In those critical days, there were messengers who were “running” as if they had a message from God, but God had not spoken to them, God had not sent them. If they had been sent by God they would have stood in His counsel, listened to Him, and been instruments of instruction and protection for the people. This is the mission for every pastor, preacher, and even every Christian, let’s be able so say, “that which I received from the Lord, I’ve given to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23; 15:23).
What a difference those who actually are sent by God can make!
Jeremiah 23:22 (NLT) “If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.”
Our Creator is close – beyond words, He hears and sees everything! We cannot hide from the One who fills Heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Hebrews 4:13). These prophets somehow thought they could get away with their reckless ministry, they shared the dictates of their own hearts, their own dreams, their own opinions – yet God did not send them. These prophets perverted the words of the living God (Jeremiah 23:36). The leaders led the people astray – so God’s judgment upon Jerusalem was inevitable.
Jeremiah 23:39 (NKJV) “therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence.”
Pastors, preachers, and people who claim to speak in the name of the Lord, who say, “The Lord told me…” better beware.
We are warned in:
James 3:1 (NKJV) “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
The fig tree is representative of the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 24 we have the vision of the two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord. One basket had good figs, ripe and ready to eat; the other basket had bad figs, which could not be eaten.
The good figs represented the people who would be spared, taken away to Babylon, and yet protected while they were there. These good figs represented those who would return to the land. When they returned God would do a deep work in them. We read:
Jeremiah 24:7 (NKJV) “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”
And that’s the key isn’t it? Let’s bear good fruit my friend, and if we ever drift away, in any way, let’s return to God with our whole heart!
But King Zedekia, his princes, and the “residue” of Jerusalem, the rebellious who resisted the will of God would be completely consumed – they were the bad figs. How horrible the future of those who reject God’s Word!
“What life does to us depends on what life finds in us.”~ Warren Wiersbe
Warren Wiersbe said, “What life does to us depends on what life finds in us. The godly remnant experienced good things from God during the exile, but the ungodly citizens were consumed by trouble. The godly remnant made the best of a bad situation because they trusted the Lord (Romans 8:28).”
In Jeremiah 25 we are introduced to the 70-year prophecy of captivity for the Jews.
Halley’s Bible Handbook, “This was in the early part of Jehoiakim’s reign (Jeremiah 25:1), about 604 B.C. The remarkable thing is that the exact duration of Babylonia’s rule is foretold (Jeremiah 25:11-14; 29:10; 2 Chronicles 36:21; Ezra 1:1; Daniel 9:2; Zechariah 7:5). An amazing prophecy. There was no possible way for Jeremiah to know this, except by direct revelation from God.”
Jeremiah had been warning the people for 23 years and he was not the only one…but the people refused to repent, they would not listen to the Lord.
Something interesting to note is that the prophet Daniel would later read this prophecy and was able to determine the imminent return of the people to the land. We read in:
Daniel 9:2 (NKJV) “in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
When Daniel understood that the end of the captivity was at hand, he began to pray – he prayed Bible. We should do the same. Even though we don’t know the day, the hour, or even the year, we can see the season.
Jeremiah also mentions the judgment of Babylon and even the judgment of the whole wide world. One day God will bring His just judgment on “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Jeremiah 25:29-30).
A special warning is given to the shepherds (Jeremiah 25:34-36) that the Good, Chief, and Great Shepherd is on His way, like a lion who has left his lair.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
The Thessalonians were tempted to be “shaken-up-and-out” by the tribulations they were experiencing due to a lying letter they’d received. Paul wrote to assure them, that they had not missed the rapture and they were not experiencing the Great Tribulation Period.
The falling away mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 may be speaking of a great apostasy (the Greek word is apostasia) when the church departs from the faith. It may also be in reference to the rapture of the church. As Pastor Chuck Smith writes, “…the word can refer to the departure of the saints, the rapture of the church. The Day of the Lord will not take place until there is first a departure, such as when the church departs to be with the Lord.” Either way, Paul lets the Thessalonians know that certain events had to take place to usher in the Tribulation Period and the eventual Coming of Christ.
The falling away had to take place first (Rapture of the Church or apostasy).
The Anti-Christ had to be revealed. This son of perdition will exalt himself, declaring himself to be God as he sits in the future Jewish Temple (this is called the Abomination of Desolation spoken of in Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14).
The mystery of lawlessness is already at work, the only thing holding the Anti-Christ back is the work of the Holy Spirit in the church (this is He who now restrains), but when the rapture takes place, the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled, the church will be taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit will then be poured out on the Jews (Romans 11:25).
The Anti-Christ will eventually be defeated by the coming of Christ, His mere word and presence will defeat the devil, but not after Satan takes many souls with him. When Satan comes in the form of the Anti-Christ he will seduce many with his signs and lying wonders. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 seem to indicate that those who understand the Gospel beforehand, and reject it, will not be able to believe during the Tribulation Period. The reason this is such a heavy warning is because there are some people who know the truth today, but choose not to live that truth, they plan to get right after the rapture takes place – but according to this passage it’s not possible, for GOD will be the one sending them that strong delusion. Today is the day of salvation, don’t gamble with eternity. If you refuse to live for the Lord now, what makes you think you’ll be able to die for the Lord then?
Paul was much more optimistic for the Thessalonians, he was grateful to God for their genuine conversion and sanctification in that they were chosen by God and they chose to believe. Did you notice the balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility? Paul exhorts them (and us) to stand firm in the truth we’ve been taught (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Paul closes the chapter with another prayer (we saw that at the end of chapter 1 and we’ll see it again at the end of the letter). He invokes the Father and the Son who love them and have graciously given them comfort and hope, to once again comfort their hearts personally, and establish them eternally. Every pastor’s prayer.
The Psalmist apparently had been away from Jerusalem and the Temple for an extended period of time – he may have been unable to attend the required feasts, he felt distant, and shares his heart. To him, this was way beyond merely missing church attendance, he wanted to reconnect with his Creator.
Psalm 84:2 (NKJV) “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
Imagine the love and longing he had for the Lord, to the point that he said one single day in God’s courts is better than a thousand elsewhere! (Psalm 84:10). That he’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to have that so-called “fun” in the tents of wickedness. And what a beautiful promise he shares with us to hold tightly to:
Psalm 84:11b (NKJV) “…No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Another motivation for holiness!
Before we leave this Psalm it’s helpful to note the three “beatitudes” we see within it:
In Psalm 84:4 the declaration is how blessed are those who dwell in God’s house – perhaps in reference to the Priests and Levites. Did they know how privileged they were?
In Psalm 84:5 the declaration is how blessed is the man whose strength is in God, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. No doubt the pilgrimage he’s referring to is the wonderful journey to Jerusalem…when that’s our heart, God will be our strength!
In Psalm 84:12 the declaration is how blessed is the man who trusts in God. As we travel through life our trust will be tested, may we have that firm belief in the ability and reliability of the Lord our God!
As has been said by many, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
“The more we depend on God, the more dependable we find that He is.”
Proverbs 25:15 (NKJV) “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.”
Proverbs 25:15 (NLT) “Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.
It’s a combination of patience and gentleness that often times convinces princes and paupers, kings and kids.”
Don’t allow the enemy to cause you to be hasty or blow your witness.
NET Notes, “The idea of breaking a bone uses the hardest and most firm part of the body in contrast to the ‘softness of the tongue.’ Both are figurative, forming a comparison. A gentle speech can break down any stiff opposition.”
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.