When Walls Are Broken Through and Gates Are Broken Down: Are You Willing to Remain In the Place of Vulnerability Appointed By God










Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in the forty-second chapter of the book.The text which is found in the forty-second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah is actually quite interesting when you take the time to study and consider it—especially when you understand that the previous chapter sets the stage for what we read within it. Those who remained in the land of Judah had experienced two incredibly traumatic events that had occurred within the land. Those who remained in the land of Judah had witnessed the king of Babylon carrying away captive certain of those which remained within the city of Jerusalem, as well as the destruction of the king’s house, the houses of all his nobles, and even the very house of the Lord. Those who remained in the land had watched as the city of Jerusalem lie completely, totally and utterly in ruin as famine, pestilence and the sword ravaged the city on the one hand, and on the other hand, the king of Babylon carried away captive inhabitants of Jerusalem in three successive waves. What’s more, is that not only did those which remained in the land of Judah witness the devastation and defoliation of Jerusalem, but they also witnessed Ishmael’s murderous rampage, as he slaughtered all the men of war which remained in the land, all the Chaldeans that were present within the land, and four score men who had come to the city with the clothes rent, their beards shaven and offerings to present unto the Lord at His holy Temple. When we come to the end of the forty-first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find those people which remained, and those people which had returned to the land in an incredibly vulnerable place. Consider for a moment that a foreign adversary had entered into and invaded the land, had captured and broken through the wall of the city of Jerusalem, had utterly destroyed both the palace of the king and the Temple of the Lord, and had carried away captive a number of those which dwelt in the land. As if this weren’t enough, they also witnessed another rise up in the midst of them and utterly and completely slaughter the men of war, those who had come to worship the Lord at His house, and the Chaldeans which remained within the land. What do you do when the wall is broken through, the city is broken up, and the gates are torn down? What do you do when the place of the altar and the place of the throne have both been utterly and completely destroyed within the place of inheritance and promise? What do you do when the adversary has carried away a number of the people of God captive, and others have been slaughtered by one who rose up within the land? Present in the land of Judah when Gedaliah was governor was a people who had been permitted to remain within the land, as well as a people that had returned to the land from the nations of Edom, Moab and Ammon. Those which remained within, and those which returned to the land were in an incredibly vulnerable place, for all the fortified cities had been captured and brought under the control and dominion of the king of Babylon and the walls and gates were no longer a source of protection, security and safety for the people of God. The people of God which remained within the land, and those which had returned to the land to join them were present within the land, yet they were dwelling in the land without any source of protection or defense. Jerusalem—the last fortified city in the midst of the inheritance, and quite possibly the last line of defense for the people of God—lie in complete ruin and desolation. Those which dwelt in and remained within the land did not have the walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem as their protection, and while it is true they were in an incredibly vulnerable place, it is also true they were in a place where they needed to trust in and rely upon the Lord for their protection, their shelter, their refuge, and their safety. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM CAN NO LONGER PROTECT YOU? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE GATES OF JERUSALEM CAN NO LONGER KEEP THE ENEMY AND ADVERSARY OUT? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUI CAN NO LONGER RELY ON THAT WHICH IS NATURAL AND VISIBLE TO GUARD AND PROTECT YOU? Those who were living and dwelling in the land of the inheritance after the adversary had already invaded and destroyed everything within and in the midst of it were living in a place of broken down walls and gates which were removed from their hinges. Pause for a moment and consider that when the dust had settled and Jerusalem lie in a complete heap of ruin and rubble, there was still a people which remained in the land. There were a people who were permitted to remain in the land of Judah, yet were living in a place of ruin and rubble, destruction and devastation.

 WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE DUST HAS SETTLED AND YOU FIND YOURSELF LIVING IN A PLACE OF RUIN AND RUBBLE? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE DUST HAS SETTLED AND YOU FIND YOURSELF LIVING IN A PLACE OF DEVASTATION, DESOLATION AND DESTRUCTION? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF LIVING IN A PLACE OF BROKEN DOWN WALLS AND GATES WHICH NO LONGER REMAIN ON THEIR HINGES? On the one hand, those who were removed from the land of Judah had it somewhat easier than those who were permitted to remain within the land, for they got to leave the ruin and rubble behind them—even if it was only for a season. Those who were carried away captive from the land of Judah were removed from the place of ruin and rubble, and weren’t forced to live in that place where they were continually reminded of the devastation and destruction. Those who remained in the land—while on the one hand it was fantastic that they were permitted to remain in the place of the inheritance—were living and dwelling in the place of inheritance, yet surrounded by ruin and rubble. What do you do when you are living in the place of the inheritance, yet you are living in the place of inheritance surrounded by rubble? LIVING IN THE PLACE OF INHERITANCE, YET SURROUNDED BY RUIN AND RUBBLE. Those who were removed from the land of Judah and carried away captive were undoubtedly reminded of the Temple of the Lord, were reminded of the houses they dwelt in, and the fields and vineyards which they enjoyed, yet they had been removed from that place. I am convinced there are those who witness the devastation, destruction and desolation of the enemy, and are removed from that place for a season, not having to live in the place of ruin and rubble. There are others who not only witness the devastation, destruction and desolations of the adversary, but remain in the place of that devastation and destruction, and remain in the midst of ruin and rubble. It is true the poor of the land were given fields and vineyards, yet they were given fields and vineyards while being surrounded by ruin and rubble. What if I told you that not every one who witnesses the devastation and destruction of the enemy gets to walk away from it and spend time in a different place for a season? What if I told you that there are times and seasons in our lives when we will not only have to witness and experience the devastation and destruction of the enemy, but we will also remain in the place of ruin and rubble? There are times within the lives of men and women when despite the fact that they experienced the devastation and destruction of the enemy, they are not able to move beyond the place of ruin and rubble?

 What is even more intriguing and interesting about this passage of Scripture, is that not only was there a people who witnessed and walked through the devastation and destruction of the enemy, but they also remained in the place of ruin and rubble. In that place of ruin and rubble they also witnessed the murderous rampage of one named Ishmael who slaughtered men and women in that place of ruin and rubble. I am convinced that there are times when we are the most vulnerable when we are living in the place of ruin and rubble—when we have walked through the devastation and desolation of the adversary, and then begin living in the place of ruin and rubble. I am convinced that Ishmael exploited this vulnerable place—this place of living among the ruin, rubble, dirt, dust and ashes—and sought to slaughter as many as he could, and take others captive. Ishmael stands as a powerful example and picture of an adversary who comes to us in the place of ruin and rubble, and seeks to exploit that place within our lives. The adversary knows we are living in a place of ruin and rubble, and knows we are living in a place where the walls have been broken through and the gates have been broken down. Even though we still remain within the inheritance, the enemy and adversary will come against us with the sword and even with captivity. Ishmael didn’t merely seek to unleash the sword within the inheritance, but he also sought to carry those which remained captive, and bring them into the land of Ammon. Oh, please don’t miss the significance, and importance of this passage of Scripture, not everyone who walks through and experiences the devastation, destruction and desolation of the enemy is also removed from it. It’s worth noting that there were those who were removed from the midst of the land before the devastation and destruction would ever begin, thus suggesting they would not see, witness or experience any of it. There are others, however, who will not be removed from the land when the devastation, destruction and desolation is unleashed, and actually experience and walk through it. It’s actually quite astounding that the one who foretold and prophesied of all the devastation and destruction did not escape walking through the midst of it and experiencing it himself. In fact, when everything hit the fan, Jeremiah was locked up in the court of the prison. It’s actually interesting to consider the fact that what took place in the land of Judah not only brought about the release of Jeremiah from the court of the prison, but it also brought forth the return of those who had fled to the surrounding nations and lands.

