Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters seventeen through twenty of this Old Testament prophetic book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you’ll find a combination of both prophetic language concerning Judah and Jerusalem, as well as historical and biographical language concerning the tremendous suffering, opposition, affliction, and animosity Jeremiah continued to face the longer and the more he prophesied according to the word of the LORD. The more you read the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality that Jeremiah was called and ordained to be as a prophet during a time when a righteous king sat upon and reigned from the throne of David in Jerusalem, and yet he was raised up to prophesy and proclaim judgment and wrath upon the nation and people of Jerusalem and Judah. We cannot read the words which are found within this book and not come face to face with the tremendous reality that although Jeremiah was living during days and times of a righteous king who ruled and reigned upon the throne of David, judgment, wrath, destruction, devastation and desolation were on the door. In fact, earlier on within the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the LORD emphatically and boldly declaring through His servant Jeremiah that the judgment, the wrath, the calamity and catastrophe that was going to come upon the nation, people and land was not only due to their own wickedness and their own iniquity, idolatry and immorality, but also because of the great idolatry and wickedness which Manasseh the son of Hezekiah caused Jerusalem and Judah to sin. It would be through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD would prophesy and proclaim unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem that the judgment which was upon their door and the wrath which was to come was truly and indeed a direct response to the sin, the transgression and iniquity the people had committed together with the great wickedness, iniquity, idolatry and immorality which Manasseh king of Judah had committed before and in the sight of the living God. We dare not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for although Jeremiah would begin prophesying during the thirteenth year of the last and final righteous king who would sit upon the throne of David, and although the book of the Law would be found within the Temple and house of the LORD eighteen years into the reign of Josiah, and five years into the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, judgment, devastation and destruction would come upon the land and it would and could not be avoided or averted.
I sit here today and I am absolutely and completely convinced that in order to truly understand the tremendous burden that was placed upon the shoulders of Jeremiah it is necessary not only to understand the great sin, transgression, idolatry and immorality committed by Manasseh the son of Hezekiah and king of Judah, but it’s also necessary to understand the events that would happen concerning Josiah king of Judah. It’s actually quite interesting and intriguing to think about and consider the fact that both the wickedness of Manasseh and the righteousness of Josiah would be intrinsically linked and connected, and it would be the prophet Jeremiah who would link the two of these realities together. Josiah would indeed be the last and final righteous king of Judah, and through his actions the judgment, the wrath, the destruction, and the devastation of the LORD would not be cancelled or averted, but would be postponed. Before we delve into the prophetic language which is found in the book of Jeremiah it’s necessary for us to look into the past during the days and times of Manasseh king of Judah as represented in the Old Testament book of Second Kings and Second Chronicles. Moreover, the prophet Jeremiah himself would also look back and point to the sin of Manasseh which he not only committed himself, but also caused and led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to sin and commit against the one true and living God. You cannot fully understand the weight and the burden which Jeremiah would carry and engage in during his life without understanding the great iniquity and transgression which Manasseh committed in the midst of the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. It would be the iniquity, the idolatry and the immorality of Manasseh that would set in motion the tremendous judgment and wrath the LORD would bring upon both the nation and land of Judah that He might throughly purge and cleanse the land of all its wickedness which was committed against him. With that being said, I invite you to first consider the narrative that was written concerning Manasseh king of Judah as represented in the books of Second Kings, Second Chronicles, and even in the prophetic book of Jeremiah:
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in J era Salem. 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 graven 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: Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake a 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 trench over Jerusalem the kings of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe 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 scats 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).
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: but did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven,a new served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, IN Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinton: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used withcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take a heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:1-11)
“Then said the LORD unto me, Though. Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? Then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? Or who shall bemoan thee? Or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD< thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways. There widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city. She that’s hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun in gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue o f them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 15:1-9).
