Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17- The Beautiful Dream

October 17, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 30:1-31:26; 1 Timothy 2:1-15;
Psalm 87:1-7; Proverbs 25:18-19

I have a dream. 
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jeremiah 30:1-31:26

In 1955 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the civil rights leaders who led the Montgomery bus boycott.  He was using a peaceful protest to try to change the condition of blacks in America. Trying to establish that people of every race were God's creations and worthy of equal rights in America, King fought.  His most famous speech was the "I Have A Dream" speech.  In it, King points to a future day when all of God's children will have equality and freedom. Jeremiah dreams of a day like this, also.  It occurs during Jesus' millennial reign on earth.  Today, we see Jeremiah's dream.

Yet in the end, they will be saved.  Today’s prophecy from Jeremiah is a word from God that Israel will not always be punished by God for her rebellion.  It is a message of hope and grace.  It is a message of fulfilled promises.  Because God is faithful and true, He will do what He said He would do for Abraham.  In that future day, foreigners will no longer be masters over the Jews. They will serve a son of David who will be raised up to rule the earth.  This is a strong description of Jesus, who was raised from the dead and will be Israel’s earthly king during the millennial reign.
Chapter 30 describes the Israelites being brought back from distant lands.  This is not fulfilled in our day, as most Jews are not back in the Promised Land.  There is also a promise of peace and quiet.  That also does not describe the present situation in Israel.
God describes Israel’s punishment as necessary because of their many sins and great guilt.  But God also promises to destroy Israel’s enemies in the future and heal Israel’s wounds.  God’s plans are graciously spelled out for His chosen ones.
Chapter 31 is a song of salvation.  Some call this chapter the “I will” chapter.  God describes what He will do.  These are His accomplishments born out of His mercy and love.  Here is a list of the “I will’s”:
·        I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. Vs. 1
·        I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness. Vs. 2
·        I will give rest to the people of Israel. Vs. 2
·        I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. Vs. 4
·        I will bring them from the north and from the distant corners of the earth. Vs. 8
·        I will not forget the blind and lame, the expectant mothers and women about to give birth. 8
·        I will lead them home with great care. Vs. 9
·        I will gather them together and watch over them like a shepherd does his flock. Vs. 10
·        I will turn their mourning into joy. Vs. 13
·        I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. Vs. 13
·        I will supply the priests with an abundance of offerings. Vs. 14
·        I will satisfy my people with my bounty.  I, the Lord, have spoken. Vs. 15
·        I will reward you. Vs. 16
This is a song of hope for a wayward daughter.  The future represents a life of reconciliation with God. For Israel, something new and different will occur.  Israel will embrace her God!
God intends to have a reign of peace, rest, and prosperity on the earth.  He intends to right all of the wrongs.  He will bring justice and righteousness to the earth.  And He will begin this process with the people through whom He chose to bring the message of God to the earth, the Jews.
Jeremiah wakes up at the end of this dream and looks around.  His sleep has been sweet. 
Do you dream of a day when there is no sorrow on the earth?  Do you hope and yearn for righteousness for all?  God promises this to all who believe in Jesus Christ and are trusting in Him.  May you sleep sweetly knowing that God is in control.

