What Should We Learn From Jeremiah 12?

prophet_jeremiah_003

What should we learn from Jeremiah 12?

First, let’s read Jeremiah 12.

Jeremiah’s Prayer
​ Righteous are You, O Lord, that I would plead my case with You;
Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You:
Why has the way of the wicked prospered?
Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?
You have planted them, they have also taken root;
They grow, they have even produced fruit.
You are near to their lips
But far from their mind.
But You know me, O Lord;
You see me;
And You examine my heart’s attitude toward You.
Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter
And set them apart for a day of carnage!
How long is the land to mourn
And the vegetation of the countryside to wither?
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it,
Animals and birds have been snatched away,
Because men have said, “He will not see our latter ending.”
“If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
Then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace,
How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
“For even your brothers and the household of your father,
Even they have dealt treacherously with you,
Even they have cried aloud after you.
Do not believe them, although they may say nice things to you.”
God’s Answer
“I have forsaken My house,
I have abandoned My inheritance;
I have given the beloved of My soul
Into the hand of her enemies.
“My inheritance has become to Me
Like a lion in the forest;
She has roared against Me;
Therefore I have come to hate her.
“Is My inheritance like a speckled bird of prey to Me?
Are the birds of prey against her on every side?
Go, gather all the beasts of the field,
Bring them to devour!
“Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard,
They have trampled down My field;
They have made My pleasant field
A desolate wilderness.
“It has been made a desolation,
Desolate, it mourns before Me;
The whole land has been made desolate,
Because no man lays it to heart.
“On all the bare heights in the wilderness
Destroyers have come,
For a sword of the Lord is devouring
From one end of the land even to the other;
There is no peace for anyone.
“They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns,
They have strained themselves to no profit.
But be ashamed of your harvest
Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Thus says the Lord concerning all My wicked neighbors who strike at the inheritance with which I have endowed My people Israel, “Behold I am about to uproot them from their land and will uproot the house of Judah from among them. And it will come about that after I have uprooted them, I will again have compassion on them; and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land. Then if they will really learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught My people to swear by Baal, they will be built up in the midst of My people. But if they will not listen, then I will uproot that nation, uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord. (NASB) Jeremiah 12

Let’s ask ourselves some questions before we get going. Who or what is this passage about? When did it happen? Considering that the entire Bible is about Jesus and the gospel, what does this passage have to say about God?

This passage is about the prophet Jeremiah, his appeal to God, and God’s answer. It was written between 680-530 BC. Judah was guilty of idolatry. Jeremiah was to warn them of God’s impending discipline if they didn’t repent. In this passage Jeremiah is making a plea to God for the wicked to be punished, and for relief from them. God answers by telling Jeremiah that He will uproot the nation of Judah. In other words His discipline and justice is coming. He also tells Jeremiah if they repent He will build them up, but if they don’t, He will destroy them. In the first couple verses it seems like Jeremiah is angry about how the wicked are enjoying wealth and prosperity. If you look at the next section of scripture I think you’ll see that he is truly angry at their lack of love for God and His will. They are giving their love and worship to idols and Jeremiah is upset by this because he himself truly worships God. That is why in verse 3 his prayer becomes imprecatory.

“But You know me, O Lord;
You see me;
And You examine my heart’s attitude toward You.
Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter
And set them apart for a day of carnage!” (NASB Strong’s) Jeremiah 12:3


This is not the only place in the Bible where someone who loves God prays for the destruction of the wicked. David did as well for example. It is not uncommon for someone who loves God to feel this way. Today as Christians we can feel like this when we see evil being celebrated in the world. I pray for God to save them, but if it is not His will to save them, I pray for God to remove them from influence, or take them out of this world. We have learned that God is just and good. He is longsuffering and will give nations/peoples time and opportunity to repent and worship Him. He is just and will punish the wicked in His time. Prophets of God spoke difficult things to the wicked people that got them in hot water with them. If they love God, they will preach His word regardless of the personal consequences, and when they are concerned about them, they come to Him in prayer.

Something from Habakkuk to Remember.

habakkuk

Here is Habakkuk’s cry to God,

“Habakkuk 1:1-4 NASB The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw. (2) How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. (3) Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. (4) Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.”

Notice, his cry to God could be our cry today in the midst of a godless, secular, America.  Now look at God’s reply,

“Habakkuk 1:5-11 NASB “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days– You would not believe if you were told. (6) “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs. (7) “They are dreaded and feared; Their justice and authority originate with themselves. (8) “Their horses are swifter than leopards And keener than wolves in the evening. Their horsemen come galloping, Their horsemen come from afar; They fly like an eagle swooping down to devour. (9) “All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They collect captives like sand. (10) “They mock at kings And rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress And heap up rubble to capture it. (11) “Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.”

