Friday, October 20, 2017

October 20: Jeremiah 35 – 36; Psalm 89:13-37; Proverbs 25:25-27; 1 Timothy 5


            Jeremiah: During the reign of Jehoiakim, the Lord told Jeremiah to take the family of Rechabites into a room of the temple and offer them wine. When he did, they refused because Jonadab, their ancestor had ordered them to never drink wine, plant vineyard, or farm. They would be nomads all their lives. They had obeyed it all except living in houses when Nebuchadnezzar attacked and they fled to Jerusalem.
            Jeremiah then was told to tell all the people that the Rechabites were faithful to Jonadab, but the Lord had told his people many times by prophet to repent and not go after other gods. But they didn’t listen. Therefore, the Lord is bringing upon Judah and Jerusalem the disaster he has pronounced against them. However, because the Rechabites had obeyed their father, there would always be a Rechabite to serve him.
            In the 4th year of Jehoiakim, the Lord told Jeremiah to write on a scroll what he had spoken against Israel and Judah beginning in the days of Josiah. Maybe they will repent and he will forgive them. Jeremiah dictated everything to Baruch then told him to read the scroll on the day of fasting because Jeremiah had been banned from the temple. If the people plead for mercy the Lord may turn from his wrath.
            In the 9th month of the 5th year of Jehoiakim, there was a fast and all the people came to Jerusalem. Baruch read the word from the scroll in the temple. Mecaiah heard the words and went to the king’s house where the officials were sitting. Mecaiah told them what Baruch had read. They sent for Baruch, had him bring the scroll, and had him read it to them. They were afraid and decided they needed to tell the king. They asked how he got the words and Baruch told them Jeremiah dictated them. They told Baruch to hide himself and Jeremiah.
            They told the king and he sent for the scroll and had it read. When 3 or 4 columns were read, the king would cut them off and burn them. The king and his servants were not afraid, didn’t show remorse, and didn’t listen. He wanted Baruch and Jeremiah taken into custody but the Lord hid them.
            The Lord told Jeremiah to take another scroll and write everything that was on the first scroll. He was to tell Jehoiakim that he would be killed, his body tossed out and not buried. He would not have any descendants to be on David’s throne. He and his servants will be punished as well as the people in Jerusalem and Judah. So, Jeremiah dictated to Baruch and added many similar words.
            Psalm: Ethan continues to extol God’s attributes. He talks of God’s righteousness and justice and how people rejoice in them. He then recounts God’s promises to David giving him strength over enemies and God’s continued love for him. David will call God his Father and he will be appointed God’s firstborn. The promises extend to David’s descendants forever. If David’s descendants should stray from God’s decrees, God will punish them but will not remove his love from them or change his covenant because God swore by his holiness. David’s line will endure forever.
            Proverbs: Good news from a distant place is soothing like cold water to someone dying of thirst. When a righteous person caves in to the wicked, he is like polluted water. It is good not to gorge on sweets or to promote your own magnificence.
            1 Timothy: Paul instructs Timothy how to work with older and younger men and women like fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. Especially to be pure toward the younger women. The church is to care for and honor widows. However, if they have family members who can care for them, they should be the first to do that because it is the way a godly family works and pleases God. A widow who lives a godly life is putting her hope in God. One who seeks selfish pleasure is dead.
            Instruct people about this. If anyone doesn’t provide for his family, he is worse than a pagan.
            Widows can obtain relief from the church if they are 60 years old and lived a godly life with family and served the church. Don’t enroll widows who are younger because they will want to marry and stop trusting the Lord. They may also become busybodies. Paul advises younger widows to marry, have kids, and take care of their families. This avoids charges against them. Some have already turned away and follow Satan.
            Believing women should help widows in their family so that the church can help those who need it.
            Elders should be honored, especially when they teach and preach. They should be paid because that’s what Scripture teaches. Don’t bring accusations against an elder without two or three witnesses. If he is guilty, he should be rebuked publicly as a warning to others.
            Paul charges Timothy to keep these instructions without being biased in any way. Don’t anoint and appoint people to office hastily. Keep pure and don’t join with others who sin. Use some wine for medicinal purposes and not just water. Some people sin openly, and it is evident the will be judged. Other sins don’t show up until later. But good works can’t be hidden.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “When they heard all the words, they turned one to another in fear” (Jer 36:16). “Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments” (Jer 36:24).
            Psalm: “His offspring shall endure forever” (Ps 89:36).
            Proverbs: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” (Prov 25:26).
            1 Timothy: “The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden” (1 Tim 5:24-25).


