Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests which were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. More specifically, today’s reading is found in chapters five through seven of this Old Testament book. LEVITICUS 26! DEUTERONOMY 28! DEUTERONOMY 29! DEUTERONOMY 30! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests in Anathoth continuing the prophetic word which the LORD had commanded and instructed him to speak during the days of Josiah the final righteous king of Judah, as well as during the days of his sons who would reign upon the throne after him until the time of the Babylonian captivity. The prophetic book of Jeremiah would begin with the LORD speaking directly unto Jeremiah and calling him—but not only calling him, but expressing Himself in a very personal and intimate way. The call which Jeremiah experienced is perhaps one of the most intimate callings in all of Scripture, for the language that is found within that which the LORD spoke to him is incredibly similar to the language which the psalmist David wrote in the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms. Before we get into the words and language which is found in the chapters which are in front of us this day I feel it absolutely necessary to call and bring your attention to the language surrounding the call of Jeremiah, as the language found there not only speaks of the tremendous and wonderful calling that was upon his life, but also describes the LORD ordaining him a prophet unto the nations from the womb of his mother—and even before he was conceived and brought forth from the womb. The opening verses of the prophetic book of Jeremiah are perhaps some of the most intimate and personal words which were spoken by the LORD concerning His call upon one’s life, and falls directly in line with similar narratives found within Scripture—narratives that describe others who were called and ordained of God before they were even conceived in the womb. I can’t help but think about individuals such as Samson, John the Baptist, and even Jesus the Christ who were all called, ordained and appointed before they were even conceived within the womb of their mothers. What’s more, is that in order to understand the words and language surrounding the callings of these men within Scripture, it is absolutely necessary to consider the words which the psalmist David spoke in the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms. With that in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are found within this passage of Scripture, beginning with the first and opening verse:
“O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandedst my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, bu, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? OR whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into haven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shine the as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being in perfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:1-18).
The words and language we find within this particular psalm and passage of Scripture are actually quite powerful and quite astounding when you truly take the time to think about and consider them, for with and through them David is very personal, very intimate, and very vulnerable before the LORD. With and through the words found in this passage of Scripture we find David once more being humbled before and within the presence of the living and eternal God—this time, however, by the LORD’s careful forming and fashioning him within the womb of his mother. In the Old Testament book of Genesis—specifically the second chapter—we find the LORD God forming man from the dust of the earth, and I can’t help but wonder if the LORD didn’t form man from the dust of the earth and then take a step back and look upon the form of man which was lifeless and without breath. Much like the earth was without form and void, so also was man lifeless there upon the ground—despite the fact that he had been formed of the dust of the ground. Is it possible that after the LORD had formed man from the dust of the ground He looked upon what He had formed and what He had fashioned before breathing the breath of life into him, thus causing him to become a living soul? We don’t know, and we will never know how long man was a lifeless form there upon the dust of the earth, however, we do know that the LORD would breathe into his nostrils the breath of life, and he would become a living soul. Man would be the first and only part of creation which the LORD would actually form by hand rather than speaking into existence and bringing into existence out of nothing. As you read the words found in the Old Testament book of Genesis—specifically the first chapter—you will find that everything that was made and everything that was brought into existence was brought forth because the LORD spoke and it was so. The LORD spoke, that which He spoke and that which He purposed to bring into existence was and would be, and He would look upon it and see that it was good. When, however, it came to that which the LORD would create and form on the sixth day, the LORD would not speak and bring man into existence, but would actually form man from the dust of the earth, and from that which had been brought into existence already. There man would remain on the ground lifeless and without breath until the LORD breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and causing him to become a living soul.
