Acts 9 –The Way?

Can one be totally dedicated to a cause not knowing s/he is on the wrong side? This is Saul in the first couple verses of Acts 9. He witnessed the stoning of Stephen in chapter 8. Now he sets out with a mission of destruction to what verse 2 in Acts 9 calls members of (ESV) The Way.

one way

There is only ONE WAY!

He goes to the Chief Priest asking for what we would call in today’s language, warrants to arrest any Jews who proclaim Christ as Savior. The Jewish Sanhedrin had no jurisdiction over Gentiles or Gentile believers but if a Jew, one would fall under the Roman authorized and supported Jewish (Judaism) leadership and the Sanhedrin. This seems odd for a power like Rome to defer to another authority within its own domain. Especially after the trouble the Jews caused for them. This, in fact all changes in 70 A.D. when the Romans finally destroy the Temple and Jewish independence; about 30 years from this point in Acts 9.

Oddly as it may seem, Saul, soon to be evangelist Paul, the one seeking authority to destroy The Way (Christians), is one of the primary reasons Rome turns on both the Jews and the Christians. This chapter in Acts is known as The Damascus Road chapter. Saul sees a bright light from heaven as he travels to Damascus with warrants in hand. His accompanying comrades or Temple Police witness the voice event but see nothing or no one. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 9:4 – ESV)

Saul replies “Who are you, Lord?” The fact is the word he used in the Greek, LORD (kurios) means “supreme being.” Saul already knew the answer to his own question. Jesus simply takes him to a moment or reality…”I am Jesus, the one you persecute.”

JIV: This is a moment of past, present and future per those who call upon the name of the Lord as Christians. Saul knew well of the crucifixion of Jesus only a few years earlier. He is now talking to the same one he in spirit helped to kill.  Saul saw Christianity as a great threat to Judaism. We now move from God (Old Testament) to Jesus (New Testament); one and the same but a change from Judaism to Christianity…another way of defining this moment.

Paul is told by The Voice of The Way to continue on to Damascus, but he is now blind. There is great symbolism in him being blind. John 9:25 reads…”I was blind but now I see.” This passage reports a miracle of Jesus. There is something of huge value in temporarily retreating to this passage in John 9. Jesus is asked by his disciples “why is this man blind? What sin did he do that blinded him? HERE IS THE KEY VERSE: (ESV) “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” This man had a difficulty or birth defect for one purpose…so that “the works of God (be shown) through his healing.” Why am I diseased? Why am I a cripple? Why do I have cancer? Why is it such a young person died? Why does God let this or that happen? So that the works of God may be shown (given opportunity) to show through him or her. It may not always be an earthly healing we see, but we do see the “works of God” manifesting in his or her life.

Amazingly, a leadership of Judaism, this time the Pharisees, questioned the blind man’s healing. He claims it was Jesus. As it states in verse 9, some tried to convince themselves it was a look-a-like person who was now seeing. The blind guy must have stepped off the face of the map because such a thing cannot be done…so they thought (see Acts 9:28)

The Pharisees cry that since it was the Sabbath it couldn’t be of God. It was traditionally a day of peace and rest. By Jewish Law work was forbidden on the Sabbath. This reminds us of Colossians 2:16…” Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” …or what day one calls his or her Sabbath? Man-made tradition and rules!!!! We have so many man-made rules we don’t know the difference between what scriptures actually tell us and what some theologian or denominational doctrine tell us is as much gospel as the Gospels themselves. How will we understand if we do not know? How will we know or have true knowledge if we are not personally aware of bible facts by study?

In desperation, verses 18 and 23, the Pharisees call the healed man’s parents to testify if this is really their “from birth” blind son? They say YES but in fear of the authority of the Sanhedrin, they defer to their son saying, “Ask him. He is of age.”

In Acts 9:22 the finality of being sanctioned from the synagogue or as in Catholicism, excommunicated, was foremost in his parents’ mind. As a Jew, to say Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), was fatal. They passed the buck to their healed son. This reminds us of the End Time reference found in Luke 12:53; Father against son, son against father; mother against daughter, daughter against mother. See below copy of ancient fragments discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This fragment states of a time yet to come when such will be fact!

It actually addresses a time when the sons of light will battle with the sons of darkness. By implication we can deduce this will be a time of great distress and no one trusting another.

Now the Pharisees get religious. In verses 24, 25 they tell him to give glory to God for this man (Jesus) is a sinner for having worked on their Sabbath. The healed man simply says, whether he is a sinner of not I do not know. But, once I was blind and now I see.

Here is a point too often missed from the pulpit or the Sunday Bible study hour. He healed man says “whether Jesus was a sinner or not, he did not know.” Hmmmm?

Now it gets real interesting. The Pharisees question him again but the healed man gets frustrated with their persistence. He tells them, I already answered your questions. What is wrong with you? In essence, what is it you don’t understand about me being healed? Do you wish to become his disciples (learners)? The Pharisees make a fatal statement…(V28) “And they reviled him, saying, “’You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses’.” They don’t even claim to be disciples of the God they had just ordered the healed man to give glory (v24). They are students of Moses whom they never personally knew from 1,500 years earlier in Hebrew history. Jesus they can see at this time.

Then the Pharisees get totally outwitted by the healed man and “cast him out” of their presence (9:34).

Just above in this article you should have read a hmmmmm statement. The healed man did not know if his healer (Jesus) was a sinner or not. Now we find the answer. Recall that Jesus mudded the eyes of the man commanding him to go to the Pool of Salome to wash off the mud. He did NOT KNOW what Jesus looked like as his previous contact with him was when he was still blind. His faith did not heal him and he knew not Jesus.

Beginning at Acts 9:35, we must read the conversation that followed when the healed man was cast out of the presence of the Pharisees.

Joh 9:35  Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

Joh 9:36  He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”

Joh 9:37  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

Joh 9:38  He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Joh 9:39  Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Joh 9:40  Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”

Joh 9:41  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus finds the man a second time and asks him if he is aware of who is “the Son of Man?” He says no but I want to believe. Who is he? Jesus tells him, “It is I who stands in front of you.” So often, in fact too often we hear that JESUS IS LOVE without hearing the rest of the detail (story as Paul Harvey once proclaimed on radio). Jesus said he came to judge (v39). The only reason that the Pharisees had any sense of guilt is the closing verse. In simplified English, if you were not aware you would not know or understand. But now that you are aware, you are guilty.

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
August 2018

Acts Chapter 5

puzzleThere is more to knowing and understanding the historical record of Ananias and Sapphira as is usually preached from Acts 5. If one is not familiar with this passage, the apostles were collecting funds as needed and volunteered by other believers to feed their widowed. There was an issue between the Hellenist Jews and the Jerusalem Jews where one group seemed to be getting more than the other. We will address this in chapter six of the Book of Acts article. For now it is Ananias and Sapphira.

In agreement with each other, this couple sold some property for the expressed purpose of contributing to the “widow Fund.” It seems that they had an ulterior motive; to look good amongst their fellow believers per contribution. In a real sense this is reflected per an attitude in Mark 12:38-44.

(In brief) In His teaching Jesus was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets… and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation. They made much ado about dropping their tithe in to the collection box. The noisier the better and greater likelihood others will make note of their abundance in generosity.”

