Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 18 – Solitary Man

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Jeremiah 18

January 25, 2024 2:37 PM
Solitary Man


(Please refer to the Preface and Introduction sections found in the Jeremiah Chapter 1 commentary for some general information about this chapter by chapter study of Jeremiah).

Jer 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

This word follows in close sequence to the previous message. Most believe it was given in the first 3 years of Jehoiakim’s reign. It has the look and feel of a last warning to the people.

How many prophecies has God given America (and Canada) in the last several years? When will the final warning come? Has it already?

Jer 18:2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear (shama) my words.

Sometimes we can be so argumentative and self willed. Would some of us want to argue with God? Would we grumble and ask him why couldn’t he just tell us what we need to know right where we’re at? Don’t you know it’s cold outside? My car just broke down, I’ll have to take the bus. I don’t like that part of town where the potter lives. And on and on it goes.

If we want to hear the true word of the Lord, then it always comes down to obedience, not what is most convenient. Perhaps the church he wants you attend is at an inconvenient distance. Perhaps the place he wants you to move to is in a totally unfamiliar part of the country.

Note that if he would obey, God would cause him to shama. On your own you can go and listen to anyone speak. Unless God opens your ears to the truth, it will not be of much use in your life. God gave the prophet ears to not only hear, but the heart to obey. We must always seek God that not only does he reveal his will, but grants us the grace and strength and will to carry it out.

Jer 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

First off, Jeremiah obeyed. He didn’t hesitate and wait for further instructions. By now, he was becoming familiar with God’s ways. God speaks to you on a need to know basis. It is a great comfort knowing that God never asks more of us than what he had revealed thus far. This does not mean you are off the hook if you purposely refuse to study the already revealed will in his word. It just means that we can rest in obeying what he has told us, and the rest will come when it is supposed to.

God did not send him to some spiritual place. He sent him into the world, a place of business. God does not just speak within the walls of a church, he speaks where he wills.

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Jeremiah did not just end up in the outer office and drink coffee. He knew God wanted to show him something, so he started to actively observe all that was going on around him, keeping his eyes and ears open to the voice of the spirit of God.

Jer 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Once he fully obeyed, got himself into position, showed by his actions that he was ready for the next step, God then spoke once again.

Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

This statement should destroy so many man made doctrines. How about cessationism? It is no stretch to believe that God may consider that nonsensical doctrine the absolute height of arrogance. Who are you to declare what God can and cannot do? Because your forefathers did not experience the reality of God in their midst, they had to come up with some sort of explanation. Rather than humbly seeking God and finding out why God was not visiting them, they came up with the idea that the age of miracles ended with the original apostles. In fact, even the idea of an apostle and prophet must be cast aside. No more of those either. Once Jesus came, that exhausted all the miracles that God had left, so don’t bother asking for any more (except perhaps for the new birth).

Seriously, how do we come up with these things? Why won’t we simply follow where the text takes us, rather than ignorantly proclaiming some sort of faith destroying idea, just because our physical senses are telling us that what is written cannot possibly be real because I have not experienced it in the flesh. Since I have seen no one physically healed miraculously, then healing has ceased with the book of Acts. I may thunder in the pulpit about how God did actually create the entire universe in seven days, but to actually have to believe that God could give us a word of prophecy today is blasphemous, according to these theological giants!

It’s so easy to believe that God did something miraculous in the past, but it’s a whole different thing if the word challenges you to believe in a miracle today. Instead, if we hear of something supernatural going on somewhere else, a lot of the times we only listen to the most derogatory testimony of what actually occurred and conclude that it was all of the devil. This was the very sin that Jesus warned was the unpardonable one – attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to satan. Now a lot of times the example they use from some of those charismatic meetings were bizarre and ungodly. Yet the display of the false does not lead to the negation of the true. Just because there are false prophets, does not mean there are no true prophets anymore. Sloppy thinking, sloppy reasoning, leads to wrong conclusions.

God is truly sovereign. Yes, you may argue that God is limited by his character. That is true. He cannot sin. He cannot lie, etc. But how does performing miracles fit into all that? It doesn’t. It’s just a convenient doctrine that absolves us of the responsibility of believing God for something that might make us look foolish, or make us lees respectable amongst our business and social circles.

