27– And More - the Violence of Prophecy? (2)
activity in history)
this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes
of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet
of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their forefathers, if
only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will
keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them." But the
people did not listen."
(2 Kings 21:7-9)
of Chapter 27
The Context and Complaints of Jeremiah
The Warnings of the Lord
Summary and What Happened
1 - Sins of the Norhern Kingdom
2 - Sins of Manasseh in the Southern Kingdom
the previous chapter we faced the question, “How can you talk about
a God of love when you see His violent assertions in the prophetic
books of the Old Testament, His announcements of violent judgment
on people?” and observed the early chapters of the book of Isaiah
to see the prophetic call that revealed:
's poor spiritual and moral
alternative lifestyle (God's design) offered,
reasoned reconciliation offered,
given if that is refused,
picture given of God's ultimate intent for Jerusalem
as to be a place where believers
from all over the world congregate,
given in that day for those who will remain righteous (a remnant).
saw all this in the context of considering God's plan throughout the
Old Testament which was to raise up a unique people who would
reveal Him to the world , and then to call them back
to Himself again when they drifted from Him . We said that
eventually the northern kingdom, just referred to as Israel
, was eventually swept away by
the Assyrians, never to be reinstated, as God acted as judge, jury
and executioner to bring a judgment on that northern kingdom.
because we focused more on His activity with Judah, dealing with Ahaz
and Hezekiah, we should just make a note that from the very inception
of the northern kingdom it had been based on idolatry (see 1 King
12:26-33) and false worship and remained like this throughout its
existence. Every single king of the northern kingdom, without exception,
was a bad king and never turned Israel
back to right worship. It was
no wonder, therefore that the Lord removed them in 722BC with the
destruction of Samaria ,
the capital of the northern kingdom.
this chapter we propose to start examining the truth behind the assumptions
of our starting question but this time using the book of Jeremiah,
the second of the ‘major' prophetical books. What is staggeringly
clear about the Jeremiah prophecies is the means that God will use
to purge Judah
of sin – a nation from the north.
These chapters are for those who genuinely want to find out what the
Bible actually says. To that end we have, therefore, used many quotes
- and we could have used considerably more! Therefore please bear
with us and take in the power of what comes through in the many Scriptures
in mind all we had said in earlier chapters about God not MAKING people
act as they will, but instead merely stepping back and allowing their
wrong feelings towards Judah
to rise up and motivate them
to move against Judah .
This may be God's intent but He used human wrong attitudes to bring
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The Context and Complaints of Jeremiah
prophesied from the thirteenth year of King Josiah, 627BC, through
to the destruction of Jerusalem
and the final groups being carried
into exile in 587BC. He is the main prophet, therefore, who spoke
to Judah and its kings before they were eventually carried into exile.
“Would a God of love, have put the people through such as terrible
experience?” the questioner might now ask. To answer this we need
to note the various elements of Jeremiah's prophecies.
God's purpose in creating Israel
and constantly drawing them
back to Himself was to reveal Himself to them, and reveal His design
for them and for mankind, to show an alternative good lifestyle that
was not based on superstitious, occultic fear – as so many other nations
had – but on His love and goodness. They were thus to be a light to
the rest of the world, revealing Him to His world – see chapter 9
of this book.
Jeremiah's time the northern kingdom, as we noted above, was gone.
Indeed through Jeremiah, the Lord reminded the present people of this
and why it had happened:
the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, "Have you seen
what faithless Israel
has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading
tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had
done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful
sister Judah saw it. I gave faithless Israel
her certificate of divorce and sent her away
because of all her adulteries.
was just a reminder of what had happened and should now be seen in
the light of His complaints against Judah
. In the early chapters the following
complaints against Judah
Forsaking God and turning to idols
will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness
in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping
what their hands have made .
Forsaking God and relying on their own wisdom
people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring
of living water, and have dug their own cisterns , broken cisterns
that cannot hold water.
Forsaking God and relying on other nations
why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Shihor? And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the River (&
Forsaking God and not learning from what happened to Israel
immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed
adultery with stone and wood. In spite of all this , her unfaithful
did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,"
declares the LORD.
aside: As with all
prophecy there is some hope for the future :
those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,"
declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, `The ark of the covenant
of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it
will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they
will call Jerusalem
The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem
to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness
of their evil hearts.
the end plan is that Jerusalem
will be the place where God is known
to dwell and to rule, and so
people from all over the world will
seek Him there,
returning to ‘the design' and forsaking
their godless and unrighteous lives.
see also 15:19
for present repentance bringing
see also 16:15
a first promise of restoration
Forsaking the Lord so no one is righteous any more
up and down the streets of Jerusalem
look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find
but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive
we come to chapter 7. we will see in detail their specific wrongs
and it would be a foolish person who tried to defend those things.
