In ancient Israel, the sound of a trumpet had several purposes, one of which was to warn of impending danger by those appointed watchmen, an office frequently filled by prophets sent to call people to repent for turning from the ways of God to the ways of men. It was in such a time that Jeremiah, chosen by God from the time of birth, was to sound the trumpet to the southern kingdom of Judah after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians. The people of Judah were also living in disobedience to God’s commands and had refused to repent in response to prophets sent to declare the wrath of God they were bringing upon themselves.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations….For you shall go forth to all whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:58).
Telling Jeremiah He would put words in his mouth to tell the people, the LORD asked, “Jeremiah, what do you see?: And he said, “I see a branch of an almond tree” (1:11). In ancient Israel, the almond tree was the first tree to bear buds in spring, and the prophet was being told that God was ready to perform His Word and that inevitable, inescapable judgment was coming on people who refused to repent and instead persisted in rebellion against the God of their forefathers who brought them out of Egypt (a type of the world) and delivered them from bondage under Pharaoh (a type of Satan).
Then the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And Jeremiah answered, “I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north” (1:13). A Babylonian invasion would come from the north against Jerusalem and those who had forsaken God by offering sacrifices to other gods and were worshipping what their hands had made were just like those in America who are consumed by covetousness over having designer clothes, expensive jewelry, electronic products of all kinds, and self-indulgence in a multitude of forms far beyond complete listing. And so the LORD said to Jeremiah,
“I will promote my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking Me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshipping what their hands have made” (1:16).
Jeremiah was also promised by God to be strengthened because of the opposition which he would experience. This proved of great importance in fulfilling what this young man was asked to do. For Jeremiah because the strongest, bravest and boldest of prophets used by God to warn of calamity against those refusing to repent of forsaking the ways of God. And God can use us as well in ways far beyond our own natural abilities if we stand for God and speak against backsliding in the body of Christ. For redeemed people as well the spiritual leaders are always prone to depart from the ways of God and again become conformed to ways of the world they had previously resisted.
Early in Israel’s history, many had shown trust in the LORD as do many early in their walk with Christ today. Israel had been faithful as a bride to her husband (2:2), but gradually as time passed the people and priests alike had forsaken God and pursed sinful pleasures. It led God to say that they “defiled My land” and had turned my inheritance for them into an “abomination” (2:7). In fact, this had taken place to such a degree that the rulers and the priests did not even take notice that the presence of God had left them and were not asking among themselves, “Where is the LORD?” (2:8).
Has not this taken place in America where the pledge of allegiance referred to “one nation, under God” and the Ten Commandments occupied places of honor in many public settings? The United States has become symbolic of excessive greed and a land where the unborn children are murdered by abortion even in the late stages of pregnancy. And sexual immorality has turned same-sex marriage into an acceptable alternative to God-ordained union between man and woman for a majority of people. Surely America must already be an abomination to the Lord. Spiritual leaders have little evident concern with absence of manifestations of Holy Spirit’s power in the midst of their congregations.
Jeremiah was even told “those who handle the law did not known Me” (2:8). How sad when those appointed to teach God’s Word do not personally know and faithfully serve the LORD. I have known any number of such in full time ministry myself, including a relative in my own family, and no one can faithfully be of service to God apart from deep personal relationship. So it is that fall from grace of pastors in America has become legend and such a disgrace in the eyes of a holy God because of sexual immorality and greed for wealth and materialism that has some boasting they drive high-end luxury cars in their arrogance.
When spiritual leaders preach humanistic ideas involving psychology and liberal theology (see lesson on The Emerging Church), they become as guilty as the false prophets in the day of Jeremiah. Because of teaching by false prophets, it was said by God that “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water” (2:13). The same is true today. If we forsake Him who came to bring us truly abundant life (John 10:10) and seek life and pleasure in that made by the hand of man, our destiny as redeemed people is lost. The only fountain of true “living water” is Holy Spirit who inhabits those who have come to obedient faith in Christ Jesus (John 7:38).
After the people of Judah and Jerusalem refused to repent of spiritual adultery through circumcision of their hearts to the LORD (Jeremiah 4:4), God said to “blow the trumpet in the land….for I will bring disaster from the north, and great destruction” (4:5,6). And the terrible future of the lost in America, including many of those in our own families, should cause us to grieve just as did Jesus over the spiritual condition of Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). Many have become deceived by the idea that God has changed over the ages. They do not realize Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law for presuming to be learned, yet failing to be aware that the OT scriptures testified about the Jesus they scorned.
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life” (John 5:39,40).
The name of God spelled LORD with capital letters in the OT is the pre-incarnate Son of God who manifested on earth in the likeness of man as Jesus of Nazareth. He is the One who spoke through the prophet Malachi, saying, “I am the LORD, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). When He speaks to Jeremiah about the fate of those who profess to be the Lord’s, yet forsake Him through spiritual adultery, it is deception to believe that a lack of faithfulness today will not bring condemnation identical to that experienced by the people of Judah who ignored what happened to their sister Israel because of lack of obedience.
