Sunday, 2 November 2014

(307) November 3: Jeremiah 33-35 & Philemon 1

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

To discover:
As you read consider what God condemns and commends.

To ponder:
Still imprisoned, God's word comes to Jeremiah again. Once more he affirms himself as the creator, promising to tell great things if Jeremiah asks. He says the houses of the people and kings torn down to build defences will be filled with the dead from the city who God will strike down in wrath. Yet he will also bring health, healing, prosperity and security, restoring Judah and Israel,  and cleansing them from all their sin. Jerusalem will then be a city God rejoices in and something bringing praise and glory to him from all nations, when they hear of the good he does it. They will fear him because if this too (33v1-9). All this patterns the praise and fear brought him as he forgives and draws together his people in Christ. So the cities of Judah will move from being desolate, to being places marked by the joy of marriage that is then worthwhile as it has a future, and the joy of praise and thanks in God's goodness and love. Shepherds will also again tend their flocks in the region (33v10-13).
Here God declares that he will fulfil his promise in causing the long awaited Davidic king to rule in justice and righteousness, in fulfilment of his covenant with David to grant him an everlasting throne. What is added is an enduring priesthood. The point is probably just that with a righteous king right worship will be ensured, just as the church offer their lives as living sacrifices. God adds this is as certain as his agreement with the day and night to come when they do. And we read too that the line of kings and priests will become as numerous as the stars and sand - a hint that all Abraham's children through faith will be a royal priesthood In Christ. Those who display a lack of faith by claiming God has forgotten his commitments to the clans stemming from Levi and David therefore no longer regard Israel as a nation, assuming it is totally finished. Whereas God promises mercy and restoration (33v14-26). We should remember that because Jesus reigns, the church has a glorious future no matter hown things may at time seen.
Chapter 34 records God's word when Babylon and all their allies were fighting against Jerusalem, and only a couple of fortified cities were left in Judah. God tells Zedekiah that the city is given over to Babylon and will be burned, and he will be captured, speak to Nebuchadnezzar face to face and be exiled to Babylon. Yet in kindness the LORD tells him he will die in peace, and be properly mourned. After Zedekiah then covenanted with Jerusalem in the temple that people should free their Hebrew slaves, only to find them free and then re-enslave them, God recounted his law about freeing such slaves after 7 years in response to his freeing them from Egypt. He then said their what they did profaned his name - no doubt by making him look unrighteous. And so he proclaimed liberty to them to die by the sword, plague and famine. He said the various categories of people would become a horror to the watching kingdoms, being like the calves cut in two at covenant making ceremonies, with their dead bodies being bird food, and Zedekiah given into Nebuchadnezzar's hand. To this end Gid promised to bring the Babylon army back to the city. The sense in covenants was that it should be to the covenant-breakers as to the calf. And so Christ was killed in the place of our covenant breaking.
Chapter 35 returns us to the time of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah is to bring a clan known as the Rechabites to a chamber in the temple and offer them wine. When there they refused it on the basis of their ancestor's vow that they neither drink nor settle, but always live in tents. They explain they are only in Jerusalem for safety against the Babylonians. The anscestor's commitment may have been made out of zeal for God, as it was so that his descendents would live long in the land - a covenant blessing. Perhaps his desire was that they live apart from the rest of God's people so they are not led astray from God's commands. We know nothing more of this vow. God's point was simply that the people should have similarly obeyed his commands through the prophets to repent and not follow false gods so they too could live in the land. But because they didn't God is bringing on them the impending disaster. No doubt there is a hint here too that the king should have ensured such faithfulness in the people. Yet God promises the Rechabites that they will always have someone before God as a reward for their faithfulness in keeping their commitments (34v1v19). It is just such repentance and concern not to be drawn away from the Lord that means we will be with him forever.

Praying it home:
Praise God for the future Christ gaurantees. Pray that you would remain godly even if those even in the church fail to.

Thinking further:
None today.

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