If and as you read the words which are found within these three passages of Scripture it becomes absolutely and completely clear that the judgment and the wrath, the devastation and destruction destruction that was proclaimed upon the people and land of Jerusalem and Judah was a direct response to the iniquity, the immorality, the idolatry which Manasseh king of Judah not only committed, but also caused the people to sin before and against the LORD. What makes the words of Jeremiah even more intriguing and captivating is when you think about and consider the fact that even during the days of Jeremiah the LORD would still proclaim through His servant that the wrath and judgment which would be poured out upon the nation and kingdom of Judah would be directly linked to the wickedness which Manasseh king of Judah committed against the LORD. What’s more, is that if you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of this prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the word of the LORD continuing to prophesy and proclaim the wrath and judgment which would be poured out upon the land and people was directly linked and intrinsically connected to the great wickedness, immorality and iniquity which Manasseh king of Judah committed before and against the LORD. In the Old Testament book Second Kings you will find the LORD speaking unto and warning Manasseh concerning the great iniquity and wickedness he was committing before and against the LORD, and here we are during the days of Josiah who was the grandson of Manasseh and the LORD is looking back upon the great iniquity and wickedness of Manasseh and proclaiming that the wrath and judgment which would be poured out was a direct result of that which he committed against the LORD. Consider if you will the following words which Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah would prophesy and proclaim unto Judah and Jerusalem—again concerning the great iniquity, immorality and idolatry which Manasseh committed against the LORD. Insider if you will the language that is found within these chapters you will find the tremendous reality and truth that the sins of one generations can directly impact and affect another generation. You cannot read the words found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the sins which Manasseh the son of Hezekiah committed against the LORD would reach and extend beyond his generation and beyond even his own life, and would directly impact generations which would come after him. With this in mind, consider if you will the following words found in both the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of the book of Second Kings:
“…Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of His great wrath, wherewith His anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked Him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there. Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 23:26-28).
“Johaiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Ramah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. IN his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim because his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; and also for all the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon” (2 Kings 23:36-24-4).
When and as you read the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture you will find the tremendous truth that the LORD would and did not relent of the great judgment and wrath He purposed against Judah and Jerusalem because of the great iniquity and immorality Manasseh king of Judah had performed dead committed within His sight. What’s more, is that when you come to the end of the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings you will find that despite the righteousness of Josiah, and despite the humility of Josiah when he heard the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses, and despite Josiah’s cleansing of the land and calling the people into covenant relationship with the LORD once more, the LORD would and could not turn from the devastation and destruction He purposed against Judah and Jerusalem. The sin, the iniquity, the wickedness, the transgression which was committed by Manasseh king of Judah would be so great in the sight of the LORD, that even Manasseh’s own repentance before the LORD within His sight and presence would and could not be enough to turn the heart and mind of the LORD and cause Him to relent of that which He had purposed against Judah and Jerusalem. If you read t he words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles concerning Manasseh you will find that it was while he was in Babylon in fetters he turned his heart toward the LORD and repented of all the iniquity, immorality and idolatry he had committed in the sight of the LORD, and was not only entreated of the LORD, but would also be returned unto Jerusalem and would reign as king over the nation and kingdom once more. Perhaps one of the most astounding realities surrounding the judgment and wrath which the LORD had purposed and pronounced against Judah and Jerusalem is that not even the repentance of Manasseh, nor the righteousness of Josiah could cause the LORD to relent and repent of the great devastation and destruction destruction He had purposed against the people and land of Judah. Stop for a moment and think about the fact that Manasseh’s repentance before the LORD would not cause the LORD to relent of the great judgment and wrath which was pronounced against Judah and Jerusalem, and although the righteousness and humility of Josiah would delay the judgment and wrath of the LORD, it would not cause it to be turned back. Consider if you will the following words which are found in both the Old Testament book of Second Kings, as well as the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles concerning the repentance of Manasseh, as well as the righteousness and humility of Josiah:
“And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORED brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was in treated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compasses about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, anda put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in. Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed therein peace offerings, and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the God of Israel. Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and grave in images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the spears. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead” (2 Chroincles 33:10-20).
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jeddah, the daughter of Adrian of Bobcats. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: and let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that they have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house, unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully. And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD> And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. And she said unto them. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall e kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again. And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant” (2 Kings 22:1-23:3).
