Beth Moore - The God of Again - Part 2
Now, here's what I wanna do. The time of the prophets, remember, it's going to center around the time that the kingdoms have already split and there is a ton of idolatry. And so, then it becomes this era of the prophets and there come, it's also their kings all along the way. Kings in the northern kingdom, kings in the southern kingdom, but this is gonna stretch from about 800 BC all the way through these several centuries until the prophetic era would basically end in the Old Testament at around 425 BC where would come the time of silence. And then that would open up to the New Testament era, 4 centuries later.
So this is the time block that we're working in, but what you need to know is, so this era, this whole era of the major and minor prophets, is coming out of all sorts of turmoil, all sorts of political turmoil, that Israel is in, and it begins just before the Assyrian rise to power. This is going to set the stage for several of the prophets. Then it's going to go into the Babylonian threat, and that rise to power, and then the advent of the Persian Empire. I wanna put these three timeframes up. These are the eras so what are we naming here? The eras of the prophets, both major and minor. So we've got, please tell me what this says? Assyrian Empire, and then we've got... What is this? Babylonian Empire, and then we've got this. Medo-Persian Empire. It's gonna stretch on this timeline from 800 BC to 425 BC.
The Assyrian Empire, is going to take over and come and just literally take the northern kingdom, totally immerse it into the Assyrian Empire. But here's what you've got to know. Different ones of these major and minor prophets went in different eras. Isaiah is the major prophet that spoke to the people during the Assyrian Empire and their rule. And then you would have Joel, you'd have Hosea, Micah, Amos, Jonah. All of these are during the Assyrian Empire and began right around 750. Then you have what will be our current era of time for the whole time we're studying Jeremiah. So you have during this period of time, you've got Jeremiah, of course, this is where we are. You've got Lamentations, you've got Nahum, you've got Obadiah and you have Ezekiel and you have Habakkuk...
Now, one very important or, to me, interesting piece of information here is that Ezekiel and Jeremiah are contemporaries and what they're doing, they are doing from two completely different places. So God sends Ezekiel with the captives early on in Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah, on the other hand, stays. God plants him there in Jerusalem and he is staying there throughout this enormous ordeal. So it's so interesting to put them beside one another and read them alongside, one right after the other, because they are preaching about the same time period and they are preaching about many of the same things, but the visions that Ezekiel is getting are, I mean, they are just wild, absolutely wild, and you just see a different, it's more of a declarative process with Jeremiah. So keep that in mind. These are contemporaries.
Go with me now to Jeremiah chapter 1. I'm gonna read through verse 10: "The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests living in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin". So that's down south, part of the southern kingdom. "The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah". One of the things that is so proving, so authenticating, about the Word of God is how it's dated. It will just go, like, "In the year so-and-so, in the month so-and-so, and on so-and-so day". I mean, that's a lot to make up, you know what I'm saying? The specifics on this, so he comes in, he begins his ministry "in the thirteenth year of the king Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah. It also came throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile".
So here is going to be a prophet for a very, very long time. He is a prophet well before the Babylonians take over, and then he is still a prophet after they have taken over. So his life, his ministry life, is long. He sees it coming because the Lord causes him to see it coming, tells him it's coming. He prophesies that it's coming, and then he is there and in prison when it does come. So it stretches all over that time and it says: "The word of the LORD came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, 'Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don't know how to speak since I'm only a youth.' And then the Lord said to me: Do not say, 'I am only a youth,' for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you".
I mean, like, this is a call all right. It's not like, "Will you go"? It's like, "You know what? You're going. You're going. Don't tell me how old you are. I knew you when you were in the womb". And then it says: "Do not be afraid of anyone, for I'll be with you to rescue you. This is the LORD's declaration. Then the LORD reached out his hand, touched my mouth, and told me: I have now filled your mouth with my words. See, I've appointed you today over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and to plant". He called Jeremiah to quite the life. According to the 16th chapter and the first couple of verses, he didn't get to marry. According to 15:17, he didn't get to party.
Listen, in 15:10 he gets mad at his mother for even having him. Then, you just have to go with me to Jeremiah chapter 20, you just have to, 7 through 10: "You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived. You seized me and prevailed. I'm a laughingstock all the time; everyone ridicules me. For whenever I speak, I cry out, 'Violence and destruction!' and so the word of the LORD has become my constant disgrace and derision. And I say, 'I won't mention him, I'm not gonna speak in his name any longer.' But his message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in. Indeed, I cannot. For I've heard the gossip of many people, 'Terror is on every side! Report him; let's report him!' Everyone I trusted watches for my fall. 'Perhaps he will be deceived so that we might prevail against him and take our vengeance on him.'"
But the Lord won't let him go, 'cause of course, the Lord hasn't deceived him. But he's been prophesying something, and it hasn't come to pass yet. And of course, everybody's laughing their heads off at him, mocking him, "You're an idiot". He goes, "You've made me a laughingstock. I'm ridiculous to these people. And I don't wanna speak in your name anymore. And so, I've decided I'm not going to, that I'm not gonna say another word, but I can't because the message will come like a fire burning in my heart, message in my bones, shut up in my bones. And I cannot hold it in".
