Now let's turn to Jeremiah chapter 22 as Pastor Skip continues to lead us through the Bible in our verse by verse study.
Chapter 22 of Jeremiah is a tale of four kings, Jeremiah's personal word to the last four rulers of the southern kingdom of Judah. I was reading an article out of a periodical known as Pulpit Helps. It was some time ago. It was about a country in Africa that had kings, who reigned for seven year periods. I don't know how true this is. It was an article in this magazine, but at the end of seven years the old King was killed before the new King was put on the throne for another seven year period.
Now the King, who was in power for seven years, could do absolutely whatever he wanted. He was the King. He was the monarch. He called all the shots. He can enjoy every possible benefit and accoutrement that that kingdom had to offer him. He could live it up. There was only one thing he couldn't do and that is change that custom, which anybody would be tempted to do. If you're on the throne for seven years, you'd want to extend it for two terms.
But that was the catch, you couldn't change the custom. So you knew you'd be on there for seven years, and at the end of that seven years you'd be killed. Now when hearing those rules, one would think there'd be no takers for that job. No one would sign up, and yet, there was a list. There was a line. There was a whole group of guys ready to take that job, because they thought only of that seven years of pure enjoyment, where they could live it up, do whatever they pleased, even though at the end of that there would be a tragic end.
The last four kings of Judah are from the lineage of King David. They have authority. They have power. They can do whatever they want, and some of them do live it up. In living it up, though, they did evil in the sight of the Lord and they all met a tragic end of some kind. And we're going to look at those four kings in chapter 22.
By the way, without realizing it, that's how a lot of people live their lives. They don't think of the future beyond the present, the now, the immediate fulfillment. What's in it for me now? How can I'd be happy and filled with pleasure now? Who cares about later. And like those kings in that African nation living it up not knowing that's really all they're going to have. In the end is a tragic end.
The four kings that are mentioned are not in chronological order. The first King that the prophet goes to see is the last King of Judah, that's Zedekiah. And after the message to King Zedekiah, he goes back and takes the last three in chronological order. So it's not given in the chronology of the reign of those kings, because the last one, as I said, is King Zedekiah.
A little review. King Josiah, the good guy, he brought reform to the land. He was killed in a battle with Pharaoh Necho, who had come from Egypt in a battle with the Assyrians. For whatever reason, King Josiah decided to get involved in that battle. He didn't have to.
In fact, Pharaoh Necho said, this isn't about you King. This is about me and the King of Assyria. But pharaoh Necho encountered King Josiah of Judah at the city of Megiddo, and, there, King Josiah met his death.
After Josiah died, his son Jehoahaz came to the throne. Jehoahaz was only on the throne for three months. Barely got the throne warm, and he was captured by Pharaoh Necho, brought down to Egypt, where he was imprisoned and later on was killed.
The pharaoh decided to put another of Josiah's sons, on the throne of Judah, named Eliakim, whom Pharaoh Necho changed to the name Jehoiakim. He reigned for 11 years. He rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar even though Jeremiah said, whatever you do, don't rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians are a strong people. He did anyway and he was deposed and deported by Nebuchadnezzar.
After Eliakim slash Jehoiakim came Jehoiachin, also named Jeconiah. Now, you're going to have a test on this next week, so you have to know all these names.
He reigned for three months and 10 days, and he was taken off to Babylon, and King Zedekiah ruled in his place. But what's important to know, though you don't need to remember all of their names and their dates, is that after King Josiah, who brought a revival of sorts to the land, after his death there was a successive decline in the spiritual fervor of that nation. And they all went back to doing evil in the sight of the Lord, much like Josiah's grandpa King Manasseh, who was the worst of all, 55 year reign of terror. It got worse and worse and worse. Each politician, after Josiah, made it worse until the very end.
Now, I heard about a story. Three men were arguing over which profession was the oldest profession in the world. And the doctor spoke first. He said well, the Bible does say that God took Adam and made Eve by carving a rib out of Adam. So that would make the surgeon the oldest profession in the world. And he prided himself because he was a doctor. He was a surgeon.
An engineer was there. And he said, well, if you go back a little bit further, we read that one of the first things God did is that He created the earth in six days. And He created it out of chaos. That's the job of an engineer.
And there was a politician present and he said, ah but who made the chaos?
Well, these four kings made a lot of chaos, undoing what the good king had done. Thus says the Lord, this now is a message to Zedekiah, go down to the house of the King of Judah. And remember the kings lived down topographically from the heights of the hills in Jerusalem. They were at a lower elevation. Go down to the house of the King of Judah and there speak this word and say, hear the word of the Lord O King of Judah, who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates.
Thus says the Lord, execute judgment and righteousness and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong. Do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David.
But if you will not hear these words, I swear by myself, says the Lord, that this house, it is this temple as well as this house being this dynasty as we shall see, this house shall become a desolation. For thus says the Lord, to the house of the King of Judah, you are Gilead to me, the head of Lebanon. Yet, surely, I will make you what wilderness, cities which are not inhabited.
