The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!
God did not send Jeremiah to unbelievers. He sent him to the Christians of his day. God told Jeremiah to stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and make a proclamation in the hearing of all those coming to church:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’” (Jeremiah 7:3-4).
Don’t think because you go to church every Sunday that means you are going to heaven. Don’t think because you read your bible and pray every day that means you are going to heaven. Don’t think because you pay tithes and give offerings that means you are going to heaven.
Jeremiah stood by the door of the church, and he gave a message different from the one the pastor had prepared for the service. He did not say “peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11). He did not give a false prophecy that “all shall be well;” like the one Pastor E.A. Adeboye gave at the beginning of 2011.
He did not tell the people: “there will be no road accidents involving the saints of God this year;” as Bishop David Oyedepo did in January 2011. He did not say: “Get ready, get ready to be blessed,” like Bishop T.D. Jakes. Jeremiah called the people to repentance and warned them about the impending judgment of God.
“Do you really think that you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and worship Baal and all of those new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, ‘We are saved!’- only to go right back to all these evil things again? Is my Temple but a den of robbers in your eyes? For I see all the evil going on in there. ‘Go to Shiloh, the city I first honored with my name, and see what I did to her because of all the wickedness of my people Israel. And now,’ says the Lord, ‘I will do the same thing here because of all this evil you have done.’” (Jeremiah 7:9-13).
Judgment of God
What did God do to Shiloh? In the era of the Judges, the temple of God was there. It was the place of pilgrimage. The sanctuary was presided over by Eli and his wicked sons. Through little Samuel, God gave the prophecy that he would destroy this so-called house of God because of the wickedness of the people. But the people did not heed the warning. When Eli, the high-priest, was told, he responded dismissively: “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.” (1 Samuel 3:18).
God brought the prophecy to pass with devastating effect. When the Philistines fought against Israel, the Israelites assumed they were invincible because they had the ark of God. But they got the surprise of their lives. 32,000 foot-soldiers of Israel were killed. The ark itself was captured. The two sons of Pastor Eli were among the dead.
When the pastor himself heard the news, he had a heart attack and died. His daughter-in-law was expecting a baby. When she heard the news, she went into premature labour. She gave birth to a son and immediately named him “Ichabod,” meaning: “the glory has departed from Israel.” And then she died.
God told Jeremiah: “Go and stand at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem and remind all those who come to church what happened at Shiloh. Tell them if they don’t amend their ways, God is going to destroy the church again.”
Jeremiah ended his message with a prophetic lamentation. He said: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jeremiah 8:20). That is a living word and not just a historical record. Jeremiah says, in effect: “We are Christians, but we are not saved. We are the children of the kingdom, but we are not saved. We have confessed Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, but we are not saved.”
Desecration of the temple
What happened to the Jerusalem temple? The Babylonians destroyed it under Nebuchadnezzar and carried a sizeable number of the Jews into captivity; just as Jeremiah prophesied. (Jeremiah 52:12-15). The Jerusalem temple was rebuilt after the Jewish captivity, under the leadership of Zerubbabel. Herod further repaired and refurbished it. But all these were cosmetic. The people were not saved.
Jesus’ kingdom dynamics is expressed in the Jeremiah tradition. During his ministry, Jesus went into the refurbished temple and drove out all those who bought and sold there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of the dove-sellers. He then quoted Jeremiah: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:13).
Jesus prophesied that the temple would again be destroyed. He said to his disciples: “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2).
In AD 70, this prophecy also came to pass. The Romans completely destroyed the Jerusalem temple; burning it down to the ground. The gold in the ceiling melted and flowed down over the brickwork. In order to recover it, every brick had to be removed and scraped, just as Jesus foretold. Furthermore, the Romans slaughtered over one million Jews and cast their bodies into the fire at Gehenna; a rubbish-dump outside Jerusalem.
The modern temple
What is happening in the temples of today? What is happening in the churches? I don’t need to tell you. Buying and selling is back. Our churches are now the citadel of money-doublers. Televangelist John Avanzini confirms the new apostasy unabashedly. He says: “A greater than the lottery has come. His name is Jesus.”
Today, the church has become yet again a den of thieves. It is full of pickpockets shouting hallelujah. Many pastors are descendants of the sons of Eli. We are no more than glorified fraudsters, conning people out of their monies.
What is happening in the temple of God today? It is absolutely incredible. Catholic priests are raping young boys. Anglican priests are practicing homosexuals. Christians are mired in fornication, adultery, abortion and all uncleanness.
Moses says God has been our dwelling place in all generations. (Psalm 90:1). But how do we live with God and indulge in internet pornography? How do we live with God and cheat and steal? How do we live with God and get high on dope? How can we continue in sins and still fool ourselves that we shall nevertheless inherit the kingdom of God?
God cannot be mocked. When we were given the vision of God’s wrath in the book of Ezekiel, the killing started in the church, in God’s temple, and the first victims were the sons of the kingdom. God said:
“Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead isn’t marked. Spare not nor pity them- kill them all-old and young, girls, women and little children; but don’t touch anyone with the mark. And begin right here at the Temple.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6).
Few are chosen
Jesus warns: “Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12).
Christians are today’s sons of the kingdom. But, alas, we are not the sons of God. Therefore, this prophetic-history will surely repeat itself (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).
Accordingly, Christians are in for a big surprise. Jesus says: “The last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16). This means Christians will be flabbergasted when we finally discover that many people of other persuasions that we have held in outright contempt end up in the kingdom of heaven, while we ourselves are cast out.
God says ominously through Hosea: “It shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’” (Hosea 1:10).