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Lowell Brueckner

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Addressing the Temple-Goers


 Chapter 7

             False doctrines by false prophets

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!” Jesus said (Lk.13:34). This is the third message that we have in the book, preached at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign and it is connected with chapter 26, which we will study later. Jehoiakim is good King Josiah’s son, who was placed on Judah’s throne by the king of Egypt. Jeremiah risks his life in giving this message, but he must speak, while there is any chance that his message will be received (Ch.26:3). The Lord has sent Jeremiah from his home town of Anathoth to Jerusalem for his prophetic ministry and, as the chapter begins, the Lord commands him to stand in the gate of the city’s temple at the time of a religious festival. He addresses the religious masses, who come from the country roundabout, faithfully attending the house of the Lord, but continuing oppressive practices (2). The God of all hope and mercy again offers a way of escape through repentance (3).

 Old Testament and New show clearly that salvation begins with repentance. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus and the gospel by preaching repentance and Jesus started His ministry in Galilee “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:15).  On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the first apostolic message in the book of Acts. The Jews cut to the heart, convicted by the Holy Spirit, seeing that they had crucified their Christ, asked. “What shall we do? Peter’s first word, in answering their question was, Repent” (Ac.2:37-38).

 A true prophetic ministry does not compromise its message and it cannot shun public places, where the masses congregate. It is imperative that the people be warned; God has sent him and is supporting him. False prophets are popular among the people, so the man of God must faithfully be the voice of truth among them. We want to see the damage done by men, false prophets, who have popular aspirations. 


 False prophets endear themselves to the people by perpetrating comfortable, but false, teaching. The false prophets were circulating a doctrine that God would protect His temple against all dangers, since He had chosen it as the center of worship. It was a positive claim, that carried a ring of fact, concerning the sovereign power of God, but the message was wrongly applied.

 The northern kingdom fabricated images and places, as best suited their purposes, but God had spoken in favor of Jerusalem and its temple. As the multitude passed into the temple’s gates, Jeremiah challenged this premise. Gold had already been stripped from its doors, without the Lord’s intervention, and given to buy off a powerful tyrant, who threatened Judah (2 K.18:16). Jeremiah knew the clamor over “the temple of the Lord!” was a presumptive lie and that the sanctuary was destined for destruction (4).

 The Lord was much more concerned about the ways and works of His people than He was of the safety of the building. Works are the product of a deeper malady inside of man’s being, which are his ways. When we speak of ‘the way we do things’, we refer to the means, which we follow to accomplish our goals. The Lord demands that His people change their ways. It worries me that often the church today attempts to use men’s ways to do the Lord’s work. That manner can never bring about eternal, heavenly and spiritual results. The ways of leaders in Jerusalem lacked righteous judgment in cases of legal differences (5), they oppressed strangers, orphans and widows, condemned the innocent and shed his blood, and invoked the help of false gods (6).

 Jeremiah calls out, as the people pass into the temple, that repentance… amending their ways… will mean their salvation. They can profit, if they will, from the perpetual promises given their patriarchs (7). Repentance would bring salvation from the coming calamity, while false teachers gave false doctrines that produced vain trust (8), that could not bring real results.

 Sinners going into the temple

 Think of the millions today, who faithfully lean on vain religion, learned from their fathers, which lead them blindly through life and into a damnable destiny for eternity. One leading lady in the U. S. congress, accused of obvious hatred, answered, “I can’t hate; I’m a Catholic.” It was too evident to many that her religion hadn’t delivered her from hatred. The president of the U.S. claims also that he is a Catholic and recently visited with the pope. He was assured that he can continue to take the bread and the cup, although he is in favor of aborting babies in the womb, which is against Catholic principle. He may follow the ritual, but he cannot experience fellowship with Jesus Christ at His table, while he leads countless multitudes in breaking the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit murder”. That will carry more weight on Judgment Day, than the permission of the pope.

 Jeremiah preached the Ten Commandments (which I will number) to the sinning people, who come and go from the holy place. They leave in their trail broken commandments: You steal (8th), murder (6th), commit adultery (7th), swear falsely (9th), burn incense to Baal (2nd) and walk after other gods (1st). He does not give his opinion, nor does he measure their sinfulness with society’s yardstick, instead he goes to the Law of God, the ultimate authority, and shows them that they have miserably broken it. They are criminals in God’s eyes. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn.3:4, KJV). “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Ro.3:20).