Keith's been looking up his ancestors and he tells me, I get home from work, and he just tells me about it. And you know, when you're not from that same bloodline, you know, I'm from my mother's people and I just, "Can you call your daughters"? But I don't say that. I don't say that. But he tells me, he says, "Elizabeth," he said, "you know, you find things that people are notorious in my line for odd reasons". I said, "What do you mean"? He goes, "Well, there's one guy," and he read it to me. He read it to me, out of this book, this record they have got of their family that goes all the way back. You cannot believe who he goes all the way back to. You just cannot believe. And you're saying, "Is that true"? I don't know. I don't care. But I care about him. I love him. And if it makes him, if he's related to Daniel Boone, God bless Daniel Boone.
I'm good with it, I'm good with it. But he says to me, he said, "Well, here's a guy," he said, and now I'm gonna quote now. He said, "This one is recorded to have been," and I'm quoting, "somewhat well known for having swallowed a tack, for which a revolutionary procedure was performed to remove it". That was it. He just was well known for having swallowed a tack. Another one of his female ancestors succumbed to her final breath in an outhouse when lightning struck it. You see what I'm saying? You're not always notorious for your favorite reasons. That's my point. Now, Jeremiah was notorious, but it was not for good reasons. Was from heaven's point of view. But he was their gift, but he was a gift that just kept on giving, but it has kept on giving and it kept on giving, and it kept on giving.
What a bummer to be Jeremiah, "the weeping prophet" they call him, except I want you to let this sink in a moment. God calls him. I don't know, is it out loud? I don't know what's happening here. All I know is that the dude says, "I'm too young". "Don't tell me you're too young. I've called you to do this," and God touches the man's mouth. And I want you to let this part sink in too: 53 times in Jeremiah you find the phrase, "The Word of the Lord". Look with me at Jeremiah 15:15-16. So all the while we're thinking, "What a bummer to be Jeremiah," and go in and out of being arrested, in and out of jail, gets put in a pit. And I'm not talking about the kind that, like, you just read about. I'm talking about, like, he got, his physical body got put down in a dark pit. He knew what it was like to starve, for everybody to just curse him and hate him.
But then there's Jeremiah 15:15-16: "You know, LORD; remember me and take note of me. Avenge me against my persecutors. In your patience, don't take me away. Know that I suffer disgrace for your honor. Your words were found, and I ate them. And your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I bear your name, LORD God of Armies". It was a bummer to be Jeremiah, only the Word came to him over and over and over again, and even hard words. Just to hear the Word of the Lord was like. it was like honey to my lips, he said. Sweet to my taste. Man, that's a trade-off, isn't it? What would it be like to be Jeremiah?
I want you to go back with me where we were but we were at 31. I want you to go with me to the very beginning of 30, the very beginning of 30. Now, let's go right back to the middle. We have a little bit of background now to go on, and the rest of our time together is gonna build right into these chapters, 30 through 33, different themes that we're gonna see rise to the surface. Now, something really cool is happening here in 30, and I want you to see it. I'm just gonna read the first three verses: "This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD. This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Write on a scroll all the words that I have spoken to you, for look, the days are coming', this is the LORD's declaration, 'when I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel and Judah and I will restore them to the land that I gave to their ancestors and they will possess it.'" Then it says: "These are the words the LORD spoke to Israel and Judah".
Now, I want you to see what happens next. On most of your Bibles, you will be able to tell that the words take a different form on the page. Can you see it? The first paragraph that I just read to you, or the first words, the first sentences, look just like a paragraph. Then do you notice that it starts at about verse 6, really in 5. It starts in verse 5, and suddenly, you have a whole different look and it's gonna go on, do you see how it's gonna go on now, all through 30 and all through 31, until we get to about midpoint through it. What's happening there is that the Lord, literally, this is poetry. One of the gorgeous things that I want you to learn about the major and minor prophets, one of the coolest things, if you will look at those pages, flip through any of 'em, you will notice the same pattern, that many of them, there is prose.
Many of them, you're going to see that histories are written, that they're telling the story in regular paragraph form. Then suddenly, it goes into verses. That's because now it is coming from the Lord in poetry, in this Hebrew poetry to these prophets. Most of the prophets, the minor prophets and the major prophets, most of the prophets have portions of their works, their books, that are written in poetry. It's so important to understand because that's why there's so much imagery. I mean, he's, like, this, it's just gorgeous narrative art.
And so, what happens here in the next 2 chapters, 30 and 31, we're gonna see the themes in 32 and 33 as well. But in 30 and 31, many scholars and theologians call these two chapters the "Scroll of Consolation". And many of 'em will call it the "Little Scroll of Consolation," because this is when he's gonna be real honest, this is the mess you are in, and here's what I'm gonna do. And this is where he begins in 31: "I will again build you back. You will again take out your tambourine. You will again plant your vineyard and bear fruit". Now, listen to 31:1 through 5 with everything we've got behind us. Verse 1: "'At that time', this is the LORD's declaration, 'I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.' This is what the Lord says". Are you watching?
So now you know. So we've got this little, it's gonna give us a little intro here, but what are we doing now? Now, we're going right back into poetic form. "This is what the LORD says: The people who survived the sword found favor in the wilderness. When Israel went to find rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you. Again I will build you so that you will be rebuilt, Virgin Israel. You will take up your tambourines again. You will go out in joyful dancing. You will plant vineyards again on the mountains of Samaria; the planters will plant and enjoy the fruit. For there will be a day when watchmen will call out in the hill country of Ephraim, 'Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God!'" I just want you to take down two little points here, and number one, it's kind of a mouthful. I kept trying to get it shorter and shorter, but I just needed to say most of what it's saying here.
So, number one, is this: "NOTHING IS MORE BREATHTAKING THAN A DIVINE 'AGAIN' AFTER A DISASTROUS 'AGAIN.'" There's just nothing like the grace when God brings forth one of his glorious and good "Agains" after some disastrous "Again" in our life. Is that resonating with anybody? I want you to notice that he says, "You found favor in the wilderness. You survived the sword but found favor in the wilderness".
See, we're here having whatever this means to any of us, survive the sword. We're surviving in here. But do you know that there is divine favor for you in this current wilderness? Do you know that there is capacity for you in Christ, not to just have survived the sword, but favor that when you least expect it, or maybe you feel like you least deserve it, that now it's just gonna be the dreadful spiral. You realize that you have this God with this divine, drivenness to restore. I mean, listen, to not be restored by God, you have to not wanna be. Because that's how determined he is with his children.
Number two is exactly what I just said in different words: "NO DISCOVERY IS LESS EXPECTED THAN FAVOR IN THE WILDERNESS". No discovery is less expected than favor in the wilderness. Out there in the desert, you never do expect that divine favor, and it comes every time. Comes every time if we're willing. "No discovery is less expected than favor in the wilderness". As we begin to draw the lesson to a close, I want you to take notice of something. Did you notice verse 4, "Again I will build you so that you'll be rebuilt, Virgin Israel"? You need to know, for one thing, Israel had been anything but virgin. You see, theologically speaking, from the throne of God perspective, idolatry is a form of adultery, that's...
So, it's just a gorgeous thing that he's even calling 'em Virgin Israel because, I mean, he's already called them what they were and that was very unfaithful to him. Very unfaithful. He said, "You will take up your tambourines again and you will go out joyfully dancing". What on earth, what is he talking about? All right now, I'm gonna tell you this and then you have to look it up later. Maybe in a day or two, but you need to look it up. So he's referring all the way back to the Exodus, in Exodus chapter 14, where the people escape the Pharaoh who finally said, "Let 'em go, let 'em go, let 'em go".
They go to the edge of the Red Sea. They can't go any further and here's the problem: they start getting hemmed in because Pharaoh now has changed his mind and all of his army with him, and they're right on their tail, and they're standing up against the barrier of a sea, and what are they supposed to do? Well, of course, you know if you know the story. Here's Moses hold up his staff and the water parts, and they walk across on dry ground. And after they get across, when Pharaoh's army starts to come after them, the water closes back up. So, they get to the other side, and I want you to look for yourself, Exodus 15 is what is believed to be the very first psalm and song in all the Word of God. That early, that early, Exodus 15. It's this gorgeous song. He's become our salvation, he has rescued us.
The horse and its rider had been engulfed in the sea. It's this gorgeous thing. Well, they get to the end of it, and it says, just like, random, only there's nothing random in the Scriptures, Miriam, they're all singing this psalm and he teaches it to all of his all, singing, sing. Miriam grabs her tambourine and she leads the women out, and the women go dancing and shaking their tambourines. And singing about the faithfulness of the Lord that has brought them salvation. And it is the craziest thing, because I ask you, when they had to get ready so quickly and they were told on that Passover, "Man, you better have your staff in your hand. You better be ready to go".
I ask you a question, with as far as they had to go, what made those women think, "I better pack my tambourine. Wait, am I forgetting anything? Where is my tambourine? Where is my tambourine"? And so, all the women pack their tambourine. Do you see these chills on my arms? Because you wanna know why? Because faith packs a tambourine, that's why. Because faith knows no matter how dangerous it gets, it's about to get good. God is about to be really, really good. Really, really good. And there is a party coming, and when that party comes, I'm gonna dance, and I'm gonna dance, and I'm gonna dance.
I wanna tell you something. I wouldn't be a man for anything on this planet. I wanna be a woman with a tambourine in my hand that says, "I feel a party coming! I feel a party coming". Girls, would you stand to your feet please? In so many ways, the message of Jeremiah is said beautifully in 31 and 17 when he just simply says: "There is hope for your future". Our God's gonna be faithful, he's gonna be so good. He's gonna be so good. So don't you give up. Don't you give in. You let him enlarge your faith, he'll enlarge your capacity to love. So I'm gonna tell you something. You may think it's over, but God has got you a brand new and beautiful "Again".