JEREMIAH 19:1 – 21:14 and 1 PETER 4:1–19
The prophet Jeremiah is now going to be used as an instrument of God’s judgement. Up until now, he has pleaded with God that the people would be spared. The hand of judgement is often stayed through the intercessory prayer of God’s saints. There are times when God may even change His mind due to the intensity and effectiveness of the intercessory prayer that have gone forth. This is not one of those times as we have already seen that God is going to allow Babylon to come against His beloved Israel. It is interesting to note where the Word was given. It was near the East Gate at a place called the son of Hinnom. It signifies the eternal damnation of the lost and it is in the vicinity where Armageddon will take place. The East Gate refers to the site where Jesus will return. Once again, we see another parallel application. The Word of the Lord through Jeremiah is pronouncing judgement upon his day while also looking out into the future to ours. In verse 6, it will be called the valley of slaughter, which is referenced in Joel 3:2.
Joel 3:2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
The horrific consequences of judgement are further elaborated in verses 7-9. The famine and desolation will be so severe that the women would be eating their offspring in cannibalistic carnage. To make matters even more striking this was a prophetic Word that Moses had given about 900 years earlier (Deu 28:52-57). There will be a similar re-enactment at the time of the 2nd coming when the flesh of kings, captains and horses will be food for the masses (Rev 19:18). Can we see how the preparation for this is already coming into line when looking at the violence and blood lust that exists today? When lawlessness abounds there is no moral restraint. This was the problem with Israel in the Old Testament; they forsook the Law of God resulting in the giving of themselves to gross idolatry. The erosion of morality is seen today for the very same reasons. If we feel that the consequences of lawlessness were bad in Jeremiah’s day (and they were) how much more so in ours? Lord, please have mercy upon us.
Jeremiah performed a prophetic act that did not go down well with the priests and leaders of his day. He broke a potter’s vessel at Tophet and made the declaration that Israel would fall to the Babylonians and that Tophet would be their burial ground. Jeremiah then doubles down on his prophesies as seen in verses 14-15. It is not only Jerusalem that will be affected but all of Judah. The more they refused to listen to God’s warnings the more their necks became hardened. Once such a hardening takes place the judgement(s) are usually soon to follow.
It is scary to see how indifferent and calloused people have become regarding the things of God. There is no lack of fear in cursing and blaspheming the living God in today’s modern society. The church for the most part has lost its voice because of compromise and the pedalling of other gospels. The lines of demarcation in the church are becoming more pronounced. In the end, we will have to make a choice. In Jeremiah’s day, it was the separation of the precious from the vile (Jer 15:19). In the last days, it will be the lukewarm and cold from the hot, the ones who are truly on fire for God (Rev 3:16).
We are introduced to a man named Pashur who was a chief governor of the city and the son of a priest who took issue with the words of Jeremiah. He put Jeremiah in a type of prison for a day and smote him. We better get used to people like Pashur because there will be many (in the church) who will take strong issue with the true Word of the Lord in the last days. Jeremiah, once released from his prison did not hold back in his words for this man. He gave him the name Magormissabib which means terror to thy self and thy friends. The significance of this name is sobering seeing that he was giving false hope to the people by denying the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah. His judgement was that he would see the carrying away of the people into captivity. He also will be brought into Babylon and die there. Do you realize the severity of judgement upon such a man as Pashur? His words not only affected his eternal destiny but the destinies of scores of other souls. Are there any Christian figures today that could be deemed modern day Pashurs? There are those in the church who are sending the wrong message while affecting the lives of multitudes. How horrible it would be to come to the end and realize that your message and influence helped to take people down the wrong road. History is once again beginning to repeat itself.
Jeremiah is tested in verses 7-9 as he cries out to God over the high level of opposition coming against him. It not only takes courage to speak truth in the midst of opposition but it also takes great stamina. Jeremiah here is wearied and requires the grace and strength to keep being faithful to the message. This is a critical juncture in the life of many a minister. It is here where one is defined; will there still be the ability to faithfully carry the message or will there be an alteration of doctrine so as to not offend as many people. One other option is to give up all together and just keep silent. This was something Elijah contemplated as the forces of hell through Jezebel were being unleashed against him (1 Kings 19). There is only one option and that is to seek the Lord for grace and strength to carry forward. It is here where one can become enabled by the grace of God to remain faithful. It is a real challenge and it is only by the grace of God that one can do this.
