Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9: Jeremiah 12 – 14:10; Psalm 79; Proverbs 24:30-34; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:9


            Jeremiah: Jeremiah knows that the Lord is righteous, so he asks the Lord why he lets the wicked prosper. God planted them but they are not near him. Jeremiah wants the Lord to pull them up like grass.
            The Lord answers by challenging Jeremiah to buck up under the persecution from those who hate him. He hasn’t seen the worst yet. His family is deceiving him. Look at what the Lord has suffered from his people and also by giving his people over to their enemies. They are all against him. His shepherds are destroying his people. The whole land is desolate because of it. They will be ashamed of their harvest of evil because of the Lord’s anger.
            The Lord says he will destroy the other countries around Judah and his people hiding there. Then he will have compassion on all of them and the countries that learn the way of his people will be established. This will be even for those that previously taught his people to worship Baal.
            The Lord told Jeremiah to buy a loincloth and wear it but not let it get wet. He was then told to go to the Euphrates and bury it under a rock. Many days later, he was told to get the cloth. It was spoiled and useless. The Lord said in the same way, he would spoil the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. His people who worship other gods will be spoiled like the loincloth. He had made Israel and Judah cling to him like a loincloth but they would not listen.
            He commanded Jeremiah to tell the people that he would fill the people, kings, priests, and prophets with drunkenness. He will not pity them but destroy them.
            The Lord tells them to give glory to him before the darkness comes and it is too late. His soul weeps because of their pride. He warns the king and his mother that it will all be taken from him as all Judah will go into exile. How will you feel when they are taken away and the conquerors replace you with the ones you trained to be your allies. You will ask why and it is because of the greatness of your sins. If an Ethiopian can change his skin color or a leopard his spots, then you will be able to do good. The Lord will pay them back for their sins. He asks them how long before they are made clean.
            The Lord then warns them of the drought he is sending. The people will mourn at the gates as the king sends people looking for water but don’t find any. It is so bad that deer abandon their fawns and donkeys pant like jackals. There is no vegetation.
            Jeremiah responds that their sins are evident but he asks the Lord to intervene even though they have backslidden. Their only hope is in the Lord. He asks the Lord not to be a stranger even though he is in their midst.
            The Lord explains that the people have wandered and are without restraint. Therefore, the Lord will not accept them but punish them.
            Psalm: Asaph is again lamenting the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. So many have been killed that there is no place to bury them. Judah is a scorned by other countries.
            He asks God how long it will be before he pours out his anger on the nations that have laid waste to Israel. He asks God not to remember Israel’s past sins but to have compassion on them. He pleads for God to save them and atone for their sins for his name’s sake. Otherwise, the nations will ask if God is real.
            Asaph again asks for God to have vengeance while caring for the prisoners and sparing those doomed to die. He says that Israel is God’s sheep and they will thank him forever. All generations will praise him.
            Proverbs: The author looked at a lazy fool’s field that was overgrown with weeds and its wall was broken. He thought about it and realized that poverty comes to someone who would rather take it easy than work. Laziness and foolishness will steal away your wealth and leave you wanting.
            1 Thessalonians: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy write to the church in Thessalonica. They thank God for the Thessalonians when they pray for them. They remember the Thessalonians’ faith, love, and hope in Jesus. They know God has chosen the Thessalonians because the gospel brought power and conviction. Paul and companions were men of integrity and the Thessalonians imitated them in suffering and joy of the Holy Spirit. The Thessalonians became examples to other believers everywhere. Everyone tells of the great reception Paul and his companions had among the Thessalonians and how they repented of idolatry to serve the living God. The Thessalonians are now waiting for Jesus who was raised from the dead and will deliver them from the wrath to come.
            Paul and his companions tell the Thessalonians that they know their time in Thessalonica was not wasted. Though they had suffered at Philippi, they were still bold in declaring the gospel even when there was conflict. They didn’t speak in error or try to deceive the Thessalonians because they are approved by God and speak to please him instead of man. They didn’t flatter or have any other selfish goals, though they could have demanded things as apostles. However, they didn’t act that way, instead they were gentle and affectionate. They were ready to share themselves as well as the gospel because the Thessalonians were dear to them. They ask the Thessalonians to remember how hard they worked so that they would not be a burden to the Thessalonians while they proclaimed the gospel.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jer 12:5).                                                        
            Psalm: “Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!” (Ps 79:6).
            Proverbs: “Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction” (Prov 24:32).
            1 Thessalonians: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:9-10).


