In our lesson this week, we note some apparently strange instructions God gave Jeremiah regarding his family and social life, in his witness. Considering further, we find some similarities between Jeremiah's, Daniel's, and Jesus' family bonds. Without dealing at length with these, we should note that there are three bonds God created us for, intended for security, unity, and intense joy, all the result of unselfish love. They are the main setting in which the final message to Babylon of our day will be given, as a witness. The order in which these bonds usually occur are:
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:50; see also John 20:17)
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5; see also Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32)
It is that very dynamic that was behind God's instructions to Jeremiah, both telling him not to marry, and to avoid scenes of social joy and grief that both form and express these bonds. The path of selfish living Judah had been walking led to such devastating results that Jeremiah was to demonstrate the absence of the usual bonds in his human interactions, to show the impending doom of living for self. At the same time, Jeremiah was intensely bonded to God in the primary relationships, and that enabled him to endure both the absence of usual social bonds, and the intense antagonism his message aroused in many who heard it. We can safely conclude that a remnant minority understood and accepted the deeper message, including Daniel's parents.
The false security of attempting to maintain social bonds while living selfishly is what drove the message of the prophet Hananiah. He would deny the accumulating consequences of iniquity, both of his generation, and of his fathers' generations, which led inevitably to judgment. (See Leviticus 26:40-42). This is the very same thing Jesus predicted for our times of judgment.
As the leaders in Jeremiah's day were attempting to hold things together on a national scale, without any sense of needing to repent (to say nothing of ever deepening repentance; see Jeremiah 8:5, 6; Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 561), Jeremiah's message of coming judgment, due to that very sense of "everything is okay" and "we must stand strong against our enemies," would have made it appear that he was an enemy of the state. But its doom was certain, and his God-given role was to appeal for a humility and repentance that would make the coming punishment redemptive and actually less intense. Jeremiah's message was intended to produce people like Daniel. All other messages were rooted in denial, though wrapped in "pride of state" and the hubris that accompanies such. They would actually prevent the very preparation that was necessary, and cause the ruin of many who wanted to believe the worst would not come.
The deception of the evil one is always to deny the consequences of living for self. He begins this deception by saying that all live for self (Ellen White, Education, p. 154), and he continues by denying every one of the consequences of living for self, saying they will not happen (like dying; Genesis 3:4), or that they are the result of other causes (such as God). All false prophets are thus in his service. (See Jeremiah 7:3-8; 14:14; 28:15.)
We are in a war between supernatural, mystical forces. The genuine Spirit of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1; Revelation 19:10) is arrayed against the spirits of devils involved with seduction and deception (Matthew 24:11, 24; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1). The grace of God is given in such times to discern the genuine, which always promotes the worship of the Creator (Romans 1:25), and calls for repentance (Romans 2:4) and denial of self (Luke 9:23).
The yoke of bondage from living for self (the curse that Moses warned of) was what Jeremiah was instructed to wear, in symbolic form, and to give this also as a gift to the leaders of the surrounding nations. The sentence was irrevocable (see 2 Chronicles 24:18-28), as a yoke of iron is unbreakable compared to a wooden one. So the end-time sentence against Babylon is certain.
Only in submitting to the yoke of unselfish love would one find freedom and rest (Matthew 11:28-30), whether in times of national peace or national apostasy and judgment. Daniel revealed the correct attitude, and in turn was also given the genuine Spirit of prophecy, with messages not just for the Babylon of his day, but especially for our day, in the closing days of the fourth kingdom (code named in Revelation "Babylon").
We must not forget that it was Jeremiah who wrote twice, in his days of judgment and destruction, the following prophecies about "that good thing" that God had "promised"--namely, "I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land." (33:14; 15; compare 23:5).
Did you catch it? The husband-wife bond is seen in these two verses, for both "he shall be called" and "she shall be called" by the same name! (See Revelation 19:7.) The security of that bond, which nothing, not even death, can sever, we can present to all, as a preparation for the coming judgment. It is in that light that the following words were written on the heels of Minneapolis. I have inserted in brackets some personal observations.
~ Fred Bischoff