Monday, 20 October 2014

(294) October 21: Jeremiah 5-6 & 1 Timothy 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 how the people have treated God’s word.

To ponder:
God promises Jeremiah that if he can find one person who acts honestly and seeks the truth of God in Jerusalem, he will forgive the city. But he is adamant that they make oaths in his name that are false because they don’t intend to keep them (5v1-2). And so Jeremiah acknowledges how God seeks truth, yet the people refused to repent even after being disciplined – probably referring to their prior oppression by other nations or Assyria (5v3). Jeremiah put this down to the poor who don’t know God’s word, and so went to the leaders only to find that they too had rebelliously thrown off the yoke like an ox who should serve the farmer. In the light of this, Jeremiah predicts that they will be torn apart by wild animals, referring to Babylon (5v4-6).
God then asks why he should forgive, when Jerusalem’s children have forsaken him for idols, flocked to prostitutes, and committed adultery, despite God supplying their needs. So he declares they no longer belong to him. But in commanding their destruction, he still limits it so the people are not destroyed completely (5v7-11). Jeremiah notes how the people falsely declared no harm would really come to them and that the true prophets were not actually speaking God’s word. They even wished harm on them. In response, God says Jeremiah’s words will be fire, no doubt in the sense that they will result in judgement. And so he outlines the destruction he will bring through a “distant nation” (5v12-17). Yet again, he also declares that he will not destroy completely, whilst stating that Jeremiah will explain the people have nevertheless suffered because of their idolatry (5v18-19). The LORD then tells Jeremiah to announce to the people, who don’t see or hear, how they should fear God because he forms the boundaries of the creation, perhaps implying that proves he is able to protect them against the advancing hoards. But instead, he notes how stubborn and rebellious they e are, refusing to fear him as the one who provides the seasons and harvests, meaning that their harvests have suffered (5v20-25). He describes men amongst the people who are rich and powerful, and who seek to trap others with their deceit, and who do not uphold the rights of the poor. Again, he asks, “should I not punish” them for this. Indeed, even their prophets prophecy lies, the priests go along with them, and the people love it (5v26-31).
Throughout this section God is displaying how appropriate Judah’s punishment is, but also how merciful he is in limiting it. Likewise, on the last day none will be able to say that God acted unjustly, but only marvel at his mercy in saving a remnant through Christ.
In chapter 7 God again calls the people to flee Jerusalem as a way of stressing the coming disaster. Jerusalem is described like a beautiful meadow to which the kings and their armies come like shepherds with their flocks, so that their flocks can graze on their own portion of it (6v1-3). 6v4-5 stresses that daylight will not keep the destruction back. So God speaks to the attacking armies, telling them to build siege ramps because the city must be punished for her wickedness, which is described as being poured out like water, and as sickness and wounds. Once more God calls the people to turn so the land is not made desolate, even though he knows they will refuse to (6v6-8). 6v9 then seems to call both the armies and Jeremiah to glean fruit from Israel, and so gather a repentant remnant. But Jeremiah asks who he can warn as everyone’s ears are closed so they find offence in the word he speaks. This has always been the way with respect to those who proclaim God’s judgement. And in response, as God’s prophet, Jeremiah feels in himself God’s outrage at the people and cannot hold it in. God therefore instructs him to pour that wrath out, no doubt in his words, on everyone from children to the elderly – as they will all suffer when their homes, fields and even wives are handed over to the enemy by God’s hand (6v10-12). The reason is that everyone is greedy. And the prophets and priests in particular are deceitful, unashamedly declaring peace and so acceptance by God, when in reality God is bringing destruction (6v13-15). One cannot but think of ministers in today’s church who teach that God would never judge, but instead save all. Here God is clear: Such people will also be punished.
The LORD goes on to urge the people to seek out and walk in the ancient paths (ie. of faithful obedience) and find rest for their souls (6v16), just as Christ calls us to come to him for the same (Matt 11v29). They had refused to listen to the watchman (prophets) God had put over them and listen to the trumpet (their warnings). God therefore calls the nations to witness their destruction for rejecting his law, affirming that because of that he doesn’t care for their offerings of incense or sacrifices, and will cause the people to stumble. The cause of stumbling may be temptation to further sin or the coming armies. Either way, it will lead to all generations perishing (6v17-21). 6v22-26 describes the cruelty and fearfulness of the Babylonian army the LORD has stirred up, and how this should lead the people to deep anguish and mourning. God then says he has made Jeremiah a tester of Judah like a refining fire that is intended to purge impurities out of ore. But this testing has not caused Judah’s wickedness to be purged out because, as already stated, she refuses to listen. And so God has rejected the people like rejected silver that is unfit for use because of its impurity (6v27-30).
Throughout we are being urged to seek out and heed faithful Bible teachers, who will be honest about sin and its consequences. It is utter foolishness to look to those who are not honest about God’s word.

Praying it home:
Praise God for faithful Bible teachers within the church. Pray that he would raise up more to be honest about sin and judgement as well as grace and mercy.

Thinking further:
None today.

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