1075.) Jeremiah 10

June 14, 2013

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, sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey:  “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.

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.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RHJHvuGvTNA/TqlSEbM-4II/AAAAAAAAAiY/OYboZgIi4XQ/s1600/Jeremiah+10.10.jpg
scarecrow.    http://www.burlingtongardens.org/townshend.scarecrow.jpg
Praise God.    http://faithcenter.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/praisegod.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

1074.) Jeremiah 9

June 13, 2013

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.  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
grim reaper.    http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090507165216/monster/images/5/55/Grim_reaper.jpg


1073.) Jeremiah 8

June 12, 2013

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.    http://plantsinthebible.com/image/large/Balm-of-Gilead.jpg

1072.) Jeremiah 7

June 11, 2013

Jer7 the land

Jeremiah 7   (NLT)

Jeremiah Speaks at the Temple

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:

So Jeremiah stands in one of the gates of the Temple, in the central place of Judah’s worship, and proclaims its falsehood.  The power of this action is heightened by his being himself a priest.  (The Reformation Study Bible)

The people of Judah thought they were safe because God would never allow the Temple to be destroyed.  Wrong!  They were putting false confidence in the building rather than trusting the One who dwelt there.

–William MacDonald

“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.

Jer7 do right

Our actions matter!  James says, “Faith without works is dead,” and this list has given us a picture of some things that are included in the good works we are called to do!

“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!

12 “‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13 While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen.

you would not listen

But you would not listen.

I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14 So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’

Judah’s Persistent Idolatry

16 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you. 17 Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods! 19 Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”

20 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”

21 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves! 22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

Jer7 follow_god

Deuteronomy 4:40    (NIV)

Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.

24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. 25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out. 26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.

27 “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. 28 Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the Lord their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips. 29 Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the Lord has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’

The Valley of Slaughter

30 “The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the Lord. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. 31 They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! 32 So beware, for the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them. 33 The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away.

A proper burial was of critical importance in ancient times, since to remain unburied was considered a dreadful fate. (The Archaeological Bible) 

34 I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.

_________________________

Music:

Up against all this sickening idolatry and disobedience and lying — true worship.  HERE  is Chris Tomlin and “At the feet of Jesus.”

_________________________

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:
If you really change your ways.    http://www.closerdaybyday.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Jeremiah-7.jpg
Do the right thing.    http://www.clevelandcountyschools.org/schools/kmms/images/stories/KMMSimages/doright2.gif
not listen.   http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2011/04/04/1226033/495491-boy-with-fingers-inb-ears.jpg
Follow me.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/follow_god.jpg

1071.) Jeremiah 6

June 10, 2013

Jer6 crossroads

Jeremiah 6   (NLT)

Jerusalem’s Last Warning

“Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin!
    Get out of Jerusalem!

Jeremiah himself was from Benjamin (as were King Saul and St. Paul).

Sound the alarm in Tekoa!
    Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem!
A powerful army is coming from the north,
    coming with disaster and destruction.
O Jerusalem, you are my beautiful and delicate daughter—
    but I will destroy you!
Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city.
    Each chooses a place for his troops to devour.
They shout, ‘Prepare for battle!
    Attack at noon!’
‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading,
    and the evening shadows are falling.’
‘Well then, let’s attack at night
    and destroy her palaces!’”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Cut down the trees for battering rams.
    Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem.
This is the city to be punished,
    for she is wicked through and through.

Jer6 Lachish-battering-ram

Siege ramps helped the invading army to bring up battering rams and scale Jerusalem’s walls  — see Jeremiah 33:4.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

She spouts evil like a fountain.
    Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction.
    I always see her sickness and sores.
Listen to this warning, Jerusalem,
    or I will turn from you in disgust.
Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins,
    a land where no one lives.”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Even the few who remain in Israel
    will be picked over again,
as when a harvester checks each vine a second time
    to pick the grapes that were missed.”

Judah’s Constant Rebellion

10 To whom can I give warning?
    Who will listen when I speak?
Their ears are closed,
    and they cannot hear.
They scorn the word of the Lord.
    They don’t want to listen at all.
11 So now I am filled with the Lord’s fury.
    Yes, I am tired of holding it in!

“I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets
    and on gatherings of young men,
on husbands and wives
    and on those who are old and gray.
12 Their homes will be turned over to their enemies,
    as will their fields and their wives.
For I will raise my powerful fist
    against the people of this land,”
    says the Lord.

Better to have the Lord raise His arm on your behalf!

Psalm 118:16-17   (NIV)

 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

13 “From the least to the greatest,
    their lives are ruled by greed.
From prophets to priests,
    they are all frauds.
14 They offer superficial treatments
    for my people’s mortal wound.
They give assurances of peace
    when there is no peace.
15 Are they ashamed of their 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.

Judah Rejects the Lord’s Way

Jer6 old paths

16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
    Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
    But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’

The “old, godly way” or “ancient paths” describe the traditional religious life of the Israelites from the time of Moses.

17 I posted watchmen over you who said,
    ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’
But you replied,
    ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’

But you would not listen.

But you would not listen.

18 “Therefore, listen to this, all you nations.
    Take note of my people’s situation.
19 Listen, all the earth!
    I will bring disaster on my people.
It is the fruit of their own schemes,
    because they refuse to listen to me.
    They have rejected my word.

Jer6 Psalm-19

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Jeremiah 6:19 (KJV)

Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.

Each seed brigs forth its own fruit, and each thought bring forth its own fruit too.  In the sorrowful verse from which this phrase comes — the fruit of their thoughts — God says that because people would not listen to his words, but rejected them, evil would come upon them.  That evil was not something brought upon them from outside.  It was the fruit of their thoughts.  Seed is hidden in the ground, and yet brings forth something that we can see.  Just so the thought hidden in our minds brings forth something which can be seen.  It will be good or bad according to the nature of the seed.

What are my thoughts?  What do I think about most, especially when I am alone?  What sort of seed am I sowing?  What sort of fruit shall I gather from the seed I am sowing today?

20 There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba.
    Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands!
I will not accept your burnt offerings.
    Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.”

Jer6 incense

Sheba, located in southwestern Arabia, was the center of the spice trade.  Calamus, which probably came from India, is associated with incense.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

21 Therefore, this is what the Lord says:
    “I will put obstacles in my people’s path.
Fathers and sons will both fall over them.
    Neighbors and friends will die together.”

An Invasion from the North

22 This is what the Lord says:
“Look! A great army coming from the north!
    A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands.
23 They are armed with bows and spears.
    They are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like a roaring sea
    as they ride forward on horses.
They are coming in battle formation,
    planning to destroy you, beautiful Jerusalem.”

24 We have heard reports about the enemy,
    and we wring our hands in fright.
Pangs of anguish have gripped us,
    like those of a woman in labor.
25 Don’t go out to the fields!
    Don’t travel on the roads!
The enemy’s sword is everywhere
    and terrorizes us at every turn!

Jer6 Boston

With these verses, I am reminded of the curfew that was put on certain areas of town after the Boston bombing, with people forbidden to leave their homes.  Huddled inside with their fears, they “heard reports about the enemy” and no doubt wrung their hands in fright.  Suddenly the Old Testament seems amazingly current.

26 Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap
    and sit among the ashes.
Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son.
    For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!

27 “Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals,
    that you may determine the quality of my people.
28 They are the worst kind of rebel,
    full of slander.
They are as hard as bronze and iron,
    and they lead others into corruption.
29 The bellows fiercely fan the flames
    to burn out the corruption.
But it does not purify them,
    for the wickedness remains.
30 I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’
    for I, the Lord, am discarding them.”

In ancient times, lead was added to silver ore as part of the refining process.  When the crucible was heated the lead oxidized and acted as a flux to remove the alloys.  Here the process failed because the ore was not sufficiently pure.  The process of refining Judah has yielded nothing of value.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

_________________________

Music:

All this talk about disobedience saddens me and makes me want to “Trust and Obey.”  HERE  is Chelsea Moon with the Franz Brothers — enjoy!