Jer 18:7 At what instant I shall speak (declare, command, appoint) concerning a nation (goy – Gentile), and concerning a kingdom (dominion, realm), to pluck up (tear away, root up), and to pull down (beat down, overthrow), and to destroy it;

Jer 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn (shoob) from their evil, I will repent (naw-kham – pity, feel sorry for) of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

Here our old friend from a previous lesson reappears – the concept of shoob. Any nation that has embarked upon a path of wickedness needs to shoob, and shoob (turn away) quickly from that path if we want to see God repent. The word used for repent here connotes more emotion than the typical word used in the new testament. There, it’s more of a change of mind, of choosing the opposite path. Here the idea is that you can arouse God’s tenderer feelings of pity if you make a conscious effort to turn away from evil.

How is a nation judged? By it’s people? Certainly. But mostly in the context of wicked people allowing, and even wanting, to be ruled by wicked leaders. As the leaders go, so goes the nation. For most of history, rulers have had much power over the people. They set the standard, and have the power to enforce certain behaviours. In the west, we have had more personal freedom than any form of government in history. Yet now we see the power of propaganda being used as a weapon to enforce wicked behaviour as powerful as any weapon of brute force. Remember the word that said that Manasseh made the people sin (2 Ki 21:9-17).

So we see the mysterious tension in the scripture in this passage. God is speaking of his absolute sovereignty. He can decide at any time to destroy a people. Yet if those people use their free will to repent, that will tangibly effect God’s will. You can try to use all the fancy, academic words you want to try and harmonize the two concepts, yet ultimately there are realities in our existence that can only at best be partially explained, and that will have to suffice until we get to the other side. This is one reason why God only shares so much with us, as being encased in our physical reality sets a limit on certain truths that we can truly grasp.

Jer 18:9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;

Jer 18:10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey (shama) not my voice, then I will repent (naw-kham) of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

The opposite is also true. You may of built up a track record of righteousness, whether personally or as a people. Should you choose to shoob away from good and pursue the opposite, those previous good deeds may buy you a little time for repentance, but will not save you in the end.

This principle of the criticality of ending well is spoken of again and again. It destroys the foundation of all man made religions, where all our deeds are somehow weighed in a balance at the end of our lives. If the good outweighs the bad, we’re good to go, otherwise we don’t make it. Eternal destiny does not work that way. It is how you end, not how you start, and not how many days you were good vs being bad. It’s all about finishing well.

For all of us who have thrown in our lot with the Lord, never, ever forget this principle. The closer you are to finishing your race, the harder the devil will try to derail you, as he knows that he still has a legitimate chance of snatching your soul should you choose to end your life turned away from your saviour.

You better check your compass and ensure you know which direction you’re heading before you start to do any shoobing on your own!

Jer 18:11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame (mould into a form, like a potter) evil (rah – adversity, affliction, calamity, grief, misery, sorrow, wretchedness, the opposite of everything pleasant) against you, and devise a device (weave a plot) against you: return (shoob) ye now every one from his evil (rah) way, and make your ways (deh-rek – a road well trodden, a course of life) and your doings (acts, works) good.

I decided to introduce the Hebrew word that is most commonly used for evil. It is rah, and it encompasses everything that is not pleasant, the opposite of pleasant. The word of faith heretics love to quote that the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Therefore God can never do those things. I would hope that those of you who have managed to stay the course in this commentary series can quickly realize the utter fallacy of that interpretation. They are adding to the word. The sentence says absolutely nothing about what God comes to do, only the devil. They simply attach attributes to God out of thin air. They do it, thinking that God is the exact opposite of satan. In some ways, yes. In character, most certainly. In motive and purpose for man, definitely. Yet the bible teaches us clearly that God can create evil, and he often uses evil by sending it upon his people.

Sometimes we just need to understand the proper definition of a word if we hope to be able to accept what the bible actually says. We often define evil by weaving it together with the creature who wields it, along with their intent. Only evil beings work evil. Evil is always purely destructive. It has no other purpose. Since cancer is destructive, only evil creatures send cancer. There is no cancer in heaven, therefore God cannot send it because he doesn’t have any. This is the kind of childish reasoning that most of the church embraces. To counter that last fallacy, there is no floods in heaven, so God couldn’t of flooded the earth in the time of Noah either. See how immature certain thought processes are?

