Jeremiah “the second time.” What’s more, is that the word of the Lord didn’t merely come unto Jeremiah “the second time,” but also came unto him “while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison.” When you begin reading the previous chapter of Scripture you will discover that the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the first time while he was shut up in the court of the prison, for it was Zedekiah king of Judah that had shut him up in the midst thereof. What I so absolutely love about the opening verse of this chapter is that despite Jeremiah’s being shut up in the court of the prison, neither his position nor his circumstances could hinder the manifestation and release of the word of the Lord. Zedekiah king of Judah had shut up Jeremiah in the court of the prison of the Lord in a furious attempt to silence the prophetic voice, but one thing Zedekiah did not consider is that in spite of the fact that Jeremiah had been shut up in the court of the prison, the Lord could still speak to and get a hold of him. It didn’t matter where Jeremiah was placed and who had placed him there, for there was absolutely nothing that could, and nothing that would stop the word of the Lord from coming unto him. How absolutely powerful it is to think that it doesn’t matter where you are in proximity to where you were, for the Lord can speak to and grab hold of your attention regardless of where you are. Jeremiah heard the word of the Lord while free to move throughout the streets of the city of Jerusalem, and now having been shut up in the court of the prison, Jeremiah continued to hear the word and voice of the Lord. Pause for a moment and consider this absolutely wonderful and truly remarkable truth, for the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah—even while he was shut up in the court of the prison. Furthermore—not only did the word of the Lord come to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison, but the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah a second time. Jeremiah not only heard and experienced the word of the Lord once while shut up in the court of the prison, but a second time. THERE COMES A SECOND! I find it to be absolutely incredible that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, but even more importantly than the fact that the word came unto him a second time, is the fact that the word which came unto him had absolutely nothing to do with him. It is true the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah a second time while shut up in the court of the prison, but the word which came unto him had absolutely nothing to do with him, nor did it have anything to do with his situation or circumstance. We seem to think and believe that when we find ourselves in a difficult situation or circumstance, and when the Lord speaks to us, the word which He speaks can, will and should have something to do with us. How many times have we undergone and experienced something significant within our lives, and we have fully expected the word of the Lord to speak directly to our situation and circumstance? How many times have we believed the notion that when the Lord speaks in the midst of our situation and circumstance, the Lord should speak only to our situation and circumstance? In all reality, I am convinced that one of the single greatest times to be selfish, self-seeking and self-centered is when we are experiencing something that dramatically and radically shakes us to the very depths of our core. I believe with everything inside me that one of the greatest times for us to be focused on ourselves and ourselves alone is when we are undergoing something that tests our faith, our confidence and our trust in the Lord our God. How many times have you experienced something within your life, and you couldn’t get past yourself? How many times have you spent more time focusing on yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, your feelings, and your condition when you have found yourself experiencing something in your life? There are and there have been many times when I have found myself experiencing something incredibly difficult to handle and bear within my life, and instead of asking the Lord what He is doing, I have spent more time focusing on myself. I believe with everything inside of me that there is a growing tendency and temptation within our hearts and minds to direct our entire attention, our entire focus and our entire emotional capacity on ourselves and on our own situation when we find ourselves facing something that is difficult to bear.

 HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT THAT YOUR SUFFERING IS NOT ABOUT YOU? HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT THAT YOUR AFFLICTION HAS NOTHING DO WITH YOU? HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT THAT THE PRESENT PLACE AND CONDITION YOU FIND YOURSELF IN HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU? I read the opening verse of this passage of Scripture, and I can’t help but be gripped with the thought that not only did the word of the Lord come to Jeremiah, but the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time. Moreover, not only did the word of the Lord come to Jeremiah a second time, but when the word of the Lord did in fact come unto him a second time, it had absolutely nothing to do with his present situation or circumstance. The word of the Lord didn’t come to Jeremiah providing an explanation concerning why he had been shut up in the court of the prison. The word of the Lord did not come to Jeremiah revealing anything regarding his escape from his present experience. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that the Lord doesn’t owe you an explanation for that which you are going through. The Lord doesn’t owe you an explanation regarding why you have found yourself in the place you are—despite how much you may feel entitled to such an explanation. Could you imagine being able to experience such great affliction, such great adversity, such great oppression, and yet in the midst of it, you neither asked for, nor demanded an explanation? Imagine being able to experience suffering, affliction, opposition and oppression, and not once asking the Lord for a reason or explanation why you are experiencing such a reality. There is a great tendency and temptation while undergoing and experiencing affliction, opposition and suffering to ask for—and even demand of the Lord—an explanation regarding why you are where you are. What’s more—there is a growing tendency to ask for, and even demand an end date to your suffering, your affliction, your sorrow, your trial, your trouble, and the like. There is a growing tendency to ask the Lord to reveal unto you just how long you must remain in that place where you must continue to experience and walk through suffering and affliction. I so love that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time—and not just that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, but that the word of the Lord came to him a second time, and didn’t even have anything to do with him. The word of the Lord did indeed come unto him a second time while he was shut up in the court of the prison, yet when that word came, it came speaking to the condition and plight of His people.

 WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT—YOUR BEING SHUP UP IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON OR THE CAPTIVITY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD? I believe there could very well have been an incredible temptation within Jeremiah’s heart to focus on his own situation and circumstance. I am convinced that there was a the tremendous temptation within Jeremiah’s heart and soul to ask the Lord concerning his own situation and circumstance. While shut up in the court of the prison, Jeremiah could have chosen to completely neglect and ignore the plight of his people who had been taken captive and brought into a strange and foreign land. I don’t know about you, but I find it to be absolutely and incredibly unique that while the people of God had been carried away captive, and carried into the land of the Chaldeans, Jeremiah found himself shut up in the court of the prison. WHEN THE PEOPLE ARE CAPTIVE AND THE PROPHET IS SHUT UP! Within the previous chapter, as well as this present chapter, we not only find the people of God captive in a strange and foreign land, but we find the prophet of God being shut up in the court of the prison. There might be some who think that there is a great deal of irony that surrounds the people of God being captive in a strange and foreign land, and the prophet of God being shut up in the court of the prison, yet I do not believe there is any coincidence in the two events. In fact, I am convinced that there may actually be a direct connection between the captivity of the people of God and the shutting up of the prophet of the Lord, and that both directly speak to us within this generation. Consider how incredibly easy it would have been for Jeremiah to focus all his attention, energy, focus and effort on his own situation and circumstance, and completely neglecting, ignoring the plight of the people of God. It would have been very easy for Jeremiah to concern himself with his own situation and circumstance, and even focus on how to extricate himself from the court of the prison. What I so absolutely love about the fact that the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah a second time is that it seems like it almost forced Jeremiah to direct his attention and focus away from his situation and circumstance. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder how much time elapsed and passed between the time when the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the first time, and when the word of the Lord came unto him a second time. Scripture isn’t clear how much time elapsed between the two manifestations of the word of the Lord, but I can’t help but wonder what it was like for Jeremiah to live between the two manifestations of His word.

 LIVING BETWEEN THE TWO MANIFESTATIONS OF THE WORD OF THE LORD! LIVING IN BETWEEN ONE REVELATION AND ANOTHER! LIVING IN THE PLACE OF IN BETWEEN! What do you when you find yourself in that place of in between? What do you do when you have heard from the Lord, yet you neither know when the Lord is going to speak to you next, nor what He is going to speak when He finally chooses to speak. I am convinced, and I would dare say that what we do while in that place of “the in between” is absolutely crucial to the course of our lives. One of the most unnerving realities about living in the place of “the in between” is that you aren’t given any clue or indication as to when the Lord is going to speak next. What’s more, is that this place becomes even more difficult to handle and bear when we find ourselves in a place where we like Jeremiah are shut up in a place we did not ask for. What do you do and how do you handle living in the place of the in between when at the same time you find yourself at that very same time existing in a place where you are shut up. Where have you found yourself being shut up in your life right now? Where have you been shut up in your life right now, and how long have you been shut up in that place? Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, and I am convinced there are men and women who are not only shut up in the court of their own prison, but they are also living in the place of “the in between.” There are men and women who are living shut up in the court of their own prison—perhaps the prison of despair, or the prison of offense, or the prison of hopelessness, or the prison of sorrow, or the prison of addiction—and yet while being shut up in that prison, they are also living in between manifestations of the word of the Lord. There are men and women who right now have found themselves being shut up in a prison they never intended, nor desired to be shut up in, and yet there they are unable to deliver or free themselves. One of the most interesting realities about Jeremiah being shut up in the court of the prison is that there was absolutely nothing he could do to extricate himself. There was absolutely nothing Jeremiah could say, nor was there anything Jeremiah could do to free and deliver himself from that particular place. How many men and women are not only shut up in the court of their own prison, but they are also completely unable to extricate and free themselves from that place? How many men and women find themselves being shut up in the court of their own prison while countless others around them find themselves captive in a strange and foreign land?

