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Hawaii is still in shutdown until the end of the month and I am now reading Jeremiah. It is a tough book to read without empathizing with the ‘weeping prophet’ as Jeremiah was called. He was given a task that was ‘the burden of the Lord’. Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet from when he was in his mother’s womb. The LORD told him, ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations’ (Jer 1:5). Jeremiah was told to not be afraid because God would be with him to give him the words to speak, to empower him and deliver him from those who opposed him. Jeremiah 1:10 says, ‘See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant’.
His job as a prophet of God was to warn the nation of Judah that they needed to repent of their sins or they would go into Babylonian captivity. But the people, prophets and priests, and kings resisted him and would not listen, and as fate would have it, after many years of his pleadings and warnings went unheeded, the cities of Judah were burned and the people taken captive, and kings killed just as Jeremiah had prophesied.
THE BURDEN OF THE LORD
The key to understanding Jeremiah requires a knowledge of what the burden of the Lord is. If one reads the following verses, one may Not be able to know what the burden of the Lord is. This is from Jer 33, verses 33-40.
33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord.
34 And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house.
35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken?
36 And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God.
37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken?
38 But since ye say, The burden of the Lord; therefore thus saith the Lord; Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord;
39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:
40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
According to this passage the people, prophets, and priests did not know what was the burden of the Lord (vs 35-37). And God says He ‘will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you…cast you out of my presence: …bring everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten (vs 39-40).
Ask many religious leaders today in Christendom and they, too, may not know what the burden of the Lord is. Their fate will also be the same as noted above.
WHAT IS THE BURDEN OF THE LORD?
I think the key to what is the burden of the Lord is in verse 36, ‘for you have perverted the words of the living God’. After God created the world He saw that it was ‘good’, but when man was created the Bible tells us in Genesis 1:31 ‘And God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.’ God desired a relationship with Adam and looked for him daily to have communion with him. He saw that Adam was lonely so He created a wife for him, and throughout the Bible God is seeking men to bless.
Some of our blessings are in Psalm 103:2-5:
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
We read in Jeremiah chapter 9 that we should glory in knowing the Lord:
23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. We know the God through His Word; His Word gives us understanding of WHO He is and who we are to Him.
Ephesians 1:3-6 says:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. God loves us and wants to bless us.
THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH GOD, BUT WITH MAN
Why was it so hard to understand that God loved them and wanted to bless them? The reason for judgments that came upon Judah is stated in Deuteronomy 28:47: ‘Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;’
The LORD says, ‘I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts’ (Isa 65:2).
The people sought blessings in the wrong places with the wrong people and did the wrong things. They did not put their trust in God and did not seek truth or seek to know God and His Word. Jer 6:10 says, ‘The word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it’.
Jeremiah 2:19 says, ‘Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God. And that my fear is not on thee saith the Lord GOD of hosts.’
A major part of the burden of the Lord was that He was ignored, forgotten, and rejected, and Jeremiah was given the task to warn them to repent from backsliding and return to God (3:22; 4:1), or God would bring the sword, famine, and pestilence upon them by the king of Babylon (Jer 33:36).
It is interesting to compare the sins of Judah with the sins of the world today. The idolatry of their day is as the many ‘isms’ of today, atheism, agnosticism, communism, capitalism, socialism, materialism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, basically humanism and world philosophies, religions and cults, deviant lifestyles and cultures that are contrary to Biblical teachings. God’s requirements are simple: Micah 6:8, ‘He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God’.
THE SINS OF JUDAH
Jer 116 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
28 The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
613 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
75 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;
76 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
723 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:
26 Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.
27 Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.
28 But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.
Reason given for their idolatry:
Jer 44:15 Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,
16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee.
17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
This was the excuse or reason they gave as to why they practiced idolatry. They felt they benefited from it. They also performed child sacrifices to Moloch, ‘For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: They have set abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart (Jer 7:30-31). (Is this not the ‘shedding of innocent blood’ with millions of babies murdered by legalized abortion?)
THE BURDEN OF THE LORD- REPENT & RETURN TO THE LORD
. . . my people have forgotten me days without number (2:32)
. . . return again unto me, saith the LORD (3:1)
. . .Return, ye backsliding Israel, saith the LORD and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever (3:12)
I end this glimpse into the book of Isaiah with these verses spoken to the notorious unwise king whose idolatry resulted in a divided kingdom, King Solomon:
2Chronicles 2:16, 19-20 says,
‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. . .But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes, and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them: and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.
Verses 21-22 (People will say) ‘. . .why hath the LORD done thus unto this land and unto this house? And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.
Please see Sounding the Shofar eBook:
In my shutdown time I have been reading the book of Isaiah. These verses are in Chapter 24, ‘Judgments upon the land’:
BEHOLD, THE LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattered abroad the inhabitants thereof.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with the master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer so with the seller; as with the lender so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.
4 The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languished and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
11 There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.
The following verses mention ‘howl’:
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. (Isaiah 13:6)
Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. (Isaiah 52:5-6)
Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. (Isaiah 65:14)
Howling in America
I was reading Isaiah when I came across a news story of people howling at 8:00 p.m. This practice actually began in late March. It is a big thing in Colorado and encouraged by a Facebook group called Go Outside and Howl at 8pm. By now the howling group numbers over 100,000 members ‘in the metro area, as well as fans across the U.S. and around world howling at 8:00 every night in their time zone. They are howling like wolves because they’re socially isolated and distanced from others so that it is a ‘cathartic howl’. The intent is to have it be a ‘worldwide’ thing since it is a world pandemic we are experiencing with corona virus. For many it is a ‘cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.’ (Isaiah 65:14)
If you Google Howl, or Howling in America or go to FaceBook social media ‘Go Outside and Howl’ you will find out about this phenomenon going on that has Biblical roots, and is related to how the world as a whole needs to return to God.