3/23/2017

Like a Gentle Lamb Led to the Slaughter (Jeremiah 11:19)

 A Weeping Gentle Lamb

  • "I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughterI did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, 'Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more'" (Jer 11:19, NIV).
  • "I was like a (docile, pet, HCSB) lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! 'Let's destroy this man and all his words,' they said. 'Let's cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever'" (Jer 11:19, NLT).
  • "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" (Isa 53:7, NIV). "Unjustly condemned, he was led away (He was humiliated and received no justice - Greek). No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream (For his life was taken from the earth - Greek). But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people" (Isa 53:8, NLT).
  • "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain (slaughtered, NLT), standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders" (Rev 5:6a, NIV).
  • "Then the people said, 'Come on, let's plot a way to stop Jeremiah. We have plenty of priests and wise men and prophets. We don't need him to teach the word and give us advice and prophecies. Let's spread rumors about him (attack him with our tongues, NIV; strike him with the tongue, ESV; denounce him, HCSB) and ignore what he says (pay no attention to anything he says, NIV)'" (Jer 18:18, NLT).
  • "You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life. 59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause! 60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance (all their malice, HCSB), all their plots against me. 61 Lord, you have heard their insults (taunts, ESV; vile names they call me, NLT), all their plots against me—62 what my enemies (assailants, ESV) whisper and mutter (slander and murmuring, HCSB) against me all day long" (Lam 3:58-62).
  • "Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people" (Jer 9:1, NIV).
  • "If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord's flock will be taken captive" (Jer 13:17, NIV).
  • "Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasingfor the VirginDaughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow" (Jer 14:17, NIV).

3/21/2017

The Broken Covenant (Jeremiah 11-12)


"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" (Jer 12:5).


Ch.1-29 deals primarily with the broken covenant and the consequent judgment. Ch.1 is the call. Ch.2 is the charge--the formal, legal lawsuit. Ch.3 is the unsuccessful call for Judah to repent and return to the covenant. Ch.4-6 describes the consequent judgment: the Babylonian invasion. Ch.7-10 indicts their false religion (primarily idolatry) and its punishment. Idolatry is at the heart of the broken covenant the the broken relationship with God.

Ch.11--which continues to ch.29--focuses on Jeremiah's role as God's prophet in conflict with the kings of Judah and their false prophets, who oppose God's word and prophesy lies in God's name. In 11:1-17 God instructs Jeremiah to proclaim to the people of Jerusalem that they have shattered the covenant, and thus their relationship with God is over. This results in one of the central themes in these chapters: the conflict and hostility that Jeremiah will face from all the leaders (kings, prophets, priests--even his own family and clan).
  • 1-5 God tells Jeremiah to remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem of the curses and blessings spelled out in the covenant (Dt.)
  • 6-8 Because the people disobeyed the curses will fall on them.
  • 9-13 The people's idolatry has annulled the covenant.
  • 14 Since they broke the covenant, Jeremiah is told to not intercede anymore for the people (7:16).
  • 15-17 God laments the tragedy that his own beloved people must now be destroyed.
11:1-17 stresses the broken covenant and in 11:18-12:6 Jeremiah is betrayed by his own people (his neighbors and relatives in his hometown), so he calls for justice and judgment on them.

