Tag Archives: restoration

Judah Cast from Yahweh’s Presence

2 Kings 24-25; the end of the road for Judah. Fallen is Samaria and Israel – the Northern Kingdom [Lost 10 tribes]; a 150 later noting has been learned by Judah. Assyria and Egypt had been fighting for control of the “Promised Land” – somehow through pay-offs and treaties Judah was able to live in relative peace. Kings like Uzziah and Hezekiah who did right in the eyes of the Lord extended their existence. Judah was not without sin; but God was faithful to keep His covenant that he made with David even though Judah deserved the same judgment as Israel for their idolatrous ways. I think that Israel/Judah felt they were exempt from the judgment of God that He displayed on the Canaanite tribes. However, Israel and Judah followed the sins, iniquities, transgressions and abominations of the nations God had expelled out of the “inheritance” of Israel.  This is not the first or the last time that arrogance and pride will cause Judah/Israel to be led into captivity. Jeremiah and so many other prophetic voices warned Israel and Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. Jeremiah preaches 50 years, yet all he gain was deaf ears to his message.

After faithful King Josiah is killed, there is a series of kings with a very limited reign and influence. The world power shifts at this point from Egypt and Assyria to Babylon, more specifically to King Nebuchadnezzar. Because Judah persisted in rebellion and idol worship, God allowed Babylon to come to power and lead them [Judah] into captivity and make the Promise Land desolate except for the poorest of people. The Promise Land laid waste!!!!!!!   Why?  Easy answer Judah and Israel left God for gods – But I think that the Promise Land had become so polluted, God and to “Purge” the land of the people and idols so He could restore it again under Ezra and Nehemiah. Sometimes I think that there needs to be a purging of the Church Body before God can do His work in the lives of the Remnant.

An undertone is how God is Merciful even in His judgment. There were three deportations by Babylon – the land was stripped of all the royalty, educated, skilled and craftsmen. Judah was also allowed to continue [return] to worship Yahweh. The exile of Judah was prescribed and implemented under the Hand of God. Jeremiah told Judah “don’t resist the Babylonians, but go into the land, build houses and live among your captive masters. Isaiah 45-66 is called the Post-Exilic chapters of Isaiah or better known as Deutro-Isaiah. Many prophets foretold of the return of God’s people after 70 years in exile.

As bad as it was in the destruction and deportation of Judah, the siege of Jerusalem and the starvation of the people; God was still merciful in that He did not destroy all the people, but left a remnant. We may be looking at a similar situation here in our own USA; the condition of the Church is deplorable; the Gospel has been polluted; we worship our worship not God in our services. I truly believe God is not pleased with the Bride! But there is a remnant that hold to the Truth of God’s Word, it will be the Remnant that God will use – like the Church in Sardis there are those who have not “soiled their garments.” We the Church today must take heed to the warning given to Strengthen what remains, to Hold fast to the Truth.

Years ago America thought it was invincible from attack from an enemy on its own shores – thinking that the distance was too far for the enemy to attack unnoticed – then Pearl Harbor happened and took away the arrogance and pride of invincibility. God is doing a great work among many other “pagan” nations. The Chinese and the Muslim countries are experiencing great numbers of converts to Christ. Yet here in America the church is dying and has gone into apostasy in much of the land.

Will America be restored? Will there be a revival? Will the Church heed the warnings of Israel and Judah? Will America have to Fall before it returns to the Lord? All questions we must answer personally and collectively.

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Prayer of Dedication

1 Kings 8 [parallel passage 2 Chronicles 6/7] This chapter was to impacting to just lump in with our other reading. This is a major chapter in the life of the Church and the nation Israel. The prayer of Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple is so inspiring and yet so sobering to anyone who reads it. After nearly 1000 years a promise of God to Abraham [Genesis 22] come to completeness. Think about that! Not is the days of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob; not even in the days of Moses, Joshua or Samuel – but in the days of King Solomon the Promise of a land to people as multiplied [1 Kings 4:20] as the sands of the seashore, the fulfillment of God’s Promise rings true. Oh, how the people must have longed to see the day when God’s promise was fulfilled.

The Promised Land – described to Abraham is now the “peaceful land of Israel.” Solomon didn’t do it, all that came before him accomplished the work as they followed the LORD God. The Temple was built-in such grandeur and extravagance, the whole world takes notice. On that monumental day when all the people are assembled – King Solomon, the wisest man in the world ever; articulates a Prayer of Dedication to the LORD God that rings continually in any ear that hears it. A Place for God to put His Name has been constructed. Now the Prayer of Dedication and hope that the LORD is pleases to “PUT HIS NAME” there. Over and over again Solomon pleads that God would inhabit the Place built for Him, understanding that the true dwelling place in heaven. “There is NO GOD LIKE YOU.” Solomon with as much reverence and awe, tries to capture the moment by blessing the Lord for His might attributes.

