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Jeremiah 23:21-25:38

As I read today’s text a passage from 1st Peter is brought to my remembrance,

For the time has come for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
(1 Peter 4:17-18 HCSB)

God always judges His people first, and then He goes to the nations. We have been rocked by church scandal these past decades. Believers are either angry or embarrassed when things are exposed. But the scandal can be seen as a good thing, God is cleaning out His church and changing the dirty diapers of His people. Then after the church is cleansed, the nations, the people who are not his people, those who have rejected God are dealt with. We have nothing to fear if we are keeping attuned to the voice of the Lord. As long as we not only listen but actually hear what Thus Saith the Lord, we will come through stirred, but not shaken. The remnant God designated to survive the shaking out, as Mike has discussed in his comments about the good and bad figs, may not fit our understanding of what we judge to be good or evil, but our understanding is flawed if not inline with what God has decreed.


I find Mike’s explanation of God’s cup of anger very interesting and I see the judgment of God in a different light and not at odds with His Character, Mercy and Grace.

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire, like a launderer's soap. (Malachi 3:2 NET.)

We have read in our earlier readings that when man came face to face with God, He/She was always fearful that they would not live and were surprised when they did, why? Sin cannot stand in the presence of God, just like dirt cannot stand in the presence of a good through cleaning with soap. By its very nature, dirt has to “flee” when soap shows up and is applied. When we stubbornly rebel holding on to our sin, when God shows up the sin we so tenaciously hold onto will be washed away in the rinse. If we are clinging to that sin, we will go down the drain with it.

The judgment we see in the scriptures only come about because man is stubbornly clinging to sin which leads to death. He/She refuses to separate from that which is destined to go down the drain.

A Curse and Two Word Pictures

Looking at the Old Testament in more depth this year, I have found it provides many foreshadowings and insights into the New Testament. It has been said that you can not begin to understand the Book of Revelation without studying the OT first. The OT is also instructive when looking at much of the NT. The message is consistent throughout as God hints at and reveals His plan. The consistency should not amaze anyone who believes that the Bible is authored by the Holy Spirit.

I am amazed at how everything fits so neatly together and points to Christ (God's plan).
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The Curse on Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) Jer:22:30

[Edit of an email I sent earlier this year]

Regarding the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. The differences always interested me, and fairly early on I was pretty settled in my understanding of the "why and wherefore" of the lists....it seems to me that the genealogies point out exactly why it had to be a virgin birth. Mary and Joseph's lines split at David - Mary follows Nathan's line and Joseph follows Solomon's line. The reason it had to be a virgin birth is God placed this curse on Jeconiah in Joseph's line (Matt1:12):

Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah. -Jeremiah 22:30

Mary had the blood rights of the line of David - through Nathan whose line did not have a curse on it.

Joseph had the royal rights through Solomon. Jesus an adopted son (and being the the eldest) had all the rights of the father.

The fact that Joseph's line had the cursed Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) in it - precluded the coupling of Mary and Joseph (mingling of bloodlines), with God just anointing the child with His Spirit. Or making Him incarnate in some way. God's Word had to remain true. It had to be a virgin birth, and that of course fits in with God's plan that it truly be the Son of God - yet Son of Man. All so intricate :)
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[NOTE: Some will argue about the genealogies, remember:

1)They are different. Who else would the two people be?
2) Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience with the theme "Jesus as King" - his genealogy would emphasize the "royal rights" to kingship.
3) Luke was writing a history with the theme "Son of Man" - his genealogy would want to emphasize the link to Adam.
4)Being a historian, Luke would be more strict than Matthew in not refering to women in the genealogy. Also "the son of" is not literally in the Hebrew text, but supplied by translators.]

Anything more detailed than this will have to wait until next year's gospel readings :)


Word Picture I : FIGS

Mike posed an interesting question about the figs in Jeremiah 24. Examples and word pictures are interesting, and I think it is worthwhile to think of them in the bigger context of God's plan.

Jer24:5 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians."NIV

I believe the answer as to why the figs are good (pleasing) in God's eyes goes back to Jeremiah 21. The good figs (people) followed God's Word and surrendered their will to His.

Jer 21:8-9 "Furthermore, tell the people, 'This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; he will escape with his life." NIV

[NOTE: These are my own observations - as I have not seen it elsewhere.]

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Jer21, I see this as a picture of Salvation. Those who SURRENDER to God (through Jesus Christ)will have eternal life. Those who refuse will be condemned.

So, the good figs are the Jews who surrendered to the Babylonians (agents of God) and were taken away in exile. They heeded the Word of God. But the picture is more detailed than just the Surrendering.

