JEREMIAH 34:1 – 36:32 and 1 JOHN 1:1–10
Jeremiah will now prophesy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem all the way through chapter 45. They will consist of prophesies spoken before the fall of Jerusalem as well as some of the notable events that will take place. In chapter 39 Jeremiah will speak of events that take place at the time Jerusalem falls. The focus will then center on Jeremiah and what happens to him during the period of the fall and beyond.
The beginning of chapter 34 focuses upon King Zedekiah who is the last of the Kings of Judah. Overall, he was a weak leader and was generally not accepted by his own countrymen. It was his brother Jehoiachin who was more recognized as king while in exile in Babylon. He did not have moral backbone while under pressure as indicated when not standing for Jeremiah when his life was threatened. It is under pressure when you can see the true essence of a person whether he has the ability to maintain a conviction under threat of life. In recent years, we have heard of inspiring testimonies of those who maintained allegiance to Christ at the cost of their lives. It is going to take grace in being able to stand strong in the days that are before us. Zedekiah as a king was one who could not stand for truth but yielded under pressure. Zedekiah paid a heavy price for not obeying the Word of the Lord. He would later be taken to Babylon and witness the execution of his sons. He then had his eyes plucked out afterwards (Jer 39:6-7).
The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah to speak a Word of liberty to those who had been serving as slaves under the Jewish brethren. There was an Old Testament precedent that made allowance for servants and slaves to be set free after a service of 6 years. They were also to be sent away with provision and blessing. God was speaking this to the Jews as a means of blessing them if they would uphold this law. He would not have them become slaves in Babylon if they would release their slaves prior to the captivity. God is always looking for ways to express compassion to His people even in the face of judgement. They did initially let them go free but then went back upon their oath (vs 8-11). This act will later come back to haunt the Jews.
The Lord gives a strong rebuke in verses 12-22. He reviews the history of how He dealt with their forefathers and the covenant that was made after they were brought forth from Egypt. Their fathers did not hearken to the Lord on this matter and experienced many judgements as a result. The Lord does make the point that you have done rightly in making allowance for your servants to be set at liberty (vs 15). The Lord then rebukes them for reneging on their pledge (vs 16) and makes a declaration of liberty unto them. It is a strongly worded rebuke where the Lord speaks of releasing them to the sword of destruction. In other words, the Lord is saying, you will not give liberty to your servants, ok, I will then release you to the sword of famine, pestilence and destruction (vs 16-17).
At this time, the Babylonians were fighting against the Egyptians but it will be the Lord who will instruct the Babylonians to come and ravage the land of Israel. Would the Lord God of Israel actually allow for the destruction of His land? Would the Lord God Almighty make allowance for judgement to come upon America and other nations that have served Him? Yes, if those nations turn from God and do not seek repentance. All of this could have been avoided if only Israel hearkened and turned from their ways. It is through compromise where churches today are in danger of falling into the very same category. Are we truly hearing what God is speaking and are we responding? We have allowed the Laws of God to be redefined through cultural influences. The fig leaves that Adam and Eve placed upon themselves have become far more sophisticated and clever. Sadly, these are the garments that seem to cover today’s churches as opposed to the skins, the covering that God authored (Gen 3:21). Let us not make the mistake of thinking that the fall of Israel before Babylon does not have relevance or application for our day. It is very relevant and we need to pay very close attention to the events surrounding the fall of Israel before Babylon. The church of the last days will be dealing with Babylon once again as seen in mystery Babylon in Rev 17 and natural Babylon in chapter 18. The cry and need of the hour is for pastors, prophets and leaders of righteousness.
This chapter is dedicated to the disciplines of a family line known as the Rechabites. The Book of Jeremiah is not presented in chronological order so the Lord now speaks at the time when Jehoiakim was king. We noted earlier that he was a wicked king who was given no regard at the time of his burial. So how can the Lord speak a message that would edify and serve as an example during the reign of a vile king? He will speak a message utilizing the example of the Rechabites who demonstrated honour to their father through a certain vow that they had made. In essence, the Lord is saying that if only all of Israel could honour the heavenly Father in the manner that the Rechabites honoured their father there would not be the pending judgements of Babylon to contend with. So, what is the message that is learned from the Rechabites?
The Lord arranges a test for the Rechabites. It is a similar kind of test that was given to Gideon and his band of 300. These men were qualified by the way they drank water with the Lord putting emphasis on their vigilance. Here a group of men were told to go to the Rechabites and to offer them wine (vs 2-5). Was it sinful for men to drink wine in those days? No, provided it was not to the extent of drunkenness so what is the real purpose of such a test?