The Prayer of Dedication becomes a “supplication prayer” to the LORD to hear the praying done in the Temple. Many “IF  . . . Then” statements are made by Solomon. The failure of Israel to continue walking in the statutes and ordinances of God are assumed. Solomon knows the people, He also knows his own heart. Solomon outlines various situations of when the people of God, Israel will not be obedient – He knows that God will discipline through famines, wars and such to admonish HIS PEOPLE to come back to HIM. Solomon knows the people, and even we today are like wandering sheep.

Solomon prays – LORD will you hear when Your people Pray? LORD will you forgive their sin? If he sins against You, his neighbor or himself, will you HEAR IF he Prays? When people drift off to idolatry and call on other gods; when they commit heinous immorality and when they are defeated by their enemies because of their sin against YOU – Will you HEAR their cries, confession, laments to forgive their sin against you? Over and over Solomon cites situations where Israel [and us] will fail the LORD. But there is a hope, not just in the judgment of sin, but the restoration of man from his rebellion against the ONE and ONLY TRUE GOD.  Solomon asks God to “maintain their cause” three times in this chapter. There is even a hint of Babylonian captivity found in the words of 1 Kings 8:46-52.

In church circles we have used the Prayer of Dedication and the answer by God as a formula to try to “call down” revival. It is interesting that through the years so many have tried to “cause revival to happen” instead of drawing close to God and let HIM SEND IT. God id answer the prayer of Solomon, but it was conditional – IF YOU 1 Kings 9:2-5; while the prayer was for the people and the place – the conditional “I will hear and forgive” was personal. “as for YOU Solomon” – you must walk. . . . . THEN I WILL.

If the people of God individually and collectively WALK away from God – 1 Kings 9:6-9 gives us the vivid description of what will happen to the Temples we have erected for our so-called worship of God. Church of today – the house lays in ruins!!!

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When it’s all said and done

Jeremiah 48-52; we conclude our reading of Jeremiah this week. It is obvious why he is called the “lamenting or weeping prophet.” Next week we will continue with Jeremiah’s writing with the book of Lamentations. .The last chapters of Jeremiah explain the demise of the foreign countries that mistreated Israel during the “disciplining of God’s people.” While we have learned that God uses “non-believing” rulers as instruments of His wrath and punishment, He still will hold them accountable for HOW they implement His punishment. Starting in chapter 46 – 51, we find each nation is judged by Jehovah. When I first started reading the judgments, I thought of Jesus’ message to the 7 churches in Revelation. However, that illustration breaks down rather quickly. While the nations are not the people of God Israel, they are not too far removed ancestrally. Egypt is implicated in chapter 46, as bible students we know enough about Egypt and the on and off wars with the Jews. They get punished for harboring Jews who have deserted Judah, also taking advantage of the plight of Judah’s discipline. Most of the judgement comes at the hands of Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. The image that portrays Babylon as the greatest kingdom, with the Persians-Medes, Greeks and Romans in descending order, is reflected here with Jehovah “giving” the nations to Babylonian power.

Next is Philistia, or the “giants of the coast.”  In chapter 47:5, we find a hint of Elijah and Mt. Carmel, with the “gash yourselves.” Then we move to Chapter 48, and Moab, just a way of understanding better, who is Moab? Moab is one of the children that resulted from the  incest  relationship between Lot and his daughters.  Moab, not from the chosen line of Abraham, find themselves worshiping the Canaanite gods – Chemosh [i.e. Molech and child burnt sacrifices]. Remember that when Israel tried to pass through the Moab land, they were forbidden, God pronounced a judgment on them then.  Now Moab is located in the East and South, or as we would know today as Jordan. Ruth was a Moabitess which God used to bring forth the lineage of David through Boaz.  Right behind the judgment of Moab is his brother Amon – the other part of the Lot and daughters actions. Essentially the same can be said about Amon that has been said about Moab. Even though God is going to give over these kingdoms to Babylon, He finishes His pronouncement by telling them that He will “restore their fortunes.” I have been amazed at the grace and mercy of God in Jeremiah, for while God will punish the nations and His people for their sins, He will restore them back to a right relationship with Himself. This is true about the believer, we do fall into sin patterns, but Our God will restore us to fellowship if we will repent and turn from our wicked ways.

