When Cities Are Besieged & Prophets Are Imprisoned

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters thirty-two through thirty-four of this Old Testament book. THE KING IS AT THE DOOR! JUDGMENT IS HERE! WRATH IS UPON US! IT CAN NO LONGER BE DELAYED! WHAT I’VE BEEN PROPHESYING AND SPEAKING OF IS FINALLY UPON YOU! THE ENEMY IS OUTSIDE THE WALLS! THE CITY IS UNDER SIEGE! BEHOLD, THE ENEMY IS AT THE GATES! BEHOLD, THE LORD CAN NO LONGER DELAY THAT WHICH HE PURPOSED TO BRING AGAINST THE CITY AND LAND! LIVING IN THE DAYS OF JUDGMENT! LIVING IN THE DAYS OF WRATH! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find it written concerning Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah that during the days of Zedekiah king of Judah he would experience the height and the pinnacle of the persecution and opposition that would rise up against him. The further you go into the prophetic book of Jeremiah the more you will read concerning the great oppression and persecution Jeremiah would face—not only in response to the word of the LORD, but also as if it were a confirmation of the word itself. You cannot read the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that Jeremiah would suffer tremendous persecution and opposition at the hands of those who could not handle, and those who sought to despise, reject and ignore the word which he would speak unto them. What we find within this particular portion of Scripture is Jeremiah prophesying during the days of Zedekiah king of Judah whom the king of Babylon himself would set up and appoint over Jerusalem. The real name of this king was Mattaniah, and it would be changed to Zedekiah by the king of Babylon as he sought to install and set him up as a puppet king in the midst of the land. Scripture reveals how for three years Zedekiah served the king of Babylon, however, the time would come when Zedekiah would no longer seek to serve the king, and would instead choose to revel against him. In reality, it would be Zedekiah’s rebellion against the king of Babylon that would contribute to the invasion of the land of Judah, the capturing of the defenced cities in the land, and the siege of Jerusalem itself. It would be the rebellion of this puppet and vassal king which Nebuchadnezzar would set up in Jerusalem that would ultimately invite the storm and flood that would be the invasion of the Babylonian army. We dare not miss and lose sight of this fact, for it helps shine a light on the awesome truth that Zedekiah would not only rebel against the king of Babylon, but in rebelling against the king of Babylon he would also resist the word of the LORD which would come forth from the mouth of Jeremiah.

If you read earlier on in the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah and instructing him to make yokes which he would bring unto the nations and lands round about Judah and Jerusalem that he might deliver unto them both a warning, as well as an invitation. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding realities found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that the LORD invited the nations of the earth to serve the king of Babylon and promised them that so long as they served the king of Babylon all would go well with them. The LORD would instruct Jeremiah to send yokes unto all the nations round about Judah with a powerful prophetic message that they were to bring themselves under the authority, under the dominion, under the government, and under the rule and reign of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah instructing him to make bonds and yokes, and to put them upon his neck, and send them unto the kings of the nations which were round about Judah in the midst of the earth. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words found in the twenty-seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, as well as the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Second Kings, for within the twenty-seventh chapter of the book of Jeremiah we find the word of the LORD instructing the kings of the earth to bring themselves under the rule and government of the king of Babylon. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings, however, we find Zedekiah ultimately choosing to not only rebel against the king of Babylon, but also to resist the word of the LORD that would be prophesied and spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah. Consider if you will the following words which are found in both of these Old Testament books:

“In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, and send them to the king of Edomite, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to J reusable unto Zedekiah king of Judah; and command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power, and by my outstretched arm,a new have given it unto whom it s ended meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, TH AT THE NATION AND KINGDOM WHICH WILL NOT SERVE THE SAME NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING OF BABYLON, AND THAT WILL NOT PUT THEIR NECK UNDER THE YOKE OF THE KING OF BABYLON, THAT NATION WILL I PUNISH, SAITH THE LORD, WITH THE SWORD, AND WITH THE FAMINE, AND WITH THE PESTILENCE, UNTIL I HAVE CONSUMED THEM BY HIS HAND. Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out ,and ye should perish. BUT THE NATIONS THAT BRING THEIR NECK UNDER THE YOKE OF THE KING OF BABYLON, AND SERVE HIM, THOSE WILL I LET REMAIN STILL IN THEIR OWN LAND, SAITH THE LORD; AND THEY SHALL TILL IT, AND DWELL THEREIN” (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

