God’s Awesome Plan

Jeremiah 29:1–32 (NKJV)

29:1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,

4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:

5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.

The Lord speaks through Jeremiah a message that is being sent to the nation of Judah dispersed in Babylon.  He tells them to dwell there, not as guests, but as residents.  Move on with your lives and build houses, grow gardens, see your children married.  This is the Lord’s will.  It may have seemed like a strange message to the people.  Therefore he warns them to heed this message without allowing the false prophets around them to dissuade them.


10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. jeremiah 29-1213 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

This passage contains one of the most popular verses in the Bible, verse 11.  It comes in the midst of this pericope that gives hope to Judah for their future, although it will be seventy years coming to fruition.  The captivity will end.  The land will be restored to its people.  God will bring back that which was taken away.  The future is bright, full of hope, because God has plans for you!  He will hear your prayers and He will be found.

15 Because you have said, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon”—16 therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, concerning all the people who dwell in this city, and concerning your brethren who have not gone out with you into captivity—17 thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad. 18 And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth—to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they have not heeded My words, says the Lord, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the Lord. 20 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.

21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in My name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. 22 And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, “The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire”; 23 because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness, says the Lord.

24 You shall also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, 25 Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 “The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there should be officers in the house of the Lord over every man who is demented and considers himself a prophet, that you should put him in prison and in the stocks. 27 Now therefore, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who makes himself a prophet to you? 28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, ‘This captivity is long; build houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit.’ ”

29 Now Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 31 Send to all those in captivity, saying, Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie—32 therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his family: he shall not have anyone to dwell among this people, nor shall he see the good that I will do for My people, says the Lord, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord.

In this last prophetic writing in the chapter, Jeremiah sends word to the dispersed Jews in Babylon as to what will happen to the false prophets and wicked kings who have told and are telling the people of Judah what they should do in rebellion against God’s true plan.  They will all be judged and killed.  This warning tells them that if they are to avoid the same fate, they must listen to the true word of God and not waver in their obedience to Him.  While they may mourn the loss of their land and their freedom, if they obey God will restore them.  It is the same for you today.  You may be reaping some of what you have sown.  You may be living in a form of captivity.  Trust God and know that His plans for you are awesome.  Your future is bright, regardless of the fog of today, for your future is part of God’s plan, God’s awesome plan!


The Yoke of Iron

Jeremiah 28:1–17 (NKJV)

28:1 And it happened in the same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah who went to Babylon,’ says the Lord, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’ ”

Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who stood in the house of the Lord, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! The Lord do so; the Lord perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the Lord’s house and all who were carried away captive, from Babylon to this place. Nevertheless hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms—of war and disaster and pestilence. As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent.”

10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck and broke it. 11 And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.’ ” And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

In this scene recounted in Jeremiah 28, Hananiah the prophet comes into the court where Jeremiah has been explaining the prophecy of Israel’s captivity by Babylon.  He is wearing the wooden yoke that exemplifies the bondage that God said would save their lives.  Rebellion against Nebuchadnezzer would result in death.  Hananiah comes in, prophecies of Israel’s deliverance from Babylon within two years, and breaks Jeremiah’s yoke as a sign of that deliverance.  All seems well, and Jeremiah even states his support of the idea, wishing that the prophecy would come true.

12 Now the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 13 “Go and tell Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made in their place yokes of iron.” 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also.” ’ ”

15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the Lord.’ ”

17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

After Jeremiah’s yoke was broken, though, the Lord spoke to Him and told him to tell Hananiah that even though he had broken the yoke of wood, a yoke of iron would replace it.  Jeremiah called Hananiah out as a false prophet, causing Judah to believe a lie.  In response, the Lord gave Jeremiah a deadline for Hananiah’s life:  He would die within a year.  And he did.  Prophets, don’t tell the people wha they want to hear.  Do not give a prophecy of a good outcome just so you can be popular.  God is not looking for feel-good preachers.  He is looking for someone who will tell the good and the bad.  Heaven and Hell should be topics of Biblical messages.  There is a blessing for the righteous and a punishment for the wicked.  Without the blood of Jesus, one faces eternal damnation, but in His presence there is fullness of joy!  I don’t think preachers and prophets and teachers should always tell how bad things are.  I am a positive person, myself.  However, say what thus says the Lord, whether positive or negative.  Call out sin and celebrate righteousness.  Call out error and lift up truth.  But do it all speaking the truth in love.  No one wants to constantly be told that they are bad, and no one needs to be told constantly that they are good.  Neither is always true.  However, a false prophet is to be stoned, and–in Hananiah’s case–they may have their days shortened.  Tell the truth–God’s truth.  No one wants to trade a yoke of wood for a yoke of iron.

The Difficult Plan of God is Best

Jeremiah 27:1–22 (NKJV)

27:1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD to me: ‘Make for yourselves bonds and yokes, and put them on your neck, 3 and send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 And command them to say to their masters, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel—thus you shall say to your masters: 5 ‘I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me. 6 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. 7 So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them. 8 And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,’ says the LORD, ‘with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. 9 Therefore do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying, “You shall not serve the king of Babylon.” 10 For they prophesy a lie to you, to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out, and you will perish. jer 28-1111 But the nations that bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let them remain in their own land,’ says the LORD, ‘and they shall till it and dwell in it.’ ” ’ ”

In chapter 27, Jeremiah relates another object lesson from the Lord.  He prepares bonds and yokes to send to the king of Judah and to the kings of all the nations surrounding Judah.  He again tells them that they must submit to Nebuchadnezzer in order to survive, or resist and be defeated and carried into captivity.

12 I also spoke to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live! 13 Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the LORD has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy a lie to you; 15 for I have not sent them,” says the LORD, “yet they prophesy a lie in My name, that I may drive you out, and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you.”

In the first passages, the Lord’s message is spread mostly to the surrounding nations.  In this passage, the Lord names Zedekiah, the king of Judah, specifically, and warns him not to listen to his other prophets.  Listening to them will result in Zedekiah perishing.

16 Also I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, “Behold, the vessels of the LORD’s house will now shortly be brought back from Babylon”; for they prophesy a lie to you. 17 Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live! Why should this city be laid waste? 18 But if they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, do not go to Babylon.’

19 “For thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the pillars, concerning the Sea, concerning the carts, and concerning the remainder of the vessels that remain in this city, 20 which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem—21 yes, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem: 22 ‘They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be until the day that I visit them,’ says the LORD. ‘Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.’ ”

The Lord goes one step further: not only will the vessels of the Lord which were taken in the conquest of Jeconiah remain in Babylon, but any remaining vessels will be taken in this conquest.  Let them go, for when restoration comes to Judah, they will return.  But if you resist, you will be destroyed.  The message here is that judgment is coming–again–and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Therefore, trust the Lord for restoration and follow His lead.  When you are caught in sin, don’t deny it, don’t pretend it did not happen.  Repent!  The reaping of what you have sewn will happen.  The judgment will fall.  However, the repentant and humble heart will be restored.  The proud and rebellious spirit will not.  Humility leads to healing.  Pride leads to further punishment.  Go with God’s plan.  His is best!

Standing Strong

Jeremiah 26:1–24 (NKJV)

26:1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the Lord, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word. Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.’ And you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.” ’ ”

So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. Now it happened, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You will surely die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without an inhabitant’?” And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

10 When the princes of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the Lord and sat down in the entry of the New Gate of the Lord’s house. 11 And the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and all the people, saying, “This man deserves to die! For he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears.”

In this passage, Jeremiah seems to be labeled as public enemy #1.  He is thought to be a negative, pessimistic spewer of defeat and danger.  He declares that Jerusalem will be like Shiloh, which was defeated and its inhabitants killed.  This powerfully judgmental prophecy raised resistance among the leaders of Jerusalem.  Their nationalistic and civic pride were offended, and they rejected the true word of the Lord.  Like many leaders today, they rejected any message that was critical in nature and sought to root out their enemies.  Jeremiah was a victim of this political cleansing it seemed.

12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and all the people, saying: “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city with all the words that you have heard. 13 Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; then the Lord will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you. 14 As for me, here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you.15 But knojeremiah 26 14w for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”

16 So the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve to die. For he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.”

17 Then certain of the elders of the land rose up and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying: 18 “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Zion shall be plowed like a field,

Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,

And the mountain of the temple

Like the bare hills of the forest.” ’

19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah ever put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and seek the Lord’s favor? And the Lord—relented concerning the doom which He had pronounced against them. But we are doing great evil against ourselves.”

Jeremiah responds to the threats of the Jews with a confident and faithful response, telling them to do what they will, but that he stands on the truth of God’s word to him.  His hands are clean and his blood is innocent blood.  They relented from their plan to kill him and accept his words as true for the most part.

20 Now there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. 21 And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid and fled, and went to Egypt. 22 Then Jehoiakim the king sent men to Egypt: Elnathan the son of Achbor, and other men who went with him to Egypt. 23 And they brought Urijah from Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.

24 Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

The examples of Micah and Urijah are recounted here.  Micah was saved and Urijah was killed, both prophets who spoke judgment against Judah.  In this story, Jeremiah had an advocate, Ahikam, who saved his life.  Jeremiah is a great example of poise under pressure.  He was a reluctant prophet, a weeping prophet, crying over the people’s lack of response and their impending doom.  Yet, in the midst of danger and what seemed to be certain death, he stood with resolve and courage in the face of both.  Jeremiah took the stance of many others who walked with the Lord and did not budge.  What will we do when faced with opposition or persecution?  Not many of today’s Christians–at least not in the United States–have faced true persecution for their faith.  It seems to be more likely this will happen as we move forward, but it is still rare.  Be prepared.  Be resolved.  Stand in the face of danger, but stand strong in the name of the Lord.  His name is great!


Jeremiah 25:1–38 (NKJV)

25:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: “From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the Lord has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened. And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, ‘Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.’ Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the Lord, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the Lord, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. 10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

12 ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation. 13 So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations. 14 (For many nations and great kings shall be served by them also; and I will repay them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands.)’ ”

The Lord’s words through Jeremiah become very specific in this chapter, as he relates to the people the plan for their captivity in Babylon to last seventy years.  This seems to make the prophecy more real, as God is giving them a clear picture of how Babylon will conquer, capture, and incarcerate the people of God until many of the people are much older, or perhaps too old to ever return to Judah.  This tragic set of events is reminiscent of the forty-year wilderness journey of the children of Israel after their disbelief that they could take the land of Canaan.  Disobedience leads to rebellion, which leads to judgment and punishment.  Maybe some believe so strongly in grace that they never want to allow chastening or punishment into their rhetoric concerning God.  However, God states throughout the Scriptures that He chastens those that He loves.  God loves me.  God has chastened me.  I am thankful that He loves me enough to say “No” when I need to hear it, and to allow me to suffer the consequences of my actions when I disobey.

15 For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. 16 And they will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.”

17 Then I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the Lord had sent me: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, and all his people; 20 all the mixed multitude, all the kings of the land of Uz, all the kings of the land of the Philistines (namely, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon; 22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands which are across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who are in the farthest corners; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed multitude who dwell in the desert; 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; 26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. Also the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

27 “Therefore you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.” ’ 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “You shall certainly drink! 29 For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” says the Lord of hosts.’

This passage is further confirmation through Jeremiah that the cup of wrath, a common imagery of God’s punishment or vengeance, is to come upon all the nations.  Judah will drink it for their disobedience, and then the nations surrounding them will drink it for their sin, and for their warring actions against Israel and Judah.  God is not playing games.  He is exacting His revenge and establishing His place as Lord over all the earth.  He states that no one can refuse this cup, for judgment is coming regardless.  God is a sovereign God, a powerful God, El Shaddai–God Almighty–and He will not be denied!