_________________________

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:
Stand at the crossroads.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Bm4csANtmmQ/TqhepduA6fI/AAAAAAAAAhg/4mH3fRmmVkM/s1600/Jeremiah+6.16.jpg
ancient wall relief of the siege ramp at Lachich, which forms as platform for a battering ram pounding the city walls.  http://www.bible-lands.net/images/stories/bible/cities/Lachishlinks/15-Lachish-battering-ram.jpg
old paths.    http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn163/susanm056/Scripture%20Graphics/relax1280x1024ls-1.jpg
Psalm 19:14.    http://lisabuffaloe.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Psalm-19-14-1024×768.jpg
incense.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_CczI3LO4CjM/TA62cShxaaI/AAAAAAAAA2Y/JhMPvYKLlBs/s1600/Censing-incense-with-thurible%5B1%5D.jpg
Boston, door to door.    http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.516546.1366412115!/image/3826742527.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_640/3826742527.jpg

1070.) Jeremiah 5

June 7, 2013

Jer5 rains

Jeremiah 5   (NLT)

The Sins of Judah

“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the Lord.
    “Look high and low; search throughout the city!
If you can find even one just and honest person,
    I will not destroy the city.
But even when they are under oath,
    saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
    they are still telling lies!”

John 8:44 (NIV)

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Lord, you are searching for honesty.
You struck your people,
    but they paid no attention.
You crushed them,
    but they refused to be corrected.
They are determined, with faces set like stone;
    they have refused to repent.

Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor?
    They are ignorant.
They don’t know the ways of the Lord.
    They don’t understand God’s laws.
So I will go and speak to their leaders.
    Surely they know the ways of the Lord
    and understand God’s laws.”
But the leaders, too, as one man,
    had thrown off God’s yoke
    and broken his chains.
So now a lion from the forest will attack them;
    a wolf from the desert will pounce on them.
A leopard will lurk near their towns,
    tearing apart any who dare to venture out.
For their rebellion is great,
    and their sins are many.

Jer5 coyote_pounce

An attacking lion, a pouncing wolf, a lurking leopard — these rapacious beasts picture the judgment to come.

“How can I pardon you?
    For even your children have turned from me.
They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all!
    I fed my people until they were full.
But they thanked me by committing adultery
    and lining up at the brothels.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?

10 “Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines,
    leaving a scattered few alive.
Strip the branches from the vines,
    for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 The people of Israel and Judah
    are full of treachery against me,”
    says the Lord.
12 “They have lied about the Lord
    and said, ‘He won’t bother us!
No disasters will come upon us.
    There will be no war or famine.
13 God’s prophets are all windbags
    who don’t really speak for him.
    Let their predictions of disaster fall on themselves!’”

14 Therefore, this is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies says:

“Because the people are talking like this,
    my messages will flame out of your mouth
    and burn the people like kindling wood.

Jer5 wood-fire

Jeremiah’s words were like fire, consuming the people, who were like wood.

15 O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,”
    says the Lord.
“It is a mighty nation,
    an ancient nation,
a people whose language you do not know,
    whose speech you cannot understand.

Babylon was an ancient and mighty nation with a history reaching back more than 2,000 years.  Although the languages are related, the average Hebrew-speaking Israelite would not have understood the languages of Assyria and Babylonia.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

16 Their weapons are deadly;
    their warriors are mighty.
17 They will devour the food of your harvest;
    they will devour your sons and daughters.
They will devour your flocks and herds;
    they will devour your grapes and figs.
And they will destroy your fortified towns,
    which you think are so safe.

Devour, devour, devour, devour!  Judah’s enemies will consume the bounty of the land.  That is a reversal of the covenant of blessing.  Read Deuteronomy 7:13 for the promise of the very things now to be lost.  (The Reformation Study Bible)

18 “Yet even in those days I will not blot you out completely,” says the Lord. 19 “And when your people ask, ‘Why did the Lord our God do all this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.’

A Warning for God’s People

20 “Make this announcement to Israel,
    and say this to Judah:
21 Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
    with eyes that do not see
    and ears that do not hear.
22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline
    as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
    but they can never pass the boundaries I set.

Jer5 sandy shoreline

The sea obeys God, but the people do not.

Job 38:8-11   (ESV)

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.

26 “Among my people are wicked men
    who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind.
They continually set traps
    to catch people.
27 Like a cage filled with birds,
    their homes are filled with evil plots.
    And now they are great and rich.
28 They are fat and sleek,
    and there is no limit to their wicked deeds.
They refuse to provide justice to orphans
    and deny the rights of the poor.

