OT: Jeremiah 22:1-23:20
"'He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?'
declares the Lord" (22:16).
I decided to lead with that b/c that verse is amazing. I can't stress how much I love it. I had heard and loved it before, but I must admit that I had totally forgotten its existence. Thus, it was a wonderful surprise this morning. It's just so profound. To know God means to defend the cause of the poor and needy. Of course, taken with all of Scripture, we know that there is more to it than that, but I definitely think that this verse is saying that you can't know God without that.
Along those lines, in today's reading God also tells the people to, "Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place" (3). I'm not going to get political in my discussion today, but let's just say that I had some thoughts about the "alien" part and what that means for Christians in this country.
Other than the first five verses, the bulk of today's reading consisted of prophecies toward Shallum, or Jehoahaz (22:6-17); Jehoiakim (22:18-30); the leaders in general ("shepherds," 23:1-4); and the prophets (23:9-20). None of them are in for a good time.
Once again, though, God does remind His listeners that He will bring back a remnant when it is all said and done (23:3-4). He also promises that he will bring a Davidic king, "who will reign wisely/ and do what is just and right in the land" (5-6). As I do with most prophecies about future kings, I automatically assumed that this one was about Jesus, though honestly, I can't see that it is a perfect fit...
NT: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
Today, we begin Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians. Right off the bat, verse three caught my eye, where it talks about how "the love every one of you has for each other is increasing." That has definitely been my experience with Christianity. It's not that I hated people before; it's just that I loved myself so doggone much. The longer I have followed the way of Christ, however, the more His Spirit has increased my love for those around me. I still have light years to go, of course, but it just makes me so excited to know that the Spirit does that in people.
In the rest of this section, Paul encourages the Thessalonians in their continual struggles. It seems from the context that, persecution-wise, they can't catch a break. Paul tries to encourage and strengthen them with his words, assuring them that those who persecute them will be punished and that they themselves "will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God," as a result of their endurance (5).
Asaph asks God to intervene and fight against His enemies, and he gets specific about how he would like them to be treated. He wants God to give them the "Midian" treatment, and to do to them as He did to Sisera, Jabin, Oreb, Zeeb, Zebah, and Zalmunna. Some of those names sound familiar--especially Sisera--but nothing specific came to mind.
The first three proverbs praise aptly spoken words; a wise man's rebuke and one who listens to it; and a trustworthy messenger, respectively. The last one criticizes the "man who boasts of gifts he does not give" (14).