Friday, October 6, 2017

October 6: Jeremiah 6:15-8:7; Psalm 78:1-31; Proverbs 24:26; Colossians 2:8-23



Overview

            Jeremiah: The Lord continues: The prophets were not ashamed of their sins and they will fall with everyone else. They refuse to walk in the ancient paths and find rest. The Lord set watchmen over them but they won’t listen. The Lord doesn’t care for their incense when they reject his word. Therefore, he will give them stumbling blocks and everyone will perish.
            Cruel people with no mercy will come from the north against Zion. The people have heard of it and are in great fear and helpless. The Lord is refining them like metal but they are stubborn and rebellious no matter how hot it gets so the Lord rejected them.
            The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the temple and tell the people to repent and he will let them stay. Their belief that the temple will always be there because it is the Lord’s, are deceptive. He will only be there in the temple if they repent of all their injustice and idolatry. They can’t come to the temple after all their terrible sins and think they will be delivered. Look at Shiloh where the Lord was before and see what God did to it because of the evil in Israel. He will do the same to the temple if they don’t listen. He will cast them out of his sight.
            The Lord told Jeremiah not to pray for the people or intercede because he would not listen. The people are worshiping the queen of heaven and other gods provoking him to anger. The Lord says he will pour out his anger on this place, men, animals, trees, and fields.
            God reminds them that his first commandment upon coming out of Egypt was to obey, not offer sacrifices. From those days to this, God sent his prophet to them but they didn’t listen and each generation was worse than the previous. So, they will not listen to Jeremiah either or accept the Lord’s discipline
            They have even put their idols in the temple to defile it. They have places of worship to sacrifice their children. Those places will be called the Valle of Slaughter. They will bury their dead there, those the Lord kills when he silences Judah and Jerusalem.
            The dead bodies of the kings, officials, priests, prophets, and people of Jerusalem will be taken out of the tombs and spread before the sun, moon, and stars because they worshiped them. Those that live would rather have died because of where the Lord will send them.
            The Lord tells them that they will not rise again because they have turned away from him in constant backsliding. They like deceit and refuse to return. He has listened for them but they don’t repent. They are doing their own thing. Birds migrate on time, but God’s people don’t know the rules of the Lord.
            Psalm: Asaph is about to teach Israel things that they have heard from long ago about God’s deeds. They are not to hide these things but tell them to the coming generations. God’s laws and commandments included telling the next generation so they would hope in God and not be stubborn like their ancestors.
            Their ancestors turned back from keeping the Law. They forgot how God had taken them out of Egypt and sustained them in the wilderness with miracles. They forgot how he led them in a cloud by day and fire by night.
            They continued to sin and rebel by asking for food not trusting that God could provide for them in the wilderness. The Lord was angry and struck them with fire. However, he did provide manna for bread and birds for meat. They ate their fill but God killed some of the strongest because of their sin.
            Proverbs: An honest answer is as pleasing as a kiss on the lips.
            Colossians: Paul tells the Colossians to make sure that no philosophies or traditions lead them astray for they do not agree with Christ. Jesus is 100% God and he lives in you. He is the chief authority and rule. With him in you, you have been spiritually circumcised, buried with him in baptism, raised through faith by God’s power – the same power as when he raised Jesus from the dead. You were dead in your sins but are now made alive with Jesus and our sins are forgiven because the legal demands of the Law were canceled and nailed to the cross. Jesus disarmed all the spiritual rulers and authorities and put them to shame when he triumphed over them being raised from the dead.     
            With this in mind, don’t let people upset you by judging you for not keeping dietary customs or days of worship like new moons or Sabbaths. Those were previews of coming attractions which are fulfilled in Jesus. Don’t let people fool you by their ascetic lifestyle, worshiping angels, visions, and self-exalting sensuality. They are not part of the body of Christ because they aren’t nourishing the church, which grows by God.
            Through Christ you died to all the worldly religious liturgies so don’t submit to them. All the regulations about what to touch and eat are just human teachings. They appear to be wise but are all self-made religious pursuits thinking that treating your body severely will keep you from sinning.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord’” (Jer 7:4).                              
            Psalm: “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children” (Ps 78:5).
            Proverbs: “Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips” (Prov 24:26).
            Colossians: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8).

