Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 23)

23This chapter follows thematically the previous two: after denouncing the final four kings of David’s line (see chapter 22), Jeremiah speaks of a coming Davidic King who will be a “righteous Branch” (5), called by the name “The Lord Our Righteousness” (6).  Where the previous shepherds scattered the Lord’s flock (1), God will gather them to their homeland (3, 8) and install a righteous king to save and protect them (6).

So while chapter 22 ends with the cessation of Solomon’s line (through Jehoiachin—22:30), chapter 23 promises the continuation of David’s line through the “righteous Branch (5-6).  This would seem to indicate that this future king comes from another branch of David’s family tree.  Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3) seems to trace Jesus’ lineage from Mary back through Nathan—another of David’s sons.  In this way, both the prophecies of Jeremiah 22 and 23 stand literally fulfilled.

While the beginning of the chapter deals with Israel’s kings (1-8), and while there is a mention of Israel’s ungodly priests (11, 33), the bulk of the chapter is a denunciation of Israel’s false prophets (9-40). The kings (shepherds) did “evil” (2) and the prophets and priests were “godless” (11).  The result is that the people suffer.  They are scattered as a result of the kings and ungodly as a result of following the prophets and priests (15). Leadership matters greatly. As go the leaders, so go the people. God is looking for shepherds who will tend and protect His flock (4).  He is looking for prophets who speak His word faithfully (28).  Unless this happens, His people flounder and fail.

Jeremiah begins the message to the false prophets by expressing his own inner agitation:  his heart is broken, his bones tremble, he staggers like a drunken man as he hears the Lord’s pronouncement about the false prophets (9). The message he has to deliver is stern because the sin of the prophets is serious.

falseThe false prophets have substituted their own words (dreams) for God’s words.  Their visions come “from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord” (16).  God did not send them, but they have run to speak in his name (21).  They “wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares’” (30).

These visions are invariably ear-tickling words (2 Timothy 4:3)—words that promise peace (shalom) to those who “despise” the Lord, who “follow the stubbornness of their hearts” (17).  Their words “distort (overturn, change) the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God” (36).  Instead of standing in the Lord’s council to “see or to hear his word” (18), they speak their own dreams (“I had a dream!  I had a dream” – 25).  Rather than echoing God’s words, these false prophets “steal from one another words supposedly from me” (30); they all start to sound alike.

Their dreams fail to correct the “adulterers” in the land (10) and do not turn them “from their evil ways” (22). “They do not benefit these people in the least” (32).  They cause people to “forget” God’s name (27).  On top of that, their false messages of hope and their failure to confront sin cause “ungodliness” to “spread throughout the land” (15).

So the false teaching the Lord condemns and promises to punish is a message that gives people “false hopes” (16).  The message sounds good:  “God is on your side and will give you peace/shalom (17) so that no harm will come to you” (17).  The false prophet’s messages even contains some truth—truth about His goodness and faithfulness to His covenant promises.  However, their messages fail to confront sin or call for obedience: “They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says:  You will have peace’”(17).

The Lord equates the impact of false teaching with the impact of idolatry: both “make my people forget my name” (27).  False teaching, like false worship, moves people further from truth and further into the darkness.  The effect of the prophets of Baal (13) is the same as the prophets who preach their own visions (16):  they promote “ungodliness” (15).  Both kinds of prophets cause God’s people to “forget” His name (27).

The words of the false prophets are different in kind and caliber than God’s word:  “what has straw to do with grain?” (28).  Only God’s Word will nourish and feed his people.  The chatter of false teachers is useless chaff.  God’s Word also comes like a “fire” and a “hammer” (29). Unlike the innocuous messages of peace without piety, God’s Word comes to burn and refine away evil (6:29-30), it comes to “break a rock in pieces” (29).  It shatters our delusions and smelts away the dross of disobedience.

preachHere is a clarion call for preachers to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2).  We are not to give people what we dream up but what God declares.  We are to stand “in the council of the Lord” until we “see and hear his word” through a careful study of Scripture.  Then we are to courageously declare it in a way that feeds, purifies and breaks His people.  Only this kind of proclamation will “benefit” God’s people (32).  A man who fails to do this brings God’s punishment on himself “and his household” (34).  False teachers put their lives, families and flocks at risk.  For, as the Lord says in three successive verses to false prophets, “I am against you” (30, 31, 32).