What makes the words which are found within these chapters so incredibly captivating is when you think about and consider the fact that although Manasseh would humble himself in the sight and presence of the LORD while in fetters in Babylon, and although he would come back unto Jerusalem and would repair the altar and tear down that which he had built and set up in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, as well as in the midst of the Temple of the LORD, the LORD would not relent nor would He turn from the great judgment and wrath which He had purposed against the land. The LORD would be entreated of Manasseh, and this is actually something that is quite remarkable in and of itself, for it shows something of the nature and character of the LORD. The LORD would indeed be entreated of Manasseh while he was in fetters in Babylon, and the LORD would bring him back unto Jerusalem to reign as king over the nation and kingdom of Judah, however, the LORD would not turn away, nor would He relent of the great judgment and wrath which He had purposed against Judah and Jerusalem. In fact, it would be through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD would proclaim and remind the people that it would be because of the iniquity which Manasseh committed before and against the LORD judgment and wrath were upon the door. What’s more, is that even though Josiah would hear the words which were found within the book of the Law of the LORD, and even though Josiah would humble himself because he recognized the great wrath which was kindled against Judah and Jerusalem, the LORD would not relent, nor would He repent of what He purposed to bring against the land. In fact, even when Huldah the prophetess would speak unto those whom Josiah sent unto her, she would proclaim that the LORD would bring great evil upon this place, and upon all the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah had read. Furthermore, Huldah would go on to reveal how it was because the people had forsaken the LORD, and burned incense unto other gods that they might provoke Him to anger with all the works of their hands that the wrath of the LORD was kindled against this place and would not be quenched. These words are actually worth noting and considering, for through the prophetess Huldah Josiah the king of Judah would hear two distinct declarations and proclamations from the LORD. On the one hand Josiah would hear that the wrath and judgment of the LORD was at the door of Judah and Jerusalem, and on the other hand he would hear that because he humbled himself before the LORD after hearing the words which were found in the book of the LORD the great wrath and judgment purposed against that place would be delayed and would not take place during that generation. Pause for a moment and think about the reality that although Manasseh would repent before the LORD, and although Josiah would humble himself before the LORD, the wrath and judgment of the LORD against Judah and Jerusalem would and could not be quenched, nor would it be turned away.
I can’t help but think about the witness and testimony that was found during the days of Josiah king of Judah concerning the judgment and wrath that would be poured out upon that place, for not only would Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah prophesy the word of the LORD for five years before the book of the Law of the LORD was found in the Temple, but even after Josiah heard the words which were found in the book of the Law and sent to inquire of the prophetess Huldah he would not only be confronted with the LORD bringing to pass what He spoke of through His servant Moses, but the LORD would also bring great judgment and wrath against the people and land of Judah and Jerusalem because of the great iniquity, immorality and idolatry they committed before and against Him. Stop and consider the fact that there would essentially be a three-fold witness which would be present in the midst of the land during the days of Josiah king of Judah concerning the wrath and judgment that was pronounced upon the land and its people. There would be the prophetic word and witness of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah that would warn the people of Judah and Jerusalem for five years beginning in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah. There would be the witness of the Law and the words which Moses wrote in the book of the Law that would be the second witness concerning the great wrath and judgment the LORD would bring against and upon that place. Finally, there would be the witness of Huldah the prophetess who was at the college in Jerusalem, for she too would pronounce judgment and wrath against that place and against the people in the midst of the land. There would be the two-fold witness of the prophetic that would be manifested during the days and reign of Josiah king of Judah, and there would also be the witness of the Law which the people would not only be reminded of, but would understand through it’s the great wrath which the LORD purposed to bring against that place. This sheds a tremendous amount of light on to the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, for although he would begin prophesying during the thirteenth year of Josiah who did that which was right in the sight of the LORD—and honestly the last and final king to do so—he would prophesy and proclaim judgment and wrath upon both the city of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah with all the inhabitants thereof. What makes the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah so incredibly captivating—and not only captivating, but also challenging—is when you think about the fact that Jeremiah carried the weight of judgment and wrath upon his shoulders, and within his heart and soul during the reign of Josiah king of Judah, as well as during the days of his sons. What’s more, is that not only would Jeremiah carry the weight of the burden of judgment and wrath during the days of the final kings of Judah, but he would also see the fulfillment of that which the LORD had purposed against the people and land when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would invade the land of Judah, capture its defenced cities, and would lay siege against Jerusalem before finally breaking through the wall of the city and not only carrying away people as captives and exiles, but also destroying the wall and gates of the city, and even the Temple of the LORD.
