Unharnassed; No Boundaries

Do we ever stop to think what our lives would be without boundaries, without rules, without laws? It is as though we think they hinder our freedom; provoke us to evil or something. Car commercials have spoken about going outside the boundaries – usually referring to driving off road – and if they are equiqqed for it, then in a car, I would say, “Go for it.” However, for people, boundaries, lines, and laws give us definition, purpose, and direction.

How does it look for little children who are learning to use crayolas, and a coloring book, and they get out of the lines? We will make over a one or two year old who uses their “skills” and it is cute to watch them take the different colors, and do their best, and they will always get wild and out of the lines. We tell them how good they have done, but the only thing that gives us a clue as to what they have colored is the lines under the coloring. When a child gets a little older we expect more from them, and expect them to color within the lines, and use good colors for the article, as they get older there should be no more coloring outside the lines.

Are harnesses and boundaries necessary in a free society? Most definitely. They are even more necessary in a free society. Israel was a theocratic government meaning God our Creator was the Sovereign ruler of the nation. They were to follow the laws, commandments, statutes, word, ordinances, testimonies, and precepts of God which had been given them through Moses, the priests and the prophets. There is no country on earth that I know of who does not have laws. These laws, whether they are just or unjust are for the people to follow for their protection.

The prophet Jeremiah was grieved by the treachery of the leadership of Judah; from the prophets, priests and the kings. They had forsaken God, His laws, His word, and had began following foreign gods which are not gods (v. 7). Jeremiah addresses the leadership of Judah:

“I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased. How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Jeremiah 5:5-9 (KJV)

The “yoke” is what was used for the oxen for plowing the field, pulling a cart, and other farm work. It was a means by which the farmer controlled the oxen, to plow a straight line, and to bring the oxen back to the barn for their safe keeping. We see a picture here of the leadership of Judah having broke the laws of God that was there to give them guidance, direction, and difinition; and leaving them at the mercy of the surrounding enemy. One of the greatest things we can see in this picture is that God loves His children. However when God’s children break His law, His words, His commandments; they step outside the area of God’s protection and provision, and providence.

The oxen that breaks its yoke and is “free” is at the mercy of the “…lion out of the forest…”, and the “…wolf of the evenings..” and the speedy “leopard” watching over them. As the farmer would desparately try to round up the oxen, bring them back to the barn/stable; so God pleads with with His people to return to Him putting away all the evil of their hearts.

Can we not hear the heart of God as He pleads with the leadership of Judah, “Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses”? God had blessed Israel and Judah for many years, and they turn against Him; forsake Him, and turn to other gods which are not gods at all, but mere pieces of wood, stone, or jewels, or precious metals. They have turned from worshipping the Creator to worshipping the creation.

It is sad to realize that when God had blessed Judah so abundantly that their hearts grew cold toward God, His Word, His prophets, and faithful priests. As the heart grows cold toward God; cravings, desires for other things begin to affect the mind and heart. God shows that blessing without harnesses, laws, boundaries; if you will; leads to ungodly deeds, and is rebellion against God. Blessed minds without following the law of God will end with a heart as a “lusty stallion” (v. 8 NKJV, ESV). Adulterous minds, and hearts prevailed in the leadership of that day progressing into the very act of adultery with a house of prostitution.

The horse that is still a stallion goes after every mare that he senses, and is hard to control. These leaders were as those stallions when it came to their positions of power; it was as though it was due them. No man’s wife was off limits in their thinking, and it almost seems that there are some religious leaders like that today [2009].

We should consider it a great, awesome, mighty, and wonderful think to have a visit from God – “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD”. This visit was not one that we should want or desire. It is somewhat like the father visiting the son in his bedroom following a day of causing Mom problems. That boy would just as soon be out of the house when Dad gets home.

The heart of the child of God longs for the visit of the LORD when He will come with arms outstretched welcoming us into His presence. We should be thankful for those visits which are as the one above when He comes to chastise us. His coming to chastise us proves that we are His children (Hebrews 12:6-8); His coming to visit Judah with all the enemies around them was evidence of His great love for this chosen people.

When we live in faithfulness to God, His Word, and His Son Jesus Christ then, we have the great blessing of our worship in Him, and great pleasure to His name and glory. There is only one way into the pleasure and glory of God and that is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled all the requirements of righteousness. When we sin we have an Advocate with the Father (1 John 1:9-2:1), and we are cleansed from all our sin.

Let’s walk, live and die in His blessings. Let’s be faithful to Him in all that we do. We do it through the power of Christ within us, ie., the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself is our Harness, and our Boundary. And we are free from sin and its bondage.

-Tim A. Blankenship

As The LORD Lives…

The previous verse one we see that the call goes out to “Run…through the streets of Jerusalem…”, to seek for anyone who “executes judgment, who seeks the truth”, and if there is anyone then “I will pardon her”, God says. This takes us to the second verse:

“Though they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ surely they swear falsely” Jeremiah 5:2 (NKJV).

The phrase “As the LORD lives” is one which the prophets often used to proclaim divine oracles, or by people swearing oaths. This was a city and a land which made great promises to God, and refused to believe that God would judge a nation, a city as Jerusalem, or its temple which was the “abiding place of God” for the people. The priests and people of Judah seemed not to view the LORD in any greater capacity than they did the gods the surrounding nations worshipped.

Due to this unbelief; this pluralistic thought; God holds them in contempt of the Laws of His name. The arrogance of the hearts of men and women of that day against the LORD was very similar to many of today.

To think that we could go to church or worship in any place and appease God for all our sin is at the height of arrogance, when we know that God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins on the cross. To think that being baptized could appease the wrath of God against sin comes from the pride of a rebellious heart. To believe that to break the bread or drink the Lord’s cup would appease the judgment of God for sin is against the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These things are for the genuine believer, and can never put away our sins; can never atone for sin.

The LORD lives; there is no doubt about that. Since we believe that, genuinely, then we must genuinely believe Him and follow Him and believe and practice the principles, testimonies, ordinances, laws, judgments, words, statutes, commandments of His Word. Just attaching His name on the end of prayer does not mean that it is prayed in His name; and just because you may attach His name to a sermon, or speech, does not mean that sermon or speech is of God or from His Word.

These people of Jeremiah’s day would speak in the name of the LORD, then lived their lives after the fashion of the surrounding nations. They were still worshipping God on the Sabbath, per se, and the rest of the week they worshipped the gods of the nations, either by practice or by neglecting the LORD.

We don’t do that: do we? It happens far, far too many times. Be sure when you use the LORD’s name it is in reverence, and in worship of Him whose name is reverend and holy –

“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” Psalms 111:9 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sorrow of Heart

We have all at one time or another, and maybe more times than not experienced SORROW OF HEART. What have we experience this for? Our financial condition? Our health? The health of a friend or relative? A family problem or situation, etc.? Have we ever really experienced SORROW OF HEART for the spiritual conditon of our nation, our family, or friends? Probably not as often as we should have.
Jeremiah experienced sorrow for his people. They had drifted away from God and in some things, just flat out rejected God, His Word, His prophets, and His law. They had decided that the Law of God was a reproach to them (See chapter 6). Have you ever heard anyone say something like this, “If it taste good, looks good, smells good, sounds good or feels good; its wrong”. That is really just a snide comment against God and His Word. God spells out clearly in His Word what is right and what is wrong, and these are based on His right and wrong. There are some things which are right or wrong in their time and place. For example; God has decreed that the “Marriage bed is undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), so the right time for the marriage act is with one’s spouse following the wedding, and it is right and good. It is wrong, however, to assume the marriage bed without the benefit of marriage – one man and one woman; that too is clearly defined by Scriptures.
The only reason the word of God could be a “reproach” is because one wants to live their life free of any boundaries. You and yours and everyone around you will be the ones your actions will affect.
Hear the words of the prophet:

“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22 (NKJV)

When people begin departing from the LORD after they have received the knowledge of Him, their path is always downward. They may have a great education, a great job, a marvelous house in which to live. They may have all that is necessary for living in this life, but without God, they are perishing.
The prophet is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts. God is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts and lives. God even says, “My people are foolish…” How can anyone who has ever truly known God depart from God, never return? They are educated but not in God. God goes on and says, “They are silly children…”. God sees those who believe and trust Him as His children, and we are; however, we are silly children when we choose to do our own thing, and get away from our Father.
The prophet Hosea said,

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

The prophet Hosea continues,

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

Is it any wonder that people turn away from the LORD when they do not care to read, study, and apply His Word to their lives? The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision the people perish” Proverbs 29:18, or as the NKJV records it, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” When the Word of God grows cold in your life, so will your love for God, righteousness, and holiness.

People who refuse God, His Word, and His revelation are “wise to do evil”, should we all not rather be wise to do that which is good and godly; and that is doing all that we do for the glory of the LORD. Personal attention, or popularity, or power, and/or prestige is out of the picture when all we are seeking is the glory of the LORD.

Being wise to do good will end a whole lot of mess in relationships. Families, churches, communities, countries, and the world will be a better place when the glory of the LORD is everyone’s goal.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rebellions Consequences

The prophet hears and knows that judgment is coming. His heart is for his people, for God’s people. One of the sad things about God’s judgment that many find unjust is that the “innocent” suffer the consequences along with the “guilty”. Think of the flood of Noah’s day; there were babies who had never sinned, though they were born sinners, like all of us; yet these died in the flood. Another point is the faith of Caleb and Joshua when they had viewed the Promised Land their faith said, “God is able. Let’s take the land”. The unbelieving said, “There are giants in the land” and the majority ruled. Then Caleb and Joshua suffered the punishment along with the unbelieving. They too wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
One of the things you and I can learn from that is; our sins do not just hurt us, they affect others too.
Jeremiah writes:
O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim: ‘Make mention to the nations, Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field they are against her all around. Because she has been rebellious against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches your heart.’ Jeremiah 4:15-18 (NKJV)

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), and it was obvious to the prophet Jeremiah, that the heart of the people of the Southern kingdom of Judah was in the same condition as that of the Northern kingdom when the armies of king Nebuchadnezzar came swooping down with the speed of the leopard upon them, carrying them away captive. This is what the prophet saw happening to Judah as well.

We must know that a divided heart is a sinful, rebellious, self-absorbed, godless heart. The lips which proclaim a faith in God while giving allegiance to things; material gain, family, government dependence, self dependence, etc.; is a full hypocrite, pretentious, and gives no allegiance to God, who alone deserves our undivided faith, and allegiance. There will be occasions when the genuine believer will doubt, fear, and not believe; however they do not dwell there for long. The heart of the genuine believer will come back to the place of faith, return to the Lord and glorify His name, glory and grace.

The voice coming from Dan and from Ephraim are the events which has happened to them concerning their judgment. They have been conquered because their evil hearts. Jerusalem and all of Judah cannot continue to live in sin and rebellion against God, thinking we have the temple, it is God’s temple, He won’t allow anything happen to His temple. Such arrogance and pride is doomed to fall. Thinking; “I am a child of God, therefore God will not cause the judgment that falls on the immoral unbeliever, to fall on me” is a dreadfully deceptive notion.

Hear the voices that come from others. The Christians who are imprisoned because of their crimes against another, they are paying for their sins. Christians who have disease because of a sinful lifestyle they once lived; which could have been prior to or following salvation. There are consequences to sin; for the Christian and the non-Christian.

Because of rebellion and a continued refusal to repent these judgments are coming on the children of God. The wickedness of the heart is known by the All-Knowing God. He will not hold guiltless those who are guilty. The sin of the guilty will also fall on the guiltless and the innocent.

Why is it that there are some people who think, “Well, it is my sin, my action, I will take responsibility for it,” by going ahead and doing it, and say, “It won’t hurt anyone but me”. My how deceived we can become when we get into sinful living. Our sins affect everyone around us. Even the “innocent” pay for our sins.

The sin of the heart is a bitter thing. The heart is where we gain the capacity of love, mercy and grace. It is the place we hold those things and people who are dear to us. The heart given to God holds Him dearest, closest, and trust solely in Him for life, living and eternity. The heart given to God loves all that is godly and good. Loves all there is to know about God, His Son Jesus Christ. If you do not know His Son and love Him; you do not know God and/or love Him (John 5:22-23; 8:42).

How is your heart today? Is there any pretention or hypocrisy which is directing your heart away from God? Is there desire in your heart turning you away from God, redirecting the main focus to something, someone other than God and His Son? Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). When your heart is full of evil thoughts, and imaginations it will be speaking and doing and thinking those evil deeds. When your heart is full of God will you not be speaking the things of God? Most certainly.

Fill your heart with God, and God will come out in your speech and your life. Even when you end up in the judgment of God due to the sins of others, you will still grow in faith, love and knowledge and wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Dry Wind

“At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘ A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness toward the daughter of My people–Not to fan or to cleanse– A wind too strong for these will come for Me; Now I will also speak judgment against them. Behold, he shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are plundered!” Jeremiah 4:11-13 (NKJV).

The prophet continues to warn of coming judgment if there is no true repentance. The heart of God is grieved, and the heart of the prophet grieves as well. He does not speak these words with glee as a child rejoices in a new gift, or a teen rejoices in receiving a new car; or an adult male who has just gotten married and is going on the honeymoon. The prophet is practically in a begging mode, as to say please repent before the judgment comes.

Jeremiah is known as the “‘Weeping prophet”, because of verses like chapter nine verse one. We will look at that later, but we can tell this man’s heart is broken for his people. It does grieve the man or woman of God when they see judgment coming on the people and the people don’t see, or want to see it, and they refuse to repent.

The judgment that was coming was like a dry desert storm, a sand storm, coming relentlessly, and anything that got in its way would be devastated; and it was coming toward the people of God, “My people…” (v. 11). This storm that was coming was not to provide a refreshing breeze to blow away chaff from wheat, nor for cleansing. This was for judgment. In this storm, with this storm would be such strong winds that it is too strong to stand against, because it is for the name of the LORD; “These will come for Me;” and it is the voice of God who is proclaiming judgment, because of their hardened and cold hearts toward Him.

The one Jeremiah refers to as coming “…up like clouds…” is Nebuchadnezzar, and his military might, coming with great speed, and power. It almost seems that the Nebuchadnezzar and his force was almost right outside the city, and if not they were coming with great speed and would be to Jerusalem very soon. When the watchman sounds the warning, there is little time for repentance; it is time, however for repentance. The prophet describes the horses of the king of Babylon as being “swifter than eagles”. The description of the coming is almost as though it had already taken place, yet it is a future event, but not to distant future.. Notice the prophet’s words, “Woe to us, for we are plundered.” They have waited to long to repent to avert the judgment. It is, however, never too late to repnt and receive the cleansing, forgiveness and favor of God.

We live in a world, especially the United States of America, where no one ever sees the judgment of God. Some frown on the thought that AIDS could be the judgment of God upon our nation, and the world because of the “innocent who suffer from it”. Babies, the spouse who was infected due to an unfaithful spouse, a bad blood transfusion all considered to be the “innocent ones”. I wonder how many babies, and innocent spouses died in the flood? God is righteous and just, and He can judge however He chooses, and still be righteous and just in doing so. I myself, am not pleased with what is happening in the State of California, but with the allowance of marriages between same sex couples, I find it to be God’s judgment that there have been hundreds of fires started the week following the States verdict, were started by lightning. Not only that but there have also been a few earthquakes. God is not judging??? What about the floods in the midwest, and the thousands of acres of farmland that is under water??? What about the tornadoes that has touched many lives, homes, cities, and States??? A Dry Wind dries things out, and makes them right for burning. At the time of this writing there is a real “dry storm” brewing on the coast of California, and they need some wet rain. Lord, “In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2.

