Bible reading for weekend July 23 -- 25
July 23 -- Jeremiah 19 and Mark 5
July 24 -- Jeremiah 20 and Mark 6
July 25 -- Jeremiah 21 and Mark 7
"If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot." (Jeremiah 20:9)
THE BROKEN FLASK (ch 19). In yesterday's readings we saw that the Lord was likened to a fountain, a potter, and a sower of seeds. Here, a clay vessel, broken, becomes an illustration to the city's leaders of what's coming to Jerusalem. This takes place at Topheth, the Hinnom valley (from which we get the word, Gehenna), where child sacrifice had been taking place. The consequences of destroying their children would be the siege of the city, famine, plague, and finally, cannibalism, that is, in desperation eating the flesh of those who had died during the siege.
DIVINE SHADOWS AND IMAGES. As you read Scripture, be attentive to the many images and metaphors God uses to reveal himself or use to describe truth. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, and the divine constitution and history of the holy Scriptures, be full of images of divine things, as full as a language is of words” (Types, Vol. 11:152). When we see mountains we should think of God's righteousness and unchanging faithfulness. The sea is a picture of his wisdom and knowledge. The height of the clouds tells of God's love. A bubbling stream speaks to us of God's life, and the shade of a tree, of his rest and refreshment. As you see these images in the Bible, keep an eye out for them in real life to use as reminders of your relationship with God.
NO TURNING BACK (ch 20-21). Pashhur the priest has Jeremiah arrested and beaten, but judgment will come upon Pashhur's house and lineage (20:1-6). It is for God's word that Jeremiah is being persecuted, but Jeremiah cannot help but speak his word (vv 8-9). He, like Job, is frustrated with God for all the pain he's experiencing, and he echoes Job's despondency (Job 3). In a twist of irony, King Zedekiah sends Pashhur back to ask Jeremiah to intercede with God for the city's deliverance (21:1-2). But Jeremiah responds with three messages. First, he says (vv 3-7), the city will fall and many will go into exile (vv 3-7). To the people of Jerusalem he says (vv 8-10), they should not try to fight the Babylonians, but to surrender peacefully. And to the king again (vv 11-14), he calls him to repent of the injustices allowed by letting the powerful oppress the weak. The city inhabitants wanted to fight, but God wanted repentance. Much of the tragic disaster that followed was due to the Jews trying to fight God's judgment through the Babylonians. The people in their proud defiance only made their situation much worse.
TOO MUCH WRATH? If you ever feel that you've read too much about God's judgment, remember these words: "The reason we feel as if divine wrath can easily be overstated is that we do not feel the true weight of sin" (Dane Ortlund, in Gentle and Lowly). Another thing to remember is that as frightening as God's wrath is, it is also God who sent his Son into the world to bear this very judgment upon himself by suffering and dying in the place of sinners. If we do not have a high view of Jesus' death on the cross, it may be that we do not have a serious view of sin. Paul wrote, "Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:20-21). Christ came to die for our sins, not merely to remove the guilt of them, but also that we too would die to the power of sin (Rom 6:1; Gal 1:4; Titus 2:14). This is a principle throughout Scripture: we will either by faith be dying TO sin (1 Pet 2:24), or else in unbelief die IN our sin (John 8:24). These are the only two destinies.
QUOTE. "The proper question to be asked about any creed is not, 'Is it pleasant?' but, 'is it true?' 'Christianity has compelled the mind of man not because it is the most cheering view of man’s existence but because it is truest to the facts.'” (Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker)
"Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." (Mark 5:19)
DESPERATE SITUATIONS (ch 5). Three very remarkable miracles further glorify the authority of Christ. First, Jesus delivers the Gerasene demoniac, a man possessed by a multitude of unclean spirits. Apparently, our Lord traveled across the Sea of Galilee just to heal this one man. The demoniac never would have, nor could he have, come to Jesus. Rather than follow Jesus, he was told to go home and share his testimony. Secondly, the woman with chronic bleeding for many years is healed by a touch, without even speaking to Jesus. She was unclean and supposedly would have defiled Jesus (made him ritually unclean) by touching him. But with Jesus cleanness runs the other direction, toward us the unclean -- his power and holiness removed her uncleanness. Nor does he rebuke her, but says, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease" (v 34). Thirdly, Jesus raises Jairus' daughter from the dead. (She was 12, the same number of years that the woman had been sick.) Jesus said to Jairus, after he received the news of his daughter's death, "Do not fear, only believe" (v 36). The disheartening delay in getting to Jairus's house actually resulted in a greater miracle -- raising the girl from the dead. Jesus took her hand and spoke gently, "Talitha cumi". How caring he was, even concerned that she get something to eat afterwards! These three very remarkable miracles were for people in very desperate situations! May we never lose hope in the authority, power, and compassion of Christ!
HARD HEARTS, AND THE HEART OF CHRIST (ch 6). Read my comments on Mark chapter 6 here.
THE TRADITION TRAP (ch 7). Read my comments on Mark chapter 7 here.
FOR PRAYER. Please pray for our fall 2021 launch of the Biblical Studies Institute of Blacksburg. Here's what it's all about. "One of the highest and noblest functions of man's mind is to listen to God's Word, and so to read his mind and think his thoughts after him." (John R. W. Stott)
Image credit. Photo of broken pottery above is courtesy of iStockphoto.com. 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.