Monday, January 25, 2021

In the Days of Jeremiah

 Some historical context in which he preached:

Hezekiah reigned before Manasseh and was a good king.

King Manasseh - 2 Kings. 21:1-6 - (55 years)

King Amon - 2 Kings 21:19-22 - (2 years)

So.... 57 years of "Evil  (sin, rebellion against God)... in the eyes of the Lord" - (which = according to God!)

Enter Josiah - 2 Kings 22:1-2    Jeremiah called in the 13th. year of Josiah  (King = 21 years old.)

Today's story begins in 18th. year of Josiah  (King = 26 years old)

So..... this good King (Josiah) had been on the throne 18 years and prophet Jeremiah has been preaching 5 years when the story begins.

2 Kings 22:3-20, 23:1-15, 21-25   (note:  the King had never heard the Law read before)

So... after 31 years of Rule (by Josiah) + 13 years reform work +18 years of preaching (by Jeremiah)....

(1)  Josiah dies in battle ... at the age of 39

(2)  Judah (nations) goes right back where they were under Manasseh!!!  Josiah's godliness  & reform didn't turn the Nation, people, his own sons!!

What follows = 5 evil rulers over 23 years ending with destruction of Jerusalem, temple and 70 years of exile!

THAT = the Story/ the History - the WASM  

Anything here for us?  today?  an ISM!!

#1.  Leadership matters  Israel (northern 10 tribes) went down faster and fell 150 years earlier!!
Israel had 19 kings over 200 years --  none good!!
Judah - had 20 kings over 350 years ... 8 good and 12 bad.

#2.  Great leadership does not guarantee a great nation.  Wasn't that Josiah did "too little too late", rather was just TOO LATE!!!

#3.  Religious reform is not necessarily HEART reform.
josiah changed LAWS - was 13 years with absolute authority and radical reform!!  But, he couldn't change HEARTS   (even his sons!)

#4  The need is NOT to return to the old ways, but to return to the LORD! 
Not a national decision but an individual decision!!!   Revival happens one life at a time!

#5.  A nation can go too far - example:  Huldah - 2 Kings 22:16, Jer. 7:16, 14:11-12

#6.  A nation can also turn - Jer. 18:7-8  Example:  Nineveh
On one hand there is room for grief/sorrow  (Lamentations)
However, there is also room for hope!!  (Lamentations)

BUT for the believer .. is never a place for DESPAIR!!  We're not allowed that.

#7.  Even in the worst case scenario ... God can bring great good out of great evil!  Example:  the Exile - 70 years.  Cured Israel of idolatry.   The Cross.

Rev. 13:5-10 - What's God doing??   Answer:  Something (ultimately) GOOD!!

Monday, January 18, 2021

God's Call

Three subjects:

I)  The Prophet's Call - (Jeremiah and others)

II)  The Vocational Call - ("call to special ministry")

III)  The Christian Call - (which = applicable to all of us!)


I)  The Prophet's Call  Jer. 1:4-10 - God's word came to Him!!  Vs. 10 - nations rise and fall just as he prophecied.  Jeremiah was universal prophet.  

Note:  #1:  God is the Caller - (the initiator) - call = audible?  strong impression? 
The prophets' calls were (a) all similar
                             yet    (b) all unique - personal
examples:  Moses & bush, Isaiah & temple, Ezekiel by river - called to prophecy in Babylon

           #2.  The Call was a Summons (which is more than an invitation/request)  It was a Clear, Authoritative call... TO a particular work, task, ministry, people  (example:  Jonah to Nineveh) - Jonah 1:1-2
Note:  the prophet may doubt his ability to perform or persevere .. often with great reluctance, BUT never seem to doubt the Call!!  (example:  Jonah - was a whiny, whimpering prophet, but absolutely certain of the call.)

         #3  With the call comes Provision - (the means, ability) which = God Himself!! - Jer. 1:8

Note:  prophets approached the task with humility ... aware that they were INCAPABLE & UNWORTHY - example:  Paul - 1 Cor. 2:3  However, they speak with confidence and Authority!! - example:  Jonah, Moses before Pharaoh, etc.

        #4.  The Prophet has a choice - Jer. 1;5  Question:  God's Sovereignty OR man's Free Will?  or  BOTH!!
An all powerful, all knowing God can say "I'm gonna form Jeremiah, and he'll be my prophet ... by his own free will" - example:  Middle Knowledge


II.  The Vocational Call (call to special service)

      #1  God is the Caller (initiator)

     #2  He Summons to a Specific task - specific task, ministry, office place, people

     #3  With the call comes Provision - (which = Himself)


III.  The Christian's Call  ie:  (every man's call)

       #1  God is the Caller  - 1 Cor. 1:9, 1 Pet. 2:9, Rom. 8:28  He is the initiator

       #2  The Call is (still) a Summons
ie:  invitation, request ... DRAWING, WOOING - Rev. 22:17
But ... it is more than that because if refused has great consequences!!