Do you see what God was doing there?  He was giving the prophet Habakkuk His word that He is using the pagan Chaldeans for His purposes.  He was raising them up to use as judgment against His people.  Israel had rebelled and neglected God’s word as revealed through the prophets.  Make sure to read the last part of verse 11, “But they will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.”  The Chaldeans were going to be held accountable by God in His justice.

Habakkuk’s reply to God,

“Habakkuk 1:12-17 NASB Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. (13) Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they? (14) Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, Like creeping things without a ruler over them? (15) The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, Drag them away with their net, And gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. (16) Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net And burn incense to their fishing net; Because through these things their catch is large, And their food is plentiful. (17) Will they therefore empty their net And continually slay nations without sparing?”

At first it seems that Habakkuk understands why God is going to punish Israel, but then he goes on pleading with God.  His questions seem to call for God to not allow this to happen.  Sometimes we can be like that.  We live in a great land.  Many of us are like the Chaldeans.  We put our faith in the strength of our military, or our wealth.  We trust a nationalistic ideology called America.  We offer our sacrifices to it.  We neglect God and His word.  We rebel against Him.  We kill our young and call it a woman’s right to choose.  We make legal all types of perverse abominations and call it progress, and liberty.  Just because we legislate it and make it legal does not make it moral.  Just because a secular majority deems something to be good doesn’t make it so.

As Christians we have an external moral authority Who is immutable.  He never changes and is eternal.  His decrees of good and evil stand for ever, no matter what human government makes legal.  The political candidates we have to choose from, the debased minds that many of our fellow Americans have, the perversions that are abounding, are all punishments from God.  We are under judgement.  We need to be outside of our Churches, evangelizing so that people might be saved and come in.  We need to repent of our personal sins.  We need to repent of the attractional model of Church.  We need to stop begging goats to come in to our Churches.  We need to go out to them and preach the gospel of Jesus, which is repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s work on the cross.

When people are miraculously changed by God they will become sheep.  They  will come to Church without the need of the gimmicks of silly centers.  They will hunger for the preaching of God’s word, fellowship with brothers and sisters, praising God with hymns, prayer, and the glory of God will be their aim.  Don’t be bashful, now is not the time.  Be bold for Christ and His gospel to go forth!  Are you saddened by the damage and hurt you see being done by sin in the lives of your friends and neighbors?  Do you think that you love them?  If you do, then you must give to them the only cure for their brokenness.  You must give them the only thing that will heal them and make them whole!  Give them the gospel of Jesus!  It is truth and love!

So if you find yourself crying out to God much like Habakkuk did, ask yourself why God is doing what He is doing.  Ask yourself what the proper response is to what He is doing.  Then I think you will come to the same conclusion.

What does God’s Judgment Look Like America? Ask Jerusalem.

The judgment of God against Jerusalem and Judah for their idolatry and abandonment of God.  Sound familiar?

Isaiah 3:4-6, 8,9,11,12, 16-26.

4And I will make mere lads their princes,
And capricious children will rule over them,

5And the people will be oppressed,
Each one by another, and each one by his neighbor;
The youth will storm against the elder
And the inferior against the honorable.

6When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying,
“You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler,
And these ruins will be under your charge,”

4-6 looks like millennials influence on culture and the advancement of socialism.  I’m not saying it is, or was back then.  In our day it seems like a correlation.

8For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen,
Because their speech and their actions are against the LORD,
To rebel against His glorious presence.

9The expression of their faces bears witness against them,
And they display their sin like Sodom;
They do not even conceal it.
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil on themselves.

8-9 People are proud of their wickedness now.  They flaunt their sexual immorality as if it is a badge of liberty.

11Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him,
For what he deserves will be done to him.

12O My people! Their oppressors are children,
And women rule over them.
O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray
And confuse the direction of your paths.

We complain about our leaders, but they are what we deserve as a nation of godless pagans.  Sure there are some faithful people in the country, “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” Psalm 75:7  “21“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.” Daniel 2:21

 

16Moreover, the LORD said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,

17Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the LORD will make their foreheads bare.”

18In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, 19dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, 20headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, 21finger rings, nose rings, 22festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, 23hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.

24Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction;
Instead of a belt, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;
Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty.

25Your men will fall by the sword
And your mighty ones in battle.

26And her gates will lament and mourn,
And deserted she will sit on the ground.

When all of these things happen to us, will we repent?

