APOSTATES NORMALLY REJECT
THE PROPHETS’ MESSAGES
Apostates are hardened to sin. They are often demon obsessed. The demons that obsess are well adapted to seduction, deception, and hypocisy. To preach a message to those apostates is difficult, and most often to be rejected. The Lord has the message given even though God knows the apostate will reject.
When God gives a prophet a message that is terribly hard to preach, the prophet of God will struggle and squirm with the responsibility. Imagine if God told you to announce that the United States would soon be destroyed by atomic warfare. We love our country, and our loved ones dwell here. Patriotic people would be offended and probably persecute the man of God.
In the case of the apostates, we find that God has given us a charge to preach the gospel to even them. They are hardened and blind. They are listening to demons thinking they are hearing God’s voice. This is a difficult group to whom we must speak. The prophets may alert and warn. This group of apostates will attack and conspire against the prophets.
Many a prophet has been told of judgment to come, and the tendency is to expect it tomorrow. If we were God, we probably would do it so much quicker. However, our God will seemingly delay the necessary judgment long past our expectations. Our God is merciful, beyond understanding. This is hard for the prophet who must announce judgment, and yet his words seem unfulfilled for a long time. Many have mocked the true prophet's message because of this merciful delay by God.
There is a point in God's dealings with sinful mankind, that He has His prophets announce a coming judgment. In this case for Jeremiah, God wanted the people warned of chastisement from Babylon. Israel made a nice buffer state. Babylon was a strong power, but Egypt was also strong. With control of Israel, the other nation was not at the border of the second. So Babylon wanted to take Israel, and make them the "buffer" between them and Egypt.
It was now obvious to Jeremiah that Babylon was the "foe from the north" that God had him announce would come years before. God would soon use Babylon to be the agent of chastisement for His people.
There was only one hope to avoid this judgment from the north - REPENT. Jeremiah put his prophecies into written form. He commanded Baruch to read the scroll of parchment, with God’s message to them in the temple on a fast day. Jeremiah was at the time "shut up", and could not go to the temple. (36:5, 20:1-6) He was "shut up" in the court of the prison temporarily.
"Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time,
while he was shut up in the court of the prison..."
The people did not want to hear Jeremiah's message, so much that the leaders had Jeremiah locked up in the prison. What harm, they thought, could he do there! Rejection of the message of God's prophets is very common today also. There is a "NOT-FOR-ME SYNDROME" that has been very contagious in religious circles of our times, as well as in Jeremiah's. "I'm holy, Spirit-filled..." they think. "I don't need this type of message", they reason. Many messages of the true prophets has been ignored. David Wilkerson has been prophesying of a great judgment on the church, and nation for years. How many Christians could tell what he has been preaching? Not many! It has been ignored by most Christians.
We need to learn to listen to sermons and messages from God with RAKES, and not PITCHFORKS. Far too many "saints" have trained themselves to listen to sermons, and think "That's for so and so..." Instead we need to listen, and search for the part, or whole, that is for ourselves. A RAKE is much more spiritual than a PITCHFORK.
Jeremiah's sermon was printed on a roll of parchment. Baruch was commissioned by Jeremiah to take the roll and read it before the people. Jeremiah 45:1-6 fits in after 36:8. Baruch had become despondent. The weight of carrying the message to the people made him weary and sorrowful. God tells Baruch to not seek great things for himself. The land was to be invaded, but Baruch's life would be spared. Announcing to the nation that judgment was to soon destroy the nation made a great burden for Baruch, who had had greater hopes and dreams for this nation. It was difficult enough for Jeremiah to preach such a sermon, but now the weight of another's prophecy is put upon Baruch.
It took some time for Baruch to deliver this message. It was not immediately read. In the ninth month of the next year (at least 9 months later), it was read. Why did Baruch wait so long? There are several possibilities. First, the Battle of Carchemish had not actually yet been fought when the message was dictated to Baruch.
Or, perhaps Baruch had waited for the largest possible audience, when the most people would be present (unlikely). The final idea, is that Baruch purposely delayed the reading of this sermon of Jeremiah, in fear and trepidation of the thought of the message. Imagine him fearfully practicing in his closed up room at home. He probably pondered what the reaction of the people would be. What would the king say? Would he end up in jail with Jeremiah? Would they stone him? Finally, Baruch gathered enough courage to speak the message.
As Baruch read, a silence fell over the people. The words of Jeremiah's sermon told of Judah's sin. Jeremiah told of God's repeated efforts to bring Israel back to righteousness. Finally, there was given the declaration that the nation repent or face God's judgment from Babylon. The people grew silent. There were no "AMENS" being shouted. Some want to hear only sermons that make them shout "AMEN". Many sermons from God, cause a hush. That is because the Holy Spirit is stepping on toes, and if one yells "OUCH", everyone will realize whose toes have been stomped.
