"The Road to Captivity", Part 1; A Study in Jeremiah, Introduction
June 1, 2009

C. R. Oliver

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June 1, 2009

"The Road to Captivity", Part 1
A Study in Jeremiah, Introduction

Introduction: Uncanny parallels appear in Jeremiah's words between his day and this one, making his work a spiritual necessity for this time. One of the primary elements throughout his book is a principle similar to one used by Carl Jung in his initial studies of Psychiatry and his beliefs (shown below) stated in his classic works.
At the base of every aberrant behavior is an unresolved spiritual issue.
It might well be stated that Jeremiah believed lurking behind all economic travesty was an unresolved spiritual issue. He also believed that governmental and social failure came as the result of not taking God and His commandments seriously.

Leonard Ravenhill said it succinctly:
'Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on Judgment Day, Christ will chastise me, saying, 'Leonard, you took Me too seriously?'
Though Kings Josiah and Zedekiah sought solutions to their national dilemmas through opposing views, ultimately, Judah failed to confess they had abandoned the "ways of the Lord" and had pursued political alliances and social manipulation instead of genuine repentance. These actions led to the collapse of their government and economy as well as their being carried away as captive slaves (or brutally murdered, as in the case of King Zedekiah and his sons).

When the national mind is evil and finally expresses itself in terms of a single national will, then God usually brings that nation to its knees with little compunction on His part. There came a time in Judah where God prohibited prayers for their deliverance and guaranteed, if offered, they would not be heard or heeded.

There is a definite road of national resolve that inevitably leads to foreign intervention and captivity. It always includes a terrible price on life and exacts complete social disruption.

Jeremiah 1-5

Even though four kings ruled during Jeremiah's life, his message to them stayed the same. His answer to Zedekiah in chapter twenty-one only torqued down harder his word for the King, while sticking to the same theme. That theme was simple, "Stop playing around thinking things will get better just because you consider yourself, 'God's children.' Wake to the fact that you are deceiving yourselves and realize God has seen through your charade and what is coming is real and is sanctioned by Him." In other words, "Stop lying to yourselves, get real, for what is coming on you is real." Chapter four verse 22 states:
"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.
"Silly children" is used only after calling them "backslidden children." Silly (playful, foolish, sottish) implies an "unwillingness to take responsibility for actions they deem only slight." Silly Christians (Who claimed to be, "My people") are still saying, "Awe, we didn't mean anything by that!" God's reply to them was and is in simple terms: "Your actions have stained you to the heart."

Observe, before venturing further, the platform Jeremiah speaks from. It is found in chapter one. His authority was from God who ordained him for the task before he was born. God sealed him to the task,
See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms.
Jeremiah 1:10

I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar.
Jeremiah 1:17
True prophets carry a similar seal in their lives and that seal can and must be discerned.

Chapter Two

In Chapter Two, the Lord began Jeremiah's ministry with an address to Jerusalem. In this case, Jerusalem represented the entire country. (Remember the ten tribes of the North had been dispersed globally and only Judah, Benjamin and parts of Levi occupied the land.) Because Jerusalem was the main city of the Southern Kingdom, any word spoken to Jerusalem was a word for the entire nation. Those remaining three Tribes represented Israel. God gesticulated,
Israel WAS holiness to the Lord.
Jeremiah 2:3
Many nations once could have boasted similarly about their Christian walk, but alas, "was" is not "is," even in a Clintonesque Dictionary. Regardless of how God has worked in these nations in the past, the past was not the issue.

God declared that His care during the wilderness trek from Egypt to the Promised Land was a matter of His faithfulness; the question now is about their faithfulness. (Many nations have a rich history of provision from the Lord but currently have no semblance of holiness or Godliness.)

Reaching back, to a time when all the Tribes were represented (not just these three), God accused Israel of defiling His land and His Law. Observe how a land is defiled:
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 2:7b-8
If these matters defile a land, then it is high time to overlay all nations with this criteria for defilement and see if it applies.

Summarizing their apostasy, God addressed those who professed being "His People." He charged them with two evils.
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 2:13
Religious institution worldwide are guilty of this sin.

