Shall Not Be Ashamed

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of Mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.

They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.’ ” Isaiah 29:22-24 (KJB)

For further thought see Romans 1:16; and Romans 9 – 11.

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

What Do You See?

The prophet has seen the “Rod of the almond tree”, and it was the message from God that He was going to bring His Word to pass very quickly. The seeing of the “Rod…” itself is the sign of discipline and judgment. It can also be a sign of protection, if you are on the right side of it.
The LORD asked Jeremiah again, “What do you see?” Jeremiah 1:13 (NKJV), and the prophet says, “I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north”. A “boiling pot” is a hot matter. It has taken some time for the contents of the pot to come to the point of boiling.
At the time of Jeremiah it has basically been many, many years that the people of Israel and of Judah have grown cold to the Lord and His Word. They have turned a deaf ear to the meaning of their sabbath days, holy days, their feasts, and have in fact turned their hearts toward other gods.
Their comforts, their riches, their houses and their lands are of more importance and they care more for those things than for others, or God.
For many years in our own Nation of the United States of America many professing Christians have grown more concerned with their health, wealth, houses, cars, and lands, than they have with being holy, righteous, and the care of our poorer brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a ‘Boiling pot’ that is ready to be spilled on us. It may be in the form of a collapsed economy; is that laughable? You may have the first laugh, but God will have the final one. People are dollaring themselves right out of their new and older homes.
The ‘Boiling pot’ may not be coming from our North, but it is coming from the thing which Americans fear the most. What is that? Economic collapse. For too long people and even Christians have put their hope in the economy being good, when it has basically been built on nothing visible, but the invisible value of their home. It should really just be called ‘Their house’, because to many it is just an investment, and they have placed the value of their lives in the value of their house. May God help us, and forgive us.
God says to the prophet, “Out of the North calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land”. Jeremiah 1:14 (NKJV). When people turn their backs on God, and turn to their own means, comfort, health, wealth, and security, then is when the water in the pot begins to boil. It has been boiling now for many years. Let’s repent of our deeds and turn to the LORD.

God Will Rise

Can you imagine being born into a family of priests. Can you imagine even more, that after you have grown to be a man, that you receive a call from God to be His prophet. You are told that you will be a prophet to the people of God, that you will be a prophet to the nations. You are also told that you will speak whatever God puts in your mouth.

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month” Jeremiah 1:1-3 (NKJV).

The name Jeremiah means, “Jah will rise” and “Jah” is short for “Jehovah”. That name is given to us in one of the Psalms. In Psalm 68:4 it is written, “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH [Jah], and rejoice before Him.” The use of the name Jeremiah and of JAH seems to be that even though the Nation has fallen into ill will with God, that He is raised, He is exalted, and He will be praised by His people.

Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry takes place during some of the roughest of times, especially for a prophet. The people were so secure in their beliefs, that they were living under falsehood. They were thinking that because the temple was present in Jerusalem, then they would never fall.
The task of a true prophet of God would have been quite difficult for Jeremiah, as he was also a priest, and being from a family of priests, that would mean confronting some of the sins and discrepancies of the priesthood. Because of this he would not be very popular. But then, no prophet is ever popular, or well thought of while they are living.
Jeremiah probably prophesied during the latter years of king Josiah’s rule in Judah. Josiah was a good king, who brought reform that could even be called a revival to the nation. It is said of king Josiah, “He did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD” 2 Chronicles 34:2; but it was only shortlived so it was only temporary reform, which grieved the heart of this prophet of God.
When the people only put on a temporary change, because it has been legislated, rather than having a personal relationship with God, and a change of heart, it should grieve the hearts of those who know God.
This heart for God from this prophet would bring much sorrow, pain, and persecution from his family, friends, and the people. There seems to be only one who is faithful to Jeremiah and the Lord throughout this prophecy, and his name is Baruch (Chapter 45). We are each called, as a child of God, to be faithful to God, and support all those who are also faithful to God in proclaiming His Word.
God will rise and be exalted.