Old Testament: Jeremiah 16:16-18:23
Jeremiah 16:16-18:23 Heart Sick
Jeremiah continues to prophesy judgment for Judah.
Chap. 16:16-21 Jeremiah continues to write of Yahweh’s promise to restore Judah in the future despite their judgment and destruction.
Chap. 17 I have had six heart bypasses. That isn’t my worst heart problem. Jeremiah states my heart condition in verse 9, ““The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” My heart condition is worse than I thought. In fact, your heart condition is probably worse than you thought. That is a pretty bad description, isn’t it? “More deceitful than all else”? “Desperately sick”? No one can understand how bad our hearts are? That’s pretty bad. The best of us have a terrible heart disease. Don’t ever trust yourself. Your heart is “desperately corrupt” (cf. RSV). This gives a certain connotation to Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We are much worse than we might think. “All our deeds are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). We can’t even understand it. The people of Judah certainly did not understand how bad their hearts were.
Here’s an illustration. In verses 19-27, Jeremiah warns the people of Judah to keep the Sabbath. They were supposed to take off every week. Goodie-goodies might be inclined to work through the day of rest. Their hearts were corrupt. If you think you are serving God by working hard and not ever taking a break, think again. You are sinning. See what I mean? We even sin when we think we are being righteous.
Chap. 18 The first part of chapter 18 is an illustration of a potter and clay. A potter can do what he wants with clay and Yahweh can do what He wants with the nations. However, if they repent (v. 8), He will show mercy.
Jeremiah’s life is once again challenged by a conspiracy (vv. 18-23). Jeremiah loves Judah but they are trying to kill Him. This is the life of a true minister. It was also Paul’s life and, of course, Jesus’ life. “No good deed goes unpunished,” as a friend of mine always says.
New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3 What A Catch!
The Thessalonians were doing pretty well in their Christian lives but Paul exhorts them to do even better (v. 1). Are you wondering what God’s will is for your life? It is to grow in holiness. That is what sanctification is. Specifically, Paul is concerned that they don’t get pulled into the immorality in the pagan temples or anywhere else for that matter (v. 3-8).
Paul again commends them for their exercise of love toward each other (vv. 9-10, cf. 3: 6, 12). The Thessalonians are not to be trouble makers but should lead “quiet” lives, working with their hands so they will be seen as respectable by those outside the church (v. 11). They were to take care of themselves so they wouldn’t have to mooch off others (v. 12).
The Thessalonians had apparently asked Paul about what had happened to their fellow believers who had died. (Paul didn’t want them to be “ignorant brethren,” v. 13, KJV, but maybe that means he doesn’t want them to be”brethren” that are “ignorant.” Yeah, that’s probably it.) Paul’s answer is one of the greatest statements of comfort in the Bible (v. 13). Paul does not tell the Thessalonians that they shouldn’t grieve when someone dies in the Lord. They can grieve but they shouldn’t grieve in the same way as unbelievers grieve about one of their own. We have hope that believers who have gone on will be in Heaven.
This leads Paul to explain a “mystery” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:51, a mystery is a truth not understood in the Old Testament but explained in the New Testament). Those believers who are still on earth when the Lord returns will be taken up into the air to be with Him (v. 17). This is commonly referred to as “The Rapture.” Rapture is Latin for “caught up” which is exactly the language of v. 17. However, those who had already died will be raised first to be with the Lord (v. 16). Paul is telling the Thessalonians these things to “comfort’ them (v. 18). What a comfort it is! The funerals of believers are always more like celebrations. On the other hand, the funerals of unbelievers are like . . . well . . . funerals.
The Thessalonians already knew that the time of the end, “the Day of the Lord,” will come suddenly, “like a thief in the night” (cf. Matt. 24:43). The Thessalonians and other believers like them will not be surprised when the Lord comes but others, “they” (v. 3 as opposed to, “you,” v. 1-2) will be surprised since they have been living in relative “peace and safety” (v. 3a). They will slip into the seven year period of Tribulation after the church has been “caught up” (4:15-17). It will be a time of “destruction” and will come on them as quickly as birth pangs come upon a pregnant woman (v. 3c). In contrast to the church that will be “caught up” (4:17), “they” will not escape (v. 3d).
It is interesting that we seem to be living in a time that Jesus described as being like the time of Noah. The people in Noah’s time were marrying and given in marriage, partying and carrying on (Matt. 24:37-38). I’ve talked to many non-believers who seem to realize that we may be at the time of the end but they don’t seem affected by it enough to seek out the Lord. Just like in Noah’s day. There are like a pregnant woman who knows that her day is coming but still doesn’t take precautions and is still surprised when she goes into labor and a baby comes out! The unbelievers will be caught off guard and will not escape (v. 3d).
Psalm 81:1-16 Open Your Big Mouth A Song Of Zion By Asaph
Proverbs 25:6-8 Up To The Front Row!
Bob Uecker, former ballplayer and announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers, used to do a commercial about being at a baseball stadium and being called up to the front row. Do you remember that? Maybe it’s just those who consume too much beer who don’t get the point of Jesus’ parable (cf. Luke 14:7-11).
Remember that Jesus said it was better to sit at the bottom of the table? He said, “Who knows? Maybe you’ll be called up to the head of the table.” It would be a lot better to take the humble position than to take it for granted you’d be in an eminent place (vv. 6-7).
Verses 8-9 are like one of my favorite sayings in Proverbs, “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). It’s because of this verse, I always let someone go first if they want to argue with me. It is the wise thing to do!
On the other hand, it might be the smartest course of action to refuse to engage anyone anyway (v. 8, cf. Matt. 5:23-26; 2 Tim. 2:23). It is always best to be humble (cf. James 4:6, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5-6).
Choose Life: Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17 NASB “Raptured!”
“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17 NASB
Someone has said that we should live as if Jesus died yesterday, was raised today, and was coming back tomorrow. That’s a good philosophy. I think Paul would like it, too.
Paul said that he didn’t want the “brethren” to be “uninformed” (v. 16). He wanted them to understand that the Lord was going to come back for them and that those who had already died would also be “caught up” into the air to be with the Lord forever. This information was supposed to be a “comfort” (v. 18) for the Thessalonians.
This seems kind of extraordinary, that we would be caught up into the clouds to be with the Lord. Do you believe it? Do you look forward to it? The Scripture says it. We call it the “Rapture,” which means “to be caught up” in Latin.
Of course, it would seem that if God goes to the trouble to suck us up into the sky, that we would stay there for a while. Why would we come right back down again if He takes us up? Well, we will come back down seven years later but not immediately. We will be swept up to Heaven to be protected from the Hell on earth that God will wreak on non-believers. But more on that, “the Tribulation,”and the “Millennium” later.
For now, let it suffice that we can have the hope of going to Heaven at any given moment.
Think about that today and get excited.
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Do you live your life as if you will live many more years (check out this parable, Luke 12:15-21)? The best way to live is in a way that we may have to give an account at any moment. Imagine how our lives would change. Imagine how our churches would change. Imagine how the world would change.
Taken an inventory of your life. Are you living as if the Lord could come back at any moment?
The purpose of the 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: What A Catch!