Question:  What are we called to?  Salvation?  Eternal life? Reconciliation? new birth? forgiveness of sins?
Answer: = (A)  called to Christ!! in whom will find salvation, eternal life, etc.   Ex.  Matt. 11:28
                (B)  Called to Christ as SAVIOR and LORD -
         therefore called to obedience, discipleship, service, ministry - all under Lordship

      #3  With the Call comes Provision - (which = Christ Himself!  - Holy Spirit in you!)
So... Phil. 4:13   2 Pet. 1:3

     #4  You have a choice
On one hand, you don't have to answer the call
However, great consequences for refusal

Monday, January 11, 2021

Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times - Introduction to Jeremiah

 (1)  The man - Jer. 1:1-3 - from Anathoth 9 2-3 miles north of Jerusalem) son of a priest (no record of him practicing in the priesthood, called in "13th. year of Josiah" - (626 BC) at the age of around 20?  Preached through the reign of 1 good king (Josiah) and 5 bad ones.

(2)  The times - On one hand, the reformation attempts of good King Josiah
                        However, Josiah preceded by 57 years of evil kings AND followed by All Bad Kings... until the exile!!

Israel (the 10 northern tribes) = exiled in 722 BC, 100 years before Jeremiah's call.  Now Judah = deep into idolatry and syncretism  (ie:  Yahweh not abandoned but watered down!!)

(3)  The Ministry = called to confront Kings and Commoners alike.  Spent 40 years as a "despised patriot" before the exile.  Repeatedly accused of false prophecy, treason, and sedition!

No record of any converts, disciples, or impact.  (though he had a faithful secretary, scribe - Baruch)
No family life to comfort, console him - Jer. 16:1-4

Tradition = stoned to death in Egypt (by Egyptians)

4)  The personality
... to God, sin of the nation, rejection by God's people  - "a man of sorrow"
Yet ... courageous ... cursed, threatened, beaten, imprisoned .. and stood firm!!

Because of the stories, experiences, etc ... we know more about the personality of Jeremiah than any other prophet!

(5)  The content (of the book)
A.  Historically based  (therefore understanding the times unlocks the book!)
B.  NOT chronologically ordered!  (because was gathered and compiled at a later date??  in topical order?

So... on one hand, can be difficult to read and understand
However, content = rich, relevant, rewarding!!

(6)  Our study will NOT be verse by verse, chapter by chapter .. (we'll hop around and skip a lot of passages)

7)  Today's focus from Jeremiah - Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times  

The WASM ... Jeremiah remained faithful through 40+ years of difficult ministry!!
On one hand, he stumbled ... a lot  because was human and a seriously flawed human!
However, he always returned faithfully to ... his God, his calling, duty, people....

The ISM - (ie: application for us, today!!)
You and I are NOT called to the office of Prophet...
Nevertheless we are called .. to Serve, to be faithful .. to God, our duties, people

AND though we (like Jeremiah) = seriously flawed individuals .. we can, nevertheless be FAITHFUL in the midst of - difficultied, opposition, personal weakness!

What can we lear FROM Jeremiah ... about OURSELVES?

Jeremiah was.....
(1)  Reluctant ... but obedient!  - Jer. 1:6, 6:10-11
compare Moses, Gideon, Peter - "follow me, feed my sheep"

(2)  Unflinching in his message - Jer. 26:1-2, 4-11  Rev. 22:18-19  Deut. 4:2

Yet...(3)  Compassionate toward his people - referred to as "the weeping prophet". 
On one hand, "prophet" - speaking God's word, however, "weeping" as he does so!!
Compare:  Jesus - Matt. 23:37  Luke 19:41

(4)  Prone to despair ... yet persevering! - Jer. 20:7-9
Had strong feelings, emotions, objections!! But......

(5)  Apparently ineffective ... yet faithful to his duty, (ministry, calling) 
Note:  "apparently" ineffective does not mean actually ineffective  - reference:  Isa. 55:10-11

(6)  Reverent toward God.... yet honest with God - Jer. 12:1, 15:17-18
in a real, honest, active, practical relationship with God
which = disagreement leading to conflict!   But .... contrast DISAGREEMENT with REBELLION!!
Jer. 1:8