This tremendous burden which. Jeremiah was forced to shoulder and carry within his heart and soul would come to a head in the twentieth chapter of this prophetic book, for within it you will find Jeremiah speaking directly unto the LORD about the weight of the burden which was upon his shoulders and within his heart and soul. If you begin reading with and from the seventh verse of this chapter you will find Jeremiah again wrestling with the weight and burden of the prophetic word which he was forced to carry, and speaking before and unto the LORD concerning it. Stop and consider for a moment the tremendous reality that Jeremiah would indeed prophesy the word of the LORD, yet even when a righteous king sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, the wrath and judgment of the LORD would still be against both the people and the land of Judah. There were certain times and seasons within the prophetic ministry and life of Jeremiah where he found himself essentially feeling crushed and overwhelmed with the burden of the judgment and wrath which the LORD had purposed against and upon Judah and Jerusalem. In previous chapters you will find Jeremiah speaking of the great tears, the great weeping, and the great mourning he would experience knowing and understanding the great wrath and judgment the LORD purposed against both people and land, and acknowledging those tears before the LORD. There is not a doubt in my mind that before you consider the words found in the twentieth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah it is necessary to turn and look back to those moments when Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah found himself feeling greatly overwhelmed before and with the burden of the word of the LORD within his heart and soul. There are specific places found within this prophetic book concerning the tremendous weight and pressure this burden put on the heart and soul of Jeremiah, and how he oftentimes found himself weeping and mourning before the LORD. It wasn’t simply that Jeremiah prophesied and proclaimed the word of the LORD, but Jeremiah would also weep before the LORD in direct response to the weight and burden of that word he was called to proclaim and carry within himself. We cannot truly understand the prophetic life and ministry of Jeremiah without understanding it in terms of three key components—the first being the fact that he was a prophet who proclaimed the wrath and judgment of the LORD, he was a prophet who found himself overwhelmed with and by the weight of the word he was forced to proclaim, and he would find himself at odds with the people of Judah and Benjamin. You cannot read the prophetic book of Jeremiah without encountering and coming face to face with the fact that Jeremiah essentially wrestled and contended on all sides with the call of God upon his life, for he would contend with the the burden of wrath and judgment at the door of the nation, and not only the tremendous weight and impact that would have upon his heart and soul, but also how that word would put him at odds with the people of the land—from the prophets to the priests, from kings to princes, from those of his hometown of Anathoth, to those in the land of Benjamin, as well as Judah. With this in mind, consider if you will the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah concerning the weight of the burden that was placed within and upon this heart and soul:
“My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, Because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war” (Jeremiah 4:19).
“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of way wearing men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! For they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men” (Jeremiah 9:1-2).
“But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock is carried away captive” (Jeremiah 13:7).
“Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: For the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow. If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! And if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! Yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not. Hasty thou utterly rejected Judah? Hath thy soul lothed Zion? Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble! We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee” (Jeremiah 14:17-20).
“O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thoua truth stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mockery me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in His name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with fore bearing, and I could not stray. For I heard the defaming of man, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying Peradventure he will e enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him. But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall e greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, Let me see thy vengeance on them: For unto thee have I opened my cause> Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: For He hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers. Cursed be the day wherein I was born: Let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontime; Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grace, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame” (Jeremiah 20:7-18).
