OT: Jeremiah 14:11-16:15
God continues to make clear to Jeremiah that He will destroy this people without mercy, that "even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before [Him], [His] heart would not go out to this people" (15:1). For his part, Jeremiah spends his time today pleading for his people and for himself personally. God's response is a definite "no" on the people question, but regarding Jeremiah, He is more positive:
"Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose;
surely I will make your enemies plead with you
in times of disaster and times of distress" (15:11).
"If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
but you must not turn to them.
I will make you a wall to this people,
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
to rescue and save you" (19-20).
One phrase in that last section that I found interesting was: "Let this people turn to you,/but you must not turn to them." I think that instruction is not only applicable to Jeremiah, but to anyone trying to be an ambassador for Christ in this world (a group which should include all Christians). The trick is to influence the world, without letting the sinfulness of the world influence you, to be a light that does not get engulfed in darkness.
I also thought it was interesting how Jeremiah described his reaction to God's words in verse 16:
"When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart's delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God Almighty."
That was a new image. God's words have been compared to honey in the psalms (and maybe even some proverbs), but I don't remember a specific image of eating God's words. I liked it.
And of course, God once again reminds Jeremiah that although He is going to destroy the people, He will also eventually restore them (16:14-15).
NT: 1 Thess. 2:10-3:13
Yesterday, Paul compared himself to a mother, and today, he compares himself to a father: "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God who calls you into his kingdom and glory" (11-12). I like several different parts of those verses. For one, I continue to be intrigued by Paul's close relationship with those to which he ministers. For another, I liked the admonition to live lives worthy of God, just as we saw in Phil. 1:27, Eph. 4:1, and Col. 1:10. Lastly, I like the image of God calling us into his kingdom and glory. Unlike some other references to God's kingdom, there is nothing here to suggest that Paul is only referring to the hereafter. In fact, given the present tense, and given the positioning of the phrase in a sentence very much about the here-and-now, I believe that Paul is referring to entering God's kingdom and glory while here on earth, to whatever extent that is possible.
Most of the rest of this section is personal stuff between Paul and the Thessalonians. Clearly, the Thessalonians were being persecuted, a fact for which Paul had tried to prepare them, and about which he was suffering great anguish. His concern for their faith got so bad that he sent Timothy to see how they were holding up (3:2), and he was overjoyed to hear back from Timothy that their faith was holding strong (6). It is amazing to think of the atrocities that believers have endured, and what many still endure today. It makes you wonder how many of our American faiths would endure, given such a level of persecution.
Lastly, I love verse 12: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." That is a great prayer to pray.
A lament of Asaph, once again begging God to let up on them. I liked his image of the Israelite nation being a vine that God transplanted and grew into a vineyard:
"You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land" (8-9).
Unfortunately, the vineyard is not doing so well now:
"Why have you broken down its walls
so that all who pass by pick its grapes?"
Again, all of this sounds like what Jeremiah was talking about, but I'm pretty sure that Asaph was a generation behind David, and knew David personally. So, his words couldn't be referring to the exile...
Proverbs praising kings. I was intrigued by the first part of verse 2: "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter." That reminds me of the theme of mystery that we have seen throughout Scripture.