God is calling for the repentance of His Church, His people; and for His people to be faithful in proclaiming His Word. If you are a Christian, you are a watchman. That requires faithful attention to the judgments of God. If God’s people are blind to them, we can never expect the unrighteous to repent. God’s judgment is coming, it is already here, and it is real. God is patiently awaiting, but for not much longer.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Deluded, Deceived and Destroyed

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem,’ saying, ‘You shall have peace,’ whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” Jeremiah 4:10 (NKJV).

Like the majority of the people Jeremiah wanted peace. He was probably hoping for peace, even heard the false prophets, and thought how wonderful that would be for God to protect them from the coming invasion of the “Lion and company”. God will allow us to believe in lies of deception if we prefer that over the truth. Nevertheless, it is still inevitable that evil will come, and there will be no peace. God does not deceive, nor does He approve of lies and deception, but when He sees the heart of people given to lies, then He will use the deception and lies to carry out His divine will.

Peace is not possible when there is no peace with God. The lies of the false prophets of things getting better. No judgment is going to come on us. We are in a time of extraordinary blessing, not of judgment. There is a great and enormous wealth coming to the Church. Lies, lies, lies. In my heart and mind I long for those things to come to pass, but by the condition of the hearts of the people of God; they are in fact lies and deception.

A man, woman or a nation who believes they are at peace with God while living in immorality, and debauchery are deceived and lying to themselves. A man, woman or a nation that is given to the tolerance of alcoholism, drunkenness, and profiting from it is not at peace with God, and if they think so are deceiving and lying to themselves. Any business man, bank president, loan company manager, or national leader who belives they are at peace with God, while taking advantage of the poor, with housing foreclosures, and higer interest rates than the priviledged, are deceiving and lying to themselves.

Jeremiah was really horrified by the judgment he knew God was sending on Jerusalem. He could not keep silent. The prophet of God must speak the truth of the Word of God. What the feelings and the heart wants is not sufficient. Hope without promise is no hope. Hope based on feelings, or personal desire is merely wishful thinking.

“4:10 deceived. Like Habakkuk (1:12-17), Jeremiah was horrified at these words of judgment, contrasting the prevailing hope of peace. God is sometimes described as if doing a thing He merely permits, such as allowing false prophets who delude themselves to also deceive a sinful people into thinking peace would follow (cf. 6:14; 8:11; 1Kin. 22:21-24). God sees how people insist on their delusions, and lets it happen.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note, p. 1068 NKJV.

O, how deceived people can be and often are today. A man in Florida says he heals in the name of Jesus Christ, but kicks an old man in the head, because, “that is what God told” him to do. And, people ask is this of God? Why do we need to ask? The mere fact that people will believe such only shows what is said above to be true. People will believe what they want to believe, even when it is a lie.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Astonished and Wondered

For sometime Jeremiah had prophesied that judgment was coming if there was no repentance. Now it was “At the door”, and the priests and the prophets – the false ones – were going to be “Astonished and Wondered” about what was coming on them. They were in darkness. They could not see the wrath and judgment of God. They could not hear the message of God’s Word. They were themselves in the darkness of the people.

“The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, without inhabitant. For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, Lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD, ‘That the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets wonder.” Jeremiah 4:7-9 (NKJV)

The lion here, of course, is reference to Babylon, and that fits because archealogical pictures show the Babylonian symbol of power was a winged lion, at the royal palace, and in the city around it. The lion has been waiting for such an oppportunity to come and invade this proud and idolatrous people. The lion is an animal of stealth. The male, of course works off of fear. In the New Testament we have these words spoken, “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1 Peter 5:8). Nebuchadnezzar was a destroyer of nations, and none could stand against him, even God’s people, due to their idolatry and lack of repentance.

Nebuchadnezzar was coming toward Jerusalem, and he would leave it desolate, laid waste, and without any inhabitant. The people of Jerusalem were thinking that Jeremiah could not be right. “This was, after all, God’s city; with God’s temple, and God’s people. He would not allow it to be overthrown, defeated and left in such a way”. Had not God promised that the kingdom of David was an everlasting kingdom?

False security rest in immoral hearts who are not trusting in the Lord, living as they please, and believe that God cannot judge them because of His promises. Can we not see that He judges His people, His children because of the promises made. True security rest in the morality of a cleansed heart and forgiveness that causes the forgiven to live holy lives for the glory of the LORD. It is not a matter of commandment or law, except that law of God that is written in the heart of the child of God.

Jeremiah calls for their repentance. Time and time again he calls for repentance; “…clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail…” was a call for humility before God, recognizing one’s sinfulness, and need of mercy and grace. Where is the call for repentance for the children of God today. As Christians we claim to be the children of God, people of God, the Bride of Christ, the Church, the Body of Christ; and yet there is little to no lamentation, or mourning, or weeping. There is no sorrow over our sins, little lone the sins of a lost and wicked world.
Some have asked and are asking is God judging America? It seems this question is being asked especially with the overwhelming flooding of our country, hurricanes, tornadoes, and crop devastation due to such. The answer to the question is YES! It started when we began tolerating sexual immorality. The judgment started with homosexuality becoming an excepted practice. Hear what Paul the apostle says,

“For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion. And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, disputes, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die —they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” Romans 1:21-32 (HCSB).

This judgment is due to a departure from the Living God to worship things, self-worship; magnifying the created over the Creator. Because of this God gives them up to their depraved minds, and look at what follows. Men with men, women with women. That is the judgment of God on the United States of America, the world and all who will stand and be advocates for evil. Unless there is a mass repentance, and soon, there is no hope for America to stand as the free nation that it once was. God is sending a foreign power to take us, and it may not be by force, but by a religious power through our democracy. Then, child of God, we will be under the rule of a government that hates Christ, and the true God, and those who follow Him.

The anger of the LORD never turns away from us. The LORD is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11), and yet He is merciful. There are going to be those who will say, “Well this prophecy is for the nation of Israel/Judah. It is not for America and the Church of our Lord Jesus.” They are correct, however, Paul the apostle tells us that these Old Testament writings are for an example for us; “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:6 (KJV) and “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 (KJV). It would be good for you to read all of chapter 10 to get the full extent of what Paul is speaking of. We are to learn from the sins of the nation of Israel.

The leaders of the nation would fear greatly the roar of the lion of Babylon. He has a track record of victory, and of being mean, vicious, and quite arrogant. We can rest assured that God will win.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Break Up Your Hard Ground

There have been times when a farmer has plans for a piece of ground for a certain crop. He goes and plows the ground, spends several hours doing it, and maybe a day or two, depending on the size of the piece of land, and the mode of power for plowing. Something happens; maybe too much rain, a family emergency, or just other duties come into play; and the ground goes neglected. That ground may have been plowed, harrowed, completely ready for seed, fertilizer, and all necessary preparations, but it goes neglected.

For a year maybe even two, or more, that ground lays there, growing grass, weeds, thorns -weeds and throns are mostly what will grow on “fallow ground”. “Fallow ground” is what that land has become. There is no good fruit coming from this land. It really has no beauty to it. It has become hardened and needs to be broken up in order for it to be useful, productive.

Productivity for this land will only come about when that ground is plowed again, or broken up. You would not want to just plow the weeds and thorns under because of their seeds. There will be some in the ground already. Then, you would want to burn the ground off before it is plowed. Burning it off might be all you would need to do before you plowed, with some cleanup following the burn. After cleaning up some of the thorns and weeds following the burn, then you would set about the plowing or the breaking up of the “fallow ground”.

