JEREMIAH 13:1 – 15:21 and 1 PETER 2:1–25
The Lord is going to speak to Jeremiah through an example of a marred girdle (vs 1-11). It is an illustration that denotes the relationship that Israel has with God. The linen girdle will be a representation of Israel while Jeremiah portrays the Lord. It is an unwashed girdle, which speaks of the filth and iniquity of Israel. It is the Lord’s intention to wash and cleanse His people however this example of the girdle will demonstrate that it is marred and of no value. The reason will be their refusal to be instructed in the laws and ways of God. There are a few interesting items to note. It was a linen garment, which speaks of the righteousness of God. It was seen upon the priests in the Old Testament and it will be part of the garments that make up the bride of Christ as seen in Revelation. The prophet was told to not wash the linen girdle. It is through the washing of the Word of God that we are washed and cleansed (Eph 5:26). This is what happens to believers when they turn away from the things of God. The Bible gather dusts while such a person seeks to live out their Christianity on their terms. As we saw many times through the prophetic ministry of Isaiah, there are dual applications that can be made to the church today. Jeremiah is speaking to us!
The time comes when the girdle is hid and then later rediscovered. Upon its discovery it is declared to be useless and of no value. Jesus warned against the possibility of losing our “savor” our ability to be distinct whereby making a difference in the lives of people. How does this happen; how is it that people who once knew and walked with God can lose their effectiveness? In verses 8-9, we see the dangers of the sin of pride. This was a major problem in Israel; pride leads to blindness of the true picture. This element of pride was seen in the later years of King Uzziah. Once a person or a church begins to be blessed there is the danger of pride settling in. Instead of giving glory to God emphasis is placed on our efforts as being the reason for the success. It can be very subtle and undetected at the first. It is imperative that we always seek to employ the prayer of Micah in all that we do.
Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Israel, through their disobedience to the Word of God has lost so much. They were given the privilege of being the example to other nations as the chosen of God. The result was that they were worse than many of the nations they were to be an example to. To make matters worse their blessings would now come upon the church, which is described as the foolish nation in Deu 32:21. In verses, 12-14 the Word of the Lord speaks concerning a spirit of drunkenness that would come upon Israel. God will answer them according to their heart’s lusts, which will lead to debauchery. This spirit of drunkenness will also be seen at time of Babylon’s fall to the Medes and Persians (Dan 5). Noah speaks similarly, as to what it will be like in the last days. The world is becoming an increasingly big party zone.
The Lord now addresses their abominable pride in verses 15-21. How does the Lord view pride and why should it be avoided at all costs? Here are five warnings taken from the Book of Proverbs:
1) The Lord hates pride (Pro 8:13)
2) Pride brings shame (Pro 11:2)
3) Pride is the cause of contention (Pro 13:10)
4) Pride comes before destruction (Pro 16:18)
5) Pride brings one low (Pro 29:23)
The Lord is the one who is Worthy and to be glorified. It was pride that brought down Lucifer and it is pride that resulted in the downfall of so many others. The antidote to pride is humility. A verse we have quoted often which needs to be repeated is the exhortation from Zephaniah. “Seek meekness and righteousness…” This will help preserve and keep us in the days of the Lord’s rebuke and anger. While on the subject of pride, the Word of the Lord comes to the king in verse 18. (This would be King Jehoiachin.) The word to the king was that there would be an invading army from the north. Would the king or the people give heed to these warnings? The answer is no but it is not because the Lord did not try to speak to them.
The Word of the Lord goes on to speak concerning the sins of which they are guilty of in verses 22-27. The people of Israel were in such a stupor they had no clue as to all that was taking place around them. Is there a similar delusion and indifference that is seen today? The world around us is deteriorating by the day and yet we are immune from reality. Our world is becoming increasingly virtual at the expense of reality. We have become desensitized from reality taking on more the likeness of programmable zombies. We now live on a man-made narrative that is far removed from the truth. Is it any wonder in seeing what the church has done with the Truth of God’s Word? Because we have lost our love for the Truth, we have become detached from reality. Because we have lost the love for Truth we have come under strong delusion; a delusion far more sinister that we truly know.
