And It Happened; A Study Of Intervention And Result
July 1, 2010

C. R. Oliver

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July 1, 2010

And It Happened; A Study Of Intervention And Result

          While doing the series on Jeremiah, I encountered a number of times the phrase, "And it happened." Generally, it was inserted as a transitional unit, used primarily to signal a change in the scenario. Often, it was used during a time when the reader was not expecting some occurrence or when something out of the ordinary would enter to disrupt or validate an issue. Nonetheless, the phrase, "and it happened," inevitably would signal a change in direction or course of events.

          In Jeremiah, it most often meant that God's hand had entered to correct or bring about judgment. However, as one makes a more intense study of that little "Phrase," an amazing comprehension takes place within the researcher. Its use changes from time to time and offers the observer an insight surrounding the focal passage (where it appears) that could be garnered no other way. Therefore, "the Phrase," "and it happened," is not casually added or cast into Scriptural text merely as a transitional unit, but as a causative force to drive home knowledge and wisdom about its attendant verse. "The Phrase" begins to have a life function of its own. (It appears in both Testaments for a total of 171 times with 31 of those times in the New Testament.)

          There is something necessary to mention before going further… that being the book, En Punto. Yes, I know as one reads, En Punto, they come away with the truth that "nothing is happenstance" in the life of the faith-person. So, "and it happened" becomes an adjunct modifier and does not convey the thought of chance or luck or fate. Quite the opposite, "and it happened," as one will soon ascertain, is the antithesis of chance or luck. In Scripture, it always explains itself. It may point to a sinful pattern that has bound its victim to a conclusion allowing its built-in judgment to come down. It may direct attention to the beginning of a chain of events or to some end action or exit cause. "The Phrase" may be even used as a sentinel, guarding a treasure and revealing its role as watchman. But it will always catch the eye and cause one's attention to leap.

Instances in Jeremiah citing: "And it happened."
          Ten times in the writing of Jeremiah, "the Phrase" jumps out at the reader. The first instance was in the twentieth chapter and was in regard to a prophetic word given by Jeremiah to a false prophet. Up to this point, persecutors seemingly triumphed over Jeremiah, but here "the Phrase" signaled a change. Jeremiah was about to "lay into" the entire troublemaking clergy. Earlier they had made a declaration of their intentions toward him; now he will make declarations to them.
Then they said, 'Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.'
Jeremiah 18:18
Pashhur became the standard bearer for his group and was carrying out the agreed upon clergy plan when "it happened." "The Phrase" is used here to reveal the hidden heart of the profligate clergy and their spokesman .
3 And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, 'The LORD has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib*. 4 For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. 5 Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies."'
Jeremiah 20: 3-6
*Magor-Missabib means "fear all around." As spokesman for the group of wayward clergy with evil designs, his new name signifies the whole group will be full of fear on every side. During the invasion, and afterward, this came to pass---they reaped what they sowed.
Up to this point, Jeremiah had done little to defend himself, but that day was now over.

A very different "and it happened" occurred six chapters later. There "the Phrase" is used as a shift, showing the tide turning toward evil. It housed a strong sentiment of resentment toward Jeremiah, perhaps even a strengthening of resolve in the case of the clergy.
8 Now it happened, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, "You will surely die! 9 Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, 'This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without an inhabitant'?" And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
Jeremiah 26: 8-9
Talk about resistance to a message; observe the rank and order of the respondents: priests, prophets and then the people. The whole force of clergy on that day was against Jeremiah and his message. It was bound to "happen," because every man of them was a false witness. Imagine a scene where every clergyman that Jeremiah encountered was a false one. Imagine the power of mutual agreement among those interactive ranks (Prophets, priests and people). Imagine!

In the face of such opposition, Jeremiah took a peculiar tack. He totally agreed with a false prophecy when it was given and concurred with its perpetrator. He did it with tongue in cheek.
And it happened in the same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, 2 "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: 'I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4 And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah who went to Babylon,' says the LORD, 'for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.'"

5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who stood in the house of the LORD, 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, 'Amen!'
Jeremiah 28:1-6
Yep, Jeremiah said he hoped it would turn out just like the false guy said. He hoped Hananiah was right and everything Jeremiah said was proven wrong. He added later, "It isn't going to happen." Following this occurrence, twice in one chapter (Jeremiah 36), "the Phrase" raised up to signal alarm. First, it appeared among the governmental leaders when they heard the message from an imprisoned prophet. The second time was when the King heard it and cut it and burned it.
6 Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, "We will surely tell the king of all these words."
Jeremiah 36:16
And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe's knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
Jeremiah 36:23-24
Remember that "fear all around" was the order of the day. How different groups and individuals dealt with fear is interesting. One group wanted to shift responsibility to the king. The king didn't want to hear anymore.

In the next instance, Jeremiah was minding his own business and was elated the Chaldeans had relaxed their grip on Judah. He wanted to "get away" for a while and view the property he had bought from his uncle.
And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "You are defecting to the Chaldeans!"
Jeremiah 37:11-13
(Perhaps Irijah was the grandson of Hananiah, the false prophet. It would explain his actions toward Jeremiah).

They put Jeremiah in prison.