If you read Scripture from that moment on you will find that the Adam would be the only one every formed from the dust of the ground and experience the breath of life breathed into his nostrils that he might become a living soul. Each and every living soul that would move upon the face of the earth from that moment on would be formed and fashioned within the womb of a woman, as the LORD would never take man from the dust of the ground again. Even when the LORD destroyed all flesh save those eight souls which were upon the ark during the days of Noah, the LORD would bring forth the nations which would populate the earth out of the reins and loins of Noah’s three sons—Shem, Ham and Japheth. The language which we find in the Old Testament book of the Psalms is actually quite wonderful and powerful, for it points to and reveals the awesome and undeniable fact that the LORD was not only intimately acquainted, but also intimately involved in our creation and formation within the womb of our mother. David personally and intimately wrote how the LORD possessed his reins and covered him while he was yet in his mother’s womb. Moreover, David would go on to write and declare how he was fearfully and wonderfully made, and how his substance was not hid from him when he was made in secret, and wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. These words must be carefully considered in light of the words which are found in the opening chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, for they help confirm the language of creation and formation which is found therein, as the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah of His forming him within the womb of his mother—and not only forming him, but also knowing him. How truly wonderful and precious it is to think about and consider the fact that before Jeremiah was brought forth and before he was conceived within the womb of his mother the LORD knew him, and the LORD ordained him to be a prophet unto the nations. The words which the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah when he called him to be a prophet unto the nations are truly wonderful, for they further confirm the words which David wrote and spoke concerning the thoughts of the LORD which He had toward all those He formed and created in the womb—namely, the following words which David the psalmist wrote concerning the LORD: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:1-18).
The psalmist David wrote and spoke about the thoughts which the LORD had unto him being considerably and increasingly precious, and how the sum of those thoughts were truly great. Moreover, David would go on to write how if he were to count the thoughts which the LORD had for and toward him, they were more in number than the sand. It is important for us to consider these words, for the thoughts which David spoke of, and the thoughts which David expressed are actually explained and expounded when the LORD was speaking unto the prophet Jeremiah. It would be through the dialogue the LORD would have with Jeremiah when he was called as a prophet unto the nations we would catch a small glimpse of the thoughts which the LORD had toward him—thoughts which Jeremiah would later write about when writing unto the captives and exiles in the land of the Chaldeans. In the twenty-ninth chapter of this prophetic book you will find Jeremiah writing unto the captives and exiles declaring unto them the word of the LORD, which would be as follows: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). When we read the words which are found in the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of the thoughts which the LORD had for and toward Jeremiah, and how those thoughts would include and entail the LORD’s calling and ordaining him to be a prophet unto the nations. It has once been said that the two most important days in a man’s life are the day he was born, and the day he realizes and understands why. When the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah he would speak unto him concerning the day he was born and brought forth from his mother’s womb, but the LORD would also speak unto him concerning the thoughts which He had for and toward him before he was brought forth from the womb—thoughts which would reveal the calling, the mission and the purpose for which Jeremiah had been called. The LORD would speak of that first important day within the life of Jeremiah—namely, the day he was born and brought forth from the womb—but the LORD would also speak unto Jeremiah concerning that second important day within his life, which would be the day he learned, realized and understood why he was formed and fashioned within the womb of his mother and brought forth. It is with this in mind you must read and carefully consider the following words which the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah while he was among the priests in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, LORD God! Behold, I cannot speak: For I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: For thou teh salt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
If there is one thing I absolutely love about the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah—specifically when dealing with and speaking about his calling, it’s how personal and intimate this calling truly was. In all reality, the calling which Jeremiah would have before and in front of him would not be one that was easy, convenient, or even comfortable. In fact, when you when the narrative surrounding the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah you will find that he would be that one prophet in the Old Testament who would perhaps most readily identify with the sufferings of the Messiah who would be manifested within the earth. I have previously written how the prophet Isaiah is perhaps “the prophet of the Messiah,” as there was no other prophet who saw as much concerning the Messiah than did Isaiah the son of Amoz. From prophesying concerning the Messiah being born of a virgin, to prophesying of the names of the Messiah which would reveal His nature and character, to prophesying of the increase of the government and peace upon His shoulders, to prophesying of the presence and power of the Spirit within and upon Him, to prophesying concerning the suffering which the Messiah would face and endure within this life the prophet Isaiah prophesied a great deal concerning the coming Messiah. Essentially, the prophet Isaiah would prophesy concerning the Messiah from the time of His conception within the womb and being born of a virgin all the way through His suffering and death. With that being said, it’s necessary that we consider the fact that while it is true Isaiah the son of Amoz might very well be the one prophet who saw the most concerning the coming Messiah, it would be Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah who would most readily identify with the sufferings of Jesus the Christ. You cannot read the narrative of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous opposition and persecution he would face and experience within and throughout his life. You cannot read the Old Testament prophetic book of and not encounter the vast amount of suffering and opposition he faced and experienced—and not merely the opposition and suffering he faced, but how most of it would come directly at the hands of the religious leaders which were present within the nation and kingdom. As you read the words found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find that both priest and prophet alike, as well as prince and ruler alike would rise up in opposition against Jeremiah and would find themselves at odds with the words he was prophesying and proclaiming unto them.
