Reunion, Restoration, Regeneration, Reconciliation, and Rejoicing

August 29, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 4 Comments
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In Jeremiah Chapter 31 there is a promise of reunion – of God reuniting His people. Judah (the southern kingdom – consisting of only two of the twelve tribes) would be restored after 70 years, but Israel (the northern kingdom, consisting of the other ten tribes) would one day (a day which is still in the future even for us) be reunited with Judah and also restored.

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

Jeremiah 31:1-2 (emphasis added)

You will note that division and separation and factions do not generally make God happy. The casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden had an element of protecting grace in it, but it was not a blessing. The dispersal at the Tower of Babel was deemed necessary by God, but it was also a judgment against the people’s sin. Unity must be unified around Truth, but God does desire a true unity among His people. I hope you are more of a uniter than a divider.

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Jeremiah 31:3

God’s love is revealed to be the motivating attribute behind His “call.” To “draw” is a more forceful term than it sounds like in modern English. It has the connotation of dragging something along by force, or pulling back the string on a bow-and-arrow. However, it is tempered with lovingkindness. How can someone be forcefully dragged into a covenant or relationship with God and experience it as not only “kindness” but “lovingkindness?” The answer lies here:

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 (emphasis added)

The creation of a new heart makes God’s irresistible drawing into an act of lovingkindess, and He loves with an everlasting love (v. 3) because His attributes include immutability, and He is making an everlasting covenant.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 (emphasis added)

What sort of emotions and attitudes will this New Covenant usher in?

Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

Jeremiah 31:4

There will be dancing.

Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

Jeremiah 31:12-13

There will be singing (the kind without sorrow).

This sounds like real joy. We who are blessed to know the reality of the fulfillment of the New Covenant probably don’t express our joy in the Lord as often as we should.

Submission and Honor in Marriage

August 27, 2018 at 10:46 am | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

I Peter 3:1

There are the levels of rank in the army of the Lord. A wife who will not come into subjection and submission to the will of her husband, or a child who will not come under subjection and submission to the will of a parent, will have a very difficult time submitting to the will of the Lord.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

Husbands and wives are joint heirs of gracejoined together by God for His glory. The wife who will not submit, and the husband who will not honor, both rob God of His glory. An earthly father who is zealous for his daughter’s well-being will certainly deal harshly with a son-in-law who mistreats that daughter. How much more will the Lord deal harshly with a husband who mistreats a daughter of God? Husbands will answer to God for how they have treated His daughters, probably even before they answer for have they have handled their church-related ministry responsibilities.

The “likewises” in v. 1 and v. 7 refer not just to Abraham and Sara, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our spouses are not just given to us by God for our pleasure, nor merely for companionship and comfort.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 5:25

God has joined spouses together as part of His plan to conform us to the image of Christ. Christ loved – and gave Himself for – people who were originally unresponsive to, or actually opposed to, His love. If we hope to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, we must learn to submit to, to honor, to obey, to love in spite of unresponsiveness or opposition, to love unconditionally and CONSISTENTLY our spouses.

Fake Loyalty vs. Real Loyalty

August 24, 2018 at 9:28 am | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Jeremiah Chapter 34 deals with Zedekiah making an 11th-hour bid to try to bribe God into letting him keep his position as king of a kingdom (Judah) on the verge of destruction

Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire: And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon.

Jeremiah 34:2-3

Zedekiah’s plan was to have everyone free their slaves.

That every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, being an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free; that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother.

Jeremiah 34:9

This was indentured servitude rather than chattel slavery. Under the Law Jewish men and women could sell themselves into slavery, but the Law required that their masters treat them fairly and kindly, and they had to be released in the seventh (Sabbath) year. The Jewish people had not obeyed this law for centuries, but here Zedekiah had them make a formal covenant to do it.

Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.

Jeremiah 34:10

This was ostensibly to obey God, but it is also likely that Zedekiah and his advisers hoped to escape the responsibility and obligation of having to feed their servants during a siege. Furthermore, they had the ulterior motive of hoping that these released servants would join in the fight against Babylon.

