The Winds of Judgement – Jeremiah 4:11-12

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:11-12 (NIV)

“At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse; a wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments against them.”

Jeremiah 4:11-12 (MSG)

“At that time, this people, yes, this very Jerusalem, will be told in plain words: “The northern hordes are sweeping in from the desert steppes—A wind that’s up to no good, a gale-force wind. I ordered this wind. I’m pronouncing my hurricane judgment on my people.”

*****************************************

“In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the wilderness [comes at My command] against the daughter of My people—not [a wind] to winnow and not to cleanse [from chaff, as when threshing, but] a wind too strong and full for this comes at My word. Now I will also speak judgment against My people.” -AMPLIFIED

“The warnings now climax with a vision of invasion and destruction that is almost more than the young prophet can bear. Still God instructs Jeremiah to speak these words of terror, and this prophet who loves the people he has been called to chastise struggles with his mission. In the midst of this painful vision, Jeremiah begins to wonder aloud to the very God for whom he speaks. As he proclaims, he prays. As he waits for answers, the words of devastation continue.” ~VOICE footnote

In yesterday’s text we found Jeremiah devastated over the destruction that God had told him was coming against Judah. Jeremiah felt that God had deceived the people, when in reality, it was the false prophets. Jeremiah’s response to God’s Message of destruciton:

“I said, “Oh no, Lord God, you have certainly deceived this people and Jerusalem, by announcing, ‘You will have peace,’ while a sword is at our throats.” -Jeremiah 4:10 (CSB)

We learned of the need to test the spirits, to weigh everything against the Word, and to not believe everything that we hear.

In today’s passage, we will learn of the impact, the total effect, of God’s judgement would be on Judah.

“The day is coming soon when Jerusalem and the people beyond will be told, “A blistering wind will blow in from the desert mountains toward My daughter, My people: a wind too strong to winnow the grain and clean the crops, a wind too powerful to withstand for it comes from Me. It is My judgment that will bear down on you.” -(VOICE)

God gives to Jeremiah a eye-opening, and sobering prediction of what His judgement against Judah will look like. It will be like, “‘A scorching wind from the desert heights is sweeping down on my people.’” -Complete Jewish Bible

This scorching wind, otherwise known as a sirocco or khamsin, in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, that blows from the south or southeast in late winter and early spring.  It is a blasting, hot, dry wind, that is full of dust and sand. A parching wind that dries everything out, and destroys, leaving nothing unscathed in its path. And its temperatures often reach above 40° C (104° F), it can blow continuously for three or four days at a time. This is how God’s judgement will come against Judah.

“All these expressions appear to refer to the pestilential winds, suffocating vapours, and clouds and pillars of sand collected by whirlwinds, which are so common and destructive in the east, (Isaiah 21:1;) and these images are employed here to show the overwhelming effect of the invasion of the land by the Chaldeans.” ~Adam Clarke

Even Isaiah mentions this wind of judgement:

“As windstorms in the Negev (the South) sweep through, so it (God’s judgment) comes from the desert, from [the hostile armies of] a terrifying land.” -Isaiah 21:1b (AMP)

 The Hot Breath of God’s Judgment!

Remember what God had told Jeremiah back in chapter one, how He was sending judgment upon Judah for the fact that they had abandoned Him.

“I will speak My judgments against them for all the wickedness of those who have abandoned (rejected) Me, offered sacrifices or burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the [idolatrous] works of their own hands.” -Jeremiah 1:16 (AMP)

“At that time he will send a burning wind from the desert upon them—not in little gusts but in a roaring blast—and he will pronounce their doom.” -(TLB)

“The judgment that would come like a wind would be so strong that it would not be like a fan, cooling the people; nor to cleanse with a gentle wind. It would destroy and bring judgment, like a wind too strong.” ~David Guzik

The Bible is quite clear, because of our sin, we deserved death. Isaiah wrote these words:

“We are all messed up like a person compromised with impurity; even all our right efforts are like soiled rags. We’re drying up like a leaf in autumn and are blown away by wrongdoing. And it’s so sad because no one calls out to You or even bothers to approach You anymore. You’ve been absent from us too long; you left us to dissolve away in the acrid power of our sins.” -Isaiah 64:6-7 (VOICE)

The Apostle Paul reminds us of the fact that if we choose to ignore God, we are headed for death.

“But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.” -Romans 1:18-23 (MSG)

We Were Headed in a Downward Spiral.

But…Paul also gives us these words of hope:

“But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” -Romans 6:22-23 (MSG)

Let us remember this admonition, given to Israel from God:

“Do not put the LORD your God to the test.” -Deuteronomy 6:16a (NIV)

“God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.” ~R. C. Sproul

My friend, let us be careful of how we walk, let us not test the Lord God. Remember, this, we are all tainted by sin, since birth. We deserved death, but God…God saw our hopeless estate and did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Hallelujah, thank God for His grace and His mercy!

“I tell you the truth: eternal life belongs to those who hear My voice and believe in the One who sent Me. These people have no reason to fear judgment because they have already left death and entered life.” ~Jesus (John 5:24 VOICE)

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, thank you for making a way for me to be reconciled with you. I was in fact, a hopeless case. But you God, saw the state of my situation, and you made a way for me, when there was no way, to come home to you. You sent your Son, to pay the price for my sin. I deserved death, but you loved me so much, you had Jesus pay the price that I could not pay. Thank you, Lord, for saving me. Judgement may come, but I know that one day I will stand in the Presence of the One who loved me and save me from eternal death. Thank you!

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear -Jeremiah 4:10

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:10 (NIV)

“Then I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! How completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats!”

Jeremiah 4:10 (MSG)

“Then I said, “Alas, Master God! You’ve fed lies to this people, this Jerusalem. You assured them, ‘All is well, don’t worry,’ at the very moment when the sword was at their throats.”

***********************************************

“Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Surely You have completely deceived and misled this people and Jerusalem, [for the prophets represented You as] saying [to Your people], ‘You will have peace,’ but [in fact] a sword reaches to their throat.”” -AMPLIFIED

 “Here we have an outburst, in which the prophet said what he thought. Many men think things like this who never utter them.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

In yesterday’s passage, we found the fear of the Lord being instilled in the leadership of Judah. God had this Message for them:

“On that day”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“the king and the officials will lose their courage. The priests will tremble in fear, and the prophets will be scared speechless.” -Jeremiah 4:9 (CSB)

As we dig into today’s passage, we find Jeremiah reacting to God’s revelation, just as many of us do. Jeremiah’s reaction to God’s Message was quite a human response.

Jeremiah: “But Eternal Lord, You have misled this people and all of Jerusalem when you said, “You will live in peace.” Even now the cold blade of the sword is pressed against our throats.” -(VOICE)

Jeremiah’s initial gut reaction was one that felt God had deceived the people. He begins with a statement that expresses great shock and sorrow: “Oh no, Lord God.” -(CJB)

It is the next statement that makes us wonder if Jeremiah was blaspheming the Lord. There we find him accusing the Lord by saying, “…you have certainly deceived this people and Jerusalem, by announcing, ‘You will have peace,’ while a sword is at our throats.” -(CJB)

What we need to understand is that all the false prophets were prophesying that God was going to bring peace to Judah. Take note:

“This is what the Lord of Armies says: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They are deluding you. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the Lord’s mouth. They keep on saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord has spoken: You will have peace.’ They have said to everyone who follows the stubbornness of his heart, ‘No harm will come to you.’” -Jeremiah 23:16-17 (CSB)

It appears that even Jeremiah had been taken in by the words of the false prophets. Soon Jeremiah would have a better grasp of these charlatans and understand that their message was not coming from the Lord God, but from their own deceitful hearts. Let us take note of two different passages in Jeremiah that will better help us understand this:

1.) “Greed has corrupted this culture, from the least to the greatest: all are tainted with this lust for what they don’t deserve. The prophets and priests are no better. Their lives reek with deceit. To heal the brokenness of My people, they offer superficial words. They say, “Peace, peace,” as if all is well. But there is no peace. Do they feel any shame for their disgraceful deeds? Absolutely not. My very own have forgotten how to blush. And so it is that they will fall among the fallen and be defeated; when the time comes, they will stumble beneath the weight of My punishment; they will know soon enough what they have done.” -Jeremiah 6:13-15 (VOICE)

2.) “The day is coming when these so-called wise teachers will be put to shame; their lives will be shattered when they are captured and taken away. Why will this happen? Because they have rejected and perverted My word. Are these the works of wise men? This is why I will give their wives away to intruders and their property to invaders. Greed has corrupted this culture, from the least to the greatest: everyone is tainted with this lust for what they don’t deserve. The prophets and priests are no better. Their lives reek with deceit. To heal the brokenness of My people, they offer superficial words. They say, “Peace, peace” as if all is well, but there is no peace. Do they feel any shame for their disgraceful deeds? Absolutely not. My very own have forgotten how to blush. And so it is that they will fall among the fallen and be defeated: when the time comes, they will stumble beneath the weight of My punishment…” -Jeremiah 8:9-12 (VOICE)

“(Then I said, “But Lord, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised great blessings on Jerusalem. Yet the sword is even now poised to strike them dead!”)” -(TLB)

“Yet it could be said that it was not the LORD who promised peace, but false prophets who claimed to speak in His name. Another use of the phrase “You shall have peace” (in the New King James Bible) is found in Jeremiah 23:16-17, where they are the words in the mouth of false prophets who prophesied peace to those who despised the LORD. It wasn’t the Lord GOD who greatly deceived the people and Jerusalem; it was the false prophets who promised peace when judgment was coming instead. ” ~David Guzik

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

We would do well to learn the lesson that John tried to teach us in his first epistle, to not believe everything that we hear, but to test the spirits. John wrote:

“My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world. Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought! My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.” -1 John 4:1-6 (MSG)

Test the Spirits!

Let us heed this this warning that Paul gave to Timothy:

“And know this: in the last days, times will be hard. You see, the world will be filled with narcissistic, money-grubbing, pretentious, arrogant, and abusive people. They will rebel against their parents and will be ungrateful, unholy, uncaring, coldhearted, accusing, without restraint, savage, and haters of anything good. Expect them to be treacherous, reckless, swollen with self-importance, and given to loving pleasure more than they love God. Even though they may look or act like godly people, they’re not. They deny His power. I tell you: Stay away from the likes of these.” -2 Timothy 3:1-5 (VOICE)

“Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God. They timidly remember how the Pharisees refused to accept Christ when He came, and they do not want to be caught in the same snare, so they either reserve judgment or shut their eyes and accept everything without question. This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit. Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. Try the spirits is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine. And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. And the more as we see the day approaching.” ~A.W. Tozer

My friend, let us be vigilant in testing the spirits. Don’t believe everything that you hear. God has given us His Word, as a standard. Measure all teaching against it. Listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, and heed His warnings, He will never steer you wrong.

“So, false prophets are not of God, but they are of the world. In fact, they hate God. They haven’t and won’t receive the apostolic truth concerning Christ – His person and work of salvation (John 15:18-27). Therefore, they do not listen to His Word. They do not obey God.” ~4 Truth Ministry (https://www.4truthministry.org/test-the-spirits/)

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I ask for your wisdom, guidance, your help in these last days. I hear many things that are contrary to your Word, and I do not want to be fooled into believing a lie. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. I want to walk in your Way. I want to know the Truth. I want your eternal Life. Give me the wisdom to know the difference between the real and the counterfeit. Lord, be my Guide. Help me to walk in your way. When I am in the presence of those who are just out to tickle my ears, please let your Holy Spirit give me warning, bring back to my mind your Words of Truth, so that I am not fooled. I am counting on you, Lord, and I know you will be my Helper. Thank you. ❤

The Fear of Lord Instilled – Jeremiah 4:9

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:9 (NIV)

“In that day,” declares the Lord, “the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled.”

Jeremiah 4:9 (MSG)

“When this happens” —God’s Decree— “King and princes will lose heart; priests will be baffled and prophets stand dumbfounded.”

****************************************

“It shall come about in that day,” says the Lord, “that the heart and courage of the king will fail (be paralyzed), and also the heart of the princes; the priests will be appalled and the prophets will be astounded and horrified.” -AMPLIFIED

“Judah’s leaders, both civil and religious, are shocked at the sudden catastrophe that overtakes them. They now realize that by believing the false prophets, they have deceived themselves. They mistakenly thought that God would never allow a heathen nation to destroy them.” ~Donald Flemming (Bridgeway Bible Commentary)

In yesterday’s passage, we found Jeremiah warning the people to mourn over their sin, to find remorse over how they had offended the Lord, giving warning to Judah that the Lord’s anger had not been turned away by their superficial repentance. Remember, God knows the heart. He knows our innermost thoughts and feelings. Jeremiah tells the people:

“Because of this, put on sackcloth; mourn and wail, for the Lord’s burning anger has not turned away from us.” -Jeremiah 4:8 (CSB)

Next, we find God giving Jeremiah a Message to deliver about what the state of Judah’s leadership will be, once “The Lion” (Nebuchadnezzar) has come against them. We will find the fear of God will finally fall upon the leadership of Judah.

Eternal One: “On that fearsome day, even the hearts of kings and leaders will fail. Priests will recoil in horror. Prophets will be shocked into silence.” -(VOICE)

God delivers this Message through Jeremiah, and this time it is not one of hope, but of fear and desolation. God informs Judah that on the day when “The Lion” comes, it will be a terrifying day for everyone; especially for Judah’s leadership, who thought they had it all together. Take note of what God says will happen on that day, three things:

1.) “The king and the officials will lose their courage.” -(CSB) Meaning, Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his officials, would be so afraid that they would have no idea clue on what to do in their situation.

2.) “The priests will tremble in fear.” -(CSB) There are probably the priests that were over the high places, that served the false gods, they would be filled with fear, and no help to the king or his officials.

3.) “The prophets will be scared speechless.” -(CSB) These prophets would be the false prophets of the day, and their prophecies of peace would be exposed as lies.

In that day, all Judah’s leadership will all be panic stricken. If we turn over to chapter 8, we find God giving a description of what will happen to all those who insisted that He was going to bring them peace. God’s Message there says:

“So here’s what will happen to the know-it-alls: I’ll make them wifeless and homeless. Everyone’s after the dishonest dollar, little people and big people alike. Prophets and priests and everyone in between twist words and doctor truth. My dear Daughter—my people—broken, shattered, and yet they put on Band-Aids, Saying, “It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.” But things are not “just fine”! Do you suppose they are embarrassed over this outrage? Not really. They have no shame. They don’t even know how to blush. There’s no hope for them. They’ve hit bottom and there’s no getting up. As far as I’m concerned, they’re finished.’” God has spoken.” -Jeremiah 8:10-12(MSG)

  “Even the rumors of impending disaster are a disaster.” ~Philip Ryken

“In that day, says the Lord, the king and the princes will tremble in fear; and the priests and the prophets will be stricken with horror.” -(TLB)

“The heart of the king shall perish: When the terrible judgment comes, even the nobility of Judah will lose their courage and hope. The priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder: When the terrible judgment comes, the spiritual leaders will not know what to do – because they did not return to the LORD, break up the fallow ground, and circumcise their hearts in answer to God’s invitation.” ~David Guzik

The Lies will be EXPOSED!