What I so absolutely love and appreciate when reading the words which are found in the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah it’s not only that Jeremiah was known and formed within his mother’s womb, but before he came out of the womb he was sanctified and ordained to be a prophet unto the nations. This is important for us to realize and recognize, for as true as it is that Jeremiah would prophesy unto the nation and kingdom of Judah, he would essentially be ordained a prophet unto the nations, and would prophesy and speak concerning the nations, lands and peoples round about the heritage and inheritance of the people of the LORD. The words which the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah not only declare and proclaim unto him that he would go unto all the LORD would send him, and would speak whatever the LORD would command him, but the LORD would also declare unto him that he was not to be afraid of the faces of those unto whom he had been sent. It is necessary that we recognize and understand the truth that the LORD knew the opposition, the affliction, the persecution and the suffering Jeremiah would face and experience within and throughout the days he prophesied according to the word of the LORD, and as a direct result of this knowledge the LORD would prepare Jeremiah with the knowledge that He would deliver him, and that he ought not be afraid of their faces. The LORD would indeed put His words within the mouth of Jeremiah, and set him over the nations and over kingdoms with the prophetic ability to root out, to pull down, to destroy, to throw down, to build and to plant. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for Jeremiah wouldn’t merely be ordained and raised up to stand as a prophet of the LORD, but as a result of his being raised up as a prophet of the LORD he would experience tremendous opposition, affliction and resistance from those of his own people. Even his own kindred and those within Anathoth would rise up in opposition and affliction against Jeremiah and would resist the prophetic word and ministry the LORD had called and ordained him to walk and move in. Just as Jesus Himself experienced resistance and opposition in Nazareth—both after He had spoken in the synagogue, as well as being unable to perform many signs, wonders and miracles in the midst of it—so also would Jeremiah experience opposition and affliction in the midst Anathoth where he grew up. In all reality, the entire prophetic book of Jeremiah is filled with references to the strong opposition and affliction Jeremiah would face and experience, as he would find himself at odds with those before and around him.
The more I read and the more I study the narrative surrounding the prophetic book of Jeremiah the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the fact that this prophetic book is not only about Jeremiah seeing trouble, calamity and judgment coming from the north country, but also suffering tremendous persecution, suffering and affliction as a direct result of it. One of the single greatest truths surrounding the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that men have always and will always have an incredibly difficult time with those who not only see calamity and devastation coming, but also publicly proclaim and speak concerning it. From the very outset of the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah he saw devastation and destruction coming from the north, and he would spend a considerable amount of time knowing that a storm was coming, and knowing that calamity and catastrophe were headed toward and upon the southern kingdom of Judah, and publicly proclaiming unto men and women within the land that it was coming. In all reality, much of the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah would be spent warning and preparing men and women for a storm that was coming forth from the north country, for he knew that something drastic was going to come upon and strike the land. Although he did not know what specifically the LORD was going to do in the midst of the land, he knew that something was coming—something that was absolutely and utterly unavoidable. Jeremiah saw a storm coming out of the northern country and out of the northern land, and like a flood would overtake and overwhelm the southern kingdom of Judah. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and tremendous reality, for it can and will help you understand the nature of this prophetic book, as well as the nature of the prophetic ministry Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah. Upon reading with and from the eleventh verse of the first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the LORD asking Jeremiah what he saw, and the second time this questions as asked Jeremiah responded by stating how he saw a seething pot which face was toward the north. It’s important to recognize and understand this interaction between the LORD and Jeremiah, for it will set the tone and stage for much of what Jeremiah would prophesy and proclaim unto the southern kingdom of Judah would be devastation and calamity that would come from the north. Consider if you will the following words which were found in the first chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse:
“And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the northern an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee” (Jeremiah 1:13-19).
