Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 15: Jeremiah 26 – 27; Psalm 85; Proverbs 25:16; 2 Thessalonians 3



Overview

            Jeremiah: When Jehoiakim started to reign, the Lord sent Jeremiah to warn the people as they come to the temple so that they would walk in his ways and God would not send disaster. If they do not listen, he will make the temple like Shiloh and the city a curse for all nations on the earth.
            The priests and people wanted to kill Jeremiah for telling what the Lord commanded him. They took him before the officials of Judah and accused him of deserving death. Jeremiah answered and told them the Lord told him to say all that he said. He reiterated that they needed to repent and obey the Lord or the disaster would come. If they kill him, they will be adding innocent blood to their sins.
            The officials said he didn’t deserve to die because he spoke in the name of the Lord. They said that Micah had prophesied the same thing when Hezekiah was king and they didn’t put Micah to death. The people repented and the disaster didn’t come. But they acknowledged that they were about to bring disaster on themselves.
            Uriah also prophesied as did Jeremiah. Jehoiakim and his officials wanted to kill him but he fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim sent men to Egypt, brought back Uriah and killed him. But Ahikam sided with Jeremiah and he was spared.
            In the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign, the Lord told Jeremiah to make yokes on his neck then tell the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon that God created the earth and he can give it to whom he wants. He is giving all their kingdoms to Nebuchadnezzar. They will serve Babylon until other nations make Babylon a slave. If any nation that won’t yield to Nebuchadnezzar will be punished. So, they should not listen to their prophet who tell them not to serve Nebuchadnezzar.
            Jeremiah said the same thing to Zedekiah, king of Judah. The Lord has not sent the prophet who were telling him not to serve Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah also told the people not to listen to the prophets who say the vessels of the temple will be returned from Babylon soon. Instead they should serve the king of Babylon and live. If they are really prophets they should intercede with the Lord so that all the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar left will not be taken to Babylon because the Lord says the vessels will all be carried away and stay there until the Lord visits them. Then the Lord will bring them back.
            Psalm: The sons of Korah remind the Lord that in the past, he forgave and restored Israel. They ask again for restoration and salvation. They ask if he will be angry forever. They want to be revived and have joy in the Lord again. They want to hear from the Lord and not return to their folly for salvation is near to those who fear the Lord.
            Their salvation is expressed in the land being able to produce because of God’s faithfulness and righteousness coming together and making a way.
            Proverbs: Don’t be a pig and eat all the honey you can or you will end up puking.
            2 Thessalonians: Paul and his companions ask the Thessalonians to pray for them so they can speedily spread the word and be delivered from evil people. They remind the Thessalonians that God keeps them obedient in what they were commanded as well as keeping them in the Love of God and being steadfast in Christ.
            Paul and his companions command the Thessalonians in the name of Jesus to not be idle. The Thessalonians must imitate them in the way they worked in Thessalonica not to be a burden. They commanded the Thessalonians that if anyone would not work then they shouldn’t be given food either. They heard that some of the Thessalonians were idle and busybodies. Those should be commanded to earn their own living.
            The Thessalonians should not get tired of doing good. And if they don’t obey the instruction of this letter they should have nothing to do with him. He isn’t an enemy so warn him as a brother.
            The benediction on the Thessalonians is for peace from the Lord of peace.
            Paul writes in his own handwriting to let them know the letter is genuine.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon’” (Jer 27:9).       
            Psalm: “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it” (Prov 25:16).
            Proverbs: “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Ps 85:6).
            2 Thessalonians: “For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies” (2 Thess 3:11).

Insight

            Jeremiah: It appears that every religion has people within it who think they have a special link to the spiritual realm. These countries that were warned to submit to Nebuchadnezzar had their gods and people who claimed to be able to communicate with them. The big problem for Judah at that time is that they were mimicking these nations and their gods. Judah had the same gamut of spiritualist that were prophesying the same erroneous lies. They couldn’t believe that God would let the heathen Nebuchadnezzar conquer Judah. It must have been a shock to hear that all these countries would be given over to him.
            Today, we have many of these same types of spiritual gurus who think they have a connection with some spiritual entity. Some of them admittedly know and say that they are connected to a demonic force. Others think it is their own self in some prior life. The ones that are the most dangerous to Christians are the ones who think they are connected with God and lead gullible Christians astray.
            Most of them tell us that God will prosper them if they have enough faith. They don’t warn Christians what the Bible says, that we should expect trials in our lives and even persecution if we are really following the Lord. They predict the exact opposite by saying that following the Lord will yield material wealth and ease. We have others, like the prophets of Jeremiah who lead people with false teaching. They tell us that homosexuality is the way God made people, therefore it is good and acceptable to him. That’s not what the Bible says. They say that marriage is between two (and maybe more) people (or other things) who love each other even of the same sex. That’s not what the Bible says. They also permit or even encourage divorce when a couple made a mistake by getting married. That’s not what the Bible says.
            We need to listen to the prophets God has sent as recorded in the Bible. If a prophet, teacher, or whatever, says anything different, we should run from that person.
            Psalm: The sons of Korah ask God for revival in an interesting way. They don’t ask for forgiveness but revival so that they can rejoice in the Lord. Many of these Psalms of lament don’t include clear admission of sin and asking for repentance. Most simply want prosperity restored. But asking for revival is perhaps what must occur before repentance can occur. Without grace, we are not able to have faith. Grace is given to us when we are sinners so that we can be made alive (Eph 2:4). If we are not first revived, we don’t even think about repenting or asking God for forgiveness because we are dead in our sins. It appears that the sons of Korah have a good point in asking to be revived if they are talking about spiritual revival. If they first want physical revival – prosperity before they will rejoice in the Lord, then they have a long way to go.
            Proverbs: Moderation is one of the keys of self-control. Many things in life are good, like honey, but putting too much of an emphasis on those good things can lead to life-enslaving sin. Paul said he found the secret to being content whether he was well fed or hungry. In all situations he was at peace because he knew that Christ in him was enabling him (Phil 4:11-13). Jesus is the only “thing” we should not seek to have in moderation.
            2 Thessalonians: A few days ago, I mentioned that some of the Thessalonians were just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back. The passages in today’s reading about idleness is what has spawned the thought that they were doing that. Every once in a while, we hear of some cult that names a date when the Lord is coming back. They sell all their stuff and go out to some remote place and wait. That is a terrible witness for Jesus. When they come back ashamed, people laugh and think all Christians are crazy.
            Just as bad or maybe worse are Christians who think the world or other Christians owe them something. They go from church to church mooching off the good intentions of believers. When the moochers are told that they have to get a job or that the people helping them can no longer do it, they rail against their benefactors as being fake Christians.
            It takes patience and love to put up with these people. However, we can’t give up trying when another comes along. We know that as long as we are doing it for the Lord and in love, it isn’t a wasted effort (1 Cor 15:58).

Application

             I don’t want to be idle, even in retirement. I want to be able to be content and self-controlled. I also want to be careful in helping other, not enabling them to be idle, but to be discerning of those who are truly in need.

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