Archive for November, 2011

30
Nov
11

Prophecy Fulfilled!

20111127-165204.jpgI love seeing the fulfillment of prophecy in the Bible. And the more detailed the prophecy, the more thrilling the outcome. God gives a very specific prophecy to Jeremiah in today’s scripture passage – Nebuchadnezzar’s line will reign thru his grandson, at which time Babylon’s dominance will be reversed.

‘Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: This is what the LORD said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.

“If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the LORD, until I destroy it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’ They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish. But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the LORD.””Jeremiah 27:1-11

Does history prove out Jeremiah’s prediction? Check this out. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon overtook Judah in 597 B.C. Amel-Marduk took over the reign in 562 B.C. – he was the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and reigned for two years. There were a couple of other kings who took over after this, who were NOT related to Nebuchadnezzar. BUT, the Babylonian exile ended in 538 B.C., when Belshazzar was ruling. And who was Belshazzar? He was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar!

Prophecy fulfilled is amazing!

29
Nov
11

How Brave Was Jeremiah?

20111127-120655.jpgIn Jeremiah’s day, the people of Judah did not treat him favorably, because his words were not pleasing to their ears. What kind of environment did Jeremiah really live in? Did he really fear for his life? Today’s passage answers this very clearly.

“(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt. King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Acbor to Egypt, along with some other men. They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.)”Jeremiah 26:20-23

So, the very same king to whom Jeremiah was speaking was also responsible for the murder of the other prophet of the Lord, who was bringing the same message as Jeremiah, at the same time. With this precedent in mind, it lends further evidence that Jeremiah was a brave man.

28
Nov
11

Eyes on God’s Mission

20111127-182309.jpgJeremiah performs his duties, and prophesies God’s words accurately, even to a people with no appetite for correction. As a reward, he is challenged by the other priests and prophets, yet we see his reaction in today’s passage.

‘Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”’Jeremiah 26:12-15

If you think that Jeremiah had no fear that he might lose his life in this situation, see tomorrow’s blog entry. He took no thought of his own life, but simply communicated what God wanted said. This says much about Jeremiah’s character and attitude of selflessness. Sometimes I look at my own life in this light – do I speak the truth in situations where I might be in fear of harm, or even embarrassment? Jeremiah provides a good example of a man with his eyes firmly on God’s desires, not his own.

27
Nov
11

Using Evil for Good?

20111126-212138.jpgOne of the reasons I started this blog was to document the continually amazing little things I notice almost ever time I open up the Bible. I can read the same book or chapter many times over, yet I see new things in the pages each time I read it. This happened to me again in today’s passage.

‘Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.’Jeremiah 25:8-11

The words that jumped out at me today were “my servant Nebuchadnezzar”. I have never noticed that God spoke of the people’s oppressive leader as His servant. Yet, the words are clear – God used Nebuchadnezzar’s reign as a useful element to serve His purpose. Seeing the reign of evil men as a service to the Lord is often hard to grasp. My own design would be for good to reign at all times in all places, but God’s plans are infinitely more complex – and infinitely wiser.

26
Nov
11

Don’t Skip This Step

20111126-080756.jpgThe twenty-third chapter of Jeremiah contains a warning to all the false prophets in Judah at the time of Jeremiah. It is a withering reproach to those who behave as if they speak on the Lord’s behalf, but who actually have no connection with Him. What is the chief failing of these men?

‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?”‘Jeremiah 23:16-18

It seems that these false prophets are quick to give advice and to say “Peace” to their followers, but the number one thing they lack…is that they never consulted the Lord on the matters at hand. Instead of listening to the people’s burdens, and then turning to God for help, they skipped that step and went right to the advice that came from their own lips. Indeed, Jeremiah spells this out even more clearly at a later point in the chapter.

But you must not mention ‘the oracle of the LORD’ again, because every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the LORD Almighty, our God.Jeremiah 23:36

Does this in any way apply to us today? I think so. It is tempting to think we know enough of the Bible, or have had enough of life’s experiences that we can listen to others problems, and immediately dispense solutions from experience, or from what sounds good to us. But, it seems to me that in all circumstances we ought to take the issue before God in prayer – and seek His counsel first. Otherwise, our own word will become our own oracle, and we will forget about God, exactly as was done by the prophets in Judah. This is a good lesson for me personally. Rather than constantly thinking I must add to my own wisdom, so that I can somehow take God’s place, everything should start with a turning to God in prayer.