There is not a doubt in my mind that in order to understand the language found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah you must not only understand it through the lens of the opposition and affliction Jeremiah would face and experience, but you must also understand it through the lens of what Jeremiah saw coming. Although Jeremiah did not have a single clue as to when the storm and trouble from the north was coming, he would undoubtedly know that something was going to proceed forth from the north and would spill over into the south. Much like a river overflows its banks during seasons of heavy rain, so the banks in the north would overflow and would rush down over and upon the southern kingdom of Judah like a tidal wave and flood. Jeremiah would see a seething pot with its face to the north, and the LORD would reveal and declared unto him that out of the north an evil would break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. Moreover, the LORD declared that He would call all the families of the kingdoms of the north and they would come, and set every one their throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, against all the walls of the city round about, and against all the cities of Judah. WALLS! GATES! CITIES! The trouble and devastation the LORD saw coming out of the north would not only impact and affect the walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem, but they would also impact and affect the cities within and throughout the land. The trouble the LORD spoke of and revealed unto His servant Jeremiah would be seen and manifested within the cities of Judah first, and once the cities of Judah had fallen and been captured, the storm and trouble would then be manifested upon the gates and the walls of Jerusalem. The storm would be at full strength when it not only touched the walls and gates of the city, but actually went beyond the walls and entered into the city. The storm would be at its full strength when it wasn’t merely seen outside the walls and outside the gates, but actually broke through those walls and gates and entered into the city. What a terrible and tragic devastation and destruction would come upon and befall the southern kingdom of Judah, and what makes this even more alarming is when you think about the fact that this warning of the pending storm would come while Josiah was seated on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Despite the fact that there was a righteous king who sat upon the throne of David, and despite the fact that he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, the LORD had still purposed and decreed judgment, devastation and destruction to come upon Judah and Jerusalem. In order to truly understand this devastation and destruction that would come upon Judah and Jerusalem it’s important to read the narrative of Manasseh king of Judah, for it would be in direct response to the evil he committed the LORD would purpose to bring judgement upon Judah and Jerusalem. Consider if you will the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings beginning to read with and from the first verse:
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. And he set a grave in image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. But they Hearken not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake by His servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will whip Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall come a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day. Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead” (2 Kings 21:1-18).
When we read the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Kings you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous wickedness and evil which Manasseh the son of Hezekiah would do—not only in continuing the evil which Ahab the king of Israel had done, but also rebuilding that which his father had torn down. Scripture paints a very grim picture of the great wickedness Manasseh committed before the LORD had him carried away as captive into a strange land, and as a direct result of Manasseh’s wickedness the LORD would purpose to bring judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for by doing so it helps us understand the heart and foundation of the words Jeremiah would prophesy and proclaim during the days of Josiah and his sons who would reign after him. Although Josiah would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and although Josiah would walk in all the way of David his father, and allowed his heart to be humble when he heard the words which were written in the book of the Law the LORD would not bring upon Jerusalem and Judah the judgment He purposed during his lifetime. The prophetess Huldah would declare unto the messengers whom Josiah sent unto her that because his heart was soft and tender before the LORD the judgment would be at the door during his days, however, the judgment would not be permitted to enter in. This is actually something worth considering, for I can’t help but wonder if Josiah heard the prophetic warnings and words from the mouth of Jeremiah from the thirteenth year of his reign until the eighteenth year of his reign, and in that eighteenth year he was directly confronted with the words which were found in the book of the Law. It would be the words which were found in the book of the Law that so pricked the heart and soul of Josiah that he would rend his garments and would immediately inquire of the LORD his God through the prophetess Huldah. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for Josiah to hear and be aware of the prophetic words and message of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, and then hear the words which were found in the book of the Law when it was brought forth from the Temple of the LORD. Imagine being Josiah and hearing the words and warning of Jeremiah the prophet and then five years into Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry the book of the Law was found. As if the words of Jeremiah the prophet weren’t enough to bring the nation and kingdom to its knees, the book of the Law of Moses would essentially be one of—if not the final witness unto the nation.
