Father Forgive Them – Easter 2017 Article

“Father Forgive Them”… but who is THEM?

A small sentence and request with a global affect; Luke 24:34. Tens of thousands of sermons JESUS onCrosshave been preached on this phrase and thousands more will be. Some with traditional conclusions but seldom does anyone point out the THEM and what or who it includes or included. It is not proper to say “who it included” as that is speaking in the past, present tense.  What it is is a request or agreement consummated and at that moment fulfilled between God the Father and God the Son for past, present and future sin of mankind.

Both Strong and Thayer agree but from a slightly different angle per the word THEM. The translation is ἐγώ is egō; emphasis on the second half of this word.

Strong/Thayer: A primary pronoun of the first person, I (only expressed when emphatic): – I, me.

If the translation was ἡμᾶς; i.e. hēmas it would be “an accusative plural of them.”

JIV NOTE: Pronounce this word (hēmas) and think about one of the arch enemies of Israel today…HAMAS! It is the name of a terror group but written in the Arabic which is closely related to their cousins’ Hebrew language;  ???Father, forgive Hamas???

Another applicable translation of the Greek word for THEM is αὐτός; i.e. autos. This use of the word “THEM” has three similar but different points of references:

1) himself, herself, themselves, itself;

2) he, she, it;

3) the same.

Critical thinking: Note that both translations of the Greek word ‘THEM,’ autos or hēmas, mean a singular factor; I, him, her, me, himself, herself, itself… all personal pronouns in the first person.

This is the point missed by so most in the church leadership and seminaries today. Jesus identified “THEM,” either autos or hemas, as individuals needing forgiveness. He was not limiting his agreement with God the Father with “Father Forgive Them” meaning those he could see and knew were trying to terrorize him and his followers.  It was not limited to his tormentors (terrorists) and those who had a direct hand in his death on the cross.  It was global, to the world for which he was paying the wages of sin. In short, with that statement we begin the church or the New Testament. The Old Testament was about a nation; the New Testament is about individuals.

To conclude this short blog, let me give the reader the lyrics of a short chorus this author wrote. It was a song with which his quartet often closed a concert.

God’s grace is sufficient for all of the human race;

God’s grace is sufficient for all who are in this place.

God’s grace is sufficient for each of us, you see.

God’s grace is sufficient for me, yes, just for me.

miniJimDr. jStark

Easter 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 15

The sword to kill: the dogs to tear, the birds to feast and beast to devour. Death but no burial is what this passage in Jeremiah 15:3 prophecies. The KJV is specific; the sword to slay and the dogs, fowl, and beasts to destroy and devour. By default this is carnage without honor and burial.  There are no funerals. Judgment will be swift. Judeans have pushed the envelope containing God’s covenants with them too far. Remember that every covenant says…”If you ___, then I will ____.” This includes disciplinary action.if

In a very real way, this predicts and previews End Time. Death will be so rampant little time will be allowed for burials. Ezekiel 39:12 tells us that after the Battle of Ezekiel it will take Israel (note Israel is still existing) seven months to bury the dead of the enemy to cleanse the land. This battle is better known as the Battle of Gog and Magog. Back up a few verses in Ezekiel 39 and we read information that needs discussion and clarification. There is not adequate time to fit this into our Jeremiah study but this shouldn’t stop the reader from taking this under her or his wings and pursuing it as a person studying to show one’s self approved of God.

This is not a pretty scene. Once again in chapter 15 v1 God addresses His people as “this.” Even the God honoring Moses and Samuel would not be able to deter Gods’ wrath and punishment on Judah. If we recall from an earlier chapter article on Jeremiah, God says Judah is even worse than the Northern Kingdom of Israel that was totally dispersed 120 years earlier. Judah witnessed the punishment of her northern cousins but continued in her evil ways…hiding behind the fact they have the Temple in Jerusalem. Similar to claiming attendance at a given church or synagogue in today’s culture means God is on our side. No matter what we call it, it is the focus of worship that only matters.

JIV NOTE: We can take from this and other passages that up to a given moment God can be reasonable with His creations and change his mind.

