Sunday, October 8, 2017

October 8: Jeremiah 10 – 11; Psalm 78:56-72; Proverbs 24:28-29; Colossians 3:18-4:18



Overview

            Jeremiah: The Lord tells Israel that it shouldn’t be like other nations that worship idols. The idols are lifeless and can’t do anything for themselves.
            Jeremiah answers that there is none like the Lord and everyone should fear the Lord. He agrees that idols are stupid and made by human hands. But the Lord is the living and eternal God. The nations can’t endure his wrath.
            The Lord says the idols didn’t make anything and they will perish. He made all things by his power and wisdom. All creation responds to his voice. Men who make idols are stupid because they are all lifeless, false, and worthless. They aren’t anything like the Lord who made Israel. He says he is bringing destress on Israel.
            Jeremiah responds for Israel in saying he hurts and must bear the punishment. The shepherds are stupid and don’t inquire of the Lord so the people are scattered. Punishment is coming from the north. He admits that the Lord directs a man. He asks that the Lord discipline him in justice but not in his anger or they will perish. He asks that the Lord pour out his anger on the nations and not on Israel. The nations have wiped out Israel.
            The Lord commands Jeremiah to tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem that anyone who doesn’t obey his covenant he gave their forefathers will be cursed. If they obeyed, he said he would be their God and the would be his people. He would give them the bountiful land they have today. He warned them persistently to obey him. They haven’t and have evil hearts. He will bring the words of the covenant against them.
            The Lord says the people of Jerusalem and Judah conspired to turn back to the sins of their forefathers by serving other gods. Therefore, he will bring disaster. He will not listen to them so they can go and call on their gods for help. All the multiple gods can’t save them.
            The Lord tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people because he won’t listen. They have no right to think that sacrifices will save them when they have been so evil. Once, they were like a green olive tree but now, he will burn them up.
            The Lord showed Jeremiah that there were schemes to kill him. He asks to see the Lord’s vengeance against his enemies. The Lord answer to say that he will punish and kill the men of Anathoth who want to kill him if he doesn’t stop prophesying in the name of the Lord.
            Psalm: Asaph continues to indict Israel. They rebelled and didn’t keep the Law. They provoked God to anger with their idol worship. In anger, God let the tabernacle at Shiloh fall into enemy hands along with the people and even the priests. He chose the tribe of Judah and had the temple built there. He chose David to shepherd his people in uprightness and skill.
            Proverbs: Don’t tell things about your neighbor except for legal reasons and don’t lie when you do that. Don’t desire to get even with someone when they’ve harmed you.
            Colossians: Paul tells the Colossians how to be good husbands, wives, children, fathers, slaves, and masters echoing what he told the Ephesians. He emphasizes doing everything for the Lord and not men because we’ll receive our inheritance as a reward. We are serving the Lord and a wrongdoer will also be “rewarded.”
            Paul tells them to continue in prayer, thanksgiving, and intercession for him and Timothy for open doors and clarity to declare the gospel – the reason he is in prison. They are to be wise in the way they use their time in association with unbelievers. They are to make sure they speak graciously, bringing out what is needed to answer people.
            Paul is sending Tychicus and Onesimus to encourage them and tell how things are going with Paul. Many who are with Paul send their greetings. Mark is Barnabas’ cousin and they are to welcome him. Epaphras, a Gentile, prays for them to stand firm and mature in knowing God’s will; he has worked hard for the Colossians and Laodiceans.
            He asks that they greet those in Laodicea in Nympha’s house church and to read this letter there as well as reading the one he sent to Laodicea. He asks that they tell Achippus to fulfil his ministry. He then writes a greeting in his own hand writing and asks them to remember him in his chains.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation” (Jer 10:10). 
            Psalm: “He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever” (Ps 78:69).
            Proverbs: “Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done’” (Prov 24:29).
            Colossians: “Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions— if he comes to you, welcome him)” (Col 4:10).

Insight

            Jeremiah: Today’s reading is a graphic contrast between idols and the Lord. The biggest contrast is in the fact the Lord is living and eternal. The idols are all lifeless and will perish. When we stop and think about the thing of this world, they are all made by the Lord. Nothing would exist if it were not for him. What possesses a person to make something and then worship it. The Lord calls them stupid. When we look back at these people, some want to say they were naïve and had little knowledge of the way things worked. That made them prone to worship these idols. Yet there is no indication from either their abilities to smelter and mold metals as well as their language, writing, and other social skills that they were any less intelligent than us.
            Lita Cosner addressed this topic in an article for Creation Ministries International. She explains that people didn’t necessarily believe the idol was capable of doing anything, but their belief was that “the idol was a sort of vessel for the invisible spirit of the god they worshipped.”[1] They worshiped a god that they believed really could do things. We discover from Paul that these gods are real and they are demons (1 Cor 10:20). Demons can and do affect our physical environment. If you have any doubt, look at what demons were doing to people before Jesus cast them out.
            God reiterates that he is the creator for a reason. He has said over and over again that he controls all things in creation. We need to back up and remember that. He created the demons and they answer to him. They can’t do anything without his permission. The gods of Jeremiah’s day were just as limited, and judging from the fact that the Lord brought famine, drought, and enemies upon Israel and Judah in opposition to what the gods were supposed to provide, God didn’t give them any permission to help his people.
            We need to remember when we put our interests ahead of the Lord, we are worshiping things God created. We are not worshiping the Lord. We are doing the same things that they did and we think we are more intelligent than they were. What is even worse is that we are usually worshiping ourselves. Even Christians fall into this trap.
            Psalm: We got to read more about Israel’ failure and God’s judgement on them before David became king. This is all quite accurate but then I came across Psalm 78:69. I think this verse reveals a flaw in Asaph’s theology. Back up at the beginning of the Psalm, he says he will tell future generations (Ps 78:1-8) so they wouldn’t repeat what the previous generations did. However, as we’ve seen in Jeremiah, the future people considered the temple like a talisman, a magic devise that brought powers. They believed God would never destroy it and it would protect them from harm as long as they kept bringing the sacrifices. Asaph helped them believe that when he said God build his sanctuary like the heavens and earth which would be exist forever (Ps 78:69).
            God clearly told them that the temple would exist only as long as the people were obedient. He warned them over and over that it would be destroyed because of their idolatry. He also said the heavens and earth would be destroyed and he would create a new heaven and earth. This earth will not exist forever. It is here only for a brief time in relations to eternity.
            We need to be careful when we study God’s word to discern its full breadth or we can be misled and trust the wrong things for our salvation. Many people have done this by focusing on being good to earn salvation when they pick and choose the verses that appeal to them. If we aren’t careful, we can become like Judah and think we can be saved by rituals.
            Proverbs: Revenge is a great theme for a movie or book but a terrible one for life. Joab nearly wrecked the reconciliation of Israel and Judah because he took revenge and killed Abner because Abner had fairly killed Joab’s brother, Ashel, in battle (2 Sam 2:22, 3:26-30). It will never stop until someone follow’s Jesus’ command to love our enemies and even pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). Paul reminded us that this is the Lord’s job and not ours (Rom 12:19, Deut 32:35). There simply is no room in the Christian life for revenge.
            Colossians: There isn’t any room in a Christian’s life for revenge and there isn’t any room for holding grudges. It would have been easy for Paul to hold a grudge against Mark. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. He returned home part way through the journey. This prompted Paul to refuse to take him again when they were setting out for a second journey. Barnabas argued to take him along and the argument turned bad enough that Paul took Silas while Barnabas and Mark went their way (Acts 15:37-40).
            So, what do we do when something like this happens? If we are following what the Lord says, we’ll reconcile and make things right. Paul later asked for Mark to come to Rome to help him (2 Tim 4:11). From Rome, or maybe even earlier, Paul had given instruction on how to treat Mark. Judging from what Paul writes to the Colossians, these instructions were to make sure no one took offence at Mark for the bad report that occurred when Paul and Barnabas split up.
            Whether it is a bad report even for a good reason or it is gossip or other talk that will malign someone we must make it right. In Mark’s case, something changed and he was again in good standing with Paul; Paul had to make sure people knew it. When a church disciplines someone with expulsion then they repent and are taken back into the church, they must make sure that everyone possible is notified. If we have a problem with a person and others know about it, we must set it right with others when it is resolved. If we’ve gossiped, whether we started it or passed it along, we need to make it right with everyone we’ve talked once we are convicted of that sin.

Application

             I don’t want to be guilty of holding a grudge or wanting revenge. The best way to avoid these is it to work things out quickly with people. If it isn’t possible as far as I’m concerned, I’ll just leave it up to the Lord to do what is best. I’ll pray that the Lord will give us grace and not gossip about it.


[1] Lita Cosner, "Why do people worship false gods?" Creation Ministries International | creation.com, October 7, 2017, accessed October 08, 2017, https://creation.com/false-gods.

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