As you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will find Jeremiah wrestling and struggling—not only with the opposition and persecution which he faced as a direct result of the word of the LORD, but you will also find Jeremiah wrestling and struggling with the weight and burden of the word of the LORD within his heart and soul. You cannot read the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not encounter the tremendous burden and weight the word of the LORD had within and upon his heart and soul. These passages bring us face to face with the tremendous truth that not only did Jeremiah find himself at odds with the people of the land, but he also found himself at odds with the word of the LORD. Jeremiah began prophesying during days of the final righteous king who sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, and despite the righteousness that was found in the midst of the land judgment and wrath would still be upon the door. The entire prophetic book of Jeremiah is centered upon the word of the LORD concerning judgment and wrath which would come upon the people of the land, and those in the land who not only resisted the word of the LORD, but also rose up and strove against Jeremiah. As if the burden and weight of the word of the LORD wasn’t enough for Jeremiah to carry and bear within his heart and soul, he would also witness the tremendous impact and effect that word would have on the people of his day as priests and prophets would rise up against and resist it, and as kings and princes alike would strive against it. It wasn’t enough that Jeremiah saw judgment and wrath at the door, but Jeremiah also had to continue proclaiming the word of the LORD in the midst of opposition, affliction and persecution. Earlier on in the eleventh chapter we saw the people of Anathoth where Jeremiah grew up rising up against and resisting him. The men of Anathoth where Jeremiah had grown up not only rose up against the prophetic word which he brought among them in their midst, but they would also mount a conspiracy against him that they might seek to end his life and put him to death. Much like the men of Nazareth would lay hold of Jesus and bring Him to the edge of the hill upon which their town had been built upon that they might put Him to death, so also the men of Anathoth sought to put Jeremiah to death that they might rid the land and their town of the word of the LORD he brought unto them. We dare not miss and lose sight of this reality, for when we come to the twentieth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find one of the priests of the house of the LORD—and not only a priest of the house of the LORD, but also a chief governor in the house of the LORD—hearing that Jeremiah prophesied such things, and both smote him, and put him in the stocks which were in the high gate of Benjamin which was by the house of the LORD. Consider if you will the words found in the opening verses of the twentieth chapter before Jeremiah begins speaking for the LORD about no longer speaking any more in His name:
“Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who as also chief governor in the house of the LROD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magor-missabib. For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I gave into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon. And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies” (Jeremiah 20:1-6).
With these words we find Pashur not only striking Jeremiah the prophet, but also putting him in stocks, and leaving him their overnight. It’s necessary and worth noting that Pashur was not only a priest in the house of the LORD, but was also a governor in the house of the LORD as well. If you turn and direct your attention back ack to the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter—specifically, the final verses of the chapter—you will continue to find this opposition, This conspiracy and this persecution which would rise up against Jeremiah concerning the word of the LORD. What makes the persecution Jeremiah faced and endured so incredibly intriguing is when you think about the fact that it was directly linked and connected to the word of the LORD which he was commanded and instructed to prophesy. You cannot read the words found within this book and not come face to face with the fact that what the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah at the first concerning men fighting against him coming to pass—and not only coming to pass, but at times completely overwhelming Jeremiah. I continue to find within the prophetic book of Jeremiah a powerful call for endurance, strength, fortitude, courage, and resilience—not only in prophesying the word of the LORD, and not only in seeing judgment and wrath at the door, but also finding yourself at odds with others because of the prophetic word of the LORD. Not only did Jeremiah prophesy concerning judgment and wrath which was at the door, but Jeremiah would also speak out against the sin, the transgression, the iniquity and idolatry in the midst of the land. The prophetic book of Jeremiah is a truly wonderful and powerful picture of endurance that is needed—not only when living during times of judgment and wrath upon a nation, but also during times of tremendous opposition and persecution as a result of bringing that prophetic word against the nation. Jeremiah not only lived with the knowledge the judgment and wrath were at the door, but could not sugar coat the issue and prophesy peace and safety unto his generation—not even during the days of Josiah king of Judah. It would indeed be true that Josiah’s humility before the LORD when hearing the words of the book of the Law would delay and postpone the judgment and wrath the LORD had purposed against Judah and Jerusalem, however, that judgment would not be averted, nor would it be relented of. The LORD had purposed within Himself that He would bring upon Judah and Jerusalem great judgment and wrath because of the sin(s) which Manasseh the son of Hezekiah caused Judah and Jerusalem to sin, and Jeremiah would be raised up to prophesy and proclaim that judgment and wrath was still coming.