The Contemporary English Version (CEV) puts it this way per verse 3: “I will punish you in four different ways: You will be killed in war and your bodies dragged off by dogs, your flesh will be eaten by birds, and your bones will be chewed on by wild animals.”

Now comes one of the mysteries of this chapter. God tells Jeremiah that this punishment of Judah is also due to the actions of King Manasseh of Judah. According to Charles Spurgeon, King Manasseh was not a believer in his own God of Israel-Judah, lead the way in rejecting Him, then in his later years repented. In a sense this parallels the life of Saul/Apostle Paul. Manasseh was the son of *King Hezekiah, a relatively honorable king. What made King Manasseh’s sins so punishable, it was not covert, but overt sin. What makes this verse so curious is that Manasseh was not king during the lifetime of Jeremiah.*King Hezekiah is the king God told he was about to die. He pleaded with God and God extended his life by 15 years. Amazingly, Manasseh was born during Hezekiah’s 15 year extension on life that God had given to him. Yet, Manasseh learned nothing from it as a child even though he was only 12 years old when his father died. (Hint: 15 minus 12 = 3; Hezekiah fathered Manasseh three years after he received his 15 year extension to his life)

King Manasseh put his idols in the Temple of God; one might say in the face of God. WOW! How overt. He had no shame. He was going to do it HIS WAY even though he was a descendent of King David, these choices in life are individual. The church will not save us. Neither will membership. Our bloodline must be with Jesus. The only way is HIS WAY.

Jeremiah is dealing with a people who blatantly sinned and by unanimous consent, their choice. The bible suggests God’s punishment is because of the sins of Manasseh. Let’s understand this better. God is not blaming Manasseh and just now, in the Book of Jeremiah, taking it out on the people of Judah. (Thank you Lord for this insight) It says in verse 4 “…because of what Manasseh did…” It isn’t because of Manasseh personally, but the blatant sins and in-your-face attitude he had before finally repenting. This sinning was still prevalent in Judah at this time. They are just like him in attitude. Manasseh eventually confessed and returned to God seeking forgiveness. One could easily give him the title of “The Prodigal King.” Judah did NOT repent or believe Jeremiah. He ruled Judah for 55 years.jerusalem-2

JIV NOTE: We often hear today much debate about borders and building walls to protect our homelands. Well, after King Manasseh was released from Babylonian captivity, he built a great wall around the city of Jerusalem. Not to keep his people in, but to keep out the enemies who have not been properly vetted from entering the gates of into Jerusalem [II Chronicles 33:14].

II Chronicles 33:9 tells us that the people of Judah exceeded the evil done by the people God drove out of Palestine/Canaan to make room for his chosen 12 Tribes; i.e. The Promised Land. Egregious is what comes to mind using our English vocabulary to describe Judah at this time. This is the scenario found in Jeremiah 15.

We know that God is willing to change his mind when we confess sin and follow Him. Jeremiah 15:6 simply states that God tired of showing mercy (changing his mind) for the sake of what we might call fox-hole believers of but not in YHWH. Once things are good and okay again, as it is stated in Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so do fools repeat their folly”. 2 Peter 2:22 also comments the same. Judah had other idols before YWHW-God. To them they returned so they could have a god they create instead of following the God who created them.

Jeremiah 15:7 gives us an insight many miss by purely reading this chapter…by scattering you like straw blown by the wind. I will punish you with sorrow and death, because you refuse to change your ways. We usually consider the Babylonian captivity a 70 year punishment after which the Jews of Judah (see above archeological clay tablet discovery)  would be allowed to return to Jerusalem. This is partially true. The Book of Daniel expounds on this promise and its fulfillment. However, only a remnant returned after Cyrus the Great decreed the captive Judeans in Babylon were free to go home. He even payed their way to return and rebuild their Temple. Only a very small subdivision of Judeans ever returned. Greats like Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezekiel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, ­­­­­­­­did not return to resettle in Jerusalem.

