Jeremiah gives us the “date” – it was the fourth year, in the fifth month of the reign of Zedekiah. In our calendar, that brings us to 593 B.C.
Hananiah the “prophet” was spreading a message of peace, saying that the people of the captivity, King Jeconiah, and the vessels from the Temple would all return within the space of two years.
Jeremiah hadn’t heard THAT message from the Lord – and initially he doesn’t say too much, other than an “amen.” If Hananiah’s words came to pass, he would be a prophet of the Lord (Jeremiah 28:6, 9).
Hananiah took his message a step further, however, and removed the wooden yoke from the shoulders of Jeremiah and broke it in front of everyone:
Jeremiah 28:11 (NKJV) “And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.’’ And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.”
God spoke to Jeremiah again and told him that the wooden yoke would be replaced with an iron yoke – Hananiah had NOT been sent by the LORD. Jeremiah pronounced the punishment to Hananiah for prophesying falsely – he would die that year. Sure enough, two months later Hananiah was dead. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
In Jeremiah 29 he begins with a copy of the letter that he sent to the captives in Babylon. Jeremiah encourages the people to settle down in the land, build houses, plant gardens, eat their fruit, even seek the peace of that place – that foreign city they were living in. God wanted the people to prosper in the foreign land that they may continue to multiply.
Jeremiah 29:10 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”
The false prophets were telling the people it would be a short period of time – the false prophets were completely contradicting the Word of the Lord. Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon these wolves in sheep’s clothing, men like Ahab, and Zedekiah would be burned by the king; Shemaiah would have no descendants, and not live to see the good that God had planned for His people.
And O, what wonderful plans He had! God had good plans of peace for His people. Jeremiah sent this word, not only to tell them it would be a seven decades, but to encourage them, God was not done with them…and He’s not done with us either my friend. You also can takes this word to heart, even if you feel like you’re bound in Babylon:
Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NKJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
1 Timothy 1:1-20
We now begin what are often referred to as the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy as well as Titus). Paul is writing to the men to whom he would be “passing the baton.” Timothy was pastoring in Ephesus, and from the internal evidence of the letters, he and Titus were not only pastors, but they were also pastor’s pastors. They were to appoint elders (pastors) in every city (1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:5). Being a pastor is a heavy responsibility, a holy calling that can only be done by God’s grace, His Holy Spirit, and by taking heed to His Holy Word. I thank God for the entirety of the Bible, but especially the pastoral epistles!
Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus and make sure that they teach no other doctrine than what he had taught them. He also warned Timothy not to get side-tracked with fables and endless genealogies – things which only end in arguments rather than building each other up in the faith. “Timothy – stick to the truth of God’s Word!” Manny, do the same!
Paul reminds us that the purpose of his charge and God’s Word is love, true love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith (what a good checklist to search my heart for). Do these things describe me?
Tragically there were already some who had turned aside to idle talk; they exalted themselves to be teachers in the church and yet they didn’t even understand God’s law. Ultimately, the law (the Old Testament code of conduct, civil, and ceremonial) was good to govern Jewish affairs and point to Jesus, but it never had the power to save a single soul. The law could point out sin, but it didn’t provide the power to cleanse us from sin or help us overcome it – only Jesus could do that. He was the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:24). Many times we find “teachers” in the church who want to go back to the law or some form of legalism – Paul fought this tooth and nail, and he wanted Timothy to fight it as well.
Paul had been truly called by God, he was a trophy of grace. Paul formerly had been a blasphemer of Jesus, a persecutor, a violent, arrogant murderer (imagine that). But because he did it ignorantly (1 Timothy 1:13) and would one day prove to be faithful (1 Timothy 1:12) God lavished Paul with amazing grace. Maybe Paul brings this up at this point in order to remind Timothy of Paul’s personal call from Jesus Himself.
Paul’s growth in humility can be seen in the way he describes himself over the years – he’s not worthy to be an Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9), he’s the least of the saints (Ephesians 3:8), and here we see he’s the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). This grace is a revelation to all of us that God can save and use anyone He chooses. Praise God (and not Paul) (1 Timothy 1:17).
Paul goes back to his charge, his challenge, his command to Timothy – to protect the flock as a good and faithful shepherd is called to do. Remember Timothy, it’s a war! Timothy had been prophetically and personally called by God – he knew it. He was to stay the course and not suffer shipwreck as others beside him had. Timothy would have to deal with people like this in the ministry – Paul had to deliver Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan (excommunicate them from the church) – his hope was that ultimately they would learn and return to Christ (see also 2 Timothy 2:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5).
This is another one of those Psalms when David was on the run.
David’s most significant times of running were when King Saul hunted him down, and during his son Absalom’s insurrection. In both cases, generally speaking, David was not to be blamed, but I thought it was interesting that David still prayed for forgiveness – something God is ready and willing to do for us:
Psalm 86:5 (NKJV) “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”
One thing I’ve learned about my own life, is even in those times when I might feel like I’ve done nothing wrong, I still need to lean on God’s grace and ask Him to wash me of my sin – for no man is sinless.
David declares the holiness of God – there’s none like Him (Psalm 86:10).
David asks the LORD to work within him; he gives us some great things to request:
Psalm 86:11 (NKJV) “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”
Teach me Your way, Your Word, O LORD. Unite my heart so that it’s not divided in any way, may it be ALL yours!
The mob was after him (Psalm 86:14) they hated him (Psalm 86:17) but God would save him.
I have a hunch that God’s salvation is graciously connected to David’s prayers and his constant cries to God for help.
Proverbs 25:17 (NKJV) “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house, lest he become weary of you and hate you.”
Proverbs 25:17 (NLT) “Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.”
It’s funny, I feel this way about going over other people’s houses, but not about them coming over ours. It would be really hard for our neighbors to wear out their welcome…but if the Scriptures tell us it is a possibility, we need to take it to heart.
God help us to be wise and sensitive to the Holy Spirit!
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.