There is temptation to think God will overlook deliberate habitual sins and not bring judgment today because of what our Passover Christ did for us at Calvary (1 Corinthians 5:7,8). Yet we have an identical situation as in the days of Jeremiah with teachings of false security, prosperity, and compromise of God’s standards of sexual morality and warnings about love for the world and things of the world (1 John 2:15). Instead of calling people to repentance, false prophets were telling Judah there was nothing to fear. So it is in most of the churches today. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit” (Jeremiah 6:13).
There comes a time when God removes His hand of protection over those who persist in unrighteousness, greed, idolatry, and immorality by turning them over to a reprobate or debased mind from which there is no possibility of recovery (Romans 1:28). Their having repeatedly refused God’s plea to repent according to the call of prophets and return to the old or ancient paths of righteousness (6:16), God utters words of irreversible judgment which should cause every professing believer to tremble:
“I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, you nations…..I will certainly bring calamity on this people…..the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My worlds nor My law, but rejected it….so your burnt offerings are not acceptable nor are your sacrifices sweet to Me.” Jeremiah 6:17-20
A compromised gospel of cheap grace has been fed God-seekers in America for so long that many have come to believe regular attendance at church services and the burnt offerings of financial giving are sweet and acceptable in the sight of God. To believe so is deception by the father of lies Satan. Meanwhile the lifestyles of those professing Christ are virtually identical to those who never darken a church door. God does not want an hour of our time on Sunday morning, a tithe of our finances, and perhaps a bible study midweek. He wants us and desires for us to be “witnesses to Him” (Acts 1:8). Such will never take place other than by submitting to the transforming work of Holy Spirit. An in-depth discussion of this is found in the recently published book, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done (see the home page of this website).
An unchanging God not only warns of presuming one can be secure in His love while still committing recognized sins even while attending temple services on the Sabbath (7:9-15). Once God’s favor is removed, Jeremiah is told to no longer pray in petition for the people as He will not listen (11:14). God even says He’ll place stumbling blocks before those who are now rejected after steadfastly refusing to repent (6:21). Many content a merciful and loving God would never do such a thing. Such demonstrates ignorance of God’s Word that makes it very clear our Creator is not only loving, merciful, and full of grace, but is also holy, righteous, and just. It is the great deceiver who says, “Does God really mean….?”
After stressing false religion is worthless and that true teachers of God’s Word will never claim that those who continue habitually in sin and rebellion against God will still inherit salvation and the kingdom of heaven. Jeremiah says, “My heart is faint within me” (8:18). He is grieving over his people living against God’s righteous ways, and says his eyes are a “fountain of tears” (9:1). Such should be a response of believers today who see loved ones living for pleasures of the world instead of being focused on advancing the kingdom of God on earth. The prophet realized there was nothing to stop the impending doom in store for those who do not find their identity in relationship with the Lord, instead boasting in their worldly knowledge, human abilities and earthly riches (9:23).
Because of consecration to God, even members of Jeremiah’s own family turned against him (12:6). And Jesus warns the same happens today in families when one’s life becomes truly committed to Christ: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…..A man’s enemies will be those of his own household… And he who does not take his cross [deliberately putting ‘self’ to death] and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:34-38). My experience over the years has repeatedly been that few who profess Jesus as Lord are willing to even consider these words of Christ as having any significant application to their own personal lives, let alone accept such.
Finally, God declares the spiritual condition of Judah as being such that He must give His people over to the consequences of their sins: “I will forsake my house and abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of their enemies” (Jeremiah 12:7). Here it is I fear America may have already come, namely to a place of unrighteousness marked by covetousness, sexual immorality, and disdain for the ways of God. Such is certainly true for many who claim to be shepherds of God’s people as well as for the sheep themselves. And there is something else which scarcely seems to be a mere coincidence, at least to the author of this blog, especially considering that Solomon writes “What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
It is fascinating what Scripture tells of Ishmael, father of the Arab nations: “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12). We are being told Ishmael (and descendants) would be a man of conflict. As history has demonstrated, the Arabs have evolved into Muslim nations with not only bitter hostility between Sunni and Shia factions which make up the vast majority of Muslims. Regarding the non-Arab nations, we are all well aware of what is taking place by fundamental Islamic terrorists. And their attention is increasingly directed toward America which they consider to be the Great Satan. How ironic Arabs not only turned out to be instruments of God to deal with reprobates who professed belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They may also become God’s instrument to deal with a nation which professes belief in God, yet shows utter disregard for obedience to His commands. The branch of an almond tree may well be revealing itself to those in America having spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.