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Jeremiah 12:1-14:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected. (Proverbs 18:10 HCSB)

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:2 HCSB)

A man's own foolishness leads him astray, yet his heart rages against the LORD. (Proverbs 19:3 HCSB)

Three passages, and there are more that suggests (2) that God is an immovable force—we must turn to Him, run to Him, and the third suggest that it is our choices that bring about our own calamity.

The protection we seek can be found only in our Strong Tower, our Rock, God. When we move out from under that protection by disobedience, the Tower does not follow us nor is the Rock moved to where you are heading when you are going out on your own. Just as an umbrella carried during the day of rain will not protect you unless you open it (application) and stand under it (submit; subject) affording yourself of the protection the canopy gives.

Israel, now Judah is out from under the Rock which is her protection thus she is subject to danger. One may say that God caused her troubles but in truth he permitted her to follow down that path because God is all about Free Will, it’s all about choice. When one is a babe then the Rock holds His charge near; but once maturation is complete and the babe is now a man or woman capable of mobility—that no longer babe can walk off. Unless the Rock sends you on your mission; He will not follow you.

The Father in the story of the Prodigal Son did not follow the wayward son, who was not in his right mind, into the Pig Pen to pull him out. The son had to come to the realization of who he was and whom he belonged to, his family. It was only when he 1) came to his right mind, 2) got up, humbled himself and returned (repented) to his rightful place that the Father, seeing Him afar off returning (repenting) ran and met him then elevated him to his rightful position.

That principal worked with Israel, Judah, the Wayward or wasteful son, and it works for us.

My oldest son accused me of causing him to be in jail because I wouldn’t lie for him (I will not lie for anyone and that includes my two children nor any other relative). He did the deed, he was caught; his own actions landed him in the situation he found himself in.

A man of great wrath shall suffer the penalty; for if you deliver him [from the consequences], he will [feel free to] cause you to do it again. (Proverbs 19:19 AMP)

Criminals and those with a criminal mind are angry people—they believe things were withheld from them and the only way they can get ANYTHING is to take it from someone else—even a person’s life. And a Criminal Mind does not have to break a codified law to legally be a criminal, they just break moral laws.

And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, [Heb. 11:4.] But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. (Genesis 4:4-5 AMP)

Jeremiah 11-13

Approximately thirteen years later during the reign of Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah has been preaching and warning, and for the third time God in vs. 14 says not to pray for them.

People, even his relatives, get so tired of what they perceive as a nagging voice (of accountability) they plot to kill him. Jeremiah does the right thing - he takes it to the Lord. The answer, God will take care of it - in His timeframe - not Jeremiah's.

Same question as Job
Jer12:1 "Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?" NIV

The Lord's answer: If these things shake your faith - what are you going to do when it is worse, much worse.

Today when people cry out, 'where was God during a catastrophe or heinous crime'. First of all - he was right there where He always is - just like He was there at the Cross. Secondly, for many it is hypocritical, as they do not want God in their day-to-day lives, yet run to Him when things are bad. Thirdly, a thought from Ray Stedman:

"I think most of us are due for a shock in our Christian lives when we reach that stage in Christian development in which we expect God constantly to work out our problems on easy terms...and then one day he doesn't do it! That is always a shocking time to us, but that is where Jeremiah is right now."

Despite telling Jeremiah that judgment is inevitable, and in 12:8 that God even hates Israel - there will be compassion.

Jer 12:15 "But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to his own inheritance and his own country."

[NOTE: On God's hate for Israel. I can only reconcile this emotion from a God of love two ways. Most commentators say it is an anthropomorphic expression. Where God is expressing an emotion in man's terms as man would see it when his love had been sooo rejected. Or it is God hating so much the actions of Israel - 'therefore I hate her (actions), and will take action to correct'. Whatever the reason it is scary to think one has offended God so much. Are we as a "world" doing that now - with the constant rejection and ignoring of God????]

Jeremiah 13

Two visual examples from God:

1)Linen belt(girdle) - the Hebrew denotes "an innermost piece of clothing". It is worn and then exposed to the elements by a river (Euphrates??) - where it was useless (rotted and shredded). The girdle represents service in (Exodus and the gospels), and God wanted His relationship to be as close and intimate with Israel as the girdle on man.

"Jeremiah was taught what happens to a life, how it begins to rot when it turns away from God. It cannot be sustained in its strength, for God is the source of all strength in humanity. Man cannot be man apart from God. Any individual, or any nation, that refuses to live on this basis, will find his life beginning to rot and to shred, and to lose its consistency and power. He will be as this waistcloth -- good for nothing." - Ray Stedman

Their relationship and service to the Lord was as a shredded rotting piece of undergarment.

In addition, if the river was the Euphrates (River of Babylon)- there may be a prophetic undertone. That the people when they turned from God and spent time with Babylonians would have a rotting realtionship with God. Remember only 50,000+ Israelites returned from Babylon out of the approximately 2,000,000+ at end of Captivity.

2)Wineskins to be filled - I think - and I am not sure - that this is God letting the pre-determined heart go its way. (Much like Paul who said to Corinth hand this man over to Satan (1Cor5:5)).

