The Silence of God
This was the last and final prophetic word, a word of general reprobation, given to the recently lead-astray Kingdom under Jehoiakim: the man who personally offended the KING of Israel by cutting and burning the word of prophecy, Judah’s only hope. God’s wrath was both warranted and retaliatory.
King David, a man after God’s own heart, was an embattled saint who knew the potentials of wrath and cried out for persevering mercy, though he was undeserving. Directly relevant to the fate of Jehoiakim, who suffered the silence of God, and the false peace ministries of false prophets, David was made to cry out to God the following prayer...
“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; BE NOT SILENT to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which SPEAK PEACE to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.” – Psalm 28:1-3
In reference to the silence of God, this fearful prophecy (Jer. 14:1-17:18) was essentially the last word spoken to the Kingdom of Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim; it was a word of general reprobation. Apart from this prophecy, an unprecedented 6 years of silence took place as a result of Jehoiakim cutting and burning the word of God, not to mention the royal decree to hunt down and arrest Jeremiah and Baruch, God’s ministers. Oh, the fearful condition! The horrifying estate! To be shut-up in the silence of God like King Saul (1 Sam. 14:37, 28:6)! One thing is for sure: when God is silent to the inquiries of man, He, like a Lion silently stalks its prey in the covert of tall grass, moves into position to execute a fatal strike. On the eve of Saul’s death, it was written, “the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets” (1 Sam. 28:6). Some men prefer a more silent and solitary life, but silence is deadly when a Lion is hiding in the covert! Hence, what shall become of Jehoiakim’s “peaceable habitations” (Jer. 25:37)? Fearfully, Jeremiah prophesied: “He [GOD] hath forsaken His covert, as a LION: for their Land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of His fierce anger” (Jer. 25:38)!
Take note, my reader: Jeremiah was no “peace-preacher”. He didn’t believe in it! Yes… but Jeremiah was flawed in that he was unprepared to fight against the persistence, power, and pervasiveness of false “peace”. My reader, this made Jeremiah vulnerable to temptation and unbelief in the LONG battle against apostasy. Indeed, Jeremiah preached the truth and hazarded his life to do so faithfully! Yet, God suffered him to do so with vulnerabilities which would be purged and sanctified in the process. Jeremiah’s vulnerabilities are set-forth as an example, an instruction, so that the saints of future Tribulation Periods might find assuage from like vulnerabilities.
Notably, neither “the famine” nor “the famine + the sword” scenarios prophesied here had come to pass. The famine was seen by Jeremiah already (Jer. 12:4, 3:3), and is further explained to eventuate into a dearth so bad there would be no water or grass, causing sickness and death to man and beast (Jer. 14:1-6). Evidently this has not happened yet, and thus, to Jeremiah’s surprise, the false prophets boldly contradicted his prophecy, saying to the people, “Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place” (Jer. 14:13). Jeremiah was shocked by this (“Then said I…”), exclaiming: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say…” (Jer. 14:13). Conveying deep-rooted misunderstandings, Jeremiah prayed a heart-wrenching prayer depicting the visual expression on the Face of Almighty God who refused to save (Jer. 14:7-9). He humbly questioned God, saying,
“O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.” – Jer. 14:8-9
Because of the famine, the word would be fulfilled, “the cry of Jerusalem is gone up” (Jer. 14:2), but the Lord responded by saying, “When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt-offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Jer. 14:12). With reprobating wrath rearing the arms of Almighty God, here we see the specificity of sovereignty with more clarity than ever before! After all this, how could the people be deceived? How did Jehoiakim hold-fast to false peace? How, after only 5 years of rebellion, did faithful and devout Jehoiakim (from 12 to 15 years old) act in such unprecedented wickedness? Evil spirits were possessing false prophets to fill the Land with false prophecies of Unconditional Eternal Security!
“Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the Prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them. If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the City, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the Prophet and the Priest go about into a land that they know not.” – Jer. 14:11-18
These judgments were meticulously specific and retaliatory in real-time situations among which God Almighty stood, observed and heard what was spoken by men, and He responded! In this case, His response was to the false prophets. This is the operation of grace and the manifestation of the Glory of God in the midst of the Great Falling Away: a Tribulation Prophet triumphing in a Tribulation Period (2 Cor. 2:14)! Clearly attesting to this Divine Purpose, and in direct reference to God’s dealings with false prophets, the Lord said: “Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off” (Jer. 23:23)? Indeed, He was nigh and at hand! He proved it.
