Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mystery Jerusalem Rising Ch 9 | True Prophets vs the Profitable Prophets- Part 1

The advent of kings in Israel proved to be a colossal failure in terms of faithfulness to the Covenant. While there were a few righteous monarchs, most were corrupt. The people reached unprecedented levels of corruption, becoming more corrupted than the nations God  had previously evicted from the Promised Land.

There were five paths that this corruption took: The monarchy corrupted the people, Monarchy was ineffective in keeping people just, the priesthood forgot God’s Laws and worshiped idols, pernicious priests and profitable prophets ruin the people, and Israel was corrupted by foreign alliances instead of trusting God. The end result of this was God’s just judgment in removing the people from the land He promised to Abraham.

The Monarchy corrupted the people.
Starting with Solomon, the kings of Israel re-introduced idolatry to the people. While Solomon started out with the right heart, asking God for wisdom rather than riches, he soon became corrupted by his power and wealth. 1 Kings 6:37-7:5 reveal that, while Solomon spent seven years building God’s house, he spent thirteen years building his own house.

While Solomon’s fall began with valuing his own interests more than God’s, it did not end there. He began to marry many foreign women. These women turned him away from the one true God to worship of false gods.

“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.”   - 1 Kings 11:1-4 NIV

Solomon created shrines for idol worship for “all his wives” (11:7). As Solomon had 700 wives, this was a major project that was executed on a colossal scale. Two specific false gods are mentioned. These are Chemosh and Molek (sometimes spelled Molech, Moloch), which according to Easton are equivalent deities1. These gods are gods of child sacrifice and are an abomination to the Lord. (see also Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5). Solomon introduced large-scale child sacrifice, the equivalent an abortion holocaust, to Israel. For over 400 years, children were burned alive as sacrifices. Needless to say, this triggered the anger of the Lord.

Solomon’s affect on him was so profound that it permanently changed the course of the monarchy. The heir to his throne, Rehoboam, was only half-Israelite. His mother was Ammonitess (1 Kings 14:21). It was for Rehoboam’s mother that Solomon built the shrine for Molek where children were slaughtered.

God punished Solomon by splitting the kingdom during the reign of his son, Rehoboam, into two kingdoms. From Rehoboam onward, there would be two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. Israel revolted from the House of David to follow Jeroboam. The house of David, however, continued to rule over the tribe of Judah.

Jeroboam failed to trust God, but created his own schemes. He reasoned that, if the Israelites went to the temple in Jerusalem that they would revert to Rehoboam and that he would be killed. He set up two golden calves. Jereboam committed the same sin, even using the same proclamation that Aaron did when he set up the golden calf in the wilderness (Ex 32:8).

“And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:  If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”  - 1 Kings12:26-28
The people of Israel who were led by Jeroboam flocked to idolatry. Jeroboam’s sin shaped cultural life on such a deep level that each successive monarch continued the idolatry. Jehu was the only possible exception to this rule. He destroyed the Baal worship of Ahab but continued the idolatry of Jeroboam (2 Kings 10:18-32).

The monarchy was intended to restrain evil by not letting everyone do “what was right in his own eyes.” The monarchy was to know the law and enforce the legal standard (Deuteronomy 17:14-19). Once the monarchy became corrupt, however, it became more dangerous to morals than anarchy. This is because Satan now had the opportunity to use state power to enforce wickedness. There are a number of examples of this in the books of the Kings, with three that are particularly relevant: Jezebel, Athaliah, and Manasseh.

Jezebel was the daughter of the King of Tyre who married Ahab, King of Israel. She sought to eradicate the true religion of Yahweh God and replace it with a Phoenician version of Mystery Babylon Paganism. To this end she tried to kill off all of the prophets of Yahweh God. Things got so bad that Obadiah, a prophet himself, hid 100 of the Lord’s prophets in a cave and fed them (1 Kings 18:3-14). She then proceeded to hire 850 Pagan prophets who were paid from the royal treasury (1 Kings 18:19).

Athaliah was a relative of Ahab and granddaughter of Omri (2 Kings 8:25-27). She sought to destroy the Davidic covenant from within. When her son Ahaziah was dead, she proceeded to wipe out the entire royal line (2 Kings 11). But Jehosheba, sister of Ahaziah, took his infant son and hid them from Athaliah as the royal family was about to be murdered. The infant son, named Joash, was hidden with Jehioada the High Priest for six years. During the seventh year, Jehioada arranged for Joash to be crowned King and Athaliah to be executed.

