In Part 1, I addressed Jeremiah’s personal story and aspects of his life’s greater prophetic meaning. I addressed this from the standpoint of Jeremiah as God’s appointed servant as well as his righteous stand in the midst of persecution at the hands of an evil enemy. I also described how Jeremiah’s situation caused him to wrestle with God, but in remaining loyal and faithful, God continued to uphold him.
In this passage, Part 2, I will continue with Jeremiah’s story and its significance for prophecy from the standpoint of the following topic areas:
- Jeremiah’s intercession for his people
- Jeremiah’s concerns about his people’s transgressions
- Jeremiah’s asking for revenge and punishment on his people
- God’s response and decision to bring punishment
I will address each of these topics in its separate section below. In the final topic above, God’s decision to bring punishment on Judah in Jeremiah’s day, and the related signs that he gave to Jeremiah, culminate in a strong prophetic message for our current last days time period.
Jeremiah’s intercession for his people
In Part 1, I described Jeremiah’s wrestling with God because of his own travails. As you know, he also wrestled with God as he interceded for his people of Judah. You will recall from Part 1 that Jeremiah even questioned God at one point, wondering if God had deceived him. Similar confusion and bewilderment on his part can be seen in his concern for his people, who he knew were living blindly in a corrupt society that would soon be attacked. He prayed:
- “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.” (Jer 4:10)
You will also recall Jeremiah’s own personal wound and sorrows as I addressed these in Part 1. Similarly, he realized that his people Judah had been “smitten” as well. Just as he questioned God for his own situation, he asked God on behalf of his people, “Why hast thou smitten us?” (Jer. 14:19). Also, just as we are told about in our current last days time period with God’s people of the Jacob-Judah remnant, Jeremiah in his day lamented that there was similarly “no healing” of his people’s wound, and no peace.
In his running conversation with God, God made clear to him the reasons why he was angry. Just as Jeremiah acquiesced in his own situation (see Part 1), he did as well in the situation of his people and society of Judah. He understood that they had rebelled against God’s commands (discussed in the section below). In Jeremiah’s interceding, he admitted, “we acknowledge our wickedness” (Jer 14:20) and “we have transgressed” (Lam 3:40). Jeremiah also acknowledged his people’s history, including a pattern of rebellion and stubbornness against God. On at least two occasions in scripture, he reflected on the “iniquity of our fathers” (Jer 14:20, Lam 5:7).
Nevertheless, Jeremiah still relied on the God of Israel’s unique relation with and promises to his people. Jeremiah said, “we are called by thy name” (Jer 14:9). He also acknowledged that God was in their midst and requested, “don’t be a stranger (to us)” (Jer 14:8). Jeremiah asked on behalf of his people that God not forsake them. He asked this both pre-invasion and post-invasion. One scripture in each of these time periods, respectively, is given as follows:
- “We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. “ (Jer 14:20)
- “Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. “ (Lam 5:21)
Jeremiah, in his prayers and standing in the gap for his people as a persecuted intercessor was a foreshadow of last days ‘Jacob,’ who were are told God gives for a spoil and is “cut off” for the transgressions of his people. Meanwhile, the people’s transgressions in Jeremiah’s day and his concerns about them are discussed below.
Jeremiah’s concerns about his people’s transgressions
Although Jeremiah cared about his people of Judah and interceded for them, he developed increasing concerns for them for reasons in addition to his own persecution at their hands. As noted above, he came around to understanding God’s anger at them for their disobedience and then he expressed his own concerns.
Jeremiah recognized first and foremost the overriding wickedness, evil and sinful ways of his people. In speaking to God, he observed:
- “For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.” (Jer 23:10)
Jeremiah recognized that even the prophets/priests in the land were “profane” and engaged in evil (Jer 23:11). Remember that this was a hypocritical people who Jeremiah called “treacherous” and observed that, “God was near to their mouth but far from their mind” (Jer 12:2). God had pointed out to Jeremiah about the rampant lying in the Judah society of his day. God saw that his people were stubborn, who did not have hearts that were seeking him. Jeremiah, aligned with God in his concerns, complained to him as follows:
- “O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” (Jer 5:3)
In this verse, Jeremiah was referring to the Judah “general public” of his day, but he thought he might get a better response to his grievances from leaders. I showed in Part 1 that this was not the case. Other than corrupt kings, one of Jeremiah’s biggest concerns was the false prophets of his day- these were communicating a different message than God was. Jeremiah said these false prophets caused his heart to be broken and “all of (his) bones to shake” (Jer 23:9). Similar to some of today’s false prophets, these were saying, “peace.” These were prophets about whom God said, “I did not send these” (Jer 23:14). Both Jeremiah and God also observed, respectively:
- “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.” (Jer 14:13)
- “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.” (Jer 29:8)
While the good-news prophets communicated a false and deceptive message, they, of course, were adversarial to Jeremiah and his warnings. They were Judah’s scoffers at-large, who I addressed in Part 1. Jeremiah said:
- “Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now.” (Jer 17:15)
Judah’s people were rebellious, with eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear. They would not listen nor hearken to the truth while in the midst of a sea of lies, and while living amidst their many false prophets. In fact, about the good-news false prophets, God observed, “my people love to have it so” (Jer 5:31). God observed this had been the case ever since his people came out of Egypt. God reminded that he had originally given them his own servants and prophets who were in their midst daily, but that his people remained inattentive and stiffnecked (Jer 7:25).
God also said, “I set watchmen over you, but they said, ‘we will not hearken’” (Jer 7:17). Jeremiah reminded his people of this and of how long he had spoken the word of the Lord to them, “rising early,” but they did not hearken. Jeremiah also said:
- “And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.” (Jer 25:4)
What was it that the people in Jeremiah’s day were not hearing? God’s word and his law. God consistently maintained his same position of old with his people in saying:
- “But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” (Jer 7:23)
Jeremiah was calling on his people to repent and to “turn from their evil ways.” God’s word through Jeremiah to the people was simple: stop walking with other gods! At one point, God had to ask Jeremiah to announce to all of his people at once, including the priests, just to observe the Sabbath.
As I mentioned above, Jeremiah was also in tune with the sins of his people’s fathers. God confirmed with Jeremiah that his people had turned back to the same iniquities of their forefathers, which was following other gods- and likely all of the ritualistic and idolatrous practices that included habitual breaking of God’s law. Because of his people’s corrupt hearts and stiffnecked behavior, Jeremiah acknowledged and responded to God:
- “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.” (Jer 17:13)
In the following section, I will show Jeremiah’s specific calls for God to bring punishment onto his people.
Jeremiah asking for revenge and punishment on his people
In Jeremiah’s appeals to God, he came to a point where he had turned from lamenting for his people to asking God to bring his wrath upon them. Offhand, I will mention here how Jeremiah’s laments and his asking God to bring punishment on his people were very King David-like. Jeremiah, like King David, found himself at war against his own people. Recall King David had said, “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (Ps. 120:7).
God had opened Jeremiah’s eyes so that he realized that he was being set up for personal destruction- a longstanding anti-Christ method that I described in Part 1; in part, including vicious slander and “imaginations” against him. In calling on God’s support, Jeremiah said:
- “…for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.” (Jer 18:20)
- “Yet, Lord, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.” (Jer 18:23)
Jeremiah’s personal situation coincided with the greater evil of his Judah society, a time referred to several times in the book of Jeremiah as a “day of evil.” The following scriptures show how Jeremiah’s appeals to God became personally motivated because of the targeted persecution that he was facing. Because ‘good’ was called ‘evil’ in his day, Jeremiah was imprisoned. He asked, “What have I done…?” (Jer 37:18). His righteous anger showed in the following scriptures:
- “O Lord, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.” (Jer 15:15)
- “Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.” (Jer 17:18)
Jeremiah here is again a picture of end times ‘Jacob’ who, in his redemption in the last days, will ask, “Who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is my adversary?” (Jer 50:8).
One interesting part of Jeremiah’s appeals for punishment to come onto his people was asking that they be “confounded,” “dismayed” and “confused.” Of course, Judah’s ungodly scoffing leaders of Jeremiah’s day would indeed eventually be surprised when the invasion by ‘Babylon’ came. But another aspect their confoundment lied within the fact that they had a sense of piety amidst their transgressions. Recall in the apostle Paul’s words that in the perilous times of these last days there would be those having “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim 3:5). This is the same deception of an anti-Christ spirit that Jeremiah recognized and asked, “Shall evil be recompensed for good?” (Jer 18:20). Judah’s leaders believed that their double-mindedness of having false gods and worshiping in God’s temple at the same time somehow justified them. Jeremiah’s travails about his people’s hypocrisy can be seen in the following scripture:
- “Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” (Jer 12:1)
So when their punishment would indeed come from God in Jeremiah’s time (at the hands of the Babylonians) these righteous scoffers certainly were confused and confounded. You will recall how I have mentioned before that this same kind of confusion will indeed be the case for end times ‘Babylon’-U.S.’s leaders at the time that God punishes them. Scripture tells us that these are going to be ashamed because of the “graven” and “molten” images that they have called their gods.
