The Witness, The Warning & The Example

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book fo Jeremiah the son of HIlkiah of the priests of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twenty-one through twenty-four of this Old Testament prophetic book. DEUTERONOMY 13! 2 PETER 2! JUDE! 1 TIMOTHY 4! 2 TIMOTHY 4! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a tremendous a mount of language concerning the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah during the days and times of the sons of Zedekiah. I previously wrote how during the days and times of Josiah king of Judah the LORD declared through the prophetess Huldah that the LORD would still bring judgment and wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem, however, because Josiah humbled himself upon hearing the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses the LORD would not bring that wrath and judgment during the days of Josiah. This is actually quite important to think about and consider, for undoubtedly for five years before the book of the Law was found in the Temple and read in the ears of Josiah king of Judah Jeremiah would prophesy according to the word of the LORD—and not only prophesy according to the word of the LORD, but would also prophesy concerning coming judgment and wrath. In the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the LORD speaking directly unto the prophet Jeremiah and declaring unto him that he would bring calamity, devastation and destruction upon the land of Judah and upon the city of Jerusalem, and would do so because of the great iniquity, idolatry and immorality that was committed within the land. In the earlier days of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah we find the word of the LORD revealing unto Jeremiah that there would be trouble, danger, and calamity which would come out of the north, however, the word of the LORD would not yet reveal unto Jeremiah just what that calamity actually was. Jeremiah would know according to the word of the LORD that judgment and wrath would come upon the nation and kingdom of Judah, as well as upon the city of Jerusalem and all the inhabitants therein, however, he would not know, nor would he understand just what that calamity actually would be. Jeremiah would spend most of his life after receiving the calling from the LORD at a young age prophesying concerning the judgment and wrath that was to come, and in the early days of that calling and proclamation he would not know, nor would he understand that what that judgment and wrath would look like.

Five years into the prophetic call and ministry of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah we find the book of the Law being found in the Temple of the LORD and being read in the hearing of Josiah king of Judah by Shaphan. Scripture records and reveals how upon hearing the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses Josiah would rend his garments because of the great wrath that was upon the city of Jerusalem, as well as the entire nation and kingdom of Judah. At the time Josiah reigned as king over the southern kingdom of Judah the northern kingdom of Israel had already been removed from the midst of the earth and from their place in the land. It would be during the days of another righteous king—Hezekiah king of Judah—that Sennacherib king of Assyria would enter into and invade the northern kingdom of Israel, would capture all its defenced cities, would lay siege to Samaria the capital city of Israel, and would carry away captive the people of God into the land of the Assyrians. By the time we come to the days and time of Josiah Israel had already been removed from the midst of the land. During the days of Josiah king of Judah only the southern kingdom of Judah made up of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah remained in a portion of the land that had been given unto the people of God as an inheritance in the midst of the earth. Undoubtedly Josiah was already aware of the great wrath and judgment of the LORD which He poured out upon the northern kingdom of Israel, and upon hearing the words which were found in the book of the Law—not only realized the great wrath and judgment that was hovering and looming over the southern kingdom of Judah, but which had also been unleashed upon the northern kingdom of Israel. There is not a doubt in my mind that Josiah was well aware of the absence of the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, as he had heard stories and accounts of how men, women and children were put to the sword, and how others were carried away as captives into the land of the Assyrians. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely remarkable and captivating truth, for when Jeremiah would emerge and step on to the scene and speak of judgment and wrath to come Josiah would have been aware of what that looked look in the northern kingdom of Israel.

A WARNING AND AN ILLUSTRATION! As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely and completely overwhelmed with the tremendous fact that during the days of Josiah king of Judah—not only was there the warning which would come through the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, but there would also be an illustration that would be present and manifested in the midst of the land. The warning which would be found in the midst of the land of Judah would be the prophetic word of the LORD that would come through Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, as Jeremiah would be raised up during days and times when judgment and wrath would be at the door. Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah would be raised up during a time when judgment would be at the door and wrath would be upon the horizon. From the time Jeremiah would begin prophesying according to the word of the LORD there would be this pervasive and all-encompassing message and warning of wrath and judgment that would be pronounced in the midst of the land of Judah, as well as the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was commanded to speak everything the LORD spoke and revealed unto him—despite the fact that those who would hear his message would fight against, strive against, resist, oppose and persecute him. Jeremiah was raised up during times when a righteous king would sit upon the throne of David, and yet even though a righteous king who walked in all the way of David his father, judgment and wrath would still be at the door in the midst of the land. When Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah was raised up in the midst of the southern kingdom of Judah from among the priests in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin he would appear as a tremendous prophetic force with a powerful and thunderous voice that would pronounce judgment and wrath upon the southern kingdom of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, and the inhabitants therein. The prophetic words and ministry of Jeremiah would indeed be the warning that would be sounded in the midst of the land for five years during the reign of Josiah—beginning in the thirteenth year, and continuing unto the fifth year when the book of the Law of Moses was found. It would be when the book of the Law of Moses was found in the Temple that there would not only be the warning of judgment and wrath that would be found in the midst of the land, but there would also be the witness of the Law as it would appear almost out of nowhere during a time when judgment and wrath were most certainly looming on the horizon.

THE WARNING OF THE WORD OF THE LORD & THE WITNESS OF THE BOOK OF THE LAW! I wrote concerning a warning and an illustration, however, before we get into the illustration it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the tremendous reality that during the days of Josiah’s reign—specifically during the eighteenth year of his reign—the book of the Law of Moses would be found in the Temple. The book of the Law of Moses would be found in the place of glory, and it would be brought into the place of government where the words which were contained therein would be read in the hearing of the king. We dare not overlook this reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the tremendous importance that directly linked to the warning and the illustration was the witness—a witness that would come from a voice which would speak centuries and generations earlier. It would be through Moses the servant of the LORD that the children of Israel would be warned of the tremendous dangers and consequences of turning away their hearts from worshipping and serving the LORD—much like what Solomon allowed to happen within his life as his wives would turn his heart away from worshipping and serving the LORD when he was old. It would be during the latter years of Solomon king of Israel when his wives would turn his heart away from worshipping and serving the LORD, and as a direct result of this he would go after the strange and false gods of the nations round about Israel—the gods which the LORD expressly and explicitly command and instructed the children of Israel not to. Essentially, not only was Solomon guilty of making marriages with women from the nations which the LORD had commanded and instructed the children of Israel not to, but he also went after the strange and foreign gods of those nations as well. Within and during the days of Moses the servant of the LORD he would warn the children of Israel of what would happen when they entered into the land, and if they allowed their hearts to turn away from the one true and living God and to worship and serve the strange, and false and foreign gods of the nations round about Israel.

During the days of Josiah king of Judah the word of the LORD would come through the prophet Jeremiah from the thirteenth year of his reign, and would continue throughout the entirety of his reign, and even beyond his reign and into the reign of his sons who would come after. For five years though—between the thirteenth and eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah—the word of the LORD would come through the mouth of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, as he would not only pronounce wrath and judgment at the door and upon the horizon, but would also call the people to return once more unto the LORD, and to turn their hearts back unto Him. It’s important for us to realize and recognize this, for running side by side together with the prophetic word and ministry of Jeremiah we find the illustration and example of the northern kingdom of Israel which had been removed from the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel during the days of Hoshea king of Israel, and Hezekiah the southern kingdom of Judah. It would be during the days of Hezekiah—one of the righteous kings of Judah which sat upon the throne of David and walked after all the way in which he walked—Assyria would enter into and invade the land, and would carry away captive the people of God from the midst of the land. It would be Hezekiah who would witness the destruction and devastation of the northern kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians, and would even witness and experience the king of Assyria invading the southern kingdom of Judah and threatening the city of Jerusalem. It would be within the days and generation of Hezekiah king of Judah that Israel would be removed from the midst of the land, and undoubtedly his son Manasseh would have been aware of this tremendous reality. In fact, Manasseh might have been but a child or youth when the northern kingdom of Israel was carried away captive and removed from the land which the LORD swore on oath unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and yet Manasseh the son of Hezekiah would do more to provoke the LORD to anger than all the kings which were before him—both in the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the southern kingdom of Judah—and even greater than the Amorites whom the LORD drove out from the midst of the land. Undoubtedly those generations which came after Hezekiah and Manasseh would be aware of the example that would lie just north of the border of the southern kingdom of Judah, as the northern kingdom of Israel would be entirely and altogether vacant and empty with the exception of those whom the king of Assyria relocated within the land to prevent it from becoming a habitation of wild beasts and jackals.

