Morning Reading: Thu, 19 Apr – Jeremiah 22-26 ~ repentance and return / refusal and ruin

Morning Reading

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening – (Northumbria Community)

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.

Reading: Jeremiah 22-26 (NLT)

A Message for Judah’s Kings

Jeremiah 22 (NLT)

+ Repent and return – This is what the Lord said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too. This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects. But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the Lord, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”

A Message about the Palace

Now this is what the Lord says concerning Judah’s royal palace:

+ A wreck and ruin – “I love you as much as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon. But I will turn you into a desert, with no one living within your walls. I will call for wreckers, who will bring out their tools to dismantle you. They will tear out all your fine cedar beams and throw them on the fire.

“People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the Lord destroy such a great city?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the Lord their God by worshiping other gods.’”

A Message about Jehoahaz

+ Dead and gone – Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.

For this is what the Lord says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return. He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”

A Message about Jehoiakim

+ Buildings don’t make kings – And the Lord says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor. He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.’ But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord.

“But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”

Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:

+ No one will mourn you – “The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another, ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ His subjects will not mourn for him, crying, ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’ He will be buried like a dead donkey—dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates! Weep for your allies in Lebanon. Shout for them in Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you. I warned you when you were prosperous, but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’ You have been that way since childhood—you simply will not obey me! And now the wind will blow away your allies. All your friends will be taken away as captives. Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed. It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish—anguish like that of a woman in labor.

A Message for Jehoiachin

+ Abandoned and expelled – “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off. I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army. I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land. You will never again return to the land you yearn for.

+ Broken and discarded – “Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar? Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land? O earth, earth, earth! Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: ‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless. He is a failure, for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David to rule over Judah.’

The Righteous Descendant

Jeremiah 23 (NLT)

+ Judgement on old shepherds – “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord.

+ Appointment of new shepherds – Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them. But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!

+ The Lord Our Righteousness – “For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.

“In that day,” says the Lord, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Judgment on False Prophets

My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the Lord has spoken against them. For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning—its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have.

+ Wicked priests and prophets – “Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the Lord.  “Therefore, the paths they take will become slippery. They will be chased through the dark, and there they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment. I, the Lord, have spoken!

“I saw that the prophets of Samaria were terribly evil, for they prophesied in the name of Baal and led my people of Israel into sin. But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery and love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil so that no one turns away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were.”

Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets:

“I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to his people:

“Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord! They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’

+ God’s anger – “Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this very clearly.

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds. Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord. “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.

+ Lies and deceit – “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?

+ I didn’t send them – “Therefore,” says the Lord, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the Lord!’ I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord, have spoken!

False Prophecies and False Prophets

+ Abandoned – “Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the Lord burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The Lord says he will abandon you!’

+ Punished – “If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the Lord,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family. You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the Lord.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

+ Forgotten – “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the Lord!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the Lord says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the Lord,” even though I warned you not to use it, I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.’”

Good and Bad Figs

Jeremiah 24 (NLT)

After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon along with the officials of Judah and all the craftsmen and artisans, the Lord gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat.

Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.”

+ The exiles will return – Then the Lord gave me this message: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians. I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.

+ King and officials will vanish – “But the bad figs,” the Lord said, “represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. I will make them an object of horror and a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. They will be disgraced and mocked, taunted and cursed, wherever I scatter them. And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors.”

Seventy Years of Captivity

Jeremiah 25 (NLT)

This message for all the people of Judah came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah. This was the year when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon began his reign.

+ Twenty-three years of warning – Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people in Judah and Jerusalem, “For the past twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until now—the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.

+ Repentance and return – “Again and again the Lord has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the Lord gave to you and your ancestors forever. Do not provoke my anger by worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you.’

+ Refusal and ruin – “But you would not listen to me,” says the Lord. “You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer. And now the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Because you have not listened to me, I will gather together all the armies of the north under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, whom I have appointed as my deputy. I will bring them all against this land and its people and against the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy you and make you an object of horror and contempt and a ruin forever. I will take away your happy singing and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard. Your millstones will fall silent, and the lights in your homes will go out. This entire land will become a desolate wasteland. Israel and her neighboring lands will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.

+ Destruction of Babylonians – “Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,” says the Lord. “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever. I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations. Many nations and great kings will enslave the Babylonians, just as they enslaved my people. I will punish them in proportion to the suffering they cause my people.”

The Cup of the Lord’s Anger

This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled to the brim with my anger, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it. When they drink from it, they will stagger, crazed by the warfare I will send against them.”

