J e r e m i a h

Part 3   by: Ronald L. Dart

There's a curious relationship between the prophet Jeremiah and King Josiah of Judah. Jeremiah was very very young when he began to work. He calls himself just a child. The king, who was king at that time, was very young, as well. King Josiah came to the throne at age 8 and Jeremiah began to prophesy when Josiah was 21, much younger of course, than Josiah. Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign and he reigned 31 years in Jerusalem. You'll find this in Second Kings 22 verse 2 "He did that which was right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father and turned, not aside to the right hand or to the left."

Now it is talking at this point about his overall reign, and his overall reign was a good one. He died at age 39.

Restoration of the Temple

He had a long reign but when he was 26 years old, he embarked on a major restoration of the Temple. We really don't know what Jeremiah was doing at this time, except that we know his ministry started five years earlier than this.

Josiah, for some reason had started off to do a major reconstruction work at the Temple. He told his men to do an accounting of all the money that was being brought to the Temple and money was still being brought there in rather large amounts. He told his men to turn the money over to the contractors who were doing the refurbishing of the building. While they were doing the work, they made an astonishing discovery, and this discovery revealed some very important things about the religious state of affairs in Judah at that time.

‘Book of the Law’

"Hilkiah, the High Priest," 2 Kings 22 verse 8, " said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the 'Book of the Law' in the house of the LORD" and Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan and he sat down and read it."

Now what they found literally was, "The Writing of the Torah." Today this refers to the first five books of the Old Testament, but that delineation was not made this early. What they found was a copy of the original laws given to Moses and written down, and the impact on them was profound. The implications to a modern reader should be just as profound because it reveals to us what decay, the religion, that is the worship of God, had fallen into by this time, that no one even knew that the 'Book of the Law' was there.

At that time in their history, the Temple was the center of worship, but that worship had little or nothing to do with the "Book of the Law' and what was written in it. No one in living memory had even read the law. They didn't know what it said. Apparently, they had heard of it because they knew what it was when they found it, but even the High Priest had never seen it.

Now think about this, the High Priest in the Temple of God in Jerusalem had never laid eyes on the 'Book of the Law'. So what did they do, now that they had found it? "Shaphan the scribe came to the king. {9} He brought the king word again. He said, "Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house and they delivered it into the hand of the men that do the work and have the oversight of the house of the LORD," and Shaphan the scribe showed the king saying, {10} "Hilkiah the priest has delivered to me a book," and Shaphan read it before the king. {11} It came to pass, when King Josiah had heard the words of the 'Book of the Law,' he tore his clothes."

In that day and time the rendering of the garments was a sign of extreme grief and emotion.

King Josiah Was Troubled

Josiah, now 26, was deeply and profoundly troubled by what he heard, read to him from the ‘Book of the Law’ because it had profound implications for his kingdom, for his tenure in office, for what was going to happen to his people in the years to come. And he was deeply disturbed by it.

Continuing in 2 Kings 22, "So King Josiah commanded Hilkiah the priest and the other men that were around him and he told them to {13} "Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah concerning the words of this book that is found. I need some direction as to what we are supposed to do, because great is the wrath of the LORD, that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book to do what's written in the book, concerning us."

Josiah, as young as he was, realized right at the outset what he was dealing with here. Josiah knew the history of his people in recent years, his fathers had all forsaken the commandments of God. You could see it on every turn, on every corner and every hilltop. He knew what was going on, he just hadn't realized the significance of it until he sat down and read the ‘Book of the Law.’

"So {14} Hilkiah the priest, went to the Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the college and they communed with her."

Apparently she was the only person known to them who could qualify as a prophetess, a prophet of God.

Huldah said to them, {15} "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel. "Tell the man that sent you to me, {16} Thus saith the LORD. "Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, upon the inhabitants thereof, I will bring all the words of this book, which the king of Judah has read, {17} because they have forsaken Me, they have burned incense unto other gods that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore, my wrath shall be kindled against this place and shall not be quenched."

This is the word from God and I expect about this time some of the hair on the back of their neck was beginning to stand up.

"But" Huldah went on, {18} "To the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus you shall say to him, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, "As touching the words that you have heard,{19} because your heart was tender, because you have humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard what I spoke against this place, against the inhabitants thereof, when you heard that they were going to become a desolation and a curse because what they had done, you rent your clothes and wept before me. I have heard you," saith the LORD."

Boy, you can see the value, can't you, when you realize you have gone wrong and are sorry.