 One of the things I can’t help but think about is what it was like for those who had fled to Edom, Moab and Ammon to escape the devastation and destruction of the adversary. What was it like for those who had fled to these nations to return to the land of Judah and look upon all the devastation and destruction that was present within the land? What was it like to return from these nations to a place that was completely consumed with ruin and rubble? It’s worth mentioning that they did return to the place of inheritance upon hearing the report of remnant, but that report of remnant brought them into a place of ruin and rubble. It is true they heard the report of a remnant which remained in the land—a remnant which had witnessed the horrors of the enemy’s invasion of the land—yet when they returned to the land, they would return to one that was completely different from when they perhaps first left. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for certain of those who returned from these nations and lands to return to the land of Judah and to perhaps see fires still burning in the midst of the land. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for certain of those who returned from these nations to look upon the Temple which was now nothing more than a heap of ruin, rubble, dust and ashes. The rumor and report of a remnant remaining in the land was enough to compel those who had fled the land to return, yet what a tremendous sight they would return to. As I’m sitting here right now, I can’t help but think of how many men and women have an incredibly difficult time living and being in this place of ruin and rubble. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women have a hard time living in the place of ruin and rubble, for it undoubtedly thrusts them into a place of responsibility. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RESPONDING TO THE REPORT OF REMNANT! THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RETURNING TO THE PLACE OF RUIN AND RUBBLE. When I read this passage of Scripture, I am not only reminded of the reality that there is a responsibility in responding to the report of remnant, but there is also a responsibility in returning to the place of inheritance—especially when the inheritance lies in ruin and rubble. I would dare say there are those who despite the fact that they witnessed the devastation and desolation of the enemy, have a hard time remaining in the inheritance, for they are completely surrounded by ruin and rubble. There are those who have a hard time remaining in the place of inheritance because there is a responsibility that arises in the midst of ruin and rubble. In other words, it is not enough to remain in the place of the inheritance, for remaining in that place will require you to deal with the ruin and rubble that is found in the midst of it. It is not enough to return to the place of inheritance, for returning to the place of inheritance will require you to deal with the ruin and rubble that remains. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DEALING WITH THE RUIN AND RUBBLE THAT REMAINS IN THE LAND AFTER THE ENEMY DEPARTS.

 Those who remained and those who returned to the land of Judah after the enemy and adversary had departed not only were living in the place of ruin and rubble, but they also faced and encountered the murderous rampage of Ishmael. Ishmael exploited the incredibly vulnerable place this remnant was in, for he not only killed certain by the sword, but he also took captive those which remained in the land, and sought to bring them into the land of the Ammonites. When the forty-first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah draws to a close, we find the remnant which remained in the inheritance in an incredibly difficult and vulnerable place. “But when JOhnan the son of Korean, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, then they took all the men and went to fight with Ishmael the son of NEthaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibson. Now it came to pass, that when all the people which were with Ishmael saw Johanna the son of Korean, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad. So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanna the son of Korean. But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanna with eight men, and went to the Ammonites. Then took JOhanan the son of Korean, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recorded from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, even mighty men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibson: and they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Beth-Lehmann, to go to enter into Egypt, because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land” (Jeremiah 41:11-18). Reading this passage of Scripture is actually quite revealing the more you take the time to read and study it, for it reveals the reality that it is possible to be in the place of inheritance and not only be surrounded by ruin and rubble, but also be consumed with fear, terror and dread. Those who remained in the inheritance when the forty-first chapter of the book of Jeremiah are in an even more vulnerable place than they were before, for not only had they witnessed the devastation and destruction of the enemy, but they had also witnessed Ishmael’s rampage in the land, as he not only killed Gedaliah, but slaughtered the men of war, the Chaldeans, and those who came to the land to worship the Lord of hosts. When we come to the end of this chapter we find the people which remained in the land in an incredibly vulnerable place, as they were not only confronted with ruin and rubble, but they were also confronted with fear as well.

