Jeremiah: The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the king of Judah and tell him, his servants, and people in Jerusalem to do justice to everyone. He repeats the basic commands about justice given in the Law. If they obey, then the kings and people will continue. If they disobey, the line of the king will be desolate. Instead of fertile, it will become a desert and the enemy will kill the best of them.
Nations will ask why the Lord did this and the answer will be because they worshiped other gods. Don’t weep for those who are killed but for those who go into captivity because they will not return. Shallum who reigned instead of Josiah went away and will never return. He will die in captivity.
The Lord pronounces woe to the king who is unjust and builds his palace. He isn’t a king because of his fancy house. His fathers had prosperity because they were righteous and just. But this king (Jehoiakim) only wants dishonest gain, murder, oppression, and violence. They will not lament for him. His body will be dumped in the garbage pit.
Lebanon, Jehoiakim’s lover (ally), would not listen to the Lord when it was prospering. They will go into captivity.
As for Coniah, Jehoiakim’s son, he will be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar along with his mother and there he will die. He will go there and be childless. None of his offspring will sit on the throne of David to rule in Judah.
The Lord pronounces woe to the shepherds of Judah who lead God’s people. They have scattered his flock and not tended them. So, the Lord will repay them. After that, the Lord will bring back the remnant of his flock and they will multiply. They will not be afraid because the new shepherd will care for them.
The Lord will rise up from David a righteous Branch to reign the way God wants with righteousness and justice. Judah and Israel will be secure. He will be called “The Lord is our righteousness (YHWH Tsidkenu).” The people will swear by the Lord who brought them back from captivity instead of the Lord who brought them out of Egypt.
Jeremiah speaks about the prophets. His heart is broken and he shakes because God’s words are holy. The land is full of adulterers and the land is dried up. The Lord says that both prophets and priest are evil. They will slip in their dark ways and fall into disaster when the Lord punishes. It was bad enough when the prophets of Samaria spoke according to Baal, but the ones in Jerusalem are worse. They encourage evildoers as well as being adulterers and liars. No one turns from evil who listens to them. He will give them poisoned water and bitter food because they spread ungodliness in the land.
The Lord says not to listen to the prophets because they are giving false hope. Their visions are out of their own minds, not from the Lord. They tell the ones who despise the Lord and follow their own heart that there will be no disaster. None of these have counseled with the Lord or listened to him. The Lord will send his anger upon the wicked and it won’t abate until he has done what is in his heart. They will understand when it happens later.
Psalm: Asaph calls on God not to hold his peace against Israel’s enemies. He recounts how the various enemies plot against Israel wanting to wipe them out. He asks God to fight against them as he did in other instances in the past when enemies wanted to take God’s pastures. He asks God to blow them away, burn them up, shame them, and kill them in disgrace. That way they will know that God alone is Most High over all the earth.
Proverbs: Wise words at the right time are like beautiful jewelry. Examples are reproof to one willing to listen. A faithful messenger is a blessing to his master like a refreshing snow to harvesters. A person who boasts of giving when he hasn’t is like a cloud without rain.
2 Thessalonians: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy write to the church in Thessalonica again. They tell them that is right to give thanks for their faith and their increasing love. Their faith and love is so much that they boast to other churches about it in the midst of their afflictions. They tell the Thessalonians that their afflictions are the evidence of God’s judgment because they are worthy of God’s kingdom. God will repay those who persecute the Thessalonians when Jesus comes back with his angles. The persecutors who don’t obey the gospel of Jesus will be punished with unending fire for eternity. They will be kept away from the Lord and his glory.
When Jesus comes he will be glorified by his saints as they marvel at his presences along with all who have believed just as the Thessalonians have believed. This is Paul and his companions’ prayer, that God will make the Thessalonians worthy of his calling and make their resolve to do good happen by his power. Jesus’ name will be glorified in them and they in him by the grace of God and Jesus.
What Stood Out
Jeremiah: “‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord” (Jer 23:1).
Psalm: “That they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps 83:18).
Proverbs: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov 25:11).
2 Thessalonians: “And to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels” (2 Thess 1:7).
Jeremiah: The shepherds of Judah and Israel were the priest, prophets, and kings. The Lord spoke and acted primarily through them. As you look back on Israel’s’ history, different ones took the lead in spiritual leadership. Samuel is a good example of a prophet. Hezekiah was one of the greater spiritual king leaders even though he had his pride issues. Jehoiada was a priest that guided and led Joash who made many spiritual reforms. There were numerous others, especially the prophets. As Israel and Judah departed from the ways of the Lord, he used the prophet more and more. As we seen in Jeremiah 23, these leaders of Judah have all become corrupt with only a few prophets speaking for God. The Lord uses Jeremiah to give these useless shepherds his message of condemnation. But he also tells that he will send the perfect Shepherd who will be king, priest, and prophet – the Branch, The Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jesus.