So was Josiah. {20} "Behold therefore, I'm going to gather you under your fathers, you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, your eyes shall not see all the disaster I'm going to bring up on this place." And they brought the word back to the king again."

And Josiah considered what they had to say, but he couldn't let this rest here. And here was this terrible pronouncement from God about what was going to happen here in this place, but it was going to happen after he had died in peace. The story that emerges in this story at this point is sickening.

Having lost the 'Book of the Law' with a ceremonial code, they had lost everything that identified God and that held them to the moral code of the law. The whole thing was a single piece. The reforms that Josiah instituted really revealed the depths to which they had sunk. Remember, Jeremiah had been around for some five years now, but he was very young, and he will talk about this, but for right now, whoever sat down and wrote Second Kings tells us what's going on.

What Was Going On?

Second Kings 23 verse one. "King Josiah sent and they gathered to him, all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem {2} And the king went up to the house of the LORD, all the men of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him. The priests, the prophets, and all the people small and great. (They had a great gathering there.) And the king stood and read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD."

This was the first time in the people's lives that they had ever heard the words of the book .

{3} "The king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD, to keep his commandments and His testimonies, and His statutes with all their heart and all their soul and to perform the words of the covenant that were written in the book and all the people stood to the covenant."

They said, "Yes, this is right. We will do this!" Now I want you to listen for a moment, to what had to be done to put things right. It is very revealing of the depths to which they had sunk prior to this time.

Verse 4, "King Josiah commanded Hilkiah the High Priest, and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the door."

We are talking about the Temple right now!

"To bring forth out of the Temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal and for the Asherah pole and for all the host of heaven, and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and he carried the ashes of them all the way north to the boundary at Bethel."

Note well, they had to drag all these things out of the Temple that Solomon had built. The Grove was an Asherah pole, which apparently was a phallic image of some kind. Asherah is otherwise known as Easter, a female sex goddess. They had developed a network of places of worship in every city that included Baal, sun and moon worship, worship with the constellation of the stars and naturally of the Asherah.

"King Josiah {5} did away with the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and all the places around Jerusalem. They burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, the planets, to all the host of heaven."

They did all these things all over the place. They forgot about God. They were burning incense to everybody else but God.

"King Josiah {6} brought out the Asherah pole from the house of the LORD outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it there and stamped it in the powder and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. {7} He broke down the houses of the sodomites that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove the hangings for the groves."

Right there, right next door, where the women wove the hangings for the groves. There were little houses for the male prostitutes that served the men who came to the Temple of God. Right there, part of the worship that was going on around and in the Temple of God. Why? Well they had lost the 'Book of the Law.' Somebody had stopped paying attention to it a long time ago, and the Temple itself was virtually turned into a museum. Oh, they offered sacrifices there, but nobody followed the instructions for offering sacrifices there. Rooms right there at the Temple for male prostitutes and not to press the point, but they were not there to serve women. They were there to provide sexual services for men who came to worship.

"King Josiah {8} brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, he defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense from Geba to Beer-Sheba. He broke down the high places (shrines) of the gates (These high places were places of worship), at the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city. {9} Nevertheless, the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat the unleavened bread among their brethren. {10} And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the children of Hinnon, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech."

Do you know what this is all about? The Valley of Topheth. just outside of Jerusalem, a little bit to the South was the city garbage dump. At least that's what became in later years. At this time it was a place of worship for Molech. One of the customs of Molech was to cause your children to pass through the fire, to this god. They burned their children down there, to this pagan god in the Valley of Topheth. It's the Valley of the children of Hinnom and in the Greek that comes out to be Gehenna. One of the terms for hell and he put a stop to it. King Josiah turned it into a garbage dump that no one would ever again in that area would burn their children to Molech. Believe it or not, this isn't even all that Josiah had to do to cleanup the religious environment of Jerusalem.

King Solomon Left a Mess

One of the things that Josiah had to do, and it was something, probably no one else before ever had the nerve to do, was to deal with the mess that King Solomon himself had left them. King Solomon, remember had married women from all over the Empire at that time and to keep them happy, he built right close to the Temple of God in Jerusalem, Temples, little houses for all these different gods. They are called in this particular passage of Scripture, an 'abomination.' The Hebrew word translated 'abomination' in the King James version is 'detestable thing.'

"The high places" in verse 13 of 2 Kings 23, "that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the King of Israel had built for Ashtoreth (that's Easter) the abomination of the Zidonians and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the King defile."

