Bible reading for July 21 -- 22
July 21 -- Jeremiah 17 and Mark 3
July 22 -- Jeremiah 18 and Mark 4
"O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise." (Jeremiah 17:13-14)
THE FOUNTAIN (ch 17). Twice in this chapter the Lord is compared to a stream of water (vv 8, 13). In one image, recalling Psalm 1, he is the stream that continually supplies life-giving refreshment to nearby plants. In the other, he is called the fountain (or spring) of living water (cf 2:13). Living water was moving, fresh water, like a clear mountain stream. The metaphor points us to the Lord as the ever-flowing source of life. To seek life and welfare apart from him is to be under a curse, having turned back to the dry wilderness of death. Those who turn to the Lord will find blessing and life (vv 5-8). Mankind is radically sinful (v 9) and also accountable before God (v 10). (Remember, the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.) And this depravity was being manifested by their involvement with unjust business practices (v 11). One of the main ways the Jews could show repentance before God would be to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (vv 19-27). That is, they would stop their drive to make money every day of the week and turn to the Lord with thanksgiving, worship, rest, and contentment. The Sabbath was a distinctive covenant sign between the Lord and Israel (Ex 31:12-17). To shut their doors of business on that day represented their trust in the Lord, who is the Creator, to provide for them what they needed. This contentment and trust for our material needs is also reflected in the Lord's prayer, when we ask, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt 6:11).
THE POTTER (ch 18). Jeremiah uses an image that Isaiah wrote about earlier, that of a potter and his clay (Isa 29:16). The main point of this metaphor is to portray God's right of ownership over his creation (Rom 9:21). He is the owner, designer, and judge of what he does with his possessions, including humans. This is not to say God's actions in judging a nation are arbitrary and impersonal, but rather, he as the righteous God has the final say in who receives blessing or who receives judgment. This is in context of Judah's continued and unrepentant attitude, and God's call for their repentance (see 2 Tim 2:20-21). Yet they would not. Their mantra was similar to many Hollywood movies where the main character takes the advice, "follow your heart". The Jews of Jeremiah's day were saying that following God was useless: "We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart" (v 12). This, unlike many movies, would not end well. In fact the Jerusalem leadership would seek to "cancel" Jeremiah's counsel completely from their society (v 18). But they were unsuccessful, as history testifies.
"And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." (Mark 4:8)
OPPOSITION (ch 3). Christ's power and authority have been manifested in many ways: calling men to himself, casting out spirits, many healings, in preaching, over the Sabbath, and in the authority to forgive sins. In this chapter we see people opposing and/or misjudging Jesus, including his family. Read more here about blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
KINGDOM PARABLES (ch 4). Many in Jesus' day were supposing that the Kingdom of God would come in a big, visible, climactic way. And it will do so at the end of the church age, when Jesus returns. But here Jesus gives parables about the smallness of the kingdom, being like a seed, which when placed in good soil begins to grow and come to fruition. The King came in humility, speaking the word of God, and people who believed his word began a transformation. They became citizens of the Kingdom, and at the final harvest their (and our) true identity and destiny will be seen. Meanwhile, the gospel is being scattered and sown around the world, and people are responding in different ways (like the four soils). This chapter ends with a demonstration of Jesus' power over nature in the stilling of the storm (vv 35-41). The disciples ask, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?" Jesus' concern, however, is not with the storm but with their trust in him: "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" (cf 1:15; 2:5). So much of the difficulty we face in the Christian life is not in the difficulties themselves, but in how we respond to them, whether in faith or unbelief.
Image credit. Photo of a cascade in Guadeloupe by Daniel Oberg on Unsplash. 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 21 -- 22