Because modern churches are all but incapable of receiving a true message from God, this text (Jeremiah 2:13) will not be heard, in the same manner as Jeremiah preached it. Refusal to hear God's message does not change the message, however. (Should someone question the "incapable" statement, then one is highly urged [if a pastor] to take this text and apply it to your congregation and then view the results.) ( In the words of an old time evangelist: "Excuse me, but you know it's so.")

Jeremiah takes a direct and uncompromising stand alongside God:
Have you not brought this on yourself?
…Your own wickedness will correct you,
And your backslidings will reprove you…
For the fear of the Lord is not in you…
I had planted you a noble vine…you turned
before (in front of) Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine
'Your iniquity is MARKED before Me,' says the Lord.
Jeremiah 2:17, 19, 21-22
Any nation turning itself into a "degenerate plant of an alien vine" has accomplished this fete through national will. God lays the blame squarely upon "His people" and their dereliction.

When Jesus said to His disciples that He was the true vine and they were the branches, He was establishing a people of the "noble vine." Alas, that noble estate has willfully become a part of a modern alien vine. The process has been operating a long time. Take this following quote as proof.
From the mid 1800's observe these words from the pen of Chas. G. Finney:
My wife had died in a heavenly frame of mind. Her rest in God was so perfect, that it seemed to me that, in leaving this world, she only entered into a fuller apprehension of the love and faithfulness of God, so as to confirm and perfect forever, her trust in God, and her union with his will. These are experiences in which I have lived, a great deal, since that time. But in preaching, I have found that nowhere can I preach those truths, on which my own soul delights to live, and be understood, except it be by a very small number. I have never found that more than a very few, even of my own people, appreciate and receive those views of God and Christ, and the fullness of his free salvation, upon which my own soul still delight to feed. Everywhere, I am obliged to come down to where the people are, in order to make them understand me; and in every place where I have preached, for many years, I have found the churches in so low a state, as to be utterly incapable of apprehending and appreciating, what I regard as the most precious truths of the whole Gospel. (Finney preached in America and England)*
*Page 383, Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney, Fleming H. Revell, N.Y., 1876 (reprinted 1906).
Again, the condition of the churches, worldwide, many of which have passed through various stages of growth and popularity and who have embraced all manner of charismatic-Pentecostal and Word emphasis, are in no better shape to receive the things of God than those in Finney's day. The prophet and God's words are rejected in many places.

Four defenses were made by "the people of God" in answer to Jeremiah's message. They argued:
  1. "I am not polluted." (Nothing wrong in us…we are not tainted by the world.) 2:23

  2. "We are lords." (We exercise our authority in the Word and don't need the prophet's input. A very similar approach was used by the enemies of Moses, "are we not all holy.") 2:31

  3. "Because I am innocent." (These charges [2:9] do not apply to our congregation) 2:35

  4. "I have not sinned." (A willful rebellion against the word of God) 2:35

Remember these defenses were used against God's message in an attempt to prove Him wrong! Are they not still the major defenses used today by congregations of all stripe? (Please notice that I omitted those passages they had spoken in the past (2:25) or would say in the future (2:27), only including their current arguments.)

In Chapter 2, verse 27, God accused His People of turning their back on Him. At that moment, God pointed to an enormous statistic, "according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah!" A modern verse describes Judah's modern counterpart:
Purple robed and pauper clad, rainy, rotten, money-mad,
Crazed with avarice, lust and ruin,
New York (substitute any city), thy name's delirium.
Just as a nation is comprised of its various parts, forming a "national mind," its cities characterize the "local mind." As part of the mix, the Lord probed into their every venue in order to expose the "real Judah." It can be said of nations that they have a "face" where international and commercial exchange affords a modicum of fairness, while the "real" face is known by its population. Families have similar structures.

With Jeremiah, the "hard" look into all underlying forces reveals the true "picture" God sees.
I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things.
Jeremiah 2:34
Chapter Three:

Early in this chapter, God tied economic downturn to the "spirit of harlotry (3:2)."
You have a harlot's forehead
Jeremiah 3:3
"A harlot's forehead" on the spiritual body of God's people is not a pretty face. Haughty, worldly-wise, rebellious, self-serving, experienced in deception, agendized, immoral and having a seared conscience are definitions that express the term, regardless of age or beauty or class.