1 Timothy 2:1-15
Paul is teaching Timothy how to shepherd the Church. 
Prayer for the Church
One of the most important aspects of leading people is having a heart of prayer for those you lead. What is one to pray?
·        Pray for God to have mercy upon them. Vs. 1
·        Thank God for them. Vs. 1
·        Pray for those who have governmental authority over the land. This will promote the ability to be able to spread the truth about Christ. Vs. 2
Paul explains to Timothy that Jesus is the only person who can reconcile us to God the Father because He is the Mediator.  Jesus gave his life in order to purchase freedom for mankind.  Paul has been chosen by God to give this Good News to the Gentiles.
Conduct in the Church
The Church should be a place where men lift their hands in prayer free from anger and controversy. Please note that the greatest point in this passage is not whether a person has their hands lifted while they pray, but that they have a proper attitude as they approach God.  They are not to be filled with sinful anger and bitterness.  Remember that Christ taught the Lord’s Prayer, where the believer is to ask for sins to be forgiven, just as the person praying has forgiven those who have sinned against them.  Paul is harkening back to this concept.
Women should be modest in their dress. They should draw attention to themselves by their good works, not their good looks. I need to take a moment to explain, based on my research, what Paul is trying to emphasize with regard to women and the Church.  We need context for what Paul was dealing with in the Roman and Greek religions of his day.
In the Roman world of Paul’s day, women were a principle part of pagan worship.  They were the leaders of the heathen religions and held prominent positions.  In the city of Corinth, the temple of Aphrodite was a place of religious prostitution. There were thousands of vestal virgins, who were housed in the temple at the top of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. They were characterized by their flowing and disheveled hair.  This is why the Apostle Paul encourages women to cover their heads.  He is trying to separate Christianity from the pagan religions of his day. In Ephesus, where Timothy is pastoring, women held prominent positions in the temple of Diana. As priestesses, sex was part of the mystery religions.
Paul is trying to set a context for Christianity to be a light among dark practices. Women’s roles in worship needed to be addressed. Paul wants women in the Christian churches to distinguish themselves as having different roles than the women in pagan religions.
According to Paul, women were to pray, but Paul is emphasizing that they should not present themselves like the heathens who emphasized the physical over the spiritual.  Women were not to be sex objects in worship.  The Gentiles needed this instruction, since their culture promoted women as religious prostitutes.
With regard to women being silent and not teaching in the church, some of the commentary I have read indicate that Paul did not want women to teach by making an appeal for people to follow Christ based on sex, as was done in the pagan religions. This is what he is talking about, rather than never having a woman teach anything, ever. He did not want invitations to follow Christ to be made to look like propositions to have sex in God’s name.  Christianity had to distinguish itself from pagan mystery religions. 
God has used women throughout history for ministry and His work.  Deborah, Esther, Ruth, Lydia, Joanna, Priscilla, and Phoebe are Biblical examples of women who God used for His purposes.  In modern times, the likes of Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot, Anne Graham Lotz, Kay Arthur, and Beth Moore are evidence that God uses women to draw people to Christ. With this being said, I think it is important to maintain balance in the roles between men and women in the church.  Women should promote males being in leadership in the Church.  It is easy for women to overwhelm and dominate situations.  Women tend to be more verbal and willing to be involved. This passage of Scripture encourages women to allow men to take the leadership roles in the local church.  This does not mean that women are to never teach.
The next section deals with Adam being made first and then, Eve.  Sin comes into the world through women because women bear all children and all people are sinners.  Therefore, women are the vessels through which sin comes into the world.  The flip side of this is that a woman is also the vessel through which the problem of sin is solved by the Child that she bears.  Paul’s phrase “women will be saved by childbearing” can also be interpreted to mean “women will be saved by the birth of the Child.”  Everyone is saved by the fact that the virgin Mary bore a child who would redeem the world. That child was Jesus Christ. This is the child that was promised to the world in the Garden of Eden.  Mankind has always been aware that Eve was given this promise. Rather than being a section of Scripture that relegates women to a silent cast of baby producers, Paul is actually elevating women as the creatures who brought salvation to the world.  He does use this as a means to say that women are valuable, even in the case of men being in the leadership roles in the church.
Paul wants women to be cherished, rather than reduced to religious prostitutes.  Goddess worship was a distortion of the promise that the Redeemer Child would enter the world through a woman.  Paul is attempting to squelch the misinformation propagated by goddess worship (Asherah, Diana/Artemis, Aphrodite). Christians should not take this teaching to mean that women cannot be productive members of the modern church.  God has gifted both men and women with the ability to teach, evangelize, and spread His Good News. God always has and always will use both genders for His purposes.
Psalm 87:1-7
Here is a psalm describing what Jerusalem will be like when Christ is reigning on earth.  Notice that people from all over the world will be considered citizens of Jerusalem.  The millennial reign is for all people groups on the earth.
Proverbs 25:18-19
Lies wound people.
What did you learn today?  Please share.

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton