Old Testament: Jeremiah 19:1-21:14
Jeremiah 19:1-21:14 A Real Terror
Jeremiah continues to prophesy judgment for Judah.
Chap.19 This chapter shows how severe a God we serve. I think we underestimate God’s holiness. We live in a day where holiness is unknown. There is no preaching on sin and no teaching on holiness. God is a very serious God. This chapter shows how serious God is. He has given many chances to his people to change their ways and put away their idol worship.
Yahweh told Jeremiah to take some of the elders up on a hill and smash a piece of pottery. This type of ritual was performed by warriors going into battle to show their determination to utterly destroy their enemies. Their bodies would be given as food for the buzzards and the city would become an object of derision and hissing (vv. 7-8). They would be starved in a siege to the point of having to eat their own children (v. 9). Jeremiah preached two sermons with the same illustration of breaking pottery to show God’s plan of total destruction. In chapter 18 we saw that God could mold and re-mold clay but hardened clay, pottery, that is smashed can not be restored. Jeremiah reiterated his message of total devastation in v. 15.
Chap. 20 One of the priests named Pashhur had Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks (v. 2). When Jeremiah was released, he told Pashhur that his name would not be Pashhur but Magor-missabib (v. 3). Wow. That even sounds nasty, doesn’t it? And no one looking for a name for a baby boy is going to choose Magor-missabib because it means “terror on every side” (I’ve known some two year-olds who have been a terror on every side.) Jeremiah said it was because Magor-missabib was going to be a terror to everyone around him and he was even going to be a terror to himself. Further, Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be taken captive by Babylon. Pashhur would be taken with them along with his false prophet cronies and they would all die in Babylon (v. 6).
I heard the venerable old preacher W.A. Criswell preach one time using verse 9. He shouted multiple times that there needed to be a “fire in your bones.” The entire chapel shook when he wailed those words. It was quite dramatic. Of course, when anyone preaches, he better have conviction that his words are from God (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11). Unfortunately, many pastors drop out of the ministry because of all the demands of that kind of a life. Jeremiah became despondent to the point of wishing he hadn’t been born (vv. 14-18).
Chap. 21 Zedekiah, King of Judah, asked Jeremiah what would happen to Judah since King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had come to fight against them (v. 2). Jeremiah told Zedekiah that Judah would not prevail. He went even further to recommend that everyone in Judah surrender to the enemy in order to save their lives! (v. 9b). He said anyone who stayed behind would be slaughtered or die by famine and pestilence (v. 9a).
New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28
1 Thessalonians 5:4-28 Turn On The Lights
After reminding the Thessalonians that they already knew that the Lord could come like a “thief in the night,” (cf. v. 2, 4) he again emphasized (v. 5) that they wouldn’t be surprised since they were “of the day” and “of the light.” They should continue to be “alert” and clear-headed, wearing the “breastplate of faith and love” as well as the “helmet of salvation” (v. 8).
I always tell my kids that nothing good happens on the weekends after midnight. Apparently, Paul felt the same way, “those who get drunk, get drunk at night” (v. 7). I was wondering recently why the armor in Eph. 6 didn’t include “love” since the armor there all seemed to be ethical characteristics and love seemed the most important of all character qualities. He includes it here. The breastplate in Ephesians is righteousness, here it is “faith and love” (v. 8a). The helmet is the “hope” of salvation. Salvation is spoken of in three tenses in Scripture, past, present and future. When in the future tense, it is our “hope” (v. 8b).
Our destiny is not eternal wrath as it is for unbelievers, it is eternity with Christ (v. 9). The whole purpose of Christ creating us and then dying for us is so that we can have a relationship with Him. Whether we are “asleep,” that is, dead, we are with Him. If we are alive on earth, we are also with Him (v. 10). It’s all about love and relationships.
We should be encouraged that Jesus is always with us (v. 10, Matt. 28:20) and we should also encourage each other because Christ is with us (v. 11b). The Thessalonians were already building each other up and encouraging each other but Paul exhorted them to continue doing it (v. 11c).
Here is yet another passage wherein Paul exhorts believers to appreciate their pastors who are responsible for them. The reason is because they provide important teaching and instruction (v. 12-13, cf. Phil. 2:29; Gal. 6:6; Heb. 13:7).
The Thessalonians were supposed to “admonish the unruly” (v. 14). I pastored one church and every time I prayed about them the Lord sent me one word, “unruly.” They had been unruly for as long as anyone could remember, for decades and decades. I admonished them and they found me a new place to minister. They were truly “unruly” and God knew it. At the other end of the spectrum, there were those who were “fainthearted” and “weak” (v. 14b). They needed encouragement . A pastor must be patient with everyone no matter their apparent flaws (v. 14c).
We should always seek the good of others and never repay evil with evil (cf. Rom. 12:21).
Here is a great barrage of commands:
Verse 16: Always rejoice in the Lord (cf. Phil. 4:4)
Verse 17: Always be praying. This is probably almost the same as always being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We should always keep an ear to the Lord while making speaking with Him and acknowledging His presence (cf. Prov. 3:5-6; Isa. 30:21).
Verse 18: Numerous times Paul tells believers to give thanks. In Ephesians he said that we should give thanks, “always and for everything” (Eph. 5:20). If anyone wants to know God’s will, here is at least part of it: give thanks!
Verse 19: This is one of the four direct commands regarding the Holy Spirit. If God leads you a certain way, don’t ignore it. Don’t “quench” the Spirit.
Verse 20: God used direct revelation to fill the gap between the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures. Direct communication from the Lord should not be ignored or taken lightly. The same is true today. We should take the Scriptures seriously.
Verse 21: The prophecies of the time were to be pondered critically (1 Cor 14:29). The prophecies that were genuinely from the Lord should have been accepted.
Verse 22: Any form of evil at all should be rejected. How life would be different today if we accepted this maxim.
Every person consists of three parts: body, soul, and spirit (v. 23). We relate to the world through our bodies. Our immaterial part that consists of mind, will, and emotions is called “soul” in relation to the world. It is called “spirit” when in relation to the spirit world. Paul asked that God “sanctify” the Thessalonians, that is “set them apart” to God in holiness in preparation for the Lord’s coming.
God can always be relied on and His coming is a sure thing (v. 24).
Even the great Apostle Paul needed prayer (v. 25).
Verse 26 is the “holy kiss” thing again. Don’t try it.
The letter should be read to everyone so all can hear it (v. 27).
Once again Paul asks God that His grace, unmerited favor, would rest with the Thessalonians (v. 28).
Psalm 82:1-8 Here Come The Judges A Lament By Asaph
Proverbs 25:9-10 Well-Heeled
I’ve already written on “badmouthing” someone else (see Don’t Badmouth!). Solomon doesn’t recommend it. Neither does God. In verse 9, he similarly explains that the problem is that if you do betray the confidence of someone else, it’s liable to get back to them.
If it does get back to that person whose confidence you betrayed, he won’t like it. Worse than that, he’ll let you know that he doesn’t like it (v. 10a).
You’ll feel like a heel.
You should apologize or you’ll also get a bad rep.
Choose Life: Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16 NASB “Rejoice Always!”
“Rejoice always!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 HCSB
Paul begins a string of commands with “Rejoice always!” Why would he begin with a command like that? And does it really mean that no matter what has happened to us in our lives, that we should be happy about it?
First of all, doesn’t rejoicing define the Christian life? God created us to know Him. Just by trusting Jesus we can spend eternity with Him. Is that a cause for rejoicing and more important than anything that might happen to us in life?
One song says, “And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” When our problems and trials fade and we contemplate our life with God, doesn’t that leave us with just happiness?
The key to growth in the Christian life is conforming our mind to God’s mind. In other words, we are to “renew” our minds (Rom. 12:2). We often have to let our emotions catch up to our minds. Sometimes that takes time. So we must cut ourselves some slack. Sometimes we don’t “feel” all the Scripture that we know. But as we do, we will grow in happiness.
What things are you struggling with today that need to be conformed to Scripture? Can you rejoice in everything today? Can you give it a try?
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
There can be some really awful tragedies in life. We live in a fallen world. Does this command apply to us when something terrible happens? Can we rejoice on a 9-11 type of day? Can we rejoice when we’ve lost someone close to us? After we’ve had a traffic accident? What about the command that tells us to mourn with those who mourn (cf. Rom. 12:15b NIV)? How can we mourn while we are rejoicing?
I think the solution is that we are complex beings. We can mourn and be sad but the Holy Spirit is still in fellowship with our spirits (cf. Rom. 8:16) no matter the circumstances. We can have an inner joy that we are saved and know Christ. It is often the proper thing to mourn at times in life. However, the light of the Holy Spirit is never extinguished inside of us. There is always a place of joy no matter what happens to us or those close to us. Can you find that glimmer of joy today?
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 Real Terror