Judah's harlot's trade developed during the reign of a righteous King, Josiah. It did not cease but increased through the years to the reign of an unrighteous King, Zedekiah. Judah's harlotry began fomenting beneath a façade of dignity at first, ultimately to be brazenly displayed as a profligate National Character. Is this not the progression of a harlot?
Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense, says the Lord.
Jeremiah 3:10
What is the national character of your country (this newsletter goes world wide)? What are the locals thinking? Is economic security and sustained life style worth the price of whoredom? (Preach this next Sunday and see if you get to preach through to Jeremiah 5.)
Backsliding Israel (carried away by Assyria, having elected their own priests and functioning under an un-anointed King all the while worshipping on false altars) has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
Jeremiah 3:11
Does God's opinion count?

Is He not kind and merciful in offering Israel reprieve?

The door to his mercy opens to repentance:
Only acknowledge your iniquity… (Confess) that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice.
Jeremiah 3:13
Aside from my pun on "going green" (under every green tree), God continues into Chapter 4 offering the words of confession and repentance that will open the passage to His mercy for Israel.
If you will put away your abominations out of My sight, THEN you shall not be moved. And you shall swear, 'The Lord lives,' in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness. (This an "if --"then" venture. There are many of these structures in scripture.)
Jeremiah 4:1, 2
This formula will work before God today! National repentance, beginning in the churches, is the only avenue open to the nations in 2009! Short of this, captivity is just around the corner.

God turned to Judah and Jerusalem with a much different formula. Their sin was greater.
Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord. Take away the foreskins of your hearts.
Jeremiah 4:3, 4
Jeremiah promised if these measures were not implemented, God would bring to their doorsteps "great destruction."
The lion has come up from his thicket, and the 'destroyer of nations' Is on his way… in THAT day, says the Lord… the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder… at THAT time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem… Now I will speak judgment against them… (they shall say) "Woe to us, for we are plundered."
Jeremiah 4: 13
Ladies and Gentlemen, this day is fast approaching the U.S. when the hue and cry will be heard, "Woe to us, for we are plundered."
Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you, this is Your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches to your HEART!
Jeremiah 4: 18
The watchers have come!
Watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah.
Jeremiah 4:16
The "watchers" have looked into the homes, the businesses, the churches, the governing bodies and have already written their report! God has made His judgments and set in motion a point of no return.
Because I have spoken, I have purposed and will not relent, nor will I turn back from it.
Jeremiah 4:28
Regardless of the national attempt to "cover up" with adornments (though you clothe yourself with crimson and adorn yourself with ornaments of gold), "in vain you will make yourself fair."
Your lovers will despise you; they will seek your life… (Until there is heard a desperate cry) 'Woe is me now, for my soul is weary because of murderers.'
Jeremiah 4: 30
Chapter 5

Introduction: Several years ago, when preparing to minister in one of the large cities in Brazil, my phone rang and a prophetess said, "I am not sure where your church assignment will be, but Jeremiah 5 is primary in doing the true work of God in that congregation." I remember thinking, after looking up the chapter, "How does this relate to anything there?" I determined to preach a different series to the largest Baptist church in that city. I was welcomed graciously. Our meeting was to be from Sunday morning through Wednesday evening and then on to several mission churches, winding up near the port at Santos. Services went well. A modest, but goodly, number of conversions took place (among Baptist, this is the primary criteria for success). Well rounded services were held, and on Wednesday night, the prepared topic was to be built around Revelation 12. The interpreter spent tireless hours working over each message with me to insure proper meaning and a polished flow. We stood in the pulpit and the house was packed. My mind said, "Turn to Revelation 12," but my mouth said, "Turn to Jeremiah 5." Jose´ looked at me and exclaimed, "We haven't prepared Jeremiah 5." Becoming aware of my change, I instructed him to read the entire chapter and prepare for an exposition of those verses. I prayed.

Hardly had we entered this chapter, but a man on the third row rose and spoke in Portuguese what was translated, "Forgive me the sins of my heart." He then fell to the floor and people rushed to him. First him, then others… I continued to preach what the Spirit put upon my heart. Chaos took place (this is the only way to describe what was happening). Following the first man's confession (and after he was slain in the Spirit---something unheard of in a Baptist church), others began openly calling out in repentance. Sobs and tears were heard and seen everywhere. People were running to relatives and friends and begging forgiveness, many of them falling prostrate on the floor in front of them. I finally had to relinquish preaching and sought to minister to a few who were near. The Spirit had control, but from the view of some Baptist Seminarians, it was completely "out of control." (The pastor told me at the door, after 2 hrs., that I had addressed every troublesome issue in that church and that most of them he had been reluctant to address in the five years he had been the pastor… he was grateful and with tears, he hugged and hugged me.)

The Seminarians invited me to an afternoon tea on Friday. They informed me they would personally see that I would never minister in Brasil again. My comment was, "The Lord judge between you and me." I departed in order to complete my mission. Their threat was met with death.

Let us review Chapter Five:

It opens with an Abrahamic search. God did not require fifty righteous men; He required the emergence of just one to thwart the coming doom.
Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her.
Jeremiah 5: 1
Preaching this verse, as it turned out, was enough to elicit the man on the third row to repent. Such a sobering search among the people of God would be a task in today's society. (I excuse no one in this… I do repent of excusing some from last month's words… the Lord chastised me for doing so… I repented. I must let the Spirit do His work. It is not mine to excuse.)

Jeremiah catalogued the responses of "the people of God" to their God.
You have stricken them, but they have not grieved;
You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return.
Jeremiah 5:3
(Now, when the congregation in Brasil got to these verses, conviction began in many of their hearts.)

In Jeremiah's search for someone who really wanted to know truth, he observed how the average person was foolish and did not know the way of the Lord. So, he turned to searching the "great men" of his day.
But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds… Their transgressions are many, their backslidings have increased.
Jeremiah 5:5, 6
(It was at this point in my preaching of chapter five that I turned to leadership and those in authority and preached to them; no one was spared. This was the probable cause for the Seminarian's visit.)

Jeremiah began a review of the sins of the multitudes (5:7-9); his list was shorter than those which could be enumerated today, yet, destruction and captivity was the result. What of today? Who is willing to make an honest appraisal of the deeds of the nations?
They have lied about the Lord, and said, "It is not He."
(Saying Jeremiah's message was not from the Lord.)
Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine.
Jeremiah 5:12
Believing the prophets sent by Him were nothing more than wind bags, angered the Lord. He made a promise to Jeremiah,
Because you speak this word, Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Jeremiah 5:14
(That is what happened in Brasil that night. Everywhere my face turned, I could see words flowing out and bringing down sin and rebellion. The people were like wood against the flame of the Holy Spirit. O' to have true repentance return; O' that I might behold the uninhibited display of the power of the Spirit of God again. Instead, week after week, I see a grieving of the Spirit, and hear the words of Jeremiah echoing in my ears.)
Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good things from you… .For among My people are found wicked men; they lie in wait as one who sets snares; they set a trap; they catch men… their houses are full of deceit, therefore they have become great and grown rich, they have grown fat, they are sleek; Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked… Shall I not punish them for these things: says the Lord, Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?
Jeremiah 5:25
God promised to give Judah to a foreign country as slaves, to take their lands and the inheritance of their children and destroy it, to ravish by destruction their valued cities and put the sword in their midst.
An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; AND MY PEOPLE love to have it so, but what will you do in the end?
Jeremiah 5:31
Listen! I returned to Brasil afterward; here is what I found. Initially, the currency they had valued for over forty years was devalued. The people had from April 1 to June 1 to bring in their money to a central bank and make the exchange to the new money. When they handed in a $100, they received $10. I witnessed coins and paper money littering the streets, in gutters and scattered along the sidewalk… even paupers had no reason to pick it up-they had no value. This course of action repeated itself in subsequent years until currently the Real is the currency of commerce. I witnessed the change from a country of people with a religious heritage evolve into a style crazed society electing a left wing government. I returned to the U.S. and preached, "It will happen here." No one listened.

The God who sealed forever the boundaries of the seas, so that they can go no farther (in spite of Global warming hype) has decreed another seal to a defiant and rebellious people … "take away her branches, for they are not the Lord's." Jeremiah 5:10

The well traveled road that Judah took leads to captivity:
And it will be when you say, 'Why does the Lord our God do all these things to us?' then you shall answer them (Jeremiah) 'Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.'
Jeremiah 5:19
The Sons of Zadok have a clear message to proclaim, it is: "Hear, oh foolish people!"

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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