Gilead was and still is, in many respects, one of the most beautiful parts of that land. It's up in the heights. It's in the hills, rolling hills, verdant green pasture land blessed by God. It was one of the favorite places in the land of Israel. Great vacation spot, going up into the heights on your way up toward Lebanon.
And so God is saying that you are like that favorite, delightful place Gilead to me. However, God would judge them. God would extract them from the land that he loves. And God would destroy that land. So though you are a delight for me like the heights of Gilead, I'm going to make a desolate.
I don't know whatever your favorite places in the world, if it's Maui, if it's Kauai, if it's the Rocky Mountains, but God is saying, I'm going to take that Kauai and I'm going to turn it into Barstow.
And no offense to those who are in Barstow, listening by radio. We do love your city. But you get the picture. It's going to be deserted. It's going to be desolate, says the Lord.
I will prepare destroyers against you. Everyone with his weapons, they shall cut down your choice cedar's. Lebanon was famous for its tall magnificent trees. Much of the temple and Solomon's buildings were built with that wood. And cast them into the fire. And many nations will pass by this city and everyone will say to his neighbor, why has the Lord done so to this great city.
People inevitably ask that question whenever there is a tragedy, whenever there is hardship or pain. Why, God, did you allow this to happen? And they're going to look at Jerusalem and wonder that.
Here's this beautiful spot that God said he would place his name forever. And here are these kings who built monumental structures, place of worship, the temple, to honor God, using some of the greatest cedar wood from Lebanon. All the expense, all of the hard work to honor God, and people are going to go by after the destruction and ask why. Then they will answer, because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped other gods and served them. So that's the message delivered from the prophet to the last King Zedekiah.
Now we're going back to the first King after Josiah, which is Jehoahaz, called here Shallum. Weep not for the dead nor bemoan him. Weep bitterly for him who goes away. For he shall return no more nor see his native country. For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum, the son of Josiah, the King of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah, his father, who went from this place, he shall not return here any more.
In I Chronicles chapter three, he is given this name of Shallum. He reigned only three months in the year 609 BC, and then he was taken to Egypt. Verse 12. But he shall die in the place where they have led him captive and shall see this land no more.
Now, you notice back in verse 10, the instruction is given to this young king, weep not for the dead nor bemoan him, but weep bitterly for him who goes away. The dead, in that verse, would refer to King Josiah. He's dead. He died in battle in Megiddo. Pharaoh Necho, his army killed him. He's dead.
The prophet says, don't weep for him. Weep for the one who's going to be taking captive. That would be this King, who would be deposed and deported to Egypt. In other words, better off dead in righteousness than captive in unrighteousness.
Now, there's a truth that is there, and it's seen throughout the scriptures. A dead Saint is much better off than a living sinner. Don't bemoan the dead. There's a beautiful passage of scripture in the book of Psalms. It's Psalm 116. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
So that the Christian, those of us who know the Lord, live for Jesus Christ, we are looking forward to whatever the future has, come the rapture or what some call death. It's an inaccurate description, by the way. You really can't say of a Christian, he died. You can say he moved. He graduated. He's been coronated, because he's in the presence of God.
In a town in the Midwest, two ladies were dying on the same evening. One was a Christian. One was an atheist. Their rooms and their deathbed scenes were quite different. In fact, opposite of each other. The atheist had her family and a few friends around, and it was a sad, sad scene as she wept bitterly. And she said, I am leaving home. I'm leaving home. Those were her last words.
The Christian, on the other side of town, as she was dying and her family and friends were around, had a smile on her face and her last words, I'm going home. I'm going home.
So often, when a person dies we go up to those who are left and we say I'm sorry that you lost your Father. I'm sorry that you lost your brother. I'm sorry that you lost your husband or wife. Well, if they're a Christian, they're not lost. No one's lost, when you know where they are. Right? In the presence of the Lord.
Now, in verse 13, the gear shifts to the 11 year reign of King Eliakim, who was named Jehoiakim by pharaoh of Egypt. Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor's service without wages and gives him nothing for his work. Who says, I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers and cut out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermilion.
Vermilion is red dye taken out of the earth, and it was used to stain some of the clay architecture. If you go to Masada, actually-- on the northern side of Masada, is one of Herod's palaces. And you can still see, etched in the stonework and in the Adobe work, some of the red dye that was used over 2000 years ago and still there today. Very intricately applied to that stonework.
Well, this King Jehoiakim, taxed the people heavily, demanded silver and gold to be brought to him for two reasons. Number one, because he had to pay off pharaoh in Egypt, who put a heavy tax on the nation just to survive so he wouldn't hassle them. And number two, so that he could live lavishly.
Even though the nation was oppressed, he'd tax them heavily. Then he got people to work for him building lavish cedar buildings, which was quite expensive at that time to a panel it with wood. Probably trying to restore the glory of the kingdom to the days of Solomon. But he wouldn't pay them. He wouldn't give them what they worked for.
Now, I was reading this and I couldn't help but think of another tyrant from the Middle East, who's been captured quite recently. His name is Saddam Hussein. And the United Nations said that he built eight palatial compounds, all total 1,000 buildings.
