God would restore Israel to the land, but only after He scattered them throughout the world. We read about fishermen and hunters, this is in reference to the Babylonians.
NKJV Study Bible, “The fishermen and hunters refer to the Babylonian armies that would scour the land for Judah’s rebels. Hunting and fishing imagery as a metaphor for deportation is also found in Ezekiel 12:13; Amos 4:2.”
God would punish the children of Israel double for their sins of defilement and idolatry, but eventually they would learn to worship the one true God. Jeremiah prays and predicts the day when the Gentiles would learn the futility of idolatry, they would one day know the one true God.
In Jeremiah 17 the indictment of Israel continues. Their sins would not simply be erased, they’d be written with a pen of iron, the point of a diamond, engraved on the tablets of their hearts. They would serve their enemies in a foreign land. Heavy warnings!
What a contrast between the man who’s cursed (Jeremiah 17:5) and the man who’s blessed! (Jeremiah 17:7-8) The cursed man trusts in man, his heart has departed from the Lord. The blessed man trusts in the Lord, his heart’s hope is God. Observe these visuals:
Jeremiah 17:5–6 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.”
Jeremiah 17:7–8 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
The blessed man described here in Jeremiah definitely goes hand-in-hand with the blessed man described in Psalm 1 who meditated in God’s Word day-and-night.
Some people like to use the phrase, “God knows my heart.” Yes He does, He searches it. That’s actually a scary thought. Jeremiah 17:9-10 reveals the fact that every human heart is inclined towards deceit and wickedness. It isn’t until God gets a hold of our hearts that there’s any hope for anything good (Acts 13:22).
Jeremiah 17:13 (NKJV) “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. ‘Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.’”
In Jeremiah 17:14-18 the prophet prays for healing and deliverance. The people doubted God’s word due to God’s delay. They vigorously opposed Jeremiah, but he didn’t run from being a shepherd; the way he led, was by following God (Jeremiah 17:16). Jeremiah asked the Lord to deal with his enemies…and He did.
God sends His spokesman to go and stand by the city gates where all the traffic flowed, that he might command the people to honor the Sabbath, but they would not listen. They refused to rest and set aside a day just for God. The Lord did everything He could to bring them back, He painted the picture of a nation that would be blessed, if only they’d be willing to honor the Sabbath, through these gates would flow the sons of David, kings, and princes riding on horses, in chariots. God reiterated His warning in Jeremiah 17:27. He presented the options they had, blessing or cursing. Tragically they chose the curse.
Jeremiah 18 begins with another visual, this time he was sent on a field-trip to the potter’s house. There he saw the clay at the wheel, and in the hands of the potter, it becomes marred. But the potter is able to reshape the clay into something that “seemed good to the potter to make.” The LORD wanted to do this with the children of Israel. If only they would yield themselves to the Potter – but they fought the hands of God, the Word of God, the warnings of God, the prophet of God. The clay had become hardened, they refused to turn from their evil, they chose to obey the evil dictates of their own hearts, they forgot the LORD who had saved them, they turned and burned incense to idols, they left the “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 18:15).
Jeremiah tried to warn them, but the people rose up against him. As we read through this book you can see, even sense the opposition to the prophet growing stronger. Their plans to throw him in the pit to die are mounting…so Jeremiah prays (Jeremiah 18:19-23). All he wanted to do was to bring them to salvation, to spare them the heartache, to turn them away from the wrath to come…but they would not listen.
How about us? Me? Will I truly walk in holiness, in obedience to God?
1 Thessalonians 4:1–5:3
As Paul begins to wind down the letter, he deals with a number of issues that were plaguing the church in Thessalonica, things that we still deal with today.
That our walk would be pleasing to God. We don’t want to be mere talkie-talkies, we want to be walkie-talkies, to be obedient in both word and deed, with our lips and our lives. “To please God” is the key! Even Jesus had that heart; He said in:
John 8:29b (NKJV) “…for I always do those things that please Him.”
Sexual sin is a huge problem in the world, and tragically, in the church as well. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that God’s will is our sanctification, that we should abstain from sexual immorality. Sexual intimacy is a gift from God and can only be blessed within the confines of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). 1 Thessalonians 4:6 is a heavy warning, that if a man has sex with another man’s wife, or another man’s future wife, God Himself will be the Avenger! Anther heavy warning.
Love proves we’re Christians, and we are to increase and grow in this “love-life.” We don’t necessarily need anyone to teach us to love one another and abound in it, for God Himself teaches us this. This love is not mushy sentiment, it’s empowerment, it’s sexual purity and respect for one another, it’s learning to work hard and not leech off of others. Most Bible teachers believe that some of the Thessalonians were quitting their jobs because Jesus was coming and this unhealthy application of prophecy resulted in people who were loud, obnoxious, intrusive, lazy and terrible witnesses. Warren Wiersbe commented, “Because they expected the Lord to return any day, some believers had quit their jobs and became idlers and meddlers (2 Thessalonians 3:6–15). What kind of testimony would this be to the lost?”
Paul closes the chapter by dealing with their concern for their loved ones who had already passed away; had they missed the boat? Would they still make it to heaven?
No need to sorrow Paul says, as a matter of fact, those who have passed away as Christians will precede those are alive. First the bodies of those who have died as Christians will be resurrected, then those who are alive at that time on earth will be transformed and also rise (be raptured) caught up to be together with the Lord forever. This event is called the “Rapture” of the church. The Greek word harpazo is translated rapturos in Latin, from which we derive our English word Rapture.
If a believer passes away today, they are absent from their final body, but present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). When the rapture happens, they will receive their forever glorified body and then those who are alive will follow “suit” (See also 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). This is what happened to Enoch, he was raptured and is a picture of this awesome event (read Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5).
We are to comfort one another with these words.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 Paul reiterates something he’s already communicated to the Thessalonians. That when the world hears those words “Peace and Safety,” sudden destruction will come upon them, it’s then that Judge Jesus shows up. Sounds a lot like today. The world is now globalized, the United Nations has a plan for “peace” and cooperation on earth. As this pseudo peace is pursued and proclaimed, Jesus returns (Revelation 19:11-15). Are you ready?
This Psalm was probably written on a significant day, it may have been the Feast of Passover, but it may have coincided with a time when Israel was not doing all that well as a nation…maybe even in the middle of discipline.
It begins with the volume cranked up – to sing aloud, to make a joyful shout to God (Psalm 81:1). Their voices would be accompanied with the timbrel, the harp, the lute, the trumpet. It was a day that had been established while still in Egypt (Psalm 81:5) so it seems to point to the Passover.
God removed their burden, God set them free, He tested and sustained them in the wilderness. He gave them the law and was willing to fill them with the fulness of life.
But then things went south.
Psalms 81:11-12 (NKJV) “But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.”
Warren Wiersbe, “Had they obeyed, they would have experienced victory instead of defeat, fullness instead of emptiness, and the best instead of the worst. They could have looked back with rejoicing, but instead they had to remember with regret.”
I don’t know about you, but I need these constant reminders – if I would only seek the Lord to know and do His will – then He will take care of me and my family, defeat our enemies, feed us with the finest wheat, and even with honey from the rock (sounds special, beautiful, wonderful) after all, isn’t the Rock Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:4)
Unfortunately Israel did not obey, and this is one of only a handful of Psalms that does not end on a good note. May it not be indicative of our lives.
Proverbs 25:6-7 “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of the great; 7 For it is better that he say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.”
The New Living Translation puts it this way:
Proverbs 25:6–7 (NLT) “Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great. 7 It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace. Just because you’ve seen something.”
Jesus told a parable al about this in Luke 14:7-11
Proverbs 25:8 Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor has put you to shame?
We should probably start this verse with the end of Proverbs 25:7. If you think you’ve seen something, don’t go hastily to court – you may be proven shamefully and even expensively wrong.
First talk it over with your neighbor.
Don’t immediately resort to court, and don’t just go to the phone, go to the throne. Often times when God shows us something personally, He might want us to deal with it privately.
Derek Kidner, “To run to the law or to the neighbors is usually to run away from the duty of personal relationship.”
Matthew 18:15-17 is perfect practice for Christians in these type of “sticky” situations.
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.