One of the reasons that Jeremiah is such a depressing read is that God's mind about judgment for His people is made up. This is not a prophetic book urging, persuading, and cajoling the Lord's people to get back to following the covenant before it is too late. This is an announcement of the punishment that is already decreed and is surely coming upon them, and there is nothing they can do at this late date to escape their fate. The nation is past the point of no return.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Prophets are given all kinds of strange tasks by the Lord. Jeremiah, for instance, is instructed to buy and wear a linen loincloth. After some time, Jeremiah received a second message to go and hide that loincloth by the Euphrates River. Okay. Then, Jeremiah hears a third message from God to retrieve it. When Jeremiah obeys, he finds that the loincloth is ruined and good for nothing. While these commands may seem inexplicable, God is demonstrating a spiritual parallel with the nation of Judah.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Jeremiah calls out to God in chapter 12 with a pointed complaint. How can He let all those evil people plotting against him escape consequences? Why aren't bad things happening to these bad people? Why does God plant them securely in the land instead of uprooting them?
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Friday, May 20, 2016
Twice in this chapter the Lord speaks through Jeremiah and asks, "Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord; and shall I not bring retribution on a nation such as this?" (vs. 9 and 29) It seems that there is no way out, either for the people to be punished or for God to act in judgment.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
"'Your ways and your doings have brought this upon you. This is your doom; how bitter it is! It has reached your very heart.' My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war" (vs. 18-19).
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
As Jeremiah expounds God's case against His people, one particular comparison surfaces repeatedly: Israel and Judah have been like unfaithful spouses. "As a faithless wife leaves her husband, so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the Lord" (vs. 20).
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Monday, May 16, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
In the second chapter of his prophetic book, Zephaniah goes on to warn the nations that have historically oppressed Judah that something terrible is coming for them. Also tucked away in Zephaniah 2 is a verse giving advice on how to adopt a survival strategy to withstand the great day of the Lord.
Many Christians look forward with anticipation and even glee to the coming Day of the Lord. It is often presumed to be a time when believers will be vindicated for our faith. The righteous (read "us") will be embraced into God's bosom, while the unrighteous (read "them") will be thrown into the outer darkness. The only problem is that the biblical picture of the "great day of the Lord" sounds a lot more distressing than pleasant - even from the perspective of God's people!
Thursday, May 12, 2016
The Bible emphatically states that the best king Judah ever had was Josiah: "Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him" (vs. 25). Josiah earned his reputation from his spectacular acts of consecration and desecration.
An unintentional time capsule is discovered in II Kings 22. During the course of a rather routine maintenance project in the temple, the book of the law was found (vs. 8). Apparently containing previously unknown information, the book is taken first to the king's secretary, then to King Josiah himself. When it is read to the king, he tears his clothes because he realizes how far the nation had fallen away from God's law. Determined to make it right, Josiah sends a delegation to inquire of the Lord. Interestingly, these men consult with a woman, the prophetess Huldah (vs. 14). She informs them that, because of the idolatry of the people, the Lord is surely sending destruction upon Judah. However, because of the humble, penitent response of Josiah, God has mercifully determined that the day of reckoning will not happen during his reign.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The spiritual history of Israel can be viewed as a war for allegiance fought between the Lord God and the lesser idols that sometimes swayed the hearts of the people. Manasseh, a king of Judah who ruled for 55 years, goes down in scripture as one of the worst kings for his misguided leadership in turning the nation to worship false gods. In fact, the Bible lays the blame for Judah's destruction at his feet.
God had once had in mind to overthrow wicked Nineveh. But, in His mercy, He sent Jonah to warn the city by way of whale*. To the prophet's own exquisite displeasure, Jonah's ministry succeeded and the Ninevites of his day repented. Their city was saved. But in Nahum's day, there would be no such escape for the empire this time.
Jealous...Wrathful...Rage...Vengeance. These words sounds like they are describing a truly awful person, someone that good Christians should avoid (or perhaps witness to!) Yet the Old Testament prophet Nahum applies them to God, and he expects that we should view such typically negative terms positively!
Monday, May 9, 2016
Did you see what I did there? One of the literary techniques employed by many of the psalms is the use of repetition to drive a point home. Psalm 118 may be one of the best examples of this. In addition to housing a number of classic, pithy, prophetic sayings, it also sounds like a psalm that Dr. Seuss could have written!
Friday, May 6, 2016
Thursday, May 5, 2016
As we approach the end of the book of Isaiah, the prophet unveils the wondrous new things that God will work as a part of the glorified creation. This is a beautiful glimpse ahead and a good promise of better times a' comin'!
Just like we hear in the song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the prophet Isaiah sees God trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. "I trampled down peoples in my anger, I crushed them in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth" (vs. 6). This is an iconic image that will reappear in scripture in Revelation 14:19-20.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Names are a big deal in the Bible. Name changes usually accompany a major event in a person's life, such as Abram becoming Abraham or Simon being called Peter. Isaiah reveals that new names are coming for the land of Israel itself to reveal the Lord's blessing upon the nation.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
According to Luke 4:16-21, when Jesus was ready to initiate His public ministry, He chose to read from this section of Isaiah to announce the fulfillment of scripture. The Messiah was at hand! But Jesus also chose to abruptly stop reading at a specific point, perhaps giving us a further clue about His mission and what was to come.
Monday, May 2, 2016
One question that many Christians ask is, "How could the people of Jesus' day have missed His coming? They lifted their Messiah up on a cross instead of lifting up His Name in worship. They crowned their King with thorns rather than with gold and jewels. Why?" The answer may be, in part, that the people of Jesus' day had radically different expectations of their Savior. In their minds, He wasn't coming to be a suffering servant, but a conquering king!