This is what is usually pointed out in lessons and preaching; the fact that Ananias and Sapphira wanted all to know they gave so much to this cause of widow funds. Peter challenged Ananias as to whether or not the amount he gave was the same as for what he sold his property? He said yes. He died on the spot as it was not so. He wanted to deceive those in witness regarding his generosity by confirming that the amount given was the amount collected.honest

Three hours later his wife came looking for him. She must have wondered what was holding him up. Perhaps he was being celebrated for such generosity and she wanted her fair share of the attention. Peter asked if the amount her husband had given as an offering and as he had claimed was the price of the property sold. As previously agreed with Ananias, she also said yes. Sapphira also died on the spot.

This is the content of Acts 5:1-10 but the context is more than the historical facts recorded in the bible per Peter, widows, Ananias, and Sapphira. It is what this meant and remains true today per our relationship with others and the Holy Spirit. It may not be directly connected but keep in thought that “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is the one unforgivable sin.

Matthew 12:31-32

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Luke 12:10

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.

Acts 5:3 & 9 are too often given little attention in a Sunday School lesson or from the pulpit. We lie to each other in order to deceive. But, the same sin is not a deception of the Holy Spirit but a blatant lie. In other words, we can deceive each other but not the Holy Spirit. He is part of the trinity God-head; all knowing, ever present, and all knowledgeable. What fool thinks a deception of other humans is also a possibility with God? We deceive each other but can only lie to the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:13 is of particular note. It reads… (ESV) “and more than ever believers were added to the Lord…men and women.” The word “believers” is pisteuō in the Greek. It means to put one’s confidence in. It is more than acknowledging something to be true, it is putting one’s trust and life (living) in it; a new way of life. To be a true believer is to accept and to live out one’s faith of confidence.

Beginning at verse 17 the true heart of the Jewish (religion) leaders is exposed. Verse 17 says that the leaders were “jealous.” They see their Judaism flock flooding to Peter consequently putting him in the public spot light and not them. It isn’t that Peter wants the spot light, but the Sanhedrin bunch sure wish it. So what do they do? Arrest Peter and company in the name of their self-proclaiming righteous positions inside the Jewish community.

In short, Peter and his companions are under lock, key and guard. What happens next is amazing. Verse 19: (ASV) “But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them out…” Two great mysteries are found here per this angelic prison escape. We find both in verse 23 of Acts 5. The prison doors were found soundly locked the next morning, and two, the prison guards were still standing at the prison doors unaware of any “escape.” Peter and his co-conspirators per the Sanhedrin, walked out of prison unnoticed and without unlocking the doors.

JIV: (Jim’s Introspective View) The Greek word for ‘open’, as in the passage where the Angel of the Lord opens the prison doors, is anoigō. It can be used literally or figuratively. Either the prison guards were made total unaware of their surroundings and blinded to the actuality of the event or they made consciously blind and Peter along with the angel of the Lord simply walked through the ‘door’ way open or figuratively speaking.

What a shock it had to be the next morning when the Sanhedrin assembled to ‘judge’ these Jesus preaching individuals, seeking them in their prison cells but found them in the Temple witnessing just as they were doing previous to their in initial arrests (verse 25). But in verse 24 we read that the Jewish leadership and captain of the guard were “perplexed.” This means they were trying to find a rational explanation to this unexplainable event. Even in full view of this miracle, they refused to see the truth. This is one of Satan’s most powerful tools of deception.

Acts 5:28 supports this self-deception of the Sanhedrin and guards. The Jewish legal system peaceably gather Peter and company from the Temple a second time and tell them to basically…don’t do that or this again; we forbid it.” Following this warning we find in verse 30, Peter points out that they must follow God not the whims of religious dictums. He also reminds this Sanhedrin bunch, many being the very same people who had condemned Jesus but a few years earlier, that it was them who crucified Christ Jesus. He put the blame right at their feet. This reminder, plus their efforts to forget the crucifixion made them want to kill them on the spot. Gamaliel, one of their own Sanhedrin members, cautioned them that this is either not of God and will go away on its own or if of God, they must not kill again adding to their guilt of crucifying Jesus.

What an example of to be and to live a life in Christ. Verse 42 specifies that Peter and his entourage kept witnessing door to door and teaching in the Temple. At no time did Peter invite unbelievers to join in the fellowship and worship of believers. He went to them. Has the modern day evangelical church got it wrong? ABSOLUTELY!

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. James Stark
August 2018

A Study in Acts-the History

Historical Information on Acts

Dr. jStark

Bible School 2017-2018

The great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is still remembered around the world for his beautiful and skillful compositions. But as wonderful as his musical scores are in themselves, his works are even more impressive when we learn that Beethoven suffered progressive hearing loss that began when he was a young man. In fact, it is astounding to realize that Beethoven wrote many of his greatest works when he was entirely deaf. Knowing the background of Beethoven’s life makes his music all the more impressive.

In important ways, appreciating the Scriptures is similar to appreciating Beethoven. It isn’t difficult to see the power and clarity with which the various books of the Bible proclaim God’s revelation. But when we learn about the backgrounds of the writers of the Bible, their world, their lives and their purposes, our understanding and appreciation of the Scriptures becomes much deeper.

Acts of the Apostles: Critical verse to this study of Acts is in Hebrew 10:25 (last line…”*as we see the end time day drawing nigh”) *”as” (hosos) means:  how much; how many; whoever.

History and Background Information

Luke wrote two, possibly three New Testament books: Luke, Acts and possibly some of Hebrews. Acts is the second of these books. At the end of the gospel of Luke Jesus says “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In the Book of Acts he picks it up where he leaves it off in Luke. We see the fulfillment of Christ’s words as the apostles carry the gospel to the world. See Luke 24:48-53. Luke is the third of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called synoptic gospels.

The Book of Acts is the FIRST account of the original church. In brief it covers the period of time between Jesus’ resurrection and the death of the Apostle Paul. Often Luke reverts to the inclusive or plural pronoun “we” in his writing. This is probably when he references him and Paul with others who may be present at that time. Some try to discredit Luke as author when all Luke is doing is including himself and probably Paul.

According to legend, Paul died by execution at the time when “firebug” Roman Emperor Nero was looking for a scape goat per the burning of parts of Rome. He started with the Apostle Paul then continued by accusing the new sect of religion called “THE WAY;” i.e. Christians. The Romans originally saw Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism since the original “church” consisted of Jews (Israelites). They identified themselves as The Way.”

Dictionary: The “Way” with a capital “W” was the early name for followers of Jesus. Considered a sect of Judaism, later in Acts 11 it is replaced with the term “Christian.” The first of only six biblical references, all in Acts, occurs as Saul obtained letters to arrest members of the “Way” in Damascus, immediately after stoning “Way” follower Stephen in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, 24:22)

This by itself reminds me of Matthew 16 per our understanding or lack of it… (Matthew 16:2, 3; NASB)
turkey-red sky
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?

This reminds me of a man who once came up and asked for a Word for him from God. While acknowledging the request the reply was almost spontaneous. Turning to the man asking for “a word” I replied… “God said, ‘Ask him yourself but don’t forget to listen to what He tells you.’”