The Lord says that those who claim to speak for Him must stand “in my council” (18, 22) in order to “see or to hear his word” (18). Only then will our message be from Him: “But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words  to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds” (22).  Preachers today must spend time in the Lord’s council—looking at and listening to His Word until we see and hear it clearly.  Then will we not be preaching our own dreams, visions and ideas but will be able to declare His word in a way that benefits His people—turning them from evil and establishing them in truth.  Then we will be able to preach high-fiber (grain), high-intensity (fire) and hard-hitting (hammer) messages.

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Prayer Update October 12

While Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, those of us who belong to the Lord have continued reason to give thanks.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning!” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

One of my ongoing reasons for thanksgiving is your partnership with us in prayer.  It’s a great encouragement to me to know friends are praying.

Here are several prayer requests for the coming days:

womens reteratThis morning Linda and I head off to Muskoka Bible Centre in Huntsville where she will be speaking at the Women of Grace fall retreat on the subject of a biblical, beautiful marriage.  Please pray that the Lord empowers her to serve the women by speaking God’s Word in a clear, compelling way.

bibleI am currently preparing to speak at several upcoming conferences in November:  the Word of Truth conference, the Missions Conference at the Metropolitan Bible Church and Promise Keepers Toronto Conference.  I’d ask you to pray that the Lord would enable me to prepare messages that will be glorifying to Him and useful to His people.  Pray that my words would proclaim His Word in a faithful and fruitful way.

Thank you again for your prayers for us!

 

 

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Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapters 21-22)

Chapters 21-22 contain God’s message about and to five kings of Judah:  Zedekiah, the final king before the fall of Jerusalem, is addressed in chapter 21. Chapter 22 is a flash back, containing a prophetic word about the four previous kings:  Josiah (“the dead king”—10), Shallum (also known as Jehoahaz—10-12), Jehoiakim (13-23) and Jehoiachin (also known as Coniah or Jeconiah—24-30).

Why the reverse order?  Why is the prophecy to Zedekiah given before the message about and to the other four kings? I see the flow this way:  the message to Zedekiah in chapter 21 is one of unstoppable, impending judgment.  It’s too late. It’s over.  Zedekiah’s and Jerusalem’s fate is sealed:  “I will hand over Zedekiah, king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survives the plagues, sword and famine, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who seek their lives” (7).

The following chapter shows that, while it’s too late to change things now, God had given ample, repeated opportunities for the kings (and the nation) to repent and be spared destruction.  But these warnings and invitations were repeated rejected.

Chapter 22 is best read as delivered during the long reign of Jehoiakim, after Josiah’s death and Shallum’s exile to Egypt and before Johoiachin’s exile to Babylon. Shallum is referred to as already “gone from this place” (11) and exiled (10). Jehoiachin, who is exiled to Babylon, is spoken of in future terms:  “I will hand you over to those who seek your life” (24); “I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country” (25).

crownsHere’s a summary of the five kings who reigned in the years before the fall of Jerusalem:

Josiah.  Good king. Reigned 31 years.  Jeremiah’s form ministry began during the 13thyear of Josiah’s reign.  Josiah was killed in a battle with Egypt.

Shallum/Jehoahaz.  Evil king. Reigned 3 months.  Exiled into Egypt by Pharaoh Neco at Riblah  (2 Kings 23:31).

Jehoiakim.  Evil king. Reigned 11 years.  Was Jeremiah’s primary antagonist.

Jehoiachin/Coniah.  Evil king. Reigned 3 months.  Exiled (along with his mother) to Babylon.  Never returns to Judah but is shown kindness by a later king of Babylon (see 52:31-34—a sign for good).

