Monday, May 27, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction of Jeremiah 22-28

Readings for this week

Monday: Jeremiah 22
Tuesday: Jeremiah 23
Wednesday: Jeremiah 24
Thursday: Jeremiah 25
Friday: Jeremiah 26
Saturday: Jeremiah 27
Sunday: Jeremiah 28

Introduction of Jeremiah 22-28

Chapters 22-23 

Within Jeremiah’s oracles of judgment, the prophet provided to us a list of failed kings (a.k.a. “something to cry about”):

After the good king Josiah was killed in battle by Pharaoh, his son Jehoahaz became king but only reigned three months before Pharaoh exiled him to Egypt.

Jehoiakim was also Josiah’s son, but also a failure of a king.

Josiah’s grandson Jehoiachin then became king but he was exiled to Babylon and became a “broken pot/vessel.” (possibly a reference to being made a eunuch)

He concludes that “…none will sit on the throne of David, or rule in Judah anymore.”

Jeremiah then describes something he refers to as “The Righteous Branch.” He says that Judah’s other leaders only cared for themselves, but God promised He would someday raise up a righteous leader (“branch”) who would establish justice in the land. 

Chapter 24 

God showed Jeremiah two baskets of figs – one good, one bad. The good figs represented the exiles in Babylon, whom God would protect, bless, and one day restore. The bad figs symbolized Zedekiah (Judah’s last king, and also a son of Josiah) and those who remained in Jerusalem. This faithless group would die by sword, famine, and disease. 

Chapter 25 

Jeremiah says that because the people of Judah refused to listen to the word of God sent by His prophets, they would be exiled and made to serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.

God would cause His people to drink the cup of His wrath, and to spread His wrath among all the peoples to which they would be scattered. 

Chapter 26 

We then read about Jeremiah under trial. Jeremiah spoke against God’s holy city. His defendants pointed out that the prophet Micah had done the same thing during Hezekiah’s reign but was not punished. Another prophet named Uriah had preached the same message and then fled to Egypt, but was brought back and killed by Jehoiakim. Jeremiah’s life was spared this time. 

Chapters 27-28 

Jeremiah put a yoke on his shoulders and told King Zedekiah that any nation that would not submit to Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke would be punished. The prophet Hananiah predicted that Judah would be safe. Hananiah broke Jeremiah’s yoke. Jeremiah told Hananiah that the wooden yoke he had broken would be replaced with an iron one. Hananiah died because he prophesied lies in God’s name.

Monday, May 20, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Jeremiah 15-21

Readings for this week

Monday: Jeremiah 15
Tuesday: Jeremiah 16
Wednesday: Jeremiah 17
Thursday: Jeremiah 18
Friday: Jeremiah 19
Saturday: Jeremiah 20
Sunday: Jeremiah 21

Introduction to Jeremiah 15-21 

Chapter 15 

In the next section of Jeremiah’s oracles of judgment, we hear about the false prophets. Jeremiah proclaimed that God would destroy His people with “famine, sword, and plague.” But the false prophets preached the opposite message to the people.

God says, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds… Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people.” 

Chapters 16-17 

Jeremiah then speaks about sin, judgment, and grace. First, he speaks of a coming Day of Disaster. God told Jeremiah not to get married or have kids because everyone is going to be destroyed. God told Jeremiah not to go to funerals because everyone’s going to die anyway. God told Jeremiah not to go to weddings or feasts because all celebrating would soon cease.

“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.”

Jeremiah compares their hearts to an “Arara” which was a type of fruit bush that grew in the desert. The fruit looked great on the outside, lush and juicy and green… but you opened up the fruit, it was full of air and nasty dry webs that had little poisonous seeds in them.

“Cursed (Arur) is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush (arar) in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.”

Jeremiah calls them to trust God with their whole selves so that they will be like the “Acacia” tree instead of the “Arara” bush. The Acacia tree also grows out in the desert and it remains healthy and alive even when it goes for years without raining. This is because it has a hidden quality – its roots go very deep, and spread so far that they can find the underground sources of water that sustain them and give them life out in the desert. The trees are used for high quality perfume and incense. Because they remain connected to the source of life, they are able to give back to the world around them… unlike the Arara bush.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree (acacia) planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” 


Chapters 18-20 

Within Jeremiah’s oracles of judgment is a section on God’s Sovereignty. Jeremiah first tells the parable of the potter’s house. God is the potter. God’s people are the clay. The clay could not be shaped into what the potter wanted, so he shaped it to be something else.

Jeremiah then smashes a jar. This symbolized the coming destruction of Jerusalem for all the innocent people they had killed, including sacrificing their children at the “tophit.” The priest Pashhur didn’t like Jeremiah’s message and had him beaten and put in the stocks. When Jeremiah was released the next day, he gave a new name to Pashhur – “Terror on Every Side.”