 I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is no coincidence that the prophet Jeremiah found himself shut up in the court of the prison at the same time the people of God had been carried away captive and carried into the land of the Chaldeans. SHUT UP, YET STILL HEARING! SHUT UP, YET STILL LISTENING! Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, yet it was there in that place the Lord spoke to him concerning the plight and condition of the people of God. Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison of the Lord while the people of God were being carried away captive into a strange and foreign land that was not their own. I believe there could very well have been the temptation to elevate his own situation and circumstance above that of the people of God. While it is true Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison of the Lord, he was still within the inheritance of the people of God. Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, yet even being shut up in the court of the prison, he was still permitted to remain within the inheritance of God’s people without being carried away captive. It’s worth noting and pointing out that while men and women were being carried away captive, the prophet Jeremiah was being shut up in the court of the prison. With that being said, I believe the temptation to focus on his own situation and circumstance would have been great within the life of Jeremiah. I am convinced Jeremiah could very well and very easily spent his days and nights in the court of the prison focused on his own situation, his own plight, and his own circumstances. Jeremiah could have completely disregarded the plight of the people of God, for after all—his situation and circumstance was more importance and more pressing. Have you ever found yourself in that place—the place where you have believed your situation and circumstance to be of more importance than that of those around you? Have you ever found yourself being so utterly and completely consumed with your own situation and circumstance that you have absolutely no room or bandwidth to focus any attention on the situation(s) and circumstance(s) of others? During these days—not only was the prophet of the Lord shut up in the court of the prison, but the people of God were being carried away captive into a strange and foreign land. I would dare say that this presents us with a powerful prophetic picture concerning what is taking place, and what has taken place within our generation in these Last Days.

 When I read this passage of Scripture, I am convinced that not only are countless men, women, and children being taken captive, but the prophet—the prophetic voice(s) of the Lord—are being shut up in the court of prisons which have been created by man. I am convinced that what we see in the prophetic book of Jeremiah is a direct picture of what is taking place within our generation, for even within many of our churches there are men and women who are being taken captive, while the prophetic voice is being shut up in the court of the prison. I recognize and realize that there might be those among us who would argue against this type of reality, yet to do so would be completely and utterly foolish. It would be foolish—not because I said so or believe it to be so—but because such an experience and reality was found during the days of Jeremiah. The prophetic book of Jeremiah not only reveals that the prophet of the Lord can be shut up in the court of the prison, but the people of God can be carried away captive by the adversary and enemy of the Lord. What’s more, is that if you turn your attention to the thirty-second chapter, you will discover that not only were the people of God being carried away captive into a strange and foreign land, not only was the prophet shut up in the court of the prison, but the city of Jerusalem was under siege by the army of Babylon. A PROPHET SHUT UP, A PEOPLE CARRIED AWAY, AND A CITY SURROUNDED! A PROPHET ISOLATED, A PEOPLE CARRIED AWAY, A CITY UNDER SIEGE! What we find and what we read in the opening verses of the thirty-second chapter is a tremendous picture of what is taking place, and what has taken place within the land in these Last Days. I believe that in these Last days, we are not only seeing the prophet being shut up, but we are also seeing the people being carried away captive by the enemy. More over, we are witnessing marriages, homes, families, and even houses of worship being surrounded by the enemy and adversary. We are witnessing countless marriages, families and homes coming under siege, as the enemy positions himself outside the walls and at the gates. We dare not, we cannot, we must believe the lie and deception that such a reality is not present within our generation, for to do so would be to ignore the reality of what is actually taking place among us. How many of us are truly aware of how our marriages are coming under siege by the enemy, how our homes are coming under the siege of the enemy, and how our families are coming under the siege of the enemy? It is the tactic and desire of the enemy that the prophetic voice would be shut up—and even silenced if it were possible—that the people of God be carried away captive, and that the city would come under siege before his forces. Oh that we would recognize and understand the powerful prophetic picture that is present within the prophetic book of Jeremiah, and understand how it directly applies to our generation today.

