Bible reading for July 14 -- 15
July 14 -- Jeremiah 10 and Matthew 24
July 15 -- Jeremiah 11 and Matthew 25
"But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation." (Jeremiah 10:10)
THE TRUE GOD VS DUMB IDOLS (ch 10). This is a good chapter in which to practice your observation skills...
1) How are the idols (false gods) characterized (vv 1-5, 8-9, 11, 14-15)?
2) How is the true God described (vv 6-7, 10, 12-13, 16)?
3) Why is it "stupid" to worship false gods? (vv 8, 14, 21)?
4) How does Jeremiah respond to the wickedness around him (vv 19-25)?
5) What application do you make for believers today?
THE BROKEN COVENANT (ch 11). We cannot properly understand the Bible without reference to the historical covenants. God's dealings with Israel take place within the framework of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex 19; Deut 5), and blessings and judgments would come upon the nation according to the stipulations of the covenant (Deut 28). The people consistently failed to obey (vv 1-8). The gods of the nations, to whom the people turned, could not save them (vv 9-13). Jeremiah was not to intercede any longer for the nation's deliverance (vv 14-17). "Baal" (v 17) was the name of a Canaanite god whom many believed gave rain and fertility to the land. In the midst of this Jeremiah himself was being targeted for assassination by the men of Anathoth (vv 18-23). Anathoth was a Levitical city near Jerusalem, home of some of the priests and Levites who served in Jerusalem. This bleak chapter helps prepare the way for the good news of a New Covenant that is to come, a covenant that would not be based upon the obedience of people (uncertain) nor upon a false god (unreal), but upon the faithfulness and power of God himself (Jer 31-32).
REFLECT. It is a vain and stupid thing to trust either in ourselves or in the works of our hands to save us. God, and God alone, must save. Lord, deliver us from being stupid!
"Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30)
THE OLIVET DISCOURSE (ch 24). This teaching of Jesus to his disciples is so named because it takes place on the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem. Like Jeremiah, Jesus will be rejected. The city, which fell in 586 BC will be sacked again in AD 70 by the Romans. Jesus' statement, "there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down," came to pass literally. Every stone -- even those blocks weighing many tons -- would be broken up, dragged off the mount, and dumped in the Tyropoean valley. As Jesus teaches, he is answering not only the question regarding the destruction of the temple but also of his glorious return. There are both near and far events being discussed. Verse 30 tells us that Jesus' return will be visible ("they will see"), personal ("the Son of Man"), and glorious ("with power and great glory"). Daniel chapters 7 and 9 give context to his teaching on the second coming. He calls his disciples -- them and us -- to be ready, prepared, and watching for his return, which will be like a thief in the night (v 43). Drunkenness is one condition that dulls the senses and leaves people unprepared for Christ's return (v 49; cf Lu 21:34). Also, one of the saddest consequences of the legalization of marijuana in our day, I believe, is that its use over time gives the users a certain "chill, dude" attitude, a pot-head mentality that removes the sense of seriousness or urgency in preparing for coming judgment.
PARABLES OF PREPAREDNESS (ch 25). He then gives two parables -- the wise and foolish virgins (like wedding attendants; vv 1-13) and the servants entrusted with talents (stewards with money to invest, vv 14-30). And he concludes with a description of the final judgment (vv 31-46). Each section ends with a strong (and plain) statement about eternal judgment (vv 12, 30, 46). The first parable emphasizes preparedness and perseverance. The second parable emphasizes continued and faithful service even in the Master's absence. The third description about the nature of Christ's judgment emphasizes the care that believers will have for other believers who are suffering or in need. It is not a blanket statement about showing mercy to anyone in need (though that's good), but regards care shown to "the least of these my brothers" (v 40, 45). The "these my brothers" are the disciples to whom he is giving this teaching.
SHEEP AND GOATS. These responses -- being prepared, ready, watchful, faithful in service, and merciful toward others -- is not what saves us. They are the fruit of salvation. It is what those who are saved will normally be doing. Being a "sheep" is being a member of Christ's flock, knowing his voice, following him in faith. By the Spirit we will then persevere, looking forward to Christ's return, serving him faithfully, and demonstrating real compassion for our suffering brothers and sisters. Are you ready for Christ's return? Do you know him?
THE SUFFERING CHURCH. Two ministries that I have found to be faithful in caring for "the least of these my brothers" are Compassion International and Open Doors. There are others, of course, but these are two I've had good experience with.
Image credit: photo I took of the south wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem, with the Mount of Olives in the background, 1997. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.
Bible reading for July 14 -- 15