Manasseh did the most harm to Israel of anyone in the monarchy. His father, Hezekiah, was considered the most righteous king out of “all the Kings of Judah (2 Kings 18:5).” The son does not follow the father in this case, but rebels against both his father and the Lord. Manasseh’s twofold program of evil succeeded where Jezebel and Athaliah failed. He almost completely annihilates Judaism as a living religion. Manasseh goes where no one has gone before: He desecrates the Temple.

“And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.” - 2 Kings 21:7-9

Manasseh was so successful that Israel, even the priests forgot that the books of the law even existed until they were rediscovered in the 18th year of Josiah (2 King 22:8-11). Judaism was extinguished from public life and the temple services  were subverted into Pagan worship and child sacrifice.

Manasseh caused Israel to sin more than the nations that God evicted. Divine justice required that God evict the Israelites from the land. God would, however, initiate one more revival so that His light would not be extinguished from the earth.

“And the Lordspake by his servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” 1 Kings 21:10-16

Monarchy was ineffective in keeping the people just.
Once Solomon and Jeroboam re-introduced the people to idolatry and murder, the people never quit. For the next 400 years, they pursued idolatry, sexual immorality and child sacrifice. In post-Solomon Israel, 19 out of 19 kings were wicked pursuers of idolatry, sexual immorality, and child murder. In Judah, about 12 of 24 were wicked pursuers of idolatry, sexual immorality, and child murder. Of the 12 good kings of Judah, 10 allowed the people to pursue their villainy. Only two of these kings made proactive efforts to systematically eradicate the practice of idolatry and child murder on the part of the people: Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-6) and Josiah (2 Kings 23:1-20).

Priesthood forgot God’s Laws, but worshiped idols.
Where was the priesthood while the kings were leading the people into oblivion? With just a few exceptions, they were joining the kings in leading the people down the pathway to Hell.

Pernicious Priests and Profitable Prophets ruin the people.
“Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.And though they say, The Lordliveth; surely they swear falsely. O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.” - Jeremiah 5:1-6

In one instance, Jeremiah came into direct conflict with the Deputy High Priest, which was second only to High Priest in authority in the priesthood3  When Pashur heard  that Jeremiah was prophesying judgment upon Israel, he hit him and had him arrested. Jeremiah responded by pronouncing God’s judgment on Pashur.

“Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord.And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.

For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon. And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.”  - Jeremiah 20:1-6

The Priesthood not only deceived the people through corrupt theology, but conducted schemes of treachery to manipulate people. People would be manipulated into transgressing the law so that the law could then be used as a weapon to control or annihilate them. On numerous occasions, the Pharisees tried unsuccessfully to use this tactic frequently against Jesus. (Matt 12:10;19:3;22:15-46;Mark 3:2;8:11;10:2;12:13-15; Luke 10:25;11:16;11:54;20:23; John 8:6)

“O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
“For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting[Stumbling or moral failure], saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
“But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. But, O Lord of hosts, thattriest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. Sing unto the Lord, praise ye the Lord: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.” - Jeremiah 20:7-13

Profane Prophets and Priests have scattered the people of God as a consequences of their false teaching and treachery. They have fed on the flock rather than feeding the flock. God promises that he will remove the bad shepherds and replace them with faithful shepherds. As we shall see in chapter **, he replaced apostate Judaism with the Gospel of Christ, He has also displaced religious authorities on several occasions during “the church age” when they became too corrupt*.

“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lordliveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lordliveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord.

“Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.”
- Jeremiah 23:1-14 see also Ezekiel 34

Israel trusted foreign alliances instead of trusting God.
This was really where a lot of the corruption started. Solomon’s many marriages to foreign wives likely started as statecraft marriages, but over time his wives corrupted his heart away from the true God towards the false gods they served. On several occasions, foreign alliances brought forth rebuke from the Lord.

On one occasion, while Asa was king of Judah, Israel waged war against Judah (2 Chr 16:1). Asa, instead of trusting God like he did when he fought against the Ethiopians, decided to trust in foreign alliances (2 Chr 16:2-6). The scheme was successful in getting Israel to back off from warfare with Judah.

