Today: [Jeremiah 6] Coming Consequences. In chapter 6 of Jeremiah the people and the city of Jerusalem are busy preparing for war and getting ready to throw back the assault of the Babylonians. Jeremiah points out that the Babylonians from the north are coming because the people have forsaken their God. In the midst of the troubles that are facing the nation of Judah, Jeremiah comforts those with a heart for God exhorting them to seek the old paths and they will find rest for their souls as they intercede not just that the enemies of the people will be dispersed, but that the people will repent for the things that brought the enemy to the gate in the first place.
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[Jer 6:1-30 KJV] 1 O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction. 2 I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate [woman]. 3 The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch [their] tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place. 4 Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. 5 Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces. 6 For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this [is] the city to be visited; she [is] wholly oppression in the midst of her. 7 As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually [is] grief and wounds. 8 Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited. 9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets. 10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear [is] uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
In this chapter, Jeremiah continues to declare the coming consequences against the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. The people know that Babylon is coming and they are putting the nation on a war footing. Jeremiah tells them that their defense is not in spear or bow but in returning to the Lord God and repenting of their pagan practices. Verse 1 speaks to the tribe of Benjamin which is a sleight against the ruling class because Jeremiah is saying that they are acting more like Saul, the first king of Israel than David, the man after God’s own heart. Saul of course was rejected because he chose his own way and his own solutions rather than listening to the voice of God.
Verses 2-3 compare Judah to a beautiful woman who is taken by unscrupulous shepherds to use her for their delight. The shepherds are compared to the nations who openly in the daylight prepare to make war because they are not at all concerned that Judah might know they are coming because the enemies of the people of God have no shame and are not afraid that their plans are made known because the nation has no defense against them.
In all of this we see the attitude in the secular world against the church. There was a day that the institutions of man would tremble and go delicately before the church because the church was a formidable social force in the earth not to be underestimated. Today the media, entertainment, the courts, government entities and popular culture think nothing of openly mocking men and women of faith. There is no fear of God and no fear of consequences among those who blaspheme the church daily. Verse 6 says that the enemies of God will hew down trees and cast a mountain or siege works against Jerusalem which for us is the church. What do trees represent? Trees in the bible represent people. How many times have we see the media go after a preacher or pastor to tear them down and destroy their ministries and reputation? Isn’t it descriptive of the condition of the church to see that we are people under siege by the world that would delight to see Christianity completely removed from the earth?
What is the point of speaking all of this? In verse 8 God tells the people to be instructed lest He withdraw His Spirit from their midst. These things are coming because of what verse 7 calls wickedness, violence and spoil in the midst of God’s people. What violence has the church perpetrated? We may not kill someone with a weapon but we assassinate one another wish our words. How has the church taken the spoil? In leadership settings over the years it is a common thing to see pastors and leaders covet the numbers in each other’s churches, delighting to see disaffected members in one church join theirs and having the temerity to call it church growth when God calls is unjust taking of the spoil.
11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with [him that is] full of days. 12 And their houses shall be turned unto others, [with their] fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD. 13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one [is] given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 14 They have healed also the hurt [of the daughter ] of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace. 15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time [that] I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk [therein]. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, [saying], Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. 18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what [is] among them. 19 Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, [even] the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. 20 To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings [are] not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.
Because the people will not listen, Jeremiah finds himself against his will filled with the fury of the Lord. He sees the fallen condition and the flawed and polluted character of God’s people and rebukes the leadership for not dealing with it. He declares in verse 13 that the prophets and the pastors are dealings falsely and (v. 14) they have healed the hurt of the daughter of Zion slightly by saying “peace, peace, when there is no peace…” What is the peace we are talking about? In Jeremiah’s day the people were told “we are Israelites! We are God’s chosen people – He will never allow us to be taken captive or destroyed. In our day leaders see the people struggling with the consequences of their own deficient piety before God and say “it’s ok! None of this is your fault! God loves you! The blood covers all!” When in fact they are teaching the grace of God and the love of God as a covering for cold hearts and unrepented of sin. Then end result is a church that the world is unafraid of – salt as Jesus said that has lost is savor.
What is the solution? It does no good to articulate the problem without looking for and advancing a solution to those who have an ear to hear. Verse 16 tells us what the answer is and what God is looking for: “Stand in the ways and see the old paths – and you will find rest for your souls…” What are the old paths? That is what is found in the narrative of God’s word. We have to look back and find the high water mark of the move of God in our lifetimes and repair ourselves to that. To compare where we are to where movements like Azusa Street, the Latter Rain Outpouring, the Charismatic Outpouring as well of the 1960’s and 1970’s and find out what we can learn from what they did right and what they did wrong. God is no respecter of persons but He is a respecter of faith. If we do with our faith what they did with their faith we will see the same results.
21 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish. 22 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth. 23 They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they [are] cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion. 24 We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, [and] pain, as of a woman in travail. 25 Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy [and] fear [is] on every side. 26 O daughter of my people, gird [thee] with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, [as for] an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. 27 I have set thee [for] a tower [and] a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way. 28 They [are] all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: [they are] brass and iron; they [are] all corrupters. 29 The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. 30 Reprobate silver shall [men] call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.
Because of the false piety and polluted worship the Lord declares in verse 21 that He will lay stumbling blocks before the people. Peter quotes this verse saying that Jesus Himself is that stumbling stone:
[1Pe 2:6 KJV] 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
The apostle Paul also quotes Jeremiah 6:22 saying as well that Jesus is the stumbling stone cast before a disobedient people.
[Rom 9:33 KJV] 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Because the people in Jeremiah’s day rejected the words of God through His prophet Jeremiah they will be overrun and taken by a people from the north without mercy and with great cruelty. What does the north represent? In the scripture north speaks of God’s judgment. The tribe of Dan (representing the judgment of God) always camped on the north side of the tabernacle. The people from the north speaks of the secular world that looks upon the church and has no mercy. Those outside the church show great tolerance toward their own but respond at every point to the church with great cruelty and evil. Why is this happening? Is it only because the world is getting more wicked? Jeremiah says this is true but it is also happening because the people refuse to hear God’s voice.
Verse 26 concludes the chapter with a call for the intercessors and prayer warriors to come to the tower and the fortress that He has set among the people. What is our tower and our fortress? We can see these things coming upon the people of God and our mandate is to intercede not only for those that hate the church to be restrained but for the church itself to come to repentance over the things that have opened the door for the assaults against us in the first place. The challenge of the intercessor is not just to see what is coming but to know what is going on among the people of God as the verse says and to try their way.
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