 

Prophecy, Human Prophets, and the end of Prophetic Revelation.

When we think about Biblical prophecy, we sometimes imagine, God telling the Old Testament prophets what is going to happen in the future, kind of like a fortune teller.  This creates problems for us later on.  When we think of prophecy in such a simplistic way we end up with false prophets starting new cults and a plethora of other problems. To understand Biblical prophecy we have to first understand some things about God.  

Understanding Biblical prophecy has to include understanding some attributes of God that you might not have considered.  Let’s start with God’s eternality.  You may have heard it mentioned before or just assumed it, but have you thought about the implications?  Since God is eternal, He will never not be.  There is not an instance where He was not.  He will be forever and He has always been.  There is no other being that is eternal like this, and that is because of the aseity of God, or His uncreated being.  Since He has always been, He has no beginning.  He is the uncaused causation of all things.  He is the original originator.  He is also omniscient, or possess the knowledge of all things.  As the Creator He knows everything about everything, and He knows what He knows perfectly and in complete truth.  God is omnipresent.  He is everywhere you can call a place and places we can’t conceive, and He is in those places in all times and He exceeds them.  God transcends our concept of space-time and dimensions.  He could be called hyper-dimensional.  He is also perfectly wise in His application of His omniscience.  We call that omnisapience.  When He applies His knowledge He does so with wisdom that is solely His.  It is beyond all creatures ability to grasp it.  When we consider these attributes apart from one another, they are interesting.  

Understanding that there are many more attributes, and they are also perfected in God, we begin to comprehend a more grand and majestic concept of God.  We can’t know God as He knows Himself, but we can know Him as He intends for us to know Him.  He gave us His word and His Holy Spirit for this end.  As fallen, sinful, finite, creatures, under the noetic effect of sin, nevertheless we can know God as He has made provision for us.  

Think about each one of those attributes for a moment, and then consider them along with His love.  He loves us perfectly, without violating any of His other attributes.  He created us in accord with His plan to show us His love, grace, mercy, longsuffering, and lovingkindness.  He created us, Himself having perfect knowledge of what that would look like.  With Heaven and Hell, sin and temptation, the fall, His incarnation, the gospel, the redeeming of His elect, their glorification, all done in accord with His perfect will, and wisdom.  

He is also communicative.  He has created us with the ability to communicate.  He has communicated some of His attributes to us in our creation.  For instance, we are made in the image of God, we are made with senses that allow us to communicate with others, and we have emotions.  Remember that our attributes are not perfect.  Simply existing as finite creatures contrasted with the infinite Creator displays the disparity of our attributes compared to His.

We know from His word that in the early times of our history, that He walked and talked with Adam in the garden.  We know that the Christophanies of the Old Testament record that the preincarnate Christ (eternal Son) appeared to people as the Angel of the Lord, or as the Word of God.  Then He used men as prophets.  Think of them more as a mouthpiece or speaker hooked to a source, rather than a person who predicts the future.  Considering that God knows everything perfectly, and that the past, present, and future are all realities that He has always known in perfect truth, and that He keeps everything working, He doesn’t reveal possible futures to His prophets, but rather tells them of the certainty of the future because it is a reality that He has already known in perfection, according to His sovereign will.  For example, think about it this way.  You have already watched a movie.  You know the entire movie.  Not only have you watched this movie, but you are also the writer, director, and producer of the movie.  Then, you tell one of the people in the theater about an upcoming scene.  You tell him to tell the rest of the audience what is coming up.  He is your prophet.  This is done with their lack of understanding of your roles in creating the movie.  Once they witness the scene your prophet told them about, they think your prophet is a mystic, or a fortune teller who can predict the future.  In their ignorance of you and your work they develope a wrong notion of who you are, and what you are about.  This is the poor concept of Biblical prophecy many people have, and it displays their ignorance of God, and His attributes.  

Realize that my analogy was very lacking, but try to understand what I am getting at.  God is not simply a being with a precognition of what the future holds.  He is the one who determined it in His perfection according to His will.  So when He says something is going to happen, it is because it is a certainty.  It has already happened in the future.  As mortal time travelers, we can only travel forward through time, at normal speed, and are subject to the created laws of the created natural world.  God transcends all.  He is not subject to time.  He created time.  He is not subject to space.  He created it as well.  He also created their relationship that Einstein referred to as, “space time.” Having perfect, complete, knowledge of the end of the world before He ever created it is one thing, but to imagine that God has that same perfect complete knowledge of every minute instance, in every individual life, and every particle floating on the wind, and their interconnected, relationships, causes and consequences from the dawn of time to the end of it, is just beyond us.  To us it looks like chaos, but it is divine order.  How can I see the effects of an individual life cut short today, 400 years from now?  I can’t.  God in His sovereignty has it all under control.  

