JEREMIAH - Chapter 12 - The Great Speckled Bird



‘How can you contend with horses…In the Swelling of the Jordan?”


Taught by:  Carolyn Sissom

Tuesday, March 30, 2021; October 21, 2008


God is calling his seasoned leaders who have come out of the world system, been through the wilderness and have entered the rest of God to go forth and lead the generations on the earth who are bound in the world and/or lost in the wilderness.  We must lead people through the present judgments which are on the earth into God’s promises.


Jeremiah 12:5: If you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan? (K.J.V.)


“God never calls a man or woman to contend with horses until He has practiced him/her with footmen; that God never yet sent a man/woman into the wilds of Jordan until he had trained him/her in the land of peace” (G. C. Morgan – Studies of Jeremiah).


This word was spoken prophetically to me in 1983.  My life as I knew it had just changed and I would now be trained to contend with horses.  In my notes from 2008, I made a note that Bet Amante gave me a prophetic word that the Lord had “meeked me.”


 “The old English often used the term “meeking a horse”.  Meeking a horse did not mean to strip the power from a horse but rather to harness the horse’s power from a state of wild independence to one of loyalty so that the horse could be used as the master of the horse intended” (Wikipedia). 


 Chapter Eleven began with the fourth commission of Jeremiah.

 First commission - 1:4-10.

 Second commission - 1:17-19.

 Third commission – 6: 27-30

 Fourth Commission – 11: 1-7


In chapter 11, the Lord here gave eight commands to Jeremiah:


  1. Hear the words of the covenant. (V.2)
  2. Speak to Judah and Jerusalem.
  3. Say this to them (V.3)
  4. Obey my voice. (V.4)
  5. Do my commandments
  6. Proclaim all these words (V.6)
  7. Hear the words of the covenant and do them.
  8. Obey My voice (V.7)


The men of Judah and Jerusalem were the only Jews or Israelites left in the land, therefore, since Jeremiah was commissioned to prophesy to them, they were the Israel of these prophecies. 


In Verse 33, is the first curse mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah man that obeys not the words of this covenant.”.  Cursed is the


Chapter 12 continues with the sermon on the Broken Covenant. There are six curses in Jeremiah.  We will get to the next one in Chapter 17.


However, for Christians all curses were broken at the Cross.  But it is not automatic.            According to Galatians 3 & 4, we must appropriate this by Faith, the Holy Spirit and the Blood of Jesus.


Galatians 3:12-29: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.


Jeremiah, the Lord’s faithful servant, has been speaking the divine oracles without shrinking back, and the reward he gets is death threats and persecution.


Chapter 12 opens with Jeremiah’s questions and conversation with God.  The prophet’s life has been threatened and Jeremiah questions God. Jeremiah faces the age-old question of why the godless prosper and the faithless thrive.  He contrasts his own suffering with the apparent prosperity of those against whom he was preaching who had ridiculed his threats and his own family’s betrayal of him.


NRSV translates Jeremiah’s accusation as “You will be in the right O Lord, when I lay charges against you; but let put my case to you.”


Jeremiah begins somewhat apologetically, but to use courtroom language, and to speak of laying charges against the judge (who has had many words of judgment heretofore!) indicate no timidity on his part.  By questioning Yahweh’s justice, the prophet is bringing a charge against him.


“Theodicy is defined as a theological construct that attempts to vindicate God in response to the evidential problem of evil that seems inconsistent with the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent deity. Another definition of theodicy is the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.” (Wikipedia).


Jeremiah 12: 1-6:  You are always righteous, O Lord when I bring a case before you.  Yet I would speak with you about your justice.  Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root.  They grow and bear fruit.  You are always on their lips, but far from their hearts.  Yet, you know me, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you.  Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!  Set them apart for the day of slaughter!  How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered?  Because those who live in it are wicked.  The animals and birds have perished.  Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.” (N.I.V).  If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? (N.K.J.V.)

God’s answer to his servant is that there is worse to come. God does not respond to his servant’s complaint with sympathy but rather with a stark statement of reality, a good example of the Lord’s ruthless love.  The apparent injustices and inequities that exist in the world are a lot bigger than the things you have suffered to date---and it is going to get worse.  If this is wearing you out, the first stage of the race, the early stage of the battle, the easiest phase of the conflict, what is going to happen when things really heat up?  Will you trust me then?  


God will punish and then He will restore. Nevertheless, he sees he must commit himself to the foreknowledge and righteousness of God.  The Lord does not give a full answer to Jeremiah’s questions because He is not under any obligation to justify the wisdom of His Providence; because an explanation would not be the solution to the problem; and because what Jeremiah really needed was not an answer to his questions, but an answer to his needs!  The prophet must learn to overcome ever increasing difficulties.


 If he faints because of the prosperity of the ungodly, persecution, his family turning against him, or for that matter any other reason, he will not be able to finish the course. 


God now shares his own pain in dealing with his family.  Perhaps providing a further answer to the prophet’s question.  The description of Judah and her surrounding nations reveals God in His love.


12:7-13:  I have forsaken my house.  I have left my heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it cries out against me: therefore, I have I hated it. My inheritance has become to me like a speckled bird, the birds’ round about are against her.  Come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.  Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard.  They have trodden my portion under foot.  They have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.  They have made it desolate, and being desolate, it mourns unto me.  The whole land is made desolate because no man lays it to heart. 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.  They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns.  They have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit. They shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD. (K.J.V.)





The Lord’s anger is expressed in 8-13.  How agonizing it must have been for God to severely punish and abandon his firstborn son.  Exodus 4:22: You shall say to Pharaoh, Thus, says the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.


The language, I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies, describes Israel as a bride, his friend, his own.  We are to be Jesus’ Bride as well as Sons-of-God.   How deep and persistent her sin must have been for him to now say, “I hate her. I utterly reject her, act against her, and put her away.”  He describes her as a speckled bird of prey and calls on wild animals to devour her.


The Bride of Christ (the Beloved) is to be adorned for her husband.  The bride must be attractive and Beloved by her husband.  For God to hate the dearly beloved of his soul means failure to fulfill her eternal purpose on earth.  


I was reminded of the song, The Great Speckled Bird.  It is not consistent or in context with this passage, yet as we go into the next passage, we hear God’s compassion and restoration of His Kingdom people who are here described as a speckled bird.  This is the only passage in the bible that refers to God’s Kingdom Church as a speckled bird.  The song has value because it describes the victorious, overcoming church birthed through the Israel of God identified as one with the great church of God through the Son of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.   In verses 14-17, we read the promise of God’s restoration of His Holy Nation, here described negatively as a speckled bird, yet offered redemption in verse 14-17.     


The Great Speckled Bird

Roy Acuff

What a beautiful thought I am thinking
Concerning a great speckled bird
Remember her name is recorded
On the pages of God's Holy Word

All the other birds are flocking 'round her
And she is despised by the squad

But the great speckled bird in the Bible
Is one with the great church of God

All the other churches are against her
They envy her glory and fame
They hate her because she is chosen
And has not denied Jesus' name

Desiring to lower her standard
They watch every move that she makes
They long to find fault with her teachings
But really, they find no mistake

She is spreading her wings for a journey
With a song never uttered before

I am glad I have learned of her meekness
I am proud that my name is on her book
For I want to be one never fearing
The face of my Savior to look

When He comes descending from heaven
On the cloud that He writes in His Word
I'll be joyfully carried to meet Him
On the wings of that great speckled bird


The imagery from wild animals to many shepherds who destroy and trample God’s land/field turning it into a desolate wilderness can relate to the lyrics of the song of those who try to destroy God’s church.  All this has occurred because no one took things to heart meaning, understood the seriousness of their actions; paid attention to the sinful state of the people; to the warnings of the prophets; or to the divine judgments in their developing forms. 


The judgment will be inescapable because the devouring sword of the Lord he is bringing.


12:14-16:  The Theme of the Book of Jeremiah is again repeated:  Thus, says the Lord, against all my 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 of the house of Judah from among them.  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.  It shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD lives; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people (K.J.V.)


The Lord is clearly jealous over his people and his land.  Thus, he promises to uproot those nations that dared touch his people’s land.  These divine actions will be released through Jeremiah’s words in keeping with the commission he received in 1:10, which included authority to uproot nations.  God also promises to uproot exiled Judah from those nations.  He is clearly stating their return to their homeland and perhaps pointing back to Jeremiah’s question.  “Soon enough I will deal with the sins of the wicked and have mercy on my harassed and helpless people.


Verse 15 provides an extraordinary window into the compassionate heart of the Lord.  The beloved heavenly Father will have compassion on those who sinned against his people.  He will also bring those who he uses as an instrument of his judgment back to their inheritance, the land allotted to them by the Lord.  If they will become followers of Yahweh, and learn his ways they, too, will be established prosperity and peace.


This is Kingdom of God inclusive of Jew and Gentile.  This is prophetic of the Church in all the earth who will receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.  This was not fulfilled until after Jesus’ earthly ministry.


Isa. 19:23-25: The LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.  In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. (K.J.V.)


Verse 17 is his justice. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, says the Lord.


There is a consequence to the rejection of mercy, namely, complete judgment.  Here disobedience virtually guarantees the end of a people and nation. 


This is why we the church in the United States are crying out to God to forgive our sins which are piled high that the Christian culture in America will not be destroyed by the spirit of antichrist presently governing our nation.


Jehovah is Jeremiah’s defender. He is God’s man.  I pray that we may all walk that the Lord will defend us.  Lord raise up your Jeremiahs’ who will fearlessly declare your word in your time. 


Taught by:  Carolyn Sissom

Scripture from KJV and references from Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible and The International Bible Commentary by: F.F. Bruce; Commentary on Jeremiah by Michael L. Brown. 

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