 Solomon wrote: “I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness” (Ec.8:10). “(You) then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name…” (10). They arrive at another false conclusion: Because they have sacrificed for their sins, they thought that they were at liberty to go on sinning. There is a similar claim in this time of grace that we have nothing to fear from sin, because God will forgive us. This is due to the false pretensions of false teachers in our days, just as it was in Jeremiah’s time. Where is the preaching of Paul’s doctrine in Romans 6… dead to sin?


What have we in verse 11? We have the Spirit of Christ in prophecy. Jesus spoke in total concord with the prophet. What Jeremiah saw as a den of thieves, Jesus likewise saw in the same way. Jeremiah saw it in Old Testament times and Jesus saw it before His eyes in Herod’s temple. Be assured that similar practices do not go unnoticed in the throne room of the Omniscient. He sees it in the church, when churchmen make merchandise of the things of God.

  How many times does the Bible point back to history? In verse 12, the Lord takes His people back to Shiloh, between Bethel and Shechem, where the tabernacle was raised in Joshua’s time. What does history teach us? That place was abandoned forever, in the time of Eli and his two adulterous, gluttonous sons, who were priests (Ps.78:59-60). So much for the argument that God would protect His temple in Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s temple and Herod’s temple was burnt down in like fashion after the Messiah was crucified. Those, who do not learn from history, are destined to repeat its errors. It’s an unbroken law.

 The Lord gave plenty of warning, so that Israel in no way can claim ignorance. As the delusion concerning the temple, so also must the excuse of ignorance be destroyed by the prophet. From Eden to Jerusalem, I spoke, rising early and speaking… you did not hear… I called… you did not answer (13). And so the story continues, man is a guilty sinner, breaking every law of God, and he rejects stubbornly every effort of the Lord, reaching out to him for his own good. There will be a repetition of the fate of Shiloh (14).

 King Hezekiah declared that the Lord cast his sin behind His back, and divine principle teaches that the Lord never looks back! However, when man loves his sin and clings to it, he will be cast, with his sin, out of God’s sight (15). This takes into account, the Lord declares, all the posterity of Ephraim. No one can wonder or argue about the great number of the damned: “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Ro.3:4). Jesus declared that relatively few would be saved, so beware of being counted with the majority. It would be totally just, if God turned all the nations into hell, without exception, because of world-wide mutiny against the Creator. The sacrifice of Christ towards man’s salvation, and the grace and mercy of God, are measurelessly undeserved gifts.

 God instructs Jeremiah not to intercede for God’s mercy on this occasion (16); this is also New Testament teaching: “There is a sin leading to death. I do not say that he (a brother praying for another) should pray about that” (1 Jn.5:16). God knows, when a situation is hopeless and He will no longer receive prayer concerning it. I don’t know of any more fearful situation, in which to be. Can a man see the immensity of sin, to any degree, the way God sees it? He certainly should endeavor to see things God’s way, if he intends to plead His case before men.

The Lord challenges Jeremiah: Do you not see what they do? (17). He illustrates the involvement of the children, wives, and the fathers, in order to give better understanding. Even the children are involved in the idolatry. I have challenged young people that they will be held accountable for participating in the sin of their parents. One of our daughters told me that their daughter sometimes will challenge her parents about what they are watching on TV. God bless her. That is not rebellion against authority… it is the fear of God! She is helping the family to avoid the things that provoke the Lord to anger and the parents appreciate it (18)!

 What Judah does will not move God even a fraction of an iota from the sovereignty of His throne. Man is hell-bent on a road to self-destruction. The glorified Christ called to a persecuting Pharisee on the road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul… it is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Ac.9:5). Take a good look at a man’s habits and see him committing a slow suicide. He coats his lungs with nicotine, drowns his liver in alcohol, risks AIDS by injecting drugs with dirty needles, breaks numberless laws in order to kill himself on the highway… these are just a few examples (19).

 Creator’s rights

 Man is God’s creation and has no right to self-destruction. He is created for God’s glory and any other purpose in life is to rob God of His purpose in creation. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rv.4:11). God promises to react upon Israel with anger and fury. They are infinite and will bring infinite destruction. So it will be in the end times; He will pour out His bowls of wrath upon the entire creation.

