The prophet Jeremiah tells us:
“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.” Jeremiah 7:4 (KJV)
-Tim A. Blankenship
The prophet Jeremiah tells us:
“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.” Jeremiah 7:4 (KJV)
-Tim A. Blankenship
Shame is a word that has almost fallen by the way. Who uses the word “shame” anymore? You don’t hear it much. “You ought to be ashamed” a mother would say to a child who had just kicked a sibling, or a neighbor, or a friend. “Shame on you” some Dad would say to his son when he argued and disobeyed his mother, and then would get a whipping.
Jeremiah the prophet writes,
“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 6:15 (KJV)
-Tim A. Blankenship
“Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.” Jeremiah 5:1 (KJV)
The LORD speaking through the prophet gives reason for the approaching judgment which will come upon Jerusalem and the country. God says, “You can run through the streets of the city, and you will not find any man who is righteous in judging, that seeks the truth; and if you could I would pardon the city.” Not one. “There is none righteous; no not one.” (Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:10).
The writer of 2 Chronicles by the Spirit of God wrote, “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (16:9). We can look to our hearts content and if one is not to be found it will not be found. The “eyes of the LORD” however knows what He will do. He has One in mind. One who will be faithful. One who will be just and righteous in in dealings, judgments, who will be the Truth Himself. His name is Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.
Things looked hopeless for Jeremiah and the people of the city of Jerusalem at that time; but there was hope. The LORD God often causes us to take a long look at our own hearts and lives to see that if left up to us, it would be hopeless; however, with the LORD there is promise, and God will always fulfill His promises.
Can we find anyone who is worthy to lead us as a nation out of the financial crisis we are in here in the United States of America? The salvation of the problem we are in is not financial it is spiritual, and until there is repentance from greedy citizens, Senate, Congress, we are actually open to believe anything from a smooth talking, deceptive, candidate who believes he can be the leader who can solve all our problems.
It is a time for repentance. No mere man can deliver us from this, and it is certain that our government cannot successfully bail out bankrupt institutions when our nation is in fact financially bankrupt. We are first of all spiritually bankrupt before God.
Run Through the Streets, and see if you can find anyone who is honest, just, and righteous in their dealings. There are none. It is time for repentance, and turning to our God through His Son Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of calvary, and His resurrection. He is the only one who is able.
-Tim A. Blankenship
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
“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
The nation has been a wayward nation. It has deliberately turned its back on God, and served its own gods which are idols; a means of worshipping devils or demons. It is a sad thing for a nation, in this case the Northern kingdom to walk away from God. It is, however, joyous to see that God is gracious, forgiving and still He is just.
YaHWeH [God] has been calling the spiritually adulterating nation to repent. He has been pursuing her. God will have His way with His people. Let us never forget that. He will be glorified through His people as well.
“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto Me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Jeremiah 4:1-2 (KJV).
This call is clearly to Israel, the Northern kingdom. What is it to “return unto ME [the LORD]”? It is clear from these verses what the LORD expects. “Put away thine abominations…” is one of the clearly sought after things of the LORD. According to Strong’s the word “Abominations” has to do with the filth of idolatry.
You will notice that the word “disgusting” is used, and “abominable filth”. That only shows us the way God sees this adulterous relationship between His people and the gods of the nations. There must be a “Putting away” of all that is vile, unclean, detestable and idolatrous in God’s sight before there can ever be cleansing, renewal and a return to God. When will the people of God come to the place to learn that to depart from God is about the easiest thing we can do. It can happen just by dropping our attention away from the LORD, and putting it someplace else.
In calling the Northern kingdom to return God intends for a true repentance in returning; not as the Southern kingdom of Judah who gave acknowledgement by words, but not in action. Judah gave a lip service to the LORD, but in truth their hearts were far from Him. That is why earlier we see God referring to Judah as being treacherous (Jeremiah 3:11). God does not approve of hypocritical lip service or pretense. Even Jesus says, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Those who have a true love for our Lord do not serve Him to gain anything from Him; however we do serve Him with love knowing who he is, and because of His wonderful gift of grace.
Jehovah’s call to Israel to return is for them to turn from their sin, and to Him. We are to worship God and Him alone. There can be no honor given to other gods, which are not gods, but demonic representations of men’s desires. “If you will return, O Israel, then return to Me” is the desire of God’s heart. This could be for their return to God’s land from which they have been carried away captive. There will be no return to the land unless they return to Him could be the meaning.
“Return unto me; with thy whole heart, and not feignedly and hypocritically, as Judah did, Jer_3:10. Some render the words (and the accents require they should be rendered so) “if thou wilt return to me, O Israel, saith the Lord, thou shalt return” (l); that is, to thine own land, being now in captivity; or, “thou shalt rest” (m); or “have rest”; so Kimchi interprets the last word; see Jer_30:10, and these words may very well be considered as the words of Christ, and as spoken by him, when he entered upon his ministry, who began it with calling the people of the Jews to repentance, and promising to give them rest; and all such who return to God by repentance, and come to Christ by faith, find spiritual rest for their souls now, and shall have an eternal rest hereafter, Mat_4:17,” FROM JOHN GILLS EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, e-Sword edition.
If you will put away these abominations, “Out of My sight” then you will not be moved from the promised place. God would speak to the prophet concerning the return of the people in seventy years (25:12; 29:10-14; Daniel 9:2). This time in captivity would be a time of chastisement, cleansing, and bring glory to the LORD. During this time the Babylonians and the Persians would mistreat the captives, and in this God would be glorified by His wrath and judgment upon the nations for thier evil doing on the people of Israel; both the Northern and Southern kingdoms.