25
Nov
11

Salvation Lost

The story in Jeremiah lately has been progressing toward the Babylonian captivity which will be endured by Judah.  I have pointed out the possible similarities to our own culture being led away by false gods.  But what really strikes me is that God allows this captivity to happen to His chosen people.  Such an act begs many questions, not the least of which is, “Why would God allow such a thing happen to His own people?”  We see the answer in today’s verse.

“People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?’  And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’”  — Jeremiah 22:8-9

The punishment comes down to one major thing – the violation of a covenant which was made between God and the chosen nation of Israel.  In Genesis 17:7-8, God promised the Israelite nation that they would possess the land of Canaan, under the terms of a new covenant that was being established.

“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”  — Genesis 17:7

In a covenant, both sides name an obligation that must be adhered to in order for the covenant to stand.  The obligation of the Israelites is found in verses 9 through 14 of the same chapter in Genesis.  Specifically, it speaks of the covenant of circumcision.  Couple this with the verse in Jeremiah, and you will note a similarity – a condition of the covenant is also that the Israelites continue to make God their Lord, and nothing else can take His place.

And this was the part of the covenant that was broken.  They went after other gods, even though they were likely following the circumcision part, but this state was not good enough to keep them in the Lord’s favor.

Now, compare this to our covenant relationship today – the covenant of baptism has taken the place of the covenant of circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12).  Thus,there is still a covenant which has a physical manifestation (baptism) and a demand (that we make God the Lord of our lives – Hebrews 8:10).  So, we see that these two covenants are very similar – the difference being the physical manifestation, which is now baptism instead of circumcision.

A question – for my dear friends who think that baptism and entering today’s covenant relationship with Christ is different from the Old Law in that it is irrevocable once given – that is, salvation cannot be lost once it is granted – I have to ask: Why would the new covenant have such a different condition than the old covenant?  Under the old, God’s part of the bargain was removed if the people broke their part.  Why would this be different under the new covenant?  Indeed, if God had made the new covenant to say, “Make a decision at some point in your life to follow Me, and I’ll give you a gift of salvation  that will last no matter how you feel about Me later”, then this would hardly be a covenant, wouldn’t it?  We would have no ongoing obligation under that scenario.  But I believe we do have an obligation which persists as long as we live – to love and honor God and have Him be first and foremost in our life.  If we violate that commitment, we will become like the nation of Judah in the book of Jeremiah – God will give us over to our tormentors and we will be lost, until such a time that we repent on our own initiative and gain restoration.  From this argument, I can only conclude that our salvation can be lost after our initial acceptance of Christ – just as happened to God’s people in the Old Testament.  This is how covenants operate – and Colossians 2 makes it clear that we are operating under a covenant.

24
Nov
11

When The Chosen Are Delivered Over To Their Oppressors

The nation of Judah provides a meaningful example of how God deals with sin among His chosen people.  When Judah begins to be attacked by Babylon, the king puts forward this plea to Jeremiah:

The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: “Inquire now of the LORD for us because Nebuchadnezzarking of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”  — Jeremiah 21:1-2

Now, under normal circumstances we would expect to see God’s response be one of help and compassion.  But a different side of the Lord is now revealed to the people.

But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.  I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in anger and fury and great wrath.  I will strike down those who live in this city—both men and animals—and they will die of a terrible plague.  After that, declares the LORD, I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who seek their lives. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’ Jeremiah 21:3-7

Did the chosen people expect to hear their God say “I myself will fight against you”?  And that He would hand them over completely to their tormentors?  We know that God’s grace will be extended to them again after they have been in exile for a number of years, but it is interesting to note that He chooses to give them up for a time, in order to bring about their repentance.  Remember – this is the same, exact Lord that we serve today.  He hasn’t changed.  Unless our repentance is real and our hearts are turned to Him, He may choose to hand us over to tribulation for a while, as well.




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