Old Testament: Jeremiah 49:23-50:46
Jeremiah 49:23-50:46 Straight Talk For Babel
Chap. 44:23-39 Jeremiah pronounces judgment on Damascus aka Syria, just north of Israel, and on Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. Kedar and Hazor referred to a couple of Arab tribes. Elam was in present-day Iran. From chapters 46-49, God pronounced judgment on nine nations, Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus (Syria), Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. There would be nowhere for Israel to turn, all their neighbors were also being destroyed. Sometimes God boxes us in so we have no one to turn to but Him. Sometimes we still don’t turn to Him.
Chap. 50:1-46 Wiersbe points out that Jeremiah had written about the destruction of nine nations in approximately 121 verses. Jeremiah discussed the doom of Jerusalem in 44 verses. But he devoted 110 verses in Jeremiah 5-51 to the devastation of Babylon. Babylon stands for all that opposes God. Though God used Babylon to bring judgment on Judah, they enjoyed it too much (Jer. 50:11-13). God was going to bring judgment on Babylon. They would be brought to their knees by the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C. (cf. Dan. 5) but it would be Alexander the Great who would leave the nation in a pile of rubble in 330 A.D. Babylon is modern-day Iraq and there still is not much left in that area. Ultimately, Babylon will be annihilated during the Tribulation. Revelation 17-18 parallels to Jeremiah 50-51.
New Testament: Titus 1:1-16
Titus 1:1-16 A Con And Crete
Titus is the third and final of the “pastoral epistles.” The first two were the Timothys. Paul is near death and is writing advice to his protege, Titus. Titus was a young minister like Timothy and like Timothy had almost been led to the Lord by Paul. Weirsbe calls Titus a “condensed version” of the first letter to Timothy. Titus ministered on the island of Crete. Paul was most likely writing between his first and second imprisonments, approximately in the mid 60’s.
The NASB brings out what Paul really thinks of himself. He is a bond-slave (v. 1), like the Old Testament slaves who could be released but decided to have an “awl” driven through their ear to indicate the life-long devotion to their master (cf. Exod. 21:6; Deut. 15:17). He is Christ’s slave for life.
Christians who trust Christ are God’s “chosen people” (v. 1b, cf. 1 Pet. 2:9). They have come to the “knowledge of truth” (v. 1c) and have the sure hope of eternal life (v.2a) which is ensured by God who always keeps His word (v. 2b). In the church age God proclaimed the good news of eternal life (v. 2c) which Paul preaches. Notice Paul is explicit, God is our Savior and our Savior is God, Jesus Christ (v. 3).
In this epistle it takes Paul four verses to mention grace, God’s unmerited favor which we do not deserve but we do receive (v. 4a). We now have peace with God since we are no longer at enmity with Him (v. 4b, cf. Eph. 2:15-16). God is our Father and Jesus is our Savior (v. 4c).
As in 1Timothy, Paul lists the qualifications for the leaders of the church. Titus’ job was to train leaders for the churches in on his island. They were to be
1) above reproach (v. 6a)
2) not a polygamist (v. 6b).
3) believing children who aren’t big partiers (v. 6c)
4) “above reproach” (v. 7a)
5) don’t push their weight around (v. 7b) demanding things for themselves
6) not easily angered (v. 7c)
7) not alcoholics (v. 7d)
8) do not “itch” for a fight (v. 7e)
9) not looking to make piles of money (v. 7f)
10) enjoy having company (v. 8a)
11) love whatever is good (v. 8b)
12) have common sense (v. 8c)
13) enjoy fair treatment
14) can control themselves
15) know their Bibles (v. 9a) and have good doctrine
16) able to correct those with bad doctrine (v. 9b)
There were some men of the time who refused to submit to authority and legalists (v. 10) who were upsetting many families in the church. Their goal was just to make money (v. 11).
The people on the island of Crete did not have a good reputation, they were known as liars, beasts and gluttons by their own admission (v. 12).
Paul admonished Titus to admonish them because of their unruly character, to encourage them in their doctrine (v. 14a). They weren’t to consider Jewish myths or manmade commandments of any value (v. 14b).