By the time you come to the days and reign of Josiah king of Judah you will find the northern kingdom of Israel having been removed from the midst of the land for a couple generations now, and only the southern kingdom of Judah would remain in the midst of the land given unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Josiah would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and Josiah would walk in all the way of David his father, and for the first thirteen years of his reign he would undoubtedly be aware of the example of the judgment and wrath of the LORD in the territory and land of the northern kingdom of Israel. For thirteen years Josiah would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and would be aware of the glaring example that would be found just north of the border in the land of Israel, and it would be during the thirteenth year of his reign the LORD would raise up a voice with a word and a warning in the person of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah. Scripture doesn’t record or reveal any interaction between Josiah and Jeremiah, however, we must assume that the two were aware of each other, and the two had some dealings and interactions with each other since upon the death of Josiah we find Jeremiah weeping and mourning over him. What makes the days of Josiah the king of Judah so incredibly captivating and interesting is when you think about and consider the fact that it would be during his days when there would be this convergence of the warning, the witness and the example—all of which would not only point to the wrath and judgment to come, but would also look back over how the LORD executed that reality in the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel. When Jeremiah began speaking and prophesying concerning the wrath and judgment to come he would do so with the shining and glaring example of the northern kingdom of Israel having been removed from the midst of the land, and essentially wiped clean from the midst of the earth. In the days of Josiah king of Judah the northern kingdom of Israel would lie fallow and would experience a tremendous amount of rest, as the people which lived and dwelt in the midst of the land were no longer dwelling in the midst of the land, as they had been carried away as captives, and brought into the land of the Assyrians.

THE WARNING, THE WITNESS AND THE EXAMPLE! THE WARNING OF JEREMIAH, THE WITNESS OF MOSES, AND THE FALSE VOICES OF PROPHETS AND PRIESTS! Perhaps one of the most intriguing realities about the days of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, as well as the days of Josiah is that during those days the word of the LORD was being proclaimed in a mighty and powerful way by and through Jeremiah. The word of the LORD began coming unto Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah, and it would be during those days when the nation and land of Israel would lie fallow and at rest from the inhabitants which had defiled and polluted it. After the days of Hezekiah king of Judah the northern kingdom of Israel stood and served as a warning unto the southern kingdom of Judah, and even Scripture itself speaks of Judah observing and beholding that which happened unto the northern kingdom of Israel and being completely and utterly untouched and affected by it. In fact, it would be through Jeremiah the prophet of the LORD the one true and living God would powerful declare unto the southern kingdom of Judah that they had watched and observed what had taken place unto their brethren and in the midst of their land, and yet despite what they witnessed and beheld their hearts would remain hardened before the LORD their God. In fact, if you turn and direct your attention back to the third chapter of this prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah in the days of Josiah the king concerning Judah, and how despite everything that happened unto the northern kingdom of Israel, the southern kingdom of Judah would see it and would choose not to heed, nor to hearken unto the LORD and turn their hearts fully and completely unto him. The southern kingdom of Judah would watch and witness as the LORD would completely and utterly devastate and destroy the people from within the land during the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and they would live with that knowledge during the reigns of the kings who would come after Hezekiah. What’s actually truly unique and interesting when you take the time to think about it is that the northern kingdom of Israel would be removed from the midst of the land and carried away captive during the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and it would be during the days of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah—Manasseh who undoubtedly saw and perhaps even witnessed the devastation of the northern kingdom of Israel—that the fate of the southern kingdom of Judah would be sealed as well. It would be at the hand of Manasseh himself that the southern kingdom of Judah would experience the same fate her sister—the northern kingdom of Israel—would experience. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, as well as the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Kings:

“The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast Thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said 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 Judah 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 take 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” (Jeremiah 3:6-15).

“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year b y year: therefore the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, and walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fence city. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight: THERE WAS NONE LEFT BUT THE TRIBE OF JUDAH ONLY. ALSO JUDAH KEPT NOT THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD THEIR GOD, BUT WALKED IN THE STATUTES OF ISRAEL WHICH THEY HAD MADE. AND THE LORD REJECTED ALL THE SEED OF ISRAEL, AND AFFLICTED THEM, AND DELIVERED THEM INTO THE HAND OF SPOILERS, UNTIL HE HAD CAST THEM OUT OF HIS SIGHT. FOR HE RENT ISRAEL FROM THE HOUSE OF DAVID; AND THEY MADE JEROBOAM THE SON OF NEBAT KING; AND JEROBOAM DRAVE ISRAEL FROM FOLLOWING THE LORD, AND MADE THEM SIN A GREAT SIN. FOR THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WALKED IN ALL THE SINS OF JEROBOAM WHICH HE DID; THEY DEPARTED NOT FROM THEM; UNTIL THE LORD REMOVED ISRAEL OUT OF HIS SIGHT, AS HE HAD SAID BY ALL HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS. SO WAS ISREAL CARRIED AWAY OUT OF THEIR OWN LAND TO ASSYRIA UNTO THIS DAY. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof” (2 Kings 17:1-25).

“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 LROD 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 sons 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 the 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 hearkened 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 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 return 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” (2 Kings 21:1-16).

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but come face to face with the absolutely tremendous reality that from the days of Manasseh onward there was an example that was present in the midst of the land—one that would serve as a powerful warning unto the southern kingdom of Judah concerning rebellion, wickedness and transgressions against the LORD. Perhaps one of the greatest declarations found within the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah is that Judah saw, witnessed and beheld—not only the iniquity which was committed by her sister Israel, but also chose to deal treacherously herself. Three times within the third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the word of the LORD emphatically declaring that treacherous Judah saw what Israel committed, and even saw the judgment and wrath which was poured out against Israel, and yet she still hardened her heart against the LORD, and went whoring after strange and foreign gods. Manasseh the son of Hezekiah would have witnessed and beheld the northern kingdom of Israel being invaded and the people being carried away captive into the land of the Assyrians and the Medes. What makes the iniquity and transgression of Judah all the more dangerous and damning is when you think about the fact that in addition to the word of the LORD which was spoken through the prophets of the LORD, there was the example of the northern kingdom of Israel which stood as a stark and powerful warning against them in the midst of the land. In fact, through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD would declare that Israel was more justified in the sight of the LORD because Judah had the witness of Israel and the devastation, destruction and desolation which came upon it. Judah would watch and behold as the LORD would remove Israel from the midst of the land, and yet Judah would choose to ignore that example and continue whoring after her many lovers—the strange and foreign gods of the nations round about her, as well as the idols and graven images she had made.

