Reading Through The Bible — Week 60
1/13 Monday: Read Jeremiah 29:1-32
· If time is short, focus on v.1-23
· Jeremiah writes a letter to those carried off in the first wave of exiles to go to Babylon. They would face two dangers: 1. The false prophets would continue to predict an early return, and 2. others might despair.
· To the first group Jeremiah counsels them to settle down, raise families (for they would be there 70 years) and instead of revenge or a contrary spirit that they would seek the good of the place where they were (in the end it would be good for them since they would be there a while.)
· Note: Jeremiah’s advice can well fit us who wait for the final redemption… live peaceably in the place where God puts us, yet recognizing that we will not be here permanently.
· For those tempted to despair Jeremiah provides another of his beautiful gospel promises which have held many of God’s people up in their own private Babylon… v.11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
1/14 Tuesday: Read Jeremiah 30:1—32:44
· If time is short, focus on 31:1-40
· A beautiful Gospel section. What is your God like? His judgments, and anger with our sin is real; His justice is real. But just as real is His unfailing love (31:3!!!). He promises to restore His people whom He sent into exile.
· The old covenant (I will be your God and you will be My special people IF you obey my commands) had failed miserably (because we fail miserably). God would make a new covenant (one that did not depend on us, but entirely on Him (31:31-34). You celebrated that covenant the last time you received the Lord’s Supper (the “new covenant in My blood”), assuring you, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
· Jeremiah is led to purchase a field and have the deed witnessed as a symbol that God would keep His promise and restore them to their land after the 70 years of captivity. Once again the land would continue with business as usual.
1/15 Wednesday: Read Jeremiah 33:1-26
· If time is short, focus on v.14-26
· The message of the Lord’s grace to His people continues in today’s reading. Observe the number of times the Lord says through His prophet, “I will…”
· In the midst is a famous Messianic promise, v.14-16... the righteous Branch whose name is “The LORD Our Righteousness.” Therein is the heart of the Gospel. Since we have no righteousness of our own, our Savior had to give us His!
· Note also v.22… I really think that he is talking about you and me!
1/16 Thursday: Read Jeremiah 34:1—35:19
· If time is short, focus on 35:1-19
· The bad news, Zedekiah would be taken into exile. The good news, he would not be killed but would die and be mourned in exile.
· Unless there was some other reason, we might assume that the freeing of those Israelites who had enslaved themselves was the end of the six years (Ex.2:12), for no one was to be enslaved longer than that. But the greedy reneged on this agreement, bringing God’s wrath on them.
· Note 34:17. This is the kind of “freedom” anyone receives for going their own way and ignoring the covenant made with their God! Freedom to go our own way is the very worst kind of slavery!
· Note 34:18. Ancient peoples sealed covenants by walking between halves of butchered claves, signifying that this would also be their fate should the break the covenant.
· The Recabites of ch.35 had some interesting family traditions. They chose to live simple lives in tents and consumed no alcohol. When tested, they refused to break this family agreement. They are commended by God and held up as examples in contrast to God’s people who were constantly breaking their covenant with God.
1/17 Friday: Read Jeremiah 36:1—37:21
· If time is short, focus on 36:1-26
· Dramatic examples of the low place to which Judah had sunk. King Jehoiakim takes the prophecy of Jeremiah and burns it. And in ch. 37 Jeremiah is thrown in to prison. Maybe you and I have never burned a Bible or imprisoned a prophet of God, but perhaps in more subtle ways we have tried to silence our God when we didn’t like what He said. But God’s Word will remain forever true; it cannot be silenced!
· In ch. 36 we not only have insight into how the prophecy of Jeremiah was preserved for us (dictated to and written down by Baruch), but also insight into the Biblical teaching of inspiration. When the scroll was burned, Jeremiah simply dictated exactly the same message to Baruch. “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” We can be confident that the words of Jeremiah and all the rest are really the Word of God.
1/18 Saturday: Read Jeremiah 38:1—40:16
· If time is short, focus on 38:1-28
· Jeremiahs prophesy was looked upon as treason and he was thrown into a cistern where he would have died if it were not for a non-Israelite Ebed-Melech from northern Africa and is an official at the palace petitions king Zedekiah and frees Jeremiah. Who knows where God’s help may come from! This man is rewarded by God for his help illustrating Jesus promise that “Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophets reward.” (Mt.10:41)
· King Zedekiah secretly inquires of Jeremiah, God’s will, but in the end he will still refuse to listen and tries to escape Nebuchadnezzar. As a result he faces the most terrifying conclusion… the last thing he sees before his eyes are put out is the murder of his family.
· The siege of Jerusalem lasted approximately a year and a half and is recorded three times in the Scriptures 2 Kings 25 and Jeremiah 39 & 52. A city under siege would eventually give in to starvation unless something would happen to distract the army who had cut that city off from its supplies.
1/19 Sunday: On this 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany we see John the Baptist pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of God sent to take away the sin of the entire world!
The Gospel Lesson, John 1:29-42b: As the last and greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist rightly summarizes the totality of God’s plan of salvation by pointing to Jesus and calling Him the Lamb of God. Though not an Old Testament title, John’s name for Christ is the perfect sum of the sacrificial system. Christ is the fulfillment of all the sacrificial victims of the Old Testament, from Yom Kippur’s goat to the Passover Lamb and every sin and guilt offering in between. They are all fulfilled in the Son of God made flesh that He might stand in our place, that He might take the burden of sins off the world and onto His shoulders, and that He might die in our stead. Seeing the Lamb of God leads believers like John and Andrew to bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.
The Old Testament Lesson, Isaiah 49:1-7: This Servant Song foretells the Messiah’s work: He will be God’s own servant sent to accomplish God’s mission. God will choose Him, uphold Him and delight in Him. God will also put His Spirit on Him that He might bring justice to the nations. His ministry is characterized by gentleness toward the weak, but also by an inexorable driving toward His goal. He will not falter in the work for which He was anointed until He brings forth the right verdict, the justice that comes from God and declares His people righteous in His sight because of Messiah’s work. He will be the Mediator of the new covenant (Jeremiah31:31-?34) based on His person that will bring the people and the Gentiles out of the darkness of sin’s prison. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism shows how these prophesies were perfectly fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Epistle Lesson, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9: The Gentile household of Cornelius had heard the message about the Savior, but then Peter came as an eyewitness of prophesy’s fulfillment. Jesus was the Christ because at His baptism God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power. Immediately, the empowerment of the Spirit made itself evident in the works of Jesus as He did the Messiah’s work of healing those under the power of the devil. This anointing as Savior resulted in Peter’s amazing statement in verse 36, “the message proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” The message God sent Israel consisted in that one word: peace. That message was on the lips of the angels at Christmas and on the lips of Christ at His resurrection. Jesus restored peace between man and God because that’s exactly what He had been anointed to do.