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” -John 3:20-21 (MSG)

Fear and Respect the Lord!

Solomon had quite a bit to say about having a healthy fear of God. Let us take a look at a few passages of his words of wisdom.

1.) Let us begin. The worship of the Eternal One, the one True God, is the first step toward knowledge.
    Fools, however, do not fear God and cannot stand wisdom or guidance.” -Proverbs 1:7 (VOICE)

2.) “To fear Yahweh is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and twisted speech.” -Proverbs 8:13 (NOG)

3.) “Respect for the Lord gives life. It is like a fountain of water that can save people from death.” -Proverbs 14:27 (ICB)

4.) “The reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it rests satisfied; he cannot be visited with [actual] evil.” -Proverbs 19:23 (AMPC)

5.) “Better is a little with the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” -Proverbs 15:16 (AMP)

“When men no longer fear God, they transgress His laws without hesitation. The fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone.” ~A.W. Tozer

My friend, let us remember the need to fear and respect the Lord always. He will not tolerate our impudence and pride. Let us remember to walk humbly before Him, and then He will lift us up.

“Godly fear is loving and trusting in Him. As we fear God more completely, we love Him more perfectly. And “perfect love casteth out all fear.” I promise the bright light of godly fear will chase away the dark shadows of mortal fears as we look to the Savior, build upon Him as our foundation, and press forward on His covenant path with consecrated commitment.” ~David A. Bednar

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I choose to walk humbly before you. I choose to walk in a healthy fear of who you are, for you are God, and I am not. I choose to submit to your will in my life. Lord, help me to walk closely to you, so I have nothing to fear. Lord, I am choosing your way over my way. Help me to walk faithfully on the pathway that you have set me on. And when that day comes, when I stand in your presence, may I hear those words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”.

The Time for Mourning has Come -Jeremiah 4:8

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:8 (NIV)

“So put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned away from us.”

Jeremiah 4:8 (MSG)

“Dress in funereal black. Weep and wail, For God’s sledgehammer anger has slammed into us head-on.”

**************************************

“For this reason, put on sackcloth [for mourning], lament (mourn with expressions of grief for the dead) and wail, for the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned back from us.” -AMPLIFIED

“Clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail: Jeremiah pictured God’s people finally repenting, yet when it was too late to prevent the terrible judgment.” -David Guzik

We have been looking at God’s warning, given to Judah, through His prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah has recorded for us his vision of the coming judgement against Judah for their blatant sin against God. God’s Message:

“A lion has gone up from his thicket; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his lair
to make your land a waste. Your cities will be reduced to uninhabited ruins.” -Jeremiah 4:7 (CSB)

In verse 8, of Jeremiah 4, we find the prophet warning the people of Judah it was time to mourn over their sin against the Lord. the Message:

The time of mourning is here. Put on your sackcloth, and get ready to cry and scream. Since we have not turned from our sin, the blazing anger of the Eternal has not turned away from us.” -(VOICE)

God’s anger, against Judah, had not been turned away. Why was this? Because He knew their hearts. Every thought, every motive, every action, and purpose behind those actions were perceived clearly by Him. There are no secrets with God, He knows our hearts, inside and out.

Jeremiah foresees the coming doom, and he advises Judah that it is time to mourn over their sin. It is time to weep, and wail. It is time to have a change of heart, for God’s anger has not been turned away by their hypocritical and fake repentance. Remember this warning that Jesus gave to His followers:

“But there is nothing [so carefully] concealed that it will not be revealed, nor so hidden that it will not be made known. For that reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.” -Luke 12:2-3 (AMP)

Solomon also warns us that one day everything we had done in secret would be brought out into the open. Solomon gives us this warning:

“And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.” -Ecclesiastes 12:14 -(MSG)

We will find, over the coming days, how heart-broken Jeremiah was over the fact that Judah was not truly understanding the seriousness of their situation. God had revealed to Him what was to happen, and it was all going to happen because Judah refused to humble themselves before their God. They refused to repent and to turn away from their wicked ways. Because of this, God was going to allow them to experience the consequences of their sin.

“Be sure your sin will find you out!”

“Put on clothes of mourning and weep with broken hearts, for the fierce anger of the Lord has not stopped yet.” -(TLB)

“Gird yourselves in sackcloth, he says, lament and howl; and then follows the reason, because the fury of God’s wrath was not turned away from them. We indeed know, that the ungodly are wont to make God subservient to themselves, as though they could by their perverseness turn aside or drive afar off his judgment, and restrain, as it were, his hand from acting. As, then, hypocrites are insolent towards God, the Prophet says expressly that the fury of his wrath was not turned away: and thus he warns them, that they would be in every way miserable until they were reconciled to God.” ~Jean Calvin

Scripture is adamant over the need for man to humble themselves before God, and the need to repent of sin. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount gave this admonition:

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].” -Matthew 5:4 (AMP)

Let us consider something that James wrote in his epistle about the need to mourn over our sin. He gives us a good idea of what that mourning should look like:

“So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other. Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall.”-James 4:7-10 (VOICE)

“Some of you may say: “I feel really bad about a sin in my life today.” Well, feeling badly can be a first step. But if what you have is Biblical “mourning” over your sin, a godly sorrow brought about by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, you will not only feel badly about it, it will lead you to DO something about it. I believe God is speaking to some of you here today about taking some specific steps of action about a sin in your life. Write down what God is leading you to do; tell somebody about it who will pray with you, and take those steps with God’s help (remember “poor in spirit”; depend on Him!) But Godly sorrow/repentance does not just “feel sorry”; it takes action about their sin.” ~Shawn Thomas

My friend, today take the time to examine your heart. Remember, nothing is hidden from God, He already knows every secret that you thought was hidden from Him. Confess those sins. Mourn over them, repent of them, and turn away from them. Make things right with God while you still have the chance.

“So mourning over our sin is truly a display of humility in action. We cannot be proud and mourn over sin at the same time. We cannot be judgmental toward other believers, or even toward unbelievers, if we are truly contrite and brokenhearted over our own sin.” ~Craig T. Owens

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I am so sorry for the sins in my life that have driven a wedge in our relationship. I confess, my pride and rebellious spirit have gotten me into a whole lot of trouble. I have disobeyed your commands. I have insisted on doing things my own way. I have ignored your Holy Spirit’s warnings, and I have messed up badly. Please forgive me, Lord. Help me to be submissive to you. Help me to be obedient. I humbly ask you to cleanse my heart, reveal to me those things that I need to confess, and I will turn away from them. I need your help. I am such a mess without you. I sit here humbley at your feet, even now.

When God Gives Warning – Jeremiah 4:7

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:7 (NIV)

“A lion has come out of his lair; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to lay waste your land. Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant.”

Jeremiah 4:7 (MSG)

“Invaders have pounced like a lion from its cover, ready to rip nations to shreds, leaving your land in wrack and ruin, your cities in rubble, abandoned.”

************************************

“A lion has left his lair, and a destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone out from his place to desolate your land; your cities will be in ruins without an inhabitant.” -AMPLIFIED

“Jehovah immediately promised that if Israel would return, she would be established. Then the prophet declared that judgment was determined on. He appealed to the people to repent, and that not in external manifestation, but actually and in heart. The people are described as panic-stricken because of the imminent peril.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

In yesterday’s text, we found God warning Judah that judgement was coming. God directs Jeremiah to deliver this Message:

“Declare in Judah, proclaim in Jerusalem, and say, blow the ram’s horn throughout the land. Cry out loudly and say,
“Assemble yourselves, and let’s flee to the fortified cities.” Lift up a signal flag toward Zion. Run for cover! Don’t stand still!
For I am bringing disaster from the north—a crushing blow.” -Jeremiah 4:5-6 (CSB)

This description of judgment continues in today’s text, where we find Jeremiah recording for us details of what will happen in the future.