Of course, after making this big official statement, and making a big deal about doing it via a sworn covenant, they changed their minds and forced the servants to return to servitude, which only incited the anger of the Lord more.

But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids. Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name: But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.

Jeremiah 34:11-16

Chapter 35 shows us another means by which Jeremiah showed the faithlessness of the people of Judah.

The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.

Jeremiah 35:1-2

The Rechabites were a part of the Kenites – nomadic wanderers who had attached themselves to the Israelites during the wilderness wandering, and had come with them into the promised land. The Rechabites, who traced their ancestry to Jonadab (not the “friend” of Ammon who helped him seduce or rape his half-sister Tamar when David was king, but another Jonadab), and who believed that God’s people should never drink any alcohol nor settle down in homes, but should always live in tents. They had obeyed this rule faithfully for 250 years

God was not here condoning their principles, but He had Jeremiah round them up for an example and an illustration.

Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.

Jeremiah 35:3-5

This was a huge amount of wine, and Jeremiah was not really trying to tempt them, but he was very expansive and welcoming, basically inviting them to, “Help yourself to the wine, have all you want.” What was admirable about the Rechabites was not their rules, but their unwillingness to forsake their principles in the face of pressure to violate them: their long-standing faithfulness to their commitment, their founder, and perhaps their view of God.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 35:13

The Lord contrasted His people’s rebellion and faithlessness with the Rechabites’ faithfulness and obedience, and He promised to bring blessings upon them, and curses upon His own people.

The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.

Jeremiah 35:14-17

The Difference between Saved and Lost

August 22, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Salvation | 3 Comments
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The distinction between saved and lost, spiritually speaking, is the sharpest, most significant distinction in the world. The difference between “saved” people (those who have been truly born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, John 3; Ephesians 2:8-9) and those who have not been saved is more important than the differences between people of different political beliefs, different nationalities, different skin colors, different genders, and different ages. A person who is saved is truly a child of God. His or her name has been written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27), and he or she will one day go to Heaven to be with Jesus forever, because his or her sins have been forgiven. A person who is lost is an enemy of God, whose sins are unforgiven. This person, unless his or her condition changes before death or before Jesus comes back, must be punished by the just and living God, and he or she will go to a place of separation from God that the Bible calls hell, and ultimately to a place called the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), which is a horrible place of eternal conscious torment. There is nothing of greater consequence for human beings than believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and trusting Him unto salvation.

Submission and Sin

August 20, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Posted in I Peter | 1 Comment
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Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

I Peter 2:13

Christians are supposed to submit to the institutions on this earth which were ordained by God. These include the family, the government, and the Church. The world says submission is slavery. The hairs on the back of our necks bristle at the very thought of submission, but the attitude and practice of submission is one of the most overlooked virtues of the Christian life today. Most large churches and most of the major religions and denominations today are teaching that we should be allowed to pick and choose when and when not to submit. There is very little true submission to the ordinances of man, to Godly authority in our homes, to church discipline, and, least of all, to the Bible and God Himself.

These failures come from a deceptive and foolish attitude about sin. We are taught today that sin is something that hurts someone else. If I take something that belongs to someone else, it is stealing, and we recognize stealing as “bad” because I have deprived someone else of something that he needed. But what’s really bad is that I broke Commandment No. 8. I broke my God’s COMMANDthat’s sin. Bill Gates probably made more money while I was writing this lesson than I could make in 10 lifetimes. If I had access to his personal possessions, I could probably take a Rolls Royce or a Rolex watch and it wouldn’t hurt him a bit. But it would be a SIN – an offense against my Lord and Savior that He bore in His body on the tree.

At the end of I Peter Chapter 2 we see some of the paradoxes of Christ. He was given stripes so we could be healed. We die so we can live (die to sins, and live unto righteousness). He was the Shepherd Who died for the sheep SO He could oversee the sheep for all eternity. He knew no sin, but He bare the sin in His own body on the tree – the sign of a cursed life – when His whole life was nothing but one giant blessing to God the Father, and to all mankind. He bore MY sin on that tree, and it wasn’t just sins against others. It was and is sin against HIM.

In light of that, as citizens, we are called to submit to the laws of government and to the men who hold offices in government. As church members, we are called to submit to church leaders. As employees, we are called to submit to employers. Wives are to submit to husbands. Children are to submit to parents.

Does God Allow Evil?

August 17, 2018 at 11:56 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: I saw on TV where Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, said that God did not allow the Texas church shooter to shoot and kill all those people. He said the devil is the “god of this age” and that he’s the one in control. Does this mean that God is not really in control of what happens? Or is He only in control of some things? Or only good things?

Answer: I think I found the interview you are talking about here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSpdT_NPOrA. If anyone doesn’t want to watch the whole thing, you can skip to the 2:00 mark where the lady asks him, “If God is all-knowing and in control, why would He allow something like this to happen?”

I don’t want to sound too critical of Mr. Graham. If you watch the whole thing, he said several good things about Jesus, and I’m thankful for someone who would talk about Him and His salvation on national television. I also don’t want to make it sound like Mr. Graham is not very knowledgeable about God and the Bible. I’m sure he’s way better at answering questions about them than I am. HOWEVER, he did get the part about God not allowing bad things very wrong. I will assume he just misspoke or maybe misunderstood the question. There is no doubt that God is in control of everything that happens (I Chronicles 29:11, Job 42:2, Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 16:4) and that He definitely could have stopped this shooting from happening if He had wanted to. We don’t know why He didn’t stop it, but, as horrible as it was, we have to admit that if God allowed it (and He did), then His allowance of it must have been the right thing to do in some way that we can not understand.

I do think it is highly likely that the devil motivated or caused an evil, vile, professed atheist murderer to shoot and kill a church full of worshiping Christians, and it is grievous to even think about it. There is a sense in which the devil is the “god of this world,” (II Corinthians 4:4) and that he is being allowed by God to do vast evil, but we must not lie about God and take away from people who are suffering the assurance that God is ultimately in control and is working all things together (including horribly evil things) for some greater good than we can imagine.

What Kind of Dirt Are You?

August 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Luke, parables | 2 Comments
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Luke 8 contains what is usually called the Parable of the Sower or sometimes the Parable of the Soils, because Jesus described four different kinds of dirt.

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Luke 8:5

A farmer went out to plant his crop. As he was dropping his seeds to the ground, some of the seeds fell upon the place between the rows of the garden, or perhaps between distinct fields. These seeds did not fall on the soft, tilled part of the earth where they were intended to land, so they attracted birds that like to eat seeds.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Luke 8:6

It’s doubtful that a farmer would intentionally drop seeds on rocks, but it would not have been uncommon for a farmer’s field in the ancient Near East to be located partially on a limestone substratum covered by a thin layer of soil. These seeds would sprout “plants-to-be” that couldn’t get their roots down to where the moisture was.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

Luke 8:7

Other seeds fell in places where, before their roots could get down, neighboring weeds robbed their sunlight or water, and they, too, never really became plants.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 8:8

A novice Bible-reader, upon reading the Gospels for the first time, might wonder why there were so many people in the days of Jesus’s earthly ministry without ears. Obviously, we know it’s a figure of speech, but it does let us know that not everyone who heard Jesus’s parables were going to understand them. The parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the spiritual condition of the listener. Even beyond the principle of spiritual tone-deafness, though, you can test this out in a meeting of diverse individuals today. If you hold up a photograph and say, “Here’s a picture of Jason Witten stiff-arming a defensive back,” some people are going to perk up.