We then read that Jeremiah despaired of God’s calling. He said:

“You tricked me, God!”
“You didn’t tell me my job would be so hard!”
“Everybody hates me!”
“Cursed be the day I was born!
May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,
who made him very glad, saying,
‘A child is born to you—a son!’”

“Why did I ever come out of the womb
to see trouble and sorrow
and to end my days in shame?” 

Chapter 21 

We then read about the ungodly kings and other leaders of Jerusalem. God proclaims through Jeremiah his judgment against the wicked kings.

We then read that as King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Jerusalem, Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, sent messengers to ask Jeremiah for guidance. But God rejected Zedekiah’s request for “wonders of old” against the Babylonians.

Monday, May 13, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Jeremiah 8-14

Readings for this week

Monday: Jeremiah 8
Tuesday: Jeremiah 9
Wednesday: Jeremiah 10
Thursday: Jeremiah 11
Friday: Jeremiah 12
Saturday: Jeremiah 13
Sunday: Jeremiah 14

Introduction to Jeremiah 8-14

Chapters 8-10 

The next section of Jeremiah’s oracles of judgment are a group of sermons on the outcome of Judah’s depravity. The people had turned God’s house into a “den of robbers” and believed God would keep them safe as they sinned. Just as God destroyed His house at Shiloh, so too will He destroy His house in Jerusalem. In the place where the people sacrificed their own children, God will pile up their bodies in slaughter. 

Chapters 11-14 

Jeremiah then describes how the Covenant with Yahweh had been broken:

“Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”

The book then describes a plot against Jeremiah. The people of Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth plotted to kill him, but God warned him about it, and promised that He would punish these people.

Jeremiah’s Complaint:

“Everything you do is righteous, LORD…but can I have a word with you about your justice? …Why do you let the wicked prosper?”

God’s Answer:

“If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

God again warns Jeremiah that his relatives are planning to kill him.

God then tells Jeremiah to buy new underwear. And then God tells Jeremiah to bury his new underwear. And then God tells Jeremiah to go find his buried underwear. God tells Jeremiah that his point is that Israel and Judah have become like dirty underwear to Him.

God then proclaims through Jeremiah the pending threat of captivity of his people. He says that the kings and queens of Judah have been poor shepherds of their flocks. He asks, “Can the leopard change his spots? …You’re so bad you couldn’t do good if you tried! …I will expose your shameless prostitution! …I will pull your skirts up over your face!”

Monday, May 6, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Jeremiah 1-7

Readings for this week

Monday: Jeremiah 1
Tuesday: Jeremiah 2
Wednesday: Jeremiah 3
Thursday: Jeremiah 4
Friday: Jeremiah 5
Saturday: Jeremiah 6
Sunday: Jeremiah 7

Introduction to Jeremiah 1-7 

Jeremiah… The Man 

He was a d descendant of Abiathar, David’s high priest. Jeremiah was probably about the same age as King Josiah when he began his ministry. Jeremiah’s ministry spans more than forty years, and took place during the reign of Josiah as well as his four successors, the last kings of Judah. Jeremiah saw the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians. Jeremiah did not want to be a prophet.

Jeremiah… The Book 

The book of Jeremiah is arranged according to theme rather than chronology. The book of Jeremiah existed in at least two canonical forms in ancient times. The Greek version is about one-eighth shorter than the Hebrew version. This indicates that the book was still being written at the time it was first translated from Hebrew into Greek. The two versions are arranged in different orders.

Chapter 1 

First twenty-nine chapters of the book are made up of oracles of judgment. First, we here about Jeremiah’s call. He writes:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. 

Chapters 2-6 

The next section within these oracles of judgment is a group of sermons on sin, judgment, love, and forgiveness. First, Jeremiah tells the parable of the failing marriage:

“‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
through a land not sown.”

“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.”

Jeremiah then tells a parable about two sisters. Israel was wicked so God exiled her. Judah learned nothing from this, and became worse than her sister Israel.

Jeremiah then foretells of trouble coming from the north. God will send the Babylonians to destroy Judah. God challenged Jeremiah to find a single righteous person in Jerusalem. He says:

“They have turned their backs to me
and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
‘Come and save us!’” 

“Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband.”

But he also says that in the future, “they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow… their evil hearts.” 

Chapter 7 

The next section of Jeremiah’s oracles of judgment are a group of sermons on the outcome of Judah’s depravity. The people had turned God’s house into a “den of robbers” and believed God would keep them safe as they sinned. Just as God destroyed His house at Shiloh, so too will He destroy His house in Jerusalem. In the place where the people sacrificed their own children, God will pile up their bodies in slaughter.