An interesting and easily misunderstood word used in some of the translations, as in v9, is the word sword. “…the residue of them [left in Judah after the Babylonians overran them] I will deliver to the sword.” The Hebrew for sword is “cherub” and can also mean drought. Driven by sword, knife or drought. The residue of left behind Judeans were scattered to the winds of the world like chaff.

At 15:10 we actually have a new topic, change in paragraphs, and change of thought. Jeremiah complains once again to the Lord God. He basically falls into self-pity saying it would be better had he never been born. The ERV puts it: “…[I am] a man [Jeremiah himself] of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.”  Woe is me is the context of Jeremiah’s declaration to God.

Verses 11 and 12 state that God will protect Jeremiah, and he did, but the people or army of Judah would not defeat their Babylonian enemies. All that is in the land of the Kingdom of Judah will be spoils of war. If it can be removed, the victorious Babylonians will take it. Even their wives, daughters and possessions will fall plunder to the invading Babylonians. But Jeremiah isn’t finished trying to put the blame on God’s shoulders instead of the Kingdom of Judah. The CEV in verse 15 says “You can see how I suffer insult after insult all because of you God.” Jeremiah is still suffering from the human nature born into us. What he says per it being God’s fault is not inaccurate. It is for the cause of God that Jeremiah is suffering a very limited social life, a single man without family, and an outcast in his own country. Jeremiah is trying to remind God of something God already knows. God anointed Jeremiah just for this purpose in life. Jeremiah knew this from the beginning yet he opts to make mention of it to God.

We are getting ahead of ourselves but we already discussed it in our Book of Daniels studies. When the opportunity arose for Jews (Judeans) of Babylon to return to their land only a very small number answered the call. This was largely because they had carved out a niche for themselves in Babylon. It was not perfect, but it had a lot of advantages. Millions of those who now live in and around this same area today now known as Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the Mesopotamian Valley area, don’t even know they descended from the Tribe of Judah; the captive Judeans who remained in Babylon 2500 years earlier.

As we close our look at chapter 15 and move on, it is paramount that we fully grasp the final verse in 15. Why? Because of the debates over what happened to Jeremiah at life’s end. We will discuss this in later articles but for now…

Jer 15:21 “I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”

God makes a covenant with Jeremiah and God is a person of His word. He will be delivered out of the hand of the wicked AND redeemed from the grasp of the ruthless (his own people). Remember this passage as we continue going through the Book and life of Jeremiah.

Rev. Dr. JstarkminiJim
January 22, 2017

Purim 2017 is Today –Sunday


Purim banner, holiday greeting

­­Book of Esther… (Purim 2017 is March 11th and 12th)

In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day … on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries. – Esther 9:1

And they gained relief on the fourteenth (Adar/March), making it a day of feasting and gladness. – Esther 9:17

[Mordecai instructed them] to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor. – Esther 9:22

Purim is a time of recalling the story and bible history of Haman, Mordechai, Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus; aka: Artaxerxes. As Jews of Judaism sit to eat and drink, there is no limit to how much they drink as long as Jews/Judaism do not misbehave (i.e. sin) for if they are drinking to fulfill the mitzvah, a mitzvah should not cause them to sin. There is no limit to how much they can sing, dance or relate insights into the strange but true story that took place a bit more than two thousand years ago. Purim centers on those who descended from the Babylonian captive Jews who did NOT RETURN to Jerusalem after being released from Babylon captivity; at that time called New Persia.

Ad d’lo Yada means that Jews/Judaism can drink until they no longer know the difference between blessed in Mordecai and cursed in Haman. Drinking to the point of being drunk is a point that Judaism is at odds with most other religions. In some religions alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden and in other religions being drunk is forbidden. Judaism however makes it a mitzvah (which means only on this one day) and indeed Jews/Judaism must understand why!

The origin of Purim and the mitzvah of the festive seuda meal dates back to the majestic banquet that King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes or Artaxerxes) made in the capital city Shushan; see Daniel 8:2. Ahasuerus was the king of one hundred and twenty-seven countries or city-states. He ruled the world from India to Africa. This banquet lasted one hundred and eighty days (six months!) and was to celebrate King Ahasuerus unification of his kingdom. Drinks were set out and all participants could enjoy as much as they desired; no one was forced to drink or to stop drinking.

The king drank so much that he became drunk. In his drunkenness he boasted of the beauty of Queen Vashti. He ordered her brought to him and his ministers naked, that all should realize that indeed she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Vasti not being drunk of course refused. The king was incensed that she refused his (drunken) request and he ordered her to be eliminated. How, we do not have those details but she is never again mentioned in scripture or secular records. We can use culture of that time to speculate. If one even dared to enter the presents of the King without being asked, it meant instant death.

JIV NOTE: Many modern day women libbers point to this instance of denying the request of a husband as creating the right of other wives to do the same thing as at this time in history. Those in the king’s court feared that would happen in Persia and demanded a quick and threatening punishment for Vasti. We still do not know of her punishment but knowing the now Arab and Islamic world from this same area, it was probably very severe even though she was probably right.

After her elimination the selection of the king’s new bride began (and subsequent queen). We know this was Esther. Mordecai was Esther’s uncle. After Esther was established as the queen he heard of a plot to kill the king. He reported it to Esther who reported it to the king who investigated and found it to be correct. The king had the would-be assassins executed. But somehow he ‘forgot’ to give a reward to Mordechai.

In the meantime, the wicked Haman the Amalekite, the greatest anti-Semite in his generation, had become appointed Prime Minister of the greater Persian Empire. He was a descendant of Amalek who had no historical love for the Jews having attacked them when they left Egypt; i.e. Amalek was a Canaanite descended from Ham.

Note that knowledge from our Old Testament college course connects a few dots with this information from the Book of Esther; i.e. Egypt, Israel, 12 spies in Promised Land, Amalekites giants and the wandering of Israel.

Haman had a huge ego and he wanted all to bow down before him when he became Prime Minister of Persia. Mordecai was the only one (and only Jew) that refused. This of course infuriated Haman. Haman began a plot to exterminate not just Mordechai, but also his people the Jews of Persia/Babylon.

Mordecai told Esther that she should realize that the reason God anointed her to become queen was in order to rescue her people. It was up to her to do something. She knew that the king’s weak spot was a good brew and although they did not have Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker in those times, they did have strong wine. She held a drinking party for King Ahasuerus and Haman. King Ahasuerus wondered why she invited Haman. He also noticed that Haman was feeling quite pleased with the high status accorded to him by the royal family of Persia (formerly known as Babylon; now Iran).

The king asked Esther the reason for the party and she declined to tell him telling him that at another party she will reveal her purpose. In the meantime the king went back to his palace a bit suspicious or at least quite curious of Haman.

The Old Testament tells us that very same night, the king could not sleep; Esther 6:1. He requested his scribe to read to him from the Persian archives. When the reader mentioned Mordecai and how he saved the king’s life he asked what reward had he been given. The reply was nothing. Ah ha, the king reasoned because he did not reward this man, no one has come forward to tell him what is going on between Esther and Haman. He wanted to know why Haman was invited to Esther’s party!?


Haman had other plans for Mordecai the Jew who would not bow before him. He built a high gallows to hang him. Unfortunately for himself and fortunately for the Jews of Persia (today’s Iran), at the next drinking party that Esther arranged for Ahasuerus and Haman, she revealed to the king that Haman planned to kill her. She being a Jew was under the wicked Haman’s death decree to eradicate all Jews.

The king became infuriated. Being bit tipsy ran out of the room to think. Haman realizing his personal jeopardy and difficult predicament fell to his knees in front of the queen to beg for mercy, but being also a bit tipsy fell onto Esther. That was just as Ahasuerus re-entered the room. Imagine the shock of Ahasuerus  to see his top minister lying on top of the queen! He did not hesitate one moment to call for the guards to take Haman and execute him immediately. As the Bible tells us in the book of Esther, Haman was hung from the very gallows he planned to publicly hang Mordechai.  This was between 486 and 465 B.C. This is recorded in the bible and Persian records.

