Saturday, May 6, 2017

Jeremiah Chapter 4 and the World that Was

As I have stated in a couple of post on my blog concerning the Katabole/3 Earth Ages and also the Elect, Shepherd's Chapel teaches there was a world that was. In that world Satan fell and 1/3 of the angels (they claim we were the angels) followed him, 1/3 followed God (thus earning the status of elect in this age), and 1/3 were undecided.

There is nothing in the Bible that describes this event or even alludes to it. Shepherd's Chapel, on the other hand, will disagree with that and claim Jeremiah 4:19-31 aptly describes the katabole or the destruction of the world that was. However a thorough verse by verse look at the relevant portions of this chapter and context simply will not support such a thesis that it is describing some destruction of a prior age.

briefly put the events in Jeremiah 4:19-31 describe God's judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. The use of "without form and void",or tohu wabohu in the Hebrew, is likening this judgment to the reversal of the creation order. It is as if the entire universe has been returned to a state of barren uncreation. There is no way contextually or grammatically linking those verses to anything other than a judgment on Judah. To say this is somehow speaking of a judgment in the world that was is to simply ignore the context and read your preconceived theology into the text.

In Jeremiah 4:5-6 we see the context:
Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. (Jer. 4:5-6 KJV)
This is God foretelling the destruction to come upon Jerusalem. The "from the north" is the direction from which the Assyrian armies came and the Babylonian armies will come.

Again we get a clear note as to the context in verse 9:
And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder. (Jer. 4:9 KJV)
 The "at that day" is when the prophecy of Judah and Jerusalem's destruction takes place. There is no mention that this can be anything other than God's dealing with Judah and Jerusalem.

And again in 4:11-12 we see:
At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people,not to fan, nor to cleanse, Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them. (Jer. 4:11-12)
We see the phrase "at that day" in verse 9 and "at that time" in verse 11. This all proves that the prophecy is very specifically talking about the time in which God destroys Judah and Jerusalem. It can not be speaking of some prior earth age where there was some sort of judgment.

As you continue to read through the chapter (Verse 13-18) you see some pleas for repentance and warning to flee the destruction.

Now we come to verse 19:
My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart;my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace,because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. (Jer. 4:19 KJV)
This judgment upon Judah has reached even the bowels (heart). The prophet Jeremiah himself is the first to register the pain of this coming judgment, causing Jeremiah great agony.
For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. (Jer. 4:22 KJV)
We know from Proverbs 1:7 that "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge". Those who reject the Lord are "foolish", this applies to moral deficiency as much as intellectual weakness, "sottish" used here. So we see that Judah has abandon the Father (Jer. 3:19) and now face the consequences and judgment that God warned them about if they refused to obey him.

Now that we have established a clear context from the text we get to the verses used by Shepherd's Chapel to try and claim this is speaking of the destruction of the world that was.
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. (Jer 4:23-26)
Here is where we get the Hebrew "Tohu Wabohu", the same phrase used in Genesis 1:2. This is where Shepherd's Chapel likes to claim that since this is using the imagery of Genesis 1:2 that it is talking about the destruction of the world that was. 

However, as context dictates, this coming judgment on Judah is likened to Genesis 1:2 because it will be so great as if the entire universe has returned to a state of barren uncreation. Jeremiah portrays the coming judgment as a reversal of the creation process. The earth is once again without form and void (Gen. 1:2), the heavens have no light (Gen. 1:3), the mountains and hills quake (Gen. 1:9–11), and mankind (Gen. 1:26–31) and birds (Gen. 1:20–23) disappear. In other words, the destruction will make land as if Genesis chapter 1 had never happened. That is powerful imagery to describe their punishment!

But there is hope! in 4:27 we see the phrase "yet I will not make a full end". God will keep a remnant of Judah faithful which ultimately is fulfilled in the Christian Church of the New Covenant.

Shepherd's Chapel, like most cults, will try twist many scriptures to fit into their preconceived theology. You have to derive your theology from (exegete) the text not read it into (eisegete) the text. Shepherd's Chapel has tried to fit a meaning to these passages that is not present in the text. The context and substance is clear, this is about the judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. It is not describing the events of a first earth age.

Soli Deo Gloria!