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Tuesday, December 25, 2012




Anguished Prophet of Doom    Part 2

In the early days of Jehoiakim’s reign, around 608 BC, Jeremiah was instructed to stand in the Lord’s house and proclaim the message coming forth. This was September or October during the  Feast of the Tabernacles. Jeremiah must have been a part of the crowd that followed the procession of believers into the temple. The priests circled the altar and the worshippers waved their lulabs (ceremonial plumes woven of different types of plant leaves) and joined in the singing.

Jeremiah would have interrupted the ceremony in order to protest the false orthodoxy. “The Lord says to amend your ways.” He told them. “I will let you live in this place if you will cease your  murder, adultery, Baal worship, and idol worship  and come before me and declare that you have been delivered! Has this house become a den of robbers in the Lord’s eyes?”

As Jeremiah went further to predict the destruction of the temple itself, the angry mob; still upset that Josiah’s previous reforms had only led to Egypt’s conquest of Judah, seized Jeremiah and proclaimed his death. Court officials rushed to the scene and held an inquiry. The priest told the inquiry that Jeremiah deserved death for prophesy against the city. Jeremiah basically replied that it was God who had sent him to speak of the fate coming to the temple and the city. He also told them that if he was killed, it would bring innocent blood upon the city and its inhabitants.  The officials released him.

Even though he had been almost killed due to his bold prophecy, he was again threatened in his own home town of Anathoth, and warned not to “prophesy in the name of the Lord!” Intrepidly, however, Jeremiah continued on. His next destination was the “burning place” of human sacrifice.... if you can believe that there was such a place among the house of Israel. Topheth was located in the Valley of Hinnom, and was known for its ritualistic murder/worship. The elders and priest there were either a group of pagans from some unknown cult or else they were of a corrupted form of Judaism, it is not clear, but  Jeremiah felt they had to be confronted. In their presence Jeremiah broke and earthenware flask and told them that the Lord had called for their destruction as the flask had been destroyed, and that they would never be mended.

Jeremiah went all over the area telling the people that their days were numbered because the Lord was fed up with their “stiff necks” and deaf ears to his word. The high priest, Pashur, was enraged to hear the prophesy and flogged Jeremiah where he stood. He was then placed in the stocks at the Benjamin gate. Released the next morning, Jeremiah told Pashur that his name before God was not Pashur, but “Terror on all sides” and  Pashur was to be captured and dragged off to Babylon like the rest of people, and there he would die and be buried.

Jeremiah often found his life a shambles because of his mission and he cried out to God in anguish on many occasions. “Oh, Lord, I have become a laughingstock all the day long. I am continually mocked for crying out VIOLENCE AND DESTRUCTION. But if I fail to speak the Lord’s truth, there is a fire in my heart and burning in my bones and I am so weary from it that I cannot fail to proclaim the Lord’s words.”

King Jehoiakim ignored Jeremiah, no doubt he remembered the interruption of his coronation ceremony. Taxing the already strained finances of the people, the King built himself another palace with forced labor in the south of Jerusalem. Jeremiah condemned him for building a house to himself with the people’s money and forcing them to work for nothing.

In 605 bc, the Babylonian’s under Nebuchadnezzar crushed Pharaoh Neco’s forces in northern Syria. King Jehoaikim then became the servant of Nebuchadnezzar and paid him tribute. However, Nebuchadnezzar’s father the King had died soon after and it was necessary for Nebuchadnezzar to return to the throne and be crowned.

In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim, Jeremiah was instructed by God to write down all the words concerning the nations of Israel and Judah  and also all the nations. “I whish to forgive them their iniquity and sin, but they must first turn from their evil ways, and they must be given fair warning afore hand.” The Lord told him.

Jeremiah hired Baruch, a scribe, to take down all of his most important sermons and oracles. These were taken down on a scroll and in the future Baruch would become Jeremiah’s personal secretary. These events happened before 605 B.C., early in the year before, when the Babylonians had returned and were advancing against Ashkelon. Jeremiah had proclaimed a fast against the Babylonian activity and he told Baruch to read the scroll in presence of all to hear during the fast. In the temple he read the scroll aloud.  When the court noblemen heard the words of Jeremiah, they knew they must report this to the King and they told Jeremiah and Baruch to go and hide themselves and let no one know where you are.

The King was then read the scroll while arming himself near a brazier in his quarters. Each time a portion was read to the King, he took that part and burned it in the brazier until the whole scroll was destroyed. He then sent for the arrest of Jeremiah. Jeremiah, however, now well hidden  once again dictated the Word of God to Baruch and this time added much that was not in the first draft.

more on this next time, and I promise it will be soon.... it’s important to finish the current  postings on Jeremiah.                                             

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