James 1:27   (NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

29 Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
30 A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in this land—
31 the prophets give false prophecies,
    and the priests rule with an iron hand.
Worse yet, my people like it that way!
    But what will you do when the end comes?

_________________________

Music:

Let us be very intentional and faithful in turning to God:  HERE  is Plumb and “Need You Now.”

_________________________

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:
autumn and spring rains.    http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/ecards/fb_covers/jeremiah-5-24.jpg
pouncing wolf.  http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/517ebfa36bb3f7fc74000001-590/which-includes-700-feet-of-sandy-shoreline-perfect-for-the-upcoming-summer-months.jpg
sandy shore.    http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/517ebfa36bb3f7fc74000001-590/which-includes-700-feet-of-sandy-shoreline-perfect-for-the-upcoming-summer-months.jpg

1069.) Jeremiah 4

June 6, 2013
Jeremiah tells the people of Judah

Jeremiah tells the people of Judah that IF they do what God wants them to do, they will be blessed with His approval.  If they do not, they will suffer the consequences.  God keeps calling them to come back to Him and His love.

Jeremiah 4   (NLT)

“O Israel,” says the Lord,
    “if you wanted to return to me, you could.

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

WHERE THE BATTLE IS LOST AND WON

The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world.  The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him.  Until this is done, I lose every time.  The battle may take one minute or a year, that will depend on me, not on God; but it must be wrestled out alone before God, and I must resolutely go through the hell of a renunciation before God.  Nothing has any power over the man who has fought out the battle before God and won there.

If I say, “I will wait till I get into the circumstances and then put God to the test,” I shall find I cannot.  I must get the thing settled between myself and God in the secret places of my soul where no stranger intermeddles, and then I can go forth with the certainty that the battle is won.  Lose it there, and calamity and disaster and upset are as sure as God’s decree.  The reason the battle is not won is because I try to win it in the external world first.  Get alone with God, fight it out before Him, settle the matter there once and for all.

You could throw away your detestable idols
    and stray away no more.
Then when you swear by my name, saying,
    ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
    with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
    and all people would come and praise my name.”

Psalm 89:14   (NLT)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
    Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.

Coming Judgment against Judah

This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:

“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts!

Jer4 Plowing

    Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
O people of Judah and Jerusalem,
    surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord,
    or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
    because of all your sins.

“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem!
    Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land:
‘Run for your lives!
    Flee to the fortified cities!’
Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem:
    ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’
For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you
    from the north.”

Jer4 lion-A lion stalks from its den,
    a destroyer of nations.
It has left its lair and is headed your way.
    It’s going to devastate your land!
Your towns will lie in ruins,
    with no one living in them anymore.
So put on clothes of mourning
    and weep with broken hearts,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
    is still upon us.

“In that day,” says the Lord,
    “the king and the officials will tremble in fear.
The priests will be struck with horror,
    and the prophets will be appalled.”

10 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord,
    the people have been deceived by what you said,
for you promised peace for Jerusalem.
    But the sword is held at their throats!”

Verse 10 expresses Jeremiah’s inability to reconcile God’s former promises of peace with His present threats of judgment.  The prophet knew that God is faithful, but he was making the mistake of doubting in the darkness what he knew in the light.  In times of trouble and discouragement, there is a tendency to question our certainties.  A better policy for Christians is to believe our beliefs and doubts our doubts, rather than doubting our beliefs and believing our doubts.

–William MacDonald

11 The time is coming when the Lord will say
    to the people of Jerusalem,
“My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert,
    and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12 It is a roaring blast sent by me!
    Now I will pronounce your destruction!”

13 Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds!
    His chariots are like whirlwinds.
His horses are swifter than eagles.
    How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!

Jer4 Storm_clouds

These comparisons drawn from nature indicate the strength, speed, and ferocity of the enemy.

14 O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart
    that you may be saved.
How long will you harbor
    your evil thoughts?
15 Your destruction has been announced
    from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.