The more I think about and consider the narrative of the southern kingdom of Judah during the days of Josiah king of Judah, the more I can’t help but be confronted with the tremendous reality that during those days they had in their midst the example of their brethren, the warning of the prophet, and the witness of the Law. Moreover, there would be a secondary witness of the prophetic that would be present in the midst of the southern kingdom of Judah, which would be the prophetic voice of Huldah the prophetess whom Josiah sent emissaries to inquire of the LORD through her. When Josiah heard the words which were written in the book of the Law of the LORD—not only had the word of the LORD been proclaimed by the mouth of Jeremiah for five years, but there was also the powerful example of Judah’s sister Israel. By the time the book of the Law was found in the midst of the Temple of the LORD the word of the LORD had been proclaimed among them in their hearing by the mouth of Jeremiah the servant of the LORD. It would undoubtedly be because of the sin of Manasseh and which he caused Judah and Jerusalem to sin against the LORD that would ultimately seal the fate of both city and kingdom alike, however, we must recognize and understand that through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD emphatically declared that Judah beheld the iniquity, idolatry and immorality which was committed by her sister Israel, and not only chose to ignore that wickedness, but would also go and do likewise. Much like Belshazzar the son of Nebuchadnezzar watched the example of his father in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans and in the city of Babylon and still chose to walk in pride, arrogance and boasting, so also would Manasseh watch the sins of the northern kingdom of Israel and continue to walk in defiance and outright rebellion against the LORD. IN the book fo Second Kings we learn and encounter how Judah and Jerusalem’s fate was sealed because of the sin of Manasseh king of Judah, but it would be through the prophet Jeremiah we would also learn that Judah refused to heed the example of her sister Israel, and chose to ignore that which had taken place within her borders and against her by the hand of the LORD. Scripture makes it very clear that Judah was warned through the example of what happened to Israel, and yet despite that example just north of their border they would continue to walk in iniquity, idolatry and immorality.

What makes the days of Josiah so incredibly unique is when you think about and consider the fact that it would during those days when there would be the example of the northern kingdom of Israel, which would precede the prophetic voice of Jeremiah. Jeremiah would emerge on to the scene thirteen years into the reign of Josiah king of Judah and five years before the book of the Law of Moses had been found. With this in mind it is absolutely astounding and remarkable to think that during the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah there would be this powerful collision that would occur between the example, the warning and the witness. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah the book of the Law of the LORD would reemerge—almost out of the shadows and out of obscurity—and would be brought forth from the Temple of the LORD and into the palace of the king before the throne. What’s more, is that not only would the book of the Law of Moses be found in the Temple of the LORD, but it would be brought forth out of the Temple, would be brought before the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, and would be read in the hearing of Josiah the king of Judah. Eighteen years into the reign of Josiah king of Judah we find the example of the northern kingdom of Israel sounding forth as a trumpet unto the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem while the prophetic word of the LORD would be a second trumpet that would be sounding an alarm of warning of impending judgment and wrath. The book of the Law of Moses would be found in the Temple and would create this perfect storm as there would be a collision on all fronts in the midst of the land. In the eighteenth year of Josiah king of Judah everything would come to a head as witness the book of the Law being brought forth as an additional witness unto the inhabitants of the land. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah the words of Moses would be brought forth—almost as if it was in the court of law—and would stand as a witness to the example of Israel and the prophetic word of the LORD. In all reality, it’s almost as if the book of the Law of Moses was being called and brought forth in the midst of the land as the final alarm that would sound of impending judgment and wrath which had already been secured during the days of Manasseh.

What makes the days of Josiah so incredibly captivating is when you think about the fact that his humility before the LORD in response to the words which were found in the book of the Law—though it would not alter the judgment and wrath of the LORD which would come upon the land, it would delay and postpone it. If there is one thing the narrative of Josiah presents us with it’s that it is possible for judgment and wrath to be postponed and delayed because of righteousness and humility in the land. Josiah would not only humble himself in response to hearing the words of the book of the Law, but he would also call all the people to enter into covenant with the LORD, would call the people to celebrate the Passover in the midst of the land, and would even go throughout the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah and bring cleansing in the midst of the land. Josiah’s humility before the LORD would not only delay and postpone the judgment and wrath of the LORD, but his actions would effectively bring cleansing to the land. There is no denying the fact that the LORD would indeed and would in fact bring judgment and wrath upon the land, but I can’t help but wonder if Josiah was raised up—not only as a means to delay and postpone the judgment and wrath of the LORD, but also the bring cleansing and holiness in the midst of the land. Josiah would move throughout the southern kingdom of Judah beginning with the Temple of the LORD in the city of Jerusalem, and would completely remove and tear down all traces of idolatry, iniquity and immorality in the midst of the land. I can’t help but wonder within my heart and spirit whether or not Josiah was raised up to bring cleansing in the midst of the land so while the land was enjoying its rest during the seventy years of captivity, it would be cleansed of all its idolatry and immorality in the midst of the land. Is it possible the LORD would raise up Josiah in the midst of days of impending judgment and wrath to bring cleansing to the land in preparation for the rest it would enjoy? Is it perhaps possible the LORD raised up Josiah at the exact time ordained and appointed for him as a means to bring cleansing to the land—almost to prepare and make ready the land for the judgment and wrath which was to come? I can’t help but wonder if even the cleansing Josiah wrought and brought about in the midst of the land wasn’t a fourth witness and trumpet sounding in the midst of the land that the LORD was making ready and preparing the land—not only for the judgment and wrath which was to come, but also for the return of the people. We know and understand from Jeremiah that the LORD decreed and ordained seventy years of captivity and exile and I can’t help but believe within my heart and spirit that the cleansing Josiah would bring would prepare the land for those seventy years of captivity that the land might be free of al her idols. I can’t help but wonder if Josiah wasn’t raised up “for such a time as this” that judgment and wrath might be displayed as a means of cleansing the land in preparation for judgment and wrath, as well as for seventy years of the people living in captivity and exile, and the land remaining fallow and at rest.

The more I consider the narrative of the days of Josiah and Jeremiah the more I encounter and come face to face with the strong reality that the LORD would not only raise up the prophetic witness of Jeremiah, and would not only raise up the witness of the Book of the Law of Moses, but the LORD would also raise up the witness of Josiah himself, as Josiah would not only be be a means of delaying and postponing judgment and wrath, but would also cleanse the land in preparation for the very judgment and wrath his actions would delay. It is actually this delay in judgment and wrath that is something which must be carefully considered, for I am absolutely convinced that the false prophets which were raised up during those days would be emboldened to prophesy their own imagination and of their own heart because of this delay. Regardless of whether or not they were aware that Josiah’s humility and actions would have delayed the judgment and wrath which Jeremiah spoke of, they would see this delay in judgment being manifested in the midst of the land as somehow proof that the words which Jeremiah was speaking and prophesying were nothing more than smoke and mirrors and hot air he was blowing upon the land. It’s necessary and imperative that we recognize this awesome reality, for in the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find Jeremiah actually speaking out against and indicting the prophets who prophesied their own dreams and imagination during those days. I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative of Jeremiah, and how not only did the LORD not bring about the wrath and judgment which Jeremiah prophesied about during the days of Josiah, but during the days of the sons of Josiah the LORD would not immediately bring the judgment to pass. What is so absolutely astounding about the words found in the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah is the fact that Jeremiah indicted the false prophets which were present during that day and generation—those prophets who would prophesy of their own imagination and had never heard the word of the LORD. What is truly something worth looking into is the fact that at the same time the example of Israel was raised up in the land, at the same time the prophetic word of Jeremiah was raised up in the midst of the land, at the same time the witness of the book of the Law of Moses was raised up, there would be an additional witness that would be raised up in the midst of the land in the cleansing of the land from all its graven images, idols, shrines, and all those things which provoked the LORD to jealousy and anger.

With all of this being said, it is necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the narrative found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah shifting from the days of Josiah king of Judah to the days of his sons which would reign on the throne of David after him. What you find during the days of the sons of Josiah is essentially a downward spiral toward the judgment and wrath of the LORD which would come upon the land, and yet in the midst of the alarm and trumpet Jeremiah was sounding regarding this impending judgment and wrath, you will find false prophets in abundance. The entire twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah describes and outlines the conspiracy of these false prophets, and how despite the fact that the LORD did not send them they ended up running with their own imagination and their own dreams. If there is one thing I am absolutely convinced of it’s that this delay in the judgment and wrath which was clearly evident and manifested in the midst of the land emboldened these false prophets to not only prophesy their own imagination and dreams, but also prophesy peace and safety when there wouldn’t be any. What’s more, is that the presence and voices of these false prophets would be present in the midst of the land of Judah all the way up to the time Nebuchadnezzar entered into and invaded the land and his army was outside the wall of the city of Jerusalem. In order to truly understand the presence, the deception and the illusion these false prophets were under, it is first necessary to consider the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the third chapter of his second epistle, as well as the words which Moses would speak and are recorded in the thirteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages as I am absolutely and completely convinced they wonderfully and powerfully set up the words and indictment which Jeremiah would speak concerning the false prophets during his days—false prophets who would prophesy peace and safety, and those who would heal the wound of the people of God only slightly. Jeremiah would issue a stinging denunciation toward and against the false prophets of his generation as they would attempt to speak for the LORD although the LORD neither spoke unto them, nor sent them. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the second epistle of the apostle Peter, as well as the words Moses spoke which are recorded in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy:

“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 apostles 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 the water 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, as 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 heat, 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 and hasting the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall e 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 diligent 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 forever” (2 Peter 3:1-18).

“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, night unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unot him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you. If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belgian, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain that such an abomination is wrought among you; thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every white, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the curse thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the firerceness of His anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as He hath sworn unto thy fathers; when thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God” (Deuteronomy 13:1-18).

What I find so absolutely incredible about the words which are found in each of these passages—specifically the words which the apostle Peter wrote—is that there would be those who would rise up in the Last Days who would scoff at the promise of the return of the LORD, and even His judgment and wrath. There are those who have risen up, and those who will yet rise up in the midst of the earth who will see the LORD’s delay in bringing judgment and wrath upon the face of the earth, and such individuals will not only scoff and mock at the promise of the LORD’s return and His judgment and wrath upon the land, but there will be some who will prophesy peace and safety in the midst of judgment and wrath at the door and on the horizon. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for while it was true Jeremiah lived during the days of righteousness which was manifested through the reign of Josiah king of Judah, wrath and judgment would be at the door. Although Josiah was indeed a righteous man who sat upon the the throne of David and did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, judgment and wrath would be on the door and just on the other side of the threshold. Josiah’s response to the words which were found in the book of the Law would delay and postpone that judgment and wrath from coming to pass within his generation, however, it would not alter, nor would it eradicate it. Within the prophetic book of Jeremiah we in fact find the LORD declaring that it was because of the sin of Manasseh which he caused the children of Israel to sin that Jerusalem and Judah would experience His judgment and wrath. It’s truly something worth thinking about and when you consider the fact that within the days of Josiah king of Judah you would have the witness of the northern kingdom of Israel and their removal from the land, you would have the witness of the prophetic word of the LORD as manifested through Jeremiah, and you would have the witness of the book of the Law which was found in the Temple of the LORD. It would be the book of the Law of the LORD being found in the Temple and being read in the hearing of Josiah king of Judah, and his response to that word which would delay and postpone the judgment and wrath of the LORD, and it would be that delay and postponement that would undoubtedly lead to an emergence of prophets who refused to believe and would not accept the fact that the LORD would bring judgment and wrath upon the land. Despite the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah, despite the witness of the book of the Law of Moses, and despite the cleansing which Josiah brought to the land, there would be those who would scoff and mock at the promise of judgment and wrath, and would essentially contradict the words which Jeremiah would prophesy and proclaim according to the word of the LORD.