Now, some of these buildings include his own private mansions, guest villas, parking garages for his vehicles, office complexes. 1,000 buildings over 12 and 1/2 square miles in total. On these sites are lavish gardens, man-made lakes, man-made waterfalls, just little paradises scattered throughout the country. The State Department gave it a higher number they said he spent $2.2 billion building 48 palaces. And other figures say between 70 and 80 palaces around the country.
Now, I've been to Iraq and I've seen some of those palaces, when I was down at Babylon. And we were there and Babylon is in ruins, and across from Babylon was this huge mansion, this palatial estate. And I knew it was one of Saddam's personal mansions because I did a little reading before I went. And I was with a guide in Babylon who said, now, whatever you do, don't take pictures in that direction, which is the direction of his house. So as my friend and I were there taking pictures, he accidentally took a picture toward that direction. And the guard opened his camera, pulled the film out. He was serious. So I waited till they got around the corner
and then took a couple of shots with my camera. So I have it on record. But lavish, expensive, spared no expense, and yet he took the money that his country brought in, while his people were starving to death. I saw some of their homes. They lived in squalor. And he built these 48 to 80 mansions for himself, rooms of pure marble, gold, and silver, and expensive furnishings.
Verse 15 begins where Jeremiah moves from the third person, speaking of him and he, to now first person, you and yours. Shall you reign, he says to this King, because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your Father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him, that's Josiah.
He judged the cause of the poor and the needy, then it was well. Was not this knowing me, says the Lord? Yet, your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence. He refers to knowing God and he says are not these practices, these acts that your Father Josiah did in righteousness, are not these knowing me, says the Lord? That's the message he delivered.
We talk about knowing God. Jesus, when he prayed to his Father in John 17, spoke about eternal life and he said this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
How does one know God? After all God is transcendent. God is invisible. How do you have a personal relationship with a being transcendent and invisible? One of the ways that we know that we know the Lord is by our love for him played out by our obedience to him.
These were things God told them to do. They were leaders of the kingdom. They were rulers of the nation. They should have been watching out for the poor, the needy, enacting justice. God says, your father Josiah did it. You're not doing it. This is knowing me, says the Lord. Yet your eyes and heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood and practicing oppression and violence.
What did James tell us? He said, pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. And then John writes, in I John chapter 2, whoever says, I know Him, but does not practice obedience to Him is a liar. The truth is not in him. But whoever does what He commands, the love of God is perfected or made manifest in him. Jesus said, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. That's the idea here.
I had a roommate, when I was in Huntington Beach. He was a interesting guy. He liked to read a lot, and he bought a book on running. And he read it and he underlined it. And he underlined it in yellow markers and made little notes in it. And what was curious about it is, he studied this thing like one would study a college text. And I found it curious that, in all of his studying about running, he didn't run.
He didn't run. Never bought shoes. Never bought shorts. Until about a year after and he finished the book, studying it meticulously. I guess he felt he had to master the subject intellectually before he could actually do it.
Now in that year period, when he was studying the book, if you asked him any question about running he could've answered it. He was an expert on it, but he wasn't a runner. You're not a runner till you run.
And there are so many people that know answers about God, they've studied the book. They've underlined the book. They've got it outlined in yellow, et cetera.
A pastor asked his church what do you do with the promises of God, and one gal said, I underline them.
Well, that's a good start.
But this King needed to keep them. His Father Josiah had. This King had not. Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, King of Judah, they shall not lament for him saying alas my brother or alas my sister. They shall not lament for him saying alas my master or alas his glory. He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
The Kings of Judah were buried typically in a royal, regal spot there at the base of one of the hills at the City of David. There is an area known as the Tombs of the Kings. According to extra-biblical sources, however, the second siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar is when this King was taken captive, and he was brought out of Jerusalem. He died on the way, and they just unceremoniously dumped his body off on the side of the road, where it rotted and was left to the open sky for the vultures to take.
At that point, the King put in a new guy and that is Jehoiachin. We're going to read about him in just a minute. Go up to Lebanon, verse 20, and cry out, lift up your voice in Bashan, cry from Abereim for your lovers are destroyed.
Here's the message. He's saying go up to the north. In all of that beautiful section of land that is so delightful, so verdant, so green, one of the most beautiful spots in the nation. Go up to that area and let the people know that just as the judgment came down to the southeast, that barren, parched to area of Abereim, so it will happen to that part of the North. I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said I will not hear. This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey my voice.
The test of prosperity is a more difficult test to pass than the test of adversity. When we're in adversity, we're more prone to lean hard upon the Lord, trust him. It's a tough time. We cry out to God for help. We have nowhere else to go.
Ah, but the test of prosperity, life is pretty good. I got it made, right here, made in the shade. I don't need a thing. And in that place of prosperity is the temptation to move away from the Lord.
Abraham Lincoln noted that about our own nation, in his day. That we were starting to become prosperous already, moving away from an absolute dependence upon God and failing to give Him glory. God says, it's been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey my voice. The wind shall eat up all your rulers, and your lovers shall go into captivity. Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated for all your wickedness. O inhabitant of Lebanon, making your nest in the cedars, how gracious will you be when pangs come upon you like the pain of a woman in labor?
Now we move to what I would consider one of the most interesting prophecies in all of the book, concerning a King named Jeconiah. Who is called, here, Coniah. He is also given the name Jehoiachin. Now take my word on this, those are a lot of names. It's either Jehoiachin or Jeconiah. He's mentioned by that name in another book in Kings.
He reigned, as I said, for three months and 10 days. And he was deposed, but notice what the Lord says about him. As I live, says the Lord, though Coniah-- notice he's call that, not Jeconiah but Coniah. --the son of Jehoiakim, the King of Judah, were the Signet on my right hand, yet I would pluck you off. And I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those whose face you fear, the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and the hand of the Chaldeans.
Monarchs, kings often wore signet rings. Their insignia was on it. It was a symbol of their identity and a symbol of their authority. Now, the word, the name Jeconiah has a beautiful meaning. It means Yahweh or Jehovah, the Lord will establish. Yahweh establishes. Yeconia, the Lord will establish.
What God does is calls him Coniah, removing the prefix that has the name of God in it. So instead of God will establish, He removes Himself from it and just calls him Coniah, not Jeconiah. What He is saying is that, I don't identify with you.
Though you are the ring on my hand that gives me identification and authority, and though I should establish you, you never let me. So I'm going to disestablish your kingdom. You're going to be removed. And so God removed his own name from the name of Jeconiah, and calls him, here, Coniah. God says, I won't identify with you.
I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those whose face you fear, the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, and the hand of the Chaldean. So I will cast you out and your mother, who bore you, into another country where you were not born and there you shall die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. Is this man, Coniah, a despised, broken idol, a vessel in which is no pleasure?
Now that's a rhetorical question. What would the answer be? Yes. Why are they cast out? He and his descendants, and cast into a land which they do not know.
Oh earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. Three times earth is called upon as a witness. Probably for those three kings, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin or Jeconiah. Thus says the Lord, write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days. For none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.
Now, over in Babylon, Jehoiachin, Jeconiah, had been taken captive. He was still considered and called the King of Judah, while he was in Babylon. But King Nebuchadnezzar put, instead, on the throne his uncle Zedekiah. None of his sons, but his uncle Zedekiah.
And here's a prediction. Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days. None of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David.
Jeconiah did have children. He had about seven or eight of them. I can't remember which, but it's recorded over in I Chronicles chapter three. But none of his sons ever sat on the throne of David to rule and reign in Judah.
In fact, the lineage ends with Jeconiah. The lineage of the line of David, for the throne of David, ends with this man, Jeconiah. If you were a Jew, awaiting for the Messiah, and you heard this verse, verse 30 would shock you, because it's tantamount to saying the royal blood line of King David is cursed. It's cursed.
And the Jew would ask, how could that be if the Messiah, who is going to come, will come eventually true the lineage of King David? He's going to be of the family of David, and will succeed to the throne of King David. And since the crown is passed from father to son, how could it be? The bloodline is cursed.
So God has a problem. God says here is the lineage through which the kings of Judah will reign, King David. Now the bloodline is cursed after Jeconiah. None of his descendants will sit on the throne. So how's Messiah going to be of the line of King David, come, occupy the throne, fulfill the promise?
Well, God solved the problem by a virgin birth. And if you've ever wondered why in the world are those genealogies tucked away in Matthew and Luke, here's one of the reasons. If you follow the genealogy of Matthew, and you follow the genealogy not of Matthew but of Jesus Christ, recorded in Matthew, and you follow the genealogy of Jesus Christ recorded in Luke, you find you have two different genealogies.
And most believe that what is recorded in Matthew is the genealogy of Jesus' step dad, Joseph, going all the way back to King David. The genealogy recorded in Luke is the genealogy of Jesus' mother, Mary, going all the way back to King David. The bloodline is recorded.
If you look at Matthew's, you find that it goes David, Solomon, the Kings are mentioned, Jeconiah is mentioned, goes all the way down to Joseph, where the blood curse is. That's OK, because Jesus wasn't the son of Joseph. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of Mary. Mary, her genealogy is traced in the Gospel of Luke all the way back to David, but not through Jeconiah, not through Solomon, but through another son of David named Nathan.
So God places a blood curse on the throne of David through Jeconiah. Jesus, born of a virgin, has the physical descendancy through His real mother Mary, but He's conceived by the Holy Spirit. But He gets the right to be on the throne of David, through His stepfather.
You say, yeah, but the bloodline is cursed. That's OK. Jesus wasn't born of Joseph, but has the right of dynastic succession through a stepfather. So He has the legal right to throne in the physical descendancy of David, through Mary. It's a perfect solution to get around the very curse that God placed on the bloodline.
So if anybody says, well, the virgin birth, it's not really a big deal. It's not really a necessity. It's absolutely necessary for the Messiah to reign on the throne of David and fulfill the promises.
Now, liberal scholars will attack the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. They will say, concerning the prophecy in the book of Isaiah, where the Lord says, I'll give you a sign. Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son, bear a child. They'll say that the Hebrew word is Almah, which could be translated a young woman.