16 “Warn the surrounding nations
    and announce this to Jerusalem:
The enemy is coming from a distant land,
    raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17 They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field,
    for my people have rebelled against me,”
    says the Lord.
18 “Your own actions have brought this upon you.
    This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”

Jeremiah Weeps for His People

Jer4 weeping prophet

19 My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain!
    My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still.
For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets
    and the roar of their battle cries.
20 Waves of destruction roll over the land,
    until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed;
    in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21 How long must I see the battle flags
    and hear the trumpets of war?

22 “My people are foolish
    and do not know me,” says the Lord.
“They are stupid children
    who have no understanding.
They are clever enough at doing wrong,
    but they have no idea how to do right!”

Jeremiah’s Vision of Coming Disaster

23 I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless.
    I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.

Creation itself is undone by His judgment.  (The Reformation Study Bible)

24 I looked at the mountains and hills,
    and they trembled and shook.
25 I looked, and all the people were gone.
    All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness.
    The towns lay in ruins,
    crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.

27 This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
    but I will not destroy it completely.
28 The earth will mourn
    and the heavens will be draped in black
because of my decree against my people.
    I have made up my mind and will not change it.”

29 At the noise of charioteers and archers,
    the people flee in terror.
They hide in the bushes
    and run for the mountains.
All the towns have been abandoned—
    not a person remains!
30 What are you doing,
    you who have been plundered?
Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing
    and put on gold jewelry?
Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara?
    Your primping will do you no good!
The allies who were your lovers
    despise you and seek to kill you.

31 I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor,
    the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child.
It is beautiful Jerusalem
    gasping for breath and crying out,
    “Help! I’m being murdered!”

_________________________

Music:

Verse 23:  I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless.
                   I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.

And I thought of some lines from one of my favorite hymns:  “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,”  and  “Thy justice like mountains high soaring above, thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.”  HERE  is the hymn “Immortal, Invisible”  sung by Jaron and Katherine Kamin.

_________________________

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:
If.    http://www.closerdaybyday.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Jeremiah-4.jpg
plowing.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_OmNMJbEqaFA/S877D8GVrkI/AAAAAAAAAMY/W-TjPxKgu_A/s1600/Plowing-hard+work.jpg
lion.    http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/lion-douglas-p-whitney-dpc.jpg
storm clouds.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Storm_clouds_over_swifts_creek.jpg
weeping prophet.    http://www.bayviewbaptist.org/clientimages/21617/weeping%20prophet.jpg

1068.) Jeremiah 3

June 5, 2013

Jer3 reutrn

Jeremiah 3   (NLT)

Malachi 2:16   (NLT)

“For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

“If a man divorces a woman
    and she goes and marries someone else,
he will not take her back again,
    for that would surely corrupt the land.
But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers,
    so why are you trying to come back to me?”
    says the Lord.
“Look at the shrines on every hilltop.
    Is there any place you have not been defiled
    by your adultery with other gods?
You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer.
    You sit alone like a nomad in the desert.
You have polluted the land with your prostitution
    and your wickedness.
That’s why even the spring rains have failed.
    For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
Yet you say to me,

    ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
Surely you won’t be angry forever!
    Surely you can forget about it!’
So you talk,
    but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”

According to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, a man could not remarry his divorced wife if she had married another man in the meantime.  Judah had had many lovers, yet the Lord still invites her to return.  Her promiscuity had brought pollution and drought on the land, yet she was as shameless as a harlot.  She spoke to God in words of pretended repentance but He knew her evil words and deeds.

–William MacDonald

Judah Follows Israel’s Example

During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. 10 But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Jer3 God is good

Malachi 2:16 says that God hates divorce.  Yet here God himself divorces Israel, because of her adultery.  Our world is so careless with things God calls right and wrong.  Yet this passage shows us that it is a serious thing to be unfaithful to the Lord.  Let us, as followers of Jesus Christ, be witnesses to God’s truth and righteousness and grace and kindness and patience and love.

Hope for Wayward Israel

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah! 12 Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the Lord says:

“O Israel, my faithless people,
    come home to me again,
for I am merciful.
    I will not be angry with you forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt.
    Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and committed adultery against him
    by worshiping idols under every green tree.
Confess that you refused to listen to my voice.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

Like Heaven on earth! — the Lord outlines His plans for good for them —

Jeremiah 29:11   (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

14 “Return home, you wayward children,”
    says the Lord,
    “for I am your master.
I will bring you back to the land of Israel—
    one from this town and two from that family—
    from wherever you are scattered.
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart,
    who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.