They perverted the Truth
have lied about the LORD; they said, "He will do nothing! No
harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.
Reliance on the existence of the Temple
not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of
the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!"
was THE central focal point for the presence of the Lord, and so while
it stood (and they could never imagine God allowing it to be destroyed)
they considered they were safe. The Temple
thus acted as a talisman in
Refusal to Listen to the Lord's servants
the time your forefathers left Egypt
until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the
prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were
stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.'
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The Warnings from the Lord
has always amazed me about Jeremiah and Judah
and the Exile, was the
number of times that clear words of warning came . He has
made clear His complaints; let's now see some of the warnings that
raise questions about a ‘loving God', warnings of judgment that brings
destruction. Focus more on the number of warnings and remember God's
intention was NOT that they be destroyed but that they be reconciled
to Him and restored to the glory they had known during the reigns
of say David and Solomon. So, let's consider these warnings:
Warnings of a Coming Judgment
LORD said to me, "From the north disaster will be poured out
on all who live in the land. I am about to summon all the peoples
of the northern kingdoms," declares the LORD.
the signal to go to Zion
Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the
north, even terrible destruction." A lion has come out of his
lair; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to
lay waste your land. Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant.
this to the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem
`A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry
against the cities of Judah
They surround her like men guarding a field, because she has rebelled
against me,' " declares the LORD
is what the LORD says: "The whole land will be ruined, though
I will not destroy it completely.
house of Israel
declares the LORD, "I am bringing a distant nation against you--
an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not
know, whose speech you do not understand. They will devour your harvests
and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks
and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will
destroy the fortified cities in which you trust.
for safety, people of Benjamin! Flee from Jerusalem
Sound the trumpet in Tekoa! Raise the signal over Beth Hakkerem! For
disaster looms out of the north, even terrible destruction. I will
destroy the Daughter of Zion
so beautiful and delicate.
we don't lose ourselves with too many quotes at a time, let's summarise
what these early quotes so far have said:
God is going to bring judgment in
the form of armies from the north
They will come and completely devastate
the land, although not completely
will be destroyed.
is very simple and obvious. Six times in these first six chapters,
so far, the warning has been there – but the judgment hasn't yet come
and it's not yet too late:
warning, O Jerusalem
or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate
so no one can live in it."
more, what the Lord wants is made clear:
is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask
for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
ancient paths? They are God's original design that we referred to
so many times in the previous chapters
brings judgment and purpose together yet again. It comes as an appeal
for the whole world to see and understand:
O earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their
schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have
rejected my law.
have refused the design and therefore they will fail to be that light
to the rest of the world that we referred to, failing to reveal God
as He really is. And so the warnings continue:
is what the LORD says: "Look, an army is coming from the land
of the north; a great nation is being stirred up from the ends of
the earth…. they come like men in battle formation to attack you,
O Daughter of Zion
Focus on the Wrongs of the Nation
we reach chapter 7 of Jeremiah , we find the Lord
requires him to stand at the entrance of the Temple
and speak out a prophecy. It
hope (this destruction can be avoided))
purpose (what is needed is made
warning (this is implied but clear)
is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel
and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. (A
Do not trust
in deceptive words
and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD,
the temple of the LORD!" (A
If you really
and your actions
with each other justly, if you (2)
do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and (3)
do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you (4)
do not follow other gods to your own harm ,
then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave
your forefathers for ever and ever. Will you (5)
adultery and (8)
incense to Baal and (10)
other gods you have not known ,
(a list of specific wrongs)
remember the point we are making again and again: God, in His concern
for His people, is warning them again and again and again of what
will happen if they continue to live as a pagan nation. Their
wrongs - to be given up – are made abundantly clear. I have numbered
them! Ten things that are obviously very wrong, ten things most honest,
rational people would agree are wrong.
is what was going on in this nation that had been expressly brought
into being to reveal the goodness of the design of God for mankind,
so that the world might understand more of His nature. How far from
this they had gone.
we had a child that had strayed completely away from the standards
we had taught it, and after constant pleadings it still refused to
heed us, we would probably have given up on it by now – but God didn't!
