Saturday, 25 October 2014

(299) October 26: Jeremiah 17-19 & 1 Timothy 6

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read consider how the seriousness of the coming judgement is stressed.

To ponder:
Judah’s sin is said to be permanently engraved on their hearts. This is their key problem. In their inner being they cannot but sin. For it to be on the horns of their altars too, shows how ingrained their idolatry was. Indeed, even their children are implicated (17v1-2). So God declares he will give away mount Zion (his mountain), their wealth and high places of false worship, enslaving them to their enemies in his anger (17v3-4). God continues in saying that those who trust in man for his strength and turns from God is cursed to wither without prosperity, but those who trust God are blessed, and thrives even when trouble comes, like a tree in water even in heart (17v5-8, see also Ps 1). Yet God can declare how deceitful, beyond (human) cure, incomprehensible the heart is. Yet God searches the heart and mind to reward people according to their deeds. And so those who unjustly gain riches will find them desert him, proving him a fool. Moreover, those who forsake God will be dust because they turn from living water and God’s glorious rule (17v9-13). Here Jeremiah, prays for healing and salvation, certain God will give it. And where people mockingly ask where the fulfilment of God’s word is, Jeremiah can affirm God knows he did not run from his role as shepherd, nor delight in what was coming. And on this basis he again asks that his persecutors be shamed and destroyed, but he himself kept from terror (17v14-18).
            The LORD then instructs him to stand at Jerusalem’s gates, commanding the kings, people and city to keep the Sabbath, reminding them that their fathers stubbornly refused to respond to his discipline, but promising that if they do obey kings, officials and people will come through the gates victoriously, and the city be inhabited forever. Indeed, people would come from the whole area around Judah and Benjamin bringing offerings of true worship to the temple. But if the people don’t keep the Sabbath by working or carrying loads through the gates, then Jerusalem will face unquenchable (so irreversible) fire (17v19-27). It all brings home the importance of true repentance whilst we have time.
            God then sent Jeremiah to the potters house. God’s message was that he can reshape Israel like clay, as he sees fit. He stresses that with all nations, if he has warns to uproot or destroy them and they repent of their evil, then he will relent. And if he announces that a nation is t be built up and it does not obey him, he will reconsider that intended good. So Jeremiah must say, God is devising disaster for Judah so the people must reform their ways. Yet God tells him the people will refuse, saying they want to continue in their stubbornness (18v1-12). Paul reminds us that similarly, our destiny is in God’s hands to do with as he sees fit, just like clay in that of the potter (Rom 9v21).
The LORD then declares that it should be enquired of amongst the nations whether anything has been heard of as bad as is being done to Virgin (ie. vulnerable) Israel. For whereas snow and water in Lebanon is constant, the people aren’t. They’ve forgotten him, burned incense to idols, causing them to stumble in their ways, so their land will be laid waste in a way that will appal onlookers. They will be scattered by their enemies and experience the LORD turn away form them (18v13-17).
Here the people determine to verbally attack Jeremiah, confident that they don’t need him as the various means of God’s word being passed on would continue (18v18). Jeremiah asks God to hear them and see the injustice of the good he is doing being repaid with evil. Reminding God of how he interceded for these very people, he now prays their children, wives and young men would suffer under famine, bereavement and the sword respectively, by the coming invaders. Acknowledging God knows their plots, Jeremiah prays God would not forgive them, but deal with them in his anger (18v19-23). Again, this seems far from Jesus’ superior sentiments on the cross. But it is nevertheless a prayer for justice not injustice, and permitted amongst God’s people as they pass their sense of aggrievement to the LORD rather than taking vengeance themselves.
Next God tells Jeremiah to buy a clay jar from the potter, take some elders and priests, and then proclaim to the kings and people the coming disaster and the sin of idolatry and bloodshed that provoked it. It’s seriousness is stressed by the fact it will make all ears tingle, and the fact that Jeremiah is to say the place he proclaims this will be renamed the valley of slaughter. The nature of the slaughter is outlined as previously, but what is added is that the siege will lead the people to cannibalism (19v1-9). Jeremiah is then instructed to break the jar and say this is how the LORD will smash the nation and city, so that it is beyond repair, and that the dead will be buried in the valley until there is no more room. Topheth was a place pagan worship was conducted, leading God to say Jerusalem will become defiled like Topheth, because people engaged in idolatry there too (19v10-13). Jeremiah then returned to the temple, where he reiterated that God would bring the disaster he pronounce because of the people’s refusal to listen to his words (19v14-15). What we are seeing, is just how certain and terrible God’s judgement is. And that on Judah pictures that of the last day.

Praying it home:
Praise God for providing rescue through Christ from such terrible judgement. Pray that we would display true faith in obedience.

Thinking further:
None today.

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