            Jeremiah: There is a significant contrast between the way some of the king’s servants reacted to God’s word and the way the king and others reacted. What do we do when our boss or others in authority over us spurn God’s word and do despicable things? If you are like the Rechabites, you stand firm in your convictions and the Lord rewards you. If you cave into the same wicked behavior, then you will suffer the consequences.
            Paul made it very clear that we are either servants of Christ or we are people pleasers (Gal 1:10). When we seek to please our authority figures when it requires us to engage in dishonest, immoral, or any kind of sinful behavior, we are in opposition to God. That is when we must have a lot of trust in the Lord to make a way out. We can count on God’s promise to always prepare a way out so that we don’t have to sin (1 Cor 10:13). The Lord hid Baruch and Jeremiah this time but other times Jeremiah was imprisoned, thrown into a cistern, and other abuses. There may be some consequences such as losing a job or even worse. But the choice is ours.
            It is important for us to be able recognize the sin and also the way out. We don’t want to be like some who believe the Lord will excuse one sin because it was a way of getting out of a worse one.
            Psalm: Three times in this Psalm, the promise to David that his offspring will continue forever is repeated (Ps 89:4, 29, 36). There should be no confusion about the fact that this promise can only be fulfilled by the Messiah. When we look at the line of David, we find many years from the Babylonian exile to Jesus’ arrival on earth where this promise is broken. None of David’s descendants were on the throne of Israel or Judah because they were ruled by other nations. But the Son of God was still the Son of God and the future physical Messiah – spiritually on the throne. When he came in the flesh, he was not recognized as king except by a few, so he didn’t reign at that time either. While Jesus reigns supreme over the church, he still isn’t reigning on this earth physically on the throne in Jerusalem. Yet there will be a day when these verses will be fulfilled on the earth and Jesus is enthroned (Rev 19:15).
            Proverbs: Proverbs 25:26 is a good description of what happens when people cave in to peer or boss pressure to do wrong. While they may think everything is OK, their reputation, their witness for the Lord, and even their own sense of right and wrong become muddied. Eventually they can become so polluted that there will be not a distinction between them and the wicked.
            1 Timothy: A huge topic of today’s reading is about how to deal with widows. It appears that much of the teaching is concerned with the way the church was handling things within their culture. Some of the admonitions are applicable to today and others aren’t. The basic principles that stand out are not the age of a widow, but the character of the widow. If the person is going to just mooch off the church, then she shouldn’t be helped. Another basic principle is that family should take care of family first. When they can’t or there isn’t any family, then it is time for the church to help.
            Paul closes this chapter with an interesting observation. It could apply back to the widows as well as to everyone else. It is obvious that some people are sinning, and they will face judgment for their sins. We see it every day with people who reject Christ and live immoral lives. Then there are those who appear to be upright and solid people in their community and church. The have hidden their sin, disobedience, and possibly – their false profession of faith. Their sins are only exposed later when someone gets fed up with them and reports them. Or, they may go to the grave and only in the final judgment will their sins catch up with them. The exact opposite is what happens to those who do good works. Their good deeds can’t be hidden, either from others or from the Lord. Which person are you?


             It isn’t always easy to find God’s way out of what appears to be a no-win situation. But I have God’s promise that it is there. I want to always find it and escape temptation. I don’t want to cave to pressure to sin.

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