Archive for : August, 2018

08/31/2018 — Ezekiel Chapters 16-17

As you read through the inspired (but somewhat depressing) Chapter 16, perhaps like me, you thought of two other  “allegorical” type books — the Song of Solomon and the life & prophecy of Hosea.

Of course the Song of Solomon has an entirely different & uplifting theme — the love of the husband for his bride & the beauty and intimacy of their relationship.

But Hosea’s time with Gomer and the words penned in his book are very similar to the words in Chapter 16.  In both God expresses his love for his people.  But in both Hosea and Chapter 16 he also holds the nation accountable for their actions.

God’s justice will prevail.

 

 

08/30/2018 — Ezekiel Chapters 13-15

A concept that crossed my mind as I read today’s scriptures is one that we have discussed earlier — personal idols. 

As we have been reading  through the Old Testament we have seen false idols such as Asherah poles established in the “high places,” been warned about idols of wood and metal, and observed the Israelites melt their own jewelry to craft a golden calf that they worshiped.  And I do not think may of us would fall into this sin of worshiping a “thing.”

But what about the idol that is described in Ezekiel 14:2-3?

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?

These are the most insidious of idols.  They are not physical but a part of our own personality and character.  They are confronted only through prayer and maintaining ourselves in God’s word and His fellowship of believers.

08/29/2018 — Ezekiel Chapters 9-12

First — about the description of all of those cherubim and “spinning wheels” in Chapter 10:9-12.  The description is nearly identical to the description given in Chapter 1:15-18.  And I do not pretend to come close to understanding their true meaning.  I cannot even visually the image in my mind. I read several commentaries and none seemed to state that the vision is well understood.   But I am not disappointed.  In this world I do not think we can come close to envisioning how the “Glory of the Lord” will appear.  The words of the group “Mercy Me” come to mind — “I can only imagine …”

Second — Chapter 11 presents a word image that is one of my favorite scriptural promises.

17 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’ 18 “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

 

08/28/2018 — Ezekiel Chapters 5-8

Many of Ezekiel’s inspired prophecies are beyond my understanding.  So I am content to find one that is quickly fulfilled.  For when these “short-term” writings are fulfilled I am confident that his other will be, as well.  From Chapter 5:1-4

“Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. But take a few hairs and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to all Israel.

And we see the fulfillment of this prophecy when we see the ways in which population if Jerusalem are killed.  From Chapter 5:12

11 Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. 12 A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword.

 

 

08/27/2018 — Ezekiel Chapters 1-4

As is usual a little background on the book:

Ezekiel,  together with King Jehoiachin, and many noble of the people of Judah had been brought to Babylon in the second deportation from Judah  in 597 BC.  Ezekiel originated from the priestly family of Aaron. Ezekiel was married; his wife passed away on the day Jerusalem was assaulted (chap. 24:1. 18). After he was taken captive he lived in his own house in Tell-Abib by the river Chebar and he was esteemed by the Jews who had been taken into captivity, for they went to see him more than once.

And in Chapters 1-4 we begin to see the  visions of the Lord presented to Ezekiel.  I think it is very important for us to remember as Coffman wrote “A detailed discussion of the vision is not necessary or vital to the understanding of its meaning.” We are certain that Ezekiel reported to us what he saw; but, even so, there is no way that any fully accurate picture of this remarkable vision is conceivable on the part of any person whomsoever.”

And I base my personal belief on this tenant on the number of times Ezekiel uses metaphors, particularly starting with the word “like.”  We see this immediately in Chapter 1:4

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures.

So, throughout the book we will Ezekiel continue to use human language to try to describe the indescribable.

08/26/2018 — Lamentations Chapters 3-5

In these chapters — in the midst of Jeremiah’s pain and sorry over the failure of the nation to follow the Lord and the suffering that followed I find one of greatest passages of praise given to us by the Holy Spirit:

Lamentations 3:21-26

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

 

And if these passages sound familiar they are the basis of a hymn we sing, “The Steadfast Love of the Lord” by Amy Bessire — a 1973 graduate of Abilene Christian College.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
Your mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning,
new every morning:
great is your faithfulness, O Lord,
great is your faithfulness!
1. You, Lord, are my portion, says my soul;
therefore I will hope in you.

08/25/2018 — Lamentations Chapters 1-2

Most commentators concur that the book of Lamentations was penned by the prophet Jeremiah as he experienced the destruction of Jerusalem — thus the name, “Lamentations,”  denoting the passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  This is another in the reasons why Jeremiah is referred to as the “weeping prophet.”

Coffman adds insight into the construction of the book.  I was not aware of these details & they make me reflect on the inspired talent of the author.

The Lamentations are written in poetry. The five chapters form five stanzas of one elegy over Zion’s fall.  – The two first stanzas (chapters) are composed of 22 verses each and the initial letter of each verse follows the alphabetical order.

– The third stanza (chapter) is constructed identically with the difference that each verse of the succeeding set of three begins with the same Hebrew letter. This is why chapter 3 contains 66 verses.

– The fourth stanza (chapter) is constructed as stanzas 1 and 2 with the difference that each verse contains of two instead of three lines.

– The fifth stanza (chapter) contains of 22 single lines, which however are not in alphabetical order.

And in my reading of the first two chapters I could hear the prophecies of Jeremiah clearly.  First the remembrance of the Object Lesson of the yoke Jeremiah wore:

Jeremiah 1:14

“My sins have been bound into a yoke;
    by his hands they were woven together.
They have been hung on my neck,
    and the Lord has sapped my strength.
He has given me into the hands
    of those I cannot withstand.

Secondly, the fulfillment of one of his most stressed prophecies that the “prophets of the people” were false and misleading but that the Lord will reign:

Lamentations 2:14 and 2:17

 1The visions of your prophets
were false and worthless;

they did not expose your sin
    to ward off your captivity.
The prophecies they gave you
    were false and misleading.

17 The Lord has done what he planned;
    he has fulfilled his word,
    which he decreed long ago.
He has overthrown you without pity,
    he has let the enemy gloat over you,
    he has exalted the horn of your foes.

 

08/24/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 51-52

Chapter 51 continues Jeremiah’s prophecy of the eventual destruction of Babylon by an “army from the north.”  And we know that history records that Cyrus the Great  and the Persians conquered Babylon in 539 BC.   This is estimated to be 30-40 years after the death of Jeremiah.

And throughout the prophecies we see the Lord’s salvation of His people from Babylon, fulfilling the prophecies proclaimed by Jeremiah.

Back in Chapter 50:19-20 we had read:    20 In those days, at that time,  declares the Lord, “search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah,  but none will be found,  for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

And in Chapter 51:5 —  5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land[d] is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.

 

08/23/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 49-50

Jeremiah’s prophecies regarding each country are pretty similar — they will be punished by the Lord.  So, I thought we could take a look at each of the nations.  I think we were all familiar with Egypt so I provide a bit of background on each of the other nations addresses by Jeremiah’s prophecies.

Chapter 47:  Philistia — Located to the west of Judah and located on the Mediterranean Sea.  It was a very small country, from 25 to 30 miles in length and with an average width of about half the length, but it was fertile, being an extension of the plain of Sharon, except that along the coast high sand dunes encroached upon the cultivated tract. It contained many towns and villages, the most important being the five so often mentioned in Scripture: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron.  Today most of Philistia is part of Israel.

Chapter 48:  Moab was located east of the Dead Sea.  This means that it is east of and “across-the-Dead Sea” from Judah.   Moab was in what is now the kingdom of Jordan.

Chapter 49:  Ammon is just north of Moab and is east of the Jordan River, making it also east of Judah.  Ammon is now located  in present-day Jordan.  The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Ammon, Jordan’s capital

Chapter 49:  Edom is just south of Moab and southeast of Judah. Most of Edom is now Part of Israel or Jordan. And the Edomites are descended from Esau, the elder son of  Isaac.  Of course Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob.

Damascus was and still is a city in Syria.  Syria is located well north of Judah.

 

 

 

 

08/22/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 46-48

Beginning here and through Jeremiah 51, we will read Jeremiah’s prophecies against several Gentile nations,  Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Syria, Elam, and Babylon.  

In Chapter 46 Jeremiah’s prophecy contained several reminders for each of the nations and I think for our nation today.

For example: Jeremiah 46:8  Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging water.  She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth;  I will destroy cities and their people.’

But we then see the power and reality of the Lord as His will is fulfilled.

Jeremiah 46:10  But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty —  a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

08/21/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 41-45

Jeremiah 42:9-12  He said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: 10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.

Jeremiah 43:4-7 So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes

When I read these passages I thought “How much clearer could the Lord’s instructions have been?”  And I was reminded of a teaching from Dr. James Dobson on raising children.  Children are to never be punished for a mistake — only corrected so they will have a “lesson learned.”   But should a child willfully and deliberately disobey a parent  loving disciple will help them mature.

What can we say about this “remnant of Judah?”   Their disobedience was certainly wilful and we see in Chapter 44:27-28  the Lord administer discipline:

Jeremiah 44:   27 For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. 28 Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs.

 

08/20/2018 — The Book of Habakkuk

First a bit of background on Habakkuk.  His name is all that we know of him — there are no further details.  Habakkuk was also a contemporary of Jeremiah and his prophecy was directed to the nation of Judah before the Babylonian captivity began.  In his commentary Coffman highlights a point  that I did not see:

Habakkuk, the 8th of the Minor Prophets, occupies a special place. For he does not speak to men under God’s commission as do the other prophets but he speaks about his people and their enemies, the Babylonians, to God.

 

Two verses in Habakkuk reminded me of Paul’s New Testament teachings:

Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time …   In my mind this relates to Romans 5:6 in that we are all on God’s timetable and not ours.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

 

Habakkuk 2:4  See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulnessThis is very similar to Paul’s writings on the faithful in Romans 1:17   For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[ just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 

08/19/2018 — Jeremiah 38-40 & Psalms 74, 79

We continue with reading about Jeremiah’s persecution and a description of the fall of Jerusalem.  What impressed me during these descriptions is Jeremiah’s continued courage and dedication.

In Chapter 38:4-6 we see the “officials” of Jerusalem lower Jeremiah into the deep mud in a cistern to starve for speaking the Lord’s word.  Yet in Chapter 38:15-18 we see that, even though he feared for his life, Jeremiah spoke God’s word directly to the foremost powerful man in Judah, King Zedekiah.

15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, will you not kill me? Even if I did give you counsel, you would not listen to me.”  16 But King Zedekiah swore this oath secretly to Jeremiah: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has given us breath, I will neither kill you nor hand you over to those who want to kill you.”  17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from them.’”

And of course we see each of these prophesies fulfilled in Chapter 39.  Jeremiah’s courage challenges me — even though I would not suffer death or persecution do I have the courage to speak God’s truth in our nation’s environment?

08/18/2018 — 2 Kings 24-25 & 2 Chronicles 36

While these chapters repeat the highlights of what we read in Jeremiah there was a passage that highlighted a fact about King Zedekiah & the remaining leaders in Jerusalem that helps provide a reason for their downfall.

12 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.

This reminds me a bit of Jerusalem in Christ’s time.  Some of the “common” people in the city believed but it was the leaders that failed to recognize God’s will.

08/17/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 35-37

In these chapters we have another object lesson and then we have a bit of an interlude from Jeremiahs prophecies and, instead, read a bit of Jeremiah’s biography.

In Jeremiah 35:18 we read the object lesson based on the dedication to the Lord of a family — the Recabites.  Coffman provides the following overview of who these people are:

These were a branch of the Kenites, who were related to Jethro (Hobab), the father-in-law of Moses.  They followed the children of Israel into Canaan and continued to live among them as devoted worshippers of Jehovah. The Rechabites mentioned here were descendants of that Jonadab (the son of Rechab) who had enthusiastically aided Jehu in the overthrow of Ahab and the Baalim religion (2 Kings 10:13-23)

As we read in Jeremiah 35, even when tested by Jeremiah’s offering of wine the Recabites remained loyal to the instruction of the ancestor to refrain from wine and to follow other restrictions.

In Jeremiah 35:12-16 we see the Lord explain the object lesson:

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.

And in verse 19 the Recabites are rewarded for obedience:  19 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me.’”

 

08/16/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 32-34

“Buy low — sell high” is the mantra of many a stockbroker and real-estate agent.   This precept actually helps me better understand the next object lesson the Lord instructs Jeremiah to perform.   Keep in mind that Jeremiah’s prophecy has consistently been that the nation and the city are about to fall to Babylon.  From Jeremiah 32:6-10. 

Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’ “Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.’ “I knew that this was the word of the Lord; so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for seventeen shekels of silver on the scales.”

So, who would want to spend 17 shekels of solver (about 7 ounces) on a field that is about to be taken, controlled and nationalized by another power?  Jeremiah will lose his land and his money!

Only a man of faith who places his financial confidence in the fulfillment of another prophecy spoken to him the the Lord:

Jeremiah 32:13-15 In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 14 ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. 15 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’

Using business language Jeremiah’s faith in God’s word had just lead him to purchase an investment!

08/15/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 30-31

Aaah … Do the following prophetic words from Jeremiah sound familiar?

Jeremiah 31:31-33

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,

Let’s read Hebrews 8:6-13

But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
    and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
    after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”[c]

13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

8/14/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 26-29

I found these three chapters to be “plum full” of important content and actions, including:

  1. Jeremiah’s reprieve from death by men who remembered Micah and the assassination of Uriah under Jehoiakim
  2. Jeremiah’s personally becoming an “object lesson” on Judah’s captivity by putting on a yoke of straps and crossbars
  3. The response of Jeremiah to the challenge of the false prophet Hananiah
  4. Jeremiah’s letter to the captive Israelites instructing them to “settle done” and wait for the Lord’s will to be fulfilled (which it was “right on schedule 70 years later)

And these passages contain one of my favorite scriptures when I consider an existing or future challenge:

Jeremiah 29:11-13   — 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

08/13/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 23-25

Jeremiah 23:1-4  “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

How could you begin this reading and not immediately think of the fulfillment of this promise as stated by the Messiah in John 10:11-15?

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  14 I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 

08/12/2018 — Jeremiah Chapters 18-22

The object lesson of the potter’s wheel that the Lord provides Jeremiah in Chapter 13:1-10 is familiar to most of us.

Just as the potter shapes a pot and may have to destroy and then re-mold it to it’s planned design, so was the nation of Judah.

A verse is this lesson that caught my eye also speaks to God’s unending grace and patience:

Jeremiah 13:7-8   If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned

Thankfully, that grace is eternal and we fall beneath its wings.