God uses the example of the potter to get his point across. Just as the potter takes clay in his hands and forms what he wants to form, so God takes his people in his hands and moulds a plot of evil against them. Evil is such a broad concept that it can be any sort of negative thing – a trial, pressure, persecution, war, plague, famine, loss, death, grief, misery, sorrow – you get the picture. God is not limited by our theologians misguided declarations of what God can and can’t do. Yet he does not do this to no purpose, or for a purely evil purpose, like his enemies do when they wield evil. His intent is to get us to shoob – shoob away form sin and prove it by engaging in deeds of righteousness.

Jer 18:12 And they said, There is no hope (to despond, to be desperate): but we will walk after our own devices (intentions, contrivances), and we will every one do the imagination (twisted lust) of his evil (rah) heart.

This prophecy was given when there was still time to repent, but perversely these men were so deluded in their sin, that they had given into despair and a sort of fatalism. They had no faith. They had no real desire to give up their sinful ways. They used the excuse that God won’t hear us anyway, so what’s the use. In reality, they had gotten to the place where they were so used to their heathen lifestyle, that they saw no value in even attempting to change course. The devil had them convinced they could never change, and they really didn’t want to anyway. This is what happens to those who have walked too far away from God. You cannot really repent of your own will, because satan makes sure that is taken from you. Only God moving upon your heart can break you out of this lie.

I think of the alphabet crowd. Their public behaviours are of such an outrageous, vile nature, that you can tell that virtually all of them are totally demon possessed. No sane person would flaunt their filth in public and be so proud of it. They are so in bondage to their lusts, that they think of nothing else, but how to try and satisfy it continually. Sadly, for most of them, they are classic Romans chapter 1 cases, and truly they have no hope.

This is the end goal of all the evil the devil has unleashed upon us in such abundance and repetition, to get us to truly believe that there is no point in resisting and to fall into a state of total apathy.

Jer 18:13 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen (goy), who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing (something fearful).

Jer 18:14 Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?

‘A man’ is in italics. A better translation is: ‘Will the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field? Or shall the cold flowing waters be forsaken?’.

In every Gentile culture, it was unthinkable that any nation, by their own free will without coercion, would so readily abandon their gods and embrace a strange one, which their fathers knew not. Think about it. Can you recall any story in history where a nation decided to throw out their traditional gods in favor of a whole set of others, out of thin air? It was unheard of. Yet that is what Israel did. We all are aware of the pantheon of deities in places such as Egypt, Greece and Rome. One may add a god or two (as that never hurt), but you didn’t throw out the historical ones.

Here we see a hint of the difficulty Christians would face in the future. Judaism has no real evangelical component. If someone wanted to join, that was fine. But there were no laws concerning evangelism. When the gospel came, that introduced a whole new world of hurt for the believer. You would be going into enemy territory, and winning souls away from the traditional gods in exchange for a new one. You weren’t allowed to keep your old gods, you must abandon them. This had never really occurred in history before. Yes, some conquerors forced the subdued to worship their gods, but they usually never stopped them from retaining their old ones (a notable exception would of been Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who tried to force the Jews to defile their own temple, but he was a type and pattern of the antichrist).

Christians would be asked to take on the burden of the anger and rage of those heathen who thought it a grave sin to exchange ancestral gods for others.

God is simply using a cultural norm to try and get the idea across about how unthinkable it is for Israel to shoob (turn away) from him. Just as the snow of the Lebanon mountains never failed, so should Israel’s faith of remained firm. To add insult to injury, God’s goodness was likened to cold, flowing waters that bring refreshment and life. Why would you abandon that?

Jer 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me (mislaid me, become oblivious to), they have burned incense to vanity (uselessness), and they have caused them to stumble (fall, be overthrown) in their ways (deh-rek) from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way (deh-rek) not cast up;

Sometimes it seems as if certain believers have just seemed to ofmislaid God. They aren’t shoobing – they aren’t actively turning away, but they act like they’ve forgotten where God is. They become careless in their walk. They end up ensnared by some care of the world, which God calls useless. Eventually your forgetfulness of God will cause you to be overthrown. They end up off the safe path, the tried, true and tested path. They walk in a path not tested, not proven safe, not well-known, where one can easily lose his way.

Jer 18:16 To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing (an eternal place of scorn); every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished (stunned), and wag his head.

It’s not only you that will suffer, it’s everything you touch. Prosperity ceases in your sphere. People who observe you objectively will be astonished and wonder how you could allow yourself to fall so far from the true path of life. We look at all those in the church who not only obeyed all illegal mandates, but did it with such enthusiasm and zeal, with some becoming their chiefest advocates. I don’t know about you, but it drove me to distraction seeing people with masks on themselves, and on their little children 1 or 2 years old. Yet there they are, all masked up, raising their hands and worshipping God! And this was occurring even after the mandates were lifted! There was still a certain percentage of people who still chose to virtue signal and mask up even their little children. It made me sick. And no pastor would kick them out. That sounds harsh, but the mask was the number one symbol of submission to the system of the beast that is to come. Nothing said slave more than that face diaper. 98% of the pastors would not allow people to come in without one. Where were all the pastors that should of forbid anyone coming in with one? That would of been doing mishpat God’s way. God’s mishpat is usually opposite to man’s.

To throw away not only our faith, but our brains and all our self respect and for what? Just so that no one would unfriend us on facebook, most likely. We are beyond wimps. We have shoobed so deeply and so thoroughly, abandoning God’s mishpat because we had no idea what it even was in the first place, that we have found ourselves on a deh-rek to damnation. Will you shama and truly naw-kham?

Jer 18:17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.

Note that judgment regularly involves disbursement. The devil loves to divide as well. God’s will is for the brethren to dwell in true unity. Yet if we rebel, God scatters us, even to the four corners of the earth. He doesn’t want the tares to keep infecting the wheat.

This verse reiterates that there is no guarantee that God will instantly respond to every sinner’s cry. In this context, the rebellious ones only try and turn back to God when the day of calamity arises. God says he will turn his back to them. Doesn’t this contradict the parable of the prodigal son? Again, let us rightly divide the word. The prodigal son turned back in the day of his calamity with the right heart attitude. He didn’t turn just to get a meal, he intended to fully confess his sin, and was willing to take full responsibility for all his evil behavior. It was not just to get rescued, but a sincere intention to forever change his life around. Too many times we come to God and casually quote 1 Jn 1:9 and think that’s all there is to it. Remember, God sees the heart. He is looking at that, not the lips.

Jer 18:18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices (invent plots, make stuff up) against Jeremiah; for the law (torah) shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

So often when God rebukes, we want to slander the messenger, thinking that God would never stop blessing and protecting his church, not realizing that God has already abandoned those who have abandoned him. This is not the case of some lost sheep ignorantly wandering out of the sheepfold. This is wilful, intentional, continual rebellion. What starts out as a yielding to temptation can quickly become a toxic sludge of abomination, if not properly dealt with early on with sincere repentance and a commitment to make things right.

After so many words or warning, how did the people react? By conspiring against him. Even by possibly making stuff up. By character assassination. They wilfully chose to not give heed to anything Jeremiah had been saying. And why did they feel so confident in their course of action? Because they had numbers on their side. Numbers and respectability. All the big shots in the temple felt the same way. All the big name priests and prophets thought Jeremiah was crazy. They made up sermons, making fun of him, getting everyone to laugh at his antics. They were the boys from the first temple denomination, they’ve been around for centuries, who was this young rebel that was going to tell them they had it all wrong? God gave us the word, we follow the word, we’re all about the word. Sure. Hold on to that thought. I am sure it will bring much comfort in hell.

A big red flag in determining if you are on the right side of history or not is are you willing to intentionally sin in order to justify your position? These people were. They were willing to not only slander Jeremiah, but to fabricate lies about him out of thin air. The desperate man leaves off civil debate, and resorts to insult and defamation. That about describes all public debate in 2024, does it not?

Jer 18:19 Give heed (prick up the ears) to me, O LORD, and hearken (shama) to the voice of them that contend (strive) with me.

Jer 18:20 Shall evil (rah) be recompensed for good (tobe – good in the widest sense, kindness)? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away (shoob) thy wrath (hot displeasure) from them.

The chapter ends up with another heartfelt plea by Jeremiah. I see two things here. One, Jeremiah was not the rock solid character that we have imagined him to be. He was weak and vulnerable to the words and plots of his peers. He felt things deeply, and was able to be intimidated and shook by his countrymen.

Second, it is wonderful how God includes all these moments of doubt and depression that came out of Jeremiah’s heart. God does not cover up things about his servants. You must be willing to be utterly transparent when you decide to serve God. He may just open you up for ridicule and shame before the entire world. He may do that to utterly crush your pride and arrogance, and any lingering idea of self importance. He wants to see Jesus, not Joe or Jane when you speak.

Jeremiah wants God to take note and act accordingly to the schemes of his enemies, as they are really God’s enemies, since all Jeremiah is doing is acting as a mouthpiece for God. That holds a key here in what is to come. Sometimes we have personal enemies that have nothing to do with doing God’s specific will. They are not fighting against God, they just don’t like you. That is where love your enemies really comes into play. When they also come against the work of God and actively hinder it, then they are also God’s enemies and the situation gets a little more complicated.

Jeremiah concludes by saying that he was only acting under God’s orders, to try and shepherd them back to the sheepfold that David spoke of in Psalm 23. He only wanted to save them. But because they have not only rejected me, but you and your message, here is my prayer to you.

Jer 18:21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.

Jer 18:22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet.

Jer 18:23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.

Almost all commentators try to explain this away as somehow the old testament writes are doing something wrong, or that Jesus has come to show us a better way. Yet these men are not just Jeremiah’s enemies, but God’s as well, who have come to despise his word and his ways, which are judgment (Dan 4:37). While Christ within us may not lead us to pray in such a fashion in our lives, remember that Jeremiah is not dealing with ignorant pagans persecuting him, such as the Romans crucifying Jesus, whom he forgave from the cross, but wicked religious rulers and false prophets. These types were also soundly condemned by Jesus, and even physically whipped in the temple.

The apostle Paul was not averse to calling down curses on his personal enemy, when that enemy was hindering the work of God. In Acts 13:6-12 God honored Paul’s curse and blinded the false prophet. In Acts 5:1-11 Peter pronounced death upon a Christian married couple, who had conspired against the Holy Spirit and God’s work. Paul denounced Judaizers, even going so far as to wish that they would castrate themselves in Gal 5:12.

Do not let some coward in the pulpit rob you of the whole counsel of God. These men, devoid of the spirit and true learning, will inevitably try to shame and intimidate you with words. They will make you feel stupid for actually believing what the bible says (‘you don’t really believe such and such, do you?’). A great example of this was someone who I once really liked, but who had this massive insecurity about his salvation, so he preached eternal security in every message, regardless if it fit the context or not. He would read a scripture such as 1 Cor 9:27:

1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

He would then say: ‘You don’t believe that Paul was actually afraid of losing his salvation, do you’? Well, yes, that is exactly what the text says. There is no plunging into the Greek to save you. Castaway means rejected, a reprobate. Since when do rejected reprobates get into heaven? He used shame and intimidation to get you to reject the plain meaning of the text, which his heart refused to receive. I mean, you don’t want to look stupid if you talked about the plain meaning of this text in your Tuesday night women’s bible study, do you? They would all laugh at you if you dared to believe God’s word in this particular place in the bible.

If we stop and think carefully, we’ve all experienced that sort of manipulation. Let’s call it for what it is – it’s witchcraft, plain and simple. Anything that manipulates people via deception, intimidation, shame and/or coercion, is a form of witchcraft. Witches try to override people’s wills with the help of demons. Watch the methods your favorite preacher uses to prove his point. Does he use scripture to prove scripture, or does he appeal to your pride, your sense of shame, or your emotions?

If you recognize this pattern of persuasion in any minister, start shoobing just as fast as you can!

Solitary Man

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