2210.) Jeremiah 13

October 20, 2017

Jer13 old man in loincloth

Jeremiah 13    (NLT)

Jeremiah’s Linen Loincloth

This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.” So I bought the loincloth as the Lord directed me, and I put it on.

Then the Lord gave me another message: “Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River. Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the Lord had instructed me.

A long time afterward the Lord said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.” So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.

Then I received this message from the Lord: “This is what the Lord says: This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods. Therefore, they will become like this loincloth—good for nothing! 11 As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.

Jer13 loincloth

Here is a very interesting illustration. God tells Jeremiah to buy a new linen belt and wear it around his waist (Vs. 1). At that time, a linen belt was an intimate piece of clothing, comparable to the underwear of today. After Jeremiah wore the belt, God directed him to take it off and hide it in some rocks near a river (Vs. 4). After many days, God told Jeremiah to return to Perath and retrieve the belt (Vs. 6). After sitting in the elements, the belt that was once perfect and clean was ruined and completely useless (Vs. 7).

The belt was symbolic of the people of Judah. They were once a people who were close to God, just as the belt was once close to Jeremiah. Over time, though, the people of Judah allowed pride to come into their hearts, and this pride was as damaging to the people of Judah as the elements were to the belt. Eventually, that pride ruined them and rendered them completely useless to God.

This perfect picture of backsliding is as relevant today as it was for the Israelites. If we are not careful, we can allow the “elements” to damage our close personal relationship with God. We can start to feel pride about our salvation or about our good works, and pretty soon, we end up ruined and completely useless. Do not allow anything to come between you and God, because with Him, we are clean and new, but without Him, we are just a dirty belt.

–Kevin Griggs

12 “So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: May all your jars be filled with wine.’ And they will reply, ‘Of course! Jars are made to be filled with wine!’

13 “Then tell them, ‘No, this is what the Lord means: I will fill everyone in this land with drunkenness—from the king sitting on David’s throne to the priests and the prophets, right down to the common people of Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them against each other, even parents against children, says the Lord. I will not let my pity or mercy or compassion keep me from destroying them.’”

A Warning against Pride

15 Listen and pay attention!
    Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 5:21   (CEV)

You think you are clever and smart.

16 Give glory to the Lord your God
    before it is too late.
Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you,
    causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains.
For then, when you look for light,
    you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.

Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)

Pride goes before destruction,
    and a haughty spirit before a fall.

17 And if you still refuse to listen,
    I will weep alone because of your pride.
My eyes will overflow with tears,
    because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile.

Isaiah 5:21   (NIV)

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.

18 Say to the king and his mother,
“Come down from your thrones
    and sit in the dust,
for your glorious crowns
    will soon be snatched from your heads.”
19 The towns of the Negev will close their gates,
    and no one will be able to open them.
The people of Judah will be taken away as captives.
    All will be carried into exile.

20 Open up your eyes and see
    the armies marching down from the north!
Where is your flock—
    your beautiful flock—
    that he gave you to care for?
21 What will you say when the Lord takes the allies you have cultivated
    and appoints them as your rulers?
Pangs of anguish will grip you,
    like those of a woman in labor!
22 You may ask yourself,
“Why is all this happening to me?”
    It is because of your many sins!
That is why you have been stripped
    and raped by invading armies.
23 Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin?
    Can a leopard take away its spots?
Neither can you start doing good,
    for you have always done evil.

Jer13 leopard

I am a slave to sin and I cannot free myself, any more than a leopard can make its spots disappear. Oh, how I need to be redeemed by Jesus!

24 “I will scatter you like chaff
    that is blown away by the desert winds.
25 This is your allotment,
    the portion I have assigned to you,”
    says the Lord,
“for you have forgotten me,
    putting your trust in false gods.
26 I myself will strip you
    and expose you to shame.
27 I have seen your adultery and lust,
    and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills.
What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem!
    How long before you are pure?”