God’s word, is what upholds all creation.  He spoke that creation into existence by His word.  He spoke to the prophets.  He calls the Bible His word.  It is His mind for us to know Him.  Jesus is called the Word made flesh.  There is an interconnected relationship between God and the certain reality of His word.  He speaks things into existence.  Just read Genesis for all of the, “He said, and there was” statements.  Consider that God in His perfect foreknowledge of our futures tells a chosen man, “Thus sayeth the Lord” and then that man relays God’s word to the people, for it to be known to them, according to His purposes.  It is amazing, and since we know God is good, we can trust in Him.  

Prophets are not the normative.  In the Bible there were big gaps in time between prophets.  There were not a bunch of true prophets operating all simultaneously.  We don’t read that.  We know there were many false prophets working simultaneously.  We also know that they would work directly against God’s true and chosen prophets.   There is even a test for prophets in Deuteronomy 13 along with a punishment for false prophets.  

Prophets weren’t prognosticating future events.  They were exceptions to the rule.  They were relaying what God had told them of the reality of things He had determined in the future.  To the people it looked like telling the future, but remember my analogy of the movie.  When they relayed the word of God it was specific and exact.  Events played out just like they were revealed.  Not like people claiming to be modern prophets, like Joseph Smith or Muhammad.  Their prophecies are riddled with inaccuracies.  Most of their prophecies failed to happen at all.  Their prophecies were used for their own licentious purposes more often than not.  We see that in so called modern day, “prophets” all the time.  We can all remember the time televangelist Oral Roberts claimed that god told him if he didn’t raise 8 million dollars He (God) was going to, “call him home.”  Then there is Beth Moore who claims that God told her to write down what He is telling her and then for her to speak it as often as she is able.  You can see that false prophets cause all kinds of trouble, from starting new religions, spreading a false gospel like the prosperity gospel, to claiming extra-biblical personal revelation, which is the bread and butter of a false prophet.

Have you ever wondered why people claiming to be prophets now don’t stand up to the record of Old testament prophets, and why they don’t have the accuracy of a person speaking the reality of the word of God?  There is a very good reason as to why they aren’t true prophets.  That reason is Jesus is the culmination of Prophecy and the Prophet above all prophets.

When He finally entered into His creation, at the advent of His incarnation, He exemplified the perfect execution of the office of Prophet.  He fulfilled it.  The Word of God, who is God, the Word that became flesh, God of all creation, came into His creation and spoke His words to His creatures.  There were people at the time who hated Him, and people who left their lives to follow Him, but they were all astonished who listened to Him.  Why is that?  The scripture says it is because He spoke as one who had authority.  Think about that.  You go to the synagogue or temple and listen to the scribes and pharisees teachings.  Almost all of them disagree with each other on various topics.  It makes you wonder who is right?  What should I believe?  Then, comes this man Jesus who speaks as if He is explaining His own words He spoke to you earlier.  He doesn’t have to consider what the scriptures could mean.  He doesn’t have to wonder at the intent of the author.  He is the author.  He knows what He was saying and what He wanted to communicate.  As the authority of His very own words, He spoke as a man speaking the words of God.  He was the culmination of all the prophets and inaugurated the end of prophecy in the sense of explaining what would happen.  

We have the completion of the progressive revelation of scripture in the form of the Bible.  The canon of scripture is closed.  All of the word of God that He intends for us to have has been given to us and compiled in one volume.  All of the papyri, scrolls, and codices, we call scripture have been gathered together in the Bible.  When a prophet speaks the word of God now, he speaks what is written in the Bible.  There is no more telling of future events, unless it is from the Bible.  There are no more new commandments, all are recorded in the Bible.  There are no new teachings.  There are no new scriptures to add.  Everything God had to say to us is in the Bible.  The office of prophet is simply the accurate and truthful preaching of the word, from the Bible.

[Hebrews 1:1 NASB]
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
[Hebrews 1:2 NASB]
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
[Hebrews 1:3 NASB]
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
[Matthew 7:28 NASB]
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
[Matthew 7:29 NASB]
for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
[Mark 1:21 NASB]
They *went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.
[Mark 1:22 NASB]
They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
[Luke 4:31 NASB]
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath;
[Luke 4:32 NASB]
and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.
[John 1:1 NASB]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[John 1:2 NASB]
He was in the beginning with God.
[John 1:3 NASB]
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
[John 1:14 NASB]
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.