“I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, BRING YOUR NECKS UNDER THE YOKE OF THE KING OF BABYLON, AND SERVE HIM AND HIS PEOPLE, AND LIVE. WHY WILL YE DIE, THOU AND THY PEOPLE, BY THE SWORD, BY THE FAMINE, AND BY THE PESTILENCE, AS THE LORD HATH SPOKEN AGAINST THE NATION THAT WILL N OT SERVE THE KING OF BABYLON? Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you. Hearken not unto them; SERVE THE KING OF BABYLON, AND LIVE: WHEREFORE SHOULD THIS CITY BE LAID WASTE? But if they be prophets, and if the word of the LORD be with them, let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in this city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; yea, thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem; they shall be carried to babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, saith the LORD; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place” (Jeremiah 27:12-22).

“Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about) and the king went the way toward the plain. And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon” (2 Kings 24:18-25:7).

Within the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the word of the LORD instructing the kings of the earth to serve the king of Babylon, and that whatever kings did not and would not serve the king of Babylon, their nation would be given over to famine, to the sword and to the pestilence. What’s more, is that you will find this word even being sent and delivered unto Zedekiah king of Judah as well. It’s actually worth paying attention to this, for what we find in the final verses of the twenty-fourth chapter of the book of Second Kings is Zedekiah king of Judah rebelling against the king of Babylon, and in the very next chapter—at the very outset of the chapter itself—we find the king of Babylon marching against Judah and against Jerusalem. What’s more, is that not only do we find the king of Babylon marching against Judah Judah, but also coming against the city of Jerusalem, pitching against it, building forts against it round about, and how the city was besieged for nearly two years. Pause and think about that for a moment as the army of the Chaldeans would be encamped outside the wall of Jerusalem, and would be encamped round about it. So strong and so severe was their presence outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem that a famine would be incited in the midst of the city as there would be no bread for the people of the land. Scripture would go on to reveal how the city of Jerusalem would be overtaken with the famine, with the pestilence and with the sword, and how those who were destined for each would experience such during those days. It might very well be said that Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon was essentially the final straw which would break the proverbial camels back, and would incite the king of Babylon to march up against the city of Jerusalem. Zedekiah’s rebellion against the king of Babylon would not only incite the king to lay siege to the city of Jerusalem, but it would also open the door for Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard to enter into the city of Jerusalem, to carry away captive the remaining of those within the land, while slaughtering those whom Jeremiah specifically prophesied would ultimately be put to death. It would be Zedekiah’s rebellion against the king of Babylon that would open the door for the entire city of Jerusalem to be laid siege to, and ultimately burned with fire.

It would be during the days of Zedekiah king of Judah Jeremiah would write and send a letter unto the captives of the people of Judah and Jerusalem not only instructing them not to be deceived by the false prophets who prophesied lies among them in their midst, but also to seek and pray for the peace of the city wherein they dwelt, and to increase in the midst of the land. It would be during the days of Zedekiah king of Judah Jeremiah would reveal unto the people of God that seventy years had been decreed for the captivity to remain in effect in the midst of the earth, and at the end of those seventy years the LORD would visit His people, and would invite them to seek Him while He may be found, and to call upon His name. What makes the days of Zedekiah king of Judah so incredibly captivating is that they would truly mark the end of Judah and Jerusalem as the king of Babylon would again invade the land of Judah, and would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. It would be during the days of Zedekiah king of Judah that the wrath and judgment of the LORD would come to a head and would reach its ultimate culmination in the midst of the land. The days of Zedekiah would be days of tremendous affliction and opposition in the midst of the land as Zedekiah king of Judah would not only rebel against the king of Babylon, and not only rebel against the word of the LORD which would be spoken by and through the mouth of Jeremiah, but would also resist and rise up against Jeremiah. You cannot read the words found in these chapters and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that Zedekiah would grow weary with the prophetic word and would actually lash out against this ancient Hebrew prophet. Up to this point we have seen and witnessed a certain degree and measure of affliction and opposition which Jeremiah the son Hilkiah would experience at the hands of the men of Anathoth, and at the hands of the prophets, priests and people in the midst of Judah and Jerusalem who would conspire against him to put him to death and once and for all rid the land of the words which would proceed forth from his mouth. The language that is found within these chapters would present an even greater amount of opposition which would rise up against Jeremiah during the days of Zedekiah, as not only would Babylon rise up against the city of Jerusalem, but Zedekiah, the princes, and the rulers of that generation would rise up against Jeremiah, and against the word of the LORD which would proceed from his mouth. Which this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found within these chapters beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse of the thirty-second chapter:

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; and he shall lead Zedekiah, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the LORD: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall prosper?” (Jeremiah 32:1-5).