This chapter begins with the consequences of disobedience as Jeremiah sees a period of great dearth and devastation. Instead of the beautiful green pastures and fruitful fields that they once knew, they are now surrounded by famine and parched grounds. There is no rain and there is a scarcity of water. Can you think for a moment and consider what it would be like if there was no ability to find water. It is a commodity so readily available that we could never think of life without it. The availability of drinking water is more of a gift than we know. In this case, the nobility had to send forth their children to try to find water. May we never take it for granted. When there is no rain, you will have no crops for food. What a horrible judgement that could have bene avoided if the people would have only obeyed the voice of the Lord.
Jeremiah now takes on the role of an intercessor as he cries out to God on the people’s behalf. He assumes responsibility for the sins and iniquities of Israel. This is a characteristic of a true intercessor. They stand on behalf of a people before the Holy God. This is the characteristic of a true priest as well; the willingness to assume responsibility for the people. This is one of the hallmarks of Christ in His willingness to BECOME sin on behalf of man. Jeremiah then pleads with God to intervene. His prayer almost makes it sound that God is unconcerned over their situation. He acknowledges that God is well able to save them and persists in asking the Lord to not forsake His people. God responds by stating that Israel has wandered from the path of holiness. God makes overtures to His people when they begin to go astray seeking to get them back on the right path. It is their continual turning of a deaf ear to God resulting in the judgements coming upon them. Israel had a very high calling upon itself as a nation (Deu 4:6). They abused this high calling and rather chose the ways and gods of the heathen. When seen in that context it helps to understand the dealings of God towards Israel. The Word then comes to Jeremiah to not pray for this people for their good (vs 14). God was not upset with Jeremiah praying for Israel that is why he took time in letting him know of His displeasure. Samuel faced this same situation concerning King Saul. When God makes a determination on matters like this it is determined. God makes clear that no time of fasting, prayer or sacrifice will change the situation. In fact, He goes on to list several judgements that will be released; the sword, famine and pestilence.
As to be expected there is another group of prophets that were speaking a very different message (vs 13-16). They spoke of no future sword or famine to come. In addition, they spoke of peace that was countering the turbulence that the Lord had declared. Whose prophetic word do you think was more readily received? The more we proceed into the writing of Jeremiah the greater appreciation we have for a man who was solitary in his ministry. It is the prophet who carries the Word of the Lord that makes all the difference. God reinforces the truth about these prophets; they are false and have not been sent of God. The tragedy of these prophetic voices is that many people became aligned to them. How would you like to answer before God after conveying a message that leads people further away from God?
The Word of the Lord then comes again to Jeremiah in verses 17-22. Jeremiah now becomes even more acquainted with the people he is speaking to. His words are causing him great sorrow and pain; he is expressing and feeling the heart of God. The Lord re-emphasizes the judgements that are coming and how He will refuse Judah and those who inhabit Zion. They will be removed to Babylon and there is to be no changing of God’s mind on this matter. Jeremiah again pleads with God to pardon the people and goes further to remind God of his covenant with Abraham. In spite of the determined judgements to come upon Israel God will remember His covenant and will not cast off Israel forever.
The Lord makes an interesting point in stating that even Moses and Samuel would not be able to turn Him from His coming wrath upon Israel. This is iniquity that has clearly become ripe and it is a sobering thought in seeing that there was nothing that could avert their captivity. It is a picture of the last days where the Lord will have a limit in His long-suffering and mercy. Still in the midst of all that is to come, the Lord continues to speak of a future hope through His prophet. The question will be asked as to how to prepare. Our lives are preordained of the Lord so it is vital that we are in alignment to His will. If so, there will be grace to see through the times of difficulty. There will be seasons of provision and there may well be a season of martyrdom for saints. Our focus must be in being in the place God would choose for us. God makes grace available to fulfil His will and pleasure. There will be some people here who will be appointed to death in the coming judgement and some to famine and captivity. God is sovereign and is in control.
There are several types of judgements listed in verse 3. Afterwards the surviving captives will be scattered throughout the known world, which is a result of the sins of Manasseh who was one of the most wicked rulers in Judah. The Lord is requiring the sins of the past (Eccl 3:15). It is amazing to think that this wicked king did repent but the damage was already done. We cannot help but marvel though at God’s ability to restore.