 As the forty-first chapter draws to a close we find those who were recovered by JOhanan dwelling in the habitation of Chimham, which was by Bethlehem. What’s both telling and revealing about this is not the location of it alone, but also the reason and purpose behind it. Did you know that where you choose to dwell and where you choose to pitch your tent reveals a lot about the motives and intentions of your heart? Did you know that it is possible to understand the condition of your heart simply be examining and looking at where you choose to dwell? Those mentioned in this passage dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, for they were positioning themselves to go down into the land of Egypt. They chose to dwell in this place because of the Chaldeans, for they were afraid of them because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Oh, they still dwelt in and remained in the inheritance, yet they had so positioned themselves within the inheritance that they could go down to enter into Egypt. In other words, it was their fear that not only dictated and determined where they would live and dwell in the inheritance, but would also dictate and determine their next course of action. It’s worth noting that those who were still present within the land—those who were recovered from the grasp of Ishmael, and those who had remained and returned in the land after the enemy had departed—had reached the place where they were unwilling to remain in the inheritance. They actually felt they would be better off going down into the land of Egypt, for the land of Egypt would offer them shelter, safety and protection. This brings me to a thought that I know hits home within my own life—the thought that there are very few who are willing to live in the place of vulnerability after surviving the onslaught and attack of the enemy and adversary. It was true that those who remained in the land of Judah would live and remain in a vulnerable place, yet it was the Lord who instructed them to remain in that place. Even though they would remain in that vulnerable place—that place of broken down gates and broken through walls—they would be watched over, protected and preserved by the Lord of hosts. How absolutely incredible it is to think that the Lord can, and the Lord will preserve and protect you in that place of vulnerability. Did you know that the Lord doesn’t need walls or gates to preserve and protect you, for the Lord can preserve and protect you in the place of ruin and rubble. Oh, I am convinced that one of the main reasons why many choose to leave that place of vulnerability is because they are afraid of the enemy and adversary. With the walls broken through and the gates broken down, they feel there is nothing that can guard and protect them, and so they rise up to journey to another place of walls and gates.

 When the forty-first chapter of the book of Jeremiah draws to a close, it does so with those who remained in the land of Judah dwelling in such a place that they could depart into the land of Egypt at a moment’s notice. I mentioned that I can tell a lot about the condition of your heart, and the thoughts within your mind simply by examining where you have chosen to pitch your tent. Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom, and it was only a matter of time when he wasn’t merely pitching his tent toward Sodom, but was sitting in the very gate of Sodom. Those who remained in the land of Judah dwelt in a very specific place within the inheritance, for that place would provide them ease of access into the land of Egypt where they could flee in order that they might pursue shelter, safety and refuge. Oh, I am becoming increasingly convinced that there aren’t many men and women who are willing to live and remain in the place of broken down gates and walls that have been broken through. There are very few who are willing to live and remain in the place of ruin and rubble, for being in such a place will require them to remain in a place of vulnerability where they are exposed. Consider how it was already revealed how vulnerable and exposed they were, for Ishmael had risen up within the land and had not only murdered Gedaliah, but had also slaughtered a number of others, and taken the remaining captive in order to bring them forth from the land. You would think that after Johanan had recovered and rescued those who had been taken captive by Ishmael those who remained in the land would see the Lord’s hand in preserving and protecting them within the inheritance, yet the truth is that they did not and could not see such a reality. They became overcome and overwhelmed with fear and were unwilling to dwell in that place of vulnerability and exposure any longer. In response to their fear, they dwelt in that place within the inheritance where they would quickly and easily depart from the land and go down into the land of Egypt. I am convinced there are those among us in this generation who are dwelling in this very same place within their lives in order that they might make their own journey down into the land of Egypt. There are those among us who are unwilling to remain in that place of vulnerability because they are either terrified and petrified of the adversary, or they or they do not believe the Lord can preserve and protect them. It was the Lord who instructed them to remain in the midst of Judah—remain in the place of ruin and rubble where the gates were broken down and the walls were broken through—for the Lord would watch over, preserve and protect them there. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—are you willing to remain in a vulnerable place? Are you willing to remain in a place of vulnerability—even after you have experiencing the devastation and destruction of the adversary, and have been recovered from an attempt to take you captive once more?

 When we come to the forty-second chapter, we find the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Korean, and JEzaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest coming near to Jeremiah the prophet. The purpose for them coming near unto Jeremiah seemed on the surface to be genuine and authentic, for we read how they sought Jeremiah to accept their supplication, and pray for them unto the Lord his God. Why? Why did the entire remnant which remained in the land come near to Jeremiah and ask him to pray unto and entreat the Lord for them? On the surface it appears that they were genuine in their desire that the Lord might show them the way therein they should walk, and the thing which they must do. As you read this passage, you will quickly discover that when they came near to Jeremiah, they didn’t come near to inquire of the Lord concerning what they should do, but they came near to Jeremiah to ask the Lord to bless and approve what they had already purposed and desired within their hearts and minds. When the previous chapter concludes, it does so by revealing their dwelling in a very specific place where they could go down into the land of Egypt. In the previous chapter we find them dwelling near Bethlehem in order that they might go down into Egypt, and in the very next chapter we find them coming near to Jeremiah to have him inquire of the Lord. The truth of the matter is that when they came near to Jeremiah, they came near desiring the Lord’s blessing and approval on that which they had already purposed and desired. I can’t help but consider how many times we are guilty of the very same thing—guilty of coming to the Lord to ask for His approval and blessing upon what we have already purposed and desired within our hearts. Oh, on the surface it may sound like we are genuine in our desire for the Lord to lead and instruct us, yet if we are truly honest with ourselves, that which we are really seeking is the Lord’s approval of what we have already desired, purposed and planned within our hearts. How many times have we pursued that way which seems right unto us, and we ask the Lord to bless and approve of such a reality? The remnant which remained in the land of Judah came to Jeremiah thinking that if he prayed unto the Lord his God, the Lord would grant them permission and approval to go down into the land of Egypt. They knew that was what they wanted to do, and that it was the desire of their hearts. They were completely and totally consumed with fear, terror and dread, and they sought to go down into the land of Egypt where they could find shelter, peace, rest, safety and security. The truth of the matter, however, is that that which they thought they could find in the land of Egypt would prove to be nothing more than a farce.

 When Jeremiah entreated the Lord on behalf of the remnant, he brought them a word from the Lord that would require of them something they weren’t willing to hear, much less bear and obey. Jeremiah brought them a word from the Lord that called them to remain and abide in the land, and it would be in that land He would build them, not pull them down, and plant them, and not pluck them up. The Lord was very clear and specific that He desired His people to not go down into the land of Egypt, for they would be trading supernatural protection for earthly, natural and temporal protection. Jeremiah had revealed the incredibly powerful truth that if they remained within the land of Judah and did not go down into the land of Egypt, the Lord would build them and not pull them down, would plant them and not pluck them up. What’s more, is that Jeremiah declared unto them that they need not and should not be afraid of the king of Babylon, for the Lord was with them to save them, and to deliver them from his hand. Moreover, the Lord declared that if they remained in the land, He would show mercies unto them, that He might have mercy upon them, and cause them to return to their own land. What must be presented when reading this passage is the warning the Lord gave the remnant through the prophet Jeremiah—a warning which I am convinced was given because the Lord knew the hearts of the remnant, and knew that which they desired and purposed to do. I believe there is a powerful prophetic word contained within this passage, and that word concerns the Lord’s desire and instruction that many remain in that place of vulnerability. Despite the fact that they might be surrounded by ruin and rubble, the Lord has called them to remain in that place of vulnerability and exposure, for it would be in that place the Lord would build and plant them. The Lord cannot and the Lord will not build and plant you if you leave that place of vulnerability, for it is in that place when you are no longer relying on the protection of the Lord, but are seeking to see to it yourself. WE dare not, we cannot, we should not, we must not seek to bring the Lord alongside our plans, our desires, our agenda and our will, and then demand He approve and bless such a reality within our lives. The truth of the matter is that the Lord cannot bless that way which seems right unto us when He knows that which He has planned and purposed. I am convinced the Spirit of the Lord is asking men and women right now if they are willing to remain in that place of vulnerability rather than rising up and fleeing into the land of Egypt. I believe with all my heart the Lord is asking men and women if they are willing to live in that place where walls and gates are no longer able to protect them, but only the Lord of hosts can preserve and protect them. The Spirit of the Lord is asking men and women if they are willing to remain in that place of vulnerability and exposure—even if they are fearful of the attack and threat of the enemy—for it is in that place the Lord promises to watch over, protect and preserve them. It would have been very easy for the remnant to journey down into the land of Egypt, yet by doing so would have removed them from the protection, provision and protection from the Lord. Are you willing to remain in that place of vulnerability knowing that even though the gates and walls are broken down and broken through, it is the Lord alone who is your protection, your refuge, your shield, and you strong tower. I ask you one more time that question I believe the Spirit of the Lord is asking in this generation—Are you willing to remain in that place of vulnerability rather than fleeing and running knowing that it is in that place alone the Lord will protect and preserve you?

 

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