Old Testament: Jeremiah 28:1-29:32
Jeremiah 28:1-29:32 A Broken Yoke
Chap. 28 Jeremiah had prophesied that Judah would be taken captive to Babylonia for seventy years. A false prophet, Hananiah, demurred. Hananiah said that everyone would be home safe after two years (v. 3). Jeremiah said to Hananiah, “I wish.” But he said prophets had prophesied in the past of destruction but the prophet is proved right when his prophecy comes true (vv. 8-9, cf. Deut. 18:20-22). Jeremiah was wearing a yoke as an object lesson symbolizing the yoke that was going to be put on Judah. Hananiah broke it off to symbolize his disagreement with Jeremiah. The Lord told Jeremiah to tell Hananiah, “Big deal. You broke a yoke of wood but I’ve put a iron yoke on the nations” (v. 13).
To prove his point, Jeremiah told Hananiah he would die that year. Hananiah died less than two months after his prophecy.
Chap. 29 Jeremiah wrote a letter to the captives in Babylon. He told them to settle down, be comfortable and raise families. Anyone who said anything else was a false prophet. He said they’d come home after seventy years (v. 10). One of the most comforting verses in the Bible is the next verse. God says He knows what He is doing and He is acting for the people’s welfare and that they should have hope (v. 11). The people can call on God and expect answers (v. 12). God can be found if, and it’s a sizable if, they try to find Him with all their being (v. 13). God promised to bring them back to their country (v. 14).
Yahweh promised to scatter the remaining Jews in Judah around the world (v. 18). Shemaiah wrote a letter to Zephaniah (a priest, not the prophet that wrote the book of Zephaniah) that he should lock up all the prophets who are prophesying captivity (vv. 24-25). Zephaniah squealed to Jeremiah (v. 29). The Lord told Jeremiah to write an open letter saying Shemaiah would be punished, that none of his descendants would see the captives return to Israel (v. 30-32).
New Testament: 1 Timothy 1:1-20
1 Timothy 1:1-20 Fight The Good Fight
Timothy was Paul’s protege (cf. v. 2). The letter to Timothy and Titus are known as the “Pastoral Epistles” because they concern protocol in the churches. Timothy pastored in Ephesus and western Turkey (Asia Minor in Biblical times).
It is interesting that Paul in his later letters is more explicit in his statements regarding Christ’s deity. Verse 1 says God is our Savior (1 Tim. 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). Paul also states that Christ is our Savior (Phil. 3:20; Titus 1:4).
Timothy was charged with straightening out false doctrine in Ephesus (v. 3). He was to squash the study of genealogies and myths that knock believers off course (v. 4). He was to exhort his flock to grow in love that issued from a clear conscience and faith (v. 5). Paul knew that if love was not central that it’d be easy to stray into discussions on false doctrines by teachers that babble on about fluff (v. 6-7). These people have no business being teachers (v. 7, cf. James 3:1).
The purpose of the law is to keep unruly people and all kinds of sinners in line (vv. 8-11). They act contrary to the grace found in the gospel and true doctrine (v. 11).
Paul again thanks God, this time for calling him into the ministry (v. 12). Paul’s previous career included being a blasphemer and an abuser of Christians (v. 13a). God spared him since he knew Paul didn’t know what he was doing (v. 13b). Paul deemed himself the worst sinner of all time (v. 15b). Despite that, he was saved by Christ (v. 15a). As the worst sinner, Paul can say that God’s mercy is not beyond anyone (v. 16). The thought of this causes Paul to call out to God in praise as “eternal, immortal, invisible” and “the only God” (v. 17). (The hymn “Immortal, Invisible” is based on this verse.)
Timothy is given a command to “fight the good fight” (v. 18). All believers are involved in the conflict between God and Satan. Some don’t know it. They are losing.
Some don’t pay attention to the conscience and let it die. Their lives are crashing on the rocks of faithlessness (v. 19).
Two such are Hymenaeus and Alexander, immortalized for their defection (v. 20). Paul took the drastic measure of handing them over to Satan to have his way with them (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5). They had apparently been acting in such a way that Paul calls it blasphemy (v. 20). Don’t try this at home. Only those in church office who are totally ‘fessed up should do anteing like this or Satan could end up eating their lunch (cf. Acts 19:13-16). As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the purpose of church discipline is always the restoration of the individual (cf. Matt. 18:15-18).