“The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire: and thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon. Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword: but thou shalt die in peace: and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn odours for thee; and they will lament thee, saying, Ah lord! For I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD. Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah” (Jeremiah 34:1-7).

“This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them; that every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, being an Hebrew or Hebrewess go free; that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother. Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go. But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and the handmaid s, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids” (Jeremiah 34:8-11).

IMPRISONED DURING A TIME OF CALAMITY! IMPRISONED DURING A TIME OF CHAOS! THE ENEMY IS OUTSIDE THE WALLS AND THE PROPHET IS IN THE PRISON! WHEN PROPHETS ARE IN PRISON AND THE ENEMY IS AT THE GATE! THE WORD OF THE LORD SHUT UP WITHIN THE CITY AND THE ENEMY ENCAMPED OUTSIDE! As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous reality that when we read concerning Jeremiah, the city of Jerusalem, the land of Judah and Zedekiah the king of Judah we not only find Jeremiah shut up in the court of the prison, but we also find the Babylonian army outside the wall of Jerusalem encamped round about the city. It’s actually something worth pointing out when reading the words found in chapters thirty-two and thirty-four of this Old Testament book, for it reveals something truly powerful about the nature of the nation and kingdom during the days of Zedekiah. This passage points out and reveals the enemy and adversary outside the wall and gates of the city, and the prophet and voice of the LORD shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king’s house. How absolutely ironic it is to consider the fact that Jeremiah would actually be shut up in the court of the prison during the days of Zezdekiah—specifically the tenth year—and would be shut up within the prison when the Babylonian army would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. When the Babylonian army arrived at the city of Jerusalem, encamped round about against it, and laid siege to it, the prophet Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, and it’s quite astounding to think about and consider the fact that as great as Zedekiah’s rebellion against the king of Babylon was, he would add to that rebellion and resistance by rising up against the prophet Jeremiah and shutting him up in the court of the prison. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear as to Zedekiah’s ultimate reasoning behind shutting Jeremiah up in the prison, but we do know from this passage Zedekiah took offense to the word Jeremiah proclaimed concerning him. Jeremiah reveals in this particular chapter that Zedekiah had shut him up inquiring why he prophesied and declared that the LORD would give the city of Jerusalem into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he would take it. Moreover, Zedekiah would also take great offense to the prophetic word which Jeremiah spoke concerning Zedekiah being unable to escape out of the hand of the king of Babylon and would surely be delivered into his hand.

I sit here today absolutely and entirely captivated by the fact that what we find here was a terrifying indictment concerning and against the very makeup and psyche of the nation and kingdom of Judah, as the enemy and adversary was outside the wall of the city, and the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider that Scripture would speak of Jeremiah still being shut up in the court of the prison in the thirty-fourth chapter, as well as the words you find in the New Testament book of Acts. Jeremiah would be imprisoned during the last days of Judah and Jerusalem before and during the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people of God, and the apostles of Jesus Christ would themselves be imprisoned during the last days leading up to the second fall of Jerusalem, and the invasion of the Judaea by the Roman army. In all reality, there is something truly tragic and truly terrifying when you think about a nation that sees the enemy and adversary outside the wall and outside the gates, and yet they seek to imprison—not only the servants of the LORD, but also the word of God itself. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that the apostles of Jesus Christ—which would later include the apostle Paul—would find themselves imprisoned for the sake and cause of Christ, and for the sake of His name. In fact, if you read the eleventh chapter of the second New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthians you will find the following words which he wrote concerning his identification with the suffering(s) of Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior:

“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save once. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burnt not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for ever more knoweth that I lie not” (2 Corinthians 11:22-31).