Moving on to Chapter 490, we encounter Edom or Esau; this is a lot closer to Israel that the other nations. However, Edom is not chosen of God – Jacob was. The mistreatment by Edom while Israel was in the wilderness is repaid here. Edom will be a horror to all who witness their destruction. No promise of restoration is given to them. By the way – Edom becomes 1st century Idumea the heritage of King Herod. Think through that for a moment. Later in the chapter we read of two kingdoms, obscure at first but highly significant – Kedar and Hazor. The significance is they are the root ancestry of Mohammad, Islam and Muslims. Known as the “men of the east.” These two places will be haunted, desolate and uninhabited.  God continues His punishment of the nations with Elam, which is the capital of Susa, better known as Iran. [of course we have the story of Esther and how God used her to save the Jews] Finally at the end of the book, while all along God has been telling Jeremiah that Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are the instruments of God for disciplining Judah, we find that God will also take away the kingdom and posture of Babylon. Why? Because of the “over the top” actions towards Judah. The lesson here is God may use who ever He wants, but there is still accountability for how we implement His plans.

In chapter 52, the fall of Judah is complete, the exiles are taken, the Temple is destroyed. A remnant remains – out of all the Jews only 4600 are captive and will be the nucleus that God uses to rebuild and restore the nation.  So begins with the close of Jeremiah 70 years of exile. Why? The people would not listen!! He that has ears let him hear what the angels says to the churches.

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I have a Plan – God

This weeks reading includes Jeremiah 28-32; my focus will be on a much used and often wrongfully used passage of Jeremiah 29:11. The context of the verse and the modern-day application are worlds apart. Much like the much maligned passage of Matthew 18:18-19. In the latter passage, the context is the conflict and restoration of a brother, and the steps to reconcile the problem. Too many times, a viewpoint or theology is developed based on a single verse. This is not exegesis, but eisegesis – the former is “reading out of the passage, the latter is reading into the passage. The first is acceptable theology and a biblically sound approach to scripture.  In Jeremiah 29:11, there has been a very strong approach to personal blessing from God. In the article by Relevant you can read similar comments concerning this verse. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/deeper-walk/features/21141-the-most-misused-verse-in-the-bible. When we look at the context of the verse we find that God is giving a message to Jeremiah about how God is not going to forsake them, but that the exile in Babylon will have its limits. While the sin of Judah, and for that matter Israel was grave in that it caused such discipline and punishment from God; they would not be discarded. God had “birthed” the nation with His plans in mind. These plans have not changed. Even today when the “church” is being disciplined for failure morally and neglectfully, God is still going to use His body the Church. Additionally, we know that from Romans 9-11, that God will visit Israel again and that just as they rejected the Gospel of Jesus as messiah; and the Gentiles received the Gospel because of their rejection; likewise when the “fullness of the times of the Gentiles” is complete, Israel will be grafted back into the Vine.

So when we read Jeremiah 28-29, the total message is that God will punish His people. But the message also is there is hope for a future for them and subsequent generations that follow. Jeremiah tells the first wave of exiles to “buy houses, plant gardens, take wives and such – in other words get settled for the long haul. While God had told Judah they would be in exile for 70 years, there wouldn’t be any time off for good behavior. At this point it needs to be stated the difference between captivity and exile. Captivity is what happened for 400 plus years in Egypt – Israel through Jacob moved there on purpose. However, the sin of Judah caused their captivity, where the land was invaded and the people carted off. As I said last week, it was better to be an exile then someone left behind, for those they would meet their death with the sword.

Jeremiah continues to instruct Judah to “seek the welfare of the city, and to pray to the LORD on its behalf.” These appear to be strange instructions from the prophet of God concerning his people in exile. However, this is not a different message, Jeremiah has been saying all along not to fight against King Nebuchadnezzar, for he is God’s arm of punishment against them.  Jeremiah tells Judah quit listening to your prophets and diviners, they are lying to you.

I asked a question of my bible study folks [we are studying Jeremiah right now] – how do you know if someone is speaking for the Lord or of themselves? This is a predicament that Judah had – Jeremiah said one thing, and the other prophets said another – who do you believe? I think that may be a problem churches have today – too many voices, and all are saying they have “the Word of the Lord.” Answer to this is where is the Spirit of God, does the message align with scripture and does the character of the messenger reflect holiness and righteousness? Go with the person.