The Rechabites responded in verse 6-10 by referring to their father’s command to drink no wine, build no houses and to spend their days dwelling in tents. This has elements of the Nazarite vow where there is to be no drinking of wine. It was an act of consecration. Was this a vow intended for everyone? No, but it was a vow made by Jonadab and a commandment passed on to their sons. The Rechabites did not know that they were being tested nonetheless they held true to their convictions. They honoured the commandment of their father and the Lord is instructing Israel to take note of their example. How is it that this group can uphold a stringent vow in honoring their father and yet Israel, who has been blessed, cannot honour the Word and instruction of their heavenly Father? The Lord is shaming Israel by demonstrating the loyalty of the Rechabites to their father.
The Lord pronounces judgement upon Israel in their failure to hearken and obey His Word concerning Babylon. He then goes on to pronounce a beautiful promise to the Rechabites for their being faithful to their father’s command. They were a people who upheld the 5th Commandment. The Rechabites in honouring their father’s instruction were in fact honouring the God of Israel. The Lord is able to cite this extraordinary family in making an eternal point regarding obedience. This quality was so lacking in Israel and it is lacking in many of us today. God gives them an eternal promise of their name never failing. Even today, their example is mentioned some 2600 years after the event. May the lessons of the Rechabites make a deep and eternal impression upon each of us. They showcase the blessings of obedience (Deu 28:1-13, 1 Sam 2:22-23).
The timing of this prophesy is given in verse 1 as being the 4th year of Jehoiakim’s reign. This would have been the first year of when the captivity actually took place. It would also be the same time when Daniel was brought into captivity. It is here where we are introduced to Baruch who was a faithful scribe who wrote down the history of God’s dealings with Israel from the time of King Josiah. Since Jeremiah was in a prison at this time, he was unable to go to the nation to reinforce God’s merciful heart to Israel. Jeremiah has Baruch write down the events that have taken place as well as the Lord’s constant overtures to Israel to hear His voice and turn from their ways (vs 2-4).
It is important to consider how merciful the Lord is in the midst of the judgements now coming upon Israel. God is holy and righteous and His holiness demands justice in the midst of sin and rebellion. Through this whole process, God is seeking to extract Israel from their sin and the justice that will come upon sin. This helps us to understand the pleas in the last days where God speaks to come out from Babylon. This event here helps us to see God’s pleading heart for the last days. God cannot let sin go without justice and Divine sentence. He desires to judge sin with HIs people being extracted and having come out of sin’s web. The Lord still wants this message to get out even as the judgements upon Israel are underway. Jeremiah begins to dictate a detailed account from the time of Josiah to Baruch the scribe. Baruch will then go on his behalf to proclaim God’s heart to the people. There were those still in the city that had the opportunity to hear and repent of their doings before the full carrying away into captivity would take place. It was hoped that they would get the message seeing that the captivity was underway. Jeremiah wanted them to know that God was angry and that His fury was beginning to be unleashed while yet giving them space to hearken to His Word and repent (vs 5-7).
The process of following through on this directive took place and it was not till about a year later before Baruch was able to come before the people. It suggests that it took some time to compile the scroll. There was initial interest amongst the princes in what Baruch read regarding the words of Jeremiah that were read before the people (vs 11-15). There was fear and trembling amongst those that were gathered (vs 11-15).
The response of these princes was positive to what was read before them. We get a window as to how this instruction took place. The princes were curious as to how Baruch was able to receive all these words which were filled with revelation and insight. He told them that he wrote as Jeremiah dictated to him. It would have been interesting to see how this would have materialized. Jeremiah, under the instruction and unction of the Holy Spirit spoke freely in prophetic form with a recording being made by Baruch the scribe. It may well resemble the methods used by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison. Clearly, this writing and that of Paul and others were orchestrated under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit. This account was deemed to be important enough to be committed to Holy Scripture. As mentioned above the princes were convinced as to the weightiness of what was proclaimed but they were not sure how it would be received by the king. As a precaution they instructed Baruch to hide from public view for the time being.
In verses 20-26 we come to see just how hardened the heart of the king was to the Word of the Lord. He not only rejected what God was speaking but he went further to have the entire scroll thrown into the fire. The king did not wait long in having the scroll burned; only a few pages were read before he acted. It is clear that the writing did not fit the narrative that the king and others were looking for. There was a clear and outright rejection of Truth. I emphasize this point in light of the rejection to the Truth and light of God’s Word today. God’s Word does not fit the secular narrative and as result, it becomes increasingly marginalized. What makes matters worse is the altering and redefining of Truth that is seen in many churches today. This redefining of Truth is allowing for a greater alignment between the church and the world’s system along similar lines of what took place in Jeremiah’s day. The church is looking more and more like the world when it is the responsibility of the church to become the head and set the example (Deu 28:13). God honoured Baruch in keeping him hid during this period.
