Jeremiah 45-47

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 19, 2005


Last week we finished up the section of Jeremiah that dealt with the history of the small remnant left in the land after the Babylonian captivity. When the Babylonian appointed governor was assassinated, the people became afraid that they would all be wiped out by the Babylonians, so they fled to Egypt for safety.

While they were in Egypt, they backslid and began to worship other “gods” again, like the “Queen of Heaven”, a Babylonian fertility goddess. They came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really God’s judgment that had brought the Babylonian invasion, it really was because they had stopped worshipping this “Queen of Heaven”.


I heard an interview on the “Today” show yesterday (5-18-05) where these fellows who are economists are applying their economic viewpoints to questions in society. They said they had an advantage because being economists they weren’t “worried about morality”.
When they looked into how the crime rate in New York went down drastically in the 1990’s, they concluded that the reason wasn’t better policing, it was because of abortion. They claimed that since abortion became legalized, that there were fewer unwanted pregnancies and fewer unwanted children, and that has resulted in a lowering of the crime rate.
It reminds me of the things the Jewish people were saying to Jeremiah in Egypt, that the problems they had were really due to the fact that they had stopped worshipping idols, not because of God’s judgment.

We now get a short message for a friend of Jeremiah, a message given much earlier in Jeremiah’s ministry.

Jeremiah 45

:1-5 Word for Baruch

:1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,

Baruch – this was Jeremiah’s friend and assistant. He often acted as Jeremiah’s scribe in recording the various prophecies.

fourth year of Jehoiakim – 605 BC.

This short chapter is connected with the events of Jeremiah 36.

(Jer 36:1-8 NKJV) Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: {2} "Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. {3} "It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin." {4} Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him. {5} And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am confined, I cannot go into the house of the LORD. {6} "You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the LORD, in the hearing of the people in the Lord's house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities. {7} "It may be that they will present their supplication before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people." {8} And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the Lord's house.

Baruch was to write down whatever Jeremiah dictated to him. Because Jeremiah was under house arrest, Baruch would then take the scroll and read it in the Temple to the people.
The scroll was not going to contain nice, pretty things. It was going to contain the warnings that Jeremiah had already been giving to the nation of Judah. It was pretty heavy stuff.
The things in the scroll were so “heavy” that they were going to be considered treason. Later the following year, when King Jehoiakim heard about the things written in the scroll, he had the scroll destroyed. Jeremiah and Baruch would go into hiding to keep Jehoiakim from killing them.

:2 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch:

God has a personal word for this friend of Jeremiah.

:3 'You said, "Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest."'

Baruch was discouraged when he had seen the contents of the things dictated on the scroll. Things had looked bad enough for the little nation of Judah, but now it looked like Judah was going to be wiped out by the Babylonians.

Baruch wasn’t having “fun” in the ministry, kind of like this pastor …


Good News / Bad News For Your Pastor
Good News: You baptized seven people today in the river. Bad News: You lost two of them in the swift current.
Good News: The Women’s Guild voted to send you a get-well card. Bad News: The vote passed by 31-30.
Good News: The Elder Board accepted your job description the way you wrote it. Bad News: They were so inspired by it, they also formed a search committee to find somebody capable of filling the position.
Good News: You finally found a worship leader who approaches things exactly the same way you do. Bad News: The band mutinied.
Good News: Mrs. Jones is wild about your sermons. Bad News: Mrs. Jones is also wild about the “Gong Show,” “Beavis and Butthead” and “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”
Good News: Your women’s softball team finally won a game. Bad News: They beat your men’s softball team.
Good News: The trustee’s finally voted to add more church parking. Bad News: They are going to blacktop the front lawn of your house.
Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks. Bad News: You were on vacation.
Good News: Your deacons want to send you to the Holy Land. Bad News: They are stalling until the next war.
Good News: Your biggest critic just left your church. Bad News: He has been appointed the Head Bishop of your denomination.
and finally....
Good News: The youth in your church come to your house for a surprise visit. Bad News: It’s in the middle of the night and they are armed with toilet paper, Oreo cookies, and shaving cream to “decorate” your house.

:4 "Thus you shall say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.

God would be faithful to fulfill all the words in the prophecies to Jeremiah.

(Jer 1:4-10 NKJV) Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: {5} "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." {6} Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." {7} But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. {8} Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD. {9} Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. {10} See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant."

Heavy things were indeed going to happen to Judah.  God is going to do what God is going to do.

:5 "And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD.

:5 "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go."' "

As bad as things were going to get, God promised to protect Baruch.

:5 "And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD.

Baruch was discouraged because he was looking for “great things” for himself.