Jeremiah soon comes to see the vindication of God for His faithfulness. It may not happen right away but it comes at the time when it is needed. He can be trusted to deliver and look after his elect. It is in time of need where we see God as the one who can do what is required. If it was easy then everyone would be an overcomer. The truth of the matter is that the testing reveals whether we truly trust Him. We know it theoretically but He needs to be known experientially. This can only happen and be appreciated in a time of great need. A man or woman of God who upholds a high standard will come under greater scrutiny and attacks. The enemy is threatened and he will do whatever it takes to bring discouragement, doubt and fear.
The intensity of these contradictions are now beginning to take its toll on Jeremiah. In verses 14-18, he speaks of regretting that he was born. He wishes that every remembrance of the tidings of his birth and the birth itself were removed as if it never happened. Such expressions make abundantly clear as to how distressed and distraught Jeremiah had become. How much more can a human vessel endure? He is carrying a weighty message; he is acquainted with the suffering of the people while being rejected by the very ones the message is being brought to. Job spoke something very similar in the midst of his anguish (Job 3:3). It is at times like this when we need to cry out for eternal eyes; having the ability to see the current scenario in the midst of eternity. This was one of the strengths of the Apostle Paul. He saw his many examples of suffering as but a light affliction in the midst of eternity (2 Cor 4:17).
2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2Co 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The timeline now is now fast-forwarded to the days of the last king of Judah, which is Zedekiah. That which the prophet Jeremiah has been warning of on several occasions is now beginning to come to pass. There is a vain attempt on the part of the king to try and get Jeremiah to intervene just as God has done in the past. The deliverance that the Lord brought forth on behalf of Judah under King Hezekiah was probably on his mind as the attacks from the Babylonians was beginning to take hold. The circumstances are now very much different. It can be likened to the time of Eli went they presumed upon the Ark once too often. God did not deliver them from the Philistines and worse yet, the Ark was brought into captivity (1 Sam 4-5. What about for us in the last days? How many times have we been under pressure or siege as an individual and perhaps even as a nation? God has delivered in times past and He will deliver again. The scenario sounds all too familiar to what is being seen here. Jeremiah warned repeatedly as to what would take place but it fell on deaf ears. To make matters worse there were priests and leaders that challenged God’s Word resulting in great deception among the people.
In verses 3-7, the Lord answers the king and makes clear that there will be no hope for him and those of his kingdom. To make matters worse the Lord Himself will be fighting against them. What a sad testimony it is to see the Lord actually coming against His own. How grieved the Lord must be that it has come to this. The stench of sin that plagued Israel is far more than the Lord can tolerate. The longsuffering of the Lord has been extended beyond all limits.
The Lord reveals another key component of His mercy. Yes, the judgement is sealed however, He extends the opportunity to Israel to accept His judgement and find mercy. The warning is given to those who refuse to abide by the Word of the Lord. They will be overridden in the siege. These two options were actually played out between the last two kings. Jehoiachin in the end found favor while Zedekiah his uncle resisted the Word of the Lord and was taken to Babylon where he died. Even in judgement, God still extends His merciful hand. We must always pray for the Word of the Lord to prevail in our respective lives, even if it goes against the grain of what we feel to be right or best.
There were some regions in Israel that felt they might be spared seeing that they were not in the main city. The Word of the Lord made clear that all of the nation would be affected by the Babylonian siege. There is much discussion among believers today as to where might the best place to live. There are nations clearly marked for judgement so it is understandable that some would take notice of where they live. At the same time, we must never forget that salvation comes from the Lord not from the location in which we live. Jesus did make a reference about not being in Jerusalem at the time of the Abomination of Desolation. The main thing is to be in the will of God when the judgements upon the earth begin to be unleashed. God is able to preserve His own in the midst of any calamity. The Lord walked right through a group of people that wanted to kill Him. The Father was able to preserve Him because His Son was doing His will and His time had not yet come (John 8:59). We can get into trouble when we are in places that the Lord has not ordained. This verse has been referenced on many previous occasions but it bears repeating once again.
Zep 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.
1 Pet 4
The important subject of suffering is covered in this chapter. It begins by revealing Christ as One who not only suffered while upon the Cross but also suffered as a young man in order to be made perfect. The Bible mentions that Jesus “suffered” so that He would learn obedience (Heb 5:8). Peter goes on to say that we are to arm ourselves in like manner. It becomes somewhat clear that suffering is part of the Christian experience. One of the fruits of suffering is that it helps to destroy some of the strongholds of the flesh. The suffering is not pleasant but when weighed against eternity it is but a light affliction. In fact, when suffering is seen in its truest form it is a blessing because it helps us to conform to Christ and to know Him in a more intimate way.