We will follow an outline of Acts provided in small sections with an applicable article with each section of the building outline in this new study. Acts is the ORIGINAL Acts of the Apostles Peter then Paul, the early church, and the acts of the early church. Today’s church is a far thing from what the early church did. This too will be discussed; sometimes in detail. For now, let’s begin with:

OUTLINE of ACTS: (Part 1)

  1. It appears that Luke set out to show in two volumes how redemption came to mankind.
      1. Luke relates the coming of a Redeemer who died for our sins, rose in triumph, and looked to the time when mankind might share in salvation. Luke 24:46­-47.
      2. Volume II (Acts) takes up the narrative at that point and shows how over a period of about 30 years the gospel went from Jerusalem to Rome.
      3. The Gospel he wrote tells about the things “Jesus began both to do and to teach.” Acts 1:1.
      4. Acts tells what Jesus brought about through the Holy Spirit’s continuation of his work. Acts 1:8; cf. John 16:13.
  1. Based on volume/content, Luke, not Paul, wrote over one ­fourth of the entire New Testament.
  2. The Acts of the Apostles is a crucial part of Holy Scripture.
      1. It tells of the establishment of the church.
      2. It describes the growth (amid frequent perils) of the church and records the gospel’s amazing spread through the Roman Empire.
      3. It gives inspiring accounts of great persons who loved not their lives unto death; people who loved Jesus more than life itself.

Jeremiah 52 ( part b –52 of 52 chapters)

Book of Jeremiah

OUR LAST POST ON OUR STUDY ON JEREMIAH! (A NEW STUDY Coming Soon!

There is reasonable consideration or allowance for this final chapter in Jeremiah, although penned by Baruch, was also authored by him, not Jeremiah per dictation. In a sense it is a summary of the previous 51 chapters from prophecies to fulfillments. Bright quotes: “In its present context the chapter seems to say: the divine word both has been fulfilled – and will be fulfilled!” Bright is pointing out that there was both imminent and eminent prophecy in Jeremiah; similar outcomes but two very different time periods. One was a current event and the others are events yet to happen.

Let’s not forget or learn for the first time, the Book of Lamentations, the book following Jeremiah, is also Jeremiahs’ pen. In Lamentations he did not lament the Babylonian captivity as much as his fellow countrymen not heading his warnings.  We will only point out a few incidents in this chapter that should be reviewed per chapter 52 since it does summarize the previous 51 chapters. We encourage the reader to take it upon her or his-self to read the Book of lamentation to add depth of understanding.

Jeremiah 34 to 36 describes the situation in Judah before the fall. Chapter 37 to 39 describe the time of the fall of the kingdom of Judah. Chapter 40 to 45 describes the fulfillment of the prophecy and fall of Judah; a fall that remains contested to this date. That will only change upon the second advent of Jesus when he returns to earth as King of kings. C40 to 45 is consequential to the fall but chapter 46 to 51 describe and End Time element that includes the judgment of not only the world opposed to Israel but judgement awaiting the unbelieving Gentiles.

If we back up to Jeremiah 30 to 33 we find the “hope of a future” Jerusalem. Let’s review some of the major players in Jeremiah. One of them is a person named Shaphan. Biblical account. When the chief Temple priest Hilkiah discovers an ancient Torah scroll, he gives it to the scribe Shaphan, who in turn brings in to King Josiah. Josiah reads it aloud to a crowd in Jerusalem, resulting in a great religious revival. Josiah was the last good king.

Shaphan’s sons play significant roles in Jeremiah:C52 chart1

The chronology of rulers on the throne in Jerusalem during the time of Jeremiah:

kings

JIV NOTE: I did not include King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) in the above chart. He only ruled 3 months 10 days. He followed his father Jehoiakim to the throne but was removed by Nebuchadnezzar almost upon his taking the throne. A fascinating and historical connection or ahamoment is found in 1 Chronicles.  It states that Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) is the father of Pedaiah. That in and of itself means little, but Pedaiah was the father of Zerubbabel.  It was Zerubbabel along with Ezra who lead the first Judeans out of captivity in Babylon back to Judah. He also set the foundations for the second temple according to Ezra 5:2.

Chapters 30 – 33 are considered chapters of consolation and not easily identified as being written of prophesied during the era of any of the kings identified in Jeremiah. They are promises of a reunited Israel; the people and twelve Tribes of Israel/Jacob. These chapters could have been revealed to Jeremiah at any time during his years. They assured him and his fellow countrymen of a true Promised Land guaranteed under the signature and promise of God him-self.

The same is true of chapters 46-44. These passages are judgement passages that cover two distinct time periods; one that is during the life of Jeremiah/Baruch and one that is End Time. They include both the destinies of Israel and Gentile nations who oppose God.
There are actually two different 70 year judgements running parallel to each other in Jeremiah. It was 70 years between the first exiles of Judeans (includes Jeconiah) and their release by Darius the Mede [605 to 536 B.C.]. The other 70 years is between the time Nebuchadnezzar totally destroyed the Temple and when the Temple was completed a second time [586 – 515 B.C.] We usually only here of the 70 year Babylonian activity but there was parallel judgement periods.

Lamentation, also written by Jeremiah, was penned sometime after 586 B.C. 586 was when the third and final deportation of Jews (Tribe of Judah) occurred.

The following may help a bible student better grasp the events and dates.eventw qnd dates

The above chart was created by biblequestions.org

Rev. Dr. Jstark
February 2018

Jeremiah Chapter 51 (Part A)

time-.jpg

The final chapters of both the Book of Jeremiah are the final chapters of the world as we know it. The Hebrew word *Yome [day] can mean a time of day and night; 24 period of time. However, there is an additional translation of the same word. According to Strong and Thayer it can mean:

*“a season, space, time of trouble, an age or period of time[paraphrased for understanding].

The King James puts it in verse 2 (Jeremiah 51) “shall empty her land in her day of trouble…” The Medes and Persians [Achaemenid Empire] occupied the land and conquered the peoples of Babylon. King Cyrus sat on the throne of Babylon. Does this sound like it was EMPTIED? Jeremiah 51:2 in the ASV, YLT, ABP, ISV, ESV and many other translations indicate the same thing. The Medes and Persians did not, per history, devastate Babylon. They snuck in through the river Euphrates after stopping up its flow, captured ad killed the leadership. They did not destroy it. They only occupied it. One may easily suggest it is a reference to the Babylon of the anti-christ of End Time.

V1… “I will send foreigners against her.”

Secular history reports that both the Babylonian Chronicles and the Cyrus Cylinder describe Babylon being taken “without battle”, whereas the Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon report that the city was besieged. The Book of Daniel implies that Babylon was taken in one night and that Belshazzar was killed. The total destruction prophesied in Jeremiah 51 was not fulfilled at this time. This means Babylon became part of Persia; today it is within the territory of Iraq. More on Babylon can be found in Revelation and Isaiah including the proverbial Whore of Babylon in End Time.

We should go back to verse 1 to explain the term Leb Kamai…”Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon, against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai…” Leb Kamai basically is a reference to “those who rise up against me.” Who is the ME in this vers? It is God! This is without doubt a reference to End Time when there are those who rise up against Jesus or the End Time following the thousand year reign of Christ and Satan is released for a short time gathering a great army to “rise up against Jesus.”

