JEREMIAH 39:1-41:18 | 2 TIMOTHY 1:1-18 | PSALM 90:1-91:16 | PROVERBS 26:1-2
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The day has come that was long prophesied by Jeremiah.
Nebuchadnezzar routs the city of Jerusalem, and carries back to Babylon the treasures of the city, including the people worth taking. These include King Zedekiah, his sons, and the nobles. All of these meet a most horrendous end, but it is interesting to see what happens to Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar gives instructions that Jeremiah, the crazy prophet—for that was his reputation far and wide—be freed.
The Babylonian general who seeks out Jeremiah tells him this: “The LORD your God decreed this disaster for this place. 3 And now the LORD has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because your people sinned against the LORD and did not obey him. 4 But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don’t come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please.” 5 However, before Jeremiah turned to go,Nebuzaradan added, “Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please.”
And so, Jeremiah does go back to Gedaliah who has actually been appointed governor over Judah by Nebuchadnezzar himself. The idea was that this puppet governor would tend to the affairs of this raped and pillaged land while the best of the loot and the people would be taken into captivity back to Babylon.
But what happens next is what has frequently happened in the affairs of human events. There is an uprising from within, and Gedaliah is assassinated. There is no restoration of power or stability to the land of Judah. Instead, there is a fast exodus to Egypt in order to flee the wrath of the Babylonians.
It is to be seen how this will all turn out.
We now turn to our New Testament reading of the day, and embark upon a new book titled Second Timothy, which is the second epistle or letter written by Paul to his much younger friend and colleague, Timothy. Paul writes to Timothy like a father would to a son.
He says to him affectionately, 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
Paul continues to impart insight and instruction to Timothy. He says: 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Paul’s style of writing to Timothy is a little different from his other letters to the churches he has planted in Asia Minor and across the region. While his exhortations to all remain steadfast, with Timothy, he is more personal, and writes about various people by name—citing them in his remembrances.
We turn now to our reading of the Psalms, and find one that David must have written in a most contrite spirit. Acknowledging the omnipotence of the Almighty is a sure way to demonstrate humility, and David does not lack on this front. His words, however, are timeless in their ability to allow for reflection no matter the reader.
It would, in fact, behoove us to adopt an identical spirit to David’s in our meditation of his words. David says:
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
And then, in his classic manner of contriteness, David asks for the Lord’s favor. He writes:
13 Relent, LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
Today’s reading also includes Psalm 91 in its entirety, a psalm that I have had committed to memory since my childhood, thanks to my mother. I reproduce it here in the King James Version which is how I learned it:
1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs, authored by Solomon, wise king of Israel. Concerning two concepts of honor and disgrace, both are worthy of record and rumination:
1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
honor is not fitting for a fool.
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.