Pride leads to discouragement

When my life’s focus is on “me” and instead of on God, I’m going to get discouraged.
I’m going to expect that things happen for “me” instead of for “God.
But when my focus is on God and I’m simply living for Him, then what is there to be discouraged about?
The opposite of pride is humility.  And humility isn’t all that easy.
There were two monks in a monastery doing their daily rituals. They were about to bow to their deity. One got on his knees and said, “Oh, Master, I am nothing, I don’t exist, all there is is You.” The next monk bowed down even lower and said, “Oh, great one, I am less than nothing! I don’t exist and I never did. You are all there is!” In the corner, a janitor was sweeping the temple and watching the monks. He thought to himself, “Hmmm, that looks pretty good! I think I’ll try that.” He walked over to the deity and bowed while the monks watched him. He said, “Oh mighty one, I too am nothing, you are everything.” As the two monks looked on with disdain, one said to the other, “Humph! How dare he! Look who thinks he’s nothing!”
Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we’re “humble”, but in reality we’re “proud” of our humility.
A real test of humility is when something negative happens to us, how does it affect us?
Baruch was hearing about all the trouble that was coming and somehow, because of his “pride”, because of his desire for “great things”, he was discouraged.
Humility is all about dying to self and living to God.

(Gal 2:20 NKJV) "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

If you stick a knife into a dead body, does it cry for pain?


Spurgeon writes, “Observe the peculiar characteristics of the grass which adapt it especially for the service of man: humility and cheerfulness. Its humility, in that it seems created only for lowest service, appointed to be trodden on and fed upon. Its cheerfulness, in that it seems to exult under all kinds of violence and suffering. You roll it, and it is the stronger the next day. You mow it, and it multiplies its shoots, as if it were grateful. You tread upon it, and it only sends up richer perfume. Spring comes, and it rejoices with all the earth, glowing with variegated flame of flowers, waving in soft depth of fruitful strength. Winter comes, and though it will not mock its fellow plants by growing then, it will not pine and mourn and turn colorless or leafless as they. It is always green, and is only the brighter and more cheerful for the hoarfrost.”

Humility and cheerfulness.

One other note:
The Bible says that a leader, an elder, was not to be a “novice”, a “new believer”:

(1 Tim 3:6 NKJV) not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

Pride is what got Satan into trouble. Pride will get a new believer put into a high position, into trouble.

Perhaps real humility takes time to develop.

Perhaps it takes quite a few knives into the body over the years to find out how “dead” you are to your self and how alive you are to God.

Jeremiah 46

Judah has been first in God’s sight, but God also moves in the affairs of the rest of the world as well. In Jeremiah 46-51, the focus shifts from the nation of Judah to the other nations of the world.

:1-12 Word for Egypt

:1 The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations.

:2 Against Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, which was by the River Euphrates in Carchemish, and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:

Egypt had been Judah’s ally against Babylon. It had encouraged Judah’s rebellion against Babylon, yet when the Babylonians began their campaigns, Egypt was unable to rescue Judah from the Babylonians.

Carchemish is 360 miles northeast of Jerusalem along the Euphrates River in modern Syria.

Carchemish was the site of one of the great battles of history, resulting in the Babylonians being the dominant world power.

For several hundred years, the Assyrians had ruled the world. But in 612 BC, the Babylonians had conquered the capital of the Assyrians, Nineveh. The Assyrians had pulled back to Carchemish and it was there they made their final stand against the Babylonians.

Meanwhile, the Egyptians decided that they didn’t want Babylon ruling the world, so they took their army up north to help the Assyrians defeat the Babylonians. King Josiah like the Babylonians and so when the Egyptians came marching through Judah, he decided to try and stop them. A battle occurred at Megiddo, and Josiah was killed in 609 BC. The Egyptians continued on to Carchemish where they faced the Babylonians who had already defeated the Assyrians.
The battle did not go well for the Egyptians. The Babylonians attacked swiftly and surprised the Egyptians. The Egyptians were thrown into panic and the Babylonians slaughtered the Egyptians.

The last chapter’s prophecy took place in the same year that this battle took place, 605 BC.

:3 "Order the buckler and shield, And draw near to battle!

:4 Harness the horses, And mount up, you horsemen! Stand forth with your helmets, Polish the spears, Put on the armor!

horses – the finest horses in the world at that time came from Egypt.

God is sarcastically calling the Egyptians out to battle.

:5 Why have I seen them dismayed and turned back? Their mighty ones are beaten down; They have speedily fled, And did not look back, For fear was all around," says the LORD.

:6 "Do not let the swift flee away, Nor the mighty man escape; They will stumble and fall Toward the north, by the River Euphrates.

:7 "Who is this coming up like a flood, Whose waters move like the rivers?

This is speaking of Egypt, which was conquering the territory much like the Nile flooded during the rainy season.

