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I found Jeremiah really tough to get through. So much bad news delivered by poor Jeremiah and so many stiff-necked people. Thanks be to God for the promises of the future, but to face that kind of judgment is hard to read about--never mind withstand. And now Lamentations??? Anyone else finding it hard to stick with all of these hard sayings???

Re Mike's thoughts and questions on the letter to Titus and obedience to the world's civil laws & governments:

Yesterday and today reading Paul I got the feeling he was calling for Christians to life a respectable life according to the society in which they lived in order to avoid criticism. They should demonstrate that by their orderly lives that Christians are OK people, worthy of respect by members of society. In some ways this appears super bourgeois.

And there are a few points where you can really question whether and how they apply in our times:
- "urge the younger women ... to be busy at home ... to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (Titus 2:4-5 TNIV)
- "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything ... so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." (Titus 2:9-10 TNIV)

In current society is it unchristian for wives to be busy in work outside the home, is a marriage where the partners are equal unchristian, is it OK for Christians to have slaves, is it OK for Christians to be slaves without protesting? Would such attitudes bring teaching about God into disrepute in our society?

On the matter of civil disobedience, I think there are situations where Christians and others are justified in not following the requirements of the law. If your government goes to war and wants to draft you into the armed forces, you are allowing yourself to go into slavery in a sense and you have a duty to carefully consider whether your duties and actions will conform to the requirements of discipleship under the Lord Jesus. This question becomes even more critical if your government goes into an illegal war.

In the country where I live, laws were passed a few years ago to create a form of civil marriage for homosexual couples. One of the civil servants whose job was solemnising civil marriages got into quite serious legal difficulties because she refused to act for homosexual marriages on grounds of her Christian belief.

A while ago I had an interesting day in court as a proud father while two of my daughters were on trial for civil disobedience in a case which they regarded as a matter of freedom of speech. You can read the story at http://isthistheway.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/08/keeping_track_o_1.html

Greetings,
Andrew B

I did have a rambling of questions as I closed Jeremiah as it pertains to Evil-Merodach showing this kindness to King Jahoiachin. I could not help for wondering his motives behind it. Has it ever been speculated as to why he released him and treated him this well? Some of the questions that fired off automatically were (1) Was he genuinly respectful in acknowledging J as a king, maybe due to J being at the end of his life and wanting to give him a king's exit? (2) Was he placing emphasis on J's fate being in Evil-Merodach's hands, placing himself in a position as though a god? (3) Was it a psychological warfare effort as it pertains to the rest of the captives? (4) Was it knowing the prophecy of Jeramiah and thinking if he did this he would get Baylon off the hook?

The thing that rung through my head and heart was the damaging consequences from one's disobedience and sin. Everything one generation worked for destroyed because of another generation's infidelities. I think about today's generation, and not one particular ethnicity, but the whole, including believers (myself). This book definitely adds to the list of recent revelation that are causing me to examine myself soberly and realistically at how if I don't repent, actively of my junk, and walk in true worship and obedience, everything that my ancestor and heroes worked for as well s the inheritance that is to be left for my children's children can be destroyed and go down the drain. As I, myself, am at one of those crossroads in my journey where I know I am being called to to step up and into a black and white relationship with my Lord, as hard as it is to have look soberly into my life and devotion to Him, it was refreshing to read "For the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever." He is good. I have tasted that goodness before so I recognize it. It is relieving to be reminded of His mercy and how it does endure forever. Pray for your brother please.

Jeremiah 51:54-52:34


Jeremiah is one of my favorite books and I am sad to see our readings come to an end. My love of Jeremiah has been a growing process. The first time I read through this book way back in 1985 I just read it with no clue or understanding what it was about. I had mad a decision to read the entire Bible and I had set my face toward that end whether I understood what I was reading or not and I certainly didn’t understand Jeremiah. My motivation for my continuation for reading through the Bible came from three sources: 1) my desire to never again allow anyone to interpret or explain the scriptures to me because of being around multitudes of people who twisted scripture for their sick purposes; (2 & 3) an explosive encounter with a passage in Isaiah and Galatians during my first journey through the Bible. The two encounters would leave me a wash in tears, cleansing me as I realized the god I had created in my head because of being in a spiritually abusive church and family, was not the True God.

Reading the Bible can be like chewing wood, an analogy I’ve used countless times. Yet, when one gets a revelation, an understanding that was never seen or experienced before in just one verse or sentence, the remainder of the Book becomes like a piece of land that has buried diamonds. As long as one is willing to put the work in, put the shoulder, and back into finding each valuable gem, then the process of searching takes on a completely new meaning. Jeremiah began coming alive to me in my tenth year of going through the Bible but that first new encounter was scary. I shuddered at the destruction and became confused trying to figure out who was talking to whom and through whom.

Anything built on a lie will collapse and Jeremiah gives proof of that. What becomes scary for us is when we realize that what is surrounding us, what is supporting us is a lie and we decide we would rather not change. When our loved ones won’t change when we have thought about changing and we procrastinate in effecting the change that is needed because they won’t come with us. We at first pray for God’s Mercy to take effect, but Mercy is a gift and is at the behest of the giver. After awhile when we still haven’t changed we then tell God He has to accepts us the way we are because, after all, “God you’re God and I want you too.” The Bottom Line is this: Anything outside of God is a BIG FAT LIE. Us believing that lie will not make it Truth, it is still a BIG FAT LIE.

Jeremiah is a case study in destruction: the underpinnings that lead to collapse. Jeremiah takes always all the excuses we have created for ourselves for not effecting change. We cannot say that God never gave us a warning or lovingly called to us to STOP IT and GET OUT, God’s mercies are clearly evident in the book.

Jeremiah also shows us that God, in a box (Arc of the Covenant) our out of the box is still God. He shows us that despite our big or small buildings where we go to worship, God can choose to vacate the premises before, after and during destruction and He still remains God. Our building projects, our skill in designing beautiful sanctuaries and stain glass windows, parking lots that can hold thousands of cars so their occupants can enter a big or small building to worship, does not mean God is in the midst—God cannot be contained or boxed by man.

What scares us when we read Jeremiah is the realization that we cannot control God.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

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