Tuesday, October 24, 2017

October 24: Jeremiah 44:24 – 47; Psalm 94; Proverbs 26:6-8; 2 Timothy 2:22 – 3



Overview

            Jeremiah: Jeremiah told the people to hear the word of the Lord. The Lord told the people that they should go ahead and worship the queen of heaven as they vowed. The Lord swears by his great name that he will make sure disaster comes on them. None of the men of Judah in Egypt will ever invoke God’s name because he will bring sword and famine against them until they are dead. The ones that return to Judah will be very few in number. Then they will know whose word is right, theirs or the Lord’s. The sign that it will happen is that Pharaoh Hophra will be taken by his enemies just as Zedekiah was.
            Jeremiah passed on a message from the Lord to Baruch when he dictated for Jeremiah. Baruch complained of his pain, groaning, and no rest. The Lord told him he shouldn’t look for great things for himself while the Lord is destroying Judah. But he will make sure Baruch lives wherever he goes.
            The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah about nations. For Egypt’s army under Pharaoh Neco that was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, they are to get ready for battle. The Lord sees that they will be utterly defeated. None can escape. They thought they could conquer the whole earth like the Nile when it floods. But by the Euphrates in the north, they will be defeated with no healing for them.
            When Nebuchadnezzar comes to Egypt, Egypt will try to stand but ends up face down because the Lord has done it. The soldiers will desert to their homeland and say Pharaoh talks big but missed his opportunity. The inhabitants will be carried into exile. All the hired armies will also flee. The army will slither away and be cut down because the enemy from the north is more numerous.
            The Lord declares that he will bring punishment on Amon, Pharaoh, Egypt, and the gods and kings and those who trusted them. Nebuchadnezzar will conquer them all. Afterwards, Egypt will again be inhabited.
            As for Jacob, the Lord will save them from their exile far away. They will return and prosper. They are not to fear because God is with them. He will completely destroy the nation that made them suffer but Jacob will not be completely wiped out. However, they will be punished justly.
            About Philistia before Pharaoh defeated Gaza, from the north, armies like waters will flood the land and everyone will wail. The horses and chariots will overwhelm them. The Lord is destroying Tyre, Sidon, and the coastlands of Caphtor. Ashkelon will perish. The sword won’t stop because the Lord has appointed it.
            Psalm: The Psalmist asks the Lord to take vengeance. The enemy has been oppressing Israel. The Psalmist explains that he Lord hears and sees all. He disciplines nations, rebukes, teaches knowledge, and knows a man’s thoughts.
            People whom the Lord disciplines are blessed. They will eventually get rest because God doesn’t forget his people. The Lord stands up for them against the wicked. Even when it appears hopeless with the wicked banding together, the Lord holds us up and cares for us. The Lord is our refuge and the Lord will wipe out the wicked.
            Proverbs: You might as well cut off your feet and enjoy violence if you have a fool deliver a message. Proverbs spouted by a fool are as useful as a lame man’s legs. Giving honor to a fool is as useless as tying a rock in a sling so it can’t come out.
            2 Timothy: Timothy is urged to run away from youthful lusts and pursue godliness that comes from a pure heart. He is to stay away from foolish controversies that end up in quarreling. The Lords servant must not quarrel but be kind, able to teach, patient and gentle with opposition so they may repent, learning the truth and not falling into Satan’s traps.
            He is to remember that in the end times there will be plenty of opposition from people who are ungodly in many ways. Basically, they love themselves and not God. Some will appear godly but deny God’s power. Avoid them. Some prey on those burdened with sin who yield to their lusts. Some of these false teachers spend much time studying but never learn the truth. They oppose the truth because they have corrupted minds and don’t have true faith. Their folly is evident and will be discovered just as it was with Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses.
            Timothy is not to be like that because he has followed Paul’s teaching and example in living, suffering, persecutions, and rescue by the Lord. Anyone who want to live a Christ-like life will be persecuted while evil people continue to get worse in their deceptions. Timothy should continue in what he learned and believed. He learned it from Scripture which made him wise for salvation though Jesus. All Scripture is from God and is good for teaching, getting people back on the right track, and becoming more righteous so that everyone will be ready to do good works.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows!” (Jer 44:25).
            Psalm: “Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise?” (Ps 94:8).
            Proverbs: “Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence” (Prov 26:6).
            2 Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Insight