The events described in the Book of Esther began around the years 483–482 BCE, and concluded in March, 473 BCE. This is the same location from where Daniel had a vision (Daniel 8:2).

A quote from my Levite Priest friend in Tel Aviv: “Thus through drinking and drunkenness the Jews were saved from destruction. Therefore to commemorate the miracles that happened then, we today imbibe more than normal. Jews are generally not drinkers and therefore this is a difficult *mitzvah to perform. But when one considers that G-d directs the entire universe even to the point when each leaf that falls off from a tree it is guided by G-d to where it will land, we must realize that G-d will protect us if when we drink our desire is to fulfill the mitzvah of Ad d’lo Yada.”

*Mitzvah means “for one day only.”

P.S. Like manmade denominational rules, this is a Jewish celebration not ordered or sanctioned by God.


Murphy James

Jeremiah – Chapter 14

drought.jpegDrought, drought and more *drought. This does not mean a season of little or no rain. It means several seasons of dry arid weather. The oddity of drought in this land can’t be avoided. It is or WAS the land of milk and honey [Deuteronomy 31:20].What happened? Rabbi Yuval Cherlow once said, “The health of the land depends on our responsible behavior.” This is secular thought. What he didn’t say was what God told Israel over and over, “If you worship me, I will bless the land I have given you. It is a Promised Land. If you don’t then…” Jeremiah was the last prophet before the demise of Israel as an independent kingdom; this chapter and a few others is his warning from God to them.

*Prolonged drought in California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, the Southeast and northern east coast states. Hmmmmmm? Since October of 2016, huge amounts of moisture have refilled the reservoirs or places where water levels had dropped to serious lows; i.e. October of this year. Prayers for this country have gone up from many Christians and churches per saving this country and the national elections. Franklin Graham prayed on the steps of every State capital this past summer. He prayed for God to forgive America. One can’t help but wonder if there is a connection. I report the facts. You decide for yourself!

The Talmud interpreters try to minimize God’s involvement by identifying the milk as that from goats and honey meaning the figs grown there [http://www.myjewishlearning.com]. But that does not support the fact God called it “an already existing land of milk and honey.” Did someone forget the huge crop of grape clusters brought back by the original 12 spies sent into the land by Moses [Numbers 13:27]? This was hundreds of years before this drought in Israel.

Now, what does chapter 12 hold for us:

Drought is the theme of chapter 14. Other than God telling Jeremiah to “not pray for these people of Judah” [V14], Jeremiah’s confessional plea, and questioning God’s ability to keep the promises to the fathers of his chosen people are of chapter 14. Let’s consider these points as a basic chapter 14 outline. But we need to fill in and explain some of the details for the bible student.

The Drought…

Since both Judah and Israel kingdoms [once the nation of Israel] existed in the Levant. It is an area of great lands, fertile for crops, grass for herds, and well-watered. God used its strength against them as a form of punishment. God was once again trying to get their attention. Jeremiah writes in verse 12 that God sees them as wanderers; not place to place, but god to god. The very first verse says “God came to Jeremiah concerning the drought [dearth].” Obviously it was a serious subject. There was no debate that a great need for reservoir water existed; and a great need for rainfall.

Here is an interesting side note about the idol-god Baal, the predominant idol in Judah during this time. One of the defining characteristics of Baal is, as the David Guzik Commentary puts it: “Baal was thought to be the god of weather and rain. Many ancient Israelites were drawn to Baal worship because they wanted rain.” How ironic. The very god that Judah was worshiping as the god of weather and rain was a god that could not provide conducive weather and desperately needed rain. This rain-god theory is supported many years earlier by the confrontation of the Prophet Elijah, the 600 priests of Baal and Jezebel in I Kings 18:19-40. The northern Kingdom of Israel under King Ahab was in a drought situation and for the same reason, worshiping false gods.


Their situation was the same then, years of no rain in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Ahab was king at this time. Jezebel was queen and devoted to Baal. Once again God was punishing the Kingdom of Israel for their unfaithfulness (wandering feet that go god to god while ignoring the only God; (Jeremiah 14:10). The idol-rain-god Baal failed them back then also.

