"The Road to Captivity", Part 2; A Study in Jeremiah, Chapters 6-9
July 1, 2009

C. R. Oliver

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July 1, 2009

"The Road to Captivity", Part 2
A Study in Jeremiah, Chapters 6-9

Introduction: Last month, the groundwork was laid for a continuing study in the book of Jeremiah. In the first five chapters, the prophet gave some of the basic considerations necessary for God to bring a nation or nations into captivity.

Sadly, many commentators relegate Jeremiah to a time frame only relevant to the Babylonian captivity. They brush aside his prophecy as not having "end time" proportions. They are wrong. Jeremiah's insights and his proximity to the heart of God are reflected in extremely long venues as current as today's news. Two very different yet timely aspects in the life of the prophet cause me to say this. First, history proves that he carried the two daughters of King Zedekiah to Europe after the Judah King was blinded and his two sons murdered by the Babylonians. Zedekiah's daughters escaped and eventually were married to Kings of two very different countries; *Scota to Heber, soon the King of Spain and Tamar Tephi to the King of Ireland, thereby birthing true Israel into the bloodlines of European royalty. Second, Jeremiah's prophecies are about an "example people" who called themselves "God's own," yet lived far from him though appearing near in sacrifice and profession.
*Kraentzler, Ernst-Friedrich, The Ancestry of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily De Neville, A Royal Study and Charting to the Beginning, Self published, 1978.
In the first action, one can see now why the greatest threats of modern society are against those descendants of true Israel and the machinations of the current socio-economic crises are aimed at them. The new world order of the anti-Christ wants to obliterate not only the people, but their symbols and national standards* (all of which are Israelitish). While the world looks to the geographic state of Israel, attention is diverted from the truth that the Israel of God is under assault around the world.
*Bennett, W.H., Symbols of Our Celto-Saxon Heritage, Covenant Press (Canadian British Israel Association, Windsor, Canada, 1976.
In review of Jeremiah's second action, the modern church is found emulating the religious community of Jeremiah's day. It is doing so in such rapid pace that the judgments and punishments meted out against Jerusalem are forming again. As evidence increases against the modern church, it resembles the stacks of evidence mounted up by the great prophet against the Temple people. When the prophetic message becomes apparent to those in charge, they will join the persecutors of the saints.

It takes no social scientist to recognize the tightening noose already forming around the neck of the spiritual communities of the world. Whether those communities are the underground church, home groups, small gatherings or for that matter large conclaves, it does not matter, for all are suspect and under scrutiny. The Israel of God is clearly in the sights of world leadership from many fronts, and the reason can be found as much in Jeremiah's review of what brought matters to a head in his day as are found in the scenes of the book of Revelation.

Relevancy will not be an issue after one finishes this study; rather the question will be "Which of Jeremiah's prophetic issues are not relevant to the modern church?"

All his words were spoken in two dimensions, forming dual layers, (1) to those persons and communities of 500 or so BC; (2) to the modern church relying upon a rapture as a Twenty-first Century escape.

Let the relevancy begin:

For this month's study, a greater degree of cause and effect will be called to the forefront than was found in last month's study. In Jeremiah 6-9, God began by singling out Benjamin (Jerusalem is in Benjamin) and telling that tribe what He planned to do with them. Then, He directed Jeremiah to the steps and porch of the Temple where a general declaration to Judah and to the other twelve tribes was expressed. God then turned only to Judah and listed their sins and His punishments for them. (In subsequent chapters, the Lord will address both houses as a unit [though they are separated] and point to a simple covenant arrangement. His emphasis on simplicity will be alarmingly powerful because this will be Jerusalem's LAST CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT!

Two voices are heard throughout the next three chapters, that of the Lord and that of Jeremiah. While the Lord is speaking, it is necessary to point out that a running commentary from the prophet is being constantly interposed simultaneously. Therefore, it is necessary in this study to keep in mind the shifts between quoted material, ("the word of the Lord") and that which is most often not in quotes (the words of the prophet Jeremiah). Special attention should be made to the emotional reaction of the prophet. Jeremiah is not a passive spokesman. His reactions express his heart toward the people of God, as well as his central belief that "captivity was inevitable."

God sometimes answered the prophet's comments with comments of His own, so a running dialogue is operative in these verses.

