Thursday, January 31, 2019

Wed. or Thur. - Jeremiah 3 - Yes, But He is Willing to Take You Back

F a man's wife cheats on him with another man, it seems understandable that he would hesitate (or refuse) to accept her back. And, the same with a woman whose husband is unfaithful to her.  Even Jesus declared that sexual deviancy establishes a chasm between a husband and wife that may be insurmountable (Matthew 19:9). Yet, even though Israel committed spiritual adultery (Jeremiah 3:9 & 21), God was still willing to take her back. Oh, what grace!

Unlike us, God is perfect! He doesn't need to be nice to us to sooth His conscience or to make up for some error in His past. He has never made any errors. He owes us nothing! Still, here we are reading about His offer of forgiveness and acceptance. "Just return; come back," He said (Jeremiah 3:1, 7 & 22).

Now, it isn't like Israel was only guilty of a minor infraction. No, they were repeat offenders. They were asked, “Is there any man's bed in which you have not slept” (Jeremiah 3:2).  He described their demeanor as being as desensitized as a whore's (Jeremiah 3:3).

Actually, this chapter presents two wives here. Israel was the first wife of God to be divorced from Him (vs. 20). Judah was His second wife, and Judah paid little attention to the plight of Israel. Whatever amends Judah made were only outward and insincere (vs. 10). This seems to have offended God even more than Israel's extreme inflexibility (Jeremiah 3:11). At least if Israel repented, it would likely be sincere.  They had no record of false apologies. And so again, God invited them to repent (vs. 13-14). He promised abundant grace if they would just return to Him (vs. 15).

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tuesday - Jeremiah 2 - You Run Away with Me

HEN the Jews first forsook Egypt to follow after God, He was so pleased with them. They were like a beautiful young woman eloping with a tall dark stranger. They knew so little about God at that time, and yet they did love Him, for a time (vs. 2). There was initial reciprocity in their relationship.  But, by the time Jeremiah wrote his prophecies down, much water had washed under the bridge.   It had been well over 1000 years since Jacob moved his family to Egypt, and not too far short of 1000 years since Moses had led Jacob's descendants out of Egypt. What a spectacular scene their departure had been! But, all of that had been long forgotten by Israel. They had forsaken God in favor of make-believe gods of wood and stone. He was not pleased! God remembered the "kindness of (Israel's) youth" and it sickened Him to see them so low.

God accused His people of being less loyal to Him than the pagans were to their imaginary gods. Additionally, God asked what should have been a very disturbing question of His people, "What did I do wrong?" (vs. 5). We know of course that God has never done anyone wrong, but Israel acted as if He had. So, out comes a grave prophecy against the rebellious children of God (vs. 19). As the nation wandered further and further from God, even their most devout noblemen were far from devout. The Bible scholars didn't know God, the pastors were guilty of great infractions against God and the prophets had no vision and no power (vs. 8). This deep level of their spiritual dysfunction was more than tragic. It was fatal (vs. 13). 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday - Jeremiah 1 - Pronouncing God's Words

EREMIAH came onto the prophetic scene roughly a century after Isaiah. He would have been a young man at the time of his calling, as is evidenced by his objection in Jeremiah 1:6. His protest was that he was too young & inexperienced to be a mouthpiece for God. It seems he was sincerely humble; feeling appropriately inadequate. 

Jeremiah was a descendant of the Levitical priestly line (vs. 1). He may have been born to a priest, but God made him a prophet. How? By aiming His word squarely at Jeremiah (vs. 2 & 4). It was no use for Jeremiah to claim ineptness. God had picked him to be a preacher long before he was even born (vs. 5). Even more importantly, Jeremiah wasn't required to come up with his own words. He only had to give the ones that God gave him (vs. 7). Not that this task was exactly going to be easy. He was sure to be opposed and resisted (vs. 8). It's a good thing that he was not on his own. He was blessed with particular help and authority from God Himself (vs. 9-10).

One of the things that was common in Jeremiah's ministry was lots of illustrations. God kicked off His long series of revelations to Jeremiah with a "rod of an almond tree" and "a seething pot" (vs. 11 & 13). Right away God put Jeremiah to work preaching against the unbelieving Jews around him. And, God added some negative reinforcement (vs. 17) as well as positive (vs. 18-19) to spur Jeremiah forward in his responsibilities.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Saturday - Isaiah 66 - A Very Long Ending

OT only are we at the end of the book Isaiah, we also find ourselves examining the end of time. And, just like with the word "beginning" in Genesis 1:1, we see here that the ending of this story is longer than the story itself. Once the Millennial reign of Christ on this earth comes to a close, then we move into eternity. What is to be said about eternity? If we follow the chronology of Revelation 20 & 21, it is sure that there is infinite significance in what happens with the rest of us after Lucifer and all of his followers have been relegated to perpetual destruction. But, what will it be like?

God the Father has promised to His Son that the day will come when His enemies will be His footstool (Psalm 110:1). In other words, someday there will be only complete and abject submission from every opponent of Christ. Well, indeed that doesn't happen ultimately until after the Great White Throne Judgment. There is somehow a new creation of a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17, 2nd  Peter 3:12-13 & Rev. 21:1& 5). It will be a universe absent of death (Isaiah 66:3 & Rev. 21:4). The earth will be full of believers, heaven will be full of the redeemed (Isaiah 66:2) and the unbelieving will be absent; permanently paying dearly for how they stuck their spiritual fingers in their unspiritual ears (Isaiah 66:4-6 & 15-18).