I continue to be absolutely and incredibly challenged by the fact that for five years during the days and reign of Josiah the word of the LORD would come through the prophet Jeremiah, and after five years of that word coming through Jeremiah the book of the Law would emerge as an additional witness in the hearing of the ears of Josiah the king of Judah, the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, and all the people. When you read of Josiah cleansing the Temple and house of the LORD—and not only cleansing the Temple, but also cleansing and purging the land of Judah and Israel—you will find that it would be in direct response to the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses. I sit here today and can’t help but encounter the tremendous reality that during the days of Josiah there was the prophetic witness of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah which would be manifested in the midst of the land, and that prophetic word would have an additional witness which would be the Law given unto Moses upon Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai. It’s almost as if the LORD was bringing the Law back into the midst of the nation as a final witness and final warning unto the people concerning their iniquity and their transgression. We know that Josiah did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and we know that Josiah walked in all the ways of David his father, however, we seem to get the sense that the people within the land continued in their trespasses, their iniquity, their wickedness, their idolatry and immorality. WHEN THE LAW RETURNS TO THE LAND! THE FINAL WITNESS OF THE LAW! WHEN THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS TESTIFY AGAINST AND INDICT A NATION! Oh how we must encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that during the days of Josiah there would be the witness of the prophet, and that that witness would be followed by Moses and the Law. Essentially, both the Law and the prophet would be sounding an alarm in the midst of the land, and although Josiah knew and heard before he began cleansing the land that judgment would and could not be averted, he still sought to bring cleansing and reform in the midst of the land. Perhaps Josiah though that he would and could somehow change the heart and mind of the LORD concerning His people and His land, and by cleansing the land the LORD would repent and relent of the judgment and destruction He purposed for Jerusalem and Judah.
As you come to the second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the LORD pleading with the people of Judah and Jerusalem concerning their iniquity and their transgression, and what makes the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah so incredibly challenging is that he would prophesy of judgment he knew would and could not be averted and thwarted. If you truly take the time to think about and consider the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah you will find that he would prophesy during times of righteousness, as well as times of wickedness, and in both periods of time he would prophesy of judgment which the LORD was very clear and specific would and could not be averted from the midst of the land. Imagine being Jeremiah and not only seeing judgment at the door of the nation and kingdom and knowing that judgment—although it might not sweep through, over and upon the nation during the days of Josiah—would eventually and ultimately sweep over the nation in the coming days. Jeremiah would prophesy before and unto the nation and kingdom of Israel concerning judgment, devastation and destruction, which the LORD emphatically declared would and could not be altered. It would be through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD would declare unto them how He remembered them and the kindness of their youth, and the love their espousals, when they went after Him in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. The LORD remembered how Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of His increase. The LORD remembered how things used to be when Israel truly sought and went after Him, and yet He would ask them what iniquity their fathers found in Him that they were gone far from Him, and walked after vanity and became vain. What’s more, is the people of Judah and Jerusalem would not ask where the LORD who brought them up out of the land Egypt was, nor where the LORD who led them through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, and through a land of drought and of the shadow of death. The priests did not say, nor inquire of the LORD and ask where He was, and the pastors transgressed against Him, while the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. What is so heart wrenching and heart breaking when you read the second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah is when you find the LORD literally and actually pleading with the people of Judah and Jerusalem. After reminding them of their youth and indicting priests, pastors and prophets alike, He would go on to plead directly with them. Consider if you will the following words which the LORD would speak directly unto the people:
“Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim and see; and send unto Kendra, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit” (Jeremiah 2:9-11).
HATH A NATION CHANGED THEIR GODS, WHICH ARE YET NO GODS? Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous weight and significance of this question, for this question carries with it a truly tragic testimony concerning the people of God. If you pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the LORD essentially declaring that the foreign nations round about Israel and Judah were more faithful unto their false and strange gods which were no gods at all than God’s own people were with the true and living God. Through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD would declare unto them that He found greater faithfulness within the hearts and minds of the people of those nations round about them, for they had not and would not change, nor would they exchange their gods. Scripture never reveals, nor does it point to Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Syria, Tyre, Sidon, or any other nations changing and altering the gods whom they worshipped. The nations and peoples round about Israel and Judah would be faithful unto their false and strange gods, and would not dream or think of changing or exchanging them for different gods. Even those kingdoms and empires such as Greece, and Rome and Babylon—those empires which would have a pantheon of gods—would not exchange, nor trade their gods, but would continue to remain faithful unto their false and strange gods. When it comes to the people of Israel, however, you will find that there was less faithfulness to the one true and living God than there was among the nations before and unto their gods who are no gods at all. Through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD acknowledged the fact that the nations round about Israel and Judah worshipped strange and foreign gods which were no gods at all, and how they had not traded, upgraded, exchanged, nor changed any of their gods for different gods. UPGRADED! EXCHANGED! CHANGED! UPDATED! ARE YOU WORSHIPPING AN UPGRADED GOD! ARE YOU WORSHIPPING AN EXCHANGED GOD? ARE YOU WORSHIPPING AN UPDATED GOD? WORSHIPPING AN UPGRADED AND UPDATED GOD! GOD 2.0! GOD 3.0! GOD 4.0! What an incredibly tragic declaration and indictment is found within the second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, for with and through these words the LORD would declare that no other nations changed, upgraded, nor updated their gods which were no gods, and yet those who knew and those who worshipped the true and living God would seek to trade Him in, upgrade Him, modify Him, update Him, and even exchange and change Him for that which is not true or real at all?
As I sit here today I can’t help but think about the fact that when it comes to worshipping the one true and living God we are faced with a number of different opportunities and responses before and unto Him. The first and foremost is response is to indeed love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and to worship Him in spirit and in truth. A second option is to trade or exchange the one true and living God for a different god which is easier to handle, easier to manage, which requires absolutely nothing from us, and which expects nothing from us. There are those among us—even within the house of the LORD—who have essentially entered into a “trade in” program where they have traded in the true and living God for something that suits them a little better, or one that fits a little better into their schedules, their lives, their homes, and their reality. There are those who have essentially entered into some type of warped exchanged program where they thought they could bring a “receipt,” or even “a bill of divorcement,” and can use it to exchange the true and living God for something that fits them a little better. Think about going to your favorite retail store and purchasing something you thought you liked, something you thought you wanted, and something you thought you needed, and you realized that you actually wanted something different. Imagine bringing that item you purchased and bought, and with the receipt in hand exchanging that item for something entirely different than what you had originally purchased and bought? Now take this mentality and this mindset and consider it in terms of the one true and living God, however, know and understand that instead of our purchasing this living and eternal God, He has purchased us. We think that we can take and exchange this God we have not purchased and have not bought with any money, and can somehow get something a little better that fits us better, or which we feel we will enjoy more. Now think about upgrading your phone—either after you have had it for two years and completed the required agreement, or after you have paid the extra money to upgrade early. Consider bringing your car to the dealership after driving it for two or more years and seeking to upgrade it to something entirely and altogether different—perhaps something newer, something with more features, something in a different color. With this in mind, consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints in Rome which are found in the first chapter of the epistle sent unto them:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:18-25).