30 “Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

‘The Lord will roar from on high,

And utter His voice from His holy habitation;

He will roar mightily against His fold.

He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes,

Against all the inhabitants of the earth.

31 A noise will come to the ends of the earth—

For the Lord has a controversy with the nations;

He will plead His case with all flesh.

He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the Lord.”

32 Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Behold, disaster shall go forth

From nation to nation,

And a great whirlwind shall be raised up

From the farthest parts of the earth.

33 “And at that day the slain of the Lord shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground.

34 “Wail, shepherds, and cry!

Roll about in the ashes,

You leaders of the flock!

For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions are fulfilled;

You shall fall like a precious vessel.

35 And the shepherds will have no way to flee,

Nor the leaders of the flock to escape.

36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds,

And a wailing of the leaders to the flock will be heard.

For the Lord has plundered their pasture,

37 And the peaceful dwellings are cut down

Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.

38 He has left His lair like the lion;

For their land is desolate

Because of the fierceness of the Oppressor,

And because of His fierce anger.”

This final section moves from the analogy of the cup of wrath to a direct statement concerning the sword of the Lord fighting against His own people, and against all the nations of the earth.  His swift and powerful action will leave bodies strewn on the ground that will not even be buried.  This will be God’s statement that He is the King, the Lord of all the Earth.  He is one with whom all the earth will be reckoned.  Believe in Him, Serve Him, Love Him!

Love Matters: Loving Souls

Notes from a sermon preached by Dr. Greg Sloop at the Kannapolis Church of God on Sunday, March 11, 2018 in the 10:30 am service.  For video of service, go to the church website, http://www.kcog.org, and click on the livestream link for a replay of the service.  For audio of the service, go the the website and click on the media page.

Mark 12:31

  • 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Luke 10:25–37 (NKJV)

  • 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
  • 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
  • 27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
  • 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

Who Is Your Neighbor?

Last week, we saw this neighbor as the people sitting in this house and others who are part of the body of Christ.

Today, we see this neighbor as the people we come in contact with every day who are sinners in need of salvation.

The State of Today’s Lost Soul

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

  • Robbed
  • Stripped
  • Wounded
  • Left For Dead

The State of Today’s Church

31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

  • Disinterested Ministers
  • Disinterested Church Leaders
  • Where Are the Samaritans?

Soul-Saving Love

  • 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
  • Healing Love
  • Burden-Bearing Love
  • Protecting Love
  • Providing Love

Merciful Christians

  • 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”  37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Be a Merciful Christian and share the mercy of God with souls in need!

Takeaway Thoughts

  • Lost Souls Need the Gospel of Love
  • The Church Needs to Share This Soul-Saving Love
  • Have the Spirit of the Samaritan!

Good Fig, Bad Fig

Jeremiah 24:1–10 (NKJV)

24:1 The Lord showed me, and there were two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad.”

The Lord uses an object lesson to accentuate this prophecy for Jeremiah.  Two baskets of figs appear from God, one basket good and ripe, the other basket with old and rotten figs.  God asks Jeremiah what he sees, and he describes in simple terms what is before him.

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 24-7

‘And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad’—surely thus says the Lord—‘so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.’ ”

Then, God gives Jeremiah the understanding of what the figs represent.  The good figs are being taken into captivity in Babylon, but it is for their own good, that they may be preserved and eventually brought back to the promised land to restore God’s chosen people in their kingdom.  The bad figs are to be dispersed all across the nations and discarded.  They are of no use to God at this point.  

This has such a parallel with the passages that speak of God separating the wheat from the chaff, and the goats from the sheep.  There is coming a day of reckoning when every person will stand before God to be judged.  There will be no reward for the wicked, but those deemed righteous by God will be preserved and rewarded with a kingdom beyond their ability to imagine.  God, help me to stand in your presence, preserved and useful for the Master until that day when Your Kingdom will be established on Earth.  Are you a good fig or a bad fig?  I want to be a good fig!