Jesus fulfills all the offices of the perfect Shepherd. He is the head of the church, which is his body made up of all Christians. But there is a problem in the world today. There are a lot of shepherds that are just like the ones living in Jeremiah’s day. They are the leaders of churches that are not speaking the word of God but delusions from their own minds (Jer 23:16). Personally, they are ungodly in their behavior (Jer 23:11). They are teaching what is absolutely against God’s word and thereby spreading wickedness and ungodliness in the land (Jer 23:15). They teach what gives false hope to people (Jer 23:16-17) who are in sin by telling them that their behavior is not sin.
What does Jesus say about such people? Read the seven woes Jesus used to condemn the religious leaders of his time (Matt 23). Read the condemnation for some of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. He will remove their lamp (Rev 2:5). He will war against them (Rev 2:16). He will strike them with illness (Rev 2:22). He will come like a thief when they aren’t paying attention (Rev 3:3). He will spit them out of his mouth (Rev 3:16).
We should be thankful if we have church leaders who are true to God’s word and don’t distort it or change it. They call sin for what it is, sin. They don’t let politics rule their adherence to the word of God but expose sin wherever it is. They don’t let their people sin but practice church discipline. They preach heaven, hell, and salvation in Jesus alone. Praise God for good shepherds.
Psalm: Asaph wants the Lord to wipe out Israel’s enemies so that they will know that The Lord is the Most High over the whole world (Ps 83:18). He is repeating what God says many times. He will protect and keep Israel then the nations will know that he alone is God. However, he also says many times that he will punish and exile Israel and Judah so that the nations will know that he is God and their sins have brought this upon them.
When we pray and ask God to do things, we should always remember to ask for things that will bring glory to God. We shouldn’t be asking for our selfish desires. Rather, we should stop and think about what we are asking for and why. If the Lord answers and gives us exactly what we are asking, will it bring glory to him? Asaph’s prayer was asking for things that would bring glory to God. We should ask about our motivation. Are we simply tired of God’s discipline in our lives and want him to stop without changing our behavior? Asaph’s prayer fell short in this area. Hardly anyone in Judah was repenting of their sins or all these enemies would not be coming against them. Is our motive only to feed our own selfish desires (James 4:1-3)? We can’t see what was in Asaph’s heart, but we can examine our own and seriously consider whether or not we need to change the way we pray.
Proverbs: In the Bible, we are commanded to speak in gracious ways. When we do, those words can accomplish much in another’s life. We can build others up (Eph 4:29). We can encourage others (1 Thess 5:11). We can answer others wisely (Col 4:6). We can promote peace (Rom 14:19). All of these things bring glory to God. We are only the settings of silver, but the words can be like the precious jewels when someone in need hears them.
2 Thessalonians: When will Christians get relief from their persecutions? Based on 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, it will be when Jesus comes back. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:16 it will be when the rapture occurs. In both passages, we see Jesus being revealed from heaven. Neither of these passages indicate a secret return in which only Christians will see him. In 1 Thessalonians, there will be a loud shout and trumpets. In 2 Thessalonians, it is with the angels to bring fiery judgment on those who persecute Christians. If 1 Thessalonians were a secret return only to take Christians and it is different than the return in 2 Thessalonians to repay the affliction caused to Christians, why does Paul write in 2 Thessalonians that he is expecting Jesus to come to rescue Christians including himself, Silvanus, and Timothy? Jesus’ return in 2 Thessalonians sounds like the last judgment, not what those who believe in pre-tribulation rapture describe. Enough of the rapture stuff.
A more practical lesson to be learned is that we should be praying for each other to be worthy of our calling in Christ. We should be asking for the Lord to work in us by faith to do the work for which he has called us. There is only one reason, and that is so the name of Jesus will be glorified in us. If that happens, then we know that its only by the grace of God and Jesus (2 Thess 1:12).
I need to focus on prayer and not timing of the rapture. Prayer for the leaders of our churches so that they will be good shepherds. I should be praying for myself and other so that we will accomplish God’s will for us in accordance with his calling. I should pray that in all this, Jesus will be glorified.