It may very well be that Jeremiah used a kind of code [Leb Kamai] which neither Babylonian security nor modern Scripture theorists have been able to crack. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Leb-kamai.html. It may also simply mean those who rise up against God, Christ, Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 51:5 & 6 continue this thought of End Time judgement. Once again Jeremiah mentions Israel and Judah as God’s chosen. Guilty? YES! Forsaken? No! Verse 6 tells us that Jeremiah says to “flee the land of the Babylonians before her destruction” [ESV] However men like Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah remained in Babylon long after the King Darius defeated the Babylonians releasing the Judeans to return to their land, rebuilt the Temple, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Perhaps the next verse (v7) helps our understanding. It speaks of the Babylon to which End Time evil is identified, even the Whore of Babylon, as [ESV]:

Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, *making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.

*“making all the earth drunk.”

This is not just the historical territory of Chaldean Babylonians, but the entire world to which Jeremiah is referring. Recall that Abraham originated from the biblical land of the Chaldeans. This is a reference to a much greater population and territory; i.e. all the earth.

Jeremiah 51:8 could easily be understood as sarcastic in tone. “…wail for her and take balm to her for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.” In light of those who will survive the “time of Jacob’s trouble [tribulation]” and after the millennial reign of Christ, people will be measured and judged according to the intent [kavanah] of their heart. Satan will raise a huge army to try and return the world to destroy as many as he can. If he can destroy them before accepting the King of kings as savior, they will join him in the Lake of Fire. Babylon is the symbolic “world” at this time. Then will come this Great White Throne judgement.

51:9 “let us each go to our own country…” This points out that the world recognizes that they as humans are not in charge of the earth. Satan is bound. There is no longer any point to fight a lost battle with the King of kings.

In verse 10 & *11 Jeremiah returns in thought to the biblical time of the Jews in Babylon; the vindication of the Jews (Judeans). If this is in fact relevant to just that time in history, why would men like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the future queen Esther along with men like Mordechai remain in Babylon? Simply put… this passage is in reference to two different periods of time; the time of the 70 captivity and End Time meaning the world itelf. Return each one to his own country…[ESV verse 9].

*V11 also says to “sharpen the arrows.” It sounds or reads like it a defensive move of those in Babylon. It certainly isn’t the Jews who are told to sharpen their arrows as God ordained the Medes and Persians to conquer Babylon without even a battle. The snuck in as previously mentioned in this article.

51:11b (NASB) “For it is the vengeance of the Lord, vengeance for his Temple.” This seems to have little to do with the biblical event of the Babylonian captivity. Fact is, it is the anti-Christ’s abomination of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. He sets himself up on the throne within the Temple requiring all to pay homage to him. He has offerings of abominable sacrificed to him in the Temple and on the Alter of God.

It gets more clear and obvious that this prophecy in chapter 51 has dual meanings as we continue to the next verses in Jeremiah 51. Read verses 12 and 13 then look at v14 through 18. Verse 17a says it all (NASB) “All mankind is stupid, devoid of knowledge.” When we are devoid of knowledge, there is not a chance of understanding.

Verses 19-24: Jeremiah once again brings Jacob/Israel into the scripture. He is no longer addressing the Babylonian captivity or Judean release. God is telling us HE has a covenant with Jacob/Israel; a covenant that does not apply to the rest of mankind. Jesus in the New Testament makes provision for the rest of us.

[NASB; Jeremiah 51:19-24]shatter

He says, “You (Israel) are My war-club, My weapon of war;
And with you I shatter nations,
And with you I destroy kingdoms.
“With you I shatter the horse and his rider,
And with you I shatter the chariot and its rider,
And with you I shatter man and woman,
And with you I shatter old man and youth,
And with you I shatter young man and virgin,
And with you I shatter the shepherd and his flock,
And with you I shatter the farmer and his team,
And with you I shatter governors and prefects.
“But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea
for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the Lord.

If one does not like what is quoted above from the NASB bible, that is precisely what is stated in ‘v17a’ in the previous paragraph…“All mankind is stupid, [because they are] devoid of knowledge.” Without knowledge there cannot be understanding. Without understanding, we make poor choices or none at all.

Jeremiah 51:24b: “before our very eyes”(ESV)… Jeremiah could not be speaking in the first person being his own eyes as God initially punished Babylon the city-state 70 years after this fact. Jeremiah would have been long gone. So, whose eyes is Jeremiah writing about? This too is End Time prophecy. The world will see this punishment brought upon the anti-God forces of its armies. In short, this is the forces of the king of the north (anti-Christ), king of the south, kings of the east…confirmed in the next verse (v25)… (ESV) “I am against you, declares the Lord which destroys the whole earth. There we have it. Jeremiah finally identifies these enemies as the whole world. Babylon is symbolic of this prophetic destiny; imminent and eminent. (Jeremiah 51 part B is next week)

miniJim

Jeremiah Chapter 39

This chapter is the beginning and fulfillment of what Jeremiah had been prophesying for over 20 years to Israel, its people, rulers, and religious sects. There are several components to this chapter:

  1. The capture of Jerusalem (Last of the cities of Israel to fall)
  2. Jeremiah protected by the Babylonians
  3. Removal of Judean people from Israel to Babylon (the first of three transfers)
  4. The fate of King Zedekiah
  5. Assurance of and to Ebed-melech
    1. He was the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern back in chapter 38
    2. This may not be his real name as it reads more as a title; Ebed: a servant; Melech: [of the] king.

Zedekiah had originally been put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar several years earlier when he removed King Jehoiachin after initially conquering Judah/Jerusalem. Zedekiah was a vassal king to Babylon. In short…he owed his allegiance and crown to Nebuchadnezzar. Christians too often seek a truly close relationship with God only in a time of trouble.  When the trouble goes away, the tendency is to think one is not needing God until the next trouble pops up. Zedekiah had decided he could rebel as long as Egypt came alongside with its forces against Neb. Pharaoh Necho brought out his forces as agreed between him and Zedekiah, but then changed his mind and returned to Egypt (Jeremiah 37:5-7).

hands help

We need GOD’s help ALL the time!

This left Zedekiah all alone without help. A very weak kingdom was Judah. When Zedekiah saw Neb’s men sitting at the city gate (39:4) they panicked and fled Jerusalem. If it was only Zedekiah and a few of his court who fled, they may have escaped. But the minimal armed forces of Jerusalem fled with him. A group this size was not easy to stay stealth and the Chaldean army caught them. We read how he (they) escaped by going back to Ezekiel 12:12…they broke a hole in the outer and inner walls of Jerusalem and fled. The double wall design had two purposes; 1) To specifically provide an egress or escape route if the city was invaded and 2) a type of thermo-pane-wall (double) to keep the enemy at bay once they broke through the outer wall.

JIV NOTE: Personally, this incident fascinates. Israel under the auspices of Joshua entered the Promised lands via Jericho. Now over 800 years later, the last of the vestiges of the former Israel as a nation ends “on the plains of Jericho” [verse 5]. Is there poetic justice, irony, or thought knowing this nation of people came full circle beginning at Jericho then ending at the same location?

Just as under Joshua and centuries earlier the Israelites slaughtered the sinful inhabitants of Jericho, (v6) “The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah.” History repeated itself!

There is another even more fascinating insight to this event at Jericho.  We have often wondered about the Magi and the Star of Bethlehem. Who were they? We know they were astronomers, studied the stars and were of the Zoroastrian religion. Here is what secular history along with the bible tells us:magi-

Rab-mag: chief (Rab) of the magi (mag); was brought along with the Babylonian expedition to Jerusalem in order that its issue might be foreknown through his astrological skill. Mag is a Persian word, meaning “great,” “powerful.” The magi were a sacerdotal caste among the Medes, and supported the Zoroastrian religion. The name Rab-mag is of interest…this chief of the magi was brought along to assure victory. When Israel marched on Jericho centuries earlier, Rahab (very similar name and meaning) was saved and through her came Jesus many years after… in order that its issue might be foreknown. Magi visited Jesus when he was yet a baby. Rahab was the mother of Boaz, the great grandfather of King David. Jesus descended from the line of King David.