THEY KNEW GOD! THEY GLORIFIED HIM NOT AS GOD! CHANGED THE GLORY OF THE UCORRUPTIBLE GOD INTO AN IMAGE MADE LIKE UNTO ______________! Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous tragedy of these words, for with and through them the apostle Paul. Speaks of a people who knew God, yet they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful. What’s more, and as if this weren’t enough, they would also change the glory of the uncorruptible God unto the likeness of an image of something of their own choosing. Such individuals would essentially enter into and engage in their own upgrade and update program when it comes to God, as they sought to obtain and worship a false god of their own creation and their own choosing. Through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD declared unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem that they changed their glory—their glory being the glory of the living and eternal God—for that which does not profit. What’s more, is the people also committed two evils, for they forsook the LORD who was the fountain of living waters, and the hewed themselves out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Please don’t miss the tremendous danger that is found in this, for whereas the golden calf which was created in the wilderness, and the two golden calves which were created in the northern kingdom of Israel were worshipped as the living God who brought the people up out of the land of Egypt, the gods which they would worship from the time of Solomon onward were not even false gods who they worshipped as God, but were false gods which were altogether different. This was something the prophet Isaiah spoke of in the latter chapters of the prophetic book which bears his name, for he would speak of man carving, forming and fashioning idols and images which are not gods at all. Do you want to know what the truly and underlying danger is behind idolatry and forming and fashioning images according to our own desire and imagination? As it it isn’t bad enough that we are worshipping that which isn’t God, we are also setting ourselves up as though we were God ourselves, for Scripture reveals how God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, and how God formed us within the womb of our mother. When we form idols and images we are essentially stepping into the place of God to form something of our own imagination and our own desire. The question we must ask ourselves is why we would seek to change and exchange, upgrade and update the one true and living God for something altogether different. What’s more, is that we must hear the heart of the Father concerning this, which is found and expressed in the final verses of the second chapter:
“O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? A land of darkness? Wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? Therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned. Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? Thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them” (Jeremiah 2:31-37).
The words which are found within this portion of Scripture point to a spiritual adultery and spiritual fornication that had gripped the heart and soul of the people of Judah and Jerusalem as they not only forsook the one true and living God who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, but also brought them through the wilderness. One of the common themes woven throughout the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that of this spiritual whoredom and backsliding, as the indictment toward and against the people had transitioned to an absolutely astonishing and tragic low. In all reality, it was almost as if the people of God had cast off all restraint—similar to what they had done at the base of Horeb in the wilderness when they cast off restraint and worshipped the golden calf. During the days of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah the children of Israel had allowed idolatry to become engrained within the very depths of their heart and soul, and the prophet actually went on to describe how they had changed their glory—the glory of the one and only true God—into something that was entirely and altogether different and separate from the LORD. Despite the fact that the living and eternal God was indeed their portion, and was indeed their deliverer and rock they chose idolatry and immorality instead. The prophet Jeremiah emphatically declared that the children of Israel had rejected the true and living God and preferred false and strange gods which were not gods at all. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for through the prophet Jeremiah we find that not only did the children of Israel change their glory, but they also changed their own way. You will find and read in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah that they went so far as to change their way—something that is a byproduct of changing the glory of the living God within your heart and life. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when we make the conscious and deliberate decision to change the glory of the true and living God it is only a matter of time before we begin changing our own way, and we begin to notice drastic changes within ourselves. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must recognize and understand is that changing the glory of the eternal God within our hearts and our lives can and will result in a change and transformation within our heart and soul, as we begin to drift further and further away from him. Essentially it is a downward spiral that continues to progress more and more until we have completely and utterly turned and transformed ourself into a spiritual harlot. When we make the conscious decision to change the glory of the eternal God and we exchange it for that which is not a god at all, and that which is not the fountain of living waters then we completely and utterly change and transform ourselves into spiritual harlots and adulterous whores in the sight of the living God.
In fact, if you continue reading in the third chapter you will not only read of whoredoms within the heart and soul of Judah and Jerusalem, but also backslidings. The third chapter opens up with the LORD speaking of a man putting away his wife, and she go forth from him and become another man’s wife, it is highly unlikely that she will return to him again. Moreover, the LORD would declare that the land would be entirely and utterly polluted if that woman seeks and desires to return unto that man after being divorced and becoming another man’s. The LORD would use this illustration and analogy to emphatically declare and proclaim concerning Judah and Jerusalem that she had not only played the harlot, but also played the harlot with many lovers. What makes this truly remarkable is that despite the fact the people played the harlot with many lovers the LORD continued to plead with them that they would return unto Him. The people had played the harlot with many lovers, and had committed m any whoredoms and backslidings that they had completely and utterly forsaken and rejected the LORD. You cannot read the words found in the third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah without encountering and coming fact to face with the tragedy of the people of God not only changing their glory into that which was corruptible, but actually playing the harlot and whore in the midst of the land. Through their many backslidings they had turned away from the LORD, and had committed great evils in the midst of the land. Consider if you will the words which are found in the third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:
“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? Will he reserve his anger for ever? Will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which blacklisting Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I sad after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: and I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall e gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. But I said, How shall I put thee among the children and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? And I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:1-20).
