Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12- A Household Joke

October 12, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 19:1-21:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28;
Psalm 82:1-8; Proverbs 25:9-10

Jeremiah 19:1-21:14

One way to discredit a political opponent is to make them a household joke.  This has been a tactic that has worked well in modern American politics.  In the 2008 elections the media attempted to discredit Sarah Palin who was running as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party.  Saturday Night Live did skits with Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin and many people in popular culture thought that Sarah Palin actually said many of the things that were said in the skits.  The comedy spoofs marginalized the candidate.  She became a household joke.  Recently at the White House Press Club dinner, a comedian ripped into Donald Trump, who at that time was considering running for president of the United States.  It was a test of whether of not Trump could handle the fire of ridicule. Ridicule is one of the sharpest weapons in the arsenal of people who want to diminish those in power.  We see in today's reading that Jeremiah is miserable because he has become a household joke in Judah.

As our reading begins the Lord has Jeremiah buy a clay pot and then has him take the leaders and priests of Jerusalem out to the Potsherd Gate.  This is the gate where broken pottery was discarded. You may not be surprised to learn that Jeremiah has a negative message for this group of important people.  Here is some of what the Lord has to say through him,
"They have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!"  Jeremiah 19:4-5
We have talked a lot about Baal and Asherah worship.  Baal was the pagan god who supposedly brought rain to the crops.  This agricultural society needed rain in order for the crops to grow and for food to feed the people.  The One True God is angry that the people are turning to false gods in their time of need.  He is even more angry that they would sacrifice their children in the fires of idols.  May I say that in our day and age many people are sacrificing their children on the altar of abortion for economic reasons.  This is equivalent to what is going on here.  Their children were being sacrificed for economic reasons.  This is abhorrent to God.  God is about to judge this behavior from the people of Judah.  God will also judge the nations in our day who sacrifice their children in abortion. 

Jeremiah smashes the clay jar that the Lord has told him to buy and declares that God is going to smash the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair.  Judgment. God mentions that people go on their flat-roofed homes and burn incense to their star gods.  Do you consult horoscopes to determine your future?  That is similar to what these people were doing.

We learn that the priest in the Temple has Jeremiah arrested for publicly telling people that they are going to be judged with disaster from God. Jeremiah is whipped and put in the stocks.  Public humiliation is part of his lifestyle as a prophet.  Jeremiah is very depressed after he is released.  He is angry and depressed.  What Jeremiah describes almost sounds like what we would call Turrets Syndrome.  He says that he has become a household joke because his words burst forth violently with phrases like "Violence and Destruction!!!" He says that he shouts this. This has caused people to mock him. But Jeremiah admits that he cannot stop the behavior.  God's words burn in his heart like a fire until he spews them out of his mouth.  Lies and rumors about Jeremiah's demise are swirling around Jerusalem.

Jeremiah finds comfort in the fact that the Lord is like a great warrior next to him.  God is protecting Jeremiah.  God is delivering Jeremiah from his oppressors, but this does not stop Jeremiah from wishing he was never born.  Very similar to Job's misery and depression, Jeremiah moans for the scenario of dying in his mother's womb. He feels that his entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.  Here we have another picture of God allowing someone to be in a wilderness situation.  Jeremiah is in the desert emotionally.  He is weak, but God is strong.  He is poor in spirit.  Jesus promises in his Sermon on the Mount that the poor in spirit will inherit eternal life.

Jeremiah plainly tells King Zedekiah that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is going to invade Jerusalem and cart away all of the riches collected by King David and King Solomon.  Remember that years ago King Hezekiah showed the delegation from Babylon all of Judah's storehouses of treasure when they came to see him after his recovery from a life threatening illness.  God had the prophet Isaiah prophesy at that time that Babylon would come and take the kingdom into captivity in the future.  Now God is fulfilling that prophecy.  Jeremiah gives the royal family one last chance to repent of their dishonesty and lack of faith.

Is God calling you to repent?  Are you experiencing a wilderness in your life?  God is strong when we are weak.  Do you feel that our nation has corporate sins like abortion that God will judge one day?

1 Thessalonians 5:-28

Paul calls the Thessalonians to be alert and sober.  Drunkenness and partying were part of the Greek culture in which the Thessalonians lived.  Paul is encouraging them to live differently.  Keeping in mind that the next phase of God's program for mankind would include Christ returning to earth to receive his Church, Paul wants the Thessalonians to live like people of the light.

Paul uses a military analogy, encouraging the Thessalonians to wear the body armor of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. This protects both our hearts and our minds. Our hearts must be covered in faith and love, and our minds are protected by the knowledge that we are saved from our sins. These truths make us able to fight against temptation and evil. We see this same illustration in Ephesians 6.

With this in mind, the believers in the church are to encourage one another.  We are to honor those who have become leaders in the church and live in peace with one another. The leaders are there to warn people who were lazy, encourage those who are timid in the faith, take care of the weak, and practice patience with everyone.

Wow.  That is a great list.  Are you able to work on these behaviors and attitudes? Do you encourage lazy people in the church to work, rather than take hand outs from people?  Do you help those who are truly weak through illness that has come upon them?  How about those who are weak emotionally?

We will be able to be used by the Lord if we do not stifle the Holy Spirit in our lives by evil behavior. God is the one who can keep us blameless until the day of the Lord's coming occurs.

Remember behavior matters.  Also, faith is seen in your obedience.

Psalm 82:1-8

God presides over heaven's courts.  Do you realize this?  One day justice will prevail.  We want God to rise up and judge because He rules the nations.

Proverbs 25:9-10

Be discreet when you have a disagreement with your neighbor.  Do not gossip about your problems with them. It could ruin your reputation, if you do gossip.

What are you learning as you read?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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