The words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah must be understood, for although there would be the witness of Israel, although there would be the witness of the prophetic word of Jeremiah, although there would have been the witness of the book of the Law, and even though there would be the witness of the cleansing before the judgment and wrath, there would still be people who would choose to despise, reject and ignore the word of the LORD. The twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah clearly speaks about captivity and exile, and how the people would be removed from the land in which they had dwelt for more than four hundred years since Joshua led them into the land. For almost a half a century the people would dwell in the midst of the land, and in fact Scripture points to and reveals the reality that the seventy years would be determined based on the number of sabbath years they failed to observe. One year of captivity for every sabbath year they refused to ignore, which would ultimately total four-hundred and ninety years. It would be the prophet Jeremiah who would not only prophesy wrath and judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem, but would also prophesy seventy years that had been decreed for the captivity and exile of Zion and the people of God. It would be this message that would be contradicted by those who were present during that generation, as they would hear the words of Jeremiah the prophet, and yet would see absolutely no fulfillment of the prophetic word which he had spoken of for years. It would be this delay in the judgment and wrath of the one true and living God that would cause the rise of false prophets in the midst of the land—those who would essentially prophesy and speak of the people “living their best life now,” and the people “eating, drinking, and being merry.” There were countless prophets of prosperity and prophets of safety and security during those days—despite the fact that judgment and wrath would indeed be at the door. There would be those who would rise up in the midst of the land and who would seek to lead the people of God astray by describing how the words Jeremiah spoke were nothing more than the babbling of a mad man who had absolutely no idea what he was talking or speaking about. It would be these individuals whom Jeremiah would indict in the twenty-third chapter of this prophetic book, and who Jeremiah would essentially condemn according to the word of the LORD. It is absolutely necessary that we understand and recognize the words found in this chapter, for the words found in this chapter also point to the presence of such prophets and such “dreamers of dreams” within our generation. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are countless prophets such as those which Jeremiah indicted within this generation—those who would seek to prophesy peace, safety, prosperity, security, rest, and the like—particularly and especially when there was none. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the twenty-third chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the ninth verse:

“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; All my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: For I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; They prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have also seen in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: They commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in forty, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour s, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words, every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to errr by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:9-32).

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for what is found and contained here is a powerful picture of a presence of false prophets who will always rise up during days of judgment and wrath, and who will prophesy lies having not been sent by the LORD. Jeremiah would describe how his heart was broken within him because of the false prophets which were in the midst of the land, for they prophesied falsely that there would be peace, that there would be rest, that there would be safety, and that no evil or harm would come upon or befall those who walked after the imagination of their own heart. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the days and generation in which we are living it’s that we are indeed living during days when judgment is at the door and wrath is on the horizon, and the LORD can and will bring to pass that which He spoke of through His servants the prophets and apostles. Although the LORD might appear to be slack concerning His promise concerning the return of Jesus—and even concerning the Day of the LORD, and the coming wrath and judgment—we dare not allow our hearts to be derived into somehow thinking and believing that the LORD cannot and will not bring to pass that which He has spoken in times past. There is a great conspiracy in the midst of false prophets, false teachers, and false brethren during these days, as they prophesy lies and seek to heal the hurt of the people but slightly. Such individuals choose to ignore the warnings and witness in Scripture, as well as the words and warning which was proclaimed through faithful servants of the LORD, and as a direct result are leading countless men and women astray. The more I read the words found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah, the more I come face to face with the fact that we are living on the edge of the judgment and wrath of the living God, and that there is present within the land the witness and the warning, as the LORD is not only warning us through His word, but is also raising up prophetic voices that will speak of the coming judgment and wrath to come. The underlying truth we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are hearing that which is being spoken within the Word of God, and whether or not we are seeking to prepare ourselves and make ourselves ready for what lies ahead within this nation and within the earth. Oh that we would be a people who not only hear the voice of the LORD speaking in the midst of this generation, but also that we would be a people who seek to be like unto those the apostles Peter and Paul wrote concerning the saints being pure and blameless and spotless in the coming days and generation. Oh that we would truly make ourselves ready for what lies ahead, and that we would diligently and faithfully ready and study the words found in the Word of God and would truly hear that which the Spirit is speaking unto the church.

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