OT: Jeremiah 49:23-50:46
In today's reading, Jeremiah prophesies against Damascus (49:23-27), Kedar and Hazor (49:28-33), and Elam (49:34-39). And then...(drumroll, please)...Babylon finally gets its prophecy (50:1-46). It is long and involved, but basically, the prophecy foretells the same type of destruction as the other kingdoms. In fact, it foretells the same type of destruction that Judah received...only Babylon's prophecy does not include a surviving remnant.
And on a sidenote, I have to say that I am beginning to find all the similes to women in labor quite amusing (49:24, 50:43). So in other words, one of the worst things that the prophets can picture is...a normal part of most women's lives. I can see Jeremiah reading these prophecies and one of the Judean women thinking, "Well, I've been through labor nine times, so if it's like that, I think I can handle it!" (Yeah, that's probably not what they were thinking, but it's still an interesting choice of image, given how common and domestic an experience it was.)
NT: Titus 1:1-16
I have several bite-sized thoughts for today, so let's do this in bullet points:
--I usually just skim over the openings of Paul's letters, and reading this one, I can understand my impulse. The sentence is so long and involved, and I honestly have a hard time figuring out exactly what it means: "Paul, a servant of God and an apostles of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness...(1)" I don't get the "for." Paul is an apostle for faith and knowledge? I mean, I get the general principle, but "for"? I'm an "English type," so I'm more nitpicky about words than most people, but I just couldn't quite get a handle on that preposition.
--Wow, what does Paul have against Cretans? "Even one of their own prophets has said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true" (12-13a). Good lands! Stereotype much?
--I have always been intrigued by verse 15: "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact both their minds and consciences are corrupted." Whenever I think of this verse, I think of a toddler versus a Jr. High boy. Yes, my toddlers are naturally selfish, but when it comes to so much of the bad stuff in this world, their minds are pure. They literally can't grasp the corruption around them. On the other hand, when I was in Jr. High, I was amazed at the ability of my classmates to make even the most innocent thing into something perverted. It seemed that no one could say anything without them snickering (which would then have me racking my brain to solve the puzzle, being the word person that I am. Probably not a good habit.) Anyhow, I believe that principle is true in adults, too. If your heart is pure, you can stand around many things that an impure heart could not. Recently, a friend of mine told me how he watched in awe as a fellow Christian witnessed to a woman who was a stripper. He said how he knew the man witnessing had a pure heart and was wanting to help her, but how his own impulse would have been to run the other way. Now, in that example, I don't think it was that his heart was impure (I have a whole different theory about that impulse), but it did remind me that as Christians, we have to take Christ's message to the world, which includes "impure" situations. If we ourselves are tempted by those situations, then we can't be effective ministers of Christ in them. I guess our goal is to be more and more like Christ, who could eat with drunkards and prostitutes (and even have them wash his feet and dry them with their hair), and still be pure of heart.
Two praise psalms.
Prov. 26: 13-16
Four verses against sluggards.