_________________________

Music:

It is not easy to be pure, to think all right thoughts, to look at others with love, to be who we think God wants us to be. We may struggle with feelings of not measuring up or of failure. But if we understand more clearly who we are in Christ, and what God sees when he looks at us– then our hearts are filled with peace and joy because of his unspeakably great love for us.

HERE  is Big Daddy Weave and “Redeemed.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
man wearing a loincloth.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/23d68-loincloth.jpg
loincloth.    http://rbasite.org/blog1/media/4/20080613-Loin-Cloth-Reddish.jpg
leopard.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/1718c-leopard.jpg
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2209.) Jeremiah 12

October 19, 2017
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?”  —  Jeremiah 12:5

Jeremiah 12   (NLT)

Jeremiah Questions the Lord’s Justice

Lord, you always give me justice
    when I bring a case before you.
So let me bring you this complaint:
Why are the wicked so prosperous?
    Why are evil people so happy?
You have planted them,
    and they have taken root and prospered.
Your name is on their lips,
    but you are far from their hearts.

Titus 1:16   (NIV)

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

But as for me, Lord, you know my heart.
    You see me and test my thoughts.

Psalm 139:1-4   (NIV)

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.

Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered!
    Set them aside to be slaughtered!

How long must this land mourn?
    Even the grass in the fields has withered.
The wild animals and birds have disappeared
    because of the evil in the land.

So un-Eden-like.  Sin has consequences that taint all of creation.

For the people have said,
    “The Lord doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!”

The Lord’s Reply to Jeremiah

“If racing against mere men makes you tired,
    how will you race against horses?
If you stumble and fall on open ground,
    what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?
Even your brothers, members of your own family,
    have turned against you.
    They plot and raise complaints against you.
Do not trust them,
    no matter how pleasantly they speak.

In other words, God says to Jeremiah, don’t complain now:  It’s only going to get worse.

“I have abandoned my people, my special possession.
    I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.
My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest,
    so I have treated them with contempt.
My chosen people act like speckled vultures,
    but they themselves are surrounded by vultures.
    Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean!

Jer12 vultures

Similes compare Judah to lions and vultures. Not flattering, not comforting.

10 “Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard,
    trampling down the vines
    and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness.
11 They have made it an empty wasteland;
    I hear its mournful cry.
The whole land is desolate,
    and no one even cares.
12 On all the bare hilltops,
    destroying armies can be seen.
The sword of the Lord devours people
    from one end of the nation to the other.
    No one will escape!

The desolation will be complete.

13 My people have planted wheat
    but are harvesting thorns.
They have worn themselves out,
    but it has done them no good.
They will harvest a crop of shame
    because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”

A Message for Israel’s Neighbors

14 Now this is what the Lord says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them. 15 But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession.

This prophecy is an astonishing turn in the thought, anticipating a restoration and salvation of all peoples. Jeremiah looks forward to the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s salvation.  (The Reformation Bible)

16 And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people. 17 But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

_________________________

Music:

Don’t you love it? After pages and pages of condemnation, God opens his hand and welcomes the whole world into his loving care!

Ralph Vaughn Williams  (1872-1958) was a British composer, a collector of English folk music, and the editor of the English Hymnal of 1906.  HERE  is his arrangement of “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing” from the Wimbledon Choral Society, Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, Orchestra Vitae, Neil Ferris (conductor), Guildford Cathedral, 2014.

Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!
The heavens are not too high, his praise may thither fly,
the earth is not too low, his praises there may grow.
Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!

Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!
The church with psalms must shout, no door can keep them out;
but, above all, the heart must bear the longest part.
Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
horses.    http://www.gloryfirechurch.com/a_lot_of_different_running_horses.jpg
vultures.   http://img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a07/ue/qk/difference-between-buzzards-vultures-800×800.jpg
v. 15.   http://carolinasnalc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Jeremiah-12_15.jpg

2208.) Jeremiah 11

October 18, 2017

Jer11 4

Jeremiah 11   (NLT)

Judah’s Broken Covenant

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of my covenant with them.

