Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 22: Jeremiah 39 – 41; Psalm 90 – 91; Proverbs 26:1-2; 2 Timothy 1



Overview

            Jeremiah: In Zedekiah’s 9th year, 10th month, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. In the 11th year, 4th month, 9th day, they breached the wall and their officials sat in the middle gate. Zedekiah and his army fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army caught them and took them back to Nebuchadnezzar who killed all of Zedekiah’s sons and nobles of Judah. He put out Zedekiah’s eyes and took him captive along with other survivors. The poorest people were left and given vineyards.
            Nebuchadnezzar made sure Jeremiah was not harmed. His officials looked for him and found him in the guard’s court. They entrusted him to Gedaliah to take him home. While he was imprisoned in the guard’s court, the Lord told him to speak to Ebid-melech. He was to tell him that the Lord would fulfil his words against the city but Ebid-melech would be delivered from the Babylonians and be saved because he trusted in the Lord.
            Jeremiah was released from the other captives by Nebuzaradan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard. He told Jeremiah that the Lord did what he said he would do against the city because of their sin. Jeremiah was being released and could go wherever he wanted. He gave Jeremiah him food and a present. Jeremiah went to Gedaliah and lived there.
            Gedaliah was appointed governor and the leaders of Judah’s dispersed army came to him at Mizpah. Gedaliah told them not to fear the Babylonians, serve them, and they will be ok. People who fled to other countries also returned. They started to harvest and settle in the land. The leader Johanan warned Gedaliah that the leader Ishmael was sent by the Ammonite king to kill Gedaliah. Gedaliah didn’t believe him.
            In the 7th month, Ishmael came with 10 of his men and ate with Gedaliah then killed him and the Babylonian with him. He then killed 70 of 80 men who had come to offer grain and incense at the temple. He saved 10 of them because they had food stashed in the country. Ishmael threw the dead bodies into a cistern. He then took captive all the people who had come back to Gedaliah. He intended to take them back to Ammon.
            Johanan heard about Ishmael, so he took his men and caught up with Ishmael and the captives. Ishmael and 8 men escaped to Ammon. The captive people rejoiced and returned with Johanan. Because they feared reprisal from the Babylonian, they went to Geruth Chimham and prepared to flee to Egypt.
            Psalm 90: God is eternal and he has always been there for us. Even though we only live a short time, he is forever. Our lives are brief. Our sins are not hidden from him. So, the Psalmist asks that we consider God’s anger and number our days correctly and live wisely. He asks to be satisfied with God’s steadfast love. He asks that our lives be balanced with good as well as evil days. He asks for God’s favor in all their work.
            Psalm 91: God is our shelter when we abide in his shadow. He is our refuge. He delivers us from evils and shelters us under his wings. We don’t have to fear evils, enemies, or disease. Though thousands fall all around us, the evil won’t come near us. We see this as the recompense of the wicked. No evil befalls those who make God their refuge. God’s angels protect us and we can even tread on snakes and scorpions. God says he will deliver the one who holds to him and calls on him. He will give him long life and salvation.
            God says he will deliver and protect those who love him and know his name. He will answer when we call and deliver us from trouble. He will give us long life and salvation.      Proverbs: Giving honor to a fool is as out of place as snow in the summer or rain in the harvest. Birds fly around and don’t stay long in one place; curses that are unjust are the same and don’t cause harm.
            2 Timothy: Paul writes again to Timothy. He pronounces a blessing of grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
            Paul thanks God as he remembers Timothy in his prayers. He longs to see Timothy and be filled with joy. He remembers Timothy’s faith, the same as his mother’s and grandmother’s. He reminds Timothy to fire up his gift from God that he received because God has given everyone a spirit of power and self-control instead of fear.
            Therefore, Timothy should not be ashamed of the gospel or of Paul but share in the suffering by God’s power. God saved us not because of works but for his own purpose given through Jesus from eternity past. This is revealed by Jesus who conquered death and brought eternal life through the Gospel. Paul suffers because he was appointed to proclaim this gospel. Paul isn’t ashamed because he knows Jesus whom he has believed. Jesus will guard the gospel until he comes back.
            Timothy is to follow Paul’s example by the power of the Holy Spirit.
            Paul acknowledges that Timothy is aware of those who abandoned him in Asia. But he prays for mercy on Onesiphorus who helped Paul and wasn’t ashamed of him being in prison. He came to Rome and found him. Paul asks that the Lord grant him mercy as he also served in Ephesus.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time” (Jer 39:10).
            Psalm: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps 90:2).
            Proverbs: “Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight” (Prov 26:2).
            2 Timothy: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8).

Insight

            Jeremiah: For a long time, Jeremiah told the people that if they surrendered to the Babylonians, it would go well with them. Most didn’t believe what God told them through Jeremiah. They stayed in the fortified cities and most of them were killed. Of the few who survived and those who did surrender, most were taken captive to Babylon. However, the few who were left were poor people, the ones that the Babylonians probably didn’t want. Yet they were given property and expected to make the best of it.
            These people who remained behind were not the wisest of the people because they still didn’t listen to the Lord. The intrigue and conspiracies that followed only bounced them from one bad situation to another. They seemed to have no say in what they were to do or where they were to go (just like anyone who is not saved). At first, it seemed they would have a future when they settled with Gedaliah at Mizpah. But the Lord had warned them that the sword would follow them if they didn’t surrender.
            Ishmael’s allegiance to the Ammonites brought senseless slaughter. Johanan’s and their fear set them up to continue to disobey the Lord. Instead of settling and living in the land of Judah, they intended to go to Egypt; something the Lord had expressly told them not to do.
            When we are making all our decisions contrary to the Lord, it never gets easier. The Lord doesn’t give up and his word will always accomplish what he says. Even the disaster that came upon Jerusalem and Judah didn’t convince the people to repent and obey God. Some people truly turn to the Lord when they face tough times. Others continue to rebel and others quickly go back to their sinful ways when thing are better. How much better it is to understand and know that the Lord has our best interests in mind and turn to him without having to face his discipline. When trouble hits, it is good to trust the Lord knowing he is building our character rather than disobeying and causing more pain.
            Psalm: God’s eternality is a very important part of who he is. Some of the early Christian apologists, those who attempt to philosophically prove the existence of God, state things like, “Since we can imagine there is a being who is eternal, there must therefore be One who is eternal. Since we are not eternal that means that the One who is eternal must be God.” That is a poor representation of their arguments, but it reminds me that God must be eternal to be God. Otherwise there would have to be someone or something that created him and that would necessarily be God.
            The fallacy of many religions is that they have multiple gods. None of them is eternal. They were created by other gods or the circumstances of nature. Atheists believe that the material world is god. They attribute to it the property of self-existence or eternality. They fall into the same trap as other religions, believing that serving the lesser “being” is somehow better than serving the ultimate eternal being who made everything, God.
            Because God is eternal and therefore self-existent, all other things must be created by him or they would also have the same attributes and they don’t. That means we were created by him. Therefore, we are indebted to him and he has the right to do with us as he wants. He has every right to expect us to worship and obey him. If we are wise in numbering our days, we will do that.
            Proverbs: Some people believe that curses have a real affect. They are usually superstitious people who are not acquainted with God. There is only one who can curse and it means anything. That is the Lord. He told the people of Israel about the blessings and curses, blessings for those who obeyed him and curses for those who didn’t. Rather than fearing curses like Voodoo or other witchcraft religions, we should be concerned with God’s curses.
            The good news is that Jesus has taken all of the curses upon himself when he died on the cross (Gal 3:13). When we place our faith in Jesus for our salvation, we don’t have to worry about any curses because they are nailed to the cross. The curses won’t come on us. That doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want, but the curse of eternal punishment for those who don’t know Jesus will not be ours. He has given us eternal life and will never take it away (John 5:24).
            2 Timothy: Paul mentions being ashamed three time in this chapter. Apparently, some of the people that abandoned Paul were ashamed because he ended up in prison. Perhaps they were ashamed because they were thinking that anyone who proclaimed the gospel would be free from persecution and would have God’s blessings on them. It certainly is a message that some preach today. Clearly if that is what the gospel says, and a person is persecuted, then they should be ashamed. But Paul makes it clear that that suffering comes along with the gospel.
            If you don’t think that’s true, try to walk into a pagan religion’s area of influence and start preaching about Jesus Christ. You will quickly find out that the gospel is not about prosperity and good health. It is about eternal salvation and is in direct opposition to all other religions.
            We need to be reminded that in spite of its offence, God has also given us a spirit of power and self-discipline instead of fear. That doesn’t mean we blindly invite persecution, but we don’t cower because of it and stop sharing the gospel. Paul tells us that the gospel will continue to be preached until “That Day” (2 Tim 1:12) when Jesus comes back. It appears that Timothy was starting to be afraid and Paul urged him to fan his gift into flame. We need to do the same thing.

Application

             I need to do some fanning and be bolder about sharing the gospel. Blogs are one thing but face to face proclamation of the gospel is also what we’re called to do. If any curses are heaped on me as a result, I know that they are powerless because of Jesus’ death on the cross. I need to act with that in mind.

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