I firmly believe that Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah stands as a powerful picture of a “last days” and “end times” prophet in that he not only lived during the days leading up to the judgment and wrath of the LORD being poured out upon the nation and kingdom of Judah, but he would also live to see the fulfillment of that wrath within the land. With that being said, in the days when the enemy and adversary was outside the wall of the city, and in the day when the adversary was at the gates of the city, Jeremiah would be shut up in the court of the prison, and would essentially be bound because of the prophetic word which he brought unto the southern kingdom of Judah, unto the city of Jerusalem, and unto Zedekiah the king himself. That which we find written within this passage of Scripture is a powerful picture of this “last days” and “end times” prophet being bound and imprisoned for the sake of the word of the LORD, and would be shut up by the king himself. It’s worth noting and pointing out that this would not be the first time Jeremiah would experience opposition, affliction and persecution in the midst of the southern kingdom of Judah, for he would first experience opposition and persecution within his hometown of Anathoth. What’s more, is Jeremiah would even be placed in the stocks at the gate of Benjamin in the midst of the kingdom of Judah by Pashur the priest and chief governor of the house. Moreover, Jeremiah would also find himself experiencing tremendous opposition and resistance by the priests, prophets, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem because of the prophetic word which he would speak unto them concerning the coming judgment and wrath of the LORD which would be poured out. This would be a similar reality which would face the apostles of Jesus Christ, for if you read the New Testament book of Acts you will encounter the tremendous amount of persecution that would rise up against them—first and primarily by the Sanhedrin and religious community of their day. Time and time again the apostles would find themselves imprisoned for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ, as well as the gospel concerning the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for us to truly understand the words which are found within these chapters and this end times prophet being bound and shut up in prison for the sake of the word of the LORD, we must also consider the narrative of the apostles of Jesus Christ—which would include the apostle Paul—as they would face continued persecution and opposition from the Jews first, and ultimately from Rome itself. The New Testament book of Acts would begin and would start off with the apostles of Jesus Christ being imprisoned for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ at the hands of the Jews, and then the apostle Paul who would be imprisoned time and again for the same gospel. Consider if you will the following narratives which are found in the New Testament book of Acts which powerfully describe how the apostles of Jesus Christ—these “last days” and “end times” apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ would be imprisoned for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ, and would be persecuted in the days leading up to the devastation and destruction of the city of Jerusalem:

“Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the LORD by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned” (Acts 5:17-26).

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

“Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaterninions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God fro him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the LORD came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw wa vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews” (Acts 12:1-11).

“And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains were gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customers, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, eh drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Belive on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he sat at meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:19-34).

A CITY BESIEGED, A PROPHET IMPRISONED! The more I read the words which are found in this particular portion of Scripture the more I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that in the days of Zedekiah king of Judah the enemy and adversary was not merely some distant reality and some distant possibility, but it had actually become a present reality. That which Jeremiah had prophesied since the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah would actually be manifested within and upon the earth, as Nebuchadrezzar would march up against the city of Jerusalem, and would lay siege to the city. We know that the siege of Jerusalem would last nearly two years, which is actually quite interesting when you think about it, for that meant the enemy and adversary was outside the wall and gates of the city for nearly two years. For roughly two years that which Jeremiah had prophesied concerning would actually be at the front door of the city of Jerusalem, and it would no longer simply be something that might very well be a possibility within the mouth of Jeremiah. What’s more, is that it would be during the days of Jehoiakim that Nebuchadrezzar would first come against Jerusalem, as during those days he would carry away captive the mighty men, the blacksmiths, the men of war, the prophets, the princes, the priests, and all those who were noble within the land. This would also include both the king and the queen who would go out unto him outside the city and surrender themselves before and unto him. When the thirty-second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah opens it does so with the enemy and adversary outside the wall and at the gate, and the prophet of most High God imprisoned within the king’s house. We dare not miss and lose sight of this reality, for it is actually something quite intriguing when you consider the fact that Zedekiah’s sole reason and sole purpose for imprisoning Jeremiah was Zedekiah’s own personal offense—not only with the prophet himself, but also with the message the prophet would speak. OFFENDED WITH THE PROPHET! OFFENDED WITH THE WORD OF THE LORD! It’s actually something quite tellling to think about and consider the fact that Zedekiah woulda actually shut up Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah in the prison because of his own personal offense with the word Jeremiah had spoken unto and concerning him. One thing we know for certain is that Jeremiah held no punches and held nothing back when it came to prophesying and proclaiming the word of the LORD, and spoke exactly what the LORD of hosts instructed and commanded him to speak.