 With all of this being said—a people carried away captive, a prophet shut up in the court of the prison, and a city under siege—the word of the Lord came a second time to the prophet of God. When the word of the Lord came a second time to the prophet of the Lord, it came with a tremendous and powerful word of hope and encouragement. Consider what the Lord begins speaking in the hearing of the prophet Jeremiah starting with the second verse of the thirty-third chapter—“Thus saith the Lord the Maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is His name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:2-3). When the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, it came with a declaration of the activity of the Lord, for the Lord spoke of Himself as “the maker,” as “the Lord that formed it,” and as the one who “establish(ed) it. Right from the beginning of this declaration of the Lord we discover the Lord speaking of Himself as the Maker—the one who not only forms, but also the one who establishes. Immediately after the Lord spoke of Himself as being the Maker, and immediately after speaking of Himself as being the Lord that formed, and the Lord that establishes, we find a powerful invitation given unto the prophet. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee.” Pause right there for a moment and let the full weight and measure of those words sink deep within your heart and spirit. Notice the Lord didn’t merely invite those to call unto Him, but directly connected to the invitation was a declaration that if and when you did in fact call unto Him, He would answer thee. Tell me something dear brother, dear sister—do you believe that? I mean, do you really believe within the depths of your heart and soul that if and when you call unto the Lord, He will answer you? Do you believe that when you call unto the Lord that He is even listening and paying attention to what you are saying and speaking? The prophet Jeremiah not only heard the Lord extend an invitation to call unto Him, but the prophet Jeremiah also heard the Lord declare that He would answer, and that He would show. THE GOD WHO ANSWERS! THE GOD WHO SHOWS! Please don’t lose sight of or forget this reality, for the Lord not only invites you to call unto Him, but He also promises that when you call unto Him, He will answer, and He will show you great and mighty things. The Lord has emphatically promised and declared that those who call upon Him, He will answer them, and He will show them great and mighty things, which they know not. What an absolutely wonderful and precious promise this is—to think that when we call upon the Lord, He not only promised to answer us, but He also promises to show us great and mighty things which we know not.

 Within this passage of Scripture, the Lord not only promises to answer, and to show great and mighty things, but the Lord also promises to cause the captivity of captivity of Israel and Judah to return. With the returning of that captivity, the Lord also promises to build them as He did at the first, and to cleanse them from all their iniquity. A PEOPLE RETURNED! A PEOPLE BUILT! A PEOPLE CLEANSED! What an absolutely wonderful thought that is—the thought that the Lord can not only cause captivity to be turned back and return, but the Lord can also build and rebuild, and cleanse all iniquity. The Lord of hosts spoke unto Jeremiah a second time and declared unto Him that He would turn back and return the captivity of the people of God, but that He would also build them, cleanse all their iniquity, and pardon all their iniquities whereby they had sinned and transgressed against Him. Moreover, as you continue to read this passage of Scripture, you will find that the Lord goes on to declare His incredible goodness which He would manifest unto Israel and Judah, for the Lord declares that “it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them” (Jeremiah 33:9). Furthermore, the Lord goes on to declare that all those around the people of God will fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity which He would procure unto it. Did you catch that? The nations and peoples round about Jerusalem would fear and tremble—not because of the might and strength of the people of God, but because of the goodness and prosperity the Lord would procure unto His people. Did you know that the goodness and prosperity the Lord bestows upon you sends a shudder down the spine of the enemy? Did you know that it is the goodness and prosperity of the Lord which He procures within your life that can send shockwaves and tremors into the camp of the enemy and adversary? Why? Why would the goodness and prosperity which the Lord bestows upon His people cause the enemy to fear and tremble? I believe the answer is found in the words of the apostle Paul when he wrote that it is the goodness of the Lord which leads men to repentance. Mark these words and mark them well—if the goodness and prosperity of the Lord doesn’t draw you closer to Him, and doesn’t produce within your heart, soul and spirit a deep humility, submission, and brokenness before Him, there is something drastically wrong. The enemy and adversary absolutely, completely and utterly hates the goodness of the Lord toward His people, for it is the goodness of the Lord which leads men to repentance, thus drawing them closer to Him.