Intercessory Attempts Denied
Relentlessly, Jeremiah attempts further intercession for the people even after God told him, “Pray not for this people for their good” (Jer. 14:11). The compassionate and tender-hearted prophet couldn’t help himself (see Jer. 14:19-22)! And yet, it wasn’t all Spirit-filled affection. Jeremiah was beset by unrighteous optimism and misguided by inordinate hopefulness. You see? Jeremiah hoped to be like the primary objects of his meditation that he read about from Biblical Church History, men like the Prophet Moses and the Prophet Samuel. They too, like himself, lived amidst a conflict with a backsliding generation, right? Indeed. Albeit, Jeremiah’s generation was different. Indicating this, God Almighty said: “I am weary with repenting” (Jer. 15:6). What does it mean? Well, when Moses and Samuel interceded for the backsliding Church of God – standing between an Angry God and the objects of His fury – God was willing to repent of His purpose to destroy. Fearfully though, this wasn’t the case for the backslidden Church in Jeremiah’s day! My reader, in the following overview of Moses and Samuel’s Ministries of intercession, carefully consider what is loudly communicated by the divine statement, “I am weary with repenting” (Jer. 15:6). [For a more exhaustive overview, see: “The Near Annihilation of God’s People”, “I Am Weary With Repenting”, & “Mercy On Whom I Will Have Mercy”.]
Moses’ Intercession: Exodus 32:10-14, Ex. 33:11-34:9 (Moses being known by name and finding grace in God’s sight is central), Deut. 9:6-29 (Ex. 17:8-16); Psalm 106:23 (Num. 11:1-3, 33-35, 12:13); Numbers 14:11-21; Num. 16:21-22; Num. 16:45-50.
Samuel’s Intercession (Psalm 99:6, Jer. 15:1): Israel lamented 20 years (1 Sam. 7:2), Samuel preached (1 Sam. 7:3-5), the people repented of idolatry (1 Sam. 7:4), the people gathered to fast, pray, and repent (1 Sam. 7:6), Samuel prayed for them and judged them (1 Sam. 7:5-6), Samuel was entreated that he would cry out to the LORD for Israel (1 Sam. 7:8), Samuel offered a sacrifice and cried out to the LORD (1 Sam. 7:9-10), the LORD thundered upon the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:10), and from thenceforth the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel (1 Sam. 7:13). When Samuel was old and by necessity retired from active judgment, his sons displeased the people because of their waywardness and they asked of Samuel a King, so Samuel prayed (1 Sam. 8:6). After solemnly protesting to the people what manner of King they would have, he rehearsed the people’s answer before the LORD in prayer (1 Sam. 8:21). Then, after the Ammonites were slaughtered through the leadership of Saul and the Kingdom was renewed unto Saul (1 Sam. 11:1-15), Samuel made further proclamation of the Kingdom. Samuel rehearsed the righteous acts of the LORD in that, He delivered them when their fathers of the Exodus Generation “cried unto the LORD” (1 Sam. 12:8), and on multiple occasions thereafter, also, He delivered them when the generations of Judges “cried unto the LORD” (1 Sam. 12:10-11), and up to this point in time, in reference to the Philistines who oppressed the people, the LORD said, “I have looked upon My people, because their cry is come unto Me” (1 Sam. 9:16), but they did not see their sin in asking for themselves a King when they were afraid of the Ammonites (1 Sam. 12:12). In this situation, they did not call upon the LORD. They distrusted God as KING and wanted a man. To help persuade them of their wickedness in asking for themselves a King, the LORD performed a sign and wonder (1 Sam. 12:16-25). In the process of this great sign, prayer was central. Samuel said, “I will call unto the LORD” (1 Sam. 12:17). It was written, “So Samuel called unto the LORD” (1 Sam. 12:18). The people saw the thunder and rain and were in great fear, saying to Samuel, “Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a King” (1 Sam. 12:19). Samuel responded, “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Sam. 12:23). Also, in reference to Samuel’s prayer life amidst Saul’s backsliding, it was written, “it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night” (1 Sam. 15:11), and, “Samuel mourned for Saul” (1 Sam. 16:35). The LORD had to reprove him, by saying, “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?” (1 Sam. 16:1).