If they were going to deny God and reject them - they would become drunk (to the max)in this manner. Judah would becom fixed and intensify this behavior - much like Pharoah's heart was hardened during plagues. At first it was Him, and then it was God allowing Pharoah to be as bad as he wanted to be. The same now with Judah. Thus bringing in the time of judgment.

Jeremiah keeps preaching on this threat of Captivity.

we are not to be lazy (proverbs) but work with our hands (1 Thessalonians)

working with our hands is important for lots of reasons and God is talking to me about this - crafts, physical labor, and having credibility in the local scene by MAKING something.
i am planning to include crafts in our training for next year.

Jeremiah 12 (Amplified)
4
How long must the land mourn and the grass and herbs of the whole country wither? Through the wickedness of those who dwell in it, the beasts and the birds are consumed and are swept away [by the drought], because men [mocked] me, saying, He shall not [live to] see our final end.
5
[But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah's impatience, saying] If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan?
6
For even your brethren and the house of your father--even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, even they are [like a pack of hounds] in full cry after you. Believe them not, though they speak fair words and promise good things to you.

NOTE:
I like how the Amplified Bible clarifies God’s answer to Jeremiah: "But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah's impatience".

Jeremiah’s questions are the same as ours:
(vs 1)
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

(vs 2)
You Yourself have planted them and they have taken root.
Yet, they speak like they know You, Lord, but You are far from their hearts (or minds – as in NKJV).
It is obvious they only pretend to know and love You, Lord.

(vs 3)
You let them keep on as they are, yet Lord – You have tested my heart toward You.

Why do You test me so much??

WE HAVE TO LOOK BEYOND WHAT “feels fair”. God is working out His plan to vindicate those who trust in Him. God loves His people deeply, and cares enough about us to test our hearts so that we can be pure.

God loves us too much to let us stay the way we are in our character; God is not willing that any rebellious people should perish, and His patience gives them time to repent.

MAY WE PRAY FOR THE PATIENCE THAT GOD HAS. The fruit of the Spirit is: “love, joy, peace, PATIENCE. . .”
~~~

Jeremiah 13 (NKJV)
10
This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.
11
For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the LORD, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’

NOTE:
May we listen, may we heart. Lord, we offer up our inner selves to you, for You alone can establish us in this part of Your New Covenant—to write Your Word upon our hearts and to give us a new heart to love and serve You with pure hearts.

Psalm 143 (Amplified)
8
Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You.
~~~

I Thessalonians 1 (NKJV)
9
For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

NOTE:
May all of our lives be like this—that all others, whether they believe in God or not—are impressed by the real and thorough change in us because of the Lord Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 2 (NKJV)
4
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
7
But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
8
So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

NOTE:
THANK GOD that God continually tests our hearts. God purifies us in our character and motives as we daily and continually yield to Him so He can use us TO BE THE COMMUNITY and TO BE THE PEOPLE He has called us to be.

Then, we can be, through GRACE, faithful witnesses of God's Love and Gospel.

