It’s heartbreaking to read about the backslidden condition of God’s people…they had forgotten Him.
Jeremiah 2:32b (NKJV) “Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.”
Jeremiah 3:21 (NKJV) “A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God.”
They refused to acknowledge their sin (Jeremiah 2:35) and rather than trusting the Lord, they had trusted in Assyria and Egypt (Jeremiah 2:36-37). God’s people were spiritually unfaithful (Jeremiah 3:1) and to make matters worse, they refused to return to Him. Therefore God could not bless them.
Jeremiah 3:3 (NKJV) “Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed.”
As you read through this section of Jeremiah, you find that God’s relationship with Israel was one of marriage, but because of their harlotry God had divorced Israel and Judah was about to experience the same (Jeremiah 3:8).
There were times when Judah went through the motions and got religious in their relationship with God, but it was only in pretense, they were only pretending.
Jeremiah 3:10 (NKJV) “‘And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ says the LORD.”
Reading all this makes me check my own heart. Hopefully it does the same for you. If only we would give God our hearts. If we completely turn to Him He will bless us in every way, even giving us solid Spiritual leaders. Notice this promise:
Jeremiah 3:15 (NKJV) “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
If only we would return, wholeheartedly. God even promises that if we return, He will HEAL our backslidings, our tendency to go back to our vomit. Let’s get our hearts right and break up the fallow ground so that the Word will sink deep. Let’s circumcise our hearts by cutting away the flesh, the things that our fallen nature craves. This was God’s Word to Judah, and this is God’s Word to us. Tragically, Judah refused to return, they refused to change, and God had to follow through on His promise to “come forth like fire.” (Jeremiah 4:4)
Jeremiah 4:5-18 is a heartbreaking prophecy regarding the invasion and complete conquering of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It would be disaster and destruction as these “lions” invaded from the north (Jeremiah 4:6-7).
Jeremiah 4:8 (NKJV) “For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, Llament and wail. For the fierce anger of the LORD— has not turned back from us.” We read repeatedly about how this sword of judgment would reach the heart (Jeremiah 4:10, 18).
Jeremiah 4:18 (NLT) “Your own actions have brought this upon you. This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
I’ve seen this happen in the past not only to Israel and Judah, but to God’s people over the years. God’s discipline can get extreme and severe. I spoke with one man recently who was on the verge of death, and God spared him, but his body is broken, he can no longer work. Thank God he returned to the Lord. I’ve also seen some people die prematurely. Only God knows for certain, but because of their clearly sinful circumstance, it seems to me that God cut their lives short. To be honest, all this brings fear to my heart – hopefully a healthy fear that leads to a healthy holiness.
One last verse from Jeremiah for today:
Jeremiah 4:14 (NKJV) “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?”
Paul didn’t plant the church in Colossae, he had never been there, but he heard about the amazing work going on, so he wrote this letter for a couple of reasons. First of all, he wanted to thank God for the Colossian Christians and encourage them as a church. Secondly, however, he wanted to warn them about false teachers who were trying to turn them away from Christ. Colossians is a letter that teaches us the sufficiency of Christ, who is the Head of the body (the church).
In Colossians 1:3-4 Paul thanks God for two huge things he’d heard about them – their faith in Christ and their love for ALL the saints. This is evidence of salvation – big time. Love is the fruit of the Spirit, but if we only love some, we’re not filled with God’s love, for God loves ALL! Paul took this to mean that the Colossians were true Christians.
The Gospel had come to the Colossians, it was bearing fruit among them, and they now had this awesome hope of heaven. Epaphras was a Christian from Colossae, a co-laborer of Paul’s and was instrumental in starting the church there (Colossians 1:7; 4:12).
I’ve always loved the prayer of Paul’s in Colossians 1:9-12. Paul did not cease to pray that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and Spiritual understanding; that they would walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him; that they would be fruitful in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God; that they would be strengthened with God’s might…what for? For all patience and long-suffering with joy (boy, I could use some strength for that). What a wonderful prayer we can learn, maybe even memorize, to pray Scripture for our loved ones.
Isn’t it beautiful the way Paul describes salvation in Colossians 1:13-14? We’ve been delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. Paul goes on to elaborate on the greatness of Christ.
When the Lord called me to start the church here at Calvary Chapel El Monte, I had heard in a message a general suggestion to church planters that one of the most important things to do in the beginning, is to preach on the greatness of Christ. In light of that, the very first book of the Bible that I taught in El Monte, was the book of Colossians.
We read in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is the very image of the invisible God. As Jesus told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). Now that doesn’t mean Jesus IS the Father, it means He’s God, the Second Person of the Trinity, He’s God’s Son, He’s just like the Father.
The title of “Firstborn over all creation,” doesn’t mean that Jesus was made, born, or created, it simply speaks of the fact that He has the rights of the firstborn over all creation. As a matter of fact, Paul goes on to tell us that Jesus made everything (we read the same truth in John 1:3). Colossians 1:17 teaches us that Jesus is before all things and in Him “all things consist.” This means that Jesus holds everything together. Scientists speculate on what holds the atoms of the universe intact, they don’t know, so they’ve come up with a theory called “atomic glue.” If only they’d read their Bibles, they’d know, Jesus holds everything together! And check this out, Jesus is the Head of the church. As a pastor, that truth brings me a lot of comfort! I hope it does to you too.
This Psalm is a declaration of the way God has defeated the enemies of Israel. God broke their bows and arrows, and shields, and swords. God rebuked their horses and chariots; and the enemies’ mighty men even lost use of their hands (Psalm 76:5).
God is to be praised and God is to be feared.
Psalm 76:7 (NKJV) “You, Yourself, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?”
We should fear God. We can also trust God, make vows to God, and keep them…for He keeps His Word, He will defeat anyone and anything that comes against us, even if it’s princes and kings (Psalm 76:12; Romans 8:31).
Proverbs 24:21–22 (NKJV) “My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those given to change; 22 For their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin those two can bring?”
We are called to fear God, and to a certain extent, those whom God has put in authority, such as kings.
Now, this doesn’t mean we do everything and anything our human leaders ask us to do. If our earthly rulers command us to disobey God, we are not obligated to fear or obey them (Acts 5:29).
Another thought on this is an understanding that as Christians, it’s our calling to call sin, sin, no matter who it may offend. This is what John the Baptist did in the case of King Herod who had married his brother’s wife (Mark 6:18).
Sometimes we must honor the office rather than the individual, and we often find ourselves doing this out of duty rather than devotion.
But the Bible does call us to fear God and the king (and I repeat) unless they command us to disobey God. (see Romans 13:1-7)
1 Peter 2:17 (NKJV) “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.