God’s response and decision to bring punishment
Through Jeremiah, God had warned his people many times. God’s word was clear, as described above. His people continued to break his law and to disobey, so God was responsive to Jeremiah’s requests. Jeremiah’s patience had finally run out with his stubborn people who would not hear God’s words through him. This, combined with his personal dismay at his people seeking his innocent life, caused him to request:
- “Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.” (Jer 18:21)
This strong appeal of Jeremiah obviously proved quite a turnaround from his prior laments on their behalf.
Signs from God through Jeremiah of coming punishment
Of course, God already knew the end from the beginning. When God first commissioned Jeremiah, he showed him a vision of a boiling pot, tilting away from the north, demonstrating how he would send people from the north against the land. In addition to assuring Jeremiah up-front that his people would fight against him but would not win, God gave him symbolic signs ahead of time to show what would happen to his disobedient people in Judah. This included:
- 1) The marred girdle (Jer. Ch. 13)- God asked Jeremiah to put on a girdle, and then to take it to the Euphrates and hide it in the ground. Then God asked Jeremiah to return and dig it out. He found it marred and “profitable for nothing,” which God said was a sign about marring the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.
In fact, God went further than warning of the marred pride of Judah/Jerusalem, but later in this line of scripture, he remarked how both the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah refused to hear his voice and commands. This reminds of Jesus’ words (i.e. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…”) to his people of his day who he reminded had killed their own prophets, and how he desired to gather them together, “as a hen gathers her chickens,” but they would not hear him.
- 2) The potter’s house (Jer. Ch. 18)- God instructed Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house. Here, God made the point that the house of Israel was like clay in the potter’s hand to him. The potter made one vessel that became marred, and one vessel that was satisfactory and good. The marred vessel was a sign just as the marred girdle in the example above. The land would soon become desolate and its people scattered.
In one more, similar sign to this one (2) above, in the book of Jeremiah (Ch. 19), God asked Jeremiah to take a potter’s bottle, and to take of the “ancients of the people” and “ancients of the priests.” Jeremiah took all of them to a nearby valley as instructed by God, and proclaimed that God would bring evil onto the land that would destroy the people and make it desolate. This would be in return/recompense for his people’s Baal and false gods worship. God instructed Jeremiah to break the bottle in their presence, and to give them the following message from him:
- “…Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.” (Jer 19:11)
Of course, God’s prophetic warnings through Jeremiah soon became reality. God knew his people’s transgressions before they would happen and was already decided to bring punishment. Thus, God guided Jeremiah along his journey in much the same manner as we are told in scripture that he guides last days ‘Jacob.’ I described in Part 1 how God would instruct Jeremiah in his messages. God also instructed him, at certain points, telling him more than once, “pray not for this people” (Jer 11:14, Jer 14:11). He further instructed Jeremiah, “enter not into the house of mourning” (Jer 16:5) and “go not into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and drink” (Jer 16:8). This was likely due to heavily engrained ritualistic, idolatrous and mocking practices.
Note that each of these symbols that God gave as described above (i.e. “boiling pot,” girdle, potter’s house, and potter’s vessel) and their associated meaning of God’s coming punishment in Jeremiah’s time, also have the same or similar meaning and application for our current last days time period. Leaders of today’s country of Israel and nation of ‘Babylon’-U.S., especially, should take heed.
In my next passage, Part 3, I will summarize the prophetic story told through Jeremiah’s life as it pertains specifically to God’s remnant children in ‘Babylon’-U.S. in the last days. Just as this passage ends with God’s decision to bring punishment on the Judah society of Jeremiah’s day, so will it be for the last days country of Israel and the nation of ‘Babylon’-U.S.
“There is no new thing under the sun” – King Solomon
Grace & Peace,
Lion’s Lair (LL)