Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Friday, August 12, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Aug 13, Jer 26-29

Today's readings are Jer 26-29. Tomorrow's are Jer 30-31. 

Jer 26 bounces around in time a bit, as many Jewish writers do. The year is 608 BC, almost 10 years prior to the sacking of Jerusalem. Jeremiah prophesies, asking for repentance and is threatened. Some leaders are cautious, remembering previous prophecies that came true, and prevent Jeremiah from being executed.  

In Jer 27 Zedekiah (another name for Jehoiakim) who was placed in leadership by Pharaoh, hence the reference to Egypt, hears Jeremiah encourage him and the Judeans to submit to the authority of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king. The last few chapters have revealed that God will bless some of the exiles taken by Nebuchadnezzar and bring them back to Jerusalem as “good fruit”. Here we see God’s prophet, Jeremiah, encouraging His people to submit to God’s plan even though it is objectionable to the Jews. The very last thing the Jews would want to do is surrender to the Gentiles. Frequently we will find ourselves being called to do the very last thing we want to do in order to garner God’s fullest blessings. This is the essence of “dying to self” and surrendering to the Lord and His word. 

God is going to place an iron yoke on the nations. It is God's plan. Yet, Hananiah, a false prophet comes against Jeremiah, claiming the yoke Jeremiah describes is a lie. Hananiah prophecies that any exile or defeat will only last two years. Undoubtedly, that sounded good to the Jews, far better than Jeremiah’s message of surrender and yielding. Hananiah dies after Jeremiah prophesies that God will end his life for being a liar.

This is another point to be pondered. In a day when we hear prophecies about the end of the world, earthquakes, the flooding of the Easter Seaboard, even massive revival…it would be wise to consider the fruit of the ministries of those prophets. In the middle of Jeremiah’s section on poor fruit vs good fruit, we find this anecdote about a false prophet whose poor fruit is his own death. While many modern self-proclaimed prophets may not die, it would be wise and prudent to judge them by their fruits. Good questions to ask about anyone claiming to prophesy on behalf of God would be;

·       Exactly what, in detail, are they prophesying? Are the details vague and subject to many interpretations or are they precise and easy to understand? 
·       Do they have a track record of accuracy?
·       If they have been inaccurate in the past, what was the explanation? Supposedly they spoke the word of God. What happened? Do they blame the inaccuracy on the prayers or faith/lack of faith of others? Do they write it off as some un-measurable occurrence, “Oh, it happened in the heavenlies so we can’t see it down here!” What impact do previous inaccuracies have on how we view their current predictions?
·       Are their prophecies scripturally sound?
·       Do their prophecies line up with what we know about the character and nature of God as revealed in the Scriptures?

In Jer 29, we see a letter Jeremiah sends to the remaining exiles in Babylon somewhere around 589 BC, after the fall of Jerusalem. He tells them to settle in. They will be there for seventy years not two. Their lives among the Gentiles will last nearly two generations, before God brings them home. This is the context for a familiar verse, 
"Jer 29:11 
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." 

This is a verse frequently used out of context. Clearly, the Hebrews have 70 years of trial ahead of them. The preceding chapters have been preparing them for the long haul and cautioning them against the false prophets who are guaranteeing comfort, victory and a short exile.  

Notice this, Jeremiah's ministry, so far, has few, if any converts. Jeremiah has to get whatever affirmation he gets from the only source that truly means anything, his Father in heaven. He's certainly not getting it from those around him. 

This is a valuable lesson to all of us. If our disposition is determined by how well received or how well liked we are, we are likely to be disappointed.  

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