            Jeremiah: Jeremiah complains to the Lord about all the evil people. Since the Lord is the one who made them, he asks why the Lord doesn’t just pluck them up from among the righteous people. God knows who is righteous and the ones who aren’t. But God doesn’t always do what we want or what we expect. In fact, God’s answer to Jeremiah is to get a grip on himself. What he is seeing now is only going to get worse. If he can’t handle the pressure now, what’s he going to do when it gets worse. In fact, it will get worse when he finds out his own family is against him.
            Wow, this sounds like what the early church faced. They would have liked for Jesus to come back immediately and take them out of the persecution they faced. Some were apparently sitting around waiting for that. We’ll be reading about that as we go through 1 and 2 Thessalonians. If we see Jeremiah being told to get ready for persecution and Jesus told us we would be persecuted, why do we think the church will escape the great tribulation? Sure, there are many verses that can lean in that direction but there are just as many that lean toward us being the salt and light in the earth when things get tough. Regardless of when the rapture occurs, if we want to apply what God told Jeremiah to our lives, then we need to be ready for worse times ahead of us. If we don’t, what will we do when we do face them? We don’t want to crumble and fall but be a strong witness for the Lord.
            Psalm: There are several people by the name of Asaph in the Bible. The one who wrote this Psalm is most likely a descendant of the Asaph who was a singer and musician in charge of worship and either a priest or a Levite (1 Chron 15:19). However, as we look at Jeremiah, he says all the priest, prophets, kings, and everyone else had become corrupt. If you read this Psalm with that in mind it makes more sense. He is asking God to pour out his anger on the nations that have devoured God’s people. He doesn’t acknowledge that this has come upon them because of their stubborn refusal to repent.
            His concept of salvation is easy-believism. We believe in God who is loving and compassionate so he should save us. We’ve been offering all the correct sacrifices. It shouldn’t matter that we also ask our idols for the same deliverance. One or the other will surely save us. What we do outside of the temple is our business and God doesn’t see anyway. God said he won’t save people like that.
            Put into modern easy-believism, we believe in God. We’ve been going to church at least twice a month and even put at least $5 in the offering each time. We’ve served by being an usher every once in a while. We check our horoscope, but that’s just innocent speculation. We do what we want during the week because that’s our time and God isn’t concerned with the small stuff anyway. Will God save people like that?
            Proverbs: We can learn a lot by observing people. In this case of lazy and foolish people, it is quite easy to predict what will happen. With others, it isn’t as easy. We can generalize but in the end, we see people in the same way Jeremiah did. They are evil, yet they prosper. We wonder when the consequences of their sins will catch up with them. If we didn’t have the Bible to explain our future, we would be dismayed trying to make sense of the world. The reality is that in this broken world, things just don’t always work the way we expect. The lazy bum or fool hits the lottery and the hard-working honest man gets laid off because the high paid cheating executives screwed up and bailed out with their golden parachute to retire in luxury. However, this world isn’t all there is and Christians are promised a future in heaven with the Lord. The cheats and others will reap their rewards in hell. These are the two ends that the Bible reveals and they can’t be determined by our observations.
            1 Thessalonians: We had God telling Jeremiah that he had to persevere through the afflictions coming on Judah. Now we have Paul promising the Thessalonians that they will be delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:9-10). This would be a great verse to substantiate the pre-tribulation rapture. The narrower context of the verse suggests that this is referring to their salvation. Being delivered from the wrath to come would indicate that because they turned from their idols to God, he will not punishment them in the judgment. Expanding the context would include the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. As I mentioned above, we can find verses that lean in each direction and this is one of them.
            The more important thing to remember is that they turned from idols to the living God. This salvation is eternal. It isn’t about being saved from disaster on the earth. It is a message to everyone who reads these words. Jesus is the Son of God. He was raised from the dead and so, he is able to deliver us from God’s wrath. If we don’t believe this then we are still subject to God’s wrath and we will be sentenced to hell, which is God’s perpetual wrath on people who are wicked (as we all were) but haven’t repented and turned to Jesus for salvation. Turning from our wickedness, whether it is idolatry, greed, or any of the other sins to Jesus is a requirement and natural result of faith in Jesus.


             I want to be ready for any trials and tribulations that might come to me personally or to the church. The key to that is looking to eternity for my hope and not on things of this world.

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