Jeremiah 12 – Jeremiah’s Prayer & Voodoo

I have no experience in Voodoo at all, You know that.  Of course, I do have relatives that live in Louisiana and I’ve heard stories, but as I said, I have no direct experience whatsoever.  

Lachish
Lachish was the second most important fortified city in the kingdom of Judea, after Jerusalem. It guarded a main road from Egypt to Jerusalem.  Lachish is referred in many Biblical accounts, including the Assyrian and Babylonian campaigns when Lachish was a key city for the conquest of the Judean Kingdom.

The highlights of the visit to the ruins of the city include the Assyrian siege ramp, the base of the Judean palace-fort, and the gate complex.

Tel Lachish is adjacent to Moshav Lachish, 9KM southeast of the city of Kiryat Gath. It is located in the foothill region of Judea (the Shephelah), hidden between low hills near the valley of Nahal Lachish (Wadi Ghufr).

The mound is surrounded by deep valleys, providing a natural defense.  The top of the ancient site is 273m above sea level, or 50m above the valley on its north side.

The access to the top of the mound is on the south side, where you can park your car. A path climbs up along the east side to the top of the hill, and then you can return back from the western gate.

I have walked daily with You since 2007 so even though You haven’t given me a yeah or  nay on voodoo itself, due to things I have seen and things You have told me I don’t dare disregard the existence and power of it. 

Anyway, there is no way people could create voodoo, we just don’t have the magic, the power, and You wouldn’t teach it, only the devil would do that.

Jeremiah 12
Jeremiah’s Prayer

1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

12:1-6 – the second of Jeremiah’s “confessions,” continuing, and closely related to, the first 11:18-23.

2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.

3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

“Like sheep of the slaughter” – Jeremiah asks that his wicked countrymen receive the fate mentioned for himself in 11:19.  His request arises not so much out of a desire for revenge as for the vindication of God’s righteousness.

4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.

5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

“House” – linking this verse verbally with the following context (v. 7).  Apparently, members of Jeremiah’s own family were included in the “men of Anathoth” who wanted to kill him.

7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.

8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.

9 Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

Lachish
The city of Lachish is also listed as one of the conquered cities (Joshua 12 7, 11): “And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote… The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;…”.
 
Cities and roads during the Canaanite and Israelite periods are indicated on the Biblical Map above, with Lachish on the  left bottom side, which was the frontier of the kingdom of Judea during those periods.

• Biblical period – The Israelite Kingdom
Lachish was an important fortified city during the times of the Judea Kingdom (11thC through 6th C BC), defending the kingdom against the Philistine attacks on its western frontier.
 
• Assyrians (8th – 7th C BC) 
The Assyrian empire, a rising force in the region, conquered the North Kingdom of Israel in 732BC, destroying most of the cities and villages in the land. The South Kingdom of Judah managed to survive this onslaught by teaming up with the Assyrians, but not for long.

After the death of the Assyrian King Sargon  II (722 – 705BC), King Hezekiah mutinied against the Assyrians, joining other cities in the area who attempted to free themselves from the Assyrian conquest.  Anticipating the coming Assyrian  intrusion, he fortified Jerusalem and the major cities.  

Lachish remained destroyed until the end of the 7th C BC.  It was then rebuilt, probably during the reign of Josiah (649-609 BC).
 
• Babylonians (610-538 BC)
The Babylonian empire rose after the fall of the Assyrians (610BC), defeated the Egyptians (609BC) and conquered the land until the Nile  (2 Kings 24 7):
“… for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt”.

   After 10 years under Babylonian control, Jehoiakim King of Judah mutinied, and so the Babylonians reached the gates of Jerusalem (598) and placed it under siege (2 Kings 24 10):
“At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged”.
 
Persian period (538 – 332 BC) 
In 539BC the Persians defeated the Babylonians, and allowed the exiles to return to Zion (538 through 445 BC). The cities were reconstructed, including Jerusalem and Lachish  (Nehemiah 11 1, 30):
“And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities…. Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. “.
Following the end of the Persian period the city status started to decay, followed by a complete  abandonment during the Hellenistic period. This was a common pattern of most of these ancient Tells.

10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.

12 The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.

13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

14 Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbors that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.

15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.

16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.

17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.

Voodoo

Voodoo is as real as the sun setting in the west and it is probably the most powerful of all evil hexes.  God has always been against it because He knew what would would happen with it.  In the beginning its sole purpose was to heal, not to destroy or steal.

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I [am] the LORD your God (Lev 19:31).

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people (Lev 20:6).

The practice of Voodoo is probably as old as the African continent itself. Sometimes written Voudou, Vodou or Voudun, the word itself means God Creator or Great Spirit.

It has been greatly distorted and misused; human sacrifices, vampires, dripping blood and devil worship all make the stuff of spooky novels and Hollywood movies. Yet none of these originated with or ever belonged to Voodoo.  Voodoo is much more powerful than that.

Voodoo started off as a life affirming practice that encouraged its participants to better understand the natural processes of life and their own spiritual natures.

If one looks at the dictionary, Voodoo is likely to be defined as an ancient religion from Africa that involves the cult of Ancestors, of various animistic spirits, and the use of trances to communicate with such spirits.

It is true that Voodoo did originate in Africa. Today it is practiced by millions throughout the world, in Africa, the Caribbean, Central, North and South America, in various forms, often with elements of Catholicism mixed in (whenever there’s an opportunity of making money or obtaining control you know the Catholics will be there).

Around 1510 the slave trade began, slaves being taken from the West Coast of Africa (Gulf of Guinea) from what is now Senegal and Gambia to the Congo region. The slaves who were torn from their native lands brought with them their beliefs and regional practices.