“Terms” (lit., “words”) is a technical reference to covenant stipulations. “This covenant” is a reference to the covenant established by God with Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19-24). Periodic public reading of covenants was a common and necessary practice (see Deuteronomy 31:10-13 and Joshua 8:34-35). (The Archaeological Study Bible)

Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant! For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.” I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey—the land you live in today.’”

Jer11 To-Obey-is-Better
Then I replied, “Amen, Lord! May it be so.”

Then the Lord said, “Broadcast this message in the streets of Jerusalem. Go from town to town throughout the land and say, ‘Remember the ancient covenant, and do everything it requires. For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, “Obey me!” I have repeated this warning over and over to this day, but your ancestors did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires. And because they refused to obey, I brought upon them all the curses described in this covenant.’”

Again the Lord spoke to me and said, “I have discovered a conspiracy against me among the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their forefathers. They have refused to listen to me and are worshiping other gods. Israel and Judah have both broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries. 12 Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! 13 Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem.

When God’s judgment falls, He will not listen to their prayers, and Judah’s innumerable gods will be powerless to save them.

–William MacDonald

14 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress.

15 “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple,
    when they have done so many immoral things?
Can their vows and sacrifices prevent their destruction?
    They actually rejoice in doing evil!
16 I, the Lord, once called them a thriving olive tree,
    beautiful to see and full of good fruit.
But now I have sent the fury of their enemies
    to burn them with fire,
    leaving them charred and broken.

17 “I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil, arousing my anger by burning incense to Baal.”

Jer11 olive tree

This prophecy was fulfilled in 586 BCE when Judah was destroyed.

A Plot against Jeremiah

18 Then the Lord told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. 19 I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter.

This is the language of sacrifice. Does it remind you of Christ?

I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”

20 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
you make righteous judgments,
    and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them,
    for I have committed my cause to you.

21 This is what the Lord says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead.

The men from Anathoth are men from Jeremiah’s own town (see Jeremiah 1:1). His worst opposition comes from those closest to him. Does this remind you of Christ?

They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the Lord’s name.” 22 So this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says about them: “I will punish them! Their young men will die in battle, and their boys and girls will starve to death. 23 Not one of these plotters from Anathoth will survive, for I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Stuart Townend and “There Is a Hope.” Jesus, let me keep my eyes and ears and mind and heart turned to you today!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jeremiah 11:4.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/b6abd-jeremiah11-4.jpg
To obey is better.    http://www.nathanrouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/To-Obey-is-Better-Than-Sacrifice.jpg
olive tree.    http://stjohnscompassion.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/olive-01.jpg

2207.) Psalm 119:17-32

October 17, 2017

Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me . . .

Psalm 119:17-32   (NIV)

Just to keep things interesting — we will be looking at sections of Psalm 119 while we are also reading through Jeremiah.  

George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century (not to be confused with another Scot by the same name who was martyred a century earlier). Wishart was condemned to death and would have been executed. But when he was on the scaffold he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalm 119. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared!
~David Guzik

ג Gimel

17 Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.

“Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!”
~Leonardo da Vinci

“In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning.”
~Carl Sandburg

“Light only benefits one whose eyes are open.” 
~Matshona Dhliwavo

19 I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
those who stray from your commands.
22 Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.

“The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures.”
~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

ד Daleth

25 I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I have set my heart on your laws.

I like how Eugene Peterson puts verses 29-30 in The Message:

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,

I post your road signs at every curve and corner.

31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.