Notes:
  • By word count Jeremiah is the largest of the prophetic books of the OT. Because of its size, this book was placed at the head of the Major Prophets in some ancient lists and manuscripts. Later tradition identifies Jeremiah as the author of the book of Lamentations.
  • Jeremiah's ministry extended > 40 years, encompassing much of the reigns of the last 5 kings of Judah. He was a contemporary of the prophets Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah's ministry beginning with his call in 627 b.c. extending beyond the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.
  • Because his ministry is one of the most thoroughly documented in the OT, Jeremiah is one of the best known of the prophets.
  • Jeremiah is known as "The Weeping Prophet." This man suffered as no other Biblical character save the Son of God himself. Some scholars have documented aspects of Jeremiah's public ministry themed as that of "agony" with 3 distinct aspects of his personal suffering being:
    • Ministerial: Jeremiah experienced the agony of his message of judgment. He saw clearly in vision the total destruction of the land he loved. He saw the suffering of men, women and children. Emotionally he was drained each time he shared those dire visions with his audience (13:17). The people he loved—the people he knew were standing on the brink of national destruction —refused to listen. The men of his own hometown plotted his demise (11:19, 21).
    • Psychological: Jeremiah's personal loneliness intensified his agony. If ever a man needed a sympathetic spouse, this prophet surely did. Yet God ordered him not to marry (16:2). For the same reason God prohibited Jeremiah from attending social gatherings, whether feasts or funerals (16:5– 9). This prophet was to be a "loner" and through his loneliness he would preach a sermon.
    • Physical: Jeremiah's agony had physical as well as psychological dimensions. The chief officer of the Temple had him seized, flogged and put in the public stocks overnight (20:1). During the last days of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was arrested on the charge of treason. Again he was beaten, then was thrown into a subterranean dungeon where he nearly died (37:11).
  • Historical Contextual Analysis A Timeline Perspective… Historical Background of the Book. As predicted by the prophet Nahum, the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh had fallen to the expanding Babylonian empire around 612 B.C. During this time, King Josiah finished his reign in Judah around 609 B.C. (2 Kings 22). He was initially replaced in rapid succession first by Jehoahaz and then by Jehoiakim who ruled from 609 B.C. to about 602 B.C. During his reign, the Babylonians first invaded Judah in 606 B.C. and carried some Jews into captivity. Very shortly, Jehoiakim would rebel against the Babylonians and be replaced by Jehoiachin around 598 B.C. In turn, Jehoiachin rebelled, the Babylonians again invaded the land, confiscated most of the treasures from the temple, carried most of the Jews into captivity in Babylonian territory, and installed Zedekiah as King. After about 10 years, Zedekiah also rebelled which resulted in the third deportation of Jews, an 18 month siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the city in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25). Solomon's temple, which had existed for about 360 years, was destroyed along with the city.
  • The prophet dictated his messages to the scribe Baruch.
    • This first edition of the Book of Jeremiah was destroyed in 604 b.c. by the tyrant King Jehoiakim. God, however, commissioned Jeremiah to produce another scroll.
    • This second edition of the book contained all the words of the first scroll and "many similar words" as well (36:32).
    • A third edition of the book must have been produced by Baruch about 560 b.c in Egypt after the death of Jeremiah.
  • The historical Jeremiah was deeply in the politics of his day and paid a high price for it by way of ridicule, rejection, persecution, imprisonment, and exile. At the same time, the literary character of Jeremiah personifies the sufferings of the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
  • Clustered in the first major section of the book are the "Confessions" of Jeremiah which are specifically found in passages 11:18-12:6, 15:1021, 17:4-18; 18:18-23, and 20:7-18. "Confessions" are variations of the lament genre found principally in the Psalms and in the Book of Job. Laments which are "appeals for divine help in distress and are subdivided into two principal categories of Individual Laments and Communal Laments.

3/19/2017

Preferring Anything to God and the Truth (Jeremiah 8-10)

7:1 - 8:3; 8:4 - 9:11, 12-26

"This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord,who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,'declares the Lord" (Jer 9:23-24).

"Lord, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. 24 Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing" (Jer 10:23-24).
  • 8:4-7 People stubbornly clinging to deceit.
    • "I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, 'What have I done?' Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord" (Jer 8:6-7).
  • 8:8-12 Prophets and priests deceive the people.
    • "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.11 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace.12 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord" (Jer 8:10b-12).
  • 8:13-17 People flee when they understand that the prophecies of peace were false. "...the Lord our God has doomed us to perish" (Jer 8:14).
  • 8:18-9:1 Jeremiah cries out in sorrow.
    • "You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?" (Jer 8:18, 21-22).
  • 9:2-6 People characterized by lies and deceitfulness.
  • 9:7-11 Because of the constant deceitfulness, God will completely devastate and make desolate Jerusalem and the towns of Judah.
  • 9:12-16 The one who is wise will understand that the judgment on the people of Jerusalem is just and well deserved.
  • 9:17-22 Using a wordplay that seems to suggest a sense of "poetic justice," God declares that since the people refuse to listen to his voice, they will now listen to waiting.
  • 9:23-24 Knowing God in the context of his love and his justice is more important than wisdom, strength or riches.
  • 9:25-26 Footnote: The coming judgment is broader than described so far, for it will also fall on Judah's unrighteous neighboring nations.
  • 10:1-5 God exhorts the people to avoid following the valueless ways of the other nations, especially in regard to worshiping their impotent gods that have been made by human hands.
  • 10:6-10 Jeremiah declares that it makes much more sense to fear (worship) the all-powerful, living God than to worship worthless, human-constructed idols.
  • 10:11-16 All the worthless false idols, which did not create the world, will perish. God, on the other hand, is the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth, the one who actually controls the thunderstorms and rain.
  • 10:17-22 God declares that he will hurl the people of Judah out of the land because of their continued idol worship.
  • 10:23-25 Finally, Jeremiah prays again to God, acknowledging God's sovereignty and calling on God to pour out his wrath on the unbelieving nations while showing mercy toward him.
Book Outline:

  • Ch. 1: The Call (God chose Jeremiah before birth) [Sun 2/12/17]
  • Ch. 2: The Charge (Spiritual adultery/idolatry) [Sun 2/19/17]
  • Ch. 3: The Plea (Repent, return, change, circumcise your heart … but there was none)
  • Ch. 4-6: The Judgment (The Babylonian invasion is the consequence of not repenting) [Sun 3/19/17]
    • Ch. 4: The Warning of Coming Judgment. It begins and ends with a trumpet warning.
    • Ch. 5: The Reasons for the Coming Judgment. Not one person does justice. The Bible teachers lie.
    • Ch. 6: The Inevitability of Judgment. Refusing/unable to listen to God's word.
  • Ch. 7-10: The Self-deception (False religion and its punishment) [Sun 3/26/17]
    • Ch. 7: Preferring rituals to a relationship.
    • Ch. 8-9: Preferring lies to the Word of God.
    • Ch. 10: Preferring idols to the Living God.
  • Ch. 11-29: The Conflict (Jeremiah's conflict with the leaders who say "peace, peace" when there is no peace)
  • Ch. 30-33: Consolation / Restoration (Future comfort for Israel and Judah)
  • Ch. 34-35: Covenant faithfulness
  • Ch. 36-45: Refusing prophetic warnings and judgment falls on Jerusalem (Present catastrophe of Judah)
  • Ch. 46-51: Judgment against the nations (Prophecies concerning the nations)
  • Ch. 52: Fall of Jerusalem (Historical appendix/supplement/recap)

3/09/2017

Don't Go To Church To Deceive Yourself (Jeremiah 7)

Big Idea: Why go to church if you won't repent?

"This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!' But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless" (Jer 7:3-4, 8). "But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?" (Jer 7:19) "I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attentioninstead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward" (Jer 7:23-24).

An outline:
  • 1 The call of Jeremiah.
  • 2 The charge against Judah.
  • 3 The call to repentance.
  • 4-6 The coming Babylonian invasion.
  • 7-10 False religion and its punishment.
  • 11-29 The prophet in conflict.
  • 30-33 The book of restoration.
  • 34-35 Covenant faithfulness.
  • 36-45 The fall of Jerusalem and the aftermath.
  • 46-51 Judgment on the nations.
  • 52 Recapping the fall of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 7 is typically called the "Temple Sermon." (False Religion Worthless - NIV.) It has 6 parts:
  1. 7:1-8 Change your ways and I will let you live in Jerusalem.
  2. 7:9-11 Will you break the Ten Commandments and think you're OK?
  3. 7:12-15 Sin will bring destruction to Jerusalem, even though the presence of God dwells there.
  4. 7:16-29 God tells Jeremiah to stop praying for the people.
  5. 7:30-34 If you sin and go to church terrible judgment will come.
  6. 8:1-3 Judgment will come to the leaders who worship idols.
7:1-10:25 is loosely connected around the theme of false, perverted religion and its consequent, just punishment. This section opens with a "sermon" delivered by Jeremiah at the temple gates as people were going to the temple. In contemporary terms he was saying to them, "Don't go to church." The hostile reaction to this sermon is in Jeremiah 26.

What infuriates God is that while people continue to live in sin, they still went to church (the temple). What audacity! God is the very one whom they should fear most, and their total lack of reverence and respect for his righteous presence angers him immensely. This same anger is seen in Jesus when he encounters the corrupt money changers right in the temple courtyard. He lashes out at them, connecting them with Jeremiah 7 by accusing them of making the temple a "den of robbers" (Mt 21:13; Mk 11:17; Lk 19:46), implying a coming judgment on Jerusalem similar to that which Jeremiah proclaimed. God is particularly offended when people treat him as if he is not really concerned with sin, or as if he has no power to punish those who disrespect and defy him. But if we come into God's presence to worship with repentant hearts and with an awareness of our sin and his righteous power to judge us, he forgives us and accepts us into his presence.

3/01/2017

The Facets and Dimensions of Grace

  • We become grace (1 Cor 15:10).
  • We testify to grace (Ac 20:24).
  • We grow in grace (2 Pet 3:18).
  • We be strong in grace (2 Tim 2:1).
Paul's progression in the grace of God:
  • The least of the apostles (1 Cor 15:9).
  • The least of the Lord's people (Eph 3:8).
  • The worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).

2/28/2017

Disaster Is Coming (Jeremiah 4-6)


Big Idea: (1) Those who reject a relationship with God and refuse to repent will experience the terrible wrath and judgment of God.

(2) The visions of judgment are so horrific that Jeremiah can hardly bear them. Once judgment comes, there is no escape.

(3) Refusing to obey God is indeed very foolish, for even the sea obeys God.

"For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible disaster" (Jer 4:6b). "Your own conduct and actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart! Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry" (Jer 4:18-19). "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophet prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end" (Jer 5:30-31). "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed (uncircumcised) so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in in" (Jer 6:10). "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, "We will not listen"'" (Jer 6:16).

In the church we often focus on the positive side of the gospel, stressing eternal life and forgiveness of sins. However, Jeremiah (particularly 4:5-31) forces us to see that unrepentant sin, open defiance of God, and refusal to listen to him will result in experiencing the terrible wrath of God. Jeremiah also emphasizes that God continues to plead for repentance, even as the judgment unfolds.
  • Ch. 1: The call of the prophet. (The Call and the Word of God)
  • Ch. 2: The charge of idolatry/spiritual adultery. (Spiritual Adultery)
  • Ch. 3: The calls for repentance, but there is none.
  • Ch. 4-6: The consequent and inevitable judgment. The Babylonian invasion is the means that God will use to pour out his wrath.
Where is the gospel in the seemingly merciless wrath of God? The punishment and wrath of God's judgment is devastating and bitter. It is what we deserve--we who forsake God and replace it with some other desire, like a harlot availing herself to her lovers (Jer 2:20; 3:1), and like a wild donkey in heat (Jer 2:24). Yet, God in his unfathomable mercy and grace, took the wrath and judgment that we deserve upon himself, so that we, who deserve wrath and judgment, can be forgiven and restored (2 Cor 5:21).

In Jeremiah ch. 2 God describes the terrible sin that the people of Jerusalem and Judah have committed. Like a wild donkey in heat (Jer 2:24), they committed spiritual adultery and shattered their relationship with him and brought disaster upon themselves. God become like a scorned jilted lover. Yet in 3:1-4:4 God pleads with them to repent and return to him (Jer 3:12, 14, 22; 4:1, 3-4). But they do not repent and became even more entrenched in their sin and rejection of him. Chapters 4-6 (4:5-6:30) described the consequent wrath of God, the inevitable judgment that will be carried out through the imminent Babylonian invasion. The boiling pot tilting from the north (Jer 1:13-14) has finally tipped over. Now the brutal Babylonian army pours out all across the land of Judah.
  1. The warning of coming judgment (ch. 4). It begins with a trumpet sounding the alarm as the Babylonian invasion begins (Jer 4:5) and ends with the dying scream of Daughter Zion (Jer 4:31). Jeremiah also is in anguish (Jer 4:18-19).
  2. The reasons: Why the judgment is coming (ch. 5). Not even one person "does justice" (Jer 5:1). The Bible teachers speak lies about God (Jer 5:12-13, 31). How guilty Jerusalem is and how well deserving is the judgment of God (Jer 5:19). Even the sea obeys God, but not his people (Jer 5:23-24).
  3. The inevitability of judgment (ch. 6).
Since the people will not turn away (shub) from their sin and turn to (shub) God in repentance (3:1-44), God will not turn away (shub) from his wrath (Jer 4:8, 28).

Chapter 4: How bitter it will be when the judgment comes on those who bring it upon themselves (Jer 4:18). The entire land under attack.
  • 5-9 Sound the trumpet to announce the coming disaster so that people can flee to the fortified cities.
  • 10-12 False prophets proclaim peace (Jer 6:14), but God is bringing judgment.
  • 13-17 The Babylonian chariots rapidly advance.
  • 18-21 Jeremiah cries out in anguish.
  • 22 How foolish the people are to bring disaster on themselves.
  • 23-28 The destruction and judgment is so bad that it is described as a reversal of creation.
  • 29 No place to hide.
  • 30-31 Personified Jerusalem once again plays the harlot to seduce the invaders and save her life, but it doesn't work. The Babylonians kill her.
Chapter 5: The culpability and well deserved judgment comes on those who refuse to obey God and embrace immorality, social injustice and dishonesty.
  • 1-9 God tells Jeremiah to go search the streets and try to find one person who "does justice" and seeks truth.
  • 10-13 Because of rampant lies and dishonesty (Jer 5:12-13), Jerusalem will be stripped of its branches like a vineyard.
  • 14-19 The Babylonians will come and devour Jerusalem like a fire burning up wood.
  • 20-25 Even the mighty sea obeys God, but not his foolish people.
  • 26-31 The entire society of Jerusalem--the leaders and the people--is characterized by social injustice (Jer 5:28).
Chapter 6: There are serious consequences for those who rebelliously replace the word of God with lies. (Like bookends, it parallels 4:5-31, both being in the present tense.) It focuses on the siege of Jerusalem.
  • 1-8 The Babylonians have Jerusalem under siege and are anxious to get on with the attack.
  • 9-15 Israel will be gleaned as a vine is gleaned of its grapes, for its sin is great.
  • 16-21 The disaster comes because the people have refused to listen to God and to walk in its ways.
  • 22-26 The people of Jerusalem are terrified as the cruel Babylonian army approaches.
  • 27-30 Jeremiah's concluding summary of the corruption and rebellion of Jerusalem and Judah using the analogy of smelting (purifying metals) (Eze 22:17-22).

2/27/2017

Peace Like A River


  1. Peace Like a River (Isaiah 47-48). O That My People Listen.
    1. The tragedy of idolatry (Isaiah 47): What sinners deserve. [Listen to what happens to idolators.]
    2. The triumph of grace (Isaiah 48): What sinners NEVER deserve. [Listen to the truth about yourself and about God.]
  2. The God of Self-Giving Love (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). The Servant's Shocking Salvation.
    1. (Success) Introduction (52:13-15): Success through suffering.

                      2. (Suffering) Why he was despised (53:1-3): Unattractive and sorrowful.

                                      3. (Significance) What his burden is (53:4-6): God laid our sins on him.

                      4. (Suffering) What his life as a servant was like (53:7-9): Meekness before violence and injustice voluntarily.

      5. (Success) What the nature of his servanthood is (53:10-12): Flourishing and exaltation through humiliation.

  3. The Invitation to Grace (Isaiah 54-55). A Time To Be Found.
    1. Command - Be Happy (Isaiah 54): Sing
      1. A barren woman having many kids (1-3).
      2. A lonely woman loved by the man of her dreams (4-10).
      3. A broken city rebuilt with jewels (11-17).

II. Invitation - Be Even Happier (Isaiah 55): Come

  1. You're gonna get free food and drinks at a gourmet restaurant (1-3).
  2. You're gonna be gorgeous (4-5).
  3. You're gonna be forgiven (6-9).
  4. You're gonna flourish (10-11).
  5. You're gonna dance (12-13).