Central to this lesson are two factors that are constants:
  1. The expressed "will of the people" as they act out their true heart rather than what their mouth professes. (The adage, "actions are louder than words" applies here.)

  2. Then there is the constancy of God's compassion toward a people to whom He has sent His messengers, along with His actions of intervening love and forbearance. His appraisal could be paraphrased as, "This people have drawn Me out and I must now act."
Exposition: Jeremiah 6

This chapter establishes the reality that God punishes nations by using conquering "other" nations. The "other nation" does not have to be moral or godly, but will face consequences for its aggression. This chapter also establishes a principle: God does not rescue a nation just because that nation has had His favor in the past or presents itself as being religious.

Aggressive "other" nations may take many forms. Some are sophisticated and some are barbaric. The Assyrians (barbaric) carried away the eleven tribes (remember Joseph had two sons making the difference in number) to the North. Assyria did not trouble Judah and Benjamin (with some of Levi) to the South, because they engaged in battle with other neighbors. The Assyrians were in fact a barbaric, pagan, horrific horde that captured, pillaged and destroyed its prey. The road to captivity is always a hard one and is the result of deep unresolved spiritual issues between the conquered nation and the true God. (One need only study the history of the eleven tribes to see how sinful and rebellious they became after the death of Solomon.)

A deep shadow was cast over Judah and Benjamin at this point. They, along with some of Levi, represented all that remained of the people of God occupying the land of Jacob. Not only were they free for some 160 year interval, they systematically adopted the sins of their northern brethren--all the while expecting different results for themselves. Any nation that does what this nation did must expect the exact same results from a never changing God.

(Author's Note: Because this newsletter goes worldwide, its concerns and warnings are therefore universal. World captivity of all free nations is now a viable prospect on the horizon. Agendas are in place which will converge for one purpose: to change and/or undermine infrastructure which serves as the stabilizing force of all nations. Giant claws rake across the globe, seeking power in economies and social structures. The world barely nurses itself from the effect of one wound when another strikes. Similar activities took place in Jeremiah's day.)

Excitement and fear built up as God acknowledged the threats which were coming upon His people. He offered them no intervention. His advice was:
'Flee for safety, people of Benjamin!
Flee from Jerusalem!
Sound the trumpet in Tekoa!
Raise the signal over Beth Hakkerem!'
"Sound The Trumpet in Tekoa" was a strategic call to battle, even when there was no apparent enemy. The reference to "Beth Hakkerem," was a high plateau where a signal fire would be universally seen, (high visibility became a major factor). In other words, this was not just a local battle involving Jerusalem, but a conflict which would involve the whole nation. (Jerusalem in this case is used as an archetype for the whole nation).
(6:6-8, The Lord explored the reason for the impending destruction.)
"This city must bepunished;
it is filled with oppression.
As a well pours out its water,
so she pours out her wickedness.
Violence and destruction resound in her;
her sickness and wounds are ever before me.
Take warning, O Jerusalem… "
Is this not an apt description of the cities of the world? Could one not print these words in different form and it be certified by most urban councils and mayors? Doesn't the press and mass media testify increasingly of its validity?

The Lord described the depth of destruction that would take place. It will be like those who have passed through a vineyard and collected all the easily accessible grapes, only to return to glean every one of the remaining ones. Every person will be affected by this destruction and all will be taken captive. (Can't one imagine a "grape mentality?" Each grape gasps as his neighbor is pulled and disappears, while sighing in relief, "the hand did not come for me;" then, when the worst seems over, "The hand appears and grasps and plucks." This is the world's mentality, whether in Christian or secular circles. They say, "If it doesn't involve me, I am pleased." Alas, the vineyard belongs to God, not man.)
"Let them glean the remnant of Israel
as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
like one gathering grapes."
Jeremiah, the prophet, cried out as this prophecy manifested the severity of the coming siege. He recognized his audience was deaf to prophetic truth because "the word of the LORD is offensive to them."

(Note: The true word, if spoken in pulpits and groups today, would find the same reaction. However, Jeremiah declared his heart was filled, not with ameliorative prose, but with the message of the wrath of God. He identified with the feelings of the Father.)
(6:10-11, Jeremiah speaking:)
To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it
But I am full of the wrath of the LORD,
and I cannot hold it in.
(Note: Ask yourself, "Just where would one go to deliver Jeremiah's message today?" What arena would tolerate such indictments?)