Toward the end of Jeremiah's writing, "the Phrase," "And it happened," was used another way… to show event sequence. In this scene, Ishmael was plotting against and assassinating persons in order to gain political power (few knew it).
4 And it happened, on the second day after he had killed Gedaliah, when as yet no one knew it, 5 that certain men came from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, eighty men with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD. 6 Now Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went along; and it happened as he met them that he said to them, "Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam!" 7 So it was, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah killed them and cast them into the midst of a pit, he and the men who were with him.
Jeremiah 41:4-7
Yet again, "the Phrase" is used for sequence; this time Jeremiah was asked to petition heaven to ascertain direction for the people of God and as he began praying, "it happened."
7 And it happened after ten days that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, 9 and said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10'If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,' says the LORD,'for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.'
Jeremiah 42:7-12
Jeremiah knew the Lord would answer him. He did not know how long it would take. His message was not well received because it did not coincide with the beliefs of the established leadership (A matter which is often encountered among true prophets).
Now it happened, when Jeremiah had stopped speaking to all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, all these words, 2 that Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men spoke, saying to Jeremiah, "You speak falsely! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, 'Do not go to Egypt to dwell there.'
Jeremiah 43:1-2
Jeremiah expected some things to happen, but he was surprised at other times (just as the reader is). Each instance in Jeremiah's case stood as a classical example of "the Phrase's" use.

Jeremiah's "now it happened" series actually exemplified the various uses of "the Phrase" throughout Scripture.

Author's note: From this place forward, the author will pull examples which will illustrate this point. (Here is a good place to stop and say, "One of the values of this study is the reader will never read the Bible in the same way again." [A gentleman, who had just finished reading all six books in our series said to me recently, "Oliver, your books cause me to read scripture differently. They raise my level of comprehension and cause the Bible to come alive for me."] Now that was a real compliment! Bless the Name of the Lord; all praise be given to Him.)

Instances of "the Phrase" in the New Testament:

Jesus: "The Phrase" was used before His birth to show change:
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord."
Jesus: "The Phrase" used to reveal the hidden heart.
As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Matthew 9:9-12
(Also found in Mark 2:13-17; Matthew 12:1-8; and Luke 6:1-5)
Jesus: "The Phrase" is used in the Parable of the Sower to show Natural sequence:
3 "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth;
Mark 4:3
Jesus: "The Phrase" is used to show Ministry sequence:
Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.
Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12
(A similar use is found in Matthew 12:9-14 and Mark 3:1-6, "Now it happened on another Sabbath" [also when He entered the synagogue and taught, and where a man was healed whose right hand was withered].)

(On another occasion: (John 10:38ff) "Now it happened, the day after," that He went into a city called Nain and many of His disciples went with Him, forming a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother.)
Author's Note: Many times in the ministry of Jesus, the Father would bring him to a certain place at a certain time and then occasion a healing, a teaching or an event opportunity. These sequences were not happenstance-they happened on time and were planned. The same is true of all anointed ministries. The same can be true in your life!
If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'
John 15:24-27
Other New Testament Instances of "the Phrase."
And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.
Acts 13:49-14: 2, 14:1
Here, "The Phrase" purposefully pointed out sequence, and how Paul and Barnabus carefully followed the Spirit, and how they were at the right place at the correct time. Following the Spirit always produces an "it happened" experience. Always!

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
Acts 19:1

'Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, "Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me."'
Acts 22:17-18
Some additional Old Testament Instances of "the Phrase."

Author's note: Supernatural wisdom "happens" when men and women of prayer yield to the Spirit. "Let him ask of God" is a command. He will reveal His will; He will answer prayer; He will come on the scene. Things will happen!
Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said,"Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." 17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end."

18 Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. 19 And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.
Daniel 8:15ff
Earlier in this study, it was mentioned that often "the Phrase" was used to signal judgment. Review the following passages in that light.
I will judge you at the border of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. 11 This city shall not be your caldron, nor shall you be the meat in its midst. I will judge you at the border of Israel. 12 And you shall know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in My statutes nor executed My judgments, but have done according to the customs of the Gentiles which are all around you.

13 Now it happened, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried with a loud voice, and said, 'Ah, Lord GOD! Will You make a complete end of the remnant of Israel?'
Ezekiel 11:10-13
In Ezekiel 10:6, the placing of "and it happened" was used to introduce the spectacular fire aspects of the Lord and his servants. (I am currently writing a book, Consumed By His Fire. The following illustration is cogent to that study.)
It has been reported that a pastor in S. Carolina, after hearing my initial teachings last month, experienced an outbreak of fire. He was under the power of the Spirit, in his office early one morning, when his hands became extremely hot, like the hands of John G. Lake when he was in a healing ministry. The heat from them set off fire alarms in the building, and he was obliged to put his hands in his pockets when the firemen arrived. No other persons were in the building at the time. He reported that he had never experienced anything like this before.

Author's note: This is not a strange phenomenon. John, the Baptist, said He would baptize with the Holy Ghost and FIRE and He kept his Word! It Happened!
6 Then it happened, when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, "Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim," that he went in and stood beside the wheels. 7 And the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed with linen, who took it and went out.
Until next month, my prayer is that you will have many "happenings" brought through the Spirit, and you will be prompted to share them. That, of course, is reason the church should assemble on Sunday---to hear about the "happenings."

PS: Other interesting O.T. passages using "the Phrase:"
Esther 5:1-2
Nehemiah 4:15-16
II Chronicles 34:19
II Kings 20:4
II Kings 3:15, 16
Numbers 11: 24, 25

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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