Micaiah realized that these statements were too factual to be ignored. Baruch was made to read them again, before others. They interrogated Baruch about the source of the roll. They told Baruch to hide with Jeremiah (36:19) [by this time Jeremiah was free from the prison]. They ran to Jehoiakim, the king. Jehoiakim sent them back for the roll, when he learned what was in it. Jehudi read it to the king, as he read, Jehoiakim cut off piece by piece and threw the pieces into the fire. Several tried to dissuade him from such action, but Jehoiakim persisted. Jehoiakim then commanded the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch.
Jehoiakim showed deliberate defiance, and complete contempt for God's message. Many today also resist the message from God. God's message is contrary to the hopes and desires of many, both of sinners and of the religious people. Many a prophet has run into a "brick wall of resistance" when giving the message that God has put upon them. What can we do to get people to accept God's warnings? The true prophet does not announce God's judgments with glee. No, the true prophet is only delivering the message with the hope the hearers will repent so they will not be judged.
In the "WOES" that Jesus gave the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-31, Jesus concluded with the woe against the Pharisees for their outward show of honor to the prophets of the past. They had built and decorated tombs for them. They had professed that if they had lived in the times of their ancestors they would not have killed those prophets. Yet, at the same time, these Pharisees were rejecting Jesus, the greatest Prophet of all time, the Son of the Living God. Rejecting the true prophet has always been the common, easy thing to do. Jehoiakim rejected Jeremiah's message. The Pharisees rejected Jesus' message. Religious people today often reject the message that the prophets of God are speaking.
Prophets have lived and worked for God in the midst of an atmosphere of rebellion, conflict, rejection, and unbelief. The prophets were not put on thrones like kings. Their messages did not leave their hearers with awestruck admiration. Everything the prophets said was challenged, condemned, and usually rejected. Many of those who rejected and persecuted them were the religious leaders. Priests challenged the validity of their messages. False prophets contradicted the true prophets. The people did not find tags on the false prophets announcing their false credentials. The false prophets threw in the "Thus saith the Lord" as much or more than the true prophets. The messages of the "true prophets" were usually the ones that made the people hope and desire that they were the "false prophets."
Someone has defined holiness as being able to say "AMEN" to every Word from God. The commandment that we don't want preached is the one we need to hear. A prophet is sent by God when the people have ceased to listen to God and His Word. They have already ceased to say "AMEN" to much of God's Word.
When the prophet's message is rejected, a prophet could decide "Well, I tried!" The tendency to quit is certainly there. No one enjoys rejection. It is especially hard when the message is one the prophet did not want to speak anyhow. Baruch probably had a few words of advice to give Jeremiah. Perhaps there was an "I told you this would not work." Everyone probably told Jeremiah to forget trying to give this message. He could have switched to a Psalm 23 sermon, or just ask the people to intercede. Many would rather retire to a closet and pray, than to preach a controversial sermon. To tell prophets today to preach to apostates, they would likely prefer to preach to mountains, as did Ezekiel.
God's message will not be destroyed. If Jeremiah had taken the wrong advice, and ceased his God-given prophecy. God would have been greatly upset. God is not so easily rejected. God will not be told His message is irrelevant. Napoleon said there was no God, but God saw to it that there was no Napoleon. God had Jeremiah rewrite the message, and add more. He made it much firmer, and more adamant.
When God has given a message to a person to speak for Him, it provides an inner compulsion to prophesy that is next to impossible to resist. Jeremiah said it was like a "burning fire in his bones..." that impelled him to continue to prophesy even when the natural urge was to be silent (Jer. 20:9). Amos said that God's voice to him gave him the same inner compulsion to prophesy that hearing the roar of a lion behind him would give him to fearfully run.
"The lion hath roared, who will not fear?
The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?"
The true prophet of God may want to quit speaking when his message is rejected, but that inner compulsion will drive him on, and on. So Jeremiah continued.
"Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah:
He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David;
and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to frost.
And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity,
and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and upon the men of Judah, all the evil I have pronounced against them."
Man has tried to destroy God's Word. They have tried to ban God's message. They have often killed God's prophets. They have thought they could outlaw the truth. Jeremiah was locked up in the prison, and yet Baruch finally gained the courage to deliver Jeremiah's prophecy from God. They ordered Baruch imprisoned, and burned the message.
Yet God had Jeremiah rewrite, and make the message even more resolute. God will get His message out, and His Word will prevail. He has protected His written Word, and He will protect the message He gives to His prophets.
