In the beginning of the book of Jeremiah we read of his world-wide ministry:
Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
We are now in the “thick” of Jeremiah’s word to the nations, in this section Moab, Ammon, and Edom.
The Moabites were the descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:36-37), located east of Judah, east of the Dead Sea.
Jeremiah has extensive words of judgment for this nation that was known for its pride and complacency.
NET Notes, “The picture is that of undisturbed complacency (Zephaniah 1:12). Because Moab had never known the discipline of exile she had remained as she always was.”
Babylon would conquer Moab and carry her away captive four years after conquering Jerusalem, in 582 B.C. , the land was completely devastated.
Halley’s Bible Handbook, “For centuries the land has lain desolate and sparsely inhabited, the ruins of its many cities testifying to its population in ancient times.”
Fast-forward to the United States of America in 2021. Isn’t it tragic that pride is something our nation is proud of, even flaunts? If only we’d learn from the likes of Moab.
Jeremiah 48:29 (NKJV) “We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, and of the haughtiness of his heart.”
Jeremiah 48:42 (NKJV) “And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, because he exalted himself against the LORD.”
Moab was also known for its wine. Warren Wiersbe comments on this illustration, “…but the vessels would be emptied and broken, and the people would become drunk with God’s wrath (Jeremiah 48:12, 26, 38). The Babylonians were God’s ‘wine-workers’ to give Moab a ‘new taste’ they had never had before (Jeremiah 48:11). The bottles were broken (Jeremiah 48:12).”
“Had Moab been broken BEFORE the Lord, she wouldn’t have been broken BY the Lord.” The same is true for us (Psalm 51:17).
Jeremiah 49 begins with the declaration of judgment upon Ammon, another nation descended from Lot (Genesis 19, 36-38) located east of the northern kingdom of Israel (see map above).
After the Assyrians had conquered Israel, the Ammonites possessed and dwelt in the land of Gad, land that belonged to Israel…so God questioned them.
Jeremiah 49:1 (NKJV) “Against the Ammonites. Thus says the LORD: ‘Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then does Milcom inherit Gad, and his people dwell in its cities?’”
The LORD pronounced judgment on the Ammonites and their deity.
Jeremiah 49:2 (NKJV) “‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘That I will cause to be heard an alarm of war in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall be a desolate mound, and her villages shall be burned with fire. Then Israel shall take possession of his inheritance,’ says the LORD.”
It’s tough to fathom the depth of depravity these nations sunk into, but the truth is, anyone, or any nation that turns her back on God becomes open game to indulge in the atrocities of the evil one.
Warren Wiersbe, “Milcom (Molech) was the god of the Ammonites, worshiped in terrible orgies that involved the sacrificing of children. His name means ‘the reigning one, but he would reign no more. He would go into captivity and not be able to rescue himself, which is what happens to all false gods.”
The Edomites were descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:43) the brother of Jacob, located southeast of Judah, and south of Moab (see map above).
Edom was actually known for her wisdom, but no wisdom would be found (Obadiah 8; Obadiah also predicts the judgment of Edom). God would bring judgment upon Edom to such an extent, that there would be no gleanings to gather (Jeremiah 49:9), He would bring absolute barrenness to the land.
Edom had the misconception that they had avoided the bondage of Babylon, they were persuaded that they would not have to “drink of the cup” (Jeremiah 49:12), but they were dead wrong. They thought they were safe due to their natural defenses (Jeremiah 49:16) but there is a supernatural God who is holy, and will execute justice upon the land.
The whole world should take heed to these judgments – not simply to observe what God has done in the past, but to observe what God will do in the near future.
James 5:9b (NKJV) “Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!”
2 Timothy 4:1-22
In the final chapter of Paul’s final letter, he’s passing the baton on to Timothy…and he closes with an infinitely solemn charge that’s applicable to every pastor. It’s a charge before God the Father and God the Son, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom. A solemn wort to Timothy – to all pastors – preach the Word. Always be ready and willing – to preach the Word.
I still remember when Pastor Chuck Smith would tell us pastors, over and over and over again, “Simply teach the Word Simply.” If we do, God will convince, correct, rebuke, encourage, and challenge the people. We must do this faithfully and patiently.
The “time” that Paul speaks about (when they won’t tolerate the Word) is here. The vast majority of people do not want to hear the Word of God, they’re not interested in sound doctrine. On the contrary, most people want to hear preachers who tell them what their flesh wants to hear, which explains why some of the largest churches in the world are those churches where the messages are more topical than they are Biblical; they want something funny, something light, don’t ruffle any feathers, they’re okay with psychology and sociology, but not theology. They want to be entertained and pampered much more than they want to be instructed or convicted. They’re far more interested in fables, theories, and the latest sensation, than they are the truth of God’s Word. For that reason, pastors must teach God’s Word passionately, accurately, and faithfully to any who are still interested, even if the numbers diminish…we must not compromise the message! Our job is to fill the pulpits not the pews.