In verses 5-7 the Lord makes clear that, He is weary of their repenting. God is merciful, full of compassion and long-suffering but He has a limit. This has been repeated now on several occasions but it has to be noted. Our walk and relationship with God is not a game and cannot be taken lightly. A part of their judgement will be the separation of children from their parents because of no attempt in seeking repentance. There will be separation of husbands from wives when they make their assault upon Jerusalem. I think it would be good if we could stop and contemplate the horrific consequences of all that is going to happen. Yes, they have been warned and they did not listen but when it hits it will be horrific. Let us fast forward to our day and try to think of a similar scenario, is it possible that this could happen in our so-called enlightened society? The evidence is all around us and yet the sleep and indifference carries on. May the Lord quicken and awaken His church before it is too late so at least there can be some preparation.
Jeremiah goes through a period of deep lamentation because of all that he is carrying. His burden is heavy and his physical strength is breaking yet the Lord does bring encouragement and hope. He evens assures Jeremiah that the enemy will treat him with courtesy due to his being faithful to that which the Lord is requiring of him. In verses 12-14 the strength and prowess of Babylon is highlighted letting it be known that no force will be able to stop them. The Babylonians will strip Jerusalem of its substance and its people and then exile them to a foreign land ever to return again. There will be a remnant that will heed what God is saying and have opportunity to again return to Jerusalem (Ezra 3).
Jeremiah after bearing under this heavy load now seeks the Lord for relief and a fresh visitation for his own soul. The Lord Jesus needed to have a daily touch of the anointing throughout his earthly sojourn. He would arise early in the morning to have fresh encounters with His Father. If this was the Lord’s daily discipline, it then should be ours as well. We all need a fresh touch and reviving in the midst of any work that is done for God. Jeremiah was very much like King Josiah in having a love for the Law of God. It was the discovery of the Law and its reading that served as the catalyst for the revival under Josiah. It was in the midst of this revival that Jeremiah did much of His prophesying. The people were in revival and they were not yet changing their ways. Who would want to hear about pending captivity in the midst of revival? The people were comfortable thinking that God’s pleasure was upon them and that He would never bring such a judgement. This is a mistake! There is a great revival yet to come as illustrated by the 7th kingdom parable of the Net (Math 13:47-49). It will be in the midst of this revival where people will become complacent while basking in a mighty move of God. They will not want to hear concerning the standards of the Law from Moses and the depth of Restoration message as spoken by Elijah (The two witnesses). The more I study the period of Josiah and Jeremiah the more convinced I am of their similarities. The people in Jeremiah’s day were lulled into a false sense of security. They saw revival as God’s sanction upon their lives and proof there would be no such thing as a Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah sets the standard for the true prophet. He lived a separated life, a life that was devoted and given to God in the midst of great opposition. His prophetic ministry had the ability to bring a distinction between the precious from the vile. There was no middle ground or grey area. This is the need of the hour for today; to see prophetic voices arise that speaks the pure unadulterated Word of God. There is a process of preparation required in order to be used of God in this capacity. Isaiah had to be cleansed in the area of his lips (Isa 6:4-6). Joshua the high priest had to have an exchange of garments (Zech 3:3-8). If we allow God to bring forth this work in our lives there will be protection and authority to carry out the Lord’s agenda as prophets and priests. This manner of prophets and priests will counter the indictment made earlier concerning these ministries (Jer 5:31). This chapter ends with God’s promised hand of protection upon Jeremiah. It is a fulfilment of the Word of the Lord as seen in Proverbs 16:7.
Pro 16:7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
I Pet 2
Peter speaks of the need to mature in the development of our spiritual walk. If we still carry the seeds of malice, hypocrisy, envy and the sowing of discord we then are immature. The purpose of redemption is to be purged of these sins and grow into Christ likeness. How is this done? It is by desiring the sincere milk of God’s Word. This nourishment strengthens the inner man in his preparation to become the bride of Christ. When the Lord returns He is not going to join Himself to a weak and immature childlike babe. He will join to those who have become like Him through the diet of God’s Word. It begins with the sincere milk of the Word, which then enables for the assimilating of strong meat (1 Cor 3:1-3, Heb 5:12-14). We must not plateau at the milk of the Word but develop into the place where we can delve deeper into the Truth.