JUDGMENT AND WRATH IS STILL COMING! JUDGMENT AND WRATH ARE AT THE DOOR! There would be prophets and priests during those days who would prophesy and proclaim according to their own imagination that judgment and wrath would not come upon the nation and people of Judah, and yet Jeremiah appeared to be a lone voice in the midst of the land who would speak otherwise. I am convinced that this is what makes the words which Huldah the prophetess so incredibly captivating—as well as the words which are found in the book of the Law of Moses—for the prophetess Huldah would proclaim and speak of judgment coming upon the land and the people alike. Jeremiah and Huldah would prophesy and proclaim judgment and wrath coming upon the nation and land, and while it is true it would come as a direct result of the sin of Manasseh king of Judah, it would also be directly linked to the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses. What’s so incredibly profound when thinking about the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that during days when judgment and wrath were at the door the book of the Law would be found in the midst of the land, and would stand as a witness—not only to that which the LORD had spoken generations earlier, but also as a declaration of the reason for the judgment and wrath. The LORD warned the children of Israel through His servant Moses concerning the judgment and wrath that would come upon the people and land if they turned their hearts away from worshipping and serving Him, and chose instead to walk in rebellion, idolatry, wickedness, immorality, iniquity, transgression and sin. If you read the Old Testament book of Leviticus, as well as the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find Moses the servant of the LORD warning the people of the curses that would come upon them should they make the deliberate and conscious decision to turn their hearts from worshipping and serving the LORD, and going after idols, false and strange gods, and setting up images and altars in the midst of the land. It wasn’t merely the word of the LORD which came from the mouth of Jeremiah that testified against Judah and Jerusalem, but it was also Moses himself, and the words which he spoke centuries and generations earlier I which would testify and speak against them and their iniquity and transgression. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly remarkable reality, for within the days of Josiah king of Judah the witness of the Law and the prophets would be present in the midst of the land, and we might very well say that in days when judgment and wrath are at the door of a nation the LORD will always cause His Law and His word to stand as a witness and testimony before, unto and against the people. What’s more, is that it’s almost as if the very heart and foundation of the prophetic words which Jeremiah spoke unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem had their foundation upon, and were intrinsically linked to the Law of Moses, and the words that were spoken unto the children of Israel after coming up out of the land of Egypt. Consider if you will the words and warning which the prophet Jeremiah prophesied and proclaimed which are written and recorded in the nineteenth chapter of this prophetic book of beginning with and from the first verse:
“Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; and go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, and say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O k inns of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; they have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor the Valley of the son of Hinnom, but the Valley of slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven,a new for the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege of o strait ness, wherewith their enemies, and they shall seek their lives, shall straitened them. Then shalt thou real the bottle in the sight of the. Men that go with thee, and shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury. Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet: and the houses of Jerusalem’s, and the houses of the kings of Judah, and shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods” (Jeremiah 19:1-13).
As I bring this writing to a close I find myself being directly challenged with and by the words found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah, and how Jeremiah was not only one who experienced the weight and burden of the word of the LORD within his heart and soul, but he also prophesied during days and in the midst of a generation in which judgment and wrath was at the door. If Jeremiah looked out over the horizon of time he would see the judgment and wrath delayed during the days of Josiah king of Judah, however, he would know that despite the fact that prophets and priests alike would take the delay of that which the LORD prophesied and spoke and proclaim peace and safety judgment and wrath were still on their way. There is not a doubt in my mind that the delay which would be found during the days of Josiah would foster a false sense of peace, safety and security within the hearts of the people, as men and women would fail to understand that the LORD’s delay didn’t mean judgment and wrath would not come upon the nation and people, but that it would still manifest within and among them in their midst. I sit here today and can’t help but think about the fact that there were undoubtedly those who were alive during the days of Josiah king of Judah who heard the word which Jeremiah prophesied and spoke concerning judgment and wrath, and because it would not come during the days of Josiah, they would think and consider the fact that the words which Jeremiah spoke were nothing more than a farce and fantasy of his own imagination. It’s necessary to understand this reality, for Jeremiah undoubtedly knew and was aware of the fact that judgment and wrath would be delayed during the days of Josiah king of Judah and that there would be those during that generation who would take the peace and safety during those days as a sign that the words which Jeremiah spoke were nothing more than smoke and mirrors and wind. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jeremiah would continue to prophesy and proclaim unto the generation during the reign of Josiah that they not be deceived into thinking that judgment and wrath were not still on the horizon and would not be manifested in the midst of the land. It is with this in mind that I leave you with the words which are found in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter, for I am convinced that we too are living during days and in the generations when judgement and wrath are at the door, and how there are present among us scoffers and those who would dare deny this reality—simply because of the delay of the LORD in bringing it to pass. I firmly believe that it is absolutely necessary for you to think about and consider the words which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament epistle as it not only shines an even greater light on to the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah, but also provides us within our generation with a great and powerful warning. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this epistle beginning to read with and from the first verse of the third chapter:
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostle of the Lord and Saviour; knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of thee after and in the water; Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the LORD as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The LORD is not slack concerning his promise, some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the LORD will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heart, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for an hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise. Look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligently that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:1-18).