16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the Lord, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark. 17 In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. 18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave their ancestors as an inheritance forever.

The Need for Repentance

Jer3 repentance

19 “I thought to myself,
    ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’
I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—
    the finest possession in the world.
I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’
    and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20 But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel!
    You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.”

21 Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains,
    the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people.
For they have chosen crooked paths
    and have forgotten the Lord their God.

22 “My wayward children,” says the Lord,
    “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”

_________________________

Jer3 calling o sinner

Music:

Like you’ve never heard it before — HERE  is “Softly and Tenderly” sung beautifully by Cynthia Clawson.

_________________________

“Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply,
    “for you are the Lord our God.
23 Our worship of idols on the hills
    and our religious orgies on the mountains
    are a delusion.
Only in the Lord our God
    will Israel ever find salvation.
24 From childhood we have watched
    as everything our ancestors worked for—
their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters—
    was squandered on a delusion.
25 Let us now lie down in shame
    and cover ourselves with dishonor,
for we and our ancestors have sinned
    against the Lord our God.
From our childhood to this day
    we have never obeyed him.”

_________________________

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:
Return to the Lord.    http://www.logosproductions.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/main_product_lb/90385.jpg
God is good.    http://achristianpilgrim.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/god-is-good1.jpg?w=645
repentance.    http://cyberbrethren.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/repentance.jpg
calling, o sinner.    http://i2.ytimg.com/vi/mMUqzDYIqDw/mqdefault.jpg

1067.) Jeremiah 2

June 4, 2013

Jer2 cistern

Jeremiah 2    (NLT)

The Lord’s Case against His People

Chapters 2 through 19 give a general denunciation of Judah.  Judah was once passionately in love with Jehovah.  She was holy to Him, and anyone who troubled her experienced disaster.  Now, however, the honeymoon is over.  God’s heart is crushed with grief and disappointment.  Israel is now living in open sin.  She is unfaithful to covenant vows.  And the Lord asks her why she has changed.

–William MacDonald

The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says:

“I remember how eager you were to please me
    as a young bride long ago,
how you loved me and followed me
    even through the barren wilderness.
In those days Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the first of his children.
All who harmed his people were declared guilty,
    and disaster fell on them.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! This is what the Lord says:

“What did your ancestors find wrong with me
    that led them to stray so far from me?
They worshiped worthless idols,
    only to become worthless themselves.

Jer2 see Jesus

Physically, perhaps, we are what we eat.  But spiritually, we are what we worship.  If we worship transitory, meaningless things, our lives lack value and meaning.  But if we worship God, we take on a resemblance to him.  Oh, that others might say that we are just the spitting image of our heavenly Father!

They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord
    who brought us safely out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness—
    a land of deserts and pits,
a land of drought and death,
    where no one lives or even travels?’

“And when I brought you into a fruitful land
    to enjoy its bounty and goodness,
you defiled my land and
    corrupted the possession I had promised you.
The priests did not ask,
    ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who taught my word ignored me,
    the rulers turned against me,
and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal,
    wasting their time on worthless idols.

What worthless idols do I waste my time on?  Perhaps television:  Downton Abbey and Frasier reruns.  Perhaps silly novels, although I have recently discovered Robert Parker’s Spenser novels and am quite taken with that literary PI.  Perhaps Pinterest, even though I learn things and get good recipes from there.

More treacherous:  Do I spend time reviewing episodes in my life where I was wronged?  Do I engage in gossip?  Do I brush off nudges to go the extra mile to help someone else?  Do I refuse opportunities to serve because it would be too demanding or inconvenient for me?  Do I spend more time on the phone than in the Word of God?  Do I keep my house clean but ignore the sin in my heart?

Lord, open my eyes to the worthless idols I am wasting my time with.  Let me get rid of them to invite more of You into my life.

Therefore, I will bring my case against you,”
    says the Lord.
“I will even bring charges against your children’s children
    in the years to come.

10 “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus;
    go east and search through the land of Kedar.
Has anyone ever heard of anything
    as strange as this?
11 Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
    even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols!