Zedekiah.  Evil king. Reigned 11 years.  Captured, blinded (at Riblah) and exiled by Nebuchadnezzar when the city falls.

Chapter 21 could be entitled “When wonders cease” based on God’s response to Zedekiah’s hope (“perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in the times past”—2).  This time there would be no more wonders.  God’s “outstretched hand and mighty arm” (a reversal of the way the adjectives are normally used) would fight against, not for, His people.  God will “turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands” (4)—an indication that God would incite internal strife and civil infighting (this is why death by the sword comes prior to the Babylonian takeover of the city—see vs. 7).  God would fight by sending plague—a direct consequence of the famine resulting from the siege (6-7).  God would fight against them by “gathering” the Babylonian armies “inside this city”(4). God would fight against them “in anger and fury and great wrath” (5).  Zedekiah, the official leaders, and the people would be captured and shown “no mercy or pity or compassion” (7).

It’s a dangerous thing to have God as your adversary, not your ally.  It’s a devastating thing when the wonders of God’s deliverance cease. It’s a dreadful thing to fall into the [outstretched] hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).  For those who struggle with God’s command to the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites, it should be remembered that He commanded Babylon to do the same to His own people.  God is the righteous Judge of all:  “The Lord will judge His people” (Hebrews 10:30).

Chapter 22 contains references or rebukes to five kings of Judah: David (2) and Josiah (10) are mentioned in passing.  Jehoahaz, already exiled to Egypt, should be mourned for he will never return to his homeland (10-12).  Jehoiakim receives most of the attention; he is rebuked for ruling with injustice (17) and self-aggrandizement (building a posh, cedar-paneled palace—13-14).  Even in dire times, when his nation is subjugated and reduced by Babylon, he enlarges and enhances his own palace, ignoring the needs of the poor and oppressed (16-17) and the rights of those who work for him (13).  God is furious with leaders who use their positions of power to enrich themselves rather than serving the powerless.  Kings are given power by God to help the poor and powerless get justice when oppressed (“defend the cause of the poor and needy”—16; see also Psalm 72:4, 14).  Oppressors often only respond to power; they must be overpowered by leaders who exercise it in a godly way for the good of the vulnerable.  Judah’s final four kings did not do this.  May all of us who are in positions of leadership utilize power for the good of those we lead and serve.

The closing prophecy about Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) not having a son sit on David’s throne is fulfilled when his seven sons die childless (made eunuchs in Babylon:  http://christianthinktank.com/fabprof4.html).  This matter is relevant to Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew (which lists Jeconiah—Matthew 1:11). Luke does not mention him, tracing Jesus’ lineage not through Solomon but Nathan.  The best explanation is that Luke records Mary’s lineage and Matthew records Joseph.  Jesus, being virgin born, was a son of David through Mary and not a “son of Jeconiah.”

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Prayer Update October 5, 2018

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6).

As I write to invite you to pray for some specific requests related to the ministry of Heritage College and Seminary, I want to begin by expressing my thanksgiving to God.

I’m thankful for His faithful provision and protection over the years.  I’m thankful for the privilege of serving Christ through training faithful servants for Christ, His Church and His mission in the world.  I’m also thankful for you! It’s a great help to have friends who support this ministry in prayer!

Here are several requests to bring to the Lord this Thanksgiving weekend.

men and women1   I’m currently preaching a series of messages in chapel related to God’s original intent for men and women.  With all the confusion and commotion related to gender identity in our world (and in the church!), my desire is to help our students come to a biblically-based understanding of who they are as men and women.  Pray for the impact of this series.  By the way, we’ve uploaded the chapel sermons on our website here.

2   Heritage is currently interviewing for several key staff and faculty positions:  a Director of Marketing and a Vice President of Academics.  Would you ask the Lord to help us to select the right person for each of these important roles?