“For a lion has stepped out of the thicket; a destroyer of nations is on the move. He has left his den to devour your land; your cities will be left in ruin, empty and lifeless.” -(VOICE)

Jeremiah gives to Judah details of what will happen when God’s judgement falls on them. We find specific details, though veiled, that Jeremiah could only know because God had reveled them to him.

Let’s take a moment to look at each part of this prophecy, to better understand it.

1.) “A lion has come out of its lair.” -(NOG) This is a reference to Nebuchadnezzar, who is compared to a lion, because of his great strength and fierceness.

2.) “A destroyer of nations has set out.” -(NOG) Nebuchadnezzar would be a conqueror, destroying and dominating many nations.

3.) “He has left his place to destroy your land.” -(NOG) God, through Jeremiah, warns Judah that this menacing ruler will leave his own home, to overrun and destroy theirs.

4.) “Your cities will be ruined, and no one will live in them.” -(NOG) When he is finished, there will be nothing left of the Judah that they know. The country will lie in ruin and will be empty and lifeless.

God gives Judah fair warning. This is the doom that awaits them if they continue to refuse to repent and turn from their sin. Sadly, we will find that they continue in their stubborn rebellion, and God’s judgement will fall upon them. In the midst of all of this, Jeremiah’s heart was breaking, because he understood the seriousness of the situation.

“A lion—a destroyer of nations—stalks from his lair; and he is headed for your land. Your cities will lie in ruin without inhabitant.” -(TLB)

“Jeremiah compares Nebuchadnezzar to a lion which has gone up from its thicket. The lion, being the symbol of irresistible might and royalty, is a fitting figure for the invincible Chaldean conqueror. Unlike the literal lions which might attack individuals, this mighty and ruthless lion attacks and destroys whole nations. So certain is Jeremiah that this enemy from the north will descend on Judah that he can declare that Nebuchadnezzar has gone out of his place (lit., has broken up his camp). His purpose, declares the prophet, is to make the whole land of Judah a desolation.” ~College Press Bible Study

When God gives us warnings, the wise thing to do would be to quickly obey. Those warnings are given to us in order to change our direction and reaffirm our relationship with the Lord. God has given us fair warnings. Take note:

“Be careful, or you will be fooled and will turn away to serve and worship other gods.” -Deuteronomy 11:16 (NCV)

 “Far more blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” -Luke 11:28 (CJB)

“Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].” -1 Corinthians 10:12 (AMP)

Let us consider something that James wrote to us about being a good listener:

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” -James 1:19-25 (MSG)

“God’s warnings serve to remind us of the conditionality of His promises to His church. If one forgets the conditionality of the promises, as the Jews did, he must first reject God’s warnings. God’s warnings often appear to contradict His promises, but properly understood, they are compatible. God always grants to us freedom of choice; and if we fail to comply with the conditions for receiving the promises, His warnings simply reveal His alternate plans.” ~ Stan Christensen

My friend, God always gives us fair warning when it comes to discipling us for our sin. He gives us ample opportunity to change our ways, and renew our relationship with Him. He is not an abusive Father, but He loves us with an everlasting love. His deepest desire is to have a living and growing relationship with us. Are you listening and obeying. How is your walk with God today?

“Throughout Bible history, God has repeatedly provided man with more than “ample warning” of His impending judgments. His purpose for warning man is to motivate him to repent and come back to Him. For the most part, man has not taken advantage of God’s “ample warning” because of his evil and doubting heart.” ~Mike Riley

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I am so grateful that you are a loving Father. I am thankful that you give your children warnings, and if they choose to listen and obey those warnings, they can be restored into right relationship with you. I am so grateful for your forgiveness, and the fact that you give second chances, even thirds, and fourths. Heavenly Father, I am so blessed to be counted among your children. I cannot tell you enough how much I love you, and what a blessing you are to me. Father, you are so good to me. ❤

Judgement is Coming – Jeremiah 4:5-6

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:5-6 (NIV)

“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say: ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’ Cry aloud and say: ‘Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities!’ Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction.”

Jeremiah 4:5-6 (MSG)

“Sound the alarm in Judah, broadcast the news in Jerusalem. Say, ‘Blow the ram’s horn trumpet through the land!’ Shout out—a bullhorn bellow!—‘Close ranks! Run for your lives to the shelters!’ Send up a flare warning Zion: ‘Not a minute to lose! Don’t sit on your hands!’ Disaster’s descending from the north. I set it off! When it lands, it will shake the foundations.

******************************************

“Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say, “Blow the trumpet in the land; cry aloud and say, ‘Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities.’ Raise a banner toward Zion [to mark the way for those seeking safety inside Jerusalem’s walls]! Seek refuge, do not stand [immobile], for I am bringing evil from the north (the army of Babylon), and great destruction.” -AMPLIFIED

“The warnings now climax with a vision of invasion and destruction that is almost more than the young prophet can bear. Still God instructs Jeremiah to speak these words of terror, and this prophet who loves the people he has been called to chastise struggles with his mission. In the midst of this painful vision, Jeremiah begins to wonder aloud to the very God for whom he speaks. As he proclaims, he prays. As he waits for answers, the words of devastation continue.” ~VOICE footnote

In yesterday’s text, we learned of the need to circumcise the heart. Remember, God was speaking directly to Judah, and He had this Message for them:

“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem.
Otherwise, my wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.” -Jeremiah 4:4 (CSB)

In today’s passage, we find God speaking to Jeremiah, directing him to once again deliver a Message to the people of Judah. It was a Message of coming Judgement.

Eternal One (to Jeremiah): “Cry out to those in Jerusalem. Proclaim to all of Judah. Let the trumpets blare throughout the land! Say to the people, “Gather everyone from the outlying villages, and run toward the fortified cities.” Raise a banner toward Zion, Jerusalem; point everyone toward her refuge. Don’t wait, for I am releasing an evil from the north that will devastate the land.” -(VOICE)

Jeremiah foresees a great army coming from the north. Over the next few days, we will learn more about who that army was, and what it would do to Judah. Jeremiah begins though with a warning of the impending doom that is about to fall on Judah. Disaster was coming, and it is all because the people refused to repent and turn from their sin.

Impending Doom

We find Jeremiah warning Judah to prepare themselves for what is about to happen. In fact, God tells him to, “…sound the alarm throughout the land.” -(CEB) And Jeremiah is obedient, for it breaks his heart to see the people refusing to change. Jeremiah’s warning, the words given to him by God:

“‘Come together! Let’s all escape to the strong, walled cities!’ Raise the signal flag toward Jerusalem! Run for your lives! And don’t wait!” -(ICB)

God gives to Jeremiah a warning about the seriousness of this Message:

“For I am bringing disaster from the north— a crushing blow.” -(CSB)

“The blowing of the horn (sopar) announced a state of emergency. Hearing it citizens would flee for safety behind the walls of their fortified city.” ~Thompson

Consider a warning that Amos recorded for us from the Lord:

“Hear the message that the Eternal has spoken about you, people of Israel—the words He has spoken against the whole family: Eternal One: I brought you up from Egypt of all the peoples on the earth, I knew and chose you for a relationship with Me. So I will punish you for the wrong you have done. Do two people travel together if they had to set up a time to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest if it has not found its prey? Does a young lion growl in its den if it has not caught something? Does a bird fall into a trap if no net has been set for it? Does a trap snap shut if nothing has set it off? Does the trumpet sound the alarm in the city without frightening the people? Does disaster come to a city unless the Eternal One has permitted it? The answer to all is the same: No. The Eternal Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants, the prophets. They are His spokespeople.” -Amos 3:1-7 (VOICE)

God Warns HIS People AGAIN!