Throughout Chapter six, words of impending wrath are used to expand the depth and severity of the forthcoming situation. Further accusations were made and many were the times the prophet interrupted the message of God in order to wail for his people's cause. Here is an example:
(6:13-14, Jeremiah was alarmed at the amount of deceit found in trusted leadership.)
From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
(Note: Band-aids covering bullet holes are not proper treatment. Today's spiritual emergency rooms have greater numbers than there are practitioners to help them. But their remedies are lacking substance enough to overcome the maladies.) God's Advice:
(6: 16, The Lord told His audience where to find proper treatment but acknowledged their stubborn unwillingness to take "the treatment." Is such stubbornness prevalent today? God required the seriously wounded to initiate their quest.)
Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'
God reminded the wounded daughter of Zion that He sent watchmen to warn her but she refused to listen. God then called "the nations" and the "whole earth" to attend His next words. (When God has a prophet address the earth, the matter is as universal a situation as one will ever encounter. Notice how the problem expanded to affect greater and larger numbers. Review the present world dilemma. What began in one part, now affects the whole.)
(6:20, Religious display stood useless before the Lord. Instead of repentance the body of believer's substituted greater evidences of their wealth-they failed to impress God. One can imagine what their display would have consisted of had they been afforded the modern techniques found today. The light show and music central would have rocked their dock.)

God spoke:
'What do I care about incense from Sheba
or sweet calamus from a distant land?'
. (6:26, Jeremiah responded like Moses when God offered to annihilate Israel. Jeremiah's advice needs to be the standard advice for every church and congregation in the world. Nay, the majority feel they are too advanced for such behavior!)
O my people, put on sackcloth
and roll in ashes;
mourn with bitter wailing
as for an only son,
for suddenly the destroyer
will come upon us.
In response to the prophet's surge, God created an additional order to his job description … that of assayer. God told Jeremiah to be an assayer to evaluate the people. (The job of the assayer of gold, for example, requires expertise to determine its purity, character and quantity. Let those determinations be applied to the church and one will hear the sobbing of the assayer! Who will fill this job today? Who will testify of his findings? )
The refining goes on in vain;
the wicked are not purged out.
They are called rejected silver,
because the LORD has rejected them.
Stamped "Rejected silver," means one's being has been assayed and found wanting. How many of the audience of supplicants on Sunday would bear that stamp?

(Before leaving chapter six, review the following statements that are sealed by the Almighty, nothing can change these edicts:
Jer 6:2 'I will destroy the Daughter of Zion.'
Jer 6:6 'This city (Jerusalem) must be punished; it is filled with oppression.'
Jer 6:8 'I will turn away from you and make your land desolate so no one can live in it.' (Based on their nonrepentance).
Jer 6:12 'Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,' declares the LORD.
Jer 6:15 'They will be brought down when I punish them,' says the LORD.
Jer 6:19 'I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes.'
Jer 6:21 'I will put obstacles before this people.'
Exposition: Jeremiah 7
(7:1-8 This message is to Judah and mainly to Judah's church goers.)
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Stand at the gate of the LORD's house and there proclaim this message:'

'Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!" If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.'
Three basic rules are given to the royal house of Judah:
  1. Reform or change your ways and your actions.
  2. Quit trusting in deceptive words.
  3. Do not follow other gods.
(Note: What if those three points were covered thoroughly next Sunday at the local gathering place? What deceptive words would follow? In light of that, "What about the next evaluation?")
Jer. 7:9-11: Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe" - safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.
God's Advice: "Go to Shiloh."
Jer. 7:14-15 What I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.
Where the Ark of the Covenant was stolen; thousands were killed and captured by the Philistines. Ichabod was born there, to the profligate priest, Phinehas, who lost his life, as did his brother, Hophni. Ichabod's mother died. The high priest, Eli, also died as a judgment. God removed His presence from the tent of meeting and only returned on special occasions (the dedication of Solomon's Temple). A terrible mess was occasioned at Shiloh because of an unrepentant people. God had sent an unheeded messenger , Samuel, to prophesy to a hapless crew of the spiritually weak. The sons of Eli lay with women other than their wives. They took enormous offerings and cared nothing for the plight of the parishioners. (Does any of this sound familiar?)
Jeremiah is told two things:
1. Do Not intercede.
Jer. 7:16, Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.
Jeremiah is also told to go to the people with a specific message of impending judgment, realizing as he goes they will not listen to him or hear his words. Below is the simple formula for getting things right with God.
2. He must deliver an ignored word (the simple formulae).
Jer. 7:23-24, I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.
(When the Lord speaks, do what He says. That is not complicated. His covenant is simple: "I will be your God, you will be my people." One task is set before His people: "Walk in all the ways I command you." [The Holy Spirit is speaking today and requiring exact and perfunctory action when He leads.] See the book: En Punto.)

Exposition: Jeremiah 8.

After promising the desecration of the "sacred" dead and forecasting the cry of those who wished they were dead, the Lord listed the "stacked up" sins and faults of the "people of God." The question is, "Do these sins and faults have relevance to the modern church?"
  1. Jer 8:5 Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
  2. Jer 8:6 They do not say what is right.
  3. Jer 8:6 No one repents of his wickedness, saying, "What have I done?" ( Remember the words of the crowd after Peter preached, "What shall we do?")
  4. Jer 8:7 My people do not know the requirements of the LORD.
  5. Jer 8:8 They say: "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," (when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? )
  6. Jer 8:10 From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
Due to these faults and sins, God declared certain punishments were inevitable: (Note: God is no respecter of person. He changes not. If a people are guilty of these faults and sins, in any generation, they will receive the same reward.)
  1. Jer 8:10 'Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners.' (That's captivity. That is currently happening.)
  2. Jer 8:12 'They will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished.'
  3. Jer 8:13 'I will take away their harvest… ' Jer 8:13 'What I have given them will be taken from them.'
  4. Jer 8:17 'I will send venomous snakes among you, vipers that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you.' (Are these not described in Jude and II Peter?)
Jeremiah is struck by the intensity and severity of the Lord's punishment of His people. Some of the most beautiful and tender passages in this book begin in this chapter.
Jer 8:18-19 'O, my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?"'

Jer 8:20 'The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.'

Jer 8:21-22 Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
Exposition: Jeremiah 9

Since the message of God is strained through the heart of the Prophet, it takes its toll on the inner man of his spirit. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet, not because he is weak, but because the core of his being hurt for the conditions he saw around him. As God pointed out sin after sin, Jeremiah stood in awe of their depth and wholesale saturation. He was not detached and evasive. He did not stand in the position of a patriarch handing down judgment or some pontiff distributing penance or dispensations-he stood as the man of God, who viewed the people of God as those who had been duped and led astray-a flock undone. The true prophet cannot send out detached dilatory emails, publish edicts and distribute texts filled with invectives while standing aloof from the people he addresses. Prophecy is more than detached visionary insight-it draws upon the man or woman of God in such a way as to carry them into the fray where he or she experiences the stream of the Word of the Lord as it gushes into human hearts.

No true prophet can stand aside and review the scene in front of him or her as some disparate chronicler reviewing historical data. The soul of the prophet is attached to the very being of God and from him or her comes purity unparalleled in his or her societies. With them there is no lag in time. The prophet's badge is expediency with profundity. They carry the message from God in the same cloak as Paul who admonished those who handle the gospel message to deliver it as "the oracle."

Jeremiah's compassion, yet no identification with the sin of his people:
Jer 9:1 Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.

Jer 9:2 Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.

Jer 9:10 I will weep and wail for the mountains and take up a lament concerning the desert pastures. They are desolate and untraveled, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. The birds of the air have fled and the animals are gone.
The Lord then chimed in with further pragmatics:
Jer 9:3 'They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,' declares the LORD.

Jer 9:8-9 'With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him. Should I not punish them for this?' declares the LORD,'Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?'

Jer 9:13-14 The LORD said, 'It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.

Jer 9:23-24 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD.
Then, comes a powerful prophecy that reaches even into current times:
Jer 9:25-26 'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh - Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.'
The uncircumcised heart is rampant among those of the church. Flesh still dominates and stubbornness is everywhere. Pride still rules and the knife lays abandoned. Notice the list of nations includes JUDAH. Notice the others are the enemies of Judah. How sad to be numbered among the enemies! How sad to be called, "the people of God" and hear, "You are not my people, anymore!"

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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