Ignoring a fact does not alter it. Jehoiakim wanted to ignore God's Word. Yet, it came to pass. Jehoiakim's contempt for it, did not change it. You may ignore what God is telling you, but God's message is unchangeable.
When spiritual abuse and a spirit of lying become rampant in a church, God will send prophets to speak out against these sins. The leadership may try to get the prophets to be "team players" and let the abuse and lies continue. If that fails, they will falsely condemn the prophets for not loving the abusers and liars. If that fails they will drive the prophets from the church. When the message of God against such sins continues by other prophets, the first prophets are called "church splitters" and condemned and blamed as they drive the second group of prophets from the church. God continues to send forth His condemnation against the sins of spiritual abuse and against the spirit of lying within the church. The leadership of the church may reject the Lord's warnings, and try to destroy the message and the messengers, but the message will still be given. God will not quit, till the rejecters either repent or until judgment has destroyed the rejecters.
These rejecters, the apostates, become false prophets and make wonderful promises and tremendous prophecies to distract from the true revelation that God had given the true prophets. Some people will put their trust in these prophecies. They trust the false promises like a man stepping out on a swinging footbridge held by rotten ropes. The false prophets will point out the strong wooden boards, and get everyone to ignore the ropes.
People love to hear false prophecies, for the false prophets will speak what they know the people want to hear.
"If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying,
I will prophesy unto thee of wine and strong drink;
he shall even be the prophet of this people."
Jeremiah's day had the same kind of thing. They rejected Jeremiah's true message, but wanted to listen to the apostates, the false prophets.
"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land.
The prophets prophesy falsely, and priests bear rule by their means;
and My people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end?"
In these end times, we see that the formerly religious people of today, the apostates, are the same. People reject the "sound" messages of God, and choose to listen to others who will satisfy their "itching ears."
II Timothy 4:3-4
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;
but after their own lusts shall they heap
to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth,
and shall be turned into fables."
The apostate rejects the word of the prophets of God, because he has already rejected the Living Word, Jesus. Don't reject Jesus. Accept Him. Learn to know Him. When we get into harmony with the Living Word, we will find that His Word will not be a heavy burden.
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
The apostate does not break God's laws, he only breaks himself on God's laws. Anvils last through many hammers. Many are striking against God's prophets, and the messages they bring from God -- yet, it is the one striking out against them that is destroyed, not the message. Many a prophet has been killed for his message, but the fulfillment of God's message still comes. The message does not die with the prophet.
They may drive the prophets from the church, but the Lord still continues to work. Apostates may drive the next batch of prophets from the church, but it is the church that is slowly destroying itself by its constant rejection of the warnings of God. David Wilkerson's messages was ignored by many of the religious in the country, but true prophetic words still come to pass as God is warning.
The Spirit of God comes upon the rejected prophets, and fills them with a power and courage to speak a message of judgment, again and again. Micah described this power and courage that came upon him.
"But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord,
and of judgment, and of might, to declare
unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin."
God's will is our only peace and hope. The Word of God is a record of God's will. To reject His Word places us outside His will and away from His peace. God's peace "passes all understanding." Jeremiah had more peace in the prison, than Jehoiakim had in the palace.
The apostate rejecters of today have no peace. They plot and criticize the prophets. They twist the truth, and tell lies about them. They hope to discredit the person, and take the attention away from their message.
Many a prophet has been attacked, but God gives a peace to His prophets that is beyond understanding. The apostate rejecters are miserable. It is not the prophets that are splitting the church, it is the miserable apostate rejecters of the message that are driving the people out by bickering, complaining, and vengeful attacks on the innocent. The abuse and the spirit of lying that remained after the prophets were driven away are to blame for the continued loss of people. These prophets continue to get phone calls wherein victims of the abuse ask them where they can worship God, feel the presence of God, and hear God's message.
God has been so merciful that judgment in the church seems unreal. It did in Jeremiah's day also. Yet, judgment is prophesied to come to the church before it comes to the sinners when the tribulation begins. It is said to be a "fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God." (Hebrews 10:31) Jeremiah preached a message of judgment, and told them to "REPENT", and so must the prophets of today.
Jeremiah was imprisoned. Baruch was imprisoned. Counselors usually encouraged the silent approach to prophecy. Some probably advocated that Jeremiah preach to just the other prisoners. But Jeremiah rewrote the same sermon, and added a little more. With peace he waited to see if the king would repent or continue to reject.
II Chronicles 20:20
"Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established;
believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper."
I Chronicles 16:22, Psalms 105:15
"...touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm."