We are still hanging out in Jeremiah but will finish it up at the end of this week. Jeremiah is, in some ways, similar to Isaiah. Jeremiah was a prophet who initially fought his calling. He was called to preach destruction and eventual restoration to the Israelites. And he faced opposition as he pursued faithfulness.
One thing to pay close attention to as we read through the prophets is: there is nothing God can’t restore us from. We can so easily get caught up in our pasts and focus on how unworthy we are of God’s grace and redemption. I’ve even heard people say, and mean, that they would get struck by lightening upon entering a church.
The prophets make it abundantly clear, and open the door for Jesus to make it even clearer, that no one is irredeemable.
This week, as you read Jeremiah, hear God’s voice calling you as he explains how he will draw the Israelites out of exile and back to himself.
Today, as we finish Isaiah, and read today’s psalm, we realize just how big of a deal exile was to the Israelites. To us, it’s an event in history. To them, it was the end of everything they’d known and they didn’t know if what they’d known would ever return. In order to understand the story of God’s people, it is imperative that we understand the weight and impact of the exile.
10-14 – People should rejoice with Jerusalem because God is restoring the city.
18-24 – God explains specifically what will happen to the Israelites who make it through the judgments. They will be considered the remnant. They will see others who were rejected due to their sin not to gloat but to understand God’s judgment even better.
4-11 – Paul explains that he would have every reason to be confident if self-righteousness were an option. He has all the boxes checked. He realizes that salvation through faith in the resurrection is the only righteousness he needs.
13-14 – Ultimately Paul was pressing on for an eternal prize.
17-18 – It should be each of our goals to be able to walk in a manner that allows us to ask others to follow us. So many would seek to be spiritual leaders but fall off the track easily.
1-8 – The psalmist mourns over the Israelites’ exile. God has turned away from the Israelites, the temple has been destroyed, and he wonders how long this will continue.
9-23 – The psalmist is reminded of the great things God has done, proving his ability, and asks God to restore the Israelites.
This warns against sliding into a pattern similar to those who seek to harm righteous people. Those unhealthy patterns ultimately lead to destruction.
As we wrap up Isaiah, it is incredible to think back on the month or so it has taken us to get through this powerful book. Isaiah rejects and then accepts his call, preaches destruction and exile for the Israelites, preaches eventual restoration for the Israelites, and sprinkles little hints of what to look for in a Messiah throughout. And while it is, at times, a difficult book to trudge through, A) you did it! and B) it offers both immediate and eternal hope.
6-12 – God continues to paint the picture of Jerusalem’s coming salvation. He speaks of preparations for that day and makes promises that the Israelites will no longer be defeated.
1-6 – God speaks of how he took vengeance on his enemies.
7-19 – The speaker changes to someone who is remembering how merciful God has been and then asking for more of that mercy.
1-12 – They continue to ask to see God’s power in saving them and bringing them out of trouble.
1-16 – God juxtaposes the treatment of his servants with that of those who choose not to serve him. God’s servants will receive great blessing while the others will receive great pain.
19-24 – Timothy was a young man Paul had taken under his wing. Paul commissioned him to spread the gospel as well.
2-4 – Once again Paul explains that living by the Spirit is far more necessary than circumcision. He reminds his readers that he, as a Jew, is circumcised so he can say this out of truth and not jealousy.
The entire psalm, but with a crescendo in verses 25-26, are attesting to the confidence the psalmist has in God as his hope, salvation, and protection.
This portion makes a very tangible comparison of how wisdom benefits us.
This week, in our reading, we have an interesting juxtaposition as we finish Isaiah and begin Jeremiah. Jeremiah, who like Isaiah, at first explains the reasons he couldn’t possibly accept his calling, eventually becomes an effective prophet.
As we begin Jeremiah, we once again see God calling his people out for their sins. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah accuses God’s people of idolatry and unfaithfulness. Punishment, specifically exile, is imminent.
The juxtaposition comes in our also reading the end of Isaiah this week. The end of Isaiah explains God’s restoration of the Israelites back to him. When that happens, they will have received their punishment and God will bring them back to himself.
This contrast between punishment and restoration is important for us to recognize. Just like children only go to timeout for an appropriate period of time and like you’re only frozen in Freeze Tag until someone unfreezes you, exile is only for a time. Ultimately, all our sufferings and punishments are temporary and restoration to God is the goal for all of us.
Prove it! This is yelled across many a junior high lunch table as one testosterone-rich adolescent boy claims he can do something that he most likely cannot. This is also basically what Paul says to the Philippians. Prove your salvation in front of others by living righteously and faithfully. This should be true of our lives too. If we are saved, it show in our words, actions, and decisions.
1-22 – God explains in great detail all the ways Israel will be restored to glory. When they went into exile God and the Israelites became a laughing stock. That would soon change.
1-2 – Jesus quotes this passage exactly in Luke 4:18-19 in his first public sermon.
1-11 – God declares his year of favor. Debts are forgiven. Those who suffer and mourn will be comforted…and a lot of other great stuff.
1-5 – God continues to proclaim wonderful restorative acts for Israel.
27-30 – Paul calls the Philippians to live with integrity in their faithfulness so that others who are watching would be convinced of their salvation.
1-11 – Paul calls the Philippians to humble themselves and serve in a similar fashion as Jesus did.
Note that this psalm is written by David’s son, Solomon, the third king of Israel.
Solomon asks for blessings for the king. This is presumably when he is starting out as king because it says that David’s prayers have now ended.
We cannot claim ignorance and pretend not to know that people are moving towards death and destruction. If we ignore them, it says God will do the same to us.