In the beginning of the section he is clinging to the dust (verse 25); by the end he is clinging to God’s word. In the beginning he is laid low; now he is joyfully running with all his strength in the race God’s word sets before him.
~David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is an old one — “Open My Eyes, that I May See,” by Clara M. Scott. Scott was born in Illinois in 1841 and died in Iowa in 1897. In 1856, Scott attended the first Music Institute held by C.M. Cady in Chicago, Ill. By 1859, she was teaching music at the Ladies’ Seminary, Lyons, Iowa. She married Henry Clay Scott in 1861, and published in 1882 the Royal Anthem Book, the first volume of choir anthems published by a woman.

Horatio R. Palmer, an influential church musician in Chicago and later New York City, was a source of encouragement for Scott, and helped her publish many of her songs. Three collections were issued before her untimely death, when a runaway horse caused a buggy accident in Dubuque, Iowa.

  1. Open my eyes, that I may see
    Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
    Place in my hands the wonderful key
    That shall unclasp and set me free.
              Refrain
              Silently now I wait for Thee,
              Ready my God, Thy will to see,
              Open my eyes, illumine me,
              Spirit divine!
  2. Open my ears, that I may hear
    Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
    And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
    Everything false will disappear.
              Refrain 
  3. Open my mind, that I may read
    More of Thy love in word and deed;
    What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
    Only for light from Thee I plead.
              Refrain 
  4. Open my mouth, and let me bear,
    Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
    Open my heart and let me prepare
    Love with Thy children thus to share.
              Refrain 

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:
open eye.   http://c559477.r77.cf2.rackcdn.com/images/articles/restorers-of-the-breach/open-mine-eyes.jpg
verse 18. Calligraphy by Tim Botts.   http://www.prestoimages.net/store30/rd183/183_pd2678828_1_psalm_119_18_timbotts.jpg
Truth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/psalm119_30.jpg

2206.) Jeremiah 10

October 16, 2017

Jer10 living God

Jeremiah 10   (NLT)

Idolatry Brings Destruction

Jeremiah alternates between the vanity of idols and the greatness of God. If the conditions and consequences were not so critical, this passage could be read with some satirical amusement.

Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O Israel! This is what the Lord says:

“Do not act like the other nations,
    who try to read their future in the stars.
Do not be afraid of their predictions,
    even though other nations are terrified by them.
Their ways are futile and foolish.
    They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
They decorate it with gold and silver
    and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
    so it won’t fall over.
Their gods are like
    helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field!

Jer10 scarecrow

Ouch!  That was an admirable put-down, Jeremiah!

They cannot speak,
    and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of such gods,
    for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”

Lord, there is no one like you!
    For you are great, and your name is full of power.
Who would not fear you, O King of nations?
    That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth
    and in all the kingdoms of the world,
    there is no one like you.

Jer10 praiseGod
Music:

HERE  is a song to praise the Lord:  “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.”

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet Thy tribute bring!
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him! praise Him!
Praise the everlasting King!

Praise Him for His grace and favour,
To our fathers in distress!
Praise Him still the same for ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless!
Praise Him! praise Him!
Glorious in His faithfulness!

Father-like, He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes,
Praise Him! praise Him!
Widely as His mercy flows!

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish:
Blows the wind, and it is gone.
But while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
Praise Him, Praise Him,
Praise the high eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face:
Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
Dwellers all in time and space,
Praise Him! praise Him!
Praise with us the God of grace!

–Henry Francis Lyte, 1793-1847

_________________________

People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
    The things they worship are made of wood!
They bring beaten sheets of silver from Tarshish
    and gold from Uphaz,
and they give these materials to skillful craftsmen
    who make their idols.
Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes
    made by expert tailors.
10 But the Lord is the only true God.
    He is the living God and the everlasting King!
The whole earth trembles at his anger.
    The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.” 

–David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

11 Say this to those who worship other gods: “Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth and from under the heavens.”

12 But God made the earth by his power,
    and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
    he stretched out the heavens.
13 When he speaks in the thunder,
    the heavens roar with rain.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
    He sends the lightning with the rain
    and releases the wind from his storehouses.
14 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge!
    The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make,
for their carefully shaped works are a fraud.
    These idols have no breath or power.
15 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!
    On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.