There are lots more warning yet to come!
‘clarified warnings' occur again and again, for example:
you tell these people all this and they ask you, `Why has the LORD
decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done?
What sin have we committed against the LORD our God?' then say to
them (here is the clear reason from the distant
past first) ,
`It is because your fathers forsook me,' declares
the LORD, `and followed other gods and served and worshiped them.
They forsook me and did not keep my law. (and
here is the clear reason from the present, second)
you have behaved more wickedly than your fathers.
See how each of you is following the stubbornness of his evil heart
instead of obeying me. (so this is what will happen
as a consequence) So
I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you
nor your fathers have known, and there you will serve other gods day
and night, for I will show you no favor.'
who really understands what we are seeing here, can never question
God's love! His concern and ongoing expressions of it, testify to
that love again and again. Failure to be concerned for them would
be an indication of absence of love! But again and again He tries
to draw them back from the way they are living
this is what the Sovereign LORD says: My anger and my wrath will be
poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field
and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched.
will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices
of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah
and the streets of Jerusalem
for the land will become desolate
snorting of the enemy's horses is heard from Dan; at the neighing
of their stallions the whole land trembles. They have come to devour
the land and everything in it, the city and all who live there."
will make Jerusalem
a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will lay waste the towns
no one can live there."
will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their fathers
have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have destroyed
9:22, 10:18, 11:11,16,17,22, 12:7, 10-12, 13:9, 15:1-4,8,9, 16:4,6,13,
17:4, 18:11 etc.
note, even in the midst of this come words of comfort :
blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in
him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its
roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves
are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never
fails to bear fruit."
glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary
at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted,
torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of
its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I
Clarity of the Warnings
are never any grounds In Jeremiah for saying, “But we didn't know!”
This isn't God just threatening; this is the Lord showing very clearly
the grounds for His displeasure and making it very clear how they
can avoid the impending judgment.
is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel
says: Listen! (What
I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears
of everyone who hears of it tingle. (Why
it is coming) (1)
For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; (2)
they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their
fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and (3)
they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. (4)
They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the
fire as offerings to Baal--something I did not command or mention,
nor did it enter my mind.
the reasons above: 2 is an extension or explanation of 1, 4 is an
extension or explanation of 3.
we could carry on through Jeremiah and see more and more and more
of these warnings, but perhaps we have stretched the grace of most
people already with so many references. We just wanted to make the
point. To conclude this chapter may we simply summarise the main points
we had made so far, and then see just what happened in history.
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A Summary & What Happened to Judah
plan was to bless and guide and protect Israel
and through that to reveal
Himself to the rest of the world.
- He had given them His law to enable
them to live in peace and harmony, yet for that to be effective
it had to be as an expression of their love for Him – and He had
given them plenty of reasons to love Him.
- Through the course of their history
they had been given plenty of opportunities to learn that when they
went with Him, life was good, but when they turned away from Him
and went their own way, they became weak and vulnerable to enemy
attack and were dominated by enemy oppressors.
- Even when they turned from Him,
He sent prophets to call them back, but mostly they rejected them.
several centuries having worshipped idols and refusing to turn back
to God ,
the northern kingdom, were destroyed by invaders from the north
, the southern kingdom had
seen all these and often lived in relationship with God and were
blessed, but nevertheless they still often strayed from God into
687 Manasseh became king of Judah
and you can read of the awfulness
of his reign (which lasted for 55 years) in 2 Kings 21.
- He was followed by his son, Amon
, (2 Kings 21:19) and was virtually as bad as his father
but he only reigned two years before he was assassinated.
was followed by Josiah who was mostly a good king
(2 Kings 22-24) and because of that Judah
were spared during his reign.
son, Jehoahaz , followed him for a few months,
was a bad king, before he was taken prisoner to Egypt
by the king of Egypt
and there he died. The king
put his brother, renamed Jehoiakim , in charge
where he reigned for eleven years, another bad king.
his reign Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon
invaded for the first time
and took Daniel and other leaders to Babylon
. Jehoiakim eventually died
and his son Jehoiachin took over, was a bad king
and after three months Nebuchadnezzar returned in 597 and took Jerusalem
and carried off many of the Jews including Jehoiachin and the prophet
Ezekiel, and left Zedekiah in charge until he
rebelled and in 587BC Nebuchadnezzar returned and utterly destroyed
Jerusalem and took it's inhabitants into exile in Babylon.
- Jeremiah prophesied through the
reigns of “ Josiah
son of Amon king of Judah (see Jer 3:6),
and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah
king of Judah (see Jer 25:1, 26:1, 35:1, 36:1,), down
to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah
son of Josiah king of Judah (see Jer 27:1, 37:1,2),
when the people of Jerusalem went
into exile.” (Jer 1:2,3)
Awfulness of Manasseh
you read 2 Kings 21 (see also Appendix 2 below), you will see the
extent of the established idol worship by Manasseh. Now what is amazing,
is that the Lord allowed him to reign for 55 years. During that time
God sent prophets with a very strong word of judgment, a word of complete
destruction of Jerusalem .
Kings 21:10-15 The
LORD said through his servants the prophets: "Manasseh king of
has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the
Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah
into sin with his idols. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God
says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem
that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch
out over Jerusalem
the measuring line used against Samaria
and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out
as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will
forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their
enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because
they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from
the day their forefathers came out of Egypt
until this day."
the fact that that judgment did not come for at least another 50 years,
is surely a sign of the Lord giving opportunity after opportunity
for the nation (and its king) to repent, especially under Josiah,
yet it is clear that the tendency towards idol worship was so ingrained
in Judah, that even that reign did not re-establish them and the subsequent
kings were not faithful to God.
we should also remember is that the Exile did NOT mean the death of
most of the nation and did not mean the end of the nation. The first
of the exiles to return came within about forty years of the destruction
and as promised by God. His intention, in the long-term, was clearly
to rid the nation of its idolatry and unrighteousness and to restore
it to be the people of God. Yes, as other prophets showed, even after
the exile they lapsed into complacency and half-heartedness when it
came to their relationship with the Lord and Malachi's famous word
from God, “I hate divorce” was in fact in respect of that relationship
and His determination not to reject this nation. Yes, there was over
four hundred years of silence, but Israel
were still in existence when,
albeit under the domination of Rome
, the nation would provide the
background of the Son of God coming from heaven.
was there that gap between God's last words to Israel
through His prophets and the
coming of His Son? No answer is given in Scripture but evangelist
and writer Michael Green gives a number of reasons why the world circumstances
made that time just right, and goes as far as to say, “The spread
of Christianity would have been inconceivable had Jesus been born
half a century earlier.” (Michael Green – Evangelism in the Early
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illustration of the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah shows the Lord
again and again and again
to face their apostasy and turn away from it
- warning them of the consequences
if they did not.
clarity of those calls and consequences left the nation with no excuse.
The numbers of times that those calls came, and the long period of
time that judgment was deferred speaks of the Lord's patience and
forbearance, giving the nation opportunity after opportunity to repent
and turn back to Him and to His design for them, for His blessing
to flow in their lives – but they didn't.
study reveals the absolute foolishness of mankind, but the grace and
love and forbearance of God. NEVER say that was capricious or tetchy
or any of the other foolish things that the crusading atheists say
about God. He is the picture of one seeking to bring goodness and
blessing to mankind, in the face of their obstinate folly!
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1 to this chapter: The sins of the Northern Kingdom seen in 2 Kings
these verses are full of condemnation of Israel
and explain the reasons for
the ending of the northern kingdom, the following table may highlight
practices of Canaanites
the wrong practice introduced by Jeroboam
built high places of false worship
up sacred stones & Asherah poles to worship
incense to idols
not trust in God
pagan nations doing forbidden things
two golden calves and worshipped them
and worshipped an Asherah pole
their sons and daughters
established was this pagan idolatry that there was no hope that they
would ever become again God's light to the nations, and hence their
demise in 722BC.
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2 to this chapter: The sins of Manasseh in the Southern Kingdom seen
in 2 Kings 21
the pagan ‘high places'
altars to Baal
an Asherah pole
altars in the Temple
to worship gods of the sky
sacrificed his own son in the fire,
practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and
the Asherah pole in the Temple
much innocent blood
so established was this pagan, occultic idolatry that only the severest
of measures could rid it from the remaining southern kingdom to enable
them to be God's light to the world, and hence the destruction of
Jerusalem in 587BC and the accompanying exile of the people of Judah.
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