+ God’s message of wrath – So I took the cup of anger from the Lord and made all the nations drink from it—every nation to which the Lord sent me. I went to Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah, and their kings and officials drank from the cup. From that day until this, they have been a desolate ruin, an object of horror, contempt, and cursing. I gave the cup to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, his attendants, his officials, and all his people, along with all the foreigners living in that land. I also gave it to all the kings of the land of Uz and the kings of the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what remains of Ashdod. Then I gave the cup to the nations of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, and the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and the kings of the regions across the sea. I gave it to Dedan, Tema, and Buz, and to the people who live in distant places. I gave it to the kings of Arabia, the kings of the nomadic tribes of the desert, and to the kings of Zimri, Elam, and Media. And I gave it to the kings of the northern countries, far and near, one after the other—all the kingdoms of the world. And finally, the king of Babylon himself drank from the cup of the Lord’s anger.

+ God’s declaration of war – Then the Lord said to me, “Now tell them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Drink from this cup of my anger. Get drunk and vomit; fall to rise no more, for I am sending terrible wars against you.’ And if they refuse to accept the cup, tell them, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: You have no choice but to drink from it. I have begun to punish Jerusalem, the city that bears my name. Now should I let you go unpunished? No, you will not escape disaster. I will call for war against all the nations of the earth. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!’

“Now prophesy all these things, and say to them,

+ God’s declaration of judgement – “‘The Lord will roar against his own land from his holy dwelling in heaven. He will shout like those who tread grapes; he will shout against everyone on earth. His cry of judgment will reach the ends of the earth, for the Lord will bring his case against all the nations. He will judge all the people of the earth, slaughtering the wicked with the sword. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:

+ God’s declaration of disaster – “Look! Disaster will fall upon nation after nation! A great whirlwind of fury is rising
from the most distant corners of the earth!”

+ God’s punishment of evil shepherds – In that day those the Lord has slaughtered will fill the earth from one end to the other. No one will mourn for them or gather up their bodies to bury them. They will be scattered on the ground like manure. Weep and moan, you evil shepherds! Roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock! The time of your slaughter has arrived; you will fall and shatter like a fragile vase. You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape. Listen to the frantic cries of the shepherds. The leaders of the flock are wailing in despair, for the Lord is ruining their pastures. Peaceful meadows will be turned into a wasteland by the Lord’s fierce anger. He has left his den like a strong lion seeking its prey, and their land will be made desolate by the sword of the enemy and the Lord’s fierce anger.

Jeremiah’s Escape from Death

Jeremiah 26 (NLT)

This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah. “This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.

+ Jeremiah speaks at the Temple – “Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them—then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’”

+ Jeremiah is mobbed – The priests, the prophets, and all the people listened to Jeremiah as he spoke in front of the Lord’s Temple. But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple.

+ Officials hold court – When the officials of Judah heard what was happening, they rushed over from the palace and sat down at the New Gate of the Temple to hold court. The priests and prophets presented their accusations to the officials and the people. “This man should die!” they said. “You have heard with your own ears what a traitor he is, for he has prophesied against this city.”

+ Jeremiah defends himself – Then Jeremiah spoke to the officials and the people in his own defense. “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city,” he said. “The Lord gave me every word that I have spoken. But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the Lord your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you. As for me, I am in your hands—do with me as you think best. But if you kill me, rest assured that you will be killing an innocent man! The responsibility for such a deed will lie on you, on this city, and on every person living in it. For it is absolutely true that the Lord sent me to speak every word you have heard.”

+ Officials side with Jeremiah – Then the officials and the people said to the priests and prophets, “This man does not deserve the death sentence, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.”

Then some of the wise old men stood and spoke to all the people assembled there. They said, “Remember when Micah of Moresheth prophesied during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. He told the people of Judah,

‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Mount Zion will be plowed like an open field; Jerusalem will be reduced to ruins! A thicket will grow on the heights where the Temple now stands.’

But did King Hezekiah and the people kill him for saying this? No, they turned from their sins and worshiped the Lord. They begged him for mercy. Then the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had pronounced against them. So we are about to do ourselves great harm.”

At this time Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim was also prophesying for the Lord. And he predicted the same terrible disaster against the city and nation as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and the army officers and officials heard what he was saying, the king sent someone to kill him. But Uriah heard about the plan and escaped in fear to Egypt. Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Acbor to Egypt along with several other men to capture Uriah. They took him prisoner and brought him back to King Jehoiakim. The king then killed Uriah with a sword and had him buried in an unmarked grave.

+ Jeremiah acquitted – Nevertheless, Ahikam son of Shaphan stood up for Jeremiah and persuaded the court not to turn him over to the mob to be killed.
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“The Lord Our Righteousness!”


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Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!



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