This, however, did not please God. He sent a prophet to Asa to rebuke him for failing to trust God (2 Chr 16:7-9). Because Asa failed to trust God, he lost an opportunity to defeat Syria. Judah could have both greatly strengthened her political position in the balance of power in the region and achieve peace through a stable balance of power. The political reality Asa created was to weaken Israel by strengthening Syria. Asa’s actions altered the balance of power in the region,leading to Syrian aggression that weakened both Israel and Judah, making that entire region ultimately more vulnerable to Assyrian domination.

There is a promise in 2 Chronicles 16:9 : “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”  God is looking for people who trust Him so that He can show His power. God wants us to trust Him, not corrupting political alliances.

Asa’s foolishness did indeed lead to Syrian aggression in the region, resulting in war. His 7th-great-grandson, Ahaz, was invaded by a joint force of Syria and Israel. Ahaz was given explicit opportunity to call upon God, but he refused (Isaiah 7). When Ahaz refused a sign that God was going to deliver, Isaiah warned that Assyria would end up devastating Judah.

2 Kings 16 records what Ahaz actually did. It was the worst possible action from a foreign policy perspective, as it removed the buffers between Judah and the most powerful and aggressive nation in the region at that time – Assyria. Ahaz set the stage for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s chapter 7 prophecy when Assyria sacks Judah.

Ahaz puts his trust in Assyria to solve his problems. He show an eagerness to make whatever compromises necessary to get Assyria’s help. He makes Judah a vassal state to Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-8).  Assyria then conquers Syria and deport the Syrians. A few years later he wipes Israel as well, leaving only Judah.

In addition to making Judah a vassal state, he takes gold and silver from the house of the Lord and has Urijah the priest fashion them into an alter patterned after an altar in Damascus; this was done as an act of appeasement to the king of Assyria. Ahaz rejected  trust in God and gave both political worship to the king of Assyria and spiritual worship to a false god.

Yet another instance of Judah trusting in political alliances to their shame occurred when Babylon deported the Israelites to Babylon. The remnant that remained in the land asked Jeremiah to inquire of God for direction (Jeremiah 42). Jeremiah came back with God’s command to stay in Judah under the rule of the Babylonians, saying that it would be well for them in Judah but disastrous to them if they went to Egypt.

The remnant of Judah, however, rebelled against the Lord’s command and decided to go to Egypt in spite of the warning of disaster. They forcibly took Jeremiah and Baruch with them (Jeremiah 43). It ended up a colossal, three-fold disaster for the remnant of Judah. They suffered apostasy, destruction, and infamy.

Their backsliding went full course to full blown apostasy: They had become fully committed pagans. They totally rejected the worship of God to worship “The Queen of Heaven.” They began to argue with Jeremiah, saying it was faithlessness to the Queen of Heaven rather than faithlessness to God that brought on them the disaster they were experiencing. Jeremiah boldly proclaimed that it was faithlessness to the one True God that resulted in the disaster.

Jeremiah then offered up another word from the Lord as proof of his first word: he proclaimed that God was going to send Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt to enslave the Egyptians and destroy them. They had brought judgment on themselves and the Egyptians. The few who survive this judgment would know that the Lord had truly spoken to Jeremiah.

The dragging up of Egypt into God’s judgment on Judah would result in Judah living in infamy:”They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach (Jeremiah 44:12)”.

We are admonished to trust God rather than political alliances (Psalm 20; 44:6; 118:8-10; 146:3; Isaiah 30:1-9; Jeremiah17). Politics had a way of corrupting itself into everything it touches. Jeremiah 17:5-10 contrasts the person who trusts in God to the one who trusts in man.

“Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”- Jeremiah 17:5-10

The one who trusts in man or in social or political alliances is cursed: he will wither even in times of prosperity. The one who trust in God, however, is blessed: he will bear abundant fruit even during times of famine.

Verse 9-10 address the heart condition that determines where one places his trust. The Lord searches the “reins’ of the heart. God both sees past the outward appearance and ignores beliefs that are merely creedal. He searches for those beliefs that shape our destiny, and rewards accordingly.

Jeremiah 17:10 is a cross references to Rev 2:23, which is a part of the letter to the church of Thyatira. In this letter Jesus threatens judgment the church for tolerating Jezebel; He is about to cast her and those who commit “sexual immorality” with her into a “bed of tribulation” (Rev 2:22). Jezebel in this passage is, without doubt, a cross reference to the historical Jezebel who was married to Ahab king of Israel. She was a schemer who stole Naboth’s vineyard through craftiness (1 Kings 21). Those who trust in schemes are cursed, but those who trust in God are blessed.

2 Literally eat at Jezebel's table

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