Php 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
One of the other benefits of suffering is that it helps to break dependency on time consuming lusts that war against the spirit. It helps to direct our attention and focus upon God for the purpose of prioritizing our time while upon this earth. Some of those lusts are mentioned in verses 3-5 such as drinking, excessive partying and other forms of idolatry. The warning is given in verses 5-6 that these things will be judged in the end so we need to give heed and be mindful of the end of the matter.
Peter writes in verse 7 that the end of all things is at hand. You find in many of the writings and exhortations of the early church fathers that their words and lifestyle reflected an end-time mentality. They lived their life as if the Lord were to come at any moment. This is true wisdom because we are all destined to die and will one day give an account for how we lived our lives. In our case, the statement about the end of all things being near is a reality. Peter’s words have direct meaning for our day. Are we preparing accordingly? Are we sober, vigilant and being prayerful knowing that end times are quickly coming upon us? On the other hand, is there rather a complacency or a “tomorrow will be the same as today” type of mentality? This mind-set could be seen in Israel prior to their pending judgment with Babylon.
Zep 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
Zep 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
Peter speaks on the subject of love in verse 8. It is the summation of the Christian experience. This was also the conclusion of the Apostle Paul as seen in 1 Cor 13. Peter will later sum up this experience about love in his 2nd epistle (2 Pet 1:7). Both men understood the essence of “agape” love. If one flows in “agape” love, he or she is not hindered in what God can do through them. True love covers a multitude of sins and it always seeks the best for others at the exclusion of self. This will be picked up later in 2 Peter 1.
Peter was a beneficiary of hospitality seeing that he travelled extensively in his ministry. In verse 9, he exhorts that we be hospitable in being willing to serve others and to not do it grudgingly. God blesses those who open their home to serve and meet the need of others. Peter lets it be known that each person has unique gifting’s which are given to them by God. We should spend time seeking the Lord as to what gifting’s we have and then learn to flow in them by His grace. In doing this, we are honouring the Lord because we are acknowledging the good work that he has done in our lives (Philemon 1:6).
Peter goes back to the subject of suffering in verses 12-16. He alerts that one should not be surprised if all of a sudden a trial comes their way. Peter had a depth of experience when it came to the subject of trials and suffering. In verses 12-14, he speaks of suffering that produces an eternal weight of glory. If we have right perspective, concerning a trial we may be going through it helps to produce a joy because we understand its purpose. There will be times when we may not have light as to why we are going through a time of difficulty. It is here where we have to hold steady and call to remembrance the faithfulness of God seen in times past (Psa 77:6).
Peter also had experience in suffering for things of his own doing. He speaks to this in verses 15-16 where suffering comes because of wrongdoing. Peter was not a murderer but he did open himself up to trials and areas of suffering that could have been avoided. Peter was an overcomer; one who had the ability to learn and grow from the times of his foolishness. As believers, we need to be very careful in being able to maintain a good testimony. We can suffer for many wrong things that at the beginning may seem rather harmless. It is imperative that we surround ourselves with good people. Their influence will help to provoke us to good works and a life that is pleasing unto the Lord.
It is clear that judgement must begin in the house of the Lord (vs 17). The Lord will revenge all disobedience when the church is in order (2 Cor 10:6). If we allow the spirit of God to first judge us we will not be judged (1 Cor 11:31). Before we can remove the speck out of someone’s eye we first have to have the beam removed out of ours (Mat 7:1-5). The Lord is so gracious in giving us the opportunity to be made whole if we would only willingly present ourselves before Him. If we refuse this work of God’s grace, we will be judged later in a more open matter. The sad reality is that there is considerable sin and disobedience in today’s church. If true, how then can the church speak to the issues facing the world today? This is what frustrates the grace of God; the fact that the church who is called to be His example to the world fails in so many areas. The words of the Apostle Peter indicate the way a people and a church can attain unto holiness. He has been in the area of need due to his early immaturity but he has learned and his now providing a clear blueprint in how to live. There is a little bit of Peter in all of us and we can take encouragement from his example.
Finally, there is a suffering that is in the will of God (vs 19). Peter is going to great lengths to try to spare the church some of the mistakes he made as an early believer. What is needed at such times is a healthy attitude towards suffering. If we are in the midst of a battle then we can count it all joy. Our perspective of God must always be that He does all things well. Everything works together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).