:8 Egypt rises up like a flood, And its waters move like the rivers; And he says, 'I will go up and cover the earth, I will destroy the city and its inhabitants.'

:9 Come up, O horses, and rage, O chariots! And let the mighty men come forth: The Ethiopians and the Libyans who handle the shield, And the Lydians who handle and bend the bow.

Ethiopia, Libya – countries in northern Africa

Lydia – a country in Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

These nations were hired as mercenaries to help the Egyptians against the Babylonians.

:10 For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, A day of vengeance, That He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; It shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood; For the Lord GOD of hosts has a sacrifice In the north country by the River Euphrates.

the day of the Lord GOD of hosts – often this phrase is used to describe the events of the last days, when God will judge the whole earth. Here it is referring to a day of God’s judgment on Egypt.

Carchemish was a city on the Euphrates River.

:11 "Go up to Gilead and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt; In vain you will use many medicines; You shall not be cured.

Gilead is the mountainous area to the north, east of the Jordan River. There was a type of resin found there, used to make a medicinal ointment. The Egyptians themselves had developed some types of medicinal practices. But whether they used their own medicines or if they sent to Gilead for the special “balm”, they would not be healed of the wounds sustained at Carchemish.

:12 The nations have heard of your shame, And your cry has filled the land; For the mighty man has stumbled against the mighty; They both have fallen together."


No escape from God

One of man’s greatest fears is of death.
Man does whatever he can to prolong facing of death.
I think about the stories we used to hear about Michael Jackson having some special bed that would help him live longer.
But man will die one day. We will all die.
(Heb 9:27 NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
This 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years mainly due to her interest in health food, and exercise. When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion, which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they “oohed and aahed” the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. “It’s free”, Peter replied, “this is heaven.” Next they went out back to survey the championship golf course that the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges everyday and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth. The old man asked, “What are the green fees?”. Peter’s reply, “This is heaven, you play for free.” Next they went to the Club House and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisines of the world laid out. “How much to eat?” asked the old man. “Don’t you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!” Peter replied with some exasperation. “Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?” the old man asked timidly. Peter lectured, “That’s the best can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is heaven.” With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly. Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, “This is all your fault. If it weren’t for your blasted bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!”
It’s not wrong to take care of your health. It’s not wrong to want to live longer, especially if you want to live longer so you can serve God more.
(Phil 1:21-24 NLT) For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. {22} Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. {23} I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, {24} but it is better for you that I live.
But instead of trying to “cheat” death, it’s best to simply be ready for it. Be ready to meet your Maker.
God’s desire is that no one perish in hell. That is why He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross and take the penalty that was intended for me and my sins.
God’s desire is that I trust Jesus. He is God’s only path to heaven.

:13-26 Nebuchadnezzar will conquer Egypt

:13 The word that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would come and strike the land of Egypt.

Even though Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 BC, he wouldn’t come down to Egypt until 567 BC, after the fall of Jerusalem and after the small remnant of Jews fled to Egypt.

:14 "Declare in Egypt, and proclaim in Migdol; Proclaim in Noph and in Tahpanhes; Say, 'Stand fast and prepare yourselves, For the sword devours all around you.'

These are the same places mentioned in Jeremiah’s prophecy of chapter 44 where the remnant of Jews had fled to. These were three places located in the northern part of Egypt.

:15 Why are your valiant men swept away? They did not stand Because the LORD drove them away.

Nobody is able to stand before the Lord.

(John 18:3-6 NKJV) Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. {4} Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?" {5} They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. {6} Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.

They might have thought that they had the ability to “arrest” Jesus. But Jesus showed them that they were powerless before Him. He was arrested only because He allowed Himself to be.

Some people say that when they stand before God, they will give Him a “piece of their mind” for all the trouble they’ve had in life.

Nobody will be shaking their fist and cursing God after they die.

:16 He made many fall; Yes, one fell upon another. And they said, 'Arise! Let us go back to our own people And to the land of our nativity From the oppressing sword.'

:17 They cried there, 'Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is but a noise. He has passed by the appointed time!'

Pharaoh Hophra had made bold claims about how he was going to defeat Babylon. But his soldiers would realize it was all just words, just “noise”.

He had missed the opportunity to conquer the Babylonians.

:18 "As I live," says the King, Whose name is the LORD of hosts, "Surely as Tabor is among the mountains And as Carmel by the sea, so he shall come.

Tabor and Carmel are two mountains in northern Israel. They dominate the landscape just as the Babylonians would dominate the world.

:19 O you daughter dwelling in Egypt, Prepare yourself to go into captivity! For Noph shall be waste and desolate, without inhabitant.

:20 "Egypt is a very pretty heifer, But destruction comes, it comes from the north.

destruction – some translations have “gadfly”, “horsefly”, or “mosquito”.