Jeremiah 39:9-14 tells us that Jeremiah was released from the prisons of Zedekiah and protected by the Babylonian guards; probably because his many years of prophecy had now come to past, there were a significant number of his fellow Judeans that dispised him. Now that what he had prophesied came true, they had even more reason to hate him as their royal courts, leaders, and religious rulers had been openly slaughtered by Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 39 takes us back to the above indented paragraph concerning the discussion of the RAB-MAGI (saris). They came to the rescue of Jeremiah and honored him just like 600 years later the magi from the east came to the babe Jesus and honored him.

The Babylonian armies initially removed 10,000 of the best people of Judah taking them captive to Babylon. This would include Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Book of Daniel). This was only the first of three forced removals of people from Judah/Jerusalem; most likely dates are 605, 597, & 586.

NOTE:

Jeremiah 39:15 takes us a step backward in this historical event recorded in Babylonian records and archaeological discoveries of these records. Jeremiah 39:15-17a… The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the guard:  “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day, but I (God) will deliver you from danger.

…jumping to verse 18: “I (God) will surely save you (Ebed-Melech), and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.”

 

miniJimRev Dr. Jstark
October, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 29

And the beat goes on… Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those controversial and taken out of context verses. Jeremiah empowered by God’s promises to Israel is speaking of Israel in this verse using as present and far-future tense. Using the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation) it reads:

29:11… “For I have known the thoughts that I am thinking towards you–an affirmation of Jehovah; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give to you posterity and hope.”

continue

more to come…

 

Let’s however begin with the 29:1 then explain the controversy of verse 11 a bit later.

Jeremiah laments that he is “left in Jerusalem” while his brethren and fellow Judeans have been taken as captives to Babylon. The royalty, skilled labor/craftsmen, and the brightest of the youth (including Daniel) have been removed to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar hopes to leverage their skills, contacts, and *governing potentials. These are mostly men of value to any economy, politics, and society.

*Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed Nego became government officials of Babylon. So did many others whose names have not been recorded in scripture.

King Jehoiachin and the royal leaders/family are no long residents of Jerusalem and never will be again. This includes a truck load of prophets, priests, and religious leaders. Jehoiachin’s (aka: Jeconiah) uncle Zedekiah is placed on the throne in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.  This eventually becomes another issue for Nebuchadnezzar but we will address it later in our study. A letter is sent to Nebuchadnezzar and the captives in Babylon that points out that it was God who allowed ol’ Neb to even capture Israel and the people of Jerusalem…”Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all the captivity, whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem unto Babylon.”  In a very real sense, this letter reminds all of them that Jeremiah warned and they refused to listen. He (God) is also putting Nebuchadnezzar on notice. We find this in the Book of Daniel.

Basically God tells these captives to dig in and thrive because they will be there for quite a while (70 years). God even explains that HE does not want their numbers to diminish but increase while there.  Let’s go back several lessons for a minute. God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the Promised Land. It included a much greater territory than they ever conquered or occupied through the Judges, Saul, David and Solomon, and the divided kingdoms; about 800 years by this time. He promised that if they follow and worship him, HE will expand their borders. Well, Israel did not follow God but God is not slack in his covenants in either the Old or the New Testaments.

The Assyrian captivity and dispersion of the northern Kingdom of Israel 120 years earlier spread these people into lands that were to be Israel’s if they kept their end of the covenant. They didn’t. So they (Judean-Israelites) do occupy the land but are not rulers within them the same is true of the southern borders of the covenant with Israel. Sooooo, Babylon takes them captive moving large numbers of Judean-Israelis east of their small homeland. By doing so, they now occupy lands God had promised them; BUT…they are not rulers within this territory.  God actually tells his chosen people to work with not against their captives. He tells them to pray to him for the welfare of their captivity people in Babylon. WOW!

prefer liesAt the same time God through this letter and Jeremiah once again cautions these Judeans to not lend listening ears to the false doctrines and prophecies of those within their midst. Go back to our article on chapter 28 and re-read how Jeremiah dealt with on of them named Hananiah. It cost him his life for his false statements. You can believe several of these false prophets moved with them into captivity. God had ill plans for them but they are not recorded in scripture. Prophesying is one thing but to do so (lie) in God’s name….!!!! (See 29:21 to 26; 30 to 32). God will deal with all false teachers of the Old Testament and today per the New Testament. Vengeance is HIS!

Now we get into the controversial discussions of Jeremiah 29:; i.e. verses 10, 11, and 12. Here they are in the ESV:

Jer 29:10   “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

Jer 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jer 29:12  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

The primary issue is that it appears according to history as we know it, God did NOT make things better for them. Fact is, they got even worse after returning to Jerusalem 70 years later. There were the Greeks, Romans, Turks (Ottomans), WW I, WW II, Arabs and eventually Islamists. So where is the promised prosperity? This is where one must understand that God is referring to a distant future meaning when Jesus returns and sets up his millennial kingdom in Israel. Things are still going to get even worse for these people, i.e. Jacob’s Trouble in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. That is at least 2,700 years in the future from this time Jeremiah is lettering.

Author and blogger Mary DeMuth has another worthy opinion. She says, Jeremiah 29:11 Doesn’t Mean What You Think. As she explains, “the heart of the verse is “not that we would escape our lot, but that we would learn to thrive” in the midst of it.” There is some value to her thoughts but the fact is Jeremiah is referencing a prophecy yet to be fulfilled even today.  Of course this is not what the new captives wanted to hear. They wanted to make it a short tenure in Babylon then return to the “prosperity” of their home in Judah. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that they didn’t even fulfill this commandment; i.e. to pray for the prosperity of Babylon, not just their personal health and wealth. Most of those taken into captivity would die during the 70 years. (More on this in a later blog)

Dr. Coffman puts it: The crowd of false prophets similar to Hananiah were circulating the same falsehoods in Babylon; and the letter in this chapter was written by Jeremiah in order to counteract and frustrate the evil campaign of the false prophets.”  It is no easy task to accept what one does not want and then learn how to live with it in praying for the prosperity of one’s enemies; in this case, the Babylonians.

Jeremiah 29:14 makes verse 11 clearer and more obvious. God restates that he will regather all of Israel from all of the nations where they have and continue to this day to be scattered. What is the condition? ”When you finally decide to follow me” says God. This explains the WHY in the second half of the Great Tribulation; aka: Jacob’s Trouble. God needs to FORCE these bull-headed people into finally accepting and seeking HIM.

God even tells these exiles, through Jeremiah, that those who remain in Jerusalem, the poor farmers and undesired of Nebuchadnezzar, he will (verses 17-19) bring upon them the things that later bible writers like Daniel and John of Patmos (Book of Revelation) prophesied; pestilence, the great sword, make them a horror, a curse, burden and reproach  to “all” other nations. We see this in the daily news today. It is a prophecy yet to be completed. This is another example of this author’s often noted statement… “God says, if  you ____, then I will ____.

