JEREMIAH 44:24-47:7 | 2 TIMOTHY 2:22-3:17 | PSALM 94:1-23 | PROVERBS 26:6-8
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If the children of Israel’s capacity for being stiff-necked and stubborn is unequaled, the capacity of the Almighty’s stubborn and unending passion for his people is also unparalleled.
The people have thrown to the winds Jeremiah’s doomsday prophecies for their disobedience and his exhortations for repentance. Jerusalem has fallen; the best of the best have been carried off into captivity. There has been an uprising with the remaining people within Judah. And following an outbreak of warring factions that assassin the appointed governor of Judah, there is a mass exodus back into Egypt.
Things could not have been any worse.
Jeremiah’s laments and warnings against the people leaving their homeland, and his petitions to have them turn back to Yahweh, the God of their fathers, gets tossed out by the wayside, and the people are most outraged at his continued prophecies of doom. They carry on with even more idol-worship, invoking new and varied gods beyond Baal, and Jeremiah is left to his own devices.
Well, Jeremiah is not one to be quiet, and beseeches the Lord for revelation and guidance. The remnant in Judah is negligible, but not so insignificant in the sight of the Lord. Because while there is further devastation that is predicted for Egypt and even Babylon, the Lord has the most amazing words for his people.
In a most uncharacteristic style, Jeremiah delivers these amazing words of comfort. The Lord says through him:
27 “Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel.
I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.
28 Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
for I am with you,” declares the LORD.
“Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”
We turn now to our reading of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, and find Paul taking pains to put forth his views on the recommended course of conduct with all persons, especially concerning non-believers. He reiterates his views on the futility of engaging with a person in a combative way in “foolish and stupid arguments.”
Paul puts it like this: 22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
Paul then switches gears and offers an exhortation concerning signs of the end-times. One wonders if we are not already living in such times, but then again, I wonder if every generation since these writings has not wondered the same thing.
Paul says: 1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Timothy receives a final charge from Paul in these following verses. Paul has confidence in this young man, and is writing to build him up even more, and to encourage him in the Christian faith. Timothy has had the support of a godly mother and grandmother, as Paul has already mentioned, and having taken Timothy under his own wing, Paul wishes to equip him with all the relevant information and advice in order to help him grow in the faith, and to be a minister for the gospel of Christ.
Paul’s advice to Timothy is: 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
We turn now to our Psalm for the day, and find one in which David is acknowledging the omnipotence of the Almighty. While imploring his people to pay heed to the word of the Lord, David is employing a literary device of ascribing human characteristics to the Almighty.
By invoking the use of sight and sound, is not the Almighty—who has created the instruments of eyes and ears in the human body—familiar with the proper use of these faculties, asks David:
8 Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
9 Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
11 The LORD knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.
And if David is the picture of humility, he is also unparalleled in his capacity to offer up praise and thanksgiving. David says of the Lord:
16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
Finally, a few verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, expounds upon the hallmarks of a fool. Pay heed, one and all: this is the way to identify one, and/or to become one!
6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool
is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like tying a stone in a sling
is the giving of honor to a fool.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.