            Jeremiah: God’s response to the remnant of Judah who fled to Egypt and vowed to make offerings to the queen of heaven is reminiscent of the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:29). In the face of God’s clear instructions not to worship other gods and his clear warning of what would be the consequences, they vowed to make offerings to this queen of heaven. There isn’t any difference between their consequence and those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. The Judeans were physically killed and most likely will receive eternal condemnation unless some repented, but we were not told that any did. The Lord turned them over to their destruction because it is what they wanted. They made a clear choice to disobey God in the most important of his commands to worship him alone. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is very much the same because a person tells the One who can renew his mind and transform his heart that he believes that One is the devil.
            Like the Lord, we can throw up our hands and declare that there is no hope for these people. It says so right in the Bible. But we must also see that the Lord said the number that returns to Judah will be few, like fugitives (Jer 44:14). The Lord always works miracles of salvation when we can’t imagine how a person who has done such horrible things can be saved.
            On another note, the Lord had a strong rebuke for Baruch who complained of all his misery during the siege of Jerusalem. It wasn’t a time for him to be able live comfortably when the whole land was being destroyed. Sometimes we need to look around at the rest of the world and see that there is misery and trouble and realize we will suffer right along with everyone else. However, just as Baruch was promised to live through it all, we are promised eternal life in the midst of all the ugly, sinful societies in which we life. We should think more about helping them and less about our own comforts.
            Psalm: Creation Ministries International provides a daily email about issues of creation from a biblical view. Today’s was about how videos of the wonders of nature tend to strengthen non-theists believe in evolution and strengthen religious people’s belief in a Creator God in spite of repeated references to evolution (https://creation.com/nature-programmes-science-god). This alarmed those who were making the videos because they wanted the religious people to go in the other direction.
            Psalm 94:8 asks a great question. When will you fools become wise? When will people realize that God will allow people to believe lies when they have set their hearts in that direction? It happened to the remnant of Judah when they offered sacrifices to the queen of heaven. It happened to the Pharisees when they rejected Jesus and attributed to Satan the power of the Holy Spirit. It is happening today as people deliberately deny God as the Creator (2 Peter 3:3-7). Paul tells us it will be the same at the end of the age as people demand teachers that will tickle their ears and not hold them accountable to the Lord (2 Tim 4:3-4).
            How long? Until Jesus comes back.
            Proverbs: What’s so bad about sending a message by a fool? When you look at several instances in the Old Testament when messages were sent from a battle, they were sent by runners who verbally brought the information. If the message was about tactics, the need for reinforcement, or other strategies, a fool could get lost or distort the message resulting in tragedy. The comparison to cutting off your own feet or consuming violence is very appropriate as the results would be disastrous.
            Today, we are often the fools because we send messages via text or email without putting a filter on our fingers. We need to be more careful in how we communicate with others. Sometimes, the quick response would be better in a handwritten letter. That way we can mull it over and even start over when what we say isn’t edifying or building others up.
            2 Timothy: Paul goes back and forth between urging and instructing Timothy to live a godly life and describing those that are doing the opposite. Some are even teaching ungodliness. Timothy had to confront these because they were passing themselves off as Christians but were really taking advantage of guilty and sinful people to for their own perverted goals.
            Since Timothy was young, it would have been hard for him to deal with these deceptive people who were older and most likely self-assured. People like this often goad others into arguments just to keep the truth from coming out. We often fall into these traps when we waste time arguing with cult members.
            I heard an ex-cult member explain why he left after being a local leader in the organization. It wasn’t because he was convinced by arguments against their founder or long discussion over theology. It was because one person quoted Scripture about Jesus and didn’t do any more. That one Scripture made him doubt his cult’s teaching and then he dug into Scripture to find more and he found the truth.
            No arguing, no quarreling, being patient, kind, truthful, and knowing the Bible. These are the keys to being able to refute false doctrine and lead people to Jesus.

Application

             I’m glad God didn’t give up on me when I wanted to go my own way. I’m glad someone was patent and planted seeds to get me to learn more about God. I want to be able to do that as well as tell other that God will always be open to people who repent. I need to know the Bible because it is God’s very words.

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