History is full of infamous betrayals. Although the relationship between Brutus and Caesar was likely not as close as depicted in Shakespeare’s play, and although the famous question that Caesar posed to Brutus – ‘Et tu, Brute?’- likely didn’t happen, nonetheless, the betrayal of Brutus and the other Roman senators engaged in Caesar’s assassination is legendary in its infamy. Then there’s the man whose name is virtually synonymous with betrayal – ‘Benedict Arnold’, the former American hero who felt under-appreciated by his countrymen, found some measure of the recognition he felt he deserved from the British, not to mention the prospect of quite a pay day along with the potential expulsion of his lingering financial obligations. He betrayed America and sought to give West Point over into the hands of the British. Then of course there’s the man whose act of betrayal was the most heinous and universally well known, Judas Iscariot’s kiss of identification in the Garden of Gethsemane when he handed Jesus over to His persecutors. And if the list were to go on and on one name that wouldn’t appear on it is that of the prophet Jeremiah – though a captain of the guard at the gate of Benjamin would have said differently. More about that shortly. First let’s create context.
Category: Jeremiah (Page 1 of 7)
When I was a child there was a time in which ‘trick-birthday candles’ were all the rage. It was always somewhat interesting to watch someone’s face as they tried, tried, and tried again to blow out their birthday candles to no avail. Some of us tried with all of our might, and no a matter how hard we tried, the light we thought we snuffed out came back. And it’s been like that throughout history as it pertains to God’s Word. Whether it was Antiochus or Diocletian, philosophers, false religious systems, or Communist regimes, many have tried throughout history to either chain or cut off the Word of God. Some have tried to cut off translations, others have tried to prohibit transmissions, all have one thing in common – they have failed. And one of those men who stand in such a line of infamy is Jehoiakim. Granted, his attempt was on a small scale when compared with some of the aforementioned attempts at such things, but he attempted nonetheless.
For about five years, from 1969 to 1974, many Americans regularly tuned in to watch the family sitcom called The Brady Bunch. Even though the show lasted only five seasons, via syndication and spin-offs multiple generations have tuned in to view the adventures of this blended family. Like many of the old-style sitcoms, episodes not only had distinct plots but particular life lessons. In many ways many episodes illustrated how we could learn not only from individuals but from families. Well, the Scripture provides a similar lesson for us. To that end – here’s the story of a Rechabite family.
Desperate situations can lead to desperate measures. They can also lead to counterfeit repentance. That essentially appears to be the idea behind the latter portion of Jeremiah thirty-four. Now, at first glance, the counterfeit had some of the external markings of the true. After all, when you beginning reading verses 8 through 10 you hear what appears to be a bit of good news. “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD” (vs.8a) came “after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them” (vs.8b). That’s a positive. But to be clear, this wasn’t a general declaration of freedom spoken to an already free people; this was an overdue announcement to people whose liberty was long overdue. Per Exodus 21:2, a reference God would implicitly remind the people of through Jeremiah (Jer. 34:13-14), slaves were only supposed to serve for six years and in the seventh year they were to go free (Ex. 21:2). But when we look at the words that come later on in the chapter (vs.14-15) it looks like Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem had not followed that command up until this point. So Zedekiah, the people of the land, and just about everyone in between (vs.19), likely induced to a point of desperation because of the surrounding Babylonians, sought to make amends for their dismissal of God’s Law. With the pomp and circumstance of a covenant ceremony, they cut a calf in two, walked through the halves (vs.18-19), and issued the following proclamation:
Perhaps to your surprise, Jeremiah 32, in large measure, concerns the real estate purchase of a prophet. Now, to be clear, you wouldn’t expect this chapter to show up on a must read list of books for any beginning real estate investor. In fact, on the surface, this acquisition had just about all the makings of a bad deal. First, consider where Jeremiah was – in prison (Jer. 32:2-3). Not exactly the place from whence you’d expect such transactions to occur. Second, as many investors will tell you, a primary mark of a good piece of land is location. As the saying goes, ‘Location, location, location.’ Well, Jeremiah was about to buy a plot of land that was likely already invaded and overrun by the Babylonians. After all, if the Babylonians had already surrounded Jerusalem (vs.2) they likely already subdued Anathoth, which was only a few miles away from Jerusalem (vs.7). But Jeremiah didn’t make this purchase because he lacked the savvy foresight of a prudent investor or the sense to understand that captured land does not hold much value, he did it because the God who spoke through him also spoke to him. Yahweh predicted that he would have this opportunity, and Jeremiah knew that God wanted him to buy the land to make a point. But before we see the point first we ought to hear the word of LORD that came to Jeremiah (vs.6),