Earlier in this chapter we saw the tremendous personal cost that accompanies such an exchange.

12 The heavens are shocked at such a thing
    and shrink back in horror and dismay,”
    says the Lord.
13 “For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
    the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
    that can hold no water at all!

Jer2 living-water

from  Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

LIVING WATER

There should never be “dry spells” in the Christian life.  God said that He would be like an artesian well in the life of a believer.  Artesian wells bubbled forth with a cold, fresh, never-ending supply of water from the depths of the earth, quenching any thirst and always satisfying.  This is the picture of the spiritual refreshment that belongs to the person in whom the Holy Spirit resides.

Have you ever heard people say that they are experiencing a dry spell in their Christian life?  What are they saying?  Are they saying that the Lord ran out of water?  It should never cross your mind that the fountain of living waters residing within you should ever be reduced to a trickle.  You don’t need to run all over the country trying to find sources of spiritual refreshment.  Conferences, retreats, and books can all bring encouragement, but if you are a Christian, the source of living water already resides within you.

Have you exchanged the living fountain for man-made cisterns that cannot hold water?  Why would you exchange an artesian well for a broken water tank?  Artesian wells do not dry up.  Broken cisterns do.  If you are experiencing spiritual dryness right now, is it because you have been attempting to find your source of spiritual refreshment from man-made sources, which will fail you every time?  Jesus extended an invitation to you when He said:  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).  Have you been refreshed by the living water only Jesus can provide?

The Results of Israel’s Sin

14 “Why has Israel become a slave?
    Why has he been carried away as plunder?
15 Strong lions have roared against him,
    and the land has been destroyed.
The towns are now in ruins,
    and no one lives in them anymore.
16 Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes,
    have destroyed Israel’s glory and power.
17 And you have brought this upon yourselves
    by rebelling against the Lord your God,
    even though he was leading you on the way!

18 “What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt
    and your covenants with Assyria?
What good to you are the streams of the Nile
    or the waters of the Euphrates River?
19 Your wickedness will bring its own punishment.
    Your turning from me will shame you.
You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is
    to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him.
    I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

20 “Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you
    and tore away the chains of your slavery,
but still you said,
    ‘I will not serve you.’
On every hill and under every green tree,
    you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.

High hills and spreading trees were associated with pagan worship.

21 But I was the one who planted you,
    choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best.
    How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
22 No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.
    I still see the stain of your guilt.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!

Israel, an Unfaithful Wife

23 “You say, ‘That’s not true!
    I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’
But how can you say that?
    Go and look in any valley in the land!
Face the awful sins you have done.
    You are like a restless female camel
    desperately searching for a mate.
24 You are like a wild donkey,
    sniffing the wind at mating time.
Who can restrain her lust?
    Those who desire her don’t need to search,
    for she goes running to them!
25 When will you stop running?
    When will you stop panting after other gods?
But you say, ‘Save your breath.
    I’m in love with these foreign gods,
    and I can’t stop loving them now!’

Jer2 Two_Siamese_cats

What an unattractive picture.  God compares the unfaithful people to animals in heat. 

When I was in high school my younger sister and I persuaded my mother (she remained reluctant) to let us have two Siamese cats.  They were beautiful, if a bit yowl-ly.  But they had not been neutered, and when they went into heat, my mother gave them away without a word to us girls.  It was too much for her to put up with the awful noise and the constant racing, not to mention the spraying and the smell.  Thank you, Lord, that you love us more than my mother loved those Siamese cats!

26 “Israel is like a thief
    who feels shame only when he gets caught.
They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets—
    all are alike in this.
27 To an image carved from a piece of wood they say,
    ‘You are my father.’
To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say,
    ‘You are my mother.’
They turn their backs on me,
    but in times of trouble they cry out to me,
    ‘Come and save us!’
28 But why not call on these gods you have made?
    When trouble comes, let them save you if they can!
For you have as many gods
    as there are towns in Judah.
29 Why do you accuse me of doing wrong?
    You are the ones who have rebelled,”
    says the Lord.
30 “I have punished your children,
    but they did not respond to my discipline.
You yourselves have killed your prophets
    as a lion kills its prey.

