Month: August 2020

August 28, 2020: Day 6 – Jeremiah 6

We find ourselves in the midst of another long and difficult chapter.  We find the completeness of the destruction that is to come to Zion described consistently by the words: “parents and children together, neighbor and friend shall perish.” vs.21.  The description of what is to come according to  Jeremiah is not piecemeal and does not differentiate between the just and the unjust.  All will fall to the sword that is to come.  Jeremiah tells the people to flee for safety, leave Jerusalem and find refuge in places where your ancestors found refuge: caves, wilderness, forests.

So what can we learn from this?  How are we able to glean anything from these words which obviously are directed at a people who are meeting certain doom?  We do find words  which describe the why this is happening.  Look at vs.13 and following.  We find that everyone is greedy for unjust gain and everyone deals falsely.   They acted shamefully and they committed abomination.

The advice that we are given is seen in vs.16 where we read: “Thus says the Lord, stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.  But they said: “We will not walk in it.”  If we are not going to walk in the way that the Lord lays out for us then we should not be surprised if we find ourselves in the midst of violence, upheaval, division and discord.  These are all fruits of our actions.  For the people of Israel in Jeremiah it was too late.  I hope and I pray that we find ourselves before the point of no return.

August 27, 2020: Day 5 – Jeremiah 5 – “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land.”  

Today my heart immediately takes me to what is happening in our nation as I read this 5th chapter in Jeremiah.  Look at vs.12 where you read: “they have spoken falsely of the Lord, and have said, “He will do nothing.  No evil will  come upon us.”  We have lived in a security in this country that is unparalleled in history.  We have not seen a war on our soil in generations, in many generations, and it has lulled us into thinking we are blessed.  We have experienced random and spaced apart attacks on our soil but they have been so sporadic and not on the scale of a war that we feel to a certain extent that we are invincible.

Often that invincibility carries over with it a sense of comfort and expectations that we deserve the good that we receive.  But then the senseless killings and the unrest, and the virus and its continued march (almost 200,000 people have died in our country as a result), shakes us from our slumber of comfort and elicits a protest from our mouths.  But for most of us our protest is exactly as the people in Jeremiah protest.  We ask the question of vs.19: “Why has the Lord our  God done all these things to us?”  God answers, “You have forsaken me.”  Those of us who have not been blessed by nature’s sun don’t understand why people are so upset.  “Can’t we just go back to the way things were?”

I want to shout from the mountain tops the words of vs.30: “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land.”  As Christians we must recognize that we are like the prophet Jeremiah who is commanded in vs.1 to “run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look around and take note!  Search its squares and see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth.”  It should remind us of Abraham making a deal with God in order to save Sodom and Gomorrah.  Those cities could not be saved.  

I say this not as a doomsayer, but hopefully as a truth teller.  Until we are able to live in a way that is reflective of Matthew 5-7 we will continue to have violence on our streets as we seek a justice that must come from loving God and loving our neighbor.  Unfortunately the evangelical church at this point is satisfied with only loving God and is content in letting the neighbor fend for themselves.  As a result: “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land.”

August 26, 2020: Day 4 – Jeremiah 4

This chapter depicts one of the primary reasons why Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet.  You can see in vs. 5 and following the great destruction that is being foretold.  This is all due to the fact that “The fierce anger of the Lord has not turned away from us.” (vs.8)   This anger then would inevitably lead to “disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste.”  

In short, the scene that Jeremiah sets is one that the people of Judah, and especially those residing in Jerusalem, need to be aware that the destruction of the land was upon them.  All of this forecasting comes after the first four verses of the chapter where Jeremiah tells the people that if they are able to return to the Lord…Now, returning to the Lord is actually a very simple task.  It simply means taking away and removing the abominations, the temples, the idols that are dotting the landscape and which are a sign of unfaithfulness to God.

If we were to return to God…”then nations shall be blessed by him, and by him they shall boast.”  That is true for us today as well.  If we turn away from those things which we have made idols, such as power, or greed, or the conviction that we are right, then we will be blessed by God.  God withholds His blessings when we seek out our own gain and our advancement, often at the cost of God’s commands.  

August 25, 2020: Day 3 – Jeremiah 3

This chapter is pretty hard to read.  There is constant talk of Israel being the “whore”, and how the nation allowed itself to be used and sought out lovers from other cultures and those who worshipped other gods.  Just a bit of clarity here.  The terms Israel and Judah need to be defined.  If you were following in the last 90 Day Challenge we were able to see the split of the nation of Israel after the reign of Solomon into two separate kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom, or Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, or Judah.  Judah is where Jerusalem is located so the temple remained in the South.

So when Jeremiah speaks about Judah and how they also were not obedient to God, that is still God’s people, but they are now divided into north and south, Israel and Judah.  Okay, back to Jeremiah and the analogy that he uses of a loose woman.  We need to begin by saying that at least it is offensive and at worst, it is downright incendiary.  But I think it is meant to be.  The graphic language that Jeremiah uses catches the attention of the reader and allows the reader to understand the seriousness of the charges against the nation.  

But notice the transition that we find in vs.12 where we read: “I will not be angry forever.”  But the first step in receiving the grace of God is to: “only acknowledge your guilt.”  That always is a hard step for any of us to admit that we are wrong, that we have hurt our families, that we have hurt our co-workers, that we have hurt our church.  Whatever the group or individual may be that we have sinned against, we have a hard time approaching them and asking for forgiveness, to acknowledge our guilt.  But that has to be the first step.  

