Posts tagged ‘Judah’
I am sure the Israelites were happy to hear Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning their captors (Babylon). Did you notice though, that God explains that this judgement on Babylon will happen after the Israelites wholeheartedly turn back to Him? “In those days..the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God…they will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.” (Jeremiah 50:5)
It is only then that Babylon will be destroyed. So we see how God is using Babylon and the Israelite captivity there to draw the Israelites
to Him. Once the Israelites learn their lesson and seek God, He is faithful to save them and to bring them forth from their captivity.
What does God use in our own lives to draw us closer to Him (or to turn us to Him to begin with)? Of course, many times we see people drawing close to God during tragedy; when they have nothing else to turn to. I am not saying that once we turn to Him, things will be all roses, but what I am saying is that with Him, everything is bearable and He is a constant by our side that will see us through whatever fire we may be in at the time.
If you are going through a rough time, take heart in the fact that God will see you through it.
How do you respond to truth you do not want to hear?
The remnant of Judah that had not been taken captive by the Babylonians approached Jeremiah with a seemingly great request. They said, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” (Jeremiah 42:2-3)
At first glance, I was so happy for them. They are finally turning to God and seeking His truth. Have you prayed a similar prayer before? God, please show me what I should do. God, where should I go? When we pray like this and are seeking God to speak to us, we must be prepared to act on the truth He gives us. What if He tells you to do exactly the opposite of what you had in mind? Would you do it?
Well, that’s what happens to the remnant of Judah. God (through Jeremiah) tells them to stay in their current land, and if they do, God will deliver them from the king of Babylon. What is their response? They leave the land and go to Egypt for protection. They think the word of the Lord is a lie. They think they know better. It is as if they chose to plug their ears and say, “La, la, la, la,” instead of listening to Jeremiah.
Has this ever happened to you? You hear from God (maybe something you read in the Bible really speaks to you), but you do not act on it? In fact, you choose to do the opposite because it makes more sense. Well, God declares utter disaster to fall on the remnant of Judah in Egypt because they did not listen to His truth and they continued to worship idols.
I guess what I am saying is, when we seek God’s guidance in our lives, we had better be prepared to lay aside our own opinion of what is best to do in a situation and embrace the things He tells us to do.
Jeremiah 38-40; Psalm 74/79
Thankful for mud?
Well, today all that Jeremiah had been prophesying comes to pass. Judah is taken over by the Babylonians.
Before all that happens, we see Jeremiah being thrown into a cistern because he is saying that the king of Babylon will capture Jerusalem. “So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.” (Jeremiah 38:6)
Gross! Now Jeremiah is in a muddy hole in the ground with nothing to eat or drink and no place to use the bathroom! At first I imagined it could not get much worse than this, but then I thought about how great it was that the cistern was empty with no water in it. Imagine if it had water it in. Cisterns at this time were usually around 15-20 feet deep. Depending on how full the cistern was with water, Jeremiah might have had to fight for his life, swimming in the water just hoping someone would save him before he would drown.
So, yes, at this time in his life, Jeremiah might have been thankful for the disgusting mud that he was sitting in! I guess this just goes to show that everything depends on our perspective. Sometimes, even the most awful scenarios are really a blessing from God. So, what “mud” are you thankful for right now?
As you all guessed (or read), Jeremiah does get pulled out of the cistern and his life spared; in fact, God even gives him freedom after Jerusalem is captured by the Babylonians. A brief time in the mud for God (repeatedly throughout his life…as we have seen other situations in which Jeremiah has had to suffer) yielded God’s favor and protection upon Jeremiah. I imagine Jeremiah probably also had much peace considering he was doing exactly what God called him to do.
Some very interesting things happen in today’s reading. For instance, Jehoiakim, the king of Judah burns the scroll of the words of the Lord that Jeremiah dictated to Baruch to write down. Hmmm…this probably was not the wisest idea. Then poor Baruch has to re-write the scroll (I know I get frustrated when something I am typing on the computer does not get saved and I have to re-do it; and I think typing on the computer is a lot easier and quicker than writing in a scroll).
Anyway, the thing that stood out the most to me today was how God used the Rekabites as an example to the Judites. The Rekabites lived in tents and refused to drink alcohol all because one of their ancestors had told them to do this. God basically tells the Judites, “How can these people follow the words of their ancestor, yet you people are not following my commands to you?”
In this account, God honors the diligence of the Rekabites, but the whole point is that people should be following the commands of God far above the commands of men. This made me think about how often people search for answers to their problems in books and from authorities on the subject when in reality The Authority on our life should be God. We should search out His commands and His will when we have a problem. May we hold what God says above anything that man says.
God asked Jeremiah to do something absolutely crazy by the world’s standards. Jeremiah was told to buy a field in Judah while Judah was under siege by Babylon. In fact, Jeremiah knew that Babylon was going to conquer Judah, burn the place down, kill a lot of people, and take many captives (for this is what he had been prophesying).
To buy a field in a land that is about to be conquered by another kingdom is simply unwise; however, Jeremiah followed God’s command and did it anyway. God used this to show the people of Judah that though they will be conquered by Babylon, God will eventually bring the people back to Judah to live, to marry, to buy/sell fields, etc.