John 13 (NKJV)
35
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
~~~

Psalm 79 (NKJV)
9
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, for Your name’s sake!

NOTE:
THANK GOD for His covenant –the Lord’s steadfast, unfailing, covenant Love. That is His Name.

Psalm 23 (Amplified)
3
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.

God WILL establish His Word of righteousness and blessing towards the people of Israel, given to Abraham.

Genesis 12:3 - "I will bless you and make you a blessing."

And God WILL use the Church of the Lord Jesus (Jesus, son of David and son of Abraham) to help establish Israel.

All who come to the truly know the Lord Jesus are ONE NEW MAN, and the dividing wall of hostility has been torn down.

Vance

1 Thessalonians 1

Thessalonia was a big city, a port city, and after being a capital of one of four districts of Macedonia - was made the capital of all Macedonia by the Romans.

By backing Antony and Octavious, the city was also rewarded and made a "free city" (about 100 years by the time of Paul's writing). They ruled and judged amongst themselves - as long as thier were no civil riots.

That is why Paul's spreading of the gospel was a big deal. This led to Paul's abrupt departure.

"These men who have turned the world upside down, have come to our city as well," {cf, Acts 17:6}.
======================================================
Thessalonia after Paul

Paul's letter was warm and friendly. The opening does not carry the familiar stamp of apostolic authority we have seen in other letters. Yes, there were problems - some accusations regarding Paul to adress, and questions regarding the Second Coming of Christ, but...

...Thessalonia got it. they received the gospel and spread the gospel themselves. The amount of doctrine they accepted is noted in the letter. Their fruits of the Spirit are abundant. ALL THIS in less than one year.

If someone wrote a letter about you one year after you were saved - what would that letter say????
======================================================
Paul compliments them and continually has Thessalonia in prayer for:

1)"your work produced by faith" - (in the past and ongoing). What work?

John6:29 "Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

The believed: acknowledged, believed and trusted in Christ. Upon hearing the gospel they received Christ.

"Until you have actually received Christ, you have not exercised faith." - Ray Stedman

2)"your labor prompted by love", (in the present and ongoing) - a changed attitude towards affliction, spreading of the Gospel, having a daily trust in God's care.

3)"your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ". (expectations of the future) - endurance or steadfastness in the certain expectation of the return of Christ.

1Thess1:4
"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,"

I stay away from "election" when it is ambiguous in the Greek. Here it is not ambiguous. Paul knows that they are loved by God and they are chosen. Chosen - Gk. ekloge:
1) the act of picking out, choosing
a) of the act of God's free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons
b) the decree made from choice by which he determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone
2) a thing or person chosen
a) of persons: God's elect
http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/1/1160450300-966.html

From the roots of the word - it is a "calling by name" "out of" or "away from".

All this, because in the past some people have asked me to point out verses that point to "election". This is one of them. Nothing to argue about, just something that each person has to resolve in their own mind to their own satisfaction.
======================================================
Other places Paul might scratch his head, and think "are they really saved?", but not in Thessalonia.

The gospel came with "power" - in the greek with the added denotation of being like the power and influence of riches or armies. Even like the power of miracles.

And the Thessalonians were certain of their faith and salvation. So certain - that in a very short time they were out spreading the gospel themselves, and livng as an example of "light" for others to see.

These passages are not only a ringing endorsement of Thessalonia's faith, but also in a way an endorsement of Paul's ministry. The things told to him back at Damascus and during his time of learning (in Arabia) are coming to fruition.
======================================================
1Thess1:9b "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,"

"This is the process of conversion. A person believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ and there is a turning of his life. He turns away from the empty things he had previously trusted in, and turns to trust in Jesus Christ. Then, there is a transformation that takes place. That transformed life is evidence of a true conversion, because our life is no longer what it used to be. It is, as we are told in Acts 26:18, turning from "darkness to light." - Gil Rugh

We have seen all throughout the Old Testament, but especially in Jeremiah, the call to turn or return to God. Some New Testament passages:

Acts3:19 says, "Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away... ." The word "return" is the same word for "turn" used in 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

Acts 14:15. Paul says, "...Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God... ."

2Corinthians 3:16 "Whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."

The thessalonians "turned" to God and received Christ. Now they are doing two things - serving and waiting. Their service has been outlined above, but what are they waiting for?
======================================================
1Thess1:10 "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

This is the only time anemeno (wait) is used in NT. The meaning is to wait with the added notion of patience and trust. They are waiting with certainty for Christ's return.

"Rescues us from the coming wrath" is one of those staements that makes me believe in the Rapture of the Church. Why?

Wrath - Gk. orge - means punishment resulting from anger. That is not hell. Going to hell would be punishment resulting from the justice and righteousness of God - for those that chose to reject Him.

If you do a word study on "orge" or "wrath" I think you will see the context. This "wrath" is reserved for the world and those that reject God and his plan. The Tribulation or Second Coming. (Whichever you believe it to be.) When God will say "enough" in the time he has appointed and will fulfill the extended prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and others.

I believe the point of it all, as I said before will be to bring the remnant of Israel back into the fold (to have them "turn to God and receive Christ). If that is the case, then there is no need for the "church" to be here, it is not about the believer.

If I am wrong, then for the verse to be true - then through all the "wrath" (Tribulation/Second Coming)the existing believer will be unharmed (delivered/rescued). So either way Christ will have rescued us from the "wrath".
======================================================
So the Thessalonians do not just serve, or just wait. They do both, as we are also to do. Serving the Lord, sharing the Gospel, always with the expectant eye on His Return.

1 Thessalonians 1
2007

4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

In previous verse Paul commends Thessalonians for "labor prompted by love". So did the Thessalonians do this on their own to please God?

No, in a different way in the quoted verses the Thessalonians were convicted and knew that their Christian walk depended on God - not themselves. They are not just saved by God - their walk is enpowered by God. They yield to the Father in the Father-child role, submit their will to His, and receive from Him the richness of His grace and the power to walk in the Spirit, in love.

The Thessalonians imitated Paul and his group in yielding to the Father, that is how they were able to love with God's love. That is how they were able to do the work God had predestined for them from before the Creation. When you "are" in the Spirit, one proceeds with great conviction - it is an uplifting and humbling experiance. You know that in Christ you are not inferior to anyone, but you alone are nothing - incapable of pulling it off without god's work through the Holy Spirit.

this is yom kippur the day of atonement. As I was reading the OT today, I felt strangely at home, as our times in the good old US of A are strangely defined in these verses. It's a scary time- this election. It's time to pray and ask for God's mercy on this nation and our individual families. In the 40's norman Vincent Peale wrote a book telling about how the family altar was being replaced by the family bar and how divorce was becoming more prevalent. We've come a long way baby-the wrong way. We should be rending our hearts AND our garments for the way that we have turned our backs on the God of "In God we trust" Those words need to be written and re-written on our hearts, We've mixed the spiritual blessings with monetary blessings and are too confused to shine a clear light on this world as the Church, The Bride that Jesus desires. Lord have mercy-Let's pray!

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