2 Kings 17:15   (NIV)

They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”

16 But the God of Israel is no idol!
    He is the Creator of everything that exists,
including Israel, his own special possession.
    The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!

The Coming Destruction

Jer10 pack bags

Jeremiah gives the people instructions for the exile.

17 Pack your bags and prepare to leave;
    the siege is about to begin.
18 For this is what the Lord says:
“Suddenly, I will fling out
    all you who live in this land.
I will pour great troubles upon you,
    and at last you will feel my anger.”

19 My wound is severe,
    and my grief is great.
My sickness is incurable,
    but I must bear it.
20 My home is gone,
    and no one is left to help me rebuild it.
My children have been taken away,
    and I will never see them again.
21 The shepherds of my people have lost their senses.
    They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord.
Therefore, they fail completely,
    and their flocks are scattered.
22 Listen! Hear the terrifying roar of great armies
    as they roll down from the north.
The towns of Judah will be destroyed
    and become a haunt for jackals.

Jeremiah’s Prayer

23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
    We are not able to plan our own course.
24 So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.
    Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.

Jer10 Augustine

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

MAN’S WAY IS NOT IN HIMSELF

At the end of Jeremiah 10 the prophet comes to a conclusion about humankind. In a priceless passage, he write about the nature of God and the human tendency to force an alternative to God, to fill the hole in life created by God’s absence. He says, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” One characteristic of human beings is that our way is not found within ourselves. Our society’s love affair with self-help resources and self-fulfillment ventures will never ultimately produce happiness or satisfaction. The end for which humans exist, collectively and individually, must be located beyond ourselves. We were made for Someone outside our own reality. Therefore, we are free not to have all the answers.

The amazing thing is that this truth applies not only to human personhood, but also to divine personhood. Jesus’ way was not determined by himself. His course was set by his Father. He lived for his Father and looked to him for direction, answers, and fulfillment.

If the Lord Jesus Christ could not find his way in himself, but had to look to the Father, then our way must be outside of ourselves and also in the Father. We are certainly no more capable of making autonomous decisions than Jesus was. Christians who are walking in intimate fellowship with the triune God find the freedom that comes from looking to the Father for every decision, every answer, and every need. It is a glorious revelation to realize that we are not big enough to find our own way or to meet our own needs, but there is One who is.

25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you—
    on the peoples that do not call upon your name.
For they have devoured your people Israel;
    they have devoured and consumed them,
    making the land a desolate wilderness.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
For the Lord is the true God.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/43fbc-jeremiah10-10.jpg
scarecrow.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/jer10-scarecrow.jpg
Praise God.    http://faithcenter.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/praisegod.jpg
worthless idols.   https://ordinaryfaith.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/idols.jpg
pack your bags.    http://www.hercampus.com/sites/default/files/media_crop/104581/public/How-to-pack-a-suitcase_590x295px1-resized-600.jpg
St. Augustine quote.    https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/p480x480/532279_10151335103456179_103901513_n.jpg

2205.) Jeremiah 9

October 13, 2017

Jer9 boast

Jeremiah 9   (NLT)

The Weeping Prophet’s Lament

If only my head were a pool of water
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
I would weep day and night
    for all my people who have been slaughtered.

Jeremiah’s sympathy for the people will be shared later by Jesus:

Luke 19:41-44    (NIV)

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

2 Oh, that I could go away and forget my people
    and live in a travelers’ shack in the desert.
For they are all adulterers—
    a pack of treacherous liars.

Judgment for Disobedience

“My people bend their tongues like bows
    to shoot out lies.
They refuse to stand up for the truth.
    They only go from bad to worse.
They do not know me,”
    says the Lord.