King Josiah destroyed them all. He defiled, he made them so that no one could use them again for the worship of Ashtoreth or Easter, Milcom or Chemosh.

Verse 14, "King Josiah broke them in pieces, cut down their groves, their Asherah poles. He filled their places with the bones of men which defiled them thoroughly."

He went on to destroy all the way to Bethel. The altars, clean to Samaria that the northern tribes of Israel had left as corruption. He was one man who was very determined to wipe out the worship of pagan gods in and around Judah at that time.

A good king was Josiah. He did a lot of good works.

Keep the Passover

Finally, in verse 21 of 2 Kings 23 it says, "King Josiah commanded the people, saying keep the Passover to the LORD your God as it is written in the book of this covenant. {22}Surely there was not held such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel nor in all the days of the kings of Israel nor of the kings of Judah."

Now I don't know that this is telling us that there was never kept any Passover at all by anybody, but there was never anything like this done through all those years. We sort of think that the Jews have kept the Passover intact all the way back to the time when they came out of Egypt, that they have had an unbroken history of Passover observance from that time to this. This Scripture really kind of denies that. It suggests there came a time in their history when Passover observance all but stopped. Perhaps it stopped altogether, until they found the 'Book of the Law' in the Temple, and they had a king with the backbone to destroy some edifices that Solomon had built and to restore the observances of the old covenant.

Verse 23, "The 18th year of King Josiah, where in this Passover was held in Jerusalem" was the greatest Passover from the days of the Judges, all the way to this day.

{24} "The workers of familiar spirits, the wizards, the images, the idols and all the detestable things that were spied in the land of Judah and Jerusalem, Josiah put away because he wanted to be faithful to the Law of God. {25} There was no king before him who was like him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses. There never arose another one after him."

So now we know a little bit more about the religious environment into which Jeremiah was born, and in which he began his work, some five years before these reforms actually took place.

If a Man Puts Away His Wife

We come to the third chapter of Jeremiah and God speaking through the prophet to these people. We do not know exactly what year this prophecy came down, but it was early.

Jeremiah speaks, verse 1, "They say, "If a man put away his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, shall he return to her again, he shall not, that land be greatly polluted?"

In fact, Deuteronomy is very explicit that when a man divorces his wife and she becomes another man's, he's not to take her back again if she gets divorced from him.

Jeremiah says, "God says, "You have played the harlot with many lovers." In spite of that, God says, "Return to me, lift your eyes up to the high places and see where you have not had sex? You have sat waiting for them. Like the Arabian in the wilderness you polluted the land with your whoredoms and with your wickedness. {3} Therefore, the showers have been withheld, there has not been the latter rain (and in spite of all the things that has happened to you, which you should've taken seriously.) You have had a whore's forehead and you have refused to be ashamed."

You refused to be ashamed until Josiah came through and started busting down altars and breaking things up like a revenue agent back in the days of prohibition was busting up barrels of whiskey. He went through the thing carefully, but before that, it didn't matter what God did to them. It didn't matter what kind of punishments came down on their heads. They refused to be ashamed.

Because I Could!

In Jeremiah 3 verse 4, God says, "Will you not from this time cry unto me, "My father, you are the guide of my youth, will he reserve his anger forever, will he keep it to the end. Behold, you have spoken and done evil things as you could."

Now that's a funny expression in a way and I've heard something a little bit like it in the vernacular of today. "Why did you do that particular evil thing?" "Well, because I could!" That's the answer that a lot of evil evildoers will give you. It is not a matter of profit or anything of the sort. "Why did you do it?" "Because I could!"

And the prophet says to Israel. {5} "You have done evil things as you could. {6} The LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, (Jeremiah now speaking,) "Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She's gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree and there has played the harlot."

Israel Went Into Total Corruption

Now here is what he is trying to tell us, long before this time, after the death of Solomon, Israel split into two kingdoms, one in the north called the House of Israel, one in the south called the House of Judah.

Israel went into such total corruption, they never in all there history ever returned to God at any time, and they finally went into captivity of the Assyrians before Jeremiah was born.

Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 3 and verse 6, "Have you seen what backsliding Israel did. She committed all of these things and I said to her, {7} "Turn back to me," and she never would. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. {8} I saw for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I put her away. I divorced her, but her treacherous sister Judah didn't fear, she went out and did exactly the same thing."

Now I think that as this is used in biblical parlance, all these adulteries, whoredoms and so forth are basically talking about spiritual matters. They are talking about turning to other gods, like Baal, Milcom, Chemosh and so forth.

And LORD says in verse 14, "You're married to me." Worshiping these other gods is a kind of adultery but you will find as you make your way through the prophets, that not only is this a spiritual matter of adultery, but once they have broken that bond, physical adultery follows right on the heels of it and the nation's sexual morality goes straight in the toilet along with everything else.

"It came to pass," God says in verse 9, "Israel thought so little of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with wood. {10} And for all this, her treacherous sister, Judah has not returned to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, declares the LORD."

And that brings us to the 26-year-old Josiah and the reforms that he had made. He turned to God. He was sincere. He meant it from the heart. But what you want to bet, that an awful lot of people who turned up in front of the Temple in the day when he read the "Book of the Law" to them with soldiers on one side and on the other, and I might add that the people heard it all and nodded their heads and said "Well, yeah, we will turn back to God," but they didn't mean a word of it.

God Points Jeremiah to the Throne of the LORD and the Kingdom of God

Beginning in Jeremiah 3 verse 12 there's a subtle transition that begins to take place. God is pointing Jeremiah forward in time. Jeremiah has no way of knowing how far ahead in time he is looking. But what God is beginning to point him to is a time of final reconciliation of the Kingdom of Israel.

Listen to how He develops it because Israel in the North had gone captive, they are gone. "He says, "Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, "Return backsliding Israel," saith the LORD. "I will not cause my anger to fall upon you, for I am merciful," saith the LORD, "and I will not keep anger forever. {13} I just want you to acknowledge your iniquity, that you transgressed against the LORD your God, and scattered your ways to strangers under every green tree, if you will just recognize that you have not obeyed my voice. {14} Turn backsliding children," says the LORD, "for I am married to you, I'll take you one of the city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion."

Now he is talking here now about bringing Israel back, one of a family. Maybe two of the family or of the city. Just a remnant is left of them and I will bring you back to Zion.

"And {15} I will give you pastors according to my heart, which will feed you with knowledge and understanding."

You have to understand here that what happened when these kingdoms were divided, the king in the north whose name was Jeroboam, took and made priests of the lowest of the people and establish different places of worship, different times of year for worship. He just upended everything and gave the people pastors of the lowest of the people.

And the LORD said, "I am going to bring you back here" and {15} "I will give you pastors according to my heart, which will feed you with knowledge and understanding. {16} And it shall come to pass, when you're multiplied an increased in the land in those days," saith the LORD, "You are no longer going say. "The ark of the covenant of the LORD. It will no longer come to mind, and neither shall they remember it." I will tell you something, we aren't there yet, because everyone wonders about the ark of the covenant of the LORD. That question will have been resolved when this takes place. 'At that time," verse 17, "they will call Jerusalem the Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem and nevermore shall they walk at the imagination of their evil heart."

Do you know what that word 'nations' means?

The word 'nations' means Gentiles. That is talking about everyone.

Now as I told you, it was a subtle transition and it took place without us even noticing it as it went by, but the LORD has begun to look forward to the time which we would call, what shall we call it, the Kingdom of God. When Jesus Christ is ruling on the earth out of Jerusalem, and all nations are recognizing the rule of God. And this transition took place from Jeremiah talking about the problems on the ground in Josiah's reign at that time. Then the transition took place without so much as a seam or any recognition that it was there.

At that time they will call Jerusalem, "The Throne of the LORD." Now listen to see what He's going to do in those days.

"In those days," verse 18 "the House of Judah shall walk with the House of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north that I have given, to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers."

Do you realize what He is saying? He is saying, as we come down to this time just as the Throne of God is established in Jerusalem, that the House of Israel and the House of Judah will both exist as separate political entities that have to be drawn back together. The old breach has to be healed and that is a recurring message throughout all the prophets, but it would be healed in the last days.

Now all of us know who the House of Judah is. They are sitting down there in Jerusalem, where their capital is, where the Knesset is, that's where their ruling body is, down there where they are fighting Arabs and Palestinians right now.

Where is the house of Israel today?

I am Ronald Dart and you were Born to Win!

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This article was transcribed with

minor editing from a Born to Win Radio Program by: Ronald L. Dart

Titled: Jeremiah - Program #3

Transcribed by: bb 11-15-22


Ronald L. Dart was an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
The program can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.

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