So the liberal scholar will say, it should be translated, Behold, I'm going to give you a sign, says the Lord, a young woman will bear a son. Here's my question. What kind of a sign is that? I mean think about it. A sign from God is coming. A woman's going to have a baby.
All right, that happens like every day, right? But when it's translated this way. a virgin will have a baby, now, that's a sign from God. That's why when the Septuagint translators, those 70 scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, took and translated the Old Testament into the Greek language, and they came to that verse of scripture, they translated it with that intent in mind. They gave it the term Parthenos.
A Parthenos shall bear a son. And that is the Greek word that can only mean a virgin, because that was the intent of the text. And that is the sign from God. And here is one of the reasons why.
I love it. God keeps his promises. God keeps his promises. You'll read later on in Jeremiah chapter 33, where the promise is, David shall never lack a man sitting upon his throne in the house of Israel. That will be fulfilled when Jesus comes.
Promises may get friends. Performing those promises will keep friends. That's why God has a lot of friends. Because He's made a lot of promises, and people have relied upon them. And God's promises are always fulfilled.
Peter called them great and precious promises. And I love reading stuff like this, because it shows me just how intricately God is involved in fulfilling his promises to us. So what do you do with the promises of God. I underline them. I memorized them. How about, I live by them? They changed my life. They're my bread. They're my meat.
I heard about a young man, who had a girlfriend, and took the picture of this girlfriend to a shop to get a copied. And the store owner said, I'm going to have to take the photograph outside of the frame and put it in the copier. And I'll make you a duplicate.
He said, oh great. It's my girlfriend. I really want a copy. And the store owner noticed something written on the back of the picture. Written from that girl, Diane, to her boyfriend.
It said dearest Tom, I love you. I love you every day. My love grows for you more and more as the days and weeks go on. I will love you forever. My heart is yours for all eternity.
Those are quite some promises for a girlfriend to make a boyfriend. And then there was a P.S. P.S. If we ever break up, I want this picture back.
God has no P.S.'s, when He gives you a promise. The promises of God are in Him yes, and Amen. You can hold on to them and live by them.
In the 23rd chapter, further light is shed on the problem as these wicked kings, these false shepherds, are compared with the true shepherd that is to come, Jesus Christ, the perfect leader, Messiah. Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, says the Lord. These are the kings. These are the priests. These are the false prophets. And principally he had in mind those last four kings of Judah, who should have shepherded, guided, corrected, fed, but they did not. Woe to the shepherds.
If you go to Israel, even to this day, one of the most common sights shepherd watching his flock, keeping his sheep, whether it's goats or sheep, out in the fields. And it's a beautiful picture of how the Lord protects his flock and is concerned for His people. Like Isaiah 40 told us, Behold He shall feed His flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in His arm, carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
God loves to shepherd his people. But when He places under-shepherds, who should watch out for His people, feed His people, protect His people, He requires an account. That's why Paul the Apostle, when he was leaving Ephesus, said to the elders, shepherd the flock of God, which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Watch out for them. Feed them. Shepherd them. His flock is valuable. They should be protected.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God of Israel, against the shepherds who feed my people, you have scattered my flock and driven them away and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doing, says the Lord. Hey, you haven't been focusing on them. Now, I'm going to focus in on you. I'm holding you to account.
But I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking, says the Lord. Now once again is God's promise to restore His people, the Jewish people, Israel, back to their ancient homeland. That plot of real estate that we call today Israel.
God promises to restore them, to bring them back. He's going to do that over and over again in Jeremiah. And when we get to chapters 30 and 33, He promises to do it again. But after a very important period of time, known as the time of Jacob's trouble. And the time of Jacob's trouble refers to the tribulation period. That's coming up in the future.
If you look back at the history of the Jews, there have been a few different times they returned to the land. They returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity of 70 years. They returned to the land after being briefly scattered during the Maccabean Era by the Syrians. They returned in 70 A.D.-- No 70 A.D. the temple was destroyed. 1948, boy, that's only 1,900 years off.
1948 they were regathered back into the land again, in part, from all the nations of the earth. And that regathering is still going on to this day. But I believe the regathering spoken about here, the restoration, deals with after the tribulation period, when the 144,000, the 12 tribes of Israel, sealed and taken through that period protected by God, are brought back into that land and governed by God. And then enter into the kingdom aids, that's also predicted in the Book of Revelation.
Paul, in the book of Romans, said concerning Israel, though this natural branch, these branches are cut off that God is able to graph them in again. And he says, so all Israel shall be saved. For it is written, the deliverer will come out of Zion and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
Now Israel, nationally, persistently has rejected Jesus Christ as being their Messiah. But their eyes will be opened. Their eyes will be opened dramatically by the life and testimony of two witnesses who perform miracles, get their attention, and 144,000 of them are sealed. And so when it says all Israel shall be saved, it doesn't mean every single Jew, who has ever lived in history. But it's those all, meaning all of the tribes listed in the Book of Revelation, these representative 12 tribes, 12,000 from each tribe.
Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a branch of righteousness. A King shall reign, and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In his days, Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. Now, this is His name by which He will be called, Jehovah or Yahweh. We don't know how it's pronounced, that's the ineffable name, the unpronounceable name of God, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord, our righteousness.
Three prophets in the Old Testament refer to the coming of Christ calling him "The Branch", Isaiah the prophet, Jeremiah the prophet, and Zechariah. Isaiah the prophet says, a rod shall come forth from the stem of Jesse. And He is called the branch, here, of righteousness, and the Lord our righteousness in verse 6.
Notice in these verses that the Messiah, the King, is going to be called God. He's given the name Yahweh or Jehovah. So as they're speaking about this righteous rule of the King who is coming, the Messiah, as opposed to those four unrighteous kings, he's given the name God, the Lord, Yahweh.
When Isaiah speaks about the coming of Messiah in Isaiah chapter 9, you know the text well, because I believe it was the text for this morning, in part. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. The government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Upon the throne of David to order it and establish it, in judgment and in justice from that time forth, even for evermore, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.
Some people believe that Jesus, Himself, never claimed to be God. So I read the Bible. Jesus never said He was God. And I wonder, which Bible are you reading?
All over the place He claimed to be God, by what He did and by what He said. He said to the Jewish leaders, before Abraham was, I am, taking that name of the Old Testament self-sufficient one to Himself. When the man was let down by his four buddies in that house in Capernaum, he was a paralytic and Jesus looked down on him and He said, son be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven.
And the leaders who were sitting by said, hey, nobody can forgive sins but God only. Duh! That was the whole point. He was claiming to be God by saying your sins are forgiven.
And then when the Pharisees took up stones to kill Him, Jesus said, many good works I have done. For which good work are you going to stone me? They said, not for a good work, but because you, being a man, are constantly making yourself out to be God. That was the prediction. The King that will reign in righteousness is going to be God, Yahweh, the Lord our righteousness.
Note in verse 5, He's called a King shall reign and prosper, literally reign and act wisely, or He'll be a King who rules with wisdom. He will not be like Jehoahaz, who was foolish. He will not be like Jehoiakim, who was foolish. He will not be like Jehoiachin or Zedekiah. No, no. This King, the Lord, will act and reign wisely. I can't wait for that day, a perfect political ruler, a King doing everything right.
You know, every election, I'm becoming less and less a politically-motivated person. I'm becoming less and less political. I'm becoming monarchial.
Rather than being a Republican or a Democrat, I call myself a theocrat. I'm voting for God to come and take over, because when He does things are going to be perfect. All that we've messed up through all the different kings, kingdoms, even presidencies in some cases, in times past and no doubt in time's future, He's going to correct and fix. Therefore, behold the days are coming, says the Lord, that they shall no longer say as the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, but as the Lord lives who brought up and let the descendants of the house of Israel, from the north country and from all the countries where I have driven them, and they shall dwell in their own land.
Now, Jeremiah the prophet, the weeping prophet, breaks out in a lament saying my heart within me is broken because of the prophets. All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord and because of His holy words. For the land is full of adulterers. For because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, and their might is not right.
Interesting. That old phrase that might makes right, no, that's not right. Their might is not right. In other words, they're not using their power to right the wrongs of the land. They're not using it for the right means. For both the prophet and the priest are profane, defiled. Yes, in my house I have found their wickedness, says the Lord.
Now here's Jeremiah, a true prophet, a true spokesman, giving out the word of God day in and day out, month in and month out, through the successive reign of five kings including Josiah. And because he is a man of God and because he loves the word of God, his heart is broken when he hears others who claim to be representatives for God misrepresenting him, being presumptuous, giving out the wrong message as the false prophets were saying. It doesn't matter how you live. God will bring peace. God will bless his people. Live any way you desire. His heart broke, which is the sign of a true prophet. He wanted God to be adequately, accurately represented.
By the way, have you noticed something about true prophets of God? Not only are they like this, but so often they are even reluctant to accept the job. Jeremiah said, look, I'm just a child. I can't do this job. God said don't worry about that or don't look at their faces. I put my words in your mouth. Moses was reluctant. He said, I can't speak, Lord. But God used him.
And so often the false prophets are presumptuous thinking God has called me, God has led me. And they can move out without being in the presence of God as you'll see as our chapter closes. But those who are servants of God and true prophets were very particular that they really heard from the Lord and were representing Him.
So both prophet and priest, verse 11, are profane. Yes, in my house I have found their wickedness, says the Lord. Therefore, their way shall be to them like slippery ways in the darkness. They shall be driven on and fall in them. For I will bring disaster on them, the year of their punishment, says the Lord.
I have seen folly in the prophets of Sumeria. They prophesied by Baal and caused my people, Israel, to err. I have also seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem. They commit adultery and walk in lies. They also strengthen the hands of evil doers. So that no one turns back from his wickedness, all of them are like Sodom to me and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
Now, there were a few tests that a prophet had to pass, both in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, to be considered true prophets. The first, most obvious, test is the theological test. They had to say the right things about God. What they said could never contradict the already revealed word of God. Same in the New Testament. Paul said, though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than the one you've heard let him be a cursed. And so they were scrutinized. They had to be accurate, because the scripture, God's revealed word, is pollutant free. It's God breathed, Paul said. Or Peter said, it is inspired by God. So everything spoken has to be matched up with that.
