Jeremiah 16:16-18:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3;
Psalm 81:1-16; Proverbs 25:6-8
They have stumbled off the ancient highways of good, and they walk the muddy paths of sin.
We begin today with God declaring that He sees every sin that Israel is committing. Perhaps they have forgotten the God who created this universe. He knows all. You cannot hide your sin from Him. The thought of being able to deceive God is ridiculous. One thing enrages God is that rebellious Israel/Judah goes under every green tree to worship the goddess Asherah and participate in immoral sex as part of Asherah worship. He's not happy about this. God warns that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (vs. 9). Who can really know it? God can, that's who!
Jeremiah inserts some cries and laments for God to help him as he is persecuted. There are plots against his life. It is hard. God has Jeremiah in a wilderness situation. God cares for those who are in the wilderness. He will care for Jeremiah. That does not mean that this situation will be easy for Jeremiah.
God points out another rebellion. The Israelites are buying and selling at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. Remember that God instituted the Sabbath rest as a picture/illustration of the rest that we find in Christ. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. Observing the Sabbath shows faith in the future Messiah. They are to show faith by observing this law. They are failing to show faith in Christ.
God explains that He is like a potter and we are like clay. We are not steel, which is hard to shape. We are malleable and are formed by the intimate touch of the Divine Artist. Interestingly, when you actually look at the chemical composition of a human being, we are made of the same elements as clay. God is being accurate in this description. God goes on to point out that He is in control of raising up nations and tearing them down. He is able to change His mind if a certain kingdom or nation repents of their sins. God can prevent their demise if they repent.
In the final section of this passage Jeremiah explains that the people of Judah are spreading lies about him. They are plotting to kill him. Jeremiah entreats God to punish his (Jeremiah's) enemies.
If God were to speak of his relationship with you would He call you a rebellious teen or an obedient child?
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3
It should be no surprise after reading our passage in Jeremiah today that the Apostle Paul entreats the Thessalonians to refrain from sexual sin. Part of showing faith in God is respecting the proper boundaries for sexual behavior. Intimacy is designed to illustrate the intimacy we have with God. It is designed to be enjoyed in the proper context, which is marriage. Paul had to teach the pagan Gentiles, who had become believers, to begin to think differently about sex. To sleep with another Christian brother's wife was to reject not that brother, but God.
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to live a quiet life, working with their hands. There was a problem with the Thessalonians goofing off and not working. They had a tendency to be freeloaders. Paul points out that this is not desirable behavior.
Next, Paul addresses a question about what happens to Christians who have died believing in Christ prior to His return to earth. This teaching is designed to prevent sorrow at the death of a believer. Here is the teaching:
- The first point is that when Jesus returns, He will be bringing with Him all of the Christians who have died before His coming. Vs. 14 At this point, the Christians who have died and are with Jesus do not have their glorified bodies.
- The Lord will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call like that of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. The commanding shout is like the shout that brought forth Lazarus. The voice of an archangel is like the pronouncements when Christ was born the first time He came to earth. Remember, the trumpet call is always the start of God's movement on earth in some way. Vs. 16
- The dead in Christ will have their earthly bodies raised at this time to meet their souls/spirits. Vs. 16
- Those who are on the earth at His coming and are still alive will be caught up in the air to meet Him. The word "caught up" in the Greek language is the word harpazo which means "rapture." These saints, who are alive at His coming, will not experience death, but will be transformed into their glorified bodies. Vs. 17
- This concept of being "caught up" to be with the Lord prior to His judgment of the earth is to be a comfort and encouragement to believers. Vs. 18
Paul encourages the Thessalonian believers to comfort and encourage one another with this concept of Christ's return for the Church before the earthly judgment of the Great Tribulation. He wants this to be part of their conversation of faith.
Is this part of your conversation of faith? Is this one of the things that makes you glad that you have been given the gift of faith in Christ?
Here we have a psalm that shows what God will do if we will only follow Him. He will free our hands from heavy tasks (like carrying our own sins) and relieve our shoulders of their burdens. He would feed us with the best food and satisfy us with honey from a rock. That would help my sweet tooth!
We have to open our mouths wide to receive His good gifts.
Be a patient person. Then, you won't make a fool of yourself.
What did you see as you read today?