Fearfully, the Tribulation Period was when these intercessory exploits were deemed impossible! These most notable intercessors, Moses and Samuel, were named and hypothetically denied! What happened? By Jeremiah’s generation, God became weary. He was no longer willing to repent as He did for Moses and Samuel. It was no longer possible to prevent the wrath-aimed intention of annihilation authored in the holy heart of God! The wrath of God would not be redirected from its intended and prophetically declared course! The Lord was sure to get across the point by such a statement (“Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet my mind could not be toward this people…” - Jer. 15:1), and, be sure of this! Jeremiah wasn’t the only one offended about it.
Think of it, my reader. It wasn’t unusual for Prophets to contradict the angry command of God while employed in an intercessory engagement, like the aforementioned citations of scripture do demonstrate in the lives of Moses and Samuel. Also, comparatively speaking, it is not altogether unusual for God to command Jeremiah to stop praying for the people (Jer. 7:16, 11:14, 14:11-12, 15:1). Jeremiah remembered how the LORD commanded Moses, “let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them” (Ex. 32:10), and how that, after intercession, God repented (Ex. 32:14). Jeremiah meditated on many other similar experiences in the lives of Moses, Samuel, and the other Prophets, and therefore he was unprepared for his peculiar ministry as a Tribulation Prophet. He was unprepared to be God’s voice in a Tribulation Period. You see, my reader? God had chosen a different route for the ministry of Jeremiah. God had authored a different scheme of salvation and damnation, and of goodness and severity. Moses and Samuel were not examples to follow, not for Jeremiah! SOMETHING ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT WAS GOING TO TAKE PLACE.
The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death
It is true that the wrath of God waxed hot in former generations, but the people still had a Tabernacle or Temple to attend, an earthly Throne for GOD to sit upon (except momentarily when the Ark of God was taken in the days of Samuel), and a Priesthood to perform the necessary atonement ceremonies which were wrath-absorbing on behalf of the people. Furthermore, the infrastructure of the Church via Kings, Elders, Princes, Priests, Prophets, and the like (depending on the generation) remained in a redeemable condition. In general, the material infrastructure of redemption and the necessary personages thereof remained in existence; though backslidden, they were redeemable! Therefore, at the hearing of Jeremiah’s prophecies the Kingdom of Judah was inclined towards resistance. The magnitude of destruction that was prophesied to take place had never happened before! So, with the help of false Prophets, the people would grasp after these presently unavailable schemes of redemption exemplified in Biblical Church History. The misguided people were taught to reckon upon the Covenantal Ideals of Biblical Church History as indissoluble, and, in turn, prejudice against the Prophet Jeremiah would abound. While singing and quoting a host of promises from the Psalms, sung everyday, and while meditating on a storehouse of pastime norms which would ordinarily be viable possibilities… Jeremiah was isolated, disregarded, and considered unbiblical. In fact, Jeremiah himself was offended at his own ministry!
As Moses exemplified, Jeremiah couldn’t call the Levites to take sword in hand to slay all the backsliders of the Church (Ex. 32:25-29) – ALL WERE BACKSLIDDEN! As Samuel exemplified, Jeremiah couldn’t gather the backslidden Church to teach them the truth, offer sacrifices on their behalf, and thereby find favor from God to put the Philistine Armies to flight (1 Sam. 7:1-10). Ah! Much more, the contrary, because the people of Jeremiah’s day were unteachable and their iniquities unatonable, BABYLON WAS UNDEFEATABLE! The situation had escalated far beyond the normal and historical means of recovery that mere Church Officers could accomplish. The scope of judgment necessary was far too broad and intensive. The guilty persons were far too numerous and unstoppable (un-judge-able). The means of ordinary human instrumentality was thereby rendered weak and unqualified. Nevertheless, an ingenious design of redemption was prophetically unfolding and it was so unprecedented and unfamiliar, Jeremiah was offended. He shouldn’t have been, but he was.