The second test is an accuracy test, not just a theological test, but if what they said came to pass or didn't come to pass. So Jeremiah and Isaiah and some of the other prophets predicted the Babylonians are coming. They came. They predicted cities would fall. They fell. They predicted that kings would arise and even named them, like Cyrus, hundreds of years before He was born. It happened. In the New Testament, Agabus was a prophet in the early church, who made predictions about Paul and his imprisonment, and they happened.
The third test of the prophet was a moral test, if by the prophets words and lifestyle he was leading anyone astray from the living God, from the true worship of God, to worship another God. And so Jesus said, you'll know them by their fruits. He said that false prophets would come, when He said beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit.
And so there were prophets in Jeremiah's day, who didn't pass any of these tests. What they said didn't come to pass. They weren't living the lifestyle of a prophet. They didn't pass the moral test nor the theological test.
Therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts concerning the prophets, Behold, I will feed them with bitterness or Wormwood and make them drink the water of gall. For from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land. Thus says the Lord of Hosts, do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless. They speak a vision of their own heart not from the mouth of the Lord.
They continually say to those who despise me, the Lord has said, you shall have peace. And to every one who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say no evil shall come upon you. For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord and has perceived and heard his word? Who has marked his word and heard it? The answer to that, of course, would be the true prophet.
And what was wrong with the false prophet is that they didn't spend the time in the presence of God to hear His voice. When they spoke, it was stuff they made up. That's why when somebody says to you, "the Lord spoke to me and told me" be very careful.
In some cases, that's the oldest trick in the book because as soon as I say the Lord told me, how are you going argue with God? I've gotcha. It's like the ultimate card to pull. If God did really speak, it's going to be in line with what God has already spoken.
Behold the whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury, a violent whirlwind. It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He is executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days, you will understand it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
I can't think of anything worse than running out in the name of the Lord, when God didn't send you, with a message that God didn't give you. It's doing the work of the spirit in the energy of the flesh. They went out and they ran, but God didn't give them a message. He didn't send them. But if they had stood in my counsel and caused my people to hear my words, then they would have turned from their evil way and from their evil of their doings.
Am I a God near, at hand says the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any one hide himself in the secret places so I shall not see him, says the Lord? Do I not fill heaven and earth, says the Lord? What point is he making? He's saying, I'm everywhere.
You remember the Syrians, at one point, thought that the God of Israel was the God of the hills, and their God was the God of the valleys. And one of the reasons that they lost against Israel is because the God of the hills, fighting for Israel, was the God that prevailed over them. What God is saying is I'm the God of the hills, the valleys, the sun, the moon, the stream, everything. I'm everywhere. You can't hide from me.
I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in my name saying, I have dreamed. I have dreamed. How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart. It's a false inspiration.
Who try to make my people forget my name by their dreams, which every one tells his neighbor as their fathers forget my name for Baal. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream. And he who has my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat, says the Lord? Is not my word like a fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
Now God can certainly speak through a dream. He spoke to Joseph in the Old Testament through a dream. He spoke to Joseph in the New Testament through a dream, warning him to flee and go to Egypt. And the Bible even predicts, in the last days I'll pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams.
But, be careful. Once again, not every dream is a dream from God. Every now and then somebody will come up to me and say, Skip, I had the weirdest dream. And they'll tell it to me. What does it mean?
I don't know, a bad pizza last night? It could be a number of things? I don't have that gift. You could attribute certain things.
But notice the comparison, chaff to the wheat. The wheat being the most important, the healthiest, the nourishing part of the grain. The chaff being the part that blows away and is worthless. What is the chaff? The dream. What is the grain, the nourishing part? The word.
So I love that analogy. For what is the chaff to the wheat, says the Lord? Check the dream against the doctrine.
Several years ago in New Mexico, Mrs. Rubio was flipping a tortilla. And as she flipped it, the tortilla she was cooking in butter, as she flipped it over she noticed on one side of the tortilla, that she had turned, a striking resemblance to the face of Jesus. And she told all of her neighbors that Jesus appeared to her in a tortilla.
Now, you laugh, but her husband looked at it and said, I see it. Her family looked at and said, I see it. And her neighbors, I see it. And 8,000 people later, who came from all over the country to see Jesus in a tortilla, and get blessed. Now 8,000 people going out to the sticks of New Mexico to see Jesus in a tortilla, how many people will go to see Jesus in a Bible study?
And yet the chaff to the wheat, the wheat is the word. That's the nourishment. God isn't saying he can't use experiences, but, in comparison, the word is much greater. The Bible says that God has exalted His word even above His name.
Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophet, says the Lord, who use their tongues and say He says. Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the Lord, and tell them and cause my people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet, I did not send them or command them. Therefore, they shall not profit this people at all, says the Lord.