31 “O my people, listen to the words of the Lord!
    Have I been like a desert to Israel?
    Have I been to them a land of darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God!
    We don’t need him anymore!’
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry?
    Does a bride hide her wedding dress?
Yet for years on end
    my people have forgotten me.

33 “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers.
    Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34 Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor,
    though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35 And yet you say,
‘I have done nothing wrong.
    Surely God isn’t angry with me!’
But now I will punish you severely
    because you claim you have not sinned.
36 First here, then there—
    you flit from one ally to another asking for help.
But your new friends in Egypt will let you down,
    just as Assyria did before.
37 In despair, you will be led into exile
    with your hands on your heads,

Ancient reliefs depict captives with wrists tied together above their heads. (The Archaeological Study Bible)

for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust.
    They will not help you at all.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Michael W. Smith singing “More Love, More Power.”  I want more of You in my life!

_________________________

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:
Be appalled at this.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/jeremiah2_12.jpg
I see Jesus in you.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-l3Jk42nKn6Q/Tz27T_zRZcI/AAAAAAAAABE/LpkjIq2p-HU/s1600/I+see+Jesus+in+You.jpg
Jesus the fountain.    http://cpccv.org/cc/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/john-7-living-water.jpg
Siamese cats.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Two_Siamese_cats.jpg

1066.) Jeremiah 1

June 3, 2013
"Jeremiah"  by Michelangelo, 1512.

“Jeremiah” by Michelangelo, 1512.

Jeremiah 1    (NLT)

Jeremiah is best known as “the weeping prophet.”  This is the key to his writings, for if we remember this and the reason for his weeping, we shall be able to understand his message.

This prophet is unique in that he reveals his heart and personality more than any other OT prophet.  By nature he was sensitive and retiring, yet he was divinely called to severely denounce the apostasy of his day. 

–William MacDonald

These are the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. The Lord’s messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.

Jeremiah’s Call and First Visions

Jer1 womb

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

The prophet Jeremiah was a timid man living in a time that called for courage.  When God called him to be his voice, Jeremiah tried to excuse himself because of his youth.  At times during Jeremiah’s ministry he wished to flee the pressures of God’s call.  Once he decided to keep quiet and speak no more about the voice of God within him, yet the message burned inside his heart.  he could not keep silent; he had to proclaim the word of truth.  Sometimes Jeremiah wished he had never been born, for his mission was not an easy one, and he seemed poorly suited for it.  In a wonderful way God chooses weak instruments to do his bidding.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10 Today I appoint you to stand up
    against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
    destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
    and plant.”

Now the Lord teaches his prophet through visual aids:  an almond tree and a boiling pot.

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”

And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.”

12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”

Jer1 almond_

The almond tree, a first sign of spring, indicated the nearness of the fulfillment of God’s Word.

13 Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?”

And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.”

14 “Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land. 15 Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the Lord, have spoken!

“They will set their thrones
    at the gates of the city.
They will attack its walls
    and all the other towns of Judah.
16 I will pronounce judgment
    on my people for all their evil—
for deserting me and burning incense to other gods.
    Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!

Jer1 water

The boiling pot was Babylon, ready to boil over into Judah because the people forsook God for idolatry.

17 “Get up and prepare for action.
    Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say.
Do not be afraid of them,
    or I will make you look foolish in front of them.
18 For see, today I have made you strong
    like a fortified city that cannot be captured,
    like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.
You will stand against the whole land—
    the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah.
19 They will fight you, but they will fail.
    For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

_________________________

Music:

THIS  is a song — but the words are written, not sung; you will have to read it rather than listen to it.  It is a love letter song.  Just as Jeremiah was known and loved by God before he was born, so were you.  Scripture tells us again and again of our Father’s love for his children, and I ask you to remember that YOU are the object of his everlasting love and grace!

_________________________

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:
Michelangelo.    http://eremita.di.uminho.pt/gutenberg/3/2/7/6/32762/32762-h/images/ill_050_lg.jpg
Before I formed you.    http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/s720x720/420427_365424580146086_2015677618_n.jpg
almond tree.    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Bees/Images/almond_plantation.jpg
boiling water.    http://thoughtsfromajoy.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/mg_1557.jpg?w=610&h=363