JIV NOTE: The existence of King Ahab is historically; i.e. secularly supported outside of the Bible. Shalmaneser III documented in 853 B.C. that he defeated an alliance of a dozen kings in the Battle of Qarqar; one of these was King Ahab of the northern Kingdom of Israel. [Kurkh Monolith, discovered in 1861 by the British archaeologist John George Taylor]

In verse 2 we read that Judah mourned…but for the wrong thing. They did not mourn their lost relationship with God, but their loss of water and comfortable way of life. It is suggested by some theologians including us, the reason verse 3 says the nobles (fathers) sent their little ones to fetch water was that the drought had become a self-survival exercise; their servants had left to seek a life of self-existence since their landlords  could no longer provide them a living or life.

Even the animals of the wild and open fields suffered greatly; the deer; the cattle; the sheep and goats; the wild donkeys [14:4-6].

Now Jeremiah, the ever faithful Judean, pleads with God to make things right for God’s name sake [v7 and again in v14]. He admits the sins of Judah are great but does not confess or speak for the people. Why? God appointed him as a young prophet to condemn Judah for their sins; not to plead for them. He identifies God as “the hope of ISREAL” (not just Judah) and the one who has redeemed them from other troubles. In short, Jeremiah pleaded “God you did it before so do it again.”

Isn’t this like many Christians today? One gets into trouble then pleads with God to get him or her out of that trouble. Frightfully, making promises during the plea-bargaining with God that they do not fulfill.  Jeremiah is getting quite pointed in his comments to God by his time. Why are you (God) a stranger like one to whom only occasionally visits this land? Are you (God) a powerless warrior? Where are you (God) in this time of need?

Jeremiah already knew the answers but was hoping to change God’s mind as had some of ReminderIsrael and Judah’s ancestral prophets and leaders. V10 should have scared these Chosen People right out of their evil ways but it didn’t. It only made Jeremiah more determined to petition God for relief. God points out Judah’s sin: “The people of Judah really love to leave me. They don’t stop themselves from leaving me. So now the LORD will not accept them. Now he will remember the evil they do. He will punish them for their sins.” If the Lord God will now “remember the evil they do,” it defaults back to a time when God opted to not remember their sins. The word ‘remember’ in the Hebrew is zâkar. It means to “make note of; to put it to record.”

At this point God changes the subject while Jeremiah continues to act as an intercessor (attorney) for Judah. God heats up the pending punishment of Judah by telling Jeremiah to not even pray for these people because he will turn a deaf ear to his and their prayers. In other words, at this point God has spoken and the consequences are now irreversible. There is an often unspoken reason that God will bring them into punishment even if (v11) they repent, fast, cry, wail, use sackcloth and ashes, or offer burnt offerings. It is because the people of Judah do not want to return to God. They want to return to their life style, worshiping other gods AND feel protected since they have the Temple of God. They got caught and this is now their sorrow. WE have the Temple they say, but forgot to worship God in it.

In v13, Jeremiah points out to God that there are other “so-called” prophets in the land making contrary prophecies; like God didn’t already know this? These are what is called “tickle the ear” prophets; something like “tickle the ear ministers” today. Their messages are anything but from God, the bible or the scrolls. They sound wonderful if only they were truthful, but they aren’t. After all, Israel has the Temple so why would God leave them? He didn’t! They left HIM!!!!

The word “consume” in v12 needs to be understood. It is “kâlâh” in the Hebrew. The intent is to convey that the fertility, milk and honey of Judah that once knew will come to an end; cease to exist. This is precisely what happened including during their 70 banishment to Babylon.  They had gone from a land of plenty to a land that is now desolate, without much water, wind torn territory, and greatly reduced in population. This became the opportunity for the surrounding Gentile neighbors to move in and claim it as their own land. This is still the debate and issue today in the Middle East. Arabs believe the Jews (Israelis) lost their right to the land. They forget as conquered people themselves; Assyrians and Babylonians (Persians) moved them to this land when they removed them from their original home lands. This was a common practice of victorious nations at this time.

Consumed by the sword can simply mean that the existence of a self-ruling Judah would be the result of and under the rule of someone’s sword. Conquered or controlled by the sword.

JIV NOTE: Most people do not connect the Judah Jeremiah is talking about in chapter 14 is today called the West Bank. The West Bank is the territory Jordan captured from the new Israel in 1948 and then occupied it with undesirables in their own land. Today’s West Bank IS THE JUDAH OF JEREMIAH. Today’s Palestinians have a home land. Jordan is 80% Palestinian Arab. Jordan occupied this part of Israel in order to force its undesirables into that territory. Yasser Arafat was one of them. The PLO didn’t exist until 1963. (To not know history is to delete it –Jstark)

What the false prophets of Judah are saying in their ‘tickling of the ears’ prophecies, God calls a LIE in v14. However, the people prefer to believe them over Jeremiah. How closely this resembles Daniel’s and Revelation’s end time message when people will totally fall for the lies rather than the honest truths. Even if one only considers the two witnesses [Revelation 11:1-14], the people of this world or in this case of the two witnesses, most of the people of Judah will once again opt to not side with the truth. “When one does not understand their own history, they are destined to delete it from memory” (Jstark, 2017). In other words, within one or two generations, it never happened.

If one questions God’s anger and deep disappointment of Israeli’s from the Tribe of Judah, re-read v10a. It says. “Thus said Jehovah concerning this people: Well they have loved to wander,…” THIS people? He doesn’t even call them His people at this time. This is very similar in meaning when in the New Testament Jesus on the cross cries, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” [Matthew 27:46].

It will be bad for these people of Judah (Prophets, priests, rulers and residents) who fake a worship of the true God because they have the Temple, but put other values in front of God and first in their lives while actually sacrificing to Baal and other false gods. V16…And the people to whom they prophesy shall be slain and cast out in the streets of Jerusalem,…There will be no one to bury them.” Their death will be so sudden and their removal from the Promised (West Bank) Kingdom of Judah will be swift. Those who try to resist the Babylonians will die on the spot and left for the wild beasts and birds to devour.

Note in V16d God says it is not his punishment but “the calamity they deserve” (NIV). He simply allows it to happen. After all, Babylon is already invading, rampaging and conquering the former lands of the Assyrians and Egypt. God simply removed his protection. If the king and the leaders of Judah did as Jeremiah instructed them to do, just surrender, none of these consequences would have happened. God promised in a later passage that the Babylonians will suffer for their brutality.

V18 explains the vast dismay of Judah. Those in the field of battle will be slain by the Babylonians. Those who are sick and starving within the walled cities of Judah and particularly Jerusalem will be left to die; those already dead in the streets will simply be ignored by this invading army of Nebuchadnezzar. Their leaders and most of the remaining population will be transported to Babylon; a place and a language they do not know. This is explained in the historical reference to what happened to Daniel, *Hananiah, **Mishael and ***Azariah (Hebrew) also known in the Babylonian Chaldean language; *Shadrach, **Meshach, and ***Abed-Nego.

Now Jeremiah gets down right pointed in his conversations with God. Do you despise Judah? Why have you afflicted *us? We cannot be forgiven or healed? FOR YOUR NAME’S SAKE (putting the responsibility back onto God’s shoulders a second time) SAVE JUDAH [v21].

*Jeremiah already knew the consequences of Judah’s sins. Why he would include himself in their ranks by saying US is a human attempt at avoiding the obvious. If I tell God that he is also doing this to Jeremiah, then perhaps Jeremiah’s credentials will bring salvation (forgiveness). God doesn’t bite.

V32 God immediately challenges Jeremiah with a counter-question. He asks, ”Do the worthless idols bring rain or the skies themselves send down rain?” This is enough to snap Jeremiah back into God’s reality reminding him with whom he is arguing to whom he is offering a defense. Jeremiah simply replies in the last verse, ”No, it is you oh Lord.”

In our next chapter, God gives Jeremiah a very good counter-explanation as to the irreversible consequences for Judah’s continuing sins.

Rev. Dr Jstark
January 2017