I shall use the Book of Jeremiah to demonstrate that though the time and context of Jeremiah may be different from our time and context, nothing has really changed no matter where we are in the world today. The behavior, and irreverence to the things of God, by many in leadership positions (overseers, pastors, elders, etc.) in most Christian churches and ministries can be likened to those of the rulers (kings, prophets, teachers, priests) of Judah.
Churches, which have failed to be God’s true prophet to the people, have met similar fate as Judah. Church history bears out this sad fact. God removes the standard when those naming the name of Christ no longer abide in the doctrines of Christ.
Ask yourself this question: Will there be a Christian church in my neighbourhood and or country in say 100 years’ time if the Lord has not yet come.
I implore you as you read to weep for your local church, pray earnestly for it and draw the attention of your church leadership to this article.
JEREMIAH, A PROPHET OF JUDAH
- Jeremiah (son of Hilkah, a priest in Anathoth of the land of Benjamin) prophesied between 627 to about 580 B.C.
- 605 to 586 B.C.: Declared God’s judgment as Babylon threatened Judah
- 586 to about 580 B.C.: Prophesied in both Jerusalem and Egypt after Judah’s downfall
- Israel (the Northern Kingdom) was carried away into exile in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians.
- Before their captivity, prophets Hosea, Micah and Isaiah had warned the Northern Kingdom to repent.
- Judah (the Southern Kingdom), though spared, continued to sin. Idolatry, moral depravity, social injustice and political corruption were the order of the day.1(scripture: NKJV)
THE CALL OF JEREMIAH
God calls Jeremiah:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. (Jer 1:5)
SPIRITUAL SITUATION OF JUDAH (THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM):
1. Judah has abandoned God:
For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns– broken cisterns that can hold no water (Je 2:13).
2. Judah, like Israel before it, was serving foreign gods:
The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. “And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. “Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. “So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. “And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD (Je 3:6-10).
THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR JUDAH’S BACKSLIDING: THE PRIESTS, TEACHERS, RULERS AND PROPHETS
- The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, And walked after things that do not profit (Je 2:8).
- Therefore I will give their wives to others, And their fields to those who will inherit them; Because from the least even to the greatest Everyone is given to covetousness; From the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace (Je 8:10- 11).
- Many rulers have destroyed My vineyard, They have trodden My portion underfoot; They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness (Jer 12:10)
GREATEST BLAME: THE PROPHETS OF JUDAH JUST LIKE THOSE OF ISRAEL BEFORE IT
- An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? (Je 5:30-31)
- And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart (Je 14:14).
- And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal And caused My people Israel to err. Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah (Je 23:13-14).
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH?
1. BEWARE OF YOUR BROTHERS
For even your brothers, the house of your father, Even they have dealt treacherously with you; Yes, they have called a multitude after you. Do not believe them, Even though they speak smooth words to you (Je 12:6).
2. ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS
Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. . . (Je 6:16).
3. GOD DID NOT SEND THOSE PROPHETS WHOSE WORDS FAILED THE LITMUS TEST
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way And from the evil of their doings (Je 23:21- 22).
4. GOD IS AGAINST THE FOLLOWING CLASS OF PROPHETS
- Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who steal My words everyone from his neighbor.
- “Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’
- “Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the LORD, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” says the LORD (Jer 23:30- 32)
5. DO NOT PAY HEED TO THE FALSE PROPHETS
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD (Jer 23:16). Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD (Je 23:1).
6. THERE WILL BE A NEW COVENANT
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah–“not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Je 31:31-34).
THE THREE KINGDOMS
- THE KINGDOM OF GOD
- THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS
- THE KINGDOM OF THE WORLD–the battle ground for the souls of humans
The Kingdom of God is a theocracy.
The Church is God’s agent to preach the good news, disciple those who believe and promote kingdom principles in the kingdom of the world.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen (Matt 28:19-20).
1. Jesus Christ, the Lord of all creation, is the Head of His Church (the Big C).
2. The Holy Spirit is His Vicar and the Custodian of His Church
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever- (John 14:16)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things (Act 15:28)
3. We shall represent every church that claims to be part of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ with a small c. A church is constituted wherever the Holy Spirit is present where 2 or 3 persons are gathered in God’s name. (Matt 19:20)
4. For a small c to be truly part of the big C, it must be obedient to God’s word and be Spirit empowered and Spirit controlled.
CHRIST’S CHURCH–THE PROPHET TO THE NATIONS
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa 8:20).
A church that has no light in it (the Holy Spirit is absent) is dead. How then can such a church be a prophet to the nations?
The big C is always right because it is obedient to the Head and is continually guided by the Holy Spirit. This Church can never err because its head is the Lord and it has the character of God.
Every small c that is obedient is like a branch on the tree that continuously receives nourishment from the tree.
Every small c that is disobedient is like a dead branch on the tree. John 15:1-6*
Therefore, only an obedient small c can speak truth to power. Only they, like Jeremiah can truly cry and weep for disobedient nations. God hears only such cries. If in His perfect or permissible will, such cries can stem the Hand of God and reverse evil influences in their generation.
When is sin imputed for those of us who continue to keep silent by failing to warn others about those shepherds who are working for the kingdom of darkness and or for the world?
In boldly witnessing to both believers and unbelievers, we must do the following:
- Challenge believers with God’s word; do not accept any extra biblical arguments as you lay down God’s position
- With unbelievers, gently use the scriptures to point them to the Author of life
- Does God know you?
- Do you have a personal testimony?
- Personal holiness is sine quo non to effective witnessing
Holiness is not the same as righteousness. Holiness is setting yourself apart for God. It is a determined commitment to be with God and no other. It is about forsaking worldly values and embracing Kingdom values no matter the cost to you.
My prayer is that the Lord who has called us shall open your eyes to see the hope of your calling and that He will give you the courage to stand up for the gospel of Christ once for all delivered to the saints in your local congregation. May He shower His blessings on you and yours. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the New King James Bible unless where indicated