I have previously written how Jeremiah is a tremendous picture of a “last days” and “end times” prophet, and it’s important to recognize and understand that what gives this even further credence and meaning is when you consider the fact that he would not only live to see the fulfillment of that which he had prophesied for more than twenty years, but he would also be imprisoned for the sake of the word of the LORD, and for the sake of the message. What’s more, is that one of the most terrifying indictments of a nation under judgment is the enemy and adversary at the gate and the prophet imprisoned because of the word which they have faithfully brought forth. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that these days which are being written and spoken of here in this particular section of Jeremiah are not only the days leading up to the judgment and wrath of the LORD, but they are actually the days of the wrath and judgment of the LORD. It’s one thing to live in days which lead unto the wrath and judgment of the LORD, however, it is something entirely to live during the days of that wrath and judgment. Jeremiah would live to see the fulfillment of that which he had prophesied concerning the judgment and wrath of the LORD, and when that wrath and judgment actually came upon and was manifested within the nation he would be imprisoned. In all reality, this was something which would be committed during the days of the apostles and the early Church, as you will recall in the book of Acts how the Sanhedrin during those days after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus would not only threaten the apostles, would not only beat the apostles, but would also imprison them. It’s actually quite incredible to think about and consider the fact that despite the apostles being imprisoned in the days of the early Church there were instances of divine intervention and miraculous deliverance among them in their midst. When the apostles were imprisoned early on in the book of Acts we find the angel of the LORD opening up the gates and prison doors that held them in prison, and commanded them to go forth and preach the gospel in the house of the LORD. When the apostle Peter was imprisoned by Herod and secured by four quaternions the angel of the LORD would not only wake Peter out of his slumber in the prison cell, but would also cause the chains and fetters to be loosed from his body, would open the prison door and lead him past all the guards, and would ultimately lead him outside the city and past the gate. In the case of the apostle Paul and Silas we find them singing and giving praise unto the LORD in the midnight hour, an earthquake striking during the night, all the chains and shackles of the prisoners being loosed, and every prison door being opened. Ultimately, Paul and Silas would be led out of the prison by the very man who was commissioned to guard them as he would commit his life to Jesus the Christ—both he and his entire family.

The narrative that is found within chapters thirty-two and thirty-three of this Old Testament passage of Scripture is actually quite alarming and quite telling when you take the time to think about and consider it, for what we find here is the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. It would be at that time, however, Jeremiah would be imprisoned within the court of the prison in the king’s house because of his powerful and unrelenting message and declaration that Nebuchadrezzar would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem, would ultimately break through and capture the city, and that Zedekiah would be given over into his hand. The prophetic word which Jeremiah would speak was not only one of judgment and wrath upon the city of Jerusalem, but also of deliverance, as Zedekiah would be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. As a direct result of the prophetic word Jeremiah prophesied and spoke during those days Zedekiah would take great offense to what was being spoken, and would imprison Jeremiah because of it. The underlying and ultimate question that must be asked is what Zedekiah actually sought to accomplish by imprisoning Jeremiah during those days. It was quite obvious and quite clear that the enemy and adversary was at the door, for the entire Babylonian army would be encamped round about the city of Jerusalem as they would lay siege upon it. For nearly two years the Babylonian army would be encamped round about and outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, and the inhabitants therein would live each day with the constant threat of the enemy and adversary just outside the walls of the city. We know and understand that during that time famine and pestilence would come upon the city, and there would be those who would perish as a direct result of it, however, I can’t help but wonder what it was like to live during those days—not merely physically, but emotionally, mentally, and perhaps even spiritually. I find myself wondering what went through the hearts and minds of all those people who were still present within the city at the time of the siege of Jerusalem, as the entire Babylonian army would be outside the wall and gates of the city threatening to break through at any time. There was not a single person within the city who would know exactly how long the siege would last before the enemy and adversary would march up into the city, and I am convinced it was that uncertainty that would have caused anxiety within the hearts and minds of countless men and women.

