Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 4: Jeremiah 2:31 – 4:18; Psalm 76; Proverbs 24:21-22; Colossians 1:1-20



Overview

            Jeremiah: The Lord speaks directly to the current generation of his people. They think they are free from God and have forgotten him. They are so bad in idol worship that they teach wicked people to sin in the same way. They kill innocent poor people and think they are innocent. God will judge them and trying to have Egypt help them will not work.
            God compares their idolatry to a divorced woman who has become someone else’s wife. The first husband will not have her while she is with the new husband. The Lord accuses them of having many lovers. Their idolatry has caused their land to be ravished and without rain. But they refuse to be ashamed. They even ask God if he is going to be angry with them forever.
            During the days of Josiah, the Lord explained to Jeremiah that Israel went astray and he thought they would return but they didn’t. Then Judah saw that God divorced Israel for it but Judah went and did the same thing. Judah pretended to return but not with her heart. Therefore, Israel was more righteous than Judah. Isaiah is to tell Israel to return and he will have mercy. Admit her guilt and he will bring a remnant to Zion.
            The Lord will give them shepherds that tend them with God’s heart. They won’t look to the Ark of the Covent, they won’t even remember it because Jerusalem will be God’s throne and all nations will come there. Judah and Israel will become one.
            The Lord had hoped that by supplying Israel with a beautiful land that they would call him Father and always obey him. But like a wayward wife, she has not. He cries from the barren mountains pleading for Israel because they have departed from God’s ways and forgotten him. He pleads for them to return and he will heal them. All their idolatry is an illusion.
            Israel replies to God saying that all of their idolatry has caused them to lose all that their fathers had. They lay down in disgrace at their sins and disobedience to God.
            The Lord tolls them that if they will return and get rid of their idols and they will truthfully acknowledge the Lord, then all the nations will be blessed.
            To Judah and Jerusalem, the Lord tells them to clean up their act and cut the sin away from their hearts. If they don’t, his fire will devour them. He tells them he is bringing disaster from the north. They must sound the trumpet and flee for safety. The disaster is like a lion to destroy their cities. They should mourn and wail because the Lord’s anger has not turned away from them.
            The king and his officials will be afraid, priest appalled, and prophets astounded. Jeremiah tells the Lord that he had deceived the people by telling them it will be OK but a sword is coming.
            The Lord continues saying that the disaster will be like a hot wind and chariots like whirlwinds. He tells Jerusalem to repent in their hearts and minds. In Dan the first invaders will come then continue to Judah. Judah’s ways have brought this bitter doom on them.
            Psalm: God is great and known in Judah, as he has made his dwelling Jerusalem. He is majestic in light. He has destroyed attackers breaking their weapons, killing them and their horses. He is to be feared because no one could stand before him in judgment when he rose to save the afflicted of the land. So praise him, make vows, and bring gifts to him who is to be feared. This applies to princes and all kings of the earth.
            Proverbs: Fear the Lord and the king. Don’t rebel against either or you will be in great trouble because no one know how badly each can harm you.
            Colossians: Paul and Timothy write to the church at Colossae pronouncing a blessing of grace and peace from God their Father.
            They thank God when they pray for the Colossians because of the faith they have in Jesus, their love for all the saints, and their hope in heaven. The Colossians had already heard of the hope through the gospel, which is bearing fruit in all the world as it did in Colossae when they heard it from Epaphras. Epaphras is a faithful servant of Jesus and told Paul and Timothy about the Colossian’s love in the Spirit.
            As soon as Paul and Timothy heard about the Colossians, they began praying for them. He has been praying for their knowledge and spiritual wisdom and understanding so they can walk worth of the Lord, pleasing the Lord, doing good works, and growing in the knowledge of the Lord. They also pray for the Colossian’s strength for endurance, patience, joy, thanksgiving to the Father. The Father qualified them to be saved into his kingdom because he rescued them from the dark kingdom into Jesus’ kingdom. The Father loves the Son and they have redemption and forgiveness in him.
            The Son is the image of the invisible God. He has the right of a firstborn over all creation because he created everything in heaven and on the earth. He created things we can see and can’t see. Jesus existed before all thing were created and he keeps all creation together. He is also the head of the church. He is the beginning, the first to permanently rise from the dead so he is supreme above all things. In him, all of God dwells and because of that, he was able to reconcile everything to himself on earth or heaven and made peace by his blood on the cross.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord” (Jer 3:10).                           
            Psalm: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt” (Ps 76:10).
            Proverbs: “My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise” (Prov 24:21).
            Colossians: “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10).