3   Pray for our students as they return home for this Thanksgiving weekend.  For some of them, this will be their first time home since the semester began.  Pray for safety of travel and a meaningful reconnection with family and church family.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Thanksgiving 2018

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Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 20)

20Jeremiah’s shattering prophecies in chapter 19 would provides the context for his punishment and prayer in chapter 20.  The chief officer (a top official under the high priest), Pashhur son of Immer, hears Jeremiah’s dire pronouncement in the temple courts and has him arrested, beaten and placed in stocks the the Upper Gate of Benjamin (1-2).

The next day, when he’s released, Jeremiah has words for Pashhur.  Rather than backing down, he repeats his message about Judah and Jerusalem being laid waist (4-5) and adds a personal warning from the Lord for Pashhur (“this is what the Lord says”—4).  Pashhur will see his friends die before his eyes (4); he and his family will be exiled to Babylon and die in a foreign land (6).  The Lord has a new name for Pashhur: Magor-Missabib (“Terror on every side” or “terror from all around”).  The reason for Pashhur’s punishment is not said to be his unjust treatment of Jeremiah, but the fact that he “prophesied lies” (6).  Pashhur, a priest and (false) prophet, spoke words of false comfort to the people.  He would soon experience a siege of terror, exile and death as the result of his misleading words.

It’s no surprise that James 3:1 has a sober warning for those who purport to speak for God:  “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  If that’s the case when teachers speak truth, it’s certainly true when they speak falsehood.  Jeremiah 23 provides a more detailed and descriptive account of God’s fury on false prophets.  Here is a stern reminder of the need to “preach the Word” with “careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s a fearful thing to speak falsely in God’s name and mislead his people.  He will bring judgment on those who do.

lamentAfter pronouncing the Lord’s judgment on Pashhur, Jeremiah unloads an emotional prayer to God about his situation.  There are soaring moments of trust and praise, and awkward moments of self-pity and accusation.  It’s painfully honest and raw.  He’s upset with God, his “friends” and the guy who announced his birth rather than killing him as a newborn.  This is a prayer that gets Jeremiah labeled as unstable, almost bi-polar.

Jeremiah begins with a complaint against the Lord:  “O Lord, you deceived me and I was deceived” (7). The Hebrew word for “deceived” (פִּתִּיתַנִי) is from a stem that means “simple” (as in the “simpleton fool” in Proverbs).  It carries the idea of persuading by alluring (Hosea 2:16), enticing (Prov. 1:10), coaxing (Judges 14:15), or deceiving (2 Samuel 3:25). The over-riding sense is to intentionally influence someone to do what you want them to do, to prevail upon them. Often there is a sense that they are “fooled” (made a fool) in the process.

Jeremiah accuses God of fooling him into his calling. He claims God “overpowered” him to get him into his prophetic ministry; God used His power to prevail in an unfair way. Jeremiah was fooled into accepting a calling that has led to constant ridicule and mocking (7), insult and reproach (8). Jeremiah is hating life and ministry and he lets God know about it.  Just as God “deceived” him and “prevailed” (7), so now his “friends” (a different Hebrew word used for “friends” in verse 10 than in verses 4 and 6) are hoping he will be “deceived” so they can “prevail” over him too.

smokeJeremiah is ready to turn in his prophet’s badge and find another job.  There has to be an easier, less painful way, to make a living and have a life.  But when he resolves to stop speaking (literally “remembering”) of the Lord or delivering His message, “his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones” (9).  The fire smoldering inside him smokes him out.  He is “weary of holding it in.”  In fact, it’s impossible to contain the fire of God’s message inside of him:  “indeed, I cannot” (10).  The Hebrew word translated “I cannot” is the same Hebrew stem (יָכֹל) translated “prevail” in verse 7 “(“you overpowered me and prevailed”) and verse 10 (“Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him”).  God word prevailed over Jeremiah to start him in ministry (his calling to ministry); God’s word still prevails over him when he wants to end his ministry.  God’s word is not only a fire that burns and refines those who hear it (23:29), it’s a fire that burns inside the heart of those who are called to communicate it.

Here is one of the evidences of a call to a preaching/proclamation ministry:  you can’t just walk away from it when it becomes difficult and painful.  There is an internal pressure, a fire that smolders and won’t go out, an internal heat that consumes those who would try to contain it.  “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Jeremiah modulates from major to minor keys for the remainder of his prayer.  He steps into the bright sunlight of hope and praise in verses 11-13, then slinks back into the shadows of self-pity and despair in verses 14-18.  The change is so abrupt and so extreme that some have postulated that another hand pieced this prayer together from fragments of Jeremiah’s writing (an idea with no textual support).  A better explanation comes from simply remembering that we humans are changeable creatures; moments of confident faith are often closely followed by emotional and spiritual collapse.  This is especially true  under the kind of prolonged, extreme pressure that Jeremiah experienced.

In our better moments we remember and rejoice that God is a righteous judge (12) and “mighty warrior” (11).  He “probes the heart and mind” (12) and “rescues the life of the needy from the hand of the wicked” (13).  As this truth comes into focus, Jeremiah is able to trust in the Lord (12) and sing praise (13).  We, too, are able to rejoice and rest when our vision of God’s greatness and goodness is unclouded.

Unfortunately for Jeremiah (and for us), the dark clouds of doubt and despair can quickly roll in again.  Things go dark in our souls.  Life looks bleak. Our gaze turns inward and downward.  So Jeremiah moves from sunlight back into shadow in verses 14-18. He expresses his wish that he’d never been born (18), cursing the day of his birth (14).  Expressing his feeling in a way that’s foreign to modern ears, he calls down curses on the guy who came and told his father that a son had been born to him.  The New American Commentary explains that cursing one’s parents was a capital crime under Mosaic Law (Leviticus 20:9), so the bearer of good news (“A son is born!”) gets the wrath.

While Jeremiah goes through more severe times of trouble (he’s put in a cistern), we do not read any more dire prayers from him in the rest of the book.  This was the low point. I  find great comfort in the fact that the Lord allowed this prayer to be included in the Bible!  We have a God who hears our prayers at the lowest points of our lives.

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Prayer Update September 28

PraiseI want to tell you about several reasons we are rejoicing this morning.  Please join me in giving thanks to God for these good gifts from the Father of lights (James 1:17).

Heritage Preaching Lectures:  Yesterday we had a great group of students and church leaders on campus for our annual Preaching Lectures.  This year, Dr. Kent Edwards from Talbot Seminary, was our guest presenter.  He challenged us all to deepen our engagement with the Lord as we prepare to preach and to increase our engagement with listeners as we speak.  Linda led a parallel track for ministry wives and women that dealt with the important topics of taking care of your soul and your marriage in the midst of ministry.

Debt Demolition:  We are rejoicing in God’s provision that continues to lower our debt. No all that long ago, the debt was over 3 million dollars.  Last October, through the generous donations of friends of the school, the debt was lowered to just under $700,000. Over the past year, another $400,000 has been donated.  As of today, our debt is down to $280,000.  Praise the Lord.  We still have until Monday (October 1st) to further reduce the debt without penalty.  Pray with us that God would completely eliminate this debt!

Linda’s health:  Linda recently was diagnosed with a “mass” in her abdomen (two ultrasounds).  This past Wednesday, we met with her doctor to get the results of an MRI that she recently had done.  The good news was that the mass is no longer a mass.  There is no sign of cancer and no need for surgery at this time.  We are rejoicing in God’s kindness to us–once again.

Please join us in echoing the words of Psalm 107:1:  “Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

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Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 19)

19Following the visit to the Potter’s house, Jeremiah records a dramatic prophecy the Lord has him enact and declare—first in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to a group of elders and priests (1-13) and then in the temple to the people of Jerusalem (14-15).  The prophecy is one of unmitigated doom and disaster.  Jerusalem will be smashed, shattered like the clay pot Jeremiah throws to the ground.  The dead will be thrown like potshards into the Valley of Ben Hinnom—which will be renamed the Valley of Slaughter (6).  There is no hope given for averting the coming judgment and no hope stated about God’s restoration on the far side of judgment.  It’s a jarring, shattering message from God.