 DID YOU KNOW THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD ISN’T EVEN ABOUT YOU? DID YOU KNOW THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU? We have been taught to think and believe that the goodness of the Lord is all about us, and we have been taught that the goodness of the Lord is meant to enhance our lives. I am utterly and completely convinced that this couldn’t be further from the truth, as the goodness of the Lord has absolutely nothing to do with enhancing our lives, or somehow making our lives better than what they were. If we think and believe for one moment that the goodness of the Lord toward us has anything to do with us, and is designed to enhance our lives, we have sorely and severely missed the point. I would dare say that the goodness of the Lord should accomplish and serve two purposes within the life of any individual. The goodness of the Lord should draw men to repentance—draw men into a place of humility, a place of brokenness, a place of surrender and submission before the Lord. Moreover, I am convinced that the goodness of the Lord should cause our enemies and adversaries to fear and to tremble—not before us, nor because of us, but because of the Lord of hosts. The goodness of the Lord displayed toward and manifested within your life should point—not to you or to your life, but to the Lord of hosts alone. The Lord of hosts revealed unto Jeremiah that the nations and peoples round about Jerusalem would fear and tremble because of the goodness and all the prosperity the Lord produced and procured within their lives. Oh, how many times do we make the goodness of the Lord about ourselves? How many times do we make the goodness of the Lord about us and what we have received from the Lord? How many times has the goodness of the Lord produced such an arrogance, such a boasting, and such a pride within our hearts and lives, as we allow ourselves to become puffed up before others? If becoming selfish, self-seeking and self-serving can break forth in the midst of our suffering, affliction, pain, trial and trouble, then I am convinced that the goodness and prosperity of the Lord that can produce within us an arrogance, a pride and a boasting before others. Permit me to make this declaration one more time in your hearing—the goodness of the Lord has absolutely nothing to do with you. Anything you have received within your life comes from the Father of lights in whom there is no shadow or variable of turning. Any prosperity you have been permitted to experience within your life should produce within you a powerful sense of humility, brokenness, submission and surrender before the Lord. I am reminded of the words of the familiar song when the writer declares “Every blessing you pour out, I’ll turn back in praise.”

 WHEN WILL YOU REALIZE YOU OWN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING? WHEN WILL REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING? Have we forgotten that the psalmist declared that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof? Have we forget that when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were placed in the midst of that garden—not as owners, but as stewards? I am convinced that one of the single greatest mentalities and mindsets we need to break ourselves out of is this “owner” mentality when we think and believe that we own anything. There are men and women who think and believe that they own everything that they have, and that they have somehow procured anything and everything they have within their lives. Consider how we even promote this mindset when it comes to purchasing a home, for we use the word “homeowner.” How counter-culture it is to think that one is not a home-owner, but a home steward. What would happen if instead of referring to ourselves as “home-owners,” we referred to ourselves as “home-stewards?” What would happen if we recognized and realized that even our possessions do not belong to us—despite and regardless of how much we would like to think or believe it to be so. I am convinced that it is for this reason Jesus could speak to the rich young ruler and ask him to go and sell all he had, and then come and follow Him. Jesus could make such a demand and request of this man because anything and everything this man had did not belong to him, but belonged to the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Think about that car you drive around, and consider the fact that not even that car belongs to you. Despite the fact that we may think and believe that we may own our car, the truth of the matter is that we don’t own it. Regardless of whether we lease or finance the car, we never own it—despite the fact that we may reach the point where we pay the car off. How many times do we look forward to the day when we can pay something off which we have been using, and we do so in order that we might say that we “own it.” Let me make this very clear to you—just because you pay something off doesn’t mean you own it. I don’t care what society or culture may say to you, or may cause you to think or believe. You do not own your car! You do not own your home! You do not own your furniture! You do not own anything you may think you have within your life. Unless the goodness and prosperity the Lord has bestowed upon you produces within your heart and soul a deep-seeded humility, submission, brokenness and surrender before the Lord, you have sorely and severely missed the point. Oh that we would recognize and understand that whatever we have been given is just that—that which we have been given, for we have been given to be stewards, not owners. Let us forsake this owner mindset and mentality and understand that the entire earth is the Lord, and the fullness contained within it, and that we are nothing more than stewards and beneficiaries.

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