If you will now, notice what happens when the people do return. It is first to be a speedy return, ie., when they realize that they are away from God, they are not to merely speak of returning, but quickly return, and not to the land, but to God, then they will go to the land, after the seventy years have been fulfilled. When they have returned to the LORD, then they will “swear, ‘The LORD LIVES’…” This “swear[ing]” is more than an oath. It seems to be a very full and genuine heart change, realizing the greatness of the LORD our God. Strong’s gives us this concerning the word, “Swear”:
The people of Israel will truly see the living LORD, and they will see that He is truth, and He is righteous in all His ways and truly just. When the nations of the world see what God has done for the people of God they will rejoice in Him, and “In Him they shall glory”. They will boast only of the LORD, and His greatness, they will celebrate in His glory, they will shine for His name. John the Revelator wrote,
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27 (KJV).
“And the nations…” is the phrase we need to see in the previous verses. The nations of the world; those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb; will gather in that new city, and will celebrate the glory of the Lord.
The word that is needed for our day of 2008 is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” JESUS (Matthew 4:17). Will you find peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ or will you for all eternity be in the bath of flames which never go out?
-Tim A. Blankenship
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
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
“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 is loving, merciful and gracious. He has been with the northern kingdom of Israel, and with the southern kingdom of Judah. In His love, and His pursuit of His people the rebellion, coldness, disobedience, and rebellion continue.
It is a shame that those who call themselves the people of God cannot see that they have departed from Him. They are a backsliden people. Hear the words of the prophet from God:
“The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: ‘Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.” Jeremiah 3:6-7 (NKJV).
The sin of Israel was their turning away from their worship of God alone, and they had started developing patterns consistent with pagan worshippers of false gods, even including their worship to false gods in their supposed worship to God. God has given very careful guidance in the true worship of Him. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”, and that means the worship of God, YHWH [YaHWeH] alone. To include others is to destroy true worship of the one true God.
They in effect have worshipped demons, rather than God;
“They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…” Leviticus 17:7 (NKJV).
Paul writing to the Corinthians says,
“Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:18-20 (NKJV).
Worship directed to a Jesus who is not God is a false worship. Worship directed to anyone or anything that is not God is false worship.
Israel has sinned in their worship. It appears that there is more and more people who call themselves Christian who are also sinning in their worship. Their rebellion, disobedience, and adultery toward God must be repented of, seeking God’s forgiveness.
God has said to Israel, “Return to Me”. His call to the Church is the same; “Return to Me”. Be backsliding no more and return to God, and the holy and right worship through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
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.
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.
The prophet has asked, ‘How long?’ He has even insinuated, possibly, that, the LORD was slack in His duties of being God – particularly Judge.
God gives Habakkuk the answer, but not one he wants to hear. For seven verses God describes to the prophet what He has in mind for the people of Judah.
Basically, God says to Habakkuk, ‘The work you are about to see is going to be beyond your belief’. Notice what God tells the prophet –
Regard – or ‘look intently at’ – this would be a pleasure to those who Judah would call the ‘heathen’;Wonder marvelously – amazed to the point of confusion.
Really take notice of what I am about to do, what is coming to pass. Mouths will drop open in wonder. Shock will accompany the wonder.
“Though it be told you” How could anyone who knew God think that God would use an unholy people to judge His unholy people.
It seems to me, that we see God’s sovereign hand here. God had intended that His people Judah and Israel be messengers to foreign lands; messengers of His grace, mercy, and goodness; but they had not only failed in that, they had become just as sinful and lawless as the ‘heathen’.
God was going to send some of His holy servants into the very jaws of the lion, the fires of Babylon, for judgment of Judah, and inform Babylon of the one true God.
In verse six God says the Chaldeans are a “Bitter and hasty nation”. By bitter it seems they have a hatred for Judah and ‘hasty’ seems to imply swiftness without much hesitance. They would possess what was not theirs and they would do it with all speed at their beckoning. It would seem particularly speedy since God was initiating the attack.
In our day we tend not to understand how God could use people like this to judge His people. It happens when God’s people have not lived up to the standards He lays out for us, and those standards are in His Word. God is not so concerned with our happiness or health, as much as He is our holiness, and most of all His own glory. He will do whatever it takes, within the attributes of His character, to make us holy. That is what He is doing in the nation of Judah.
The Chaldeans are said to be frightening, and they would put fear in your heart according to verse seven. The New Living Translation says, “They are notorious for their cruelty. They do as they like and no one can stop them”. They would be the source of God’s judgment upon Judah, however, they would get theirs too (See Daniel 5).
In the eighth verse we find that the Chaldeans/Babylonians will come with power and speed. They are also fierce, not only in countenance, but temperment.
Verse nine, violence and conquering is what they have in their minds and heart. They thrive on blood, the blood of their enemy, and that was anyone who got in their way. When you pick up sand in your fingers all of it cannot be kept there. This is almost like a randomness in some ways, but most likely means taking captives in great numbers. Captives of Judah.
Mockery will be on their tongues and in their hearts (vv. 10-11). Captured kings and princes – leaders will be scorned and some will die.
Walls built to resist their attacks will be overthrown by mounds of dirt laid against them. Because of his victory Nebuchadnezzar will attribute his victory to his god.
How pitiful it is when God’s people do not live by God’s Spirit and His Word. We bring shame to His name and pain and reproach to our name. O, how this must have pained the heart of Habakkuk. Do you think he liked the answer? May God forgive me.