God's promise to the exiles also parallels what happens to a person who believes IN Christ:
- My eyes will watch over them for their good
-I will bring them back to this land (Believers in the millenium/heaven???)
-I will build them up and not tear them down (fruits of the Spirit/Christian maturity process)
-I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD - (regenerated heart)
-They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (turning to God and accepting Christ)

Here is where it gets intriguing:
Doing some research I have seen the number of Jews taken into Babylonian exile number in the range from 10,000 to 48,000. After 70 years approximately 50,000 return to Israel. Estimates of the Jews who stay behind in Babylon range from 2 to 3 million.

So who are the good figs? The ones who originally went? The ones who came back? All the Jews in Babylon before the return?????

My conjectures and parallels with Salvation:
-Initially, good figs were the Jews who surrendered to Babylonians, just as man who surrenders to God in Christ is saved.
- Certainly the Jews who returned to Israel faithfully followed His Word as the act of surrendering and the post-surrender process eventually brought them back. Just as the Christian who surrenders to God will eventually return to the Promised Land (Millenium/heaven????).
-What about the good figs who died in Captivity? It does not say in these passages "when" they will come back to the land. If they "surrendered to God's Will" this could be fulfilled in the Second Coming/Millenium.
-What about the ones who stayed behind in Babylon? Are they good figs????Maybe not.
a)If born during the captivity - does not mean they believe as the good figs. Just as a child born into a Christian family does not make him/her a Christian. Salvation is not about bloodlines.
b)Original exilers who stayed behind - did they surrender originally? or did they go because their parents surrendered, or because they were afraid, or because it seemed the right thing to do,etc. So if their hearts were not right when surrendering to Babylonians are not all the promises void???? Just like a Christian, whose Salvation is personal, it is between them and God. Only God knows their hearts and reasons.
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O.K. As I Write this it is not as neat and "together" as I hoped :(

However, since this has been on my mind the last 24 hours, I am going to post it. I am not married to it, and certainly open to feedback - positive and negative - posted here or by email.

I will save it and perhaps by next year this time - it will be a more refined thought :).

Word Picture II: "Cup of Wrath"

Well, this should be easier :)

People who look at the Old Testament and say God is mean and/or vindictive, and 'that is not the God of the New Testament' are incorrect.

Whether the Flood, the Amalekites, Canannites, or Israel's punishment and exile - God has always* provided a long interval between when He proclaims judgment and then carries it out. There are prophecies, warnings, and calls for repentance as a way out of punishment.

*Sodom and Gomorrah may be an exception here, but we are not given enough detail of the time before Lot and the cities and any warnings.

When rejected the Creator has the right to exercise punishment and judgment. So it will be with the Second coming - when Christ returns in judgment. Jesus gave warnings in the gospels, the epistles (letters of the NT)constantly mention Jesus' return*, and Revelation lays out the framework (literally or metaphorically - depending on your beliefs) of the Second Coming. The solution to avoiding this "wrath", also laid out quite often, is to receive and believe" IN Christ.

*Chuck Missler says that Christ's return is mentioned on average once every 14 verses of the epistles. I do not know if that is correct, but it is mentioned quite a bit.
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Cups in Old Testament

There are two cups mentioned. The cup of consolation (salvation) and the cup of God's wrath.

It is interesting when you drink of the cup of salvation - it is God's cup. (Salvation is of God).

But that is not the cup in Jeremiah 25.

Jer25:15a "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath..." NIV

Jeremiah was a cupbearer, symbolizing someone close to the King (God). Drinking of the cup symbolizes partaking of whatever the cup contains. Here the cup is full of the wrath of God. It must be drunk - for Israel and (later) for nations - for with the anger and fury of God comes judgment (the sword). Here in Jeremiah's time to Israel and interestingly enough in the future to all nations. Each in its own time.

Jer25:29b "You will not go unpunished, for I am calling down a sword upon all who live on the earth, declares the LORD Almighty." NIV

Jesus knew this:
Matt26:39b "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." NIV

In Jer25:28b
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: You must drink it!"

Mike and Ramona are correct. The cup is a reservoir which has been filling. All the while there are warnings, calls to repent, to turn to God. You can accept the mercy and grace of God - but at some point the cup is full. God's punishment and judgment can not be denied to those who reject Him. For Israel in Jeremiah it is to correct behavior and bring a remnant back to Israel. At the Second coming, it will be necessary to purge the earth of the wicked so the Millenium (or new heaven/new earth - depending on what you believe) can be ushered into existence. God does not do things willy nilly nor out of blind anger - punishment and judgment are always done for a reason and are a part of His plan.

Jesus knew this and I would like to think God lovingly responded to Matt26:39b - 'You must drink this!' To which Jesus may be replying:

Matt26:42b "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." NIV

I believe the "wrath of God" was present at the cross - others do not. I believe Jesus symbolically drank of the whole cup of God's wrath - down to the dregs. The wrath (anger and fury) of God towards all mankind for all sins (remember God is outside "time"). Jesus did this so we (those who believe IN him) would not have to experiance God's wrath...

Rom5:9 " Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" NIV

1Thess1:10 "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." NIV

1Thess5:9 "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
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The Kicker

If Jesus drank the cup of wrath for all mankinds sins - why will there be any punishment? Isn't the cup empty?

Firstly, it was symbolic. More importantly there is a contingency to being saved through Jesus. Since Jesus drank the cup of God's wrath - He was able to offer us a new cup:

Matt26:27-28 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the ("new covenant" in some manuscripts) covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

That is the deal. We can wait and partake of the cup of God's wrath (at our death or at Christ's return), or we can partake of the cup Jesus' is offering.

Drinking of the cup symbolizes partaking of whatever the cup contains. Jesus' cup contains salvation, it symbolizes the bride who accepts the marriage contract* (here the new covenant), and it is the "cup of blessing" in the Passover feast.

* #5 in the link
http://www.linkjesus.com/weddingstudy.htm

It is our choice. The cup of wrath is still there for those who reject Christ's cup.

2 Thessalonians 2
3
Don't be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed--the one who brings destruction.
4
He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

9
This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles.
10
He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them.
11
So God will send great deception upon them, and they will believe all these lies.
12
Then they will be condemned for not believing the truth and for enjoying the evil they do.


13
As for us, we always thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation, a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and by your belief in the truth.
14
He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 84
5
Happy are those who are strong in the LORD, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,[ Hebrew valley of Baca ]
it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!

~~~

NOTE: Consider this –

Andrew Murray is an excellent man of God—with our Lord Jesus in heaven.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia): While on earth, he was father to eight adult children (four boys and four girls). Also, he was the champion of the South African Revival of 1860.

As I reflect on the antichrist, note this in 2 Thessalonians 2:
4
He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

In light of who man is (and is NOT) and Who God is, consider Andrew Murray’s words:

“God proposed to make a man in His own image and likeness. The chief glory of God is that He has life in Himself; that He is independent of all else, and owes what He is to Himself alone.

If the image and likeness of God was not to be a mere name, and man was really to be like God in the power to make himself what he was to be, he must needs have the power of free will and self determination.

This was the problem God had to solve in man's creation in His image. Man was to be a creature made by God, and yet he was to be, as far as a creature could be, like God, self made. In all God's treatment of man these two factors were ever to be taken into account.

God was ever to take the initiative, and be to man the source of life. Man was ever to be the recipient, and yet at the same time the disposer of the life God bestowed
* dispose [regulate] according to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary: to govern or direct according to rule *

When man had fallen through sin, and God entered into a covenant of salvation, these two sides of the relationship had still to be maintained intact. God was ever to be the first, and man the second.

His [man’s] absolute dependence upon God was not to be forced upon him; if it was really to be a thing of moral worth and true blessedness, it must be his deliberate and voluntary choice.

…there came the New Covenant, in which God was to reveal how man's true liberty from sin and self and the creature, his true nobility and God-likeness, was to be found in the most entire and absolute dependence, in God's being and doing all within him.

In the very nature of things there was no other way possible to God than this in dealing with a being whom He had endowed with the Godlike power of a will.”

~~~
The antichrist and all who follow the antichrist spirit (even today) see man’s “Godlike power of a will” as proof that there is no God. They see “Godlike power of a will” in the context of the “survival of the fittest”—in evolution where man, being like god, willed to overcome.

I see man’s “Godlike power of a will” differently than the antichrist. Yet, it takes the determination to seek the Lord and not be deceived by the human heart and by the deceitfulness of sin and the devil.

Psalm 84
5
Happy are those who are strong in the LORD,
who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

We can choose to be like the Lord Jesus. And “non-choice” is not an option; for this is NOT choosing to be like the Lord Jesus—the Perfect Man (complete submission to the loving Father) and the Perfect God. Of course, we could NEVER do this by ourselves. And we cannot do it without true, deep repentance. If we could, we would not need Jesus or salvation.

I like Andrew Murray’s words:
“…there came the New Covenant, in which God was to reveal how man's true liberty from sin and self and the creature, his true nobility and God-likeness, was to be found in the most entire and absolute dependence, in God's being and doing all within him.”

I see this as stating in a different way what God said in 2 Thessalonians 2:
13
As for us, we always thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation, a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and by your belief in the truth.
14
He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Vance

Jeremiah 23:23-32

23 “ Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD,

“ And not a God afar off?
24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the LORD;

“ Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.

25 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, 27 who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.
28 “ The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the LORD.
29 “ Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD,

“ And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

30 “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who steal My words every one from his neighbor. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the LORD, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” says the LORD.

Greetings from Castle Rock CO. Just wanted to say hi to my friends on here! Its a beautiful state! I'll be here til early next week. I love Kutless!! I was listening to Winds of Change by Kutless on the plane, all the fluffy white clouds, the blue sky, it was an amazing view of God's creation! and the lyrics..it was amazing how God spoke to me!

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