Peter presents Christ as the chief Cornerstone from which all other measurements are taken (vs 4). This Cornerstone was rejected by men, the religious leaders of His day. They sought to build by their own means, on their terms as opposed to God’s blueprint. This is something seen throughout Biblical history. The church is built upon either God’s terms or man’s. Today it is much more cleverly packaged where it can be hard to discern between the two. This is where deception is at its peak. One of the questions that helps to produce and bring forth true doctrine is to ask, “What is the end of the matter”? A ministry can look legitimate today but where does it lead? This is why the Word of faith movement can be such a concern. It utilizes scripture but oftentimes upon man’s agenda and not God’s. We must never forget that Faith accomplishes His agenda. Peter goes on to say that, we in the church are living stones as part of a spiritual house. The Lord works in preparing us to be those stones so that we can be perfectly fitted into our place of ministry. He also speaks about being a holy priesthood that offers up spiritual sacrifice. Peter had insights into the true priesthood of God. He later speaks of a “royal priesthood” that is part of a chosen generation (vs 9). That term “royal priesthood” brings together the king-priest element that is distinguished in the Old Testament between the kings from Judah and the priests of Levi. It is a picture of the kings and priests that we are called to be as seen in the Book of Revelation (Rev 1:6, 5:10, 20:6). There is far more depth to Peter’s writings that we often realize. He had profound insights into the priesthood of Christ and we do well to study and meditate upon them. Peter’s writings help us to understand how we can truly reign as kings due to his priestly insights. The priestly office will involve sacrifice and suffering which is why it is tends to be a neglected ministry. The majority of Christ’s ministry at His first coming was that of a priest, the Lamb of God. To summarize, before we can reign with Jesus as King we must first know Him as the Lamb (Rev 20:6).
Peter speaks of the elements that war against the soul of the believer. The lusts of this world are bringing great pressures upon the church and it is attempting to bring conformity to its message. Sadly, many religious institutions have buckled and yielded under this pressure. Peter learned messages the hard way but he did learn and came to know how to resist this pressure. A key in being able to have victory over these pressures is to abstain from these earthly pleasures. It is an act of the will; it requires discipline and a decision to separate from its pull. This is the kind of decision that Daniel and his friends made. It is not just a separation from the lusts of the world that is required but a separation unto God as well.
In verses 13-15 Peter speaks of the importance of submitting to the ordinances of man. He taught respect for authority provided it did not violate the ordinances of God. This is where it is getting a bit tricky for us today. The man made ordinances have taken God out of the picture so how then should we respond. I believe we are to submit to authority to the best of our ability until an ordinance violates God’s law; where we as believers would be required to do something that is contrary to God. There were times when Peter had to make such declarations for himself.
Acts 5:29 – “Then Peter and the other apostles… said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
There is the temptation at a time of lawlessness to be caught up in the spirit of speaking out against authority. As Christians, we need to be careful against speaking out against leaders, even ungodly ones seeing that God appoints them. Peter took the position towards Nero in saying that the king should be honoured. This does not mean he put his approval upon Nero as a king but it speaks of his attitude towards him. Let God be their judge, for our part we are to pray for them. Admittedly, it is getting increasingly difficult to do so concerning certain leaders of our day.
Peter speaks on our attitude towards suffering; even if we are called to suffer wrongfully on a certain matter (vs 19-20). The Lord takes a close look at our attitude through such times and it is well pleasing to Him when we can rejoice in the midst of such experiences. It makes a statement to God that He is deemed worthy even through times of great difficulty. Peter reminds us that Christ suffered due to no sin or fault of his own yet endured it through the work of the Cross. That is our standard! He was taunted, mocked and humiliated yet did not seek to justify Himself. He yielded Himself to His Father whom He knew judged righteously. What Jesus exhibited at these times was the fruit of Meekness. This fruit is the result of a deep inner work of grace within the life of a believer. In meekness, we have the ability to accept every circumstance that may come our way. It is a great weapon against Satan and it helps to produce emotional stability and health to the believer. Meekness is what helps in our being able to have perspective; the ability to see the big picture, to see things as God sees them. The Apostle Peter has come a very long way since the days of his calling. His life provides hope and inspiration to us all.