Insight

            Jeremiah: Today’s reading is God’s word to Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Josiah (Jer 3:6). Josiah was the last of the good kings of Judah. He instituted changes in Judah cleaning out all the idol worship places in Judah (2 Chron 34:1-7, 33). Yet for all his reforms and the Passover he kept which was not like any other since the days of Samuel (2 Chron 35:18), the people of Judah didn’t really repent. Jeremiah 3:10 tells us that all they did was in pretense. It is evident that Josiah returned to the Lord because he was told that the disaster that would come upon Judah and Jerusalem wouldn’t happen in his lifetime (2 Chron 34:27-28). Evidently, the public places of idol worship were destroyed but the people kept them in their homes. Josiah’s sons immediately returned to doing evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Chron 36:5).
            This goes to show that anyone who puts their hopes in the political leaders of a nation to save it have a misplaced hope. Jeremiah makes it clear that the attitude of the nation didn’t change when Josiah became king. Laws and regulations don’t change people’s hearts. Strict enforcement of obedience doesn’t make a people righteous. The Lord knows what’s in a person’s heart and he know the attitude of a nation. That’s why he tells Juda and Jerusalem to circumcise their hearts (Jer 4:4).
            The early church flourished during some of the evillest rulers in history. It goes to show that the rulers of countries are not as important as the people. We should be spending most of our evangelism with common people rather than thinking that our political leaders will make things better. Even if they do, the climate of sin will reverse the good if people don’t repent and turn to the Lord Jesus.
            Did you notice at one point, Jeremiah said God was deceiving the people by telling them it will be OK then sending the sword (Jer 4:10)? Where did that come from? In Jeremiah 3:15-18 the Lord gives a brief glimpse of hope for the future. It is an astounding hope because he tells them they won’t even remember the Ark of the Covenant or miss it. This can only happen because Jesus has paid the price for our sins and abolished the Law. We are living in that time but Israel hasn’t seen it yet.
            If you are confused sometimes over these prophecies wondering if it is a near or distant prophecy, you are in good company. Jeremiah wrote this and apparently, he was confused.
            Psalm: Sometimes one little verse seems very difficult to understand when the rest of the passage is clear. Psalm 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt,” is one of those. The NIV is quite clear in saying, “Surely your wrath against men brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained,” but it seems to be a significantly different interpretation. What is Asaph really trying to tell us here? Looking at Adam Clarke's Commentary, he attributes this to the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib. His anger against Judah only brought praise to God when the Lord destroyed his whole army. However, Clarke says the Hebrew indicates that the Lord puts on the remaining wrath to pursue the survivors and destroy them. As we know, Sennacherib did return home only to be killed by his sons.
            We can look at this and realize that even our anger can bring praise to God, but not in the way we think. It is when we are punished for it that he is praised because his justice is shown. If we are not properly repentant of our anger, God will not let it go. He will continue to pursue us until we deal with it in a godly way.
            Proverbs: I was talking to a man yesterday about obedience to the government. We agreed that the Bible tells us we should, but how do you do that when the king (president, prime minister, autocrat) is a tyrant and despot? That isn’t easy. Peter and the apostles solved it by telling the rulers that they had to obey God rather than people who were ordering them not to do something Jesus had commanded them to do (Acts 5:29). If we rebel against the government because they are opposed to God’s word, then we must be willing to suffer the consequences. The apostles did.
            What I’m about to say irritates many people but it comes from the word of God. We need to be in subjection to the government and pay taxes (Rom 13:5). We should not bad-mouth the President regardless of political persuasion. We should trust the process that puts the leaders in office because God uses them to establish kings and depose them (Dan 2:21). If we are called to be involved, then we should work within the system but maintain our integrity. We should pray for all those in authority (1 Tim 2:2). They are God’s servants whether they know it or not.
            Colossians: Paul tells us how loving the Colossians were. He really pats them on the back for that. Apparently, love isn’t all they needed though. His pray for them is that they need to grow in the knowledge of God as well. I’ve heard some harp about knowledge puffing up but love builds up. They are referring to 1 Corinthians 8:1, but that was a different subject. Paul is concerned that having a lot of love without knowledge may lead to an emotional religion where the heart guides decisions instead of knowledge of God. That’s why he emphasizes pleasing the Lord, walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, and gaining in spiritual wisdom and understanding.
            He isn’t negating love but he then points them to Jesus and gives us one of the most descriptive passages that tell us about Jesus’ deity and his function before coming to the earth to die for our sins. People have twisted part of this to support their cultic views that Jesus isn’t God. However, a proper exegesis of the passage, and knowledge of the Old Testament, reveals that phrases such as “the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15) do not mean that he is the first created thing. Rather, he is the firstborn, meaning the one who has the rights of a firstborn. He inherits it all and that is because he made it all. The Colossians needed to know this and more to make sure that their salvation was in Jesus and not anything or anyone else. They needed a clear picture of Jesus to counteract the pagan culture of their day.
            We need to have a clear picture of God to do the same thing. We need to make sure that our knowledge of God is increasing or we will be subject to making our choices based on emotions instead of a knowledge of God.

Application

             I need to know God better. When I know him better, I will help me be able to navigate this weird world we live in. I will be able to be a good citizen of heaven and of this country but I won’t put this country above my citizenship in heaven.

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