Tag Archives: mercy

When it’s all said and done

Jeremiah 48-52; we conclude our reading of Jeremiah this week. It is obvious why he is called the “lamenting or weeping prophet.” Next week we will continue with Jeremiah’s writing with the book of Lamentations. .The last chapters of Jeremiah explain the demise of the foreign countries that mistreated Israel during the “disciplining of God’s people.” While we have learned that God uses “non-believing” rulers as instruments of His wrath and punishment, He still will hold them accountable for HOW they implement His punishment. Starting in chapter 46 – 51, we find each nation is judged by Jehovah. When I first started reading the judgments, I thought of Jesus’ message to the 7 churches in Revelation. However, that illustration breaks down rather quickly. While the nations are not the people of God Israel, they are not too far removed ancestrally. Egypt is implicated in chapter 46, as bible students we know enough about Egypt and the on and off wars with the Jews. They get punished for harboring Jews who have deserted Judah, also taking advantage of the plight of Judah’s discipline. Most of the judgement comes at the hands of Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. The image that portrays Babylon as the greatest kingdom, with the Persians-Medes, Greeks and Romans in descending order, is reflected here with Jehovah “giving” the nations to Babylonian power.

Next is Philistia, or the “giants of the coast.”  In chapter 47:5, we find a hint of Elijah and Mt. Carmel, with the “gash yourselves.” Then we move to Chapter 48, and Moab, just a way of understanding better, who is Moab? Moab is one of the children that resulted from the  incest  relationship between Lot and his daughters.  Moab, not from the chosen line of Abraham, find themselves worshiping the Canaanite gods – Chemosh [i.e. Molech and child burnt sacrifices]. Remember that when Israel tried to pass through the Moab land, they were forbidden, God pronounced a judgment on them then.  Now Moab is located in the East and South, or as we would know today as Jordan. Ruth was a Moabitess which God used to bring forth the lineage of David through Boaz.  Right behind the judgment of Moab is his brother Amon – the other part of the Lot and daughters actions. Essentially the same can be said about Amon that has been said about Moab. Even though God is going to give over these kingdoms to Babylon, He finishes His pronouncement by telling them that He will “restore their fortunes.” I have been amazed at the grace and mercy of God in Jeremiah, for while God will punish the nations and His people for their sins, He will restore them back to a right relationship with Himself. This is true about the believer, we do fall into sin patterns, but Our God will restore us to fellowship if we will repent and turn from our wicked ways.

Moving on to Chapter 490, we encounter Edom or Esau; this is a lot closer to Israel that the other nations. However, Edom is not chosen of God – Jacob was. The mistreatment by Edom while Israel was in the wilderness is repaid here. Edom will be a horror to all who witness their destruction. No promise of restoration is given to them. By the way – Edom becomes 1st century Idumea the heritage of King Herod. Think through that for a moment. Later in the chapter we read of two kingdoms, obscure at first but highly significant – Kedar and Hazor. The significance is they are the root ancestry of Mohammad, Islam and Muslims. Known as the “men of the east.” These two places will be haunted, desolate and uninhabited.  God continues His punishment of the nations with Elam, which is the capital of Susa, better known as Iran. [of course we have the story of Esther and how God used her to save the Jews] Finally at the end of the book, while all along God has been telling Jeremiah that Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are the instruments of God for disciplining Judah, we find that God will also take away the kingdom and posture of Babylon. Why? Because of the “over the top” actions towards Judah. The lesson here is God may use who ever He wants, but there is still accountability for how we implement His plans.

In chapter 52, the fall of Judah is complete, the exiles are taken, the Temple is destroyed. A remnant remains – out of all the Jews only 4600 are captive and will be the nucleus that God uses to rebuild and restore the nation.  So begins with the close of Jeremiah 70 years of exile. Why? The people would not listen!! He that has ears let him hear what the angels says to the churches.

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Restored and Redeemed

Isaiah 46-50 is our passage for this week. After so many chapters talking about the destruction and judgment of God on Judah and Israel; there is a light of Hope in these chapters. King Cyrus will be given the power to defeat Babylon; just like the image given to King Nebuchadnezzar depicted.  It is interesting the power is given to a “gentile” king to punish/discipline God’s people. But when the power given is abused or goes too far, then God judges or removes the “grace” position of the ruler. While Israel and Judah are not innocent; there is a limit to what the Heavenly Father will allow to be done.

God enabled the Babylonian empire to grow and dominate the world; but the power was from God, not the kings – obviously many of the kings would take pride and credit for the multitude of conquests. However, they all will be reminded that there is not power except that which is given by God. God will give power to rule; but he will also remove it if it violates His character. In the case of Babylon,pride, merciless and idolatry were the sins that cause d God to judge them harshly. The idol worship is prevalent in all countries including Judah. The Ten commandments really only needed to be two – have no other gods and do not make idols; both of which Israel and Judah broke in daily practice. Matthew 22:37-38, the Great Command says that we are to love the Lord our God with all our, body, mind, soul and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I believe if we will obey this commandment, all else of the christian life will fall into place.

Repeatedly God reminds Judah, that He is God and there is no other. He [God] has been from the beginning; all His words and works were prophetic in relating what was going to happen. Some may be cynic thinking that “looking back and prescribing what has been said to today’s situation” isn’t predictive at all. So God says, I am telling you think that have never been said before, so you will know that I have surely planned it.

