“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month,”
Yesterday, after the morning service, I felt moved to write this article, based upon a sermon I preached some years ago.
Earlier in the morning, in my Bible reading, I read from Philippians 1:17 the words of Paul: “I am set for the defence of the gospel.” It is a very long time ago I adopted those words as my own motto text.
I think I may correctly illustrate the word ’set’ by reminding you all that it is a word which was, and likely is still used, of plates and cups being ‘set’ on a table in preparation for a meal.
It is the same word as is used in Luke 2:16. “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” There it is translated by the English word ‘lying’. The Lord Jesus was ’set’ by the Father there in manger to begin His work as Redeemer and Deliverer of His elect.
Likewise Paul was appointed of the Lord to take up this defensive role as a preacher. I believe that it is the duty of all preachers to likewise see themselves as being ’set’ by the Lord in preparation for just such a function.
May you find the article beneficial and instructive.
Sincerely in Christ Jesus,
I have heard it taught that the people of God can never know of the approach of Christ or the circumstances that will prevail at the end of this age. That is an unscriptural statement that flies in the face of God’s Word. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand,” Revelation 1:1-3.
Furthermore, it flies in the face of the Lord sharing information about future events with His people for their comfort. “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication,” Revelation 17:1-2.
Christ’s desire to keep His people informed may be seen in that well known portion in John’s gospel. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you,” John 14:1-2.
This informing of His people is not only necessary for our comfort and peace of mind but also in order that we may react to the events that we will encounter as the age draws to a close in accordance with God’s will.
“But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed,” Luke 17:25-30.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled,” Matthew 24:32-34.
This simple truth is illustrated for us in the life of Jeremiah. He saw a dramatic change in the spiritual atmosphere of his nation during his life time. To cope with these changes, he needed an understanding of the times through which he would pass and also what God’s will was for him and all who sought to live holy lives in those changing times.
Jeremiah lived in days similar to our own. The Kingdom of Judah was on a downward slope that would end in the judgment of God.
I. JEREMIAH’S MINISTRY BEGAN IN TIMES OF REFORMATION AND REVIVAL
Our text makes that clear. For information about the times referred to, turn to 2 Chronicles 34.
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem,” verses 1-7.
This purging began one year before Jeremiah’s call. “To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign,” Jeremiah 1:2.
He saw this work begin and develop. However, the Lord made it clear to Jeremiah that he would see very different times.
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands,” Jeremiah 1:11-16.
1. Even in times of blessing, God’s man faces opposition. Jeremiah feared the faces of men because of what he had to preach. “Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD,” Jeremiah 1:6-8.
Revival does not silence the devil or put an end to his activities or change the direction of the nation As the devil was attracted to Job because of his holy life, so holiness still draws the devil’s displeasure.
2. Here is the answer to the fear of man. “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. . . . . Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee,” Jeremiah 1:8, 17-19.
That touch from God is what God’s servants need today!
3. The message that he proclaimed. “ . . . whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. . . . Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth,” verses 7, 9.
God’s man was informed of what was coming. He was not in the darkness that enveloped the rest of the nation! That set him apart from his fellow-citizens.
What a need there is for men who know and have the word of God for today and who are prepared to fearlessly and faithfully preach it.
II. JEREMIAH SAW THE SPIRIT OF REVIVAL RESISTED
“The word of the Lord . . . came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.” The reign of godly Josiah was followed by those of his ungodly sons. The place which saw the beginnings of a reformation and revival became the citadel of rebellion and apostasy.
It ever has been the delight of the devil to raise his standard where once the gospel standard was flown. We have seen that in Ulster. Names once linked with a call to reject apostasy and separate unto the gospel are today linked with the departure from truth and righteousness and the downward spiral in our land.
1. Even in the palace, God was resisted. “Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God,” 2 Chronicles 36:5. He lived through the greatest days of revival but was unchanged. Indeed, he became an instrument in the devil’s hand to undo the great work of his father, Josiah.
This has all the hallmarks of the devil!
2. It is clear that many remained unchanged in the nation. “The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah,” Jeremiah 3:6-11.
Note the words: “And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD,” verse 10. It was a false and deceitful turning.
Even in the midst of revival, hypocrisy and duplicity thrive! Judas is the prime example of this sad truth!
III. A LINE WAS CROSSED FINALLY AND MERCY WITHDRAWN
“And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee,” Jeremiah 7:13-16.
“Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble,” Jeremiah 11:11-14.
“Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence,” Jeremiah 14:10-12.
Note how the Lord, in mercy it must be said, repeated Himself. Here is a solemn warning to this land of Ulster which has played fast and loose with the truth of God, and to Christ-rejecting sinners everywhere!
IV. THE JUDGMENT THREATENED FELL IN ITS APPOINTED TIME
1. It came to pass as God had warned. “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again,” 2 Chronicles 34:24-28,
“And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands,” Jeremiah 1:13-16.
2. God keeps His word. In mercy and in judgment. Of this we can be sure!
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them,” Deuteronomy 7:9-11.
“Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men. For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them,” Psalms 21:8-12.
3. God’s servants must warn. That is their chief duty. People need to take steps to safeguard themselves from judgment. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance,” Matthew 3:7-8.
So began the ministry of John the Baptist.
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel,” Mark 1:14-15.
So too began the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere did He set out the warning more clearly than in Matthew 7:24-28.
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine.”
Dear Christian, the Lord will not be defied forever in Ulster. A day of retribution is coming and that soon if there is no repenting from the evil of this day of compromise.
We have seen Bible morality abandoned in the political realm, even by those professing faith in Christ.
We have seen Biblical separation rejected for the sake of self-advancement and aggrandisement.
We have seen old-fashioned Bible holiness cast overboard as old-fashioned and out of date.
There is a price to be paid for this folly
We need to speak to our family and friends and not leave it too late as did Lot. “And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law,” Genesis 19:14.
Heed the warning today.