After reiterating the 70 years of exile – verse 10 says I will bring you back into the Land I promised you. THEN verse 29 – “for I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.” But the message doesn’t stop there – verse 12 is highly reflective of 2 Chronicles 7:14 – this is both prescriptive and descriptive of renewal and revival. “Then you will call on Me, and come pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart. Judah would return to the Land and the Lord, exiled brought them to their knees. So as you can see quite a different message when looking at the context. While I know that God has plans for us in our lives, we find that elsewhere. But here we find the restoration of Judah promised – AFTER their punishment.  Never read into scripture what you want the bible to say – it is sufficient to stand on its own message!

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Ruined and Totally Worthless

Jeremiah 13-17;in this selection of chapters, Jeremiah is told to use a waistband as an illustration. The Linen waistband; practice is to soak the belt in water to make it supple and flexible. Like any new belt very stiff and uncomfortable. The point is God was “uncomfortable for Israel to “Wear”. They sought after other gods’ that were more easy to serve [actually] or serve their desires. This is still thought of today, that God is too restrictive. To get rid of the “stiffness” bury in the river, subject it to the elements. This is what God did to Judah, He allowed the unbelieving nations and idolatry to have its effect on them.  Just like the belt being ruined, so had Judah. Because of Judah’s Pride and stiffnecked they would be ruined. The indictment of God against Judah/Israel, The people just won’t listen. The proverb – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall! Judah had become worthless, being saturated with all the “filth” of the pagan nations.In the waistband – we are to cling to the LORD, listen to His counsel and trust Him. God is going to subject Judah to the treatments of the  nations like a bunch of “drunks.

Pity and compassion days are over for Judah, Yahweh has had enough. Warning after warning – but still the people will not listen. Even though captivity is coming, the kings and queens will be humble and taken as prisoners, the people won’t listen. So ask the question like most of us – WHY have these things happened? Verse 22. God gives them His answer. –Because of the magnitude of your iniquity!  In a very vivid illustration of becoming naked, God is going to remove their skirt, Their heels will be exposed, which means that God is going to reveal what is under the surface. It would be different if Judah would change, but they won’t is fact God gives some examples of things that cannot change. –Verse 23 – somethings you can’t change. Judah takes great pleasure in their sins, adulteries, prostitution, and abominations.

Jeremiah 14, Judah likes it Agricultural gods in Baalism which is dominated with a procreation mentality. So for the land to be in famine state exposes the Baalism lack of power to produce. It is God of Heaven that cause the earth to produce, something Judah and Israel forgot. The coming conditions of the Land [a Lion King scenario]; –No rain/water,  Animals languish in starvation,They recognize the “why” they still won’t repent. Rather they plead for God to act, so as not to bring shame on Himself. Confess apostates, confess sin, iniquities exposed – but Judah will not repent.  It’s like they are telling God fix this, but we are going to continue to do. God’s answer [vs. 10-12] – why? –They love to wander, –Won’t keep their feet in check, –Rejected by the Lord, –He calls them to account. Then the Lord says – “Do Not pray for this people – Jeremiah, I will not listen. They may fast, They may offer burnt offerings, They may offer grain offerings, I will not going to accept them, –I will make an end of them by Sword, Famine and Pestilence.”

Jeremiah tries to defend the people vs. 13, it because of the , Conflicting message from false prophets, but they Speaking for God, but not His message.

Jeremiah 15- It’s too late Baby now! Yahweh says “even  if Moses and Samuel interceded, No! By the time that Judah came to acknowledge God; it was way too late! But this isn’t any new news – the warning had been given 100’s of years earlier. Foretold Deut. 28:63-68; I told you before this would happen! No there are Four future possibilities for the people.

–Death by disease; –War, –Starvation, or –Captivity. Either way Bodies would be eaten and rot in the streets.

Jeremiah 16, When they ask WHY [ as if they didn’t know, but then again maybe Judah was clueless, surely not innocent or ignorant of God’s desires.

–What is our sin?

–What is our iniquity?

–Why has the Lord declared this calamity? Answer: verse 11; Your fathers idolatry and sin, Your idolatry and sin, you have done more than they have; your stubborn evil heart, don’t listen, You have forsaken Me! Forsaken My Law, You want to serve other gods – wish granted!!

The Hope of restoration

–God restored from Egypt when they were slaves

–God blessed them in the Wilderness of disobedience

–God rose up a great nation in David

–God delivered them to Babylon/Assyria

–God returned them to the Promised Land, Ezra

–God delivered them again to Roman armies; rejection of Jesus the Savior

–God restored them 1948, after 6 million slaughtered

–God will judge them again at End of the Age

–Final Restoration and deliverance

In all that has been said, God still gives the Hope of being Restored. Even when it is over, God still has compassion for restoration.

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