Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11: Jeremiah 16:16 – 18; Psalm 81; Proverbs 25:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 4 – 5:3



Overview

            Jeremiah: Speaking about his people, the Lord says he will catch them like fisherman and hunters because they can’t hide from him. He has seen their evil and will repay them for spreading idols all through the land.
            Jeremiah replies that the Lord is his strength and the nations will come and admit their idols are lies. Man can’t make gods.
            The Lord says they will know his power and that his name is the Lord. Judah’s sin is engraved on their hearts and their children worship idols. The Lord will give all their wealth to their enemies. His anger will burn forever. The one who trust himself and not the Lord will be like a parched shrub in the desert. The one who trusts in the Lord will flourish like a tree planted by water. The heart is deceitful and God examines it and the mind to prepay a person what he deserves.
            Jeremiah replies, that a person who gains by injustice will lose it all and be a fool in the end. There is refuge in God’s throne. The Lord is the hope of Israel and all who reject him will be put to shame. They have rejected the fountain of living water.
            He prays for healing and to be saved. People taunt him regarding God’s word but he hasn’t stopped being God’s shepherd. The Lord know what he has said. He asks the Lord not to let him fear but be his refuge. He asks that those who persecute him be put to shame and destroyed on the day of disaster.
            The Lord told Jeremiah to stand in the People’s Gate and tell the kings of Judah and all Jerusalem to stop carrying burdens on the Sabbath or do any work. It is a holy day as he commanded their fathers. They didn’t obey and didn’t accept his instruction. If they obey, then the kings and people will enter the city forever. People all around will come to offer sacrifices and offering. If they don’t listen, the Lord will burn the gates and devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
            The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house. He watched the potter work and then rework a pot into a new vessel until it was he was satisfied with it. The Lord’s word came to Jeremiah. He asks Israel why he can’t do the same as the potter. Israel is in his hand. If a nation is evil and he breaks it and it turns from its evil he will relent from the disaster and build it again. Jeremiah is to relay the message to Judah and Jerusalem that he is bring disaster to them for their evils. They should repent. He knows the people will say that is dumb, they will do what they want according to their stubborn evil hearts.
            The Lord says that no one has heard of such a thing. Snow doesn’t leave he tops of the mountains and their streams don’t run dry. But God’s people have rejected him and turned to false gods. The gods make them sin and the land will become desolate when he scatters them before their enemies. He will not help in the day of their calamity.
            The people decided to plot against Jeremiah. They think they have God on their side because of the law, priests, prophet, and their own wisdom. They will argue against him and ignore his words.
            Jeremiah asks the Lord to hear him and his enemies’ plots. He doesn’t want his good repaid with evil. He reminds God that he was telling them what the Lord said so they would repent and not suffer. So now that they have attacked him, Jeremiah asks the Lord to dump on them and wipe them out for plotting against him. He doesn’t want God to forgive them.
            Psalm: Asaph calls upon Israel to sing and shout the praises of God with music. They are to do this because God brought them out of Egypt and relieved them of their oppression. When he did that, he gave them a statute that they should not worship foreign gods. But they didn’t listen. So, the Lord gave them over to their enemies. If they would listen to him, he would subdue their enemies and would satisfy their needs with the best produce.
            Proverbs: Don’t try to force your way into an honorable position. It is better to have the king honor you than to shame you by moving to less honorable place.
            1 Thessalonians: Paul and his companions instruct the Thessalonians in the way to live for holiness. The Thessalonians should abstain from sexual immorality and control their bodies instead of lusting like the Gentiles who don’t know God. Don’t sin this way because God will avenge the one offended. Since God called us to holiness, anyone who ignores this instruction is ignoring God who gives the Holy Spirit.
            Paul and companions also encourage the Thessalonians to keep on loving each other as God has taught them. They should do so even more. They should live quietly, mind their own business, work with their hands, live properly before outsiders, and not be dependent on anyone.
            They want the Thessalonians to know that they don’t need to grieve like people with no hope when someone among them dies. Just as Jesus died and rose again, Jesus will rise them up and bring them with him when the Lord comes from heaven. The dead will rise first then anyone who is alive will be caught up and all will meet in the clouds and all will be with the Lord forever. The Thessalonians should encourage each other with this.
            The Thessalonians don’t need to be instructed about the day of the Lord because they already know it will come like a thief in the night. People will think there is safety and peace but destruction will come upon them suddenly and they will not escape.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart’” (Jer 18:12).           
            Psalm: “Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!” (Ps 81:8).
            Proverbs: “For it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble” (Prov 25:7).
            1 Thessalonians: “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thess 5:3).