Remember, this is a message to the temple-goer, as he brings his sacrifices and offerings before the priests. He feels that this is what God requires of him, but the Lord reminds him of the time, when he was released from Egypt’s slavery. The Levitical law concerning sacrifices and offerings did not come until later (22). He called Israel into a friendly relationship with Him, by which they could learn all His ways (23). Sacrifices are not the basis of godly service, but obedience is, and to walk according to His ways, is the highway to well-being. This was always understood in their entire history. Samuel asked King Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” Samuel’s message is consistent with Jeremiah’s: “Behold, to obey is better that sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 S. 15:22).

  There are two ways for mankind: His own ways or God’s. The wisdom of Proverbs twice shows us the deception of the human heart in chapter 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”… every time. He must abandon his ways, in order to walk with God (24). Spiritually, man was been walking backward on this planet from the beginning of time. His progress has been in superficial, temporal things, but morally and spiritually, he has miserably failed. That is why we hear what we hear in the daily news. It’s the story of disaster and destruction among individuals and among nations. Now, as if he can go no further in “normal” sin, he has turned to sickening, senseless perversion. He has turned everything upside-down. Yes, as the Lord declares in Jeremiah, They… went backward and not forward.

 Moses was God’s prophet from the very beginning of Israel’s journey out of Egypt and in the desert. Two paragraphs back, I mentioned the ministry of Samuel to King Saul. David himself was a prophet and surrounded himself with prophets, who were of immense help to him in his kingdom. There was Elijah and Elisha and shortly before Jeremiah, Isaiah spoke a wonderfully clear word from heaven (25).

 God is not to be blamed in any way for not warning His people, but their consistent stubbornness and rebellion is astounding. Generation after generation, they kept getting worse (26). To get a true picture of the heart condition of man is an awful revelation. It is no wonder that many refuse to hear it or try to minimize it. But, how any evangelical Bible student and pastor of thousands, such as Rob Bell, can maintain that God’s eternal punishment is disproportionate to man’s sin, is a mystery to me! In the clear air of revival, sinners have cried out, “Hell is too good for me!” In six words, that is the correct conclusion, far wiser than the evil deception of Rob Bell. Yes evil, my friend, because he insults the infinite holiness of God and demeans the sacrifice of Christ. Nothing less than the cross was the only remedy for man’s infinite sin.

 Why does this book exist?

 Therefore you shall speak… Above all, I think, what we have seen in this chapter, is the reason for which Jeremiah was called into the ministry. Man must know the severity of his punishment, the immensity of his sin, the depth of his deception, and the goodness and patience of God in calling him to repentance through the prophets, time after time (27). Israel is only one nation among all the nations of the world, who persistently reject their Creator and His word. Mankind carries on to the end of time, deceiving and being deceived, unrepentant in the Tribulation and turning to the devil after Christ’s righteous reign upon earth (28).

 The sign of extreme sorrow among the Jews was to shave the head and it is the proper demonstration for the weeping prophet. He should show his grief in his person by cutting his hair and by choosing a desolate place for mourning. Nothing could be sadder: The Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath. As we have learned, they go into the Lord’s house to pollute it with hypocritical abominations (30). Meanwhile they build the high places of idolatry and sacrifice their own flesh and blood in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. The cruelty and hardness of heart is unimaginable. It is so ungodly… God, in fact says, nor did it come into My heart (31), much less did He ever require it.

 Israel paid dearly at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, literally fulfilling this prophecy (32-33). However, another slaughter lies ahead in the Battle of Armageddon. It is a worse fate coming upon all the nations of the world. In that very place mentioned in this book of Jeremiah, the book of Revelation tells of blood that reaches to the horses’ bridles (Rv.14:20) and countless carnivorous birds, not only are not frightened away, but actually are called to feast on the slain (Rv.19:17-18).

 All manner of festivity will soon cease from Jerusalem’s streets. The great joy of a wedding will not be seen, simply because the bride and bridegroom will cease to exist. All the cities of Judah will be desolate (34). I think again of the lady from Borovo’s testimony, who told that not even a sparrow could be heard chirping in her town. Corpses were discovered by the common citizen, scavenging for food among the ruins. I saw a film of limbs being blown off bodies, running for shelter. Depression coursed deeply in the souls of the survivors, who were not killed in the devastation.

 Young Jeremiah’s grief is easily understood. Lord, we beg of you, extend Your patience and Your mercy a little longer. Could we not see, once more, a mighty convicting move of your Holy Spirit that will bring many to repentance? Could we not rejoice with them in the unspeakable joy of their salvation? Bring Your people to earnest, intense prayer and let their prayer reach Your throne room one more time. I pray for the glory of Jesus and the reward of His sufferings. Amen.





















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