Babylon was keenly interested in the occult; in chapter 47:12-13, spells, sorceries, astrologers, new moons and prophesy by the stars is revealed. Today in America and other parts of the world, the same things prevail. Why is it that we take the benevolent graces of God, then turn our back on Him, claiming He is no longer God? No matter how much Israel and Judah hear from the prophets they are just stubborn and stiff-necked. But even through all this negativity, God is Faithful. He will not destroy His people, a remnant will prevail. In fact the whole world will benefit from His provision of a Savior. Every knee will bow [Phil 2:10-11].

Jesus is the Savior, chapter 49, is Jesus the pre-incarnate Son of God speaking to the Father. Jesus is the direct result of the Father putting life in the womb – a phrase that is used no less than 5 times in our reading this week. Verses 1-4, reflect God’s working through Jesus. Now Isiah 52-53 really bring forth the prophecy of Jesus’ death, but that will be next week. In the providence of God, He provides a redeemer in His own Son. Verse 6 illustrates that work the Father has for the Son during His earthly ministry. The message for us from these chapters is this; God has not forgotten His people. While they have left Him and committed great sin; even having gone through severe punishment – God was at work reconciling the world back to Himself through His Son Jesus. In chapter 50:6-7 we find some more descriptions of what Jesus will have to endure as the Savior.

So while these chapters hold a clear restoration image for the then Judah; we also find that there is an equally clear message of Redemption for mankind. Mankind will not only be restored to God’s people, we will be restored to spiritual eternal life. Praise the Lord He has not forgotten us!

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A Whale of a Story

This weeks reading is the book of Jonah. Most of us have heard the story of Jonah and the whale so often, we can recite it from memory. However, looking closer at the story, the point is more than a rebellious prophet unwilling to obey God. Right off the bat we find that God not only pays attention to the prayers of the Saints, but is aware of the evil going on in the world. The commission of Jonah to go preach was met with resistance and out right rebellion.

Throughout this story we find that God is in control. He sets in motion the “natural” things to accomplish His will. The story is more about the Father’s grace and mercy, than it is about Jonah. Even though Nineveh was wicked, God was compassionate to send a witness to them. The knowledge of Jonah about what God could do, resulted in his running away. Jonah knew that God was compassionate, merciful and gracious. Jonah’s problem was he didn’t want salvation for Nineveh, but judgment. Too often we are like that too. We would rather see the “wicked” get theirs, rather than get mercy. Yet this is ironic because Jonah was the object of God’s mercy, as we are – why shouldn’t we want others to come to know the Lord? Probable because then we have to love those who we love to hate.

In this story we have two groups of “Gentiles” the ship mates and the Ninevites. Gentile people were considered unclean and below the Gospel. So strong is Jonah’s hatred for the city of Nineveh, he would rather die, then preach to them.  On the ship we find Jonah taking his ease in the midst of the storm, which God rose up, Jonah is sleeping  and the shipmates are crying out to their gods. In 1:6 the cry of the gentiles – “call out to your God, maybe He will have compassion on us that we should not perish. This is repeated by the King of Nineveh – 3:9. The Gentiles were hopeful that Jonah’s God would be merciful on them. Jonah didn’t care about anyone else but himself and his own prejudices.  The rebellion of Jonah is come to light, the shipmates ask, How Could You Do This? Still unrepentant, “just throw me in the sea, and all will be okay.” Jonah had no regard for what he was doing to others. 1st a person cannot run from God – He is omnipresence, secondly God is mercy and long-suffering and does not want anyone to perish. Oh that we would be as compassionate about the Lost regardless of how sinful they are and how repulsed we feel about them! Just as God raises up a storm, He APPOINTS a fish to swallow Jonah. This speaks of God’s omnipotence. There is nothing that is not subjected unto His authority. Finally, Jonah prays, weird place to pray, but inside a whale is as good as any I guess. I often thought of 3:1 being an example of God giving 2nd chance, however really, this is God still working out His plan. The plan never changed – go to Nineveh and preach!

Nineveh was a big city of 3 days walk, notice though that Jonah only walked 1/3 of the city [3:4]. He didn’t even walk through the entire city to let all know. Here is God’s love revealed – He will use the meager attempts of obedience to accomplish His will. Just as Jonah feared, the people repented and Nineveh last another 100 years.  Rather than be over joyed at the repentance of the people, Jonah still has an attitude against God and the “wicked” Ninevites. The story about the plant that provides relief and then the boiling heat after it withers, exposes the carnality of Jonah. In the end – Jonah the messenger of God cared less for the Lost and more about the plant that provided him shade. The sailors and the Ninevites both call on God for salvation and worship Him for who He is; yet the one most familiar, was “displeased” with God for saving the scoundrels.

I wonder in our time, are those that we would rather see punished, killed or annihilated rather than redeemed by the Grace that we have been recipients of? Jonah preached against the people, not for the people. He only wanted to indict them with the Gospel, not get them redeemed? Are preachers guilty of the same today. Example are, we more prone to preach against homosexuals and drug addicts; adulterers and the like than we are to reach out to them with the Grace and Mercy of God?

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