Egypt may be big and powerful like a heifer, but a little horsefly will chase it.

:21 Also her mercenaries are in her midst like fat bulls, For they also are turned back, They have fled away together. They did not stand, For the day of their calamity had come upon them, The time of their punishment.

mercenaries – the soldiers hired to help are only like sacrificial bulls, ready for slaughter.

:22 Her noise shall go like a serpent, For they shall march with an army And come against her with axes, Like those who chop wood.

Egypt would be like a snake chased out of the woods by the lumberjacks. Chopped to pieces.

:23 "They shall cut down her forest," says the LORD, "Though it cannot be searched, Because they are innumerable, And more numerous than grasshoppers.

The Babylonian army would seem like a swarm of locusts (grasshoppers) invading the land.

:24 The daughter of Egypt shall be ashamed; She shall be delivered into the hand Of the people of the north."

:25 The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says: "Behold, I will bring punishment on Amon of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings; Pharaoh and those who trust in him.

Amon of No – also known as Amon of Thebes, the chief god of Southern Egypt. The Babylonian invasion would start in northern Egypt and spread south.

:26 "And I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of his servants. Afterward it shall be inhabited as in the days of old," says the LORD.

AfterwardEgypt would go through a restoration time like Judah would after the Babylonian captivity. It may also refer to a time of restoration at the Second Coming.

:27-28 Israel’s restoration

:27 "But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid.

:28 Do not fear, O Jacob My servant," says the LORD, "For I am with you; For I will make a complete end of all the nations To which I have driven you, But I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, For I will not leave you wholly unpunished."

Jacob – would refer to the whole nation of Israel, not just the southern kingdom of Judah.

Perhaps this would be talking about the restoration of Israel at the time of the Second Coming.

Jeremiah 47

:1-7 Nebuchadnezzar against Philistines

:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza.

Pharaoh’s campaign against the Philistines was in 609 BC.

The Philistines were the ancient enemies of the nation of Israel. Later the land would be called “Palestine”, from the name Philistine.

Even though the David would eventually conquer the Philstines (2Sam. 8:1), they never totally went away. In fact, by the time of the reigns of King Jehoram and King Ahaz (2 Chron. 21:16-17; 28:16-18), they had become strong again.

:2 Thus says the LORD: "Behold, waters rise out of the north, And shall be an overflowing flood; They shall overflow the land and all that is in it, The city and those who dwell within; Then the men shall cry, And all the inhabitants of the land shall wail.

out of the northBabylon is coming

:3 At the noise of the stamping hooves of his strong horses, At the rushing of his chariots, At the rumbling of his wheels, The fathers will not look back for their children, Lacking courage,

The invasion would be so terrible that fathers wouldn’t even stop to rescue their children.

:4 Because of the day that comes to plunder all the Philistines, To cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains; For the LORD shall plunder the Philistines, The remnant of the country of Caphtor.

Tyre, Sidon – cities of the Phoenicians, but apparently allied with the Philstines. No help would be coming to Tyre and Sidon from the Philistines.

Caphtor – an ancient name for the island of Crete, the original home of the Philistines.

:5 Baldness has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon is cut off With the remnant of their valley. How long will you cut yourself?

Baldness – could refer to cutting the hair in mourning, could refer to the wiping out of the city of Gaza, like shaving it.

Nebuchadnezzar conquered Ashkelon in 604 BC.

:6 "O you sword of the LORD, How long until you are quiet? Put yourself up into your scabbard, Rest and be still!

:7 How can it be quiet, Seeing the LORD has given it a charge Against Ashkelon and against the seashore? There He has appointed it."


What God uses

Here God would use the Babylonians to bring judgment on the Philistines.
I’m not sure the Philistine version of “Newsweek” had on it’s cover, “GOD JUDGES PHILISTIA”. I’m sure they just thought it was the Babylonians.
Yet Jeremiah was told ahead of time that it was God at work.
The Little Things
As you might know, the head of one company survived 9/11 because his son started kindergarten. Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts. One woman was late because her alarm clock didn’t go off in time. One was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an auto accident. One of them missed his bus. One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change. One’s car wouldn’t start. One went back to answer the telephone. One had a child that dawdled and didn’t get ready as soon as he should have. One couldn’t get a taxi. The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today.
Now when I am stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone...all the little things that annoy me. I think to ! myself, this is exactly where God wants me to be at this very moment.. Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can’t seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don’t get mad or frustrated; God is at work watching over you. May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things and may you remember their possible purpose.
Sometimes we get to thinking that God is only at work when we see big things happen, like the parting of a Red Sea, or raising a person from the dead.  But I wonder if God isn’t more involved in our lives than we give Him credit for.