Today we are at the threshold of seeing this Jeremiah 29:11. We are opening the door of this End Time history soon to be played out. It is all around us; nation against nation (meaning territorial and political fighting) and kingdom against kingdom (meaning political, racial, religious, petty family feuds, political and literal fighting and sabotage, fake news, spreading of the soon to be southern kingdom of Daniel prophesies; i.e. Islam, border wars, … You name it. This is what the passage in Matthew 24:6 means when correctly translated.

miniJimDr. J. Stark

August 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 23

Little is new to this chapter of Jeremiah. God once again requests that Jeremiah go to the King of Judah and restate and remind them of God’s promises but only IFif the Judeans and leadership of Judah follow God’s commandments. There is a bit of “new look” in that God refers to the leadership of the Kingdom of Judah, both secular and religious, as shepherds. But according to the claim of in verse one, how have these Judean leaders scattered them and driven them away?

This is a two-fold answer:

lost sheepFirst: By them not being an example unto God, the sheep have followed in the examples set and taught by of their so-called leadership. They even have hired false prophets who claim ‘all is well.’ After all they claim, “we have the Temple” is what they stand behind so we (Kingdom of Judah) are protected even if God isn’t front and center in their individual lives. They saw their northern cousins in the Kingdom of Israel carried away 120 years earlier and nothing has happened to ‘good ol’ God protected Teflon’ Judah for decades.  Conclusion? They must be blessed.

In the short of it, Judean leadership has chased its people away from worshiping and depending on the one true God of Israel.

Second: The religious and ruling sectors of Judah have been cruel to the poor, taken advantage of them for personal gain, lied to them, given them false prophetic hope, and slanted the judicial system to the advantage of the ruling class. Jeremiah 23:2c states, (ESV) “Behold, I (have yet to) will attend to your evil deeds, declares the Lord.” They are going to get their deserved punishment and it comes with God’s promise attached to it.

Jeremiah 23:3 jumps to a prophecy yet to be fulfilled and only will be fulfilled after the Tribulation. God will re-gather his people (sheep) scattered throughout the globe and eventually bring them home to a much larger and totally safe Israel (Zion/Jerusalem). A fascinating little comment in verse 4… “ánd none will be missing.” Any question left with this comment that NONE will be missing? Since verse 6 says the *one that will be raised up to execute a future and prophesied justice, fairness, righteousness, and rule with wisdom is named “The LORD is our righteousness.” There is only one who can fit this bill; i.e. Jesus.

*It is in his day JUDAH and ISRAEL will be saved [23:6a).

In HIS day… This is at the 2nd advent of Christ. NOTE: This verse declares that the divided nation of old Israel; Kingdoms to the north and the south, will be united in Israel (Judah and Israel) when Christ returns to the Mount of Olives and calls or brings them back to their promised land.

Jeremiah 23: 11-15 is another example of “if you (us) ____, then I (God) will _____.” God points out the injustice in Judah and then explains to Jeremiah the consequence of such a life style. Even the false prophets are accused of prophesying in the name of Baal. These prophets are so arrogant they no longer even claim to be prophets of God Jehovah; any god will be fine as a so-called prophet. However, one must still keep going back to the promise to Israel (not the church) in verse 8:

[CEV] “…instead, you will call me the Living God who rescued you from the land in the north and from all the other countries where I had forced you to go. And you will once again live in your own land.”  This verse does suggest that we are talking about an Israel after-the-fact of the Tribulation.

In a very real sense, but cannot be proven with scripture, this is possibly similar to the Promised Land for the church of real believers. We will once again live in a Garden of Eden. This is not the actual promise but it is symbolic enough to put our faith and trust in Jesus so we get to the Promised Land as believers.

Jeremiah 23:17 is very similar to today: False declarations and promises by false ministers within shallow denominations. Today’s church tends to be a mile wide and only 1” deep in the Word of God and understanding. We see banners and signs in churches and billboards that read, “God is Love.” There is nothing wrong with this statement as it is true, but only tells us of half the truth. It is what is left out by these half true statements that we discover in the last sentence of v17. According to their false prophets and many ministers today is the claim that  “The Lord has promised that everything will be fine” (CEV). What is missing is the fact that God is also a JUST GOD; Revelation 20:11-13. So, what was true of false prophesy back then is inadvertently still true today. Yes, God is love, but he is also a just God. If this is not so, then why is there any reason for a final judgment; Bema Seat or Great White Throne? We have false proclamations in the very churches we attend.

Jer 23:20  The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.

Do you catch the meaning of this verse and the last sentence? In the latter days YOU will understand it clearly. This does suggest a scenario of after the fact of the Tribulation. It also may suggest the gained knowledge is too late and the life God gave us is now on trial.

Verse 22 is very similar to what is going out from shallow preaching of the Word of God. It reads…Jer 23:20  But if *they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.  *Who is the THEY in this verse? This is any who give out false doctrine and promises of anything God has not ordained as solid truth. Sadly and so true, those who wish to tickle the ears of their congregations fall into this same truth. They preach what sounds politically correct and not from what Ephesians 5:13 states; i.e. being a light that reveals evil; i.e. expose it, not to try and learn tolerance.

23:28b is like a summary of the above frustration of God. It asks in part…”What has straw in common with wheat declares the LORD?” Many people if not most can tell the difference between straw, hay and wheat. In a way they look similar but the difference is in its value. Wheat has a nutritional value to all; humans and animals alike. Straw fills the belly but has no food value. One can and will die of starvation even if his or her stomach is full (of straw). The straw here is the false doctrine preached via the prophets and today’s empty message sermons.

Jeremiah 23:30 is another warning too often missed by the reader and sometimes the teacher/preacher. There are two thoughts that come from this verse; the obvious and the more subtle. Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. The obvious is limited to the prophets. They sing off the same song sheet without regard to its truth. Just like we today sing songs in church declaring our faithfulness, worship and/or faith, but only sing the words without applying or intending to apply what the words say. We quote the Lord’s Prayer but don’t live the words we are reciting. Similar to today’s political battle grounds where so-called reporters say the same thing as if they have, and they have, mutually agreed upon.

The second thought is those who steal God’s words then spin them to fit motives, agendas, and political correctness.Truth Text Red Black Burst

So, in conclusion, what do we do about all of this? The answer is given to us in Jeremiah 23:33.

“When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the LORD?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden,…”

We may find this appalling; violating every rule of political correctness by being so honest. But then, why do we need to say this exposing evil? Simple, the truth shall set us free – John 8:32.

miniJimDr. JStark

June, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 22

Book of Jeremiah Chapter 22 Summary

Student Note: Chapter 22 deals with the last four kings of Judah, though not in chronological order. The historical order was: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah

  • God tells Jeremiah to go to the King of Judah and bring him a message.