“Beware of your neighbor!
    Don’t even trust your brother!
For brother takes advantage of brother,
    and friend slanders friend.
They all fool and defraud each other;
    no one tells the truth.
With practiced tongues they tell lies;
    they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
They pile lie upon lie
    and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,”
    says the Lord.

from Luther’s Small Catechism:

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“See, I will melt them down in a crucible
    and test them like metal.
What else can I do with my people?
    For their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows.
They speak friendly words to their neighbors
    while scheming in their heart to kill them.
Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?”

10 I will weep for the mountains
    and wail for the wilderness pastures.
For they are desolate and empty of life;
    the lowing of cattle is heard no more;
    the birds and wild animals have all fled.

Jer4 weeping prophet

Jeremiah weeps not only for the people, but also for the land.  God had given it to his people to be rich and populated, but now it is desolate.  (The Reformation Bible)

11 “I will make Jerusalem into a heap of ruins,” says the Lord.
    “It will be a place haunted by jackals.
The towns of Judah will be ghost towns,
    with no one living in them.”

12 Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?

13 The Lord replies, “This has happened because my people have abandoned my instructions; they have refused to obey what I said. 14 Instead, they have stubbornly followed their own desires and worshiped the images of Baal, as their ancestors taught them. 15 So now, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Look! I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. 16 I will scatter them around the world, in places they and their ancestors never heard of, and even there I will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely.”

Weeping in Jerusalem

17 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Consider all this, and call for the mourners.
    Send for the women who mourn at funerals.
18 Quick! Begin your weeping!
    Let the tears flow from your eyes.
19 Hear the people of Jerusalem crying in despair,
    ‘We are ruined! We are completely humiliated!
We must leave our land,
    because our homes have been torn down.’”

20 Listen, you women, to the words of the Lord;
    open your ears to what he has to say.
Teach your daughters to wail;
    teach one another how to lament.
21 For death has crept in through our windows
    and has entered our mansions.
It has killed off the flower of our youth:
    Children no longer play in the streets,
    and young men no longer gather in the squares.

The actions of death are poetically personified. If you have read Marcus Zusak’s novel The Book Thief, you will recognize Death as a character rather than an event.

Jer9 Grim_reaper

The concept of death as the “grim reaper” comes largely from this verse:

22 This is what the Lord says:
“Bodies will be scattered across the fields like clumps of manure,
    like bundles of grain after the harvest.
    No one will be left to bury them.”

23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
    or the powerful boast in their power,
    or the rich boast in their riches.
24 But those who wish to boast
    should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
    who demonstrates unfailing love
    and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

These are two of the most famous verses in Jeremiah.  They are worthy to be memorized.  I challenge you to do so!

And while you’re at it, this is a good one to commit to memory, too!

2 Corinthians 10:17   (ESV)

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

25 “A time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit— 26 the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”

_________________________

Music:

Paul Baloche has a song about the proper kind of boasting, as in verses 23-24 above.  HERE  is “I Will Boast in the Lord.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Let not the wise man boast.    http://a2.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/57/f0258745de8ffe295f07d30734a5c7be/l.jpg
bear false witness.   http://image.blingee.com/images19/content/output/000/000/000/7a4/782532406_1326756.gif
grim reaper.    http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090507165216/monster/images/5/55/Grim_reaper.jpg

2204.) Jeremiah 8

October 12, 2017

Jer8 wise men

Jeremiah 8   (NLT)

“In that day,” says the Lord, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem. They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure. And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

Such irony! The had worshiped those heavenly bodies. But now their remains are exhumed and exposed, a great dishonor. 

Deception by False Prophets

“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again?
    When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?
    Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back?
They cling tightly to their lies
    and will not turn around.
I listen to their conversations
    and don’t hear a word of truth.
Is anyone sorry for doing wrong?
    Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”?
No! All are running down the path of sin
    as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
Even the stork that flies across the sky
    knows the time of her migration,
as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane.
    They all return at the proper time each year.
But not my people!
    They do not know the Lord’s laws.

Jer8 migrating swallows

This picture shows great numbers of swallows migrating. (How do they know?!) Nature’s animals are obedient to their times and places as ordained by God. “But not my people!”

“‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the Lord,”
    when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
These wise teachers will fall
    into the trap of their own foolishness,
for they have rejected the word of the Lord.
    Are they so wise after all?

Proverbs 9:10   (ESV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

10 I will give their wives to others
    and their farms to strangers.
From the least to the greatest,
    their lives are ruled by greed.
Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that.
    They are all frauds.
11 They offer superficial treatments
    for my people’s mortal wound.
They give assurances of peace
    when there is no peace.
12 Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions?
    Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush!
Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
    They will be brought down when I punish them,
    says the Lord.
13 I will surely consume them.
    There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes.
Their fruit trees will all die.
    Whatever I gave them will soon be gone.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!’

Jer8 Matthew Henry

Commentary on verses 8-13 by Matthew Henry
(English Bible commentator, 1662-1714):

What brought this ruin?

1. The people would not attend to reason; they would not act in the affairs of their souls with common prudence. Sin is backsliding; it is going back from the way that leads to life, to that which leads to destruction.

2. They would not attend to the warning of conscience. They did not take the first step towards repentance: true repentance begins in serious inquiry as to what we have done, from conviction that we have done amiss.

3. They would not attend to the ways of providence, nor understand the voice of God in them, verse 7. They know not how to improve the seasons of grace, which God affords. Many boast of their religious knowledge, yet, unless taught by the Spirit of God, the instinct of brutes is a more sure guide than their supposed wisdom.

4. They would not attend to the written word. Many enjoy abundance of the means of grace, have Bibles and ministers, but they have them in vain. They will soon be ashamed of their devices. The pretenders to wisdom were the priests and the false prophets. They flattered people in sin, and so flattered them into destruction, silencing their fears and complaints with, All is well. Selfish teachers may promise peace when there is no peace; and thus men encourage each other in committing evil; but in the day of visitation they will have no refuge to flee unto.

14 “Then the people will say,
    ‘Why should we wait here to die?
Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there.
    For the Lord our God has decreed our destruction
and has given us a cup of poison to drink
    because we sinned against the Lord.
15 We hoped for peace, but no peace came.
    We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’

16 “The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard
    all the way from the land of Dan in the north!
The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble.
    They are coming to devour the land and everything in it—
    cities and people alike.
17 I will send these enemy troops among you
    like poisonous snakes you cannot charm.
They will bite you, and you will die.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Jeremiah Weeps for Sinful Judah

 

Jer4 weeping prophet

18 My grief is beyond healing;
    my heart is broken.
19 Listen to the weeping of my people;
    it can be heard all across the land.
“Has the Lord abandoned Jerusalem?” the people ask.
    “Is her King no longer there?”

The people cry, “Where is God?”

“Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols
    and their worthless foreign gods?” says the Lord.

God answers, “Why did you leave Me?”

20 “The harvest is finished,
    and the summer is gone,” the people cry,
    “yet we are not saved!”

“We waited for You,” the people cry, “and You never came.”

21 I hurt with the hurt of my people.
    I mourn and am overcome with grief.
22 Is there no medicine in Gilead?
    Is there no physician there?
Why is there no healing
    for the wounds of my people?

Jeremiah weeps at the seemingly hopeless plight of his people.

_________________________

1111 Balm-of-Gilead

Music:

Ah, there is a balm in Gilead!  HERE  is Deborah Liv Johnson singing the old hymn.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
The wise men are ashamed.    https://versaday.com/images/Months/1103/0308-JER008009ENGKJV08000480ISP03921848000.jpg
migrating swallows.    http://www.fanstory.com/usr/432007/3582176-4675.jpg
Matthew Henry.    http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/thum_creater/phpThumb.php?src=../images/author_img/author_829.jpg&w=300&h=360
balm of Gilead.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/98/be/5b/98be5bde0993a4624029c419f68e2b07–balsam-tree-tattoo-ideas.jpg