I have to admit that I am absolutely and utterly amazed with and by the fact that Zedekiah would hear the word of the LORD which Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah would proclaim in his hearing, and instead of humbling himself before the LORD of hosts would commit a great evil by shutting up Jeremiah in the court of the prison in the king’s house. I can’t help but see a powerful prophetic picture here of the enemy and adversary at the gate of the city, and the judgment and wrath of the LORD being upon a city and/or nation, and the word of the LORD attempting to be confined, bound and shut up by those who have taken offense to its message. I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome and tremendous reality of the days of judgment and wrath being poured out upon a nation—yea, even the earth itself in the coming days—and an attempt to silence and shut up the word of the LORD. During the days of judgment and wrath as described in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah we find Zedekiah attempting to bind, silence and shut up the word of the LORD—perhaps thinking that if Jeremiah was in prison the word of the LORD would and could no longer be proclaimed and spoken. Much to the shock, surprise—perhaps even the horror—of Zedekiah, the word of the LORD would still come unto Jeremiah concerning those days, and concerning the judgment which the LORD was bringing upon the city of Jerusalem. The land had already faced and experienced the judgment and wrath of Babylon as all the defenced cities round about Jerusalem had been captured and taken. At this particular time, and during the days of Zedekiah king of Judah the city of Jerusalem was ultimately that one place within the land of Judah which had not been truly touched and truly affected by the judgment and wrath of the LORD—this despite the fact that there were countless individuals who were taken out of the city of Jerusalem, and out of the land of Judah, and carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans. What I find so absolutely incredible about these chapters is that even though Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison in the king’s house for the word of the LORD which he prophesied, and despite Zedekiah’s attempt to silence the word which would proceed forth out of the mouth of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD would still be manifested in the midst of the land during those days. Despite the fact that Zedekiah had imprisoned Jeremiah in the court of the prison, and had bound him in that place, the word of the LORD would still continue to come and be manifested within the life of Jeremiah.

BUYING FIELDS DURING A TIME OF JUDGMENT! What so intrigues and amazes me about the words and language found in the thirty-second chapter of this prophetic book is that even though these times were times of tremendous judgment and wrath, the word of the LORD would come unto Jeremiah concerning buying the field of his uncle. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the word of the LORD revealing unto Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah that his uncle would come unto him and ask him to buy the field in the midst of the land—perhaps because he saw no value or worth in the field during such days and times of judgment and wrath. Perhaps his uncle could not understand what purpose the field would have served in the midst of such days and times, and as a direct result of this he would come unto Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison and ask him to purchase the field. What we must realize and recognize concerning the purchase of this field is that it would serve as a powerful prophetic witness unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem that there would come a time in the future when houses and fields and vineyards would once more be possessed in the midst of the land. Jeremiah’s purchase of the field would in and of itself carry a tremendous prophetic message unto that generation that although the enemy and adversary was at the gate, and although seventy years of captivity and exile had been decreed, there would come a day when houses, fields and vineyards would once more be possessed in the midst of the land. This is truly something spectacular to think about and consider, for even during times of judgment and wrath upon the city of Jerusalem the word of the LORD would come unto Jeremiah concerning a real estate transaction that would be performed while the enemy and adversary was outside the wall and gates of the city. What’s more, is that not only would this real estate transaction be completed while the enemy and adversary was outside the wall and gates of the city, but also while Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for through Jeremiah’s obedience to the word of the LORD the people would encounter a powerful message of hope for the future—namely, that the people of God would once more possess houses, fields and vineyards in the midst of the land.