22:3 Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

  • The resident alien??? Hmmm. This means the outsider; i.e. non-Jewish person who still lives within Judah. Even today this is true of Arab citizens of Israel. They get the same protection, opportunities, and justice as does some Judean or Israelite living in Judah; 2017.
  • Jeremiah’s supposed to go through the usual repentance speech: change your ways and stop oppressing widows and orphans, don’t shed innocent blood, and make sure you punish robbers, (yadda-yadda).
    • 22:4 “If you do__?___, then I will__?__.”  Just as every promise or covenant in the Old and New Testaments, all is conditional on us to first follow God and Jesus allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is obvious Jeremiah is delivering a message of “stop that sinning” to the rulers. God’s patience is growing short.
  • If they, Judah, heed this advice, they’ll have righteous kings in the future. But if they don’t, the city will be destroyed and without a Jewish king [until the return of Jesus].
    • What is confusing about this prophecy from Jeremiah to the King(s) of Judah, administrators and Priests? Nothing is confusing or complicated about it. However, it seems to be too simple for the simple minded leaders of Judah to comprehend, desire, and put into action. They want to create a god in their self-centered ways instead of the other way around.
  • At that time, per Jeremiah, things in and around the Judean palace might seem as lush as Gilead or Lebanon. But God will turn the land into a desolate waste if the rulers don’t respond accordingly.

Gilead or Lebanon?  22:6b Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon; yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.

Sadly this is precisely what eventually happens to Judah. After their Babylonian 70 year captivity, they were little more than a shadow of their previous self and greatness. America has need of this same understanding. We may have been given a temporary reprieve with the election of someone who respects Israel and more than once has been seen with a bible in hand.

  • The destroyers will cut down their best cedars and burn them.
    • Hebrew is a fascinating language since it has specificity in the use of words even when they appear closely related. The word “destroyers” is shaw-khath’ and the word for “worship”, is shaw-khaw; the opposite or antithesis of “destroyer,”. This is precisely why this author encourages bible students and readers to use multiple translations in personal bible study. So close in spelling are these two words but so antipathetic to each other in meaning by changing ONE LETTER.
  • All the nations will see Judah’s destruction and gossip about how they were destroyed for disobeying God.
    • The word “nations” in some translations should read “Gentiles of other nations”; i.e. those outside of Israeli descent. It may be discussed within other nations by gossip, wonder, or awe, but it will be those in-the-know who will wonder what happened to a once powerful and religious nation. Did their God desert them?
  • Don’t weep for the dead, says God—weep for the people being sent into exile.

Jeremiah 22:10 [God] says to not weep for the dead but pray for those who will be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. The “he” mentioned in this verse is King Jehoahaz who is soon to be taken captive to Egypt. Shallum, the second king of the four remaining kings of Judah, also called Jehoahaz, was the son of Josiah. He was carried captive into Egypt and died there without seeing his native land any more.

God says that King Shallum [Jehoahaz] will die in exile and never see Jerusalem again.

dielikedonkeyHow to Die like a Donkey

  • God says that rulers who exploit their workers to build fancy palaces for themselves will end up suffering.

o   Jer 22:17  But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.”

Might this be a close description of the world news today, here and around the world; N. Korea, Syria, Middle East, Iran, Turkey, Yemen, Ukraine, Politburo of Russia, the streets and courts of America?

  • A bigger palace doesn’t make someone a true king—ruling righteously does.
    • This is the center of issue with Israel since day one. They put so much emphasis on THINGS and little on worship. They even claim protection as they have the Temple of God, their religious ceremonies, Grand Pupa priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees; a class order similar today as is true in India.
  • Regarding King Jehoiakim and his arrogance, God says that people won’t lament his death and he’ll be buried like a donkey. He also burned the scrolls of Jeremiah.

o   Jer 22:19  With the burial of a donkey he [Jehoiakim] shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

Wish a better description of “buried like a donkey?”  Jehoiakim, the third king, built his palace with unpaid labor and would be dragged . . . out of . . . Jerusalem, to die unlamented. He would be buried with the burial of a donkey that is, tossed into a ditch so says Jeremiah. What a way to win friends and influence people. He must have missed that Dale Carnegie book or course.

  • The people should go cry in Lebanon and other places since their lovers (allies) have been crushed.
    • Too many ministers and bible students miss the meaning of verse 20; chapter 22. Judah is told to cry with others outside their own country as they too will suffer similar fates at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • The people of Israel seldom obeyed God for long. It’s been like this for generations.
    • During prosperous times God forewarned all of Israel and Judah that their prosperity may get in the way of their worship; i.e. pay a tithe and move on without much consideration of fellowship with God the rest of the week. What about us (you and me)? Does our prosperity or deprivation bring us closer to God?
  • So they’ll all get taken into captivity along with their allies.
    • The word “allies” may be a bit misunderstood. How were they allies? In part as neighbors who lived at this time without wars between them and Judah. But more so, allies in the cruelty about to be brought upon each of them by the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar.signetring
  • As for the next king after Jehoiakim, Coniah (aka: Jehoiachin), God says that even if Coniah wears the signet ring on his hand, he will tear him off. He and his mother will both be sent into exile in Babylon, where they will eventually die; never return to Judah.
    • Verses 25 – 27 offer a bit of insight as to why Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. returned to Jerusalem after 70-year Babylonian captivity with less than 1% of those taken into the Babylonian captivity. It isn’t that so many will die in Babylon before Cyrus the Mede releases the Jews from captivity. It is because so few will desire to go back to Jerusalem where the homes and city are in total ruins and be required to rebuild the Temple.
    • Zechariah had a vision about him (Zechariah 4).;
    • Haggai prophesied to him (Haggai 1 and 2).

miniJim

Dr. JStark

June, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 10

Editor’s Note: We are posting chapter 10 of Jeremiah ahead of earlier chapters for two reasons. One is that Jeremiah in and of itself is not written in a chronological order. Second and most importantly is opportunity. We have just past the Christmas season and Jeremiah 10 is sometimes used as an anti-Christmas tree chapter. We want to explain the fallacy of such nonsense.

Jeremiah Chapter 10

This is the passage from which some so-called bible scholars claim that a Christmas tree in the home is significantly similar to a wooden idol. Specifically these men and women quote Jeremiah 10:3, 4 as their supporting bible evidence.

Jer 10:3  “Their [see v2] religion is worthless! They chop down a tree, carve the wood into an idol, [v4] cover it with silver and gold, and then nail it down so it won’t fall over.” 

“Chop down a tree? Cover it with silver and gold? Nail it down so it won’t fall over..?

This is a good example of OUT OF CONTEXT, highly spiritualized conclusion, and a slight of words. Every scripture must be taken within context. Verse 1 specifically calls to the attention of Israel to not be like their neighbors. Let’s take a quick look at the argument that Christmas trees are somehow included in this passage.julies-tree

If we put anything, yes, ANYTHING before God, it is called a god or idol in His eyesight. Most Christians have no problem separating a fictional Santa, Elves, and a form of decoration from the celebrated birthdate of Jesus. Fact is, He wasn’t even born on this date.

To chop down a tree… This in and of itself has no connection with the content and intent of this passage through the eyes of Jeremiah and many other prophets who discuss the wrongs of idol worship. The Ark of the Covenant was made from Acacia wood the covered with silver and bronze [Exodus 35:24]; massive amounts of cedar wood was imported from Tyre to construct Solomon’s Temple and parts covered with gold (1 Kings 6:19-21);

One researcher has noted, “This wood [acacia] is resistant to decay because the tree deposits in the heartwood many waste substances which are preservatives and render the wood unpalatable to insects making the wood dense and difficult to be penetrated by water and other decay agents.” (Source: http://ww2.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/acacia.php)

In one sense this would make for the ideal wood from which to make a longer lasting idol. It is resistant to rot, insects, strong and long-lasting. Much of the acacia, cedar, and juniper wood used to build the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant was covered with silver and gold. Did the priests of Israel bring Israelis to the wood, stone and jeweled Temple to worship the building itself? There is no scripture to support such a thought yet alone make it a supposition.

Cover it with silver and gold We have already discussed the extensive use of silver, bronze, and gold in the building of the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. Putting silver tinsel and shinning ornaments on a Christmas tree is the same as a person wearing decorative jewelry. That does not make it or them an idol. Ezekiel, Proverbs, 1 Peter, Job, 1 Corinthians, Zechariah, Psalms, Matthew, Lamentation (another book written by Jeremiah) all discuss gold and its use.

Nail it down so it won’t fall over… How else does one keep a piece of wood standing upright? The last house I built was nailed and bolted to the ground, concrete, and wood framing. This does not make it an idol as described in Jeremiah 10:2 & 3. Even if one stands around the Christmas tree and sings the song “Oh Christmas tree” does not make it an idol. Only when and if that replaces God in one’s heart as an item of their affection and is first in their heart does it border becoming a Christmas idol and a worship song. Even if we “nail it down” in some sort of a tree stand in our house, what do we do after the season is over? Throw it out!!!! Who throws out an idol of worship?

We must ask here, where in the bible does God or Jesus say to set aside ONE DAY a year to celebrate his birthday? There is no such passage. We are to celebrate Him every day, in every way, with all of our might [Psalms 100:1, John 4:24, Matthew 22:37]. This is not to suggest that a given day of SPECIAL HONOR is wrong. What is wrong is limiting it to this one time a year.

Now, for the rest of the history and future prophecies found in Jeremiah 10…

V6 & 7 proclaims the greatness of God. This is in contrast with the idols the people of Judah is now guilty of worshiping. Idols are made by man, carried by man, taken care of by man, put in place by man, and they do not listen or speak. As Jeremiah describes it in verse 5… “They are like scarecrows in a cucumber field.” This passage is not understood by many as it is two-fold. The scarecrow part is obvious. This is the scary thing that flops according to the wind and keeps out the birds of opportunity. But, why did Jeremiah use the cucumber as the vegetable of choice? This is symbolic of fools who prostrate before the scarecrow; cucumbers bowing before a scarecrow; the cucumber represents the people of Judah; any who bow before a worthless manmade thing.

We have stated it before in our studies of Daniel and Revelation. Today’s church is too often similar. People celebrate the catchy song and lyrics; the dancing around in the building; self-emulation; the experience more than the worship; the beverage spill on the vestibule floor is of greater concern than is the soul of their neighbor; getting out of church on time; political correctness over truth; making god to their liking instead of fearing God who created them giving them life and breath.

The Coffman Commentary on Jeremiah 10 is simple and a good overview of Jeremiah 10 siply put in one sentence. “The true God contrasted with idols.” We could leave it at that if we didn’t need to have Jeremiah’s words from 2600 years ago explained. So we continue…

Jeremiah 10:11 is a mystery or enigma, not in its message but in how it is written. This is the one verse in the Book of Jeremiah written in Aramaic. This verse stands alone as a “one-verse paragraph” in the Masoretic text. True and well-intending bible scholars have debated the reason for this for years. This website will only add a thought. We call it JIV: Jim’s Introspective View. We report; you decide.

Sometimes in a given language it is difficult to express one’s point using their native tongue. In English we often hear the phrase “Quid Pro Quo.” Why? The English version of the message being conveyed would be much longer explaining what is meant by using this Latin term. It is a great pre-verse 12 statement and exenterates the radical and necessary reason for removing idols (disembowel the home of idols). These “things” did not create the world as we know it. Only God created all things. Even the idols themselves are made from things God created back in Genesis. Verse 11 and 12 are opposites but the Aramaic in in Jeremiah 10:11 helps to contrast Jeremiah 10:12. It may also be in Aramaic as it is a message to the world. Just as Daniel is written first half in Aramaic and second half in Hebrew; the intended audiences are different.

hand carving buddha's image.The CEV translation says in 10:14… People who make idols are so stupid! They will be disappointed, because their false gods are not alive. Other translations are just as brutal in translating verse 14. How can one believe that something s/he makes is somehow better or superior to the one who makes it? In a sense and if it is true, the Amish build fabulous furniture. No question here. However, they deliberately build a flaw into every piece. Why? No one is perfect but God. The sad irony or insincerity is… the Amish think they must include a man made flaw in their furniture. This means they must be under the false impression that they are capable of building something to such perfection it is greater or equal to what God creates.

Verse 17 begins a new paragraph but not a new chapter. Jeremiah is changing thoughts at this point. He is telling those inhabitants of Judah, mostly Jews but also some from other Tribes of Israel, to prepare to be moved… “…gather up your things as you are surrounded” and about to be take into your 70 year captivity in Babylon. In a very real way, the rest of chapter 10 is not only describing the fate of Judah but of all Israel. Below is the rest of chapter 10. Read it with the idea that there is more than just Judah being described. It speaks in the past-tense yet Judah has not yet been overrun by the Babylonians.

CEV (Contemporary English Version): 

Jer 10:19  The people answered, “We are wounded and doomed to die. Why did we say we could stand the pain?

Jer 10:20  Our homes are destroyed; our children are dead. No one is left to help us find shelter.”

Jer 10:21  But I told them, “Our leaders were stupid failures, because they refused to listen to the LORD. And so we’ve been scattered like sheep.

Jer 10:22  “Sounds of destruction rumble from the north like distant thunder. Soon our towns will be ruins where jackals live.”

Jer 10:23  I know, LORD, that we humans are not in control of our own lives.

Jer 10:24  Correct me, as I deserve, but not in your anger, or I will be dead.

Jer 10:25  Our enemies refuse to admit that you are God or to worship you. They have wiped out our people and left our nation lying in ruins. So get angry and sweep them away!

The past tense is the tell-tale sign that not only is this passage a change in thoughts, therefore a new paragraph, but a twofold prophetic application; i.e. a now and a future application. This is Jeremiah once again prophesying into a history that has yet to be fulfilled. This is also End Time prophecy per the Great Tribulation; Jacobs Trouble [Jeremiah 30:7].

Verse 25 is worthy of a short additional thought. “Our enemies refuse to admit you are God…” How ironic that those in Judah at this time are guilty of the same thing. We know this from reading the first few verses in Jeremiah 10 and the very first chapters already posted in this website. They meaning all of Judah to the person are GUILTY [Jeremiah 4:21]. This is what kindled God’s anger against his chosen people Israel. First it was the Northern Kingdom of Israel and now the southern Kingdom of Judah. In the coming End Time it will be global (anti-Christ).

“They have wiped out our people and left the nation in ruins.” [CEV; v25]. The ERV is more inclusive in this verse. It is the reason we encourage readers to use more than one translation and commentary in his or her bible studies. The English Standard Version puts verse 25 this way:

Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not, and on the peoples that call not on your name, for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation.

Jeremiah is not speaking to the yet-to-be-captive people of Judah in verse 25, but to the world of haters or rejecters of God and anti-Semitists. Daniel and Revelation deal with this as will Jeremiah in later
chapters. We are headed that way in this study. An added thought to help one’s personal studies. Verse 25 is a reason to not take one translation as a stand-alone study bible. The CEV dminiJimoes not include the phrase “and upon the families that call not on thy name.” The phrase “and families” is better explained in Zechariah 14.

Rev Dr. Jstark

December 2016