Make note of the warning that Joel gave to the people of Judah:

“Blow the trumpet in Zion [warning of impending judgment], sound an alarm on My holy mountain [Zion]! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble and shudder in fear, for the [judgment] day of the Lord is coming; it is close at hand, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and of thick [dark] mist, like the dawn spread over the mountains; there is a [pagan, hostile] people numerous and mighty, the like of which has never been before nor will be again afterward even for years of many generations. Before them a fire devours, and behind them a flame burns; before them the land is like the Garden of Eden, but behind them a desolate wilderness; and nothing at all escapes them.” -Joel 2:1-3 (AMP)

REPENT and CHANGE!

“Shout to Jerusalem and to all Judea, telling them to sound the alarm throughout the land. “Run for your lives! Flee to the fortified cities!” Send a signal from Jerusalem: “Flee now, don’t delay!” For I the Lord am bringing vast destruction on you from the north.” -(TLB)

 “God’s usual method is to warn before he wounds. In these verses, accordingly, God gives notice to the Jews of the general desolation that would shortly be brought upon them by a foreign invasion. This must be declared and published in all the cities of Judah and streets of Jerusalem, that all might hear and fear, and by this loud alarm be either brought to repentance or left inexcusable. The prediction of this calamity is here given very largely, and in lively expressions, which one would think should have awakened and affected the most stupid.” ~Matthew Henry

God is calling all people to a place of repentance, or they will face His judgement. Take into consideration something that Peter said to the crowds that gathered on the Day of Pentecost:

“Now change your mind and attitude to God and turn to him so he can cleanse away your sins and send you wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord and send Jesus your Messiah back to you again. For he must remain in heaven until the final recovery of all things from sin, as prophesied from ancient times. Moses, for instance, said long ago, ‘The Lord God will raise up a Prophet among you, who will resemble me! Listen carefully to everything he tells you. Anyone who will not listen to him shall be utterly destroyed.” -Acts 3:19-23 (TLB)

“The first condition is repentance, which means a change of mind. Formerly I thought sin a pleasant thing, but now I have changed my mind about it; formerly I thought the world an attractive place, but now I know better; formerly I regarded it a miserable business to be a Christian, but now I think differently. Once I thought certain things delightful, now I think them vile; once I thought other things utterly worthless, now I think them most precious. That is a change of mind, and that is repentance.” ~Watchman Nee

Remember this truth about God that Peter gave us:

“The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change his heart and life.” -2 Peter 3:9 (ICB)

“Repentance, as we know, is basically not moaning and remorse, but turning and change.” ~ J.I. Packer

My friend, time is running short, and God is calling all mankind to a place of repentance. It is time to make the change in our lives. It is time to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and turn away from all sin. God has been patient with us, He has given us ample time to turn from our wicked ways. Do not put off what needs to be done today.

“Another proof of the conquest of a soul for Christ will be found in a real change of life. If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs to be repented of and his conversion is a fiction.” ~Charles Spurgeon

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I humbly come and bow at your feet, acknowledging that I am a sinner. I have been disobedient to you and your ways. I have messed up. I repent of my sin. I understand that repenting involves a change, a turning away from that sin, and choosing to do things your way, not my own. Lord, I am so grateful that you are so patient, loving, and caring. Help me to daily choose to walk in your ways, choosing to live according to your commands. Give me the strength to turn my back on sin, and to walk that path of holiness that you have directed me to follow. Thank you, Lord.

Circumcision of the Heart – Jeremiah 4:4

Growing with God: A daily devotion with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:4 (NIV)

“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done—burn with no one to quench it.”

Jeremiah 4:4 (MSG)

“Yes, circumcise your lives for God’s sake. Plow your unplowed hearts, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem. Prevent fire—the fire of my anger—for once it starts it can’t be put out. Your wicked ways are fuel for the fire.”

******************************************

“Circumcise (dedicate, sanctify) yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskin [sins] of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] and burn and there will be no one to quench it, because of the evil of your acts.” -AMPLIFIED

Circumcise yourselves — Put away everything that has a tendency to grieve the Spirit of God, or to render your present holy resolutions unfruitful.” ~Adam Clarke

In yesterday’s text, we found God directing Judah to break up the fallow ground of their hearts. He wanted them, He needed them, to have a changed heart. God’s Message:

“For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up the unplowed ground; do not sow among the thorns.” -Jeremiah 4:3 (CSB)

Today’s passage concerns the circumcision of the heart. God’s Message to Judah:

“Circumcise yourselves to Me; cut away the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and people of Jerusalem. Remove all that stands between us, and devote yourselves fully to Me, or the heat of My anger will burn as an unquenchable fire against your wicked ways.” -(VOICE)

First, we need to understand what circumcision is. Circumcision was an ordinance instituted by God. It began with His covenant with Abraham, and it was intended to be an outward sign of their covenant together. Circumcision was a medical surgery that entailed the removal of the foreskin of a male’s genital.

The first record of the Covenant of Circumcision can be found in Genesis 17, there we find this record of God’s directives on circumcision given to Abraham:

Eternal One:  Here is My covenant with you. I promise you will become the root of a huge family tree of multiple nations. To symbolize your foundational role in this covenant, I hereby change your name. You will no longer go by the name “Abram.” Your new name will be “Abraham,” which means “father of a great multitude of nations,” because that is exactly what I will make of you. Your descendants will be exceedingly fruitful. Nations and kings will descend from you. I hereby make this covenant—this sacred bond—between Me and you and all of your children and their children’s children throughout the coming generations. It will be an eternal covenant. I will be your God and the God to all who come after you! I will fulfill My promise to give you and your descendants the land of Canaan, where you now live as foreigners. I will place all of Canaan into your hands to be yours forever. I will be your God and their God forever. (continuing to Abraham) As for your part in the agreement, you and your descendants must keep My covenant throughout the generations. The sign that you and your family keep My covenant is this: each male who lives among you shall be circumcised. The circumcised flesh of your foreskins constitutes a special “sign” of the covenant I made with you, a relationship bonded together by loyalty and love.  From this point onward, throughout coming generations, each male child born to you should be circumcised when he is eight days old. You must circumcise all male members of your household, even the slaves born within your household or the servants purchased from foreigners who aren’t your flesh and blood; anyone and everyone within your household must carry this sign. This external mark on his body will be a sign of My everlasting covenant. Any male who is not separated from his foreskin will be cut off from his people and excluded from these covenant promises because he has broken My covenant.” -Genesis 17:4-14 (VOICE)

Here, in our passage, we find God directing Judah to circumcise their hearts. What does He mean by this? In essence, God wanted Judah to remove the foreskin of their hearts; to remove the everything and anything that separated them from Him.

And if they continued to refuse to do so? Then they could expect to experience His wrath.