The Lord instructed Jeremiah to rewrite the Words of the scroll as before. How many times throughout history has the enemy sought to destroy the Word of God? With each attempt came a greater demand and availability of God’s Word. The writing of this scroll was a great undertaking yet Jeremiah was once again instructed to prepare it. It shows the dedication of a faithful God who still pleads on behalf of a people and the faithfulness of a man like Jeremiah in his obedience to the Word of the Lord (vs 27-28).
The scroll was rewritten which contained severe judgements upon the king for his disposing and disobedience to God’s Word. These judgements came to pass in quick succession. He had no sons and his dead body would lay exposed before all the people to see as a reminder of what happens when the Word of the Lord is rejected. The new scroll had additional judgements them to as well.
1 John 1
We are now introduced to John who is a true Father figure in the church. What makes his writing unique from others is that he wrote his epistles, his Gospel and the Book of Revelation while he was in his mid 80’s. The other Gospel writers wrote within the time period of when the events took place. John has the advantage of about 50 plus years of observations to draw from. This gives him a view and perspective, which helps to fill in many gaps that are not conveyed in the synoptic Gospels. A key to understanding John and the message that he bore is found in 1 John 2:13-14. He speaks of fathers as those who have known God from the beginning. In other words, they know the God of Genesis and are able to establish what they believe on Biblical precedent. Jesus did this very thing when challenged on the doctrine of divorce (Deu 24). He agreed that Moses made allowance for divorce but it was because of their hardness of heart. He then went on to say that from the beginning it was not so. He was able to establish what He truly believed by going back to the beginning. Fathers are those who look at events in life from a bigger picture and clearly, John was such a person. In these three letters, John is going to share his first-hand account of walking with Lord coupled with his years of experience and observation.
John begins his letter by making known that the one he is writing about is One whom he seen, witnessed and touched. Of course, he is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the God from the beginning. This is why John is able to describe Him as the Alpha and Omega when he writes Revelation (Rev 1:8). John is also able to link Jesus with the Father and let it be known that it was Jesus who manifested Him to all. This is conveyed superbly in John’s Gospel chapter 17 in the intercessory prayer that Jesus made unto His Father. He was not writing an account based on theory but on an intimacy that he himself had with the Lord. One of the primary themes in chapter one is the contrast between light and darkness (vs 5). This contrast is going to become more acute in the last days.
Isa 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Isa 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
John understood that the closer he became to the Lamb the more light and revelation he came to know. He also would have become more aware of the areas of darkness within him. This is one of the qualities we see of John throughout His time with Christ; he stayed close and always seemed to be in and around His inner circle. John understood that we cannot speak things concerning the light if we are living in darkness. We can say the most profound truths and yet if we are living a secret life we are in fact lying and betraying the Truth. What John is saying in verses 5-6 is really an elementary truth but how many fail to recognize and live up to that standard? We gloss over sin and we are good at covering it up. We speak the message of the Cross and holiness and oftentimes fail to allow true introspection into our own lives. John could speak with authority on this subject because he walked with the TRUTH, lived with the TRUTH and observed the TRUTH, which of course was the Lord Jesus Christ. The keynote verse in chapter one (at least to me) is verse 7.
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
There needs to be a daily walking in the Truth of God’s Word. He will lead us and bring us into the Truth about ourselves. This is where it must begin. The more we embrace the light the more darkness will not be able to hide. The question is whether we are willing to confront the darkness within us with God’s light. We live within a zone that is comfortable to us; a way of living that does not make allowance for dealing with the inward nature. We can go to church, pay tithes, live, and have a happy existence. If we are honest in our relationship with God there will be times when He seeks to penetrate our “comfort zone” existence with Truth about an area of our life. The question is how will we respond at such a time? Will we choose to walk in the light that the Lord is presenting to us? If yes, then God can work; His blood can bring a cleansing to that area of our life. If we refuse that area remains untouched and undealt with. It all boils down as to what we do with the Light and what we do with the Truth. As stated earlier, John is a true authority on this subject.
It can be sobering when confronting the Truth about ourselves. It is in that moment of time where we make a choice. We either acknowledge the truth; allowing the blood of Jesus to bring cleansing to that area or we can reject that opportunity for God to work. How do we reject the Truth at such times? We do so by covering up, ignoring or by simply choosing to live within the boundaries of our self-imposed comfort zones. The danger of such a response is that one day it will all catch up with us.