JEREMIAH 28:1-29:32 | 1 TIMOTHY 1:1-20 | PSALM 86:1-17 | PROVERBS 25:17
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Today’s reading in the book of Jeremiah starts out with an account of the false prophet Hannaniah who attempts to discredit Jeremiah. But woe is to him, because the Lord is on Jeremiah’s side, and sure enough, although Jeremiah is quiet for a while, he makes this pronouncement that comes true that very year.
He tells Hannaniah: “Listen, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. 16 Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.’”
Next, Jeremiah writes a letter to the exiles in Babylon who were taken away as captives by Nebuchadnezzar.
He writes about the promise that the Lord is making to his people. He says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
That is indeed a grand promise!
Turning now to our reading of the New Testament, we enter a new book authored by Paul to his colleague, Timothy, who has labored with him in his missionary travels. Paul considers Timothy a son, and speaks of him affectionately in some of his other letters to the many churches.
Paul, not unlike Jeremiah, starts out his letter urging Timothy not to be led astray by false teachers who teach and preach false doctrines.
He says: 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
Paul goes on to speak of the great gift of grace that he has received himself, and is open and honest about his own personal background.
Paul says: 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Paul speaks of a shipwreck with regards to one’s faith as is exhibited by some others, and exhorts Timothy not to fall prey to the same. He says: 18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
We now turn to the Psalms, and find one in which David, in his most inimitable style, is beseeching the Lord. Would that we might also never fear to do the same. David says:
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
David’s call to the Lord is one that is unfettered by any notions of pride or restraint. He is truly a man after my own heart, and I wish to emulate his style in my own meditations at all times. David says:
11 Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
David’s love for the Lord and his confidence in God’s ability to save him never wavers. David says:
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, speaks to the concept of familiarity that breeds contempt:
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
too much of you, and they will hate you.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.