Jeremiah is given specific instructions to “Go and buy a clay jar from the potter” and then take some “elders . . . priests out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate” (1-2). Scholars identify this valley with a ravine that lies to the south or east of the ancient city of Jerusalem, just outside the city walls.  The etymology is of the word Topheth is disputed: some say it’s from the Hebrew word for drum (played during child sacrifices) or burn (garbage dump) or spitting.  It was a place where some burned their “sons in the fire as offerings to Baal” (5).  God’s denunciation of this horrific practice conveys bewilderment (“something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind”—5) and fury (“I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired”—11).

stiff neckThe furious wrath of God is directed at the “stiff-necked” people of Judah (15).  Like a person with a stiff neck, the people of Judah won’t look to the left or right; instead, they keep going straight ahead down an evil path.  God’s words imply that the wickedness of the nation is increasing.  Not only do they worship the false gods introduced by their fathers; they add new false gods to the mix; they “burn sacrifices . . . to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew” (4).  In addition, they not only follow the horrific practice of child sacrifice, they make it commonplace (“they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent”—4).

Evil doesn’t remain static.  Idols multiply, as does violence to the innocent.  Wickedness increases if it’s not confessed, forgiven and forsaken.  As people and nations, we are  traveling on one of the two roads–the ancient path or a bypath (18:15).  We are moving towards the Lord or moving further from Him.  In Judah’s case, the people stubbornly journey towards destruction.  In Jeremiah 19, they hear, in stark and jarring words, the devastating destination of the road on which they are traveling.  “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Jpotseremiah’s calling to “uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10) is tested in this message from God to the nation.  He is given a message that contains only destruction (no mention of future rebuilding, which is a part of many of his pronouncements).  The test is whether he will be faithful to the words God puts in his mind and mouth (1:9).  Jeremiah passes the test, speaking words of destruction and shattering the clay pot as instructed (19:10).

His faithfulness as God’s spokesman proves costly. In the following chapter we read how Pashhur, the chief officer in the temple, hears Jeremiah’s prophecy of disaster and has Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks (20:1-2).  While he has already endured spoken opposition and alienation, now comes painful physical punishment.

Jeremiah’s experience is a reminder of the cost of being faithful to deliver God’s word in all its fullness.  When society has moved far enough away from God’s ways, speaking words of critique and warning can be grounds for officially-sanctioned punishment—arrest or beatings.  Pastors in many lands already live with this reality.  As Western society continues to distance itself from biblical standards, we too may face societal scorn, legal indictment and personal punishment.  This will test our fidelity to giving out God’s word in its fullness, especially the parts of His word that seem traitorous to the ears of those around us.  May the Lord strengthen His servants to be faithful like Jeremiah.

One interesting observation is that Jeremiah is explicitly instructed to speak this message of destruction to the elders and priests in the Valley of Ben Hinnom (2).  The text does not say God told him to deliver the same message in the temple: “Jeremiah then returned from Topheth, where the Lord and sent him to prophesy, and stood in the court of the Lord’s temple and said to all the people . . . “ (14).  Is there an implication that he put himself in a tougher situation than God had intended?  Was God sparing him by having him give the message to a select, few leaders away from the crowds?  Or was Jeremiah just fulfilling the Lord’s intention by bringing this same message to the temple?  We cannot say for sure, as the Scripture doesn’t give commentary.  However, if Jeremiah had stayed clear of the temple in this instance and avoided arrest and punishment, he would have only delayed the inevitable.  Sooner or later, his message would bring down the wrath of powerful people.  Faithful prophets (unlike false prophets) eventually fall out of favour because they do not flinch from communicating God’s word—even when that word is confrontive and wildly unpopular.

What was the response of those who heard this dire message of destruction?  We don’t know.  Nothing is said about the reaction of the elders, priests or people. However, Jeremiah’s final words hint at their collective response:  “they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words” (15).  Additionally, Pashhur has Jeremiah arrested and beaten (20:1-2), apparently without protest or protection. Tragically, God’s word is not heard in a life-changing way. Shattering judgment awaits.

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