We have the tendency in our day to make up our own religions as if we were shopping at Build-A-Bear. We prioritize according to the groups we are in instead of the commands of the Word of God. Gluttony, for example, is an acceptable sin today. Various kinds of music are horrible sin. Neither of these points of view are Biblical.
To those who set their minds on God, all things are pure because their hearts are pure ( v. 15, cf. Matt. 6:21-23). The impure can find anything to be “dirty” (v. 15b). The impure may say they know God but they deny Him by the way they act (v. 16a). They disobey the commands of God and are not even trying to do God’s will (v. 16b, 1 John 2:3-6).
Psalm 97:1-98:9 Elements And Instruments Hymns Of Yahweh’s Kingship By Anonymous
Proverbs 26:13-16 One Of The Stooges
The guy described in the verses for today deserved to be slapped or perhaps even slugged. He is vapid and vacuous. He may be lyin’ (v. 13). He may just try to get out of work.
He fights to stay asleep as he tosses and turns on his mattress (v. 14). That is quite a picture isn’t it? He fights so hard to stay unconscious that he has to flip and flop on his bed like a door swinging back and forth on its doorjamb.
He is so lazy that he has trouble exert himself to bring food up to his mouth (v. 15)! I read recently of a famous athlete who got so drunk at a dinner that he fell face first into a plate of pasta! He could hit mammoth home runs but on that occasion couldn’t lift a fork to his lips. He was a sluggard slugger.
People may ask him if he is working hard or hardly working. He just thinks he working smart instead of working hard.
Despite his sloth, he thinks he is very clever (v. 16). The number seven in Hebrew symbolizes completeness as in the seven days of creation. To be smarter than seven intelligent men means that this fool believes he is more shrewd than all other people.
In conclusion, this guy is shiftless, restless, perhaps too drunk to eat, but thinks he’s more astute than anyone else in the world.
Rather than astute, he’s just a stooge.
Choose Life: Scripture: Titus 1:15 NASB “Rock Out”
”To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15
Years ago I had two bosses. I was talking to one who was talking about how all rock music was bad. I quoted Titus 1:15. He said, “Oh, don’t even dare say that in front of [the other boss].” I was confused.
About that same time, I was asked to teach Sunday School at a conservative church. The pastor only asked that I cut my hair which, at the time, was just slightly over my ears, the style of the day. I told him that I didn’t know of any verses that would indicate I should cut my hair so I demurred. Not long afterward, he was exposed as an adulterer. I moved to Dallas to go to seminary and the pastor had already moved there. By the time I arrived, he had also committed adultery there, too.
Legalism leads to death. Faith and a relationship with God lead to life. Do not worry about manmade rules. Paul has already covered this in Colossians, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all [refer] [to] things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, [but are] of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Col. 2:20-23).
Paul is speaking of dietary regulations but the same rule applies to other actions like music styles or attending certain athletic events. False teachers will elevate rules and prescriptions that they can control while at the same time they may be gluttons or even adulterers.
If we are trying to relate in the right way to Christ, the rest will take care of itself. Don’t be bamboozled by legalism. That is the poison of the cults and leads only to false guilt and depression.
Commit yourself to the Lord and the rest will take care of itself. “You don’t have to be perfect but you do have to be sincere!”
When you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Having said what I said about legalism, let me warn against the other extreme, license. Grace is not a license to sin (cf. Rom. 6:1-7). We are to be Biblical. How do we know if we are acting biblically? Well, first we could pray. Ask for wisdom based on James 1:5, an unconditional promise (God has to answer it!). God has promised that the Holy Spirit will help us (cf. John 16:13; 1 John 2:27). If whatever you want to do is not prohibited by Scripture and the Holy Spirit does not warn you, you are free to do what you want. God has given us the Holy Spirit so we won’t fulfill the desires of our flesh (Gal. 5:16-18, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”)
We need to obey the Lord but we are also allowed to have fun. Don’t listen to the killjoys. Rock out!
The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: A Con And Crete