Don’t forget the theme that we find in vs.15 and following because it will pop up later as well.  God is going to send shepherds to tend for the flock, for his people.  They will be shepherds after  God’s own heart.  Jesus was a shepherd after God’s own heart.  

August 24, 2020: Day 2 – Jeremiah 2

Jeremiah gives a basic message to the people of Israel which has been a message to the people of Israel since God created and made covenants with humans.  Look at vs.28 and we see the center of the trouble in which Israel finds itself: “But where are your gods that you have made for yourself?  Let them come, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.”  

We find this complaint when the people of Israel make the golden calf to worship back with Moses.  We see this complaint when Elijah fights against the prophets of Baal.  We see this complaint when Paul is walking in Athens and notes the many gods that were present.  But there is a difference between Paul’s audience and the audience to which Jeremiah is speaking.  Paul is speaking to Greek pagans who always worshipped other gods.  That was their way of being.

Jeremiah, on the other hand, is speaking to Israel whose ancestry worshipped and obeyed the commandments of the God of Israel.  The single, sole, only God of Israel.  Jeremiah speaks out against taking on any of the gods from the surrounding countries such as the Egyptians gods, or the Assyrian gods.  But the history of the people of Israel has been apostasy as he states in vs.19.

While we would never profess to worship other gods, preachers are quick to point out false gods that abide in our lives with whom we certainly spend time.  We spend time with the gods of materialism, wanting to be comfortable and have enough to buy what we want.  We spend time with the gods of safety which sacrifices the risks of relying upon the God of Jesus Christ exclusively, and we lean into the gods of security and safety.  We spend time with the gods of cultural acceptance where even though we know that the God that we worship in Jesus Christ commands us to welcome to stranger, we quickly look to set up walls and flagellate our citizens of color in the name of law and order.  

Those who say they are followers of Jesus Christ tend to have  the best kept secret gods that they hide away and disguise as cultural norms.  We must we aware and listen to the Jeremiahs who remind us that a tree is not our father and a stone did not give us birth (vs.27).  Jesus has claimed us and anything which might take us away from Christ is a god.

August 23, 2020: Day 1 – Jeremiah 1

I need to tell  you that I am partial to Jeremiah as a servant of God.  He lived in what many considered the golden age of Josiah where Israel’s influence and peace and safety were unparalleled.  But then with the fall of Josiah so came the fall of Israel, and it came hard, and Jeremiah was there for that as well.  He experienced his people deported into captivity in Babylon.  So as a prophet he was able to experience the super highs of ministry with a successful king and a God who seemed to be listening and responding and blessing, as well as being on the end of a silence that was deafening.  This is where we pick up in chapter 1 as king Josiah reigns and begins his reforms which were based upon the discovery of the Word of God.

The first chapter is pretty much a timeline which gives us the dates that we need to understand when the ministry of Jeremiah took place.  He served under Josiah who was king from 640-609BC, then under Shallum who only served for one year in 609, then for Jehoiakim who served from 608-598, and then for Jehoiachin who served in 597 and Jerusalem was sieged that year by Babylon.  He then served under Zedekiah from 597-586 which is when Jerusalem actually fell and the people were sent packing to Babylon.

I don’t know where you stand on the topic of abortion but I have always seen vs.5 as an indication for me of the potential that people have which is in them even before they are born.  This verse is used universal by the camp which is opposed to abortion to make the case that the unborn life has potential and it is a potential which is instilled by God.  This is true also from a reformed perspective where we believe that God has called all people to be God’s people and than even from before we were born and able to respond to God, God chose us as His children.

Jeremiah objects to God calling him to serve him because he self identifies as a “boy”.  The call to Jeremiah is found in vs.5 where he is to be a “prophet to the nations”.  God touches his mouth and as a result gives him the words that he is to speak.  That should sound a bit like the calling of Isaiah, except Isaiah had a burning coal put to his mouth in order to cleanse him for the ministry.  

But like Isaiah, he gives Jeremiah a message that would  probably want him to say: How long!?  God tells him to gird up his loins and stand tall and do not break down before them, or else I will break you personally.  Go get em champ!  What we will see is that the messages that Jeremiah is told to pronounce are very, very difficult messages for the people of Israel to hear and will only promote anger in the people against the messenger.  This is one of the reasons why Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet.

Coming soon 100 Day Challenge

Dear FPC family and friends,

            We are getting closer and closer to finishing our series on the challenge of reading through the entire Scripture.  These two books of the Bible that we are addressing now contain statements from prophets who are speaking to the people of Israel in the midst of a time when the nation of Israel is in a mess.  Jeremiah and Ezekiel are both prophets who speak about the desires of God to the people of God in a time when the people of God are going through really, really difficult times.  It should be fairly appropriate as we find ourselves as the people of God in really, really difficult times as well.  I would hate to compare the pandemic that we are suffering to captivity and slavery in a foreign land, but we make as many linear connections as we are able.

            These books of the Bible combine to make up 100 days, which is why we are entitling this study the 100 day challenge.  I hope that as you face these next 100 days you are able to hear the words of God come to us through these prophets who were constantly trying to redirect the people to a closer walk with the Lord and to follow God’s commandments.  I leave you with an image of Jeremiah depicted by Michelangelo found in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Bob

  • 1
  • 1-8 of 8 results