Paul’s urgency is amplified because of the fact that he’s about to be executed, beheaded at the hands of the Romans. His death would be like an offering to God; his death was simply a departure. The Greek word translated “departure” was also used in ancient literature for a sailor who lifted his anchor, to sail home; or a camper who took down his tent, time to leave; or a prisoner, who served his sentence, he’s now set free. Death for the Christian is not the end, it’s simply a departure, it’s time to head home.
Paul was faithful to the end. He fought the good fight (against the enemies of Christ). He preached, protected, and preserved the Gospel, he kept the faith. He battled and believed til the day he died. He finished His race. Paul had always described his life with that word, “a race” (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16; 3:12-14; Hebrews 12:1), but we all know that not everyone finishes the races they start, and not everyone finishes well. I think of this often, “O Lord, please help me to finish, and to finish well.”
Paul was able to anticipate the crown, because he had endured the cross. Paul knew – he was thoroughly convinced that the Righteous Judge would give him that crown (reward), along with any and all who loved the Lord Jesus, the coming of the Christ.
It’s so sad to see how in his final days the ranks were thinning out. I cringe when I hear the testimony of Demas, he left Paul (and maybe even the Lord) for he fell back in love with this present world (see the warning of 1 John 2:15).
And yet what an indescribable blessing to see Mark restored to ministry (see Acts 15:36-40). In the end, Jesus stood with Paul, delivered him from the lion (the enemy) and granted him the grace to be faithful til death. When they chopped off his head, you can be sure Paul heard those words from the lips of Jesus, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
Aren’t those the words you hope to hear one day? Me too.
Psalm 95 begins with a beautiful invitation to worship! We know that ultimately worship has to do with the posture of our hearts before God, but this Psalm acknowledges the fact that often times our worship is expressed in visible, audible ways.
Let us sing to Him, shout joyfully, come before Him, worship in reverence, bow down, and even kneel down before Him.
He is the Creator of all, the only true God. He is our God and we are His people, the sheep of His hand (under His care).
Today, if you hear His voice, don’t be like the children of Israel who wandered in their hearts and therefore wandered in the wilderness – they forfeited the rest God offered them.
Let’s learn from their mistake. The writer to Hebrews quotes this passage in Hebrews 3:7-11, 15; 4:7. At that time the Christians were going backwards, back to the law because of the persecution they were experiencing. Friend, the best way to NOT go backwards is to grow forward, consider Jesus, the cross of Calvary, the love of God, and do the appropriate thing…worship.
Psalm 96 is another encouragement to sing to God – let our songs be new and true, for He is worthy, and our worship should never get old or stale.
This Psalm brings up another aspect of worship, and that is giving to God an offering. It’s one thing to give tithes (tithes are more obligatory). Offerings go above and beyond what’s required of us.
Psalm 96:7–8 (NKJV) “Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, give to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.”
I love that this Psalm acknowledges the way the whole wide world belongs to God – the heavens, the earth, the sea, the fields, the trees in the woods – it’s all His, so creation looks forward to His return! (see also Romans 8:20-22)
Psalm 96:13 (NKJV) “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth.”
It’s hard to wait, but we will, wait, watch, and work, till He returns.
Proverbs 26:9 (NKJV) “Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.”
There are a variety of views as to the meaning of this Proverb. Some see it as a man brandishing a thorn bush, only to hurt others, or to hurt himself. Some emphasize the fact that when a man is drunk, he doesn’t have the capability of dealing with a thorn that has pierced his hand, his motor skill are impaired.
No matter how you see the physical part of it, the Spiritual application remains the same, that fools quoting Proverbs don’t know how to apply it in order to help themselves. This can hurt or hinder others, as they send mixed messages.
Proverbs 26:10 (NKJV) “The great God who formed everything gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.”
Our Creator God is a compassionate God. He provides for all people, even fools and transgressors. Theologians refer to this as “Common Grace.” Paul spoke about this in his sermon at Lystra.
Acts 14:17 (NKJV) “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Even though we don’t deserve it, especially back in our B.C. days, God displays His love and He blesses us with rain and fruit (food); He even fills our hearts with joy.
Proverbs 26:11 (NKJV) “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
This passage is quoted in 2 Peter 2:22. Some see it as a simple statement on the state of a person, he’s a dog, and he will always be a dog, he’s just doing what dogs do. We also need to see it as a warning – may we never go back to our old wicked ways!
Sandy Adams, “The false prophet did not necessarily begin with a false start. Sincere men can sour. Men set free from the power of sin can soar upwards or slide backwards.”
Sandy Adams, “A man who does not add to his faith will return to his sin.”
Proverbs 26:12 (NKJV) “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
We’ve probably all dealt (and struggled) with someone who’s arrogant, stiff-necked, and stuck in their sin. They won’t listen, they’ve become unteachable, unreachable – keep praying for them, for there’s more hope for a fool than for that person.
And Lord…don’t let that be me.
NET Notes, “Self-conceit is actually part of the folly that the book of Proverbs criticizes; those who think they are wise even though they are not, are impossible to help.”
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.