If you say, “Here’s a picture of a puppy dog sharing an ice cream cone with a little girl,” other people are going to perk up.

puppy sharing ice cream

They proabaly won’t all be the same people. Not everybody has “ears to hear” every kind of subject.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Luke 8:9-10

The parable of the dirt is not terribly difficult for modern readers to understand because the disciples were very helpful. They basically asked Jesus, “Okay, what are You trying to say?” This is what He meant by “those who have ears to hear.” It had been prophesied in the Old Testament that some people – primarily the hypocritical religious leaders – wouldn’t want to hear the truth, anyway, so God was going to increase their condemnation by teaching lessons that they wouldn’t comprehend unless they really wanted to know God.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:11

This was a very straightforward way of announcing that this parable would be clearly explained to the disciples.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Luke 8:12

Jesus explained why He told them about some of the seeds falling by the wayside, but He also let them know explicitly that, in this parable, the “dirt” is the human heart. That’s important to remember: As human beings we bear the image of God. However, in our humanity, we are “but dust” (Genesis 18:27; Psalm 103:14). We are framed from earth – we’re animated dirt! We are not anything special apart from God’s work and God’s image stamped upon us. Additionally, some people are so worldly and their hearts have been so trampled into hardness by the ways of the world, that the Word of God doesn’t penetrate. When someone tries to give it to them the devil (the birds of the parable) comes and snatches it away, and they have a double condemnation: they were too proud to care, and too hard to receive.

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Luke 8:13

The “light” here is exceptional in that it represents, in this instance, persecution instead of truth. Persecution, like intense sunlight, shrivels plants with no roots. This describes people who briefly appear to be converted to true saving faith, but then somebody makes fun of them for being a Christian or suggests that they might not grow in spiritual maturity like they should unless they come to Sunday School instead of sleeping in on Sunday mornings. They find things are getting too “hot” and they reveal that their hearts were just dirt-dusted rocks that only appeared to be real dirt.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Luke 8:14

This third type of “dirt” can’t bring forth fruit because the thorns of worldly cares are choking out the place where the roots would go. These are people who love something in this world, and though they may think that they would like to add Jesus to it, they do not really believe that He is anything more than a life-improvement accoutrement.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Luke 8:15

Hopefully, Verse 15 is you. You’re just “dirt,” but at least you are real dirt – soft dirt – formerly hard ground that has been “broken” and has received the seed of the Word of God, so that you are not just “conformed” or “reformed” but “TRANSFORMED.” Has the seed in your heart come to fruition and actually changed your heart itself?

Answering the Call

August 9, 2018 at 9:38 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Jeremaih 33:1-3

Jeremiah 33:3 is one of those “coffee mug” verses…

Jeremiah 33-3 coffee mug

… and we may take the encouragement to “call unto Me” as a command for us today to call upon God in prayer, but, remember, Jeremiah was in a special appointed relationship with God whereby God openly invited him to seek out prophetic visions and information from God, and God would share secrets with His prophet. You and I may call upon God for wisdom, and He may answer us through the study of His Bible, or through the passage of time as we see events unfold, but it wouldn’t be wise for us to seek a private revelation from God about the future.

God responded to Jeremiah by letting him know more about the future restoration of Judah and Israel.

And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.

Jeremiah 33:7-8

This would be not only geographical and material restoration, but, more importantly, spiritual restoration: cleansing AND pardon. God would forgive them for going astray (iniquity), falling far short of the mark of God’s righteousness (sin), and rebellion (transgression). This would be for a blessing to His own chosen people, but also for a witness and testimony to gentile nations.

And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.

Jeremaih 33:9

Do not fail to praise God openly in front of unbelievers for the prosperity God may allow you to enjoy, but don’t forget to praise him especially for the forgiveness of your sins, either.

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

The Lord then repeated the assurances of the future fulfillment of His covenant by making an argumentum a fortiori.

Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.

Jeremiah 33:24-26

The idea is that when the sun stops rising and setting each day, then someone can question whether God’s covenant with the seed of Jacob and David will be broken.

Sovereign Realty

August 7, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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In Jeremiah Chapter 32 Jeremiah is in prison, and the Babylonians are winning the battle for Jerusalem outside, but God was preparing him to perform another illustrated action sermon.

And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.

Jeremiah 32:6-7

Jeremiah’s cousin Hanameel (not to be confused with his other cousins, Malt-O-Meal or chamomile) offered to sell him a field – a piece of property – in his hometown, Anathoth. This would not be a wise financial investment from an earthly perspective.

So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD. And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.

Jeremiah 32:8-9

Jeremiah bought this property – formally, legally, and publicly – so that everyone would know what he as doing. It’s not hard to imagine Hanameel as a shifty used car salesman, waiting until Jeremiah is just out of sight, then wildly high-fiving his friends and celebrating over how he swindled his cousin into the worst deal ever. However, Jeremiah was able to do what the people who mocked his prophecies were not able to do. He was able to look for God’s hand at work and even talk to God about his fears and confusion.

Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying, Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

Jeremiah 32:16-19

As Christians, we don’t live on explanations. We live on the promises of God – or at least we should. Do we really believe that nothing is too difficult for Him? Or do we hedge our bets? Getting ridiculed by the world for obeying God is a great blessing. It may be a delayed blessing, but it will ultimately be a sweet blessing of vindication.

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

August 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 6 Comments
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Last year, I shared these helpful, but vastly underappreciated, thoughts with the married couples Sunday School class that I teach:

Because absolutely no one has asked me to share my thoughts on the big solar eclipse, I find myself unable to resist the urge to publicize my opinions and innermost convictions about it. Here goes:

1. The solar eclipse (Lord willing) is happening this Monday, August 21, 2017, which is also one of my daughters’ (maybe the 4th or 5th one, I forget) birthday. I don’t know where the moon got the big idea to block out the sun on the most important day of the year, but whatever.

2. From everything I’ve heard and read there is a possibility of going blind or at least losing part of your eyesight by looking at the sun. As somebody who has struggled with some fairly serious vision problems, that pretty much seals the deal for me. Seeing a black shadow pass by in the sky, a little dot with a corona, weird perspectives in the clouds – those might be cool, I guess, but I’m not risking my eyesight, so if you want to borrow my huge black old-people shades they make me wear when I ask for the senior citizen discount at the hospital cafeteria after my eye exams, you’re welcome to them. I won’t need them, because I’ll be looking at the ground just to be on the safe side. I found a five dollar bill lying in a gutter during the last eclipse!

3. My first grade teacher (in our one-room mud-and-straw schoolhouse on the prairie) had a scale model of the solar system. We could play with it and make the little model earth pass between the little model sun and moon, and the moon pass between the sun and the earth, and all sorts of configurations that happen when spheres move around each other in circles. Whether a solar eclipse happens once in a lifetime or once every thousand years or whatever, it seemed apparent that it would happen eventually, so I was kind of over it at that point. It’s like when your car’s odometer rolls over to 111,111 miles. Sort of neat, but not really a reason to take off work or skip school.

4. So, if I’m such an eclipse-scrooge, why bring it up at all, you ask. Because I don’t want Christians (especially Christian parents) to get too carried away with the latest cultural fads. Colossians 2:8 says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” The word translated as “rudiments” contains the idea of the regular movements of the celestial bodies (the stars, planets, sun, and moon). People in Bible times tended to place spiritual significance in astrology, and many people still do it today. I don’t want our children to think that this is some “miracle” or “sign from God,” and, more to the point, we don’t want them to think that normal (though God-controlled) natural occurrences are more interesting than the glory of God Himself which is the real purpose of these things. Just as some children’s Bible lessons teach that thirsty deer remind us of how we ought to thirst for the presence of God, and how soaring eagles remind us that waiting upon the Lord allows us to soar above our trials and temptations, and that bold lions remind us of the power and strength of the Lion of Judah, so too, we need to make sure that they know that the heavens (and the celestial bodies that revolve around each other in them) declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). I hope my children think I’m much more excited about God, His Word, and His people than I am about inanimate spheres and their orbits.

5. Here’s a suggestion for “redeeming” your eclipse-viewing experience – something that I’ve told my kids and something that you can explain even if a typical South Louisiana thunderstorm covers the sky on Monday afternoon, spoiling your plans to go blind. You can even demonstrate this with a globe, a flashlight, a bouncy ball, and a mirror, safely within the confines of your air-conditioned living room. Tell them this: The earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates, but it doesn’t just rotate – it “repents” – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be “moonlight” Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.

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