Insight

            Jeremiah: The Lord made some promises in the Old Testament and one was that he would make his name dwell in the temple forever (1 Kings 9:3). When the people of Jerusalem looked at this promise, they discovered a loop hole in the Law. If they sinned and did abominations but stayed close to the temple, they wouldn’t be destroyed because the Lord would protect the temple and those who turned to it. However, in depending on this distorted view of Scripture, they had to ignore all the warnings of what God would do to them if they worshiped other Gods and disobeyed him. He told them that his first command was to obey him, but they thought if they kept up the sacrifices, then they would be safe.
            Many Catholics follow this same deception, I know because I did. We would do just about what we wanted and then make sure we got to the confessional and took communion so that we were guaranteed a place in heaven once we paid for our sins in purgatory. The next week, we would do the same things during the week and start over again with confession. There is no true repentance in that. Their faith will not be proved genuine in times of tribulation.
            Many evangelical Christians could be doing the same thing. They place their hope in a pre-tribulation rapture. They have more interests in the world than they do in living holy lives because they know that Jesus is going to come back and take them out of the tribulation of the world when he brings judgment on the earth. They aren’t focusing on the fact that God still calls us to obey, be holy, and be ready when he comes back. Jesus asked if he would find faith when he comes back (Luke 18:8). Maybe, Jesus will only take those who are really obedient. Maybe, the rapture isn’t before the tribulation and believers will have to suffer persecution. Will either of these be able to withstand it or will the tested faith of many prove not to be genuine?
            Psalm: No one is born a Christian and no one is born saved. The Christian faith is one generation away from extinction. While we are commanded to go into all the world and make disciples, the first disciples we should be teaching are our own children. If we don’t, then the next generation will be worse than the current, just like in Jeremiah’s day. Asaph reminded his readers that God decreed that we teach our children (Ps 78:5). This is found in Deuteronomy 6:7.
            I’ve heard some Christian parents say they don’t know if their children are saved or not. This tells me one thing, they haven’t been teaching their children. If they had, they would know one way or the other. I’m not advocating teaching children to recite prayers without meaning them. But parents must first know the gospel and be able to teach it. When the Lord moves their children to salvation, the parents will know. If the children don’t come to salvation when they are living at home, it will not be the parent’s fault if they have been faithful to teach the next generation.
            Proverbs: Speaking of teaching children, honesty is a good thing to teach them. If they are honest, then they will be able to admit their sin. This is a good lesson because we can’t be saved until we do. Look at the people Jeremiah was confronting. They were in constant denial that they were doing anything wrong. It has been said many ways, but it is true that until a person is honest about his sins, he can’t be saved. We also have to be honest about the consequence of sin. We are not doing anyone a favor if we sugar coat hell. The end result of honesty is seeing salvation and that is very pleasing.
            Colossians: As we get into chapter 2 of Colossians it is evident that Paul had to deal with them about other religions that were trying to lead them away from Christ. He is working on building up their knowledge even more. There are hints in these verses that they were being persuaded by some of the Jewish and Christian cults and Greek religions and philosophies. Paul calls these all manmade religions.
            Philosophies are simply empty deceit. People get together and start making assumptions about the universe. They codify their conclusions so that they can then apply them as rules to making assumptions about other things. They turn to metaphysical ideas, apply their rules and tell you what God must be like, how he must act, and what he can and can’t do. They apply them to human behavior (modern psychology) and tell you why you do what you do without regard to sin or accountability to God. They have no power to help a person behave “normally” because there is no such thing as normal. They turn people from Jesus and their need to repent and be forgiven for their sins. That is being led astray.
            The issues of ascetic lifestyles include some very weird dietary restrictions. They don’t have anything to do with true spirituality. Many Christians get caught up in these. They don’t help them come closer to Christ but take up a lot of their time and concentration that could be directed elsewhere. Some of the dietary restrictions may make sense but most are fads that come and go as people eventually find out they don’t really do anything for them physically or spiritually. Others are no more than snake oil. If people concentrated on developing self-control as a fruit of the Spirit and applying it in all parts of their lives, especially in restraining sin, they might find out that healthy eating and exercise habits would come from that instead working the other way around. Paul says that these self-imposed restrictions are of no value in fighting sin (Col 2:23)

Application

             I want to look first to the Bible for my spiritual development. That way I can be alert to false prophets, cults, or manmade fads that promise much but don’t come from the Lord. I can be honest about my sin and be honest with others.

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