Jeremiah was forgetting the extraordinary and preferring the ordinary of Biblical Church History. Jeremiah didn’t venture into the extraordinary of Church History (via meditation and consideration) because he was inconsiderate of the dire estate of the Church and consequentially the earth. After all the days of running the streets and preaching, looking and searching, and finding no one who was keeping judgment and being valiant for the truth (Jer. 5:1-5), Jeremiah should have reckoned with reality and remembered – when the wicked become too numerous and purposefully unified, GOD intervenes (“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” – Gen. 11:6). Even if every Church Officer fails to judge the cause of justice, God judges (Isa. 63:4, 9-10, Heb. 10:30-31)! Instead of getting offended like a foolish man, being inconsiderate, Jeremiah should have been humiliated to behold the greatness and depth of God’s works and thoughts amidst the present situation, a scenario well accounted of in the prophetic annals of Inspired Scripture (namely, “when the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish” - Ps. 92:7).
“O LORD, how great are Thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: But thou, LORD, art Most High for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.” – Psalm 92:5-9
To Jeremiah, this ingenious method of redemption via God’s intervention was perceivably without goodness. Further, God said to him, “Pray not for this people for their good” (Jer. 14:11). In truth, however, the backslidden people were so bad that to do them good, was bad; they would never repent if God showered His goodness and favor upon them! On the contrary, when and if God gave them evil, the evil that Jeremiah was disagreeing with and attempting to intercede against, a remnant of the bad people would be made good (see Isa. 26:8-10). In other words, without Tribulatory Judgment the people’s hearts were fully “set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11). These people were of the same constitution as Isaiah reckoned, saying, “Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the Land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD” (Isa. 26:10). Given the circumstances, no Church Officer was going to conduct this tribulation process of judgment. It was simply impossible for them to oversee such an endeavor – to examine and overpass the penitent and, on the other hand, to execute the death sentence on the impenitent. GOD WAS THE ONLY ONE ABLE TO DO THE JOB! Tribulatory Judgment requires the employment of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Therefore, GOD, as the sole conductor of the Great Tribulation, employs omniscience to thoroughly examine millions of Church Backsliders both inwardly and outwardly, in thought, word, and deed; He employs omnipresence to examine everyone at the same time and at all times throughout the steady increments of the Great Tribulation; and, He employs omnipotence to exercise sovereign sway over every material and immaterial force necessary to execute the judgment written.
“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” – Jer. 9:24
The LORD must, as it were, open His armory to bring out the weapons of His indignation (Jer. 50:25)! Hence, in no uncertain terms, the LORD claimed responsibility for every death that would transpire. The LORD claimed sovereignty over every death suffered by the Babylonian sword, every death suffered by the ongoing famine, and, furthermore, every life spared by the Captivity & Dispersion! And, with further clarity: the LORD claimed sovereignty over every violent manslaying dog who was brought to the brink of starvation, every swarming fowl that feasted upon the carcasses of the dead and dying, and every beast of the field that overpowered the weak and vulnerable! My reader, these were acts of judgment and purging executed by the hand of God Almighty for the repossessing of the Kingdom and the re-asserting of Dominion in the Church. “None can stay [God’s] hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Dan. 4:35), PERIOD. Meticulously, the LORD purged all rebels and spared the elect in circumstances that appeared as ungovernable chaos!
“Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem” - Jer. 15:1-4
With unequaled intelligence and benevolence, caring deeply for every soul that was personally under His direct oversight, deciding upon the death sentence as the last of all options, the LORD orchestrated the most calculated progress of every judgment in pursuit of repentance from each one. EVERY SINGLE PERSON WAS THOROUGHLY, PROGRESSIVELY, AND CONTINUOUSLY EXAMINED. God Almighty was the Personal Conductor of the tribulation suffered. Like the hand of a Symphony Director signals every instrument to play a synchronized melody to the amassed enormity of breathtaking music that sounds in volumes of indiscernible unanimity! Even so, like the hand of a Symphony Director, I say, each person was engulfed by a divinely authored situation of incremental judgment until, at last, if God determined they would not repent no matter what, the calculated appointment turned fatal. God knew the “such and such” of them all! “Such as are for death”, He knew every name! “Such as are for sword”, He guided every blade! “Such as are for the famine”, He directed the ecological details the same! “The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: He sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved” (Ps. 99:1)!
Note: from this point onward, these judgments were set in their courses to be perfectly fulfilled - in the reign of Jehoiakim in the 2nd Captivity, yes, but also and with increasing increments of fulfillment during the 3rd, 5th, and 6th Captivities.