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.'” Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NKJV)

There is a portion of land, a couple of acres, on the farm where I grew up, that is called, “The Pickle Patch”. I have never seen any pickles grown there. I think my Dad has, but I never have. I have seen and helped pick corn from there for feeding cattle and hogs, but that was when I was a very small boy. Today that small amount of acreage has grown up into a thorn patch. It does have a good set of fescue grass growing under all those thorn trees, (also known as “thorny locust”; at least around this part of the world), and the it is there for wildlife to eat from. That has happened from years of neglect.

The hearts and lives of men and women can become hard, calloused, and of no use to God when they are neglected. That is what has happened with the people to whom Jeremiah is speaking. The men of Judah and Jerusalem are the main ones the prophet addresses.

Just how, does the heart of a man become likened to “fallow ground”? How can a man become hard hearted toward God, and unproductive? There is only one step toward a hard heart. There is only one turn toward that “fallow ground”. That step and that turn is away from God. It may happen gradually with the coming of many blessing, comfort sets in, then, a complacent, apathetic attitude. It happens by missing just one quiet time with God, then one more, then one more. Then, there is the missing of one assembling with the saints of God in the worship of God. It happens by getting too involved in the pleasures and comforts of the society around us.

Jesus uses a parable concerning four different soil conditions in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. Jesus calls it the “Parable of the sower” (v. 18). It does deal with the conditions of the soil, however. The first is the hardpacked path area when people are able to walk through the fields (common for that day); the second was shallow soil – shallow due to bedrock directly under a very thin layer of soil; the third could be compared to the “fallow ground”, because it is weedy and thorny soil; and the final soil is “good soil” which means that it is soil that has been worked and prepared for the seed, and it is the only one of the soils which produces fruit.

God is not pleased when His people are hardened by their neglect of their hearts. We know Jeremiah is dealing with their heart conditions when he writes of “circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts…”. The study not from the MacArthur Study Bible says,

“4:4 Circumcise. This surgery (Gen. 17:10-14) was to cut away flesh that could hold disease in its folds and could pass the disease on to wives. It was important for the preservation of God’s people physically. But it was also a symbol of the need of the heart to be cleansed from sin’s deadly disease. The really essential surgery needed to happen on the inside, where God calls for taking away fleshly things that keep the heart from being spiritually devoted to Him and from true faith in Him and His will. Jeremiah later expanded on this theme (31:31-34; cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Rom. 2:29). God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need of cleansing for sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners.” MACARTHER STUDY BIBLE, p. 1067, (NKJV).

The child of God must never forget to maintain His walk with God. Why are some Christians so cavalier about their relationship with God? Could it be that they really have no relationship with God? Therefore, if that be so they don’t even know Him. God’s call through the prophet is for the people to break up the “fallow ground”. In other words, “Take those hardened hearts of yours, and plow them; do what is necessary to break them and humble yourselves before Me.”

The following is a quote from John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible:

“break up your fallow ground; this is ground that lies untilled, not ploughed, nor sown, on which nothing grows but the produce of nature, as weeds, thorns, briers, &c. is common to men and beasts, and is trodden upon, and, so is hard and unsusceptible of seed; which, if it accidentally falls upon it, makes no impression on it, and is not received by it; and the breaking of it up is by the plough. The “fallow ground” fitly represents the hearts of unregenerate men, which are unopened to the word, and unbroken by it; nor have they the seed of divine grace sown in them; but are destitute of faith, hope, love, fear, and the like; there is nothing grows there but the weeds of sin and corruption; and are like a common beaten road; are the common track of sin, where lusts pass to and fro, and dwell; and so are hardened and obdurate, as hard as a stone, yea, harder than the nether millstone; and who, though they may occasionally be under the word, it makes no impression on them; it has no place in them, but is like the seed that falls by the wayside, Mat. 13:4, unless divine power attends it; for the Gospel is the plough, and ministers are the ploughmen; but it is the Lord alone that makes it effectual to the breaking up the fallow ground of men’s hearts, Luk_9:62, but when the Lord puts his hand to the plough it enters within, and opens the heart; it is quick, powerful, and sharp; it cuts deep, and makes long and large furrows, even strong convictions of sin; it throws a man’s inside outward, as the plough does the earth; and lays all the wicked of his heart open to him; and roots up the pride, the vanity, and boasting of the creature, and other lusts; and so makes way for the seed of divine grace to be sown there:”

It is a hard and evil heart that will not follow the path of our Lord. It is a hard and calloused heart that refuses to hear the Word of the Lord. God holds us, yea, even keeps us from falling. O, how God yearns for His children to continually walk with Him, and those who are His have the heart to walk with Him, but too often are turned aside by the allures of the world, thus the heart can grow fallow.

The prophet calls for a circumcision of the heart, or as it is worded, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD…” This requires a conscience act of the men to whom he speaks. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Well! I am only human, you know.” We are human, and we do sin and make mistakes; however; that is no excuse for the child of God. He has equipped us to overcome the temptations which lure us from our walk with Him. We have His Spirit within us. This is that same Spirit which is in Christ Jesus. That is right. You have the power in you, as a Christian to resist temptation, the hardening of your heart to God, and anything that will turn you away from Him. One thing I might add here concerning things that can cause the heart to grow hard toward God would be the satisfaction and pride, even an arrogance that you are the child of God, leading to an attitude that you are better than anyone else. God forbid we ever do that. That is a hardened heart.

This circumcision of the heart [of yourselves] is taught by Jesus and the apostle Paul. Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2. This requires that the power of the Spirit of God be in you. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. When God is on your mind your thoughts will be on the things of God. When God is your treasure your heart will be set on Him, and in neither one of these can there be “fallow ground” or a hard heart.

This message is to the people of God. This message is to those who once had a thriving relationship with the LORD, but have grown hard of heart. He is calling you back. Plow the ground. Get into His Word, seek His face, repent of your sins, confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing For Backsliding

In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backsliden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backsliden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backsliden condition. First of all backsliden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backsliden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. Afterall, I do need to be knowledgable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will hearl your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together inone the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backsliden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held agains anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceeding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel
and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backsliden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogther; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).

If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.

The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. It this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence that just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.

Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.

There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That it the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.

The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Married To A Backslider

There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of apostasy, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backsliden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backsliden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people can go astray. We can get out of the will of God, but that God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in completer agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backsliden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desparate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God.

For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

The Christian of our day (2008) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Returning Repentance

With the revelation of the pretensious treachery of Judah God again extends mercy to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though they had departed from God and since the departure from the Southern Kingdom, had never really had much worship and care for God they were not pretentious in their behavior. You will not find one righteous king among the people of Israel. Jereboam, the first king of Israel, it is said of Him, “Jereboam did not turn from his evil way…” (1 Kings 13:33). And, that is of all the kings of Israel.

One clear thing that we can see from this invitation from God through the prophet Jeremiah is that God hates pretention, hypocrisy, and He extends mercy to all.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:11-13 (NKJV).

It is amazing to me the number of people who have told me, and some I have heard of from others who do not believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same. Right here is clear evidence of it. God is merciful, gracious, and loving in the New Testament. He has always longed for His backsliding people to return to Him.

The Northern Kingdom got off in a backsliding agenda. their first king, Jereboam set up two idols for them to worship, and keep the people from returning to Jerusalem. He set up a golden calf in Dan, and at Bethel. None of the following kings had a heart for God and hated His prophets. They sacrificed their children in the fire. Worshipped many false gods, and were perverse in their behavior. Now God pleads with them to repent.

My, how God’s heart grieves for His people. He calls for repentance. Though it is not immediately seen God will accomplish His Word, and His people will return to Him. Hosea, the prophet had a wife who turned from him to pagan, idolatrous, prostitution, and worship of pleasure rather than the God of glory. Hosea pursues his wife, and this is the picture of God pursuing His nation of people to bring them back to Himself.

This was accomplished. The people who came back from the captivity of Babylon were a mixed people. People of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms returned together, and they have been one nation since that time. They were one nation in the time of Jesus. They will be one nation through all time.

When God calls for His people to repent He is calling for us to turn from going the wrong direction, ie., away from Him, and turn around and go with Him. No matter what we have done; no matter how evil and vile; no matter our guilt, or our associations; God’s call to return is still powerful and valid. If you have gotten out of His will; if you are still in your sins; if your life is in a real mess; and if your worship has grown cold; then His call to return to Him is for you. He asks only that you acknowledge your iniquity – that you had turned from Him to sin. He is merciful, will hear your cry, and will receive you back to a walk with Him.

We have all sinned. We all fall short of His glory, and yet He calls us to Himself. Repentance is Returning to God. Returning to God is Repentance.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

A Heart of Pretense

“Pretense” – a claim, not supported by fact; mere display or show. A false show. So is the meaning of the word. It would not be a pleasant or comfortable thing to be charged with. However, as we look into the book of Jeremiah we see that the nation of Judah, the Southern part of the divided kingdom since Rehoboam, is charged with this exact thing. “Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:10).

The Northern kingdom has been charged with adultery against God. God has called for their repentance (3:7), to return to the LORD. They had prostituted themselves against their faithful Husband and God, and become a immoral nation.

“…Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:8-10 (NKJV).

This was a prophecy given during the reign of Josiah (3:6), who was considered a godly king. Josiah became king at the age of eight years (Read 1 Chronicles 34 – 35). You will read of Josiah that he purged the land of Judah of the “high places”, of “carved images”, and of “molded images”, and that “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD…” However, it appears that much of what was done during Josiah’s reign was done with pretense. It does not seem to have been pretense on the kings part, but on the peoples hearts. Legislation, whether done by a monarch or a president cannot change the hearts of people. The hearts of the people of Judah were moved by Josiah, but not by God. Therefore, there was much pretense in the land of Judah.

Pretense or hypocrisy cannot be hid from the omniscient eye of the LORD. It is said quite often in Scriptures that “God looks on the heart”, and that seems to be something that all people tend to forget. Pretense and hypocrisy never fools, or deceives the Lord Almighty. It didn’t work in Judah or Israel, and it will not work in today’s world either.

If you will notice God even calls this act by Judah “treacherous”. Three times in verses seven through ten God calls Judah the “treacherous sister” of Israel. The word “Treacherous” is defined as ‘Characterized by treachery; untrustworthy, unreliable’ and “Treachery” is defined as ‘a violation of allegiance or trust’. According to Strong’s Concordance it is to deal deceitfully; and certainly the heart’s of the people of Judah were endeavoring to deal deceitfully with God.

At a time when our own nation is at war, and the hearts of people are growing more and more spiritual, but not according to the knowledge of God; there is much pretense and hypocrisy. There are religions on every corner that use the name of God, but know Him not. When religion denies Jesus Christ, they deny God. Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). There is truly only one true worship of God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection. Any other presumed worship is a treacherous and pretentious worship.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Love is Pleading

Even though Israel has been greatly polluted by sin, the LORD continues to plead with them. He urges them to return to Him at the end of verse one of chapter three.

There is much we as Christians can learn from God’s love for Israel. He never ceases loving His people. He has not, to this day, given up on Israel. They will one day believe in their Messiah who is Jesus.

Hear the Word of God through Jeremiah the prophet:

“Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you hav polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed. Will you not from this time ccry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth? Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able.” Jeremiah 3:2-5 (NKJV).

The prophet is still addressing the spiritual adultery of the people of Israel, and spiritual adultery most generally leads to physical adultery against those we love. When a Christian man who is a pastor falls in love with his position, power, and the attention which he gets rather than the God whom he is supposed to be serving; he has fallen into spiritual adultery, and is in the position of committing adultery against his wife. This is just a word of warning preachers.

The person in the pew can get into spiritual adultery by caring for his position in the “secular” workforce more than he does for his service to the Lord. When you get into spiritual adultery you are setting yourself and your family up for devastation.

Spiritual adultery pollutes our land, ie., our inheritance with God. The land is God’s inheritance for Israel, and they had polluted it with their departure from faith in Him, and of giving themselves over to other gods, which in fact, were no gods at all. Israel was like the harlot who waited by the roadside. It is written in the Liberty Bible Commentary,

In the ways hast thou sat. Like the prostitutes who enticed passers-by along the roads, so had Israel enticed other gods (cf. Gen 38:14; Prov 7:12). Idolatrous altars had actually been erected at road intersections and the gates of the cities (II Kgs 23:8; Ezk 16:25). Also like the Arabian, the Bedoin who lies in wait for travelers in order to plunder them, so Israel sought after idolatry and thus desecrated the land.” p. 1434.

PLEASE NOTE: “In the ways hast thou sat” is in the text printed above and in the NKJV as “By the road you have sat.

By God’s admission and the prophet’s there is no shame in the people for their adultery. When God’s people get out of His will we get into a horrible state; if we are not quick to do our accounting. Why would people, especially God’s people be surprised at the discipline or chastisement of the LORD? It is because we can get cold and callous when we do not walk with Him. We can begin thinking that He is the one who is angry, and He will keep on being angry with us; when in fact it is we who are in the wrong, angry with God, and will keep on to the end, except for the grace of the Almighty LORD.

Even with the cold, collous hearts God is still pleading for the return of His people. That should warm our hearts. His love is always pleading, always calling us to return.

The Wonderful Love of God

There are far too many times I have heard of people, even Christians, saying; “The God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament”, or they say; “People of the Old Testament were saved differently than the people of the New Testament time.” My usual response to that is; “That just isn’t so”.

In reading in the book of Genesis we find that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”. He did not earn his salvation it was by grace (Genesis 6:8). We find again in Genesis, “And he [Abram, ie., Abraham] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). That same phrase is used to assure us that Abraham was not saved by works but by grace in Romans 4:1-4.

In looking in the book of Jeremiah the prophet proclaims the love or our God and Savior:

“They say, ‘if a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not tht land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; ‘Yet return to Me,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:1 (NKJV).

The prophet likens the people of Israel and Judah to a wife who has committed many adulteries, and abominations against her Husband who is God. According to law, Deuteronomy 24:1-04, it was an unclean act for a man to have his previously divorced, remarried, divorced and to take her back to himself. It was considered a defilement of the promised land. God, though, seeing the uncleanness of His people calls them to repent and return to Him. Despite the fact of their many acts of treachery, adultery and spiritual adultery, their murder of small children and elderly people; God says, “I still love you. Return to Me.’

That is the grace of God displayed in the Old Testament. Saved and restored by God’s amazing and wonderful love and grace.

Rejected Helpers

There have been a few times that the Nation of Israel turned their backs on their God – YHWH, and in doing so committed harlotry against Him. Israel was the chosen wife of God, but they committed adultery against Him. God has not been pleased with them to say the least; when they committed this idolatrous act against Him.

In their sin they have taught their young to despise the prophets, to practice idolatry, at least those who were not burned in fires offered to Baal. The LORD used various forms of judgment against them to bring them back to Himself, but they would always fall back into their disobedience and immorality.

Hear the Word of the Lord:

“Why do you beautify your way to seek love? Therefore you have also taught the wicked women your ways. Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things. yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.’ Behold, I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ Why do you gad about so much to change your way? Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria. Indeed you will go forth from him with your hands on your head; for the LORD has rejected your trusted allies, and you will not prosper by them.” Jeremiah 2:33-35 (NKJV).

There was such adultery in the land that God hated it. He hates divorce [putting away] (See Malachi 2:16), and He would hate the putting away of His people. He does everything to woo them back to Himself. He warns, He woos, He judges. The nation even made themselves look more appealing to the neighbors, when asking for their aid against the common enemy. This was their adultery. This was their turning away from the LORD, and this led to their actually offering their children in the fire to the Baals of false religions.

When God’s people start to depende upon people, politics, power, and religion, then, they have forsaken the LORD God in favor of the favors of men.

When God says, “On your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents.” It seems that He would be referring to the lives of the children offered to the false religions in the fire. The blood of their innocent children are all over them, and cry out from the soil of the earth. God says, that it is plain to see. It is on your skirts. As one other prophet has said, “Be sure your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

One sad thing about this passage of Scripture is even though they have been caught in the act they deny their sin, and the responsibility of their actions, “I am innocent, I have not sinned”. There can be no repentance when they cannot see that they have sinned against God and His Word. God says, “I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.'” When God has a great love for His people, or an individual who is supposed to have a relationship with Him He will work to get them to the point of recognizing their guilt and sin. Why fuss and argue with God about your sin, just confess it and repent. That would be simpler, and much less complicated than arguing with God.

God assures His people that there is no prosperity to those who trust in foreign countries who will be their enemy, but you will leave “With your hands on your head”, surely indicating their captivity in the form of surrender. Most of the time when a police officer captures a fleeing criminal they order them to place their hands on their heads. This is surrender. They give it up. Any allies Israel or Judah trusted in has came to nought, and so will the allies we depend on other than God. God rejects the helper, and also rejects those who were dependent upon the helpers. It is because they have rejected God.

Christian brother and/or sister our only help is the LORD God. When we put more confidence in people, power, politics, wealth, fame, or anything other than God we too commit an act of adultery against God. God will also reject our helpers.

Of More Value???

The prophet Jeremiah’s heart is grieving for his people to see their lives as the LORD does. They don’t and won’t. At least for some time to come. The generation the prophet is addressing is one who has refused to see and hear the Word of the LORD.

The LORD ask a question, “Have I been a wilderness to Israel, Or a land of darkness?” Their is a contrast the LORD desires them to see. Have I been barren and left you with nothing or has My witness to you been that of darkness and not light?

Hear the Word through the prophet:

“O generation, see the word of the LORD! Have I been a wilderness to Israel, Or a land of darkness? Why do My people say, ‘We are lords; we will come no more to you? Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.” Jeremiah 2:31-32 (NKJV).

The people had become self dependent rather than depending upon the LORD God. Some people have said and believe that faith is a crutch, or that God Himself is a crutch. Some have said things like, “Only the weak need God.” I need God, and I can only have God in my life as God gives Himself to me through His Son Jesus Christ. Am I weak? You better believe it. When it comes to the things of God; when it comes to pleasing God; when it comes to getting into the very presence of God; when it comes to having a relationship with God, and fellowship with Him; yes! I am weak. None of those things can be mine on my own. They are given to me as a gift of God.

You may be your own lord, but you do not know God; nor can you as long as you have that attitude and heart. If God wants you He will have you. You will submit to Him and He will have His own way in your heart and life.

The virgins of Jeremiah’s day wore special ornaments, which was a reminder of their virginity, and their purity. Brides, as always, seem to greatly admire their wedding gown, ang may even become quite prideful in that attire. There is something quite beautiful about a bride in her gown, coming down the aisle, and it causes the groom to take a deep breath, and gasp at her beauty. “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?”, seems to indicate that these had more care for their ornaments and their gowns, than they had for the Word of the LORD. They had not forgotten their ornaments, nor their beautiful clothing, and gowns, but they had “Forgotten” the LORD; “Days without number”.

Christian, may we never forget the price that Jesus paid for our salvation. May we always be reminded of the body and the blood of Jesus; broken and shed that we might know God. The only true and righteous One who loves us, and gave Himself for us.

He is coming again. How will He find us?

Don’t Be Found Out

Has anyone ever stopped to think about the foolishness of idolatry. That is the desire for things, the greed for wealth, the lust for power, and/or the opposite sex. That is, afterall, what idolatry is all about.

We live in an era not dissimilar from Jeremiah’s. The people were living in basic comfort, secure in their wealth, and easy lives. Though, ours is plagued somewhat with fear of terrorism we still go about doing whatever we please; paying the exhorbitant prices for gasoline, and everything going up due to that; yet we purchase, or at least those who can do. Power for more of the things desired.

Hear the word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah:

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ And to a stone, ‘You have birth to me.’ For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’ But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble; For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.” Jeremiah 2:26-28 (NKJV).

It seems quite clear that the people of Judah have been caught in the practice of idolatry, worshipping other gods, which are not gods at all, but more burdens for the people to carry. Have you ever notice the junk that we in our society build up and keep in closets, garages, security vaults, magazine racks, and how valuless they really are?

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day they were here being accused of having wood idols, and giving it praise for being their father. Also of telling one made of stone that was their mother. In the worship of other gods, they turned their back on God, denying Him as their birthparent as a nation. By turning their back and not their faces we find a great hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy is that while everything is going good, life is easy and comfortable, they really have no care to remember God, His holy days, nor His Law or His Word. However, when they start hearing about an enemy, or having some other troubles they begin to cry out to the true God for help. God, the LORD, says to that, “Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble;” It is like He is saying to them you have plenty of gods you love and adore more than Me, “Let them help you”. The prophet continues by saying, “For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.” You would think that the more gods the better. Right? Wrong.

The one true God is sufficient to meet our every need. In fact there is no other god but the LORD God. The one who loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place.

We continue now to the next two verses:

“Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘In vain I have chastened your children; They received no correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets Like a destroying lion.'” Jeremiah 2:29-30 (NKJV).

At times when people face catastrophe they tend to recognize that God does exist. When things ease off, and start getting back to normal it is back to the worship of things,getting those desires met, achieving those personal goals at the cost of life, limb, or friendships, or spouses and family. When this happens, some of it is genuine, and some is not. The one’s who are genuine will continue being faithful when the things start being good again. They will hear the voice of the LORD and will obey Him. They do not turn away.

These are the ones whom the LORD will bless. These are the ones whom the LORD has genuinely saved.

These “two faced” people are about as dependable as a flat tire, and no rim with it. The correction of the LORD does no good, accomplishes nothing, and they hate the prophets who tell them the truth for the saving of their souls.

Don’t turn your back on God. Don’t be a two faced individual who worships God on Sunday, then, through the rest of the week no one will ever no any difference from watching your life, hearing your dirty words, and dirty jokes. When you have given your life to the LORD your life changes, for His glory and your good. You will love the Law, the History of His people, the Wisdom of the sages, and the prophets; both the Major and Minor prophets. You will love God’s Word.

Reminder of His Love

In the last article on this chapter of Isaiah, the final verse of our text was the last part of verse 19 which tells us, “And the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts.” That is usually the reason for departure from God.

As we look into the following verses we see the Lord having them recall their deliverance from bondage, then playing turning against their deliverer.

For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,’ says the Lord GOD” Jeremiah 2:20-22 (NKJV).

One of the things that we can see throughout God’s dealings with the chosen people is that He loves them. His grace is everlasting, and His mercy endures forever. That is a theme for His people throughout all of Scripture.

God had delivered His children from the bondage of Egypt, and burst the bonds which held them. He had done this in just a matter of days while working in Egypt throught he plagues upon the land and the people. They witnessed the mighty power of God. Not just Israel, but Egypt witnessed this awe-inspiring events which turned the heart of Pharoah, at least for a time, to let God’s people go.

The people had promised God they would not transgress His law. They did. That is why the declaration is made, “When on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down playing the harlot”. The pagan, Gentile altars were on the high hills, and under the trees. God is charging the people with spiritual adultery. That is, the forsaking of the true Husband for an imposter. They had turned away from holy God for unholy pleasures. They had forgotten the attitude of Moses. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way –

“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoah’s daughter, choosing rither to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” Hebrews 11:24-26 (NKJV).

The prophet Isaiah in a previous time had spoken of Israel as a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). He speaks of the Husbandman planting the vineyard, but all He received were wild grapes. God says through Jeremiah, “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality”, and now they have turned their backs on God and are worshipping stone, wood, flesh. They have in fact become an “alien vine”. That is not what God planted. That is the picture we see.

When they have made themselves unclean before God, they then, evidently feel guilty, try to wash themselves clean with the strongest cleanser they have available that day. They would go and worship the false gods, taking pleasures that should not have been their’s to have. After their violation of holiness with God they would then seek to make themselves clean before God, and without true repentance.

Thus God says, “Yet your iniquity is marked before Me”.

The lesson for the follower of Jesus Christ is that we have been delivered from sin. Our sins have been forgiven. The law of the Lord is written in our hearts. We are free to live righteously, holy, and undefiled lives through the power of the Spirit of Christ who lives in us. When we sin we have an advocate with the Father. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9. There is need for repentance and that is a turning from sin and to the Lord Jesus.

Your Own Sin and Wickedness Will Correct You

In our world today we hear parents saying things like, “I want the best for my children”, or “I will do whatever I can to protect them from harm”, while at the same time let them live in immorality. Parents putting their daughters on birth control pills, so they will not get pregnant is one good example of what I refer. Another is the new vaccine which supposedly protects young girls from getting a cancer which can only be contracted by sexual intercourse prematurely. That is another example.

One of the things I have noticed about God is that He does not prevent us from sinning, in most situations. He does let our sin cause us grief and sorrow.

Therefore do parents do their children good by trying to protect them from means that should teach them responsibility.? It is my belief that it is harmful to their eternal well being to try and protect them from the means that could be used to bring them to God, or to become right in fellowship with Him

Here is God’s Word from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he plundered? The young lions roared at him, and growled; They made his land waste; His cities are burned, without inhabitant. Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not brought this one yourself,in that you have forsaken the LORD your God when He led you in the way? And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts.”

God is not as concerned for our physical health or wealth as He is our holiness. He despises sin and wickedness. He despises even more His own people turning away from Him. When we look to other means for safety, such as the people in the prophet’s day were doing in “Take(ing) the road to Egypt…” and “…the road to Assyria” we have turned from the Lord our God.

God is greatly grieved when His own people turn from Him to serve other gods, which are not gods, but only stone, wood, metal, or flesh. Why would the people of God do such a thing? One of the things that was prevalent in Jeremiah’s day was they had grown comfortable, wealthy, fat, and satisfied with themselves. They had the attitude, “We can never fall. We are a God blessed nation. We have the temple of God, and He will never let anything happen to it”.

I look around our Nation today, and I see much of that same attitude. Even though there is the imminent threat of terrorists infusion, bombings, and destruction we still are not trusting our Lord. We have placed more confidence in our economy, our bank account, our government, but where is our faith in God?

Since the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 we have been under the merciful hand of God. Our Nation has not been attacked within our borders since that time. Is that because of our great government, our President, our wonderful Congress, and Senate? No way. It is due to the mercy and grace of God. However, that mercy and grace protecting us from terrorists attack will be removed. It has been the hand of God. He has been calling us back to Himself, and giving time for others to come to Him. That time may soon be over, then we will see the worst of terrorism.

Our own wickedness, our own backslidings will correct us. God gave a message to the two and one half tribes of Israel who were to settle on the East side of Jordan. After telling they they were to go and give aid to their brethren who were going to settle on the West side, He said through Moses,

“But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.Numbers 32:23 (NKJV)

If your life is filled with fear; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are trusting in things for security; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are looking to any thing other than to God; your own sins will correct you. If you are His He will make you holy, and He will do whatever it takes to make you so.

Leaky gods or Living Water

The men who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Judah had forsaken the LORD. They did not even realize their spiritual condition. That is a horrible thing for the “man of God” not to even notice that God is not present. The false prophets were prophesying by Baal, a false god, of pleasure. He was the god that took the place of the LORD in the hearts of Jerusalem.

Are things any different in the day in which we live (2007)? In my mind there does not seem to be any difference; with the exception of clothing, and location

In the text we look at today we see the LORD is bringing charges against the children of Jacob (v. 4).

HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD –

“Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,’ says the LORD, ‘And against your children’s children I will bring charges. For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,’ says the LORD. ‘For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:9-13 (NKJV).

The charge brought against them is Forsaking Him. What does it take to forsake the Living God? The answer to that is: Just by diliberately turning to another source of encouragement, and strength one forsakes the Living God.

Notice this charge. What other nation has forsaken their gods? None. Earlier in the Nation’s life they wanted to be like other nations by wanting a king. Read First Samuel, and you will see their request for a king. How is it that now they could not be like these other nations, and trust only in their God. The God of gods, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

When a follower of Christ Jesus follows someone or anything else they lose the Glory that was theirs in Christ. The Psalmist wrote –

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. Why should the Gentiles say, ‘So where is their God?’ But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like unto them.Psalm 115:1-8 (NKJV).

Why would someone want to drink water from a cistern, when you can have flowing fresh clean water? That is what had happened to the people of God. They had left the glory of the LORD to pattern their lives after that of death and darkness. Any time God’s people follow the world, the flesh and the devil we get out of His glory, ie., the Glory of God.

These cisterns God tells us of, are even leaky cisterns. They cannot even hold water. These cisterns would catch the water from what little rainfall they might receive, and dew falling from the roor of the mornings, then go out of the morning and find only a wet well, but no water to drink.

You become like what you worship. So beware.

Is God Missing…???

The Word of the LORD is important to the prophet of God. Without the Word he has no message. No message of any importance anyway. The most important message the people need is that of what God says.

It is sad when we hear news reports of missing people. Here, of late, we have heard especially of young women, wives, and mothers missing. Some of them end up being found dead. No one enjoys hearing of a missing individual, but how would we feel if God were missing? Would we even notice?

For the second time in the second chapter of Jeremiah we have a “Thus says the LORD…” (vv. 2, 5). Jeremiah realized that since God had called him to be a prophet, and not just a prophet of men, but a prophet to proclaim only the Word of the LORD, with promise of protection, keeping, and power in the words He would proclaim (1:17-19).

In verses two and three God reminds them of their early faith, and holiness. Now the prophet addresses, at God’s direction, their forsaking God. They had gotten to a state of comfort, which led to a lethargic, complacent mindset, and then, completely turned their backs on God.

Hear the Word of the LORD:

“Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.” Jeremiah 2:4 (NKJV).

There seems to be a message of warning in this phrase alone. The name “Jacob” was a name of self-dependence; of one’s using their own methods to accomplish their own ends. Jacob had trusted the LORD God, and God changed his name to Israel. “Jacob” actually meaning ‘Heal catcher’ because he had a handhold on Esau’s foot when they were born. “Israel” meaning ‘Prince of God’, or ‘He struggles with God’. (NOTE: You can find this history in Genesis 32:22-32). So in addressing them as “House of Jacob” could it be that the LORD, through the prophet, is reminding them from whence they came; that they have forgotten their faith?

“Thus says the LORD: ‘What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’ I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.” Jeremiah 2:5-8 (NKJV).

Easy living, comfort, the fatness of the land, or a good economy, are some of the things that lure people away from faith, and trust in the LORD God. It can happen so easily. For a Christian today it starts by neglecting your daily quiet time with the Lord. It continues as you neglect your prayer life. The next thing you know you missed a Sunday morning worship gathering due to being up too late Saturday night – you were out with friends, went to a movie, or just did not take an initiative to be in bed to get to church as usual. It really does not take much effort for a child of God to get away from godly practice.

The worship of Baal can be as simple as seeing other things as more important than that personal quiet time with God. Be careful. Be careful to maintain that quiet time, that special time you have with the Lord Jesus each and every morning. In this quiet time you receive strength, and encouragement for the day. You may not think so at the time, but that strength will be there as you need it.

When we start neglecting that personal time with God, the next thing to go will be our worship of God, and fellowship with other believers. The house you live in, the boat, and going to the lake for water skiing or fishing begins taking the place of God, fellowship with Him and your brothers and sisters in Christ. When this happens; you have become a modern day Idol worshipper. Just a thought – is an idle worshipper and Idol worshipper? My answer to that is YES!!!

The prophet Jeremiah reminds the recipients of this message of the work the LORD has done for the Nation (vv. 6-7). God had indeed brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, where no one lived. Though it is not mentioned, per se, He also provided them with water from the Rock. He is our Water in a dry and thirsty land where no water is (Psalm 63:1).

Twice it is mentioned in this text; the question, “Where is the LORD?” First it was the “fathers” (v. 6), then it is the priests (v. 7). They were not even missing the presence of the LORD. Why would you ask, if you do not even notice that God is missing from your “worship”.

The one’s who saw to the keeping of the scrolls of the law were doing it, and not even knowing the Person of the Law. The Living Word of God appeared to these in His day, they saw His works, they heard His teachings and testimony, and they still rejected Him. They did not know what they had been copying. It was just a job, a task to perform and keep them busy. Something upon which to boasts.

The rulers turned their back on the LORD. They had grown to despise the true prophets of God and chosen the false prophets of men, ie., Baal. That way they heard only what they wanted to hear. There is no profit in the false words of the profit [prophet] makers.

Is God missing in your worship, or have you even noticed?

Questions of the Prophet

Habakkuk 1:1-4

“The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.” Habakkuk 1:1-4 (KJV)

When we think of a burden we think of a load. When you are driving a automobile it has more get up and go when only you, and nothing else, is in it. If you load it down – a truck or car; it just does not have the same performance.

Now, is that the type of “burden” the prophet is writing of. Some translations call this an “oracle”, but it seems to me that there is something more here than mere words. If it is the mere speaking of words, it is an utterance of doom. So why have a problem with “Burden”. To answer the question – it is similar. It was not a physical load. It caused him to ask questions. It eventually caused him to “see God” as righteous in His dealings, and always just in His judgments.
Habakkuk has been accused of accusing God of three different things –

God is indifferent – like He does not even care;

God is inactive – He sees and does nothing about it;

God is inconsistent – He seems to judge wickedness in some cases, but not in the ones the prophet sees.

Are these things so? Is that what Habakkuk really means? These certainly are not true. When we look at these verses it is quite clear that the prophet is speaking to God/YHWH, has these burdens and questions, and really just wants to know what is going on. He does not understand. Like so many of us today, in 2007, we do not understand why it seems that the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer. The prophet was not really going to like God’s answer either.

The prophet’s first question – “O LORD, how long shall I cry and Thou will not hear?” NOTE: The KJV has these as exclamations. It seems more reasonable to see them as questions. Remember, punctuation was added by others. It is not the inspired text.
The Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible – “The main purpose of Habakkuk’s prophecy is to explain what a godly person’s attitude should be toward the presence of evil in the world. It also addresses God’s justice in punishing moral evil.” (pg. 907).

Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible also sees two complaints from the prophet –

In verses 1-11 of chapter one including the questions the prophet asks, and how God could use a wicked and vile people such as the Chaldeans to judge His people;

Chapter 1 verses 12 through chapter 2 verse 5 – wondering how God – since He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity can use these Chaldeans and why He does not judge these godless people.

The prophet’s second question – “…Even cry out unto Thee of violence, and Thou will not save?” Of course, these seem to be related in dealing with the same complaint of the above mentioned reference.

A third question – “Why dost Thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?”

The prophet seems to see no justice or judgment on the sin of God’s people. It seems to the prophet that the wicked trample all over the righteous and nothing is done –

There is no law – it is powerless;
There is no righteous judgment;
The wicked overpower the righteous;
The wrong people suffer.

It just seems to me in reading and studying these words of the prophet that nothing has changed with God’s people. We still fall into sin. There are still some who are burdened about sin, and asking the same questions. Somehow, we in the United States of America think that judgment cannot come from an outside source. Remember 9-11-01?

God’s judgment is still not without precedence in any age; even our own.

God Builds His Case

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Known for that because of his mourning for the sins of the people of Judah, and Jerusalem. He sees the failings of the priesthood, of which he was part. The weaknesses, the hypocrisies, and often blatant lies and deceptions; not only among the priests but among those who called themselves prophets of God.

God could speak with Jeremiah. Jeremiah heard, and many times responded to what God said. Hear what God says to Jeremiah near the beginning of his ministry;

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘God and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying’, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 2:1-3 (NKJV).

God begins in the first message by confirming them in their first belief. They had followed, at least through Abraham, had been obedient in the wilderness, and had grown in love with the LORD. There was kindness, fondness, love in their hearts for the LORD, realizing that He alone was responsible for their having a land, a promise. They had been chosen from the place of God’s amazing grace and mercy. They were undeserving. They were unworthy. They were sinners among the other sinners of the earth. There was nothing special about them, thus in there early days they loved the LORD.

Despite the fact of their departure the LORD reminds them of His promise, “All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD”. No one can expect God’s blessing who lifts their hand against people, the nation, whom God ordained to give us the Scriptures, ordinances, and laws. Yet there is room for His judgment. Pray for Jerusalem – Israel.

As Christians we must remember our “First love”. That love we had for Jesus when we first believed. The things of the world around us have a power which can lure us away from loving Him. God commended five of the early churches of the Revelation, but could only condemn two of them because they had departed from Him.

If you truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, there was a time when you walked with Him, you loved Him, cherished Him, and it did not bother you that there were times He seemed distant, but you trusted His Word when He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Something has happened in the past few days, weeks, months, or years that have caused you to get away from Him, His Word, from praying, and cherishing His abiding presence. You have become more consumed with sports, entertainment, comforts, leisure, conveniences, and even family activities, than with your walk with Him. It is time to return to Him, before the judgment of your sin comes on you.

He puts His protecting hand on all who have trusted Him. You can believe He will keep you, protect you, and anyone who raises an evil hand against you will suffer by His hand. Be assured God loves you with an everlasting love. Enjoy it, revel in it, rejoice in it, and He will be glorified.

The Almond Tree

The prophet has been called to proclaim the Word of God to a sinful and rebellious people. He has been told by God, that he has been known by Him even before he was conceived in the womb of his mother. Jeremiah the prophet has been told to speak every word God puts in his mouth.
Now comes the time to check his vision. “Jeremiah, what do you see?” (1:11) “I see a branch of an almond tree.” If a man is going to proclaim the Word of the Lord GOD, then he must be able to see what God is about to do, or at least what he desires to do.
Here is what God says about the seeing of the almond tree branch. “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word”. (v. 12)
The almond tree was an early tree. It wakened from its dormancy earlier than any other tree. The thing Jeremiah saw God used to tell him that the Word of God was going to be done just as God declared it through him, and it would be very quickly. It would be earlier than any other.
The message of God’s Word would be faithfully preached by the prophet, but not without sorrow and pain. There would be no delay. Jeremiah must hasten to the work of his ministry.
Just how close are we to the time we will see the fulfilling of the final prophecies of the Word of God. They are at the door. Jesus could return for His Bride at any moment. Do not delay to call on His name in repentance for sin, and trust completely in Him for salvation.