JEREMIAH 49:23-50:46 | TITUS 1:1-16 | PSALM 97:1-98:9 | PROVERBS 26:13-16
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Jeremiah is running down the list of nations that don’t have very favorable fortunes in their future.
Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, Elam, and Babylon are mentioned in this passage, and following everything that he has to say about the misfortunes coming their way, Jeremiah finally does change gears, and has something positive to say about the “remnant,” i.e., the few people that were left behind in Judah after the pillage and plunder of Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeremiah speaks these words from the Lord:
18 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
“I will punish the king of Babylon and his land
as I punished the king of Assyria.
19 But I will bring Israel back to their own pasture,
and they will graze on Carmel and Bashan;
their appetite will be satisfied
on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.
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.
We turn now to a brand new book titled The Epistle of Paul to Titus, or simply Titus.
This is yet another letter, much like the two letters to Timothy, in which Paul is writing to a young man, Titus, who has been his colleague and friend in his missionary travels, especially to the Island of Crete. Paul wishes that the newly established churches have competent leaders so that the new believers in the Christian faith will have the guidance and support that they need. Paul is writing here about the appointment of leaders, or elders, who love that which is good.
Toward this end, he says, 5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Paul is concerned about the gross malteachings of those steeped in the Jewish tradition who are evidently sowing seeds of doubt among the new believers, and leading astray the flock of young Christians with their cries for observing this or that traditional practice.
Paul says of these people—and like-minded folks are to be found in modern times as well: 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
Well, there you have it—nothing ambivalent about Paul’s views there. Is that sufficiently clear, gentle reader?
We turn next to our Psalm for the day, and find a most joyful one of praise. David, the psalmist, offers up these words of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord:
9 For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.
And in the next Psalm as well, we sing a similar strain of jubilant praise:
4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
5 make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
Finally, a few verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, explores the vice of slothfulness:
13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road,
a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
so a sluggard turns on his bed.
15 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
16 A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven people who answer discreetly.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.