“The Jews put their confidence in external religious ritual and did not let God operate on their hearts. He wants truth deep with the heart.” ~Warren W. Wiersbe

“Cleanse your minds and hearts, not just your bodies, or else my anger will burn you to a crisp because of all your sins. And no one will be able to put the fire out.” -(TLB)

“God drew His people with kind words, but also told them of the consequences of continued rejection. If they did not return, judgment was waiting.” ~David Guzik

Circumcision of the heart is an inward change, in order to become right with God. And it begins with allowing God to operate on our hearts. Take note of what Moses told the Israelites:

“Even if you’ve been sent to the ends of the heavens, He will gather you together and bring you back from there to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and it will be yours once again. You’ll be a bigger and more prosperous nation than ever before. The Eternal your God will cut away and circumcise the hardness around your hearts and your descendants’ hearts so that you’ll love Him completely, heart and soul, and you’ll live.” -Deuteronomy 30:4-6 (VOICE)

“Moses literally tells the people to “circumcise their hearts,” meaning that they should commit to the covenant with the Eternal One not just outwardly but inwardly.) The prophets describe the new covenant in the same way: “a new heart and new spirit”” ~Voice footnote

Remember what God told His people through Ezekiel:

“For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” -Ezekiel 36:26-28 (MSG)

Let us consider something that Paul wrote to the Roman church about circumcision:

“You see, circumcision is of value only if you keep the law’s teachings. But if you keep breaking God’s rules, you are no different than those without the mark. So if an uncircumcised man abides by God’s just precepts, doesn’t that make his standing before God the same as one who is circumcised? The man who is physically uncircumcised but still keeps the law, he will stand in judgment over the person who is circumcised and yet continually breaks God’s law. A mark that is evident doesn’t necessarily make one a Jew, and circumcision that is evident only in the flesh is not true. But the true Jew is Jewish on the inside—in secret places no one but God can see—and true circumcision involves the heart; it comes from the Spirit, not from some written code. The praise and reputation of that kind of Jew come from God, not from man.” -Romans 2:25-29 (VOICE)

“So circumcise the foreskin of your [minds and] hearts; be no longer stubborn and hardened.” ~God (Deuteronomy 10:16 AMPC)

My friend, what is the state of your heart today? Have you allowed yourself to become hard-hearted towards the things of God? Have you wandered far from the One who loves you most? If you have, it is time to allow Him to circumcise your heart again. Allow Him to remove that heart of stone, and to give you a heart of flesh. Going through the motions will not save you. Only by repentance and confession, and allowing God to work a change in your life, can you be saved.

“God wants us to be circumcised in heart so that we can love Him with all our heart (Deut.30:6). That is the mark of circumcision of the heart. We are not circumcised if we love ourselves and glory in ourselves.” ~Zac Poonen

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, here I am once again, sitting at your feet, asking you to circumcise my heart, and make the changes in me, in order that our relationship can be what you intend it to be. I know there are things that have crowded into my life, things that have distracted me from what is truly important, my relationship with you. I am so sorry, Lord. Please forgive me. I ask that you surgically remove everything that is not conducive to our relationship, circumcise my heart. Help me to have that change of heart that is needed, so that I can have a closer walk with you. Thank you, Lord.

Break Up the Fallow Ground – Jeremiah 4:3

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:3 (NIV)

“This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”

Jeremiah 4:3 (MSG)

“Here’s another Message from God to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow your unplowed fields, but then don’t plant weeds in the soil!”

************************************

“For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, “Plow your uncultivated ground [for a season], and do not sow among thorns.” -AMPLIFIED

Fallow ground is either that which, having been once tilled, has lain long uncultivated; or, ground slightly ploughed, in order to be ploughed again previously to its being sown. Ye have been long uncultivated in righteousness; let true repentance break up your fruitless and hardened hearts; and when the seed of the word of life is sown in them, take heed that worldly cares and concerns do not arise, and, like thorns, choke the good seed.” ~Adam Clarke

In yesterday’s text, we observed God admonishing Israel/Judah that there must be a change, on their part, if their relationship was to commence. We found Him once again imploring them to return to Him. And with that return, there would be blessings that would follow, that would not only affect Israel/Judah, but the nations of the World as well. God’s Message:

“If you return, Israel—this is the Lord’s declaration—you will return to me, if you remove your abhorrent idols from my presence
and do not waver, then you can swear, “As the Lord lives,” in truth, justice, and righteousness, and then the nations will be blessed by him and will boast in him.” -Jeremiah 4:1-2 (CSB)

In today’s passage, we find God directing this particular Message to Judah and the people of Jerusalem, His holy city. God addresses a problem, an obstacle that He has observed on Judah’s part. God reveals to them that He has noticed that they have allowed their relationship with Him to go dormant. God’s Message:

“This is what the Eternal now says to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. Eternal One: Break up the hard, untilled soil! It is a waste to plant seeds among thorns.” -(VOICE)

Yahweh says to the people:

“Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” -(KJV)

As Adam Clarke has informed us, fallow ground was once cultivated ground. It was soil that was once respected and useful, but it had fallen into dishonor and uselessness. It was once fruitful, now it was fruitless. It was once lovingly cared for, now it had fallen into a state of neglect.

The ground of the hearts of the people of Judah had become hard, resistant, and unfruitful. And God told them this needed to change. Over in the book of Hosea we find the prophet recording this Message from God that echoes what we find here in Jeremiah:

“Plant a crop of righteousness for yourselves, harvest the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your hard soil, because it’s time to seek the Eternal until He comes and waters your fields with justice. You’ve plowed wickedness and reaped injustice; you’ve eaten the fruit of deception. Because you’ve trusted in your own might, in the size and skill of your army, so the nations will line up against you in battle and all of your fortifications will be destroyed, just as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel when he fought against it and dashed its mothers to pieces with their children! The same thing will happen to you, O Bethel, because you’re so wicked. When that day breaks, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” -Hosea 10:12-15 (VOICE)

“Sow righteousness, reap love. It’s time to till the ready earth, it’s time to dig in with God!” -Hosea 10:12 (MSG)

“The Lord is saying to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Plow up the hardness of your hearts; otherwise the good seed will be wasted among the thorns.” -(TLB)

“Break up your fallow ground: God invited Judah and Jerusalem to return to Him from a hardened condition. Fallow ground is uncultivated farmland, especially ground that was plowed before but has laid dormant for a year or more. It is hard to plow, but no useful crops can be grown until the fallow ground is broken up… And do not sow among thorns: This probably has in mind what does grow upon fallow ground – weeds and thorns. It’s not as if nothing grows upon fallow fields, simply nothing useful grows there. Spiritually speaking, returning Judah must put their energy into prepared, repentant hearts.” ~David Guzik

Remember Jesus telling the story of the scattered seed and the fallow ground? After telling it to the crowds, many were left scratching their heads, including His disciples, because they did not understand. Jesus explained it to them in this way:

“The seed the farmer is sowing is the good news, God’s word. Some people are the seed thrown onto the path, and the tempter snaps up the word before it can even take root. Others are the seed thrown among the rocks. Those people hear the word and receive it immediately with joy and enthusiasm; but without deep roots, doubt, trouble, or persecution instantly withers their faith. Still others are the seed tossed among weeds and brambles. The word has reached them, but the things of this life—the worries, the drive for more and more, the desire for other things—those things cluster around close and choke the life of God out of them until they cannot produce. But those last seeds—those sown into good soil? Those people hear the word, accept it, meditate on it, act on it, and bear fruit—a crop 30, 60, or 100 times larger than the farmer dropped to earth.” -Mark 4:14-20 (VOICE)

In the book of Ezekiel, we find God giving this warning to Israel:

“I will judge each of you, O Israel, and punish or reward each according to his own actions. Oh, turn from your sins while there is yet time. Put them behind you and receive a new heart and a new spirit. For why will you die, O Israel? I do not enjoy seeing you die,” the Lord God says. “Turn, turn and live!” -Ezekiel 18:30-32 (TLB)

But there was a promise given a few chapters back, which was intended to move Israel to a place of repentance and hope. God’s Message:

“‘This is your Message from God, the Master. True, I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands. All the same, I’ve provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries where you’ve gone. I will gather you back from those countries and lands where you’ve been scattered and give you back the land of Israel. You’ll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you. I’ll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. Then you’ll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” -Ezekiel 11:19-20 (MSG)

May our prayer echo David’s prayer to the Lord:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” -Psalm 51:10 (AMPC)

“Hard hearts need plowing up so they can receive the seed of the Word and bear fruit.” ~Warren W. Wiersbe

My friend, how has the soil of your heart been lately? Have you been taking care of it, cultivating and caring for it? Is your walk with the Lord, fresh and vibrant? Is your life bearing good fruit for Him? If you cannot answer positively to all of those questions, then it is time to renew and refresh your relationship with Him. Remember, He is ready and waiting to create within you a clean heart. He wants to remove the heart of stone, and give us a heart of flesh. Spend some time today catching up with your God.

“There must be a deep ploughing, and the eradication of that which hinders growth, both in the realm of the spirit and in nature, before there can be a bountiful harvest.” ~Cundall

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I need to take some time today and have you give me a heart check-up. Have I grown slack in my relationship with you? Has the soil of my heart grown fallow? If so, Lord, I want to change that. I do not ever want to allow our relationship to grow cold. Renew within my heart a right relationship with you. Help me to keep my relationship with you fresh every day. Sow the seed of your Word within me and allow me to bear good fruit. I want to fall deeper and deeper in love with you every day. Change my heart, dear Lord!

There Must Be a Change – Jeremiah 4:1-2

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 4:1-2 (NIV)

“If you, Israel, will return, then return to me,” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will invoke blessings by him and in him they will boast.”

Jeremiah 4:1-2 (MSG)  

“If you want to come back, O Israel, you must really come back to me. You must get rid of your stinking sin paraphernalia and not wander away from me anymore. Then you can say words like, ‘As God lives . . . ’ and have them mean something true and just and right. And the godless nations will get caught up in the blessing and find something in Israel to write home about.”

***************************************************

“If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “If you will return to Me, and if you will put away your detestable things and remove your man-made gods from My sight, and not stray or waver, and if you swear [your oaths], ‘As the Lord lives,’ In truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then the nations will bless themselves in Him, and in Him they will glory.” -AMPLIFIED

“God reminds the people that if they repent, their repentance must be genuine. They must remove every trace of idolatry from their lives and renew their oath of absolute loyalty to him. Only then will they be able to serve him by taking his message to the nations.” ~Donald Flemming (Bridgeway Bible Commentary) 

Yesterday’s text reminded us of what the posture of repentance looks like. In the final verse of Jeremiah 3, we found Jeremiah foretelling that one day Israel/Judah would finally grasp the need to bow their knee in shame and repentance to the Lord for their rebelliousness. Jeremiah foresees this confession:

“Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the Lord our God.” -Jeremiah 3:25 (CSB)

As we begin chapter 4 of Jeremiah, we see the Speaker is once again Adonai, and in this passage, we find Him conveying the wonderful things that could happen to Israel/Judah if only she would return to Him. God’s Message:

Eternal One: “O Israel if you turn, turn home to Me. Just turn away from the vile worship of those things, those idols that repulse Me. Put them out of My sight for good. Come home to Me and never stray. If you make a promise in My name, saying, “As the Eternal lives,” and do so in truth, justice, and righteousness, then the nations will discover true blessing in Me and give Me the praise I deserve.” -(VOICE)

God once again calls Israel/Judah to “RETURN” TO Him. To “COME HOME”! In fact, it has been noted that this call for Israel to return to the Lord is given over forty times in the book of Jeremiah. One would think that God truly cared about them, and that would be the truth. He would never give up on them, nor will He ever give up on us.

“The Lord clarified that for His people to return to a blessed condition they must return to Him.” ~Thomas Constable

There was something that Israel needed to do on her part for Adonai to accept her back as His Bride, she needed to turn away from her idols completely. She needed to break off all promiscuous relationships with all other gods, and she needed to “get rid of your (her) stinking sin paraphernalia.” -(MSG) She needed to remove all signs of her sinful past from her sight, so she would never be tempted to go back.

And…she needed to commit herself to her marriage to the Lord. She needed to promise that she would give 100% to their relationship.

Then you can say words like, ‘As God lives . . . ’and have them mean something true and just and right.” -(CSB)

Once Israel/Judah had made such a commitment, the blessings that would follow would not only touch her, but would affect all other nations, just as God had always intended. Remember the promise that God made with Abraham when they made a covenant together. God’s Promise to Abraham and his descendants:

“One day, the Eternal One called out to Abram. Eternal One: “Abram, get up and go! Leave your country. Leave your relatives and your father’s home, and travel to the land I will show you. Don’t worry—I will guide you there. I have plans to make a great people from your descendants. And I am going to put a special blessing on you and cause your reputation to grow so that you will become a blessing and example to others. I will also bless those who bless you and further you in your journey, and I’ll trip up those who try to trip you along the way. Through your descendants, all of the families of the earth will find their blessing in you.” -Genesis 12:1-3 (VOICE)

“Israel’s repentance is a necessary precondition for the ultimate blessing of the nations” ~NIV Study Bible footnote

“O Israel, if you will truly return to me and absolutely discard your idols, and if you will swear by me alone, the living God, and begin to live good, honest, clean lives, then you will be a testimony to the nations of the world, and they will come to me and glorify my name.” -(TLB)

“In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him they shall glory: This is the understanding of the LORD that belongs to those who return to Him and repent. Once again they see His true, good, righteous character, and His blessing to the nations.” ~David Guzik

What should we be learning from Israel/Judah’s example? In order for us to have a relationship with God, we must change. We cannot carry on as we once did when we lived as the World. Paul had quite a bit to say about the need for us to turn from the old ways, and change.

To the Romans, Paul wrote:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” -Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)

To the Corinthians, Paul wrote:

“The love of Christ controls us, because we know that One died for all, so all have died. Christ died for all so that those who live would not continue to live for themselves. He died for them and was raised from the dead so that they would live for him. From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him. God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins. And he gave us this message of peace. So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God.” -2 Corinthians 5:14-20 (New Century Version)

And to Timothy, Paul wrote:

“Timothy, do everything you can to present yourself to God as a man who is fully genuine, a worker unashamed of your mission, a guide capable of leading others along the correct path defined by the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15 (VOICE)

“Without a change of heart, there is no change in character.”
~Lailah Gifty Akita

My friend, there must be a change in our lives if we are to be children of God. We cannot just carry on as we once did, following the ways of the World. Remember what Peter wrote to the church, this reminder from God: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

“Could I see that God wanted to transform my life from a somewhat ugly, useless branch to an arrow, a tool usable in His hands, for the furtherance of His purposes?….To be thus transformed, was I willing – am I still willing – for the whittling, sandpapering, stripping, processes necessary in my Christian life? The ruthless pulling off of leaves and flowers might include doing without a television set or washing machine, remaining single in order to see a job done, re-evaluating the worthiness of the ambition to be a “good” doctor (according to my terms and values). The snapping of thorns might include drastic dealing with hidden jealousies and unknown prides, giving up prized rights in leadership and administration. The final stripping of the bark might include lessons to be learned regarding death to self – self-defense, self-pity, self-justification, self-vindication, self-sufficiency, all the mechanisms of preventing the hurt of too deep involvement. Am I prepared for the pain, which may at times seem like sacrifice, in order to be made a tool in His service? My willingness will be a measure of the sincerity of my desire to express my heartfelt gratitude to Him for his so-great salvation. Can I see such minor “sacrifices” in light of the great sacrifice of Calvary, where Christ gave all for me?”
― Helen Roseveare (Living Sacrifice: Willing to Be Whittled as an Arro
w)

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, it is my desire to be wholly committed to you, to our relationship. Help me, Lord, I pray, to be a changed person. Help me to have the strength to turn away from those things that once enticed me to turn away from you. Please, take my life as a living sacrifice offered up to you. Help me to live a life that is holy and acceptable to you. Help me to be a reflection of your Son.

The Posture of Confession and Repentance – Jeremiah 3:25

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 3:25 (NIV)

“Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God,  both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”

Jeremiah 3:25 (MSG)

“We made our bed and now lie in it, all tangled up in the dirty sheets of dishonor. All because we sinned against our God, we and our fathers and mothers. From the time we took our first steps, said our first words, we’ve been rebels, disobeying the voice of our God.”

***************************************

“Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor and humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers; from our youth even to this day we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.” -AMPLIFIED

“The people then turn to God and confess their sins. They admit that the worship of Baal has been a deception; instead of bringing them prosperity it has brought them disaster. They are ashamed of themselves, and return to Yahweh in acknowledgment that he alone is God.” ~Donald Flemming (Bridgeway Bible Commentary)

Over the past few days, we have focused on Jeremiah’s prophecy, of the day when Israel and Judah would confess and repent of their sin. Yesterday’s text contained this future confession, which acknowledged the realization of the people of the high cost of sin:

“From the time of our youth the shameful one has consumed what our ancestors have worked for—their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.” -Jeremiah 3:24 (CSB)

As we close out chapter three today, we find Israel/Judah in the future will admit and accept their shame and humiliation. As we look into today’s text, let us take notice of the posture of true shame and repentance, which will lead to salvation.

“Let us fall on our faces in shame, covered in our humiliation. Ours is a legacy of rebellion, for we and those before us have sinned against the Eternal our God. From the time we were young to this very day, we have refused to obey His voice.” -(VOICE)

In yesterday’s passage we noticed that it took Israel/Judah a long time to experience that shame that they should have felt. This was because they had seared their consciences by ignoring that sense of shame in the first place, and continuing further and further into sin. The conscience is the God-given part of our being that causes us to sense when we have done wrong and feel shame and regret. It is the part of us which senses when something is right or wrong. Ignore it long enough and it will no longer warn you when you are doing wrong. The Apostle Paul mentions this in his first letter to Timothy:

“But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning]…” -1 Timothy 4:1-2 (AMP)

In today’s text, we learn that Israel/Judah will one day acknowledge and admit their guilt, shame, and humiliation. One day they will recognize that they had been living in a state of rebellion against the Lord from their childhood, just as their father’s had, and their father’s father. It was an inherent family legacy that had been going on for a very long time. In fact, since the time of Creation, when Adam and Eve first sinned against God, by disobeying His directives.

Remember what God’s requirement was that was given back in verses 13 and 14:

“Just admit what you did—your sin against Me. How you rebelled against the Eternal your God. How you gave yourself away to these foreign gods in the open, under the trees!  How you disobeyed My voice. Come back home, My restless, faithless ones, for I am your master, your husband (not that other god), and I will take you in—one from this city, two from that clan; I will bring you home to Zion.” -Jeremiah 3:13-14 (VOICE)

Let us take notice of what the posture of the people will be once they finally realize their sin, and are ashamed. This passage tells us:

“Let us lie down in our shame, and let our humiliation cover us…” -(NASB)

“As persons overwhelmed with a sense of sin, and so pressed with the guilt of it on their consciences, that they can neither stand up, nor look up, but throw themselves on the ground, and cover their faces, being ashamed of what they have done.” ~John Gill

The posture of true repentance will bring you low. It is both eye-opening and humbling.

In bending our knees we assume an attitude of humility before the God to whom we offer our prayer.” ~John Breck

“We lie in shame and in dishonor, for we and our fathers have sinned from childhood against the Lord our God; we have not obeyed him.” -(TLB)

“This shame was constant and could not be done away with until the children of Israel genuinely repented and returned to the LORD. We have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers…and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God: This is the appropriate expression of broken repentance that should mark God’s backsliding children. There is no excuse or explanation given.” ~David Guzik

True repentance will entail shame. Shame over our disobedience. Shame over our rebellion against God. Shame that we have abandoned God. When we reach that place, we will no longer have any excuses for our sin, but we will acknowledge them for what they truly are, an offence against the Creator of all things. Let us take note of Ezra’s prayer and plea to the Lord concerning Israel’s sin:

Ezra’s Prayer: “O my True God, witness my shame and embarrassment as I appeal to You. My True God, our sins are so great that they have flooded over us, and they have reached to the heavens. Our people are chronic sinners, our sin is greater than we could have imagined, and You have tried to correct our behavior by subjecting our kings and our priests to death, captivity, theft, and shame by foreign rulers. Those pagans continue to rule us today. Even though You, our Eternal God, have shown Your grace by preserving a remnant and by giving us a secure hold in Your holy place, may You, our God, brighten our eyes and grant us assurance even in our bondage to the Persian rulers. We are still their slaves. In this bondage, You, our True God, have not forgotten us; Your loyal love inspired the kings of Persia to allow us to rebuild Your house and the walls to provide protection in Judah and Jerusalem. But in spite of Your love, we have abandoned Your commands, and we have no excuse. You warned us through Your servants, the prophets, that the land of Canaan was polluted with pagans, that their evil actions had removed anything pure or good there, even filling up the land from end to end with horrible practices. You warned us not to marry our children to theirs, to seek treaties with them, or to covet their prosperity so that we would remain strong as a nation and as individuals, eating good foods from the earth and leaving that earth to Your children always. In spite of Your mercy toward us—You, our True God, did not punish us as much as our obvious guilt and our evil actions required and have freed these exiles—once again we have ignored Your commands. We married pagans and have taken on their horrible practices, knowing that Your anger would motivate You to destroy every last Jew without leaving any remnant people. Eternal God of Israel, You are righteous and justified in everything You do. Today we are nothing but the preserved remnant who escaped Your wrath, and today we confess our guilt. None of us should be able to stand and be acquitted before You.” -Ezra 9:6-15 (VOICE)

Peter reminds us of the need to humble ourselves under the Mighty hand of God so that He can lift us up. Peter wrote:

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” -1 Peter 5:6-7 (AMP)

“Knowing God exposes my indwelling depravity. And therefore, knowing God requires repentance. Repentance is more than an action; it is a posture.” ~Kelly Needham

My friend, take the time today to sit quietly in the Presence of the Lord, and allow Him to examine your heart. If He reveals to you something that has been left unconfessed, acknowledge it, and repent of it. Humble yourself under the Mighty Hand of God and He will lift you up.

“Blushing is the color of virtue. When the heart has been made black with sin, grace makes the face red with blushing: “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face” (Ezra 9.6). The repenting prodigal was so ashamed of his excess that he thought himself not worthy to be called a son any more. Repentance causes a holy bashfulness. If Christ’s blood was not at the sinner’s heart, there would not be so much blood in the sinner’s face.” ~Thomas Watson

My Prayer:

Adonai Elohim, my Great Lord, I admit, I am a sinner, saved only by your grace and mercy. I was born into sin, the legacy of my father, and his father, and his father before him. Sin has left its indelible mark upon me. But God…you alone can save me. I admit this as truth. You are my only hope, my Salvation. I humbly bow my knew and admit that I can do absolutely nothing to save myself from my guilt and shame, nor can I save myself from eternal damnation. Only you can do that for me. You are God, the Creator, the Savior of all mankind. I believe that Jesus Christ, your Son, came to this Earth to pay the price for my sin. I humbly accept your gift, given to me, and I ask for your help to live a life that is both holy and acceptable to you, oh Lord. Thank you.