Old Testament: Jeremiah 26:1-27:22
Jeremiah 26:1-27:22 Don’t Kill The Messenger
Chap. 26 Jeremiah gave a similar message at the gate in chap. 7 but now is giving the same message in the court. God is giving them the chance to repent.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “don’t kill the messenger”? That is what Jeremiah says to the court after they threaten to kill him.
Talk about the tail wagging the dog, the officials of the city rescued Jeremiah from the priests. Their reasoning was that Micah prophesied repentance in the days of King Hezekiah (vv. 18–19; Mic. 1:1; 3:12) and the people were saved. Another part of their reasoning in vv. 20-23 was that Uriah had also prophesied destruction under King Jehoiakim. Unlike Jeremiah, he absconded for Egypt but was brought back and executed. The point was the same, a prophet had prophesied doom but had been faithful to God and the nation should have heeded him.
Jeremiah was spared.
Chap. 27 Jeremiah tried to warn the nation on more than one occasion that they should surrender and submit to Nebuchadnezzar. In v. 16, Jeremiah warned the people that the valuables from the Temple would be taken. Normally, the idols would have been taken but Judah had no idols. False prophets said everything would be OK and the people didn’t need to worry. They were wrong. Jeremiah was right.
New Testament: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18 Work It Out
Paul closes the letter to the Thessalonians by asking for prayer that the Word would spread and that Paul and his cronies would be spared from their enemies (vv. 1-2). We saw from Jeremiah in today’s reading that prophets are not always welcomed because they have a message from God. If we are true to God, though, we will keep trying to spread the Word. Paul was confident that God’s spokesmen would be protected from the devil (v. 3) and that they would be obedient as they grew in love (cf. 1 Thess. 1:3; 3:6; 3:12; 4:9) and stability (vv. 4-5).
Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to stay away from “unruly” or perhaps “idle” (NIV, ESV, “laziness,” LB) believers (v. 6). They were perhaps waiting for the end of the world or just living off the more wealthy in the congregation. That was not what Paul had taught them (“tradition,” v. 6). They were to work. Paul paid for everything he had while with them and was disciplined and hard-working (vv. 7 -8). He wanted to be a model to them of being self-sufficient (v. 9). Anyone who was not “willing” to work should not be allowed to eat the church’s food (v. 10). The problem was that they weren’t “willing” to work. Paul was not speaking of those who could not work for some reason. Some of the congregants were not only idle but in their idleness they were creating trouble in the body. This wouldn’t be happening if they were working (v. 11).
Notice that Paul, as an apostle, had every right to be paid but he set aside his privilege (vv. 8 -9). Wiersbe says, “We must not use Paul’s example as an excuse not to support God’s servants.” I have heard many people use Paul as an example of a pastor who deferred remuneration. They were actually just being irresponsible in not paying those who served them. The Scriptures and Paul are clear that pastors should be fed as they are feeding others (Luke 10:7; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17–18).
If anyone was not working and disrupting the body, they were to be disassociated from the body (v.14). The purpose was not to punish as much as lovingly correct them for their own sake (v. 15). They were to be re-admitted to fellowship if they had exhibited sufficient change (cf. the man disciplined in 1Cor. 5 was most likely readmitted to the body in 2:6-7, see blog: Honest Engine).
In Philippians 4: 11-12, Paul explained how he lives trusting God no matter what the circumstances. Here he asks God to give peace to the Thessalonians no matter their circumstances (v. 16a). The Lord will never leave us or abandon us (v. 16b, cf. Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5).
Though Paul usually dictated his letters, he signed off on this one personally. He may have written in somewhat of a scrawl due to poor eyesight (v. 17, cf. Gal. 6: 11, Rom. 16:22; 1 Cor. 16:21-23).
Once again he reminds his readers of God’s unmerited favor, that they receive things of great worth but with no payment on their part. It’s called “grace” (v. 18).