Many were first brought to the Caribbean islands to work the plantations and be forcibly Christianized. Their owners (“masters”) did not recognize the mystical qualities of their native ceremonies. ather they considered them to be savages, incapable of abstract concepts or spirituality.

 Of course the denial of their humanity made it all so much easier to keep them as slaves. Yet in the terrible conditions of their enslavement, the Africans’ only hope lay in their very faith. Amidst broken tribes and families, they found unity and solace in their gods and ancient rituals. It certainly also gave them a deep sense of inner freedom.

Although African slaves came from many different regions, most influential were the tribes from Nigeria and Dahomey.  In 1729 the Dahomey conquered their neighbors the Ewes and sold their prisoners to the slave ships often in exchange for European goods. Many from Dahomey were also kidnapped.

Both tribes had incorporated snake worship into their rites and some priests of the religion unwillingly found themselves on route to Haiti and the new world. Within one generation of their arrival, these priests had already established temples (hounfors) and developed a following in spite of their captivity and severe opposition of the French and Spanish churches.

The term Vo-Du came from the Fons of dahomey. The other great influence came from Yorubaland (Nigeria), the site of the sacred city of Ile-Ife. Among the Yorubas, the Loa (Lwa or Spirits) are known as Orisha. Other people that contributed to modern Voodoo in the new world are the Aradia, Nago, Ibo, Congo, Senegalese, Mandingo, Ethiopians, Sudanese and Malgaches.

The Voodoos believe in the existence of one supreme god, a very abstract, omnipotent yet unknowable force. Below this almighty god, Spirits or Loa rule over the world’s affairs in matter of family, love, happiness, justice, health, wealth, work, the harvest or the hunt etc.

Offerings are made to the appropriate Loa to ensure success in those areas. Each Loa has its preferred fruits or vegetables, color, number, day of the week, etc. The Loa also manifest through elements of nature such as the wind and rain, lightning and thunder, the river, the ocean, springs and lakes, the sky, the sun, certain animals, trees and stones.  Furthermore every element of nature, animal, tree, plant, fruit or vegetable is sacred to a certain Loa or Orisha.

Ancestors are consulted for guidance and protection. A rich and deep body of mythology and tales exists attesting to the amazing memory and poetic ability of the “Griots” who passed it orally from elder to youth and so on throughout the ages.

It is truly a remarkable body of spirituality and a code by which African life was ruled. A very complex system of divination also exists known as “Ifa”. It is said that the word Loa or Lwa itself derives from the French “Loi” (Law).

Upon their arrival in the West Indies and the New World, the slaves found themselves unable to continue the practice of their ancestral rites, sometimes under penalty of death. But they quickly understood the essential similarities between their beliefs and those of the Catholics; the Catholics praying to their Saints to intercede to a higher god in their favor.

The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
This little museum in the heart of New Orleans provides a great example of an attraction that uses a downhome design to lend authenticity to an earthy subject. It also provides a unique perspective on the subject of religious entertainment design, which we recently explored at Kentucky’s Ark Encounter.

In the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, between Bourbon and Royal Streets, is one of the most unassuming but authentic presentations of Voodoo to be found anywhere in the world.

The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum was founded in 1972 by Charles Massicot Gandolfo. He was raised on family stories of his great-great-great grandmother, an escaped slave from Haiti who was also a Voodoo Queen, during a time in New Orleans when potions were still sold at local pharmacies.

Voodoo Charlie, as he came to be known, with his alligator tooth necklace and carved snake staff, is attributed with reviving Voodoo in New Orleans from something you might read about in history books to something vital to the city’s history and still relevant for those who continue to practice the centuries-old religion.

Although Charlie died in 2001, his younger brother Jerry now maintains the museum. Previously Jerry was  always the one to handle the research end of the operation.

That is in fact the exact criteria used to “make a Saint”, the ability to obtain miracles. A substitution took place: the Loa often taking the name and some of the attributes of the Saints.

The elaborate ceremonies and costumes of the church also had great appeal for the Africans. I do not think that the Africans and their descendants would have seen it as a direct substitution rather than as an added path of expression of their deep-seated faith and beliefs.

In the Spanish Islands, the new religion became known as Santeria (the worship of the Saints). In other islands and in New Orleans, the term Voodoo remained. Because of its unique blend of French, Spanish and Indian cultures, New Orleans offered a perfect setting for the practice and growth of Voodoo.

In 1809 many Haitians who had migrated to Cuba during the Haitian revolution found themselves cast out and came to New Orleans. They brought with them their slaves who incorporated their rites and beliefs to those of the existent slave population – Africans from Senegal, Gambia and Nigeria previously brought to Louisiana by the Companie des Indes.

Voodoo in Louisiana was enriched and revitalized. It also incorporated the worship of the Snake Spirit (Damballah Wedo/Aida Wedo). To the Africans Voodoo was not only their religion, it was also their natural medicine, their protection and certainly a way of asserting and safeguarding a sense of personal freedom and identity.

Today

Today about 15% of the population of New Orleans practices Voodoo. Modern Voodoo has taken several directions: Spiritualist Reverends and Mothers who have their own churches, Hoodoos who integrate and work spells and superstitions, elements of European witchcraft and the occult, and traditionalists for whom the practice of Voodoo is a most natural and important part of their daily lives, a positive search for ancient roots and wisdom.

The practice of Voodoo involves the search for higher levels of consciousness in the belief that –as indeed all of the ancient scriptures teach – it is we who must open the way towards the gods. for when we call out from our hearts, the gods hear and indeed are compelled to respond.

Voodoo is a powerful mystical practice between mankind and the devil.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Rev 21:8).

Satan started a lot of evil stuff way back when, like astrology, black magic and stuff.  Don’t people realize that the devil will turn anything good to bad, and he’s really picking up speed now, just look at technology.