Even in the midst of impending doom and a crisis, God offers hope. And He offers not just the possibility of hope but the assurance of hope in the future.
Is God asking you to do anything crazy by the world’s standards today? Some of Jesus’s most simplistic commands fall into this category. For example, loving your enemies is usually seen as something crazy to do, yet this simple action shows others that God loves us when we are still sinners. It also speaks of God’s outpouring of mercy in our own lives.
Are you going through a tough time? Remember that God has a plan for it all and if you turn to Him, I am certain you will find the assurance of hope even in your struggles.
How do you distinguish truth?
In these chapters it seems like there is quite a verbal fight going on between the false prophets of the day and Jeremiah. The false prophets continue to tell the people of Judah that they will be freed from the bondage of the king of Babylon sooner than later, but Jeremiah continues to teach that unless they repent, they will serve the king of Babylon for quite some time (70 years!).
So, how were the people supposed to know who to trust? Both Jeremiah and the false prophets said they were speaking from God, but obviously one party was lying (too bad the false prophet’s noses didn’t just start growing uncontrollably…that would make it pretty easy to tell who was lying). Who were the people supposed to trust and believe? Well, the people did have God’s law (and should have known what it said), so I suppose they should have been able to know from God’s law that they were not following His ways. This should have led them to listen to Jeremiah and to repent.
What about us? How do we distinguish truth from falsehood? Well, we have the entire Bible, so I guess first and foremost, we need to make sure we read the Bible so we can know what it says. Then, we will be able to know anything that contradicts God’s Word is not truth. It should be discarded and real truth sought after.
What? You may be thinking. How can I talk about God’s patience after reading these chapters that tell of God’s frustration with the nation of Judah and how he will bring disaster on them? Well, it is truly amazing that this disaster did not come earlier.
We find out today that God sent his prophet Jeremiah to these people to warn them for 23 years! Jeremiah says, “For twenty-three years…the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.” (Jeremiah 25:3)
That is a long time to hear messages from God and completely ignore them. The people were continuing to worship other gods and the priests and prophets were spreading false messages (they were lying to the people).
In a way, we are the same as the people of Judah. Before we turn to Jesus, we are sinners and it is only through God’s loving patience that we are not wiped off the face of the earth the very first time we sin. God gives us ample opportunity to repent and turn to Him. Just think how long the average lifespan is. Most people have that long to accept Jesus as their savior (way longer than 23 years). What a patient, loving Father!
And for those of you who are growing tired of reading Jeremiah’s “doom and gloom” messages, don’t fret. It will not take us 23 years to finish reading his message; we will be finished reading the book of Jeremiah in 11 more days.
Wow! Do you think God is serious about punishing Judah, or what? Chapter after chapter reveals more and more how deeply Judah’s turning from God angers Him. Today we read about drought, famine, and sword that will come against the nation mainly because they worship other gods.
By the end of chapter 17, we do see a word of hope, and it is this I will focus on today. “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
What this speaks to me is that if I truly trust in God, then I will not be worried or afraid even in the toughest of times. The most awful things could happen to me, and I would still be able to worship and serve the Lord and He will protect and strengthen me. Isn’t that beautiful?
Here is a song that came to mind when I read that verse. Let us put our confidence in God and not in mortals!
I will be the first to admit that I am not a Bible scholar, and I definitely do not have a decent grasp on Bible prophecy. We start reading the Book of Isaiah today, and I feel completely inadequate to write about what I’m reading. Just know that there are countless books and commentaries written on the subject that one could obtain and read to explain things, but I feel that even without all that, God can teach even me something from prophetic books through the Holy Spirit. He may not show me how it all fits together, but this is what I realized today.
How does all of this apply to our lives today? I realized that as I am reading these books, I can take note of the things that really irritate God, the things which are causing the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem in this case. If it irritated God and aroused His anger then, I can be sure that today these same things would still irritate Him. So, we can learn about the things we should wipe out of our lives from reading prophecy.
Specifically, I saw today how people offering meaningless worship to God is one of those things that irritates Him. “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” (Isaiah 1: 15) Wow! Do you ever feel like your prayers are not being heard? This passage may have the solution for you.
Immediately after the above statement, God says, “Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight!” (Isaiah 1:16) So God does not hear our prayers if we are still in a sinful state. If we have not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, then it is possible our prayers are not even heard. I would also venture to say that if we, as Christians, have sin that we have not repented of and asked God to forgive, then we may also be sending up prayers that God refuses to hear.
The bottom line, before asking anything of God, we need to cleanse our hearts and our minds. How do we do this? By confessing our sins to God, asking for forgiveness, and turning away from our sin.
What is God teaching you through His Word? I would love to hear the lessons you are learning from the Book of Isaiah!
2 Kings 9-11
A day of cleansing:
It is good to see the nation of Israel finally reject Baal worship. Jehu, through a little deception, kills all of the servants of Baal and destroys the temple of Baal.
The nation of Judah is also cleansed as Athaliah (another supporter of Baal worship) is put to death. It seems both nations are off to a fresh start. This is a time to get their priorities straight and worship the one true God.
Is there anything that needs to be cleansed from your life? What insignificant things have taken over and become priorities? Is it time to get rid of those and strip your life down to what is truly important?