What makes the words and language found in the thirty-second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah so intriguing and captivating is when you think about and consider the fact that after Jeremiah had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, he immediately prayed unto the LORD. Jeremiah would begin opening his mouth and declaring how the LORD God made the heaven and the earth by His great power and stretched out arm, and how there is nothing too hard for Him. The LORD showed loving kindness unto thousands, and recompensed the iniquity of the fathers into the bottom of their children after them. Moreover, Jeremiah would go on to declare how the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts is His name, and He is great in counsel, and mighty in work. It is the LORD whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. It was the LORD who set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and made for Himself a name, and brought forth His people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror. It was the LORD who gave the people of Israel the land, which He swore unto their fathers to give them—a land flowing with milk and honey which they came in and possessed. Where the prayer of Jeremiah becomes all the more interesting is when you continue reading how despite the fact the people of Israel came in and possessed the land, they obeyed not the voice of the LORD, neither walked in His low, nor have they done anything of all that He commanded them to do. Jeremiah would then acknowledge that it was because of this rebellion, this wickedness, this transgression before and against the LORD that all the evil has come upon them, and how the mounts are come unto the city to take it, and how the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans which fight against it because of the sword, and the famine, and the pestilence. What’s more, is that Jeremiah would go on to to declare that precisely and exactly what the LORD had spoken He had brought to pass, and has manifested itself in the midst of the land.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but get the strong sense that Jeremiah’s purchase of this filed was a powerful witness and testimony to the preservation of inheritance and possession in the midst of the land. There is a part of me that reads the narrative that is found within this passage of Scripture and sees Jeremiah’s purchase of this field in Anathoth as a portent, a witness, a sign and a testimony unto that generation that although the Chaldeans were outside the wall and gates of the city, and although the city would indeed be given into the hands of the Chaldeans, the LORD would preserve the inheritance of His people in the midst of the land. What good would purchasing a field in the midst of a land that had been utterly consumed by a foreign army and invading force unless there was some deeper meaning and some underlying truth that was found and contained therein? What possible purpose would a purchased field do in the land of Benjamin when the city of Jerusalem was completely and utterly surrounded and on the verge of falling into the hands of the Chaldeans? Oh dear brother, dear sister—I find it truly wonderful and incredible to read this narrative within the life of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah and come face to face with the awesome reality that through the purchase of this field the LORD of hosts was further confirming through His servant Jeremiah that the inheritance and possession of the people of God in the midst of the earth would indeed and would in fact be preserved. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find within the thirty-second chapter is a truly wonderful and powerful picture of the LORD preserving the inheritance and possession as a whole, and then bringing His people back into the land to once more inherit and possess it. I find it absolutely astounding to think about and consider the fact that not only would the LORD preserve the inheritance as a whole within and during those seventy years of captivity and exile, but the LORD would also bring His people back into it to take possession of it, and to inherit it once more. Although they had lived and dwelt in the land of captivity and exile for seventy years they would indeed and would in fact be brought back into the land to possess it.

A PURCHASED FIELD AND A PROPHETIC MESSAGE! THE PROPHETIC MESSAGE OF A PURCHASED FIELD! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome truth surrounding Jeremiah’s purchase of the field, for not only was it done according to the word of the LORD, but Jeremiah would also go on to declare unto the people that houses and fields and vineyards would once more be possessed in the midst of the land. The enemy was at the gate and the adversary was outside the walls, and the judgment and wrath of the LORD was being poured out upon the city of Jerusalem together with the inhabitants therein, and yet the LORD was faithfully preserving and protecting His people in the land of the Chaldeans. You cannot read the words found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not encounter the awesome and wonderful truth that the LORD of hosts would indeed allow His heritage to be spoiled and plundered by an enemy and adversary, and He would allow His people to be carried away as captives and exiles in the midst of a strange and foreign land, however, in spite and in the midst of all of that the LORD would faithfully watch over them for good, as well as would faithfully watch over the land that He might bring them back into the midst thereof. We must see and come face to face with this strong and powerful reality, for while on the surface Jeremiah purchasing a field might not seem like it has any significance, I am absolutely convinced that it is a powerful picture of the preservation of inheritance and possession in the midst of the land. There is not a doubt in my mind that the living and eternal God would faithfully watch over and preserve the land during those seventy years, and would essentially keep it for the appointed time when He would lead His people forth out of the land of their captivity and exile, and would bring them back into the land which was sworn unto their ancestors and forefathers. Please don’t miss the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding this purchasing of a field, for it would stand as a beautiful picture of the divine mercy and grace of the LORD to preserve an inheritance for His people in the midst of the land that they might return and once more be restored unto Him. It would be the living and eternal God that would watch over, preserve and protect the people in the midst of their captivity and exile, and this purchase of a seemingly insignificant field in the land of Anathoth would be a powerful witness and testimony—not only to houses, and fields, and vineyards once more being possessed in the land, but also the preserve the inheritance and possession of the people of God. What an absolutely wonderful and powerful picture it is to find Jeremiah purchasing a field from his uncle in Anathoth, and that purchase would in and of itself serve as a powerful witness and testimony that the land would once more be inhabited and possessed by the people of God.

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