OT: Jeremiah 23:21-25:38
Today, Jeremiah continues his harsh words toward the false prophets. Listening to his description of them in 23: 32-36 makes me realize the possibility of having false prophets even today, people who claim to be Christians, yet "lead my people astray with their reckless lies," people for whom "every man's word becomes his own oracle and so you distort the words of the living God" (32, 36). In fact, I'm pretty sure that I have been guilty of that last bit. I know that I have distorted God's word with my own opinions, wishes, and thoughts. I pray that He does not give up on me and my brothers and sisters as we seek to share Him with the world, and that He continues to refine us so that our words are more and more in line with His Word.
I also thought God's indignation of the phrase, "This is the oracle of the Lord," was interesting (23: 33-40). Out of curiosity, I looked the word, "oracle," up on biblegateway.com, and it has been used several times so far in scripture. The first time was regarding Balaam, but there were also oracles of David, and oracles from God in Isaiah. So the problem is not with the word "oracle." Maybe God is just getting tired of uninspired people claiming to speak for Him? I don't know.
In chapter 24, God gives Jeremiah another object lesson, this one involving figs. The good figs represent the people carried off into Babylonian captivity. I'm guessing they were carried off into captivity b/c they took Jeremiah's advice and surrendered, which would explain God's favor toward them. As for the leaders and those who remained in Jerusalem, God has nothing but wrath.
In chapter 25, Jeremiah has been a prophet for 23 years, and he recounts how Judah has ignored all of his warnings. Thus, God is, of course, about to punish them. We see another extended "cup of wrath" metaphor in verses 15-29. Speaking of cups of wrath, I read something interesting the other day regarding Jesus in the garden. The author of the book I was reading shared his theory that Jesus' agony in the garden was not about the suffering He was about to endure, but about the wrath He was about to endure from God. After all, the author reasoned, many martyrs have died in worse ways than Jesus, and done so bravely and even joyfully. Was Jesus weaker than them? The author argued that He was not. Rather, unlike them, He had to face the full force of God's wrath. Though the author does not mention it, I think that Jesus' reference to the cup supports his theory. As we have discovered, in the OT, the "cup" was a common metaphor for the wrath of God.
NT: 2 Thess. 2:1-17
Well, we did not leave prophecy behind in Jeremiah today! We have lots of prophecies about the end times in Thessalonians, as well. As usual, I can't make heads or tails of them.
I did like the reference to the "sanctifying work of the Spirit" in verse 13. I guess I just liked the wording, and the description, however succinct, of God's work in the lives of Christians.
Lastly, Paul's prayer in verse 16 is short, but good: "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." Maybe that's more of a blessing than a prayer. Regardless, I like it.
A great one, by the sons of Korah. I love the descriptions of yearning for God. I've been a little fired up here lately, spiritually speaking, so I can relate to some of these images of longing. I especially love verses 1-2:
"How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God."
I really liked this proverb--both the content and the wording:
"Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone."