OT: Jeremiah 42:1-44:23
Wow, nothing and no one made any sense today. It's like the people all lost their minds! First of all, Johanan (whom I liked!) and co. go to Jeremiah for some guidance. They swear up and down that they will do whatever God tells them to, even if it is hard (42:5-6). Ten days later, the word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah, and turns out, God throws them a softball: Just stay in Jerusalem. No big deal, right? I mean, before Gedaliah was killed, everything was fine. Jeremiah says that Nebuchadnezzar will be cool. So...just stay. Now, I will say that this instruction was kind of interesting to me, just b/c it was the opposite of what Jeremiah said for so long, which was, "Don't stay in Jerusalem! Run, don't walk, over to the Babylonians!" Of course, Jeremiah isn't really saying the opposite; he's saying the same thing, although it looks different now. He's saying, stick with the Babylonians. This is God's plan for you.
Anyhow, you wouldn't think that would be so hard, would you? And yet, all the people were completely infuriated and took God's instructions as their cue to march off to Egypt! What on earth?? And here is the truly bizarre thing. Jeremiah, Mr. "Everyone who goes to Egypt will die" goes right along with them! What?? I would be like, "Have fun dying in Egypt, suckas!" Okay, maybe I wouldn't be like that, but I definitely wouldn't go with them!
Seriously, I was so confused, even more so because they didn't all die in Egypt. In fact, they seem to settle in and take up idol worshiping without any problem at all. And then, Jeremiah gives them another prophecy warning them to stop burning incense to idols. What? How about some follow-through on the fact that they are in Egypt in the first place? You are seriously giving them another chance?
I mean, seriously. For all the wrath that has been poured on this people, God is looking pretty merciful today!! God gives people so many chances, it's crazy. And yet, of course I am really glad He does...
NT: 2 Timothy 2:1-21
My favorite parts of today's reading were Paul's three metaphors that he gave to Timothy:
--"No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer" (4).
--"Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules" (5).
--The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops" (6).
Paul then tells Timothy to "reflect" on these metaphors, "for the Lord will give you insight into all this" (7). Now, I don't claim to have insight from the Lord, but I do love metaphors:). And now that I think of it, this would make a nice three point sermon. I could think of all kinds of ways to make it interesting. Too bad I'm not a preacher:).
Anyway, the first one seems obvious: Christians should serve God with single-minded devotion and not be distracted by worldly pursuits. The second one is a little tougher, especially since Paul uses the word, "similarly," which kind of throws me off. I think it is saying that Christians must stay on God's path, the "straight and narrow," so to speak. They have to play by the rules--God's rules. So where the first was a call to devotion, purpose, and focus, the second metaphor is a call to righteousness and adherence to God's word. They are "similar," in that both metaphors describe lives organized around God's will, but the first one is more about overall motivation, and the second is more about the practical execution.
Now for the third metaphor. I think that the third metaphor is meant as an encouragement, as a reminder of the kingdom of God. I almost put heaven, but I think that we can enjoy some of the "crops" of a Christian life while here on earth. Crops like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of those things are the "fruit" of God's Spirit in our lives. And when we work hard to do our part to cultivate those fruits, then we enjoy them in our lives.
Those are my interpretations of the metaphors, at least. If anyone has any others, feel free to share!
Two praise psalms.
I love how these two contradicting proverbs are placed on right after the other. At least no one can accuse the author of proverbs of unintentionally contradicting himself! Clearly, he knew what he was doing! Verse 5 says not to "answer a fool according to his folly," and verse 6 says to go ahead and do it. So...which is it??