So when these people, or the prophet, or the priests ask you saying, what is the Oracle? The King James says burden which, by the way, is a better translation here. What is the burden of the Lord, you shall say to them? What burden? I will even forsake you, says the Lord.
As for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, who say the burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man in his house. Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, what has the Lord answered, and what has the Lord's spoken?
So when these people, or the prophet, or the priest ask you what is the Oracle or the burden of the-- Oh, that's verse 33, I already read that, excuse me. And the Oracle of the Lord, verse 36, you shall mention no more. For every man's word will be his Oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of Hosts our God. Thus you shall say to the prophet, what has the Lord answered you, and what has the Lord spoken?
Now, it had, sort of, become a cliche using this term the Oracle or the burden of the Lord. And they were using that term to poke fun at Jeremiah. Sort of like saying, hey Jeremiah, what's the latest prophetic buzz from God? What's the oracle? What's the burden of the Lord?
And in effect, Jeremiah was to listen to them and say, you're the burden of the Lord. In fact, another translation captures verse 33 beautifully when it says, when one of the people, or one of their profits, or priests asks you, well Jeremiah, what's the sad news from the Lord today? You shall reply, what sad news? You are the sad news, for the Lord has cast you away.
So they were using this term as a cliche, the burden of the Lord. God said, I don't want to hear that term any more. First of all, serving the Lord is not a burden. It's a delight. Second of all, the only burden around there were those people who were hardened against God.
But, verse 38, since you say the Oracle or the burden of the Lord, therefore thus says the Lord, because you say this word, the burden of the Lord, and I have sent to you saying, do not say the burden of the Lord. Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you and the city that I give you and your father's, and will cast you out of my presence. And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
So in all of that prophecy, in all of the failure of the people of Judah, in all of the words of Jeremiah over and over again is that beautiful gleam of truth, Messiah is coming, the Lord, our righteousness. Not only will He be the perfect righteous King bringing a righteous reign. He will be our righteousness, providing for us a righteousness we could never bring.
So the Lord is coming. Jesus is coming soon and I hope and pray that none of us will ever get tired of hearing that refrain. The Lord is coming. The time is at hand. It's shorter now than it ever was.
You say, yeah, I heard that 20 years ago. Well, we're 20 years closer tonight. And I can't wait for the Lord to show up and rule, and reign, and make it all right.
Are you looking for that? There's a difference between looking at it and looking for it. You can intellectually look at things in the scripture and you're observing it, big difference between that and looking for it.
At a wedding, the guests who come look at the wedding. The bride she's been looking for that day. And we as the bride of Christ can't wait. As Jesus soon will come.
Heavenly Father, we close this service thanking you for your promises that you have made and kept, which give us such confidence that all of the promises that you have made about our future you will keep. All of those promises are in you yes, and amen. And so Lord, I pray during this Christmas season that these, your people, would experience the fulfillment of your promise of joy, and peace, and contentment as you fill their lives, as we rest in the greatest gift ever given, the gift of your son. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Shall we stand.
What important lessons for us to learn, here, in the book of Jeremiah. So often we hear people say oh the burden of the Lord is so heavy. I don't know if I'm going to be able to make it. Jesus said, my yoke is easy. My burden is light.
If you feel that the burden is so heavy that you just can't go on, you can be sure the Lord didn't put it on you. Maybe you took it on yourself. Maybe others have laid burdens on you. But the Lord said, my burden is light.
If you find that you are, sort of, sinking under a heavy load tonight, a heavy burden on your life, it's time to get rid of it. It's time to cast all of your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. And the pastors are down here at the front to pray for you and to pray with you, that you might find the help of the Lord and the strength of the Lord to meet the pressures that we have in this world, today.
Especially as we come close to the Christmas season, it seems like pressures increase. A time when we should be rejoicing, so many times there are so many pressures, because of what we feel that we need to do or should be doing. We haven't finished addressing the Christmas cards, and what are we going to get Uncle Joe for his Christmas present, and these kinds of things. And unfortunately, we become distracted from the real story. And so, tonight, go home burden free.
I like that the Lord said, don't say that word burden. I'm sick of it. If you use that word, I won't talk to you again. I'm tired of it. Just, I don't want to hear it.
So be careful about that business of saying, of the Lord laid on me a heavy burden, because He said, no, no. I haven't laid heavy burdens on you. My burden is light.
So as soon as we're dismissed, come on down. Lay your burden at the Lord's feet. Let Him carry it for you. He will. And you can go your way rejoicing that He is a God who lifts the burdens, not puts the burdens on us.
Sing Allelujah to the Lord. Sing Allelujah to the Lord. Sing Allelujah, sing Allelujah, sing Allelujah to the Lord. Sing Allelujah to the Lord. Sing Allelujah to the Lord. Sing Allelujah, sing Allelujah, sing Allelujah to the Lord. God bless you.
This is the end of this message. If you would like further information on any of our products, or to receive our free catalog, contact The Word For Today. The address is P.O. Box 8,000 Costa Mesa, California 92628. Or, you may reach us by our toll free number, 1-800-272-WORD. That's 1-800-272-W-O-R-D.