Insight

            Jeremiah: The people respond to the Lord’s warnings by telling God they will do what they want out of the stubbornness of their hearts (Jer 18:12). I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who was so blatantly evil that he would identify himself as having a stubborn heart and was doing exactly what he wanted in this direct rebellion against God. Most people simply do what they want and think they are basically good people. It is rare to find someone who admits to being evil and enjoys it to the extent that he will do it with no intention of stopping. I would hazard a guess that even mass killers don’t think on this level. If they do, it is even more frightening.
            The truth is that each of us is exactly this way when we sin. Sin is telling God that we will follow our own plans and will do the desire of our stubborn hearts. In Romans 3:10-18, Paul quotes from several Psalms to show just how wicked we are. The bottom line is that every one of us is a sinner. Until we realize this, God’s wrath is upon us and we will be judged just the way Judah was going to be judged. Only now, that judgment will come after death and it will be eternal. Every description of Judah’s judgment will be carried out in eternity for those who don’t repent and adhere to their stubborn, willful rejection of God that is exhibited by their sin.
            We can’t hide our sin from God. We can’t even pretend to be good on the outside while keeping our sinful thoughts hidden. The Lord says he searches what is in our hearts and looks in our minds to see what we’ve have going on in there; he will reward us accordingly (Jer 17:10).
            We can thank God that through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, all his wrath has been poured out on Jesus. When we turn to him in repentance and ask for forgiveness, he will do it. He will give us a new heart instead of the rebellious evil heart.
            Psalm: In Psalm 80, Asaph didn’t acknowledge one bit of wrong doing. In Psalm 81, he speaks on behalf of the Lord and accuses them of idol worship. There is again no indication that the people are admitting any guilt. The Lord holds out the promise of restoration if the people will repent but it is apparent they have not as the Lord gives them over to their stubborn hearts and to their enemies.
            Paul also tells us that God will turn people over to their evil desires when their hearts are in opposition to God (Rom 1:24). The result is that they keep on doing worse and worse. This is pretty gloom except we know that as long as there is opportunity in this life to repent, we can. We can get a new heart instead of a stubborn one. We can be cleansed from our sins by the blood of Jesus.
            Proverbs: This proverb is a powerful statement about salvation. There is no way we can work our way into a position where God will accept us. If we try, we will be like the man in Jesus’ parable who tried to get into the wedding banquet without the proper attire (Matt 22:11-14). He was coming in with his own attire instead of that provided by the Lord Jesus and his death on the cross. We must come in faith to Jesus and not on our abilities. Salvation is a gift and when we have it, the Lord will call us to enter his kingdom (Matt 25:23).
            1 Thessalonians: Today’s reading in 1 Thessalonians covers a wide range of subjects from sexual purity and holiness, brotherly love, godly living, and end times. However, it is interesting that the last verse is applicable to all of it. On the day of the Lord, destruction will come upon those who think they have peace and security.
            In regard to sexual purity, we have many in this country and others that have defined their own standard of sexual purity. It doesn’t have anything to do with controlling one’s own body but doing whatever one wants with whomever one wants. Without going into detail, it is simply not biblically correct but biblically prohibited. They are like those God warned in Judah by Jeremiah and Asaph. They have stubborn hearts. “Sudden destruction will come upon them (1 Thess 5:3).
            In regard to brotherly love, there is a tendency for people to polarize right and left. There is a huge lack of brotherly love. This is seen in a lack of people wanting to live quiet lives, mind their own business, work, and be dependent on no one (1 Thess 5:11-12). Instead there is political strife, name calling, fake news, and all sorts of things designed to stir up angry emotions instead of show compassion and love to other people. “Sudden destruction will come upon them (1 Thess 5:3).
            In regard to end times, Christians have hope knowing they will be either raised from the dead to be with Jesus or they will be transformed and caught up to heaven to be with Jesus. It will be a very visual and loud event with trumpets and the Lord’s shout as Jesus descends. These passages don’t tell us the timing of this in regard to the great tribulation. This passage only says that non-Christians will have “sudden destruction … come upon them (1 Thess 5:3). We have to wait for tomorrow to see go to if there are any hints at the timing.

Application

            I want to make sure that I’m trying my best not to let my stubborn heart rule instead of the Lord Jesus. That should look like striving toward holiness in all areas of my life.

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