What I find so absolutely remarkable and astounding about the words and language that is found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah—specifically in the opening chapters—is that despite the fact the LORD spoke of their whoredoms, their harlotries and their backslidings, He still offered them the ability to return and turn again unto Him. You will find within the third chapter these words being spoken during the days of Josiah king of Judah—Josiah you will recall and remember did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father. What I cannot escape thinking about is this idea of committing spiritual adultery playing the harlot and whore by seeking to change and exchange the glory of the living God for something that is altogether different, and something that is altogether separate. I am amazed at how it is possible to treat the glory of the living God as something we can upgrade and update when we either grow tired and weary with worshipping and walking with Him, or when we find Him asking more of us than what we are actually willing to give. Judah and Jerusalem saw the backsliding, the whoredoms, and the harlotries of Israel and Samaria, and yet they were not warned, and they were not convicted in their hearts and spirits concerning that wickedness. What’s more, is that even when Israel and Samaria were carried away captive by a foreign and invading army Judah saw it and was not ashamed. Judah continued to progress even further downward in their adultery and fornication before the LORD, and allowed themselves to be polluted, defiled and corrupted. What’s more, is that when you come to the seventh chapter you will find the children of Judah placing their trust and confidence in the Temple of the LORD and trusting the presence of the Temple of the LORD among them in their midst. The children of Judah and Jerusalem thought they could steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods, and then come and stand before the LORD in His house and declare that they were free to do all the things which were an abomination in the sight of the LORD. Moreover, the LORD would go on to ask whether or not this house which was called by His name had become a den of robbers in the eyes of His people. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for to do so would be to miss out on the dangers which Judah and Jerusalem faced within the land because of the abominations and harlotries they committed. The word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah speaking unto them concerning their harlotries, their whoredoms and their backslidings, and yet even in the midst of that there was an invitation to return.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it is absolutely necessary to turn and direct our attention to the fact that although the prophet Jeremiah and the fact that from the time he stepped into the prophetic ministry that was ordained and appointed for him he prophesied of a storm that would come from the north and would utterly consume and sweep over Judah and Jerusalem. What’s more, is the prophet was directly confronted with the harlotries, the whoredoms and the adulteries and fornications of the people of Judah and Jerusalem as they committed spiritual fornication in the sight of the LORD. It’s important to realize this, for during the days of Josiah—as much as there was an indictment against their adulteries and fornications, there was still the invitation to return and turn once more unto the LORD. Perhaps the single greatest tragic reality within the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that during the days of Josiah the LORD would plead with His people to turn and return unto Him, and would invite them to once more discover—perhaps even rediscover the LORD for the first time. This is what was so incredibly powerful about Josiah’s call to enter into covenant with the LORD, and to celebrate the Passover afresh and anew in the midst of the land. At once point there was the witness of the prophetic word of the LORD proceeding forth from the mouth of Jeremiah, there was the witness of the book of the Law of the LORD, and there was the witness of the cleansing of the land, as well as the celebration of the Passover. Josiah would indeed and would in fact call the people into the place where they would turn their hearts once more to the LORD, and would in fact come before with honest and sincere hearts. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for during the days of Josiah we find the living and eternal God pleading with the people through the prophet Jeremiah, but we also find Him making His case and pleading through the righteousness of Josiah the king of Judah. If there is one thing we must ask ourselves when reading the words found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah, it’s whether or not we have somehow created our own upgrade and update program with the living God, and have exchanged the glory of God for something that is not a god at all. Have we somehow sought to change and exchange the one true and living God with that which is not a god and that which has no glory and is nothing more than the conjuring of our imagination? Oh that we would be a people who will allow our hearts and our spirits to be captured and captivated by and with the one true and living God that we might worship and serve the God of creation rather than a god of our creation. THE GOD OF CREATION, OR THE GOD OF OUR CREATION?