Today we start Philippians. Like Ephesians and Galatians, this is a letter Paul wrote to a church he had interest in. If you ever talk to someone who wants to grow deeper in their faith and isn’t sure where to start in the Bible, Philippians is a great place to send them. It is short, simple, and to the point.
1-14 – The Lord makes it clear what kinds of worship he prefers. True worship is never routine and meaningless. He asks for us to care for those in need as an act of worship.
1-19 – God will not tolerate injustice and he is clear that he will punish those who oppress others.
17 – Note the similarity to the Armor of God from Ephesians.
21 – God makes a new covenant with the new Israel. Though this is not the covenant of Christ yet, it is a new way for God to connect with his people.
1-6 – Paul begins most of his letters with a warm greeting and encouragement on how thankful he is that the recipients of the letter are partnering with him in living out and spreading the gospel of Christ.
12-14 – Though other believers may have been concerned about facing similar persecution as Paul, he assures them that it has been worth it because of how it has advanced the gospel.
21 – Paul offers several poetic yet slightly cryptic sayings like this throughout his letters. Paul basically means that if he’s alive, he’s going to be serving Christ. When he dies, he’ll get to be with Christ.
1-16 – The psalmist is confident in the Lord’s ability to save him from his enemies because he is able to reflect on other times God has taken care of him.
17-24 – The psalmist praises God in advance for taking care of him and even promises to tell others of God’s great deeds.
10 – This verse calls out all those who feel strong in their faith or otherwise who then topple over when difficulties come. The strength of our faith is determined when tested.
Christ’s sacrifice set us free from sin and death and took us out from under the weight of the law. We now receive salvation as a free gift offered through God’s grace. But Paul reminds us, in Ephesians, that our freedom should be used to become more Christlike and to serve more selflessly. Freedom was not extended so we could use it frivolously and sin more simply because we can. Let us, as believers, use our freedom for the good of others and glory of God.
1-17 – God acknowledges that he did allow the Israelites to go into exile, but tells them that he is going to restore them and their enemies will not be able to overtake them anymore.
1-13 – The words to the Israelites are restorative and healing. God paints a picture of taking great care of the Israelites.
1-13 – Here the Lord explains what happens if sinners don’t repent. He continues to mock all kinds of idolatry.
5-9 – Though we are free, this is a good word for how each of us should work too. We are to work hard for good. That good will be returned to us.
10-17 – These verses remind us that God gives us all kinds of tools to protect us from any attacks that might come our way. We simply have to use them.
David is quick to encourage the hearer to praise God and remain humble that God is the one with the power.
This goes further than don’t do evil. Don’t even plan to do evil.
Do you know that person who always offers to help after the work is done or always “wishes” they could help? Those sentiments are pretty meaningless – about as productive as a dog chasing his tail. That is how God feels about sacrifices to Him when people go on sinning and worshipping other gods. The sacrifices don’t mean anything. They’re empty. It sure makes you think, are our offerings of worship and service, at times, pretty meaningless?
1-8 – This is a prophecy promising to return Jerusalem to what it was intended to be.
9-11 – A call to arms to prepare to bring the Israelites back from exile.
17-2 – Jerusalem is being urged to wake up and prepare for restoration.
6 – So often, including the prophet Isaiah, biblical characters have responded with “here I am”. Here God explains that he will answer in this same way when it’s time for Israel to be restored.
7-12 – The “good news” this passage refers to is the salvation of Jerusalem. This beautiful, poetic explanation is a great reflection of the beauty of salvation.
1-12 – Now read this again recognizing that it is foretelling Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
1-5 – Following Christ is an act of allowing ourselves to be transformed to look more and more like him. We cannot continue on sinning and say that we are being transformed.
6-14 – There are lots of folks who will try to steer us off our pursuit of following Christ. This is easiest when our sins are hidden. When we bring them to the light they are far easier to deal with.
22-33 – This passage is often disliked and/or ignored in modern society. But if both spouses choose to love and respect one another as Scripture calls us to, both parties get a really good deal.
19-28 – David asks God to punish his enemies.
30-36 – Several times in Scripture God asks for humility or obedience instead of a bunch of meaningless sacrifices. David promises to do just that.
In Paul’s writings, including today’s excerpt from Ephesians, he often writes lists of sins to avoid. It’s important that we recognize that these lists are not exhaustive. Paul is writing to specific people groups who are struggling with specific sins so those are the sins he calls out. Like today, if you were talking to a group of teenagers you would talk about doing drugs, gossip, and premarital sex as sins. You probably wouldn’t mention embezzlement. Embezzlement is a sin, but not one those kids are struggling with at the time.
12-22 – God explains to the Israelites how much they could have prospered if they had just followed him.
1-6 – This is from the perspective of the servant who also spoke in chapter 42. This servant was called by God to speak to Israel.
14-26 – God promises Israel that he will restore them and that they will soon come out of exile.
17-20 – This is referring to Gentiles who have not been saved. The majority of Paul’s ministry was to Gentiles, so he obviously didn’t write them all off as heathens.
25-31 – Paul urges the Ephesians to avoid temptation and sin. This is not an exhaustive list, but most likely one that spoke to common temptations the Ephesians were facing.
1-6 – David does not deny that he has sinned but still cries out for help because of his enemies who have no cause for hating him.
7-18 – David is being judged and tormented for his commitment to God but he knows that his hope is in the Lord.
Wisdom and knowledge are more than just nice things to have. They benefit us in a variety of practical ways. War was a big deal to the culture the proverbs were originally written for.