Bible reading for weekend July 30 -- Aug 1
July 30 -- Jeremiah 26 and Mark 12
July 31 -- Jeremiah 27 and Mark 13
Aug 1 -- Jeremiah 28 and Mark 14
"And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, 'Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie.'" (Jeremiah 28:15)
PUBLIC OPINION (ch 26). Here we see the fickleness of the crowd hearing Jeremiah's message. At first they want him to be killed, but then they don't. Jeremiah is spared, finding support from Ahikam (v 24), the son of Shaphan (who had served as royal secretary under King Josiah). Jeremiah is seen as negative, gloom-and-doom, and unpatriotic. This fickleness of public opinion (btw, there will be no need for public opinion polls in heaven!) is characteristic of fallen humanity. Public approval and disapproval -- "likes" and "dislikes" -- sway one way at one moment, and then soon another way. This was true in Jeremiah's case, and in Jesus' initial reception by Jerusalem, which overnight became rejection. Also Paul experienced this (e.g., Acts 14:11-19; 22:1-22). And it's true today. The irony is that the true biblical witness -- whether from Jeremiah, or Paul, or Jesus -- was rejected by people standing in the very temple of God. This principle emerges, however: when public opinion goes against God's people, the Lord provides the needed support of a few good, and sometimes influential, friends (cf Acts 18:9-10).
DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM (ch 27)! Four times Jeremiah says, "do not listen," regarding the words of false prophets (vv 9, 14, 16, 17). This repeats a theme we read earlier: "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD'" (Jer 23:16). This chapter takes place during the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. Jeremiah uses a sermon illustration, as it were, by constructing and wearing a yoke, symbolizing the nation's coming under servitude to Babylon. If people believed Jeremiah, they would prepare to peacefully surrender and serve Babylon for the period Jeremiah predicted (70 years). If people believed the false prophets who said that Babylon would fail in their expansion, they would prepare to stand and fight. It was these latter people (including the king) who would suffer most from the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Zedekiah would not only witness the fall of the city, he would see his sons executed, be blinded, and then carried in chains into exile (2 Kgs 25).
PROPHETIC SMACK-DOWN (ch 28). We are given the account of one such false prophet, named Hananiah. His vision was more positive, uplifting, and hopeful than Jeremiah's prophecy. The problem was, Hananiah's vision of the future was wrong. It was a lie and a vain hope. "No other authority may compete with God’s own words. No words may be added to God’s or put on the same level of authority" (John Frame, Systematic Theology). It really does matter what you believe. Jeremiah is validated as a true prophet when he prophesies the death of Hananiah within the year, which occurred three months later. The short-term prophecy of Jeremiah was one factor in validating that Jeremiah was a true prophet of the Lord and that his long-range prophecies would be fulfilled, as well. This is why we have a book of Jeremiah, and not a book of Hananiah, in our Bibles!
WHOSE FUTURE? Whose vision -- or version -- of the future will we believe? Who is "on the right side of history"? Christians are a minority voice in our world, and public opinion is not usually on their side, unless they are being supportive of popular causes. Dorothy Sayers wrote, “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'” (The Mind of the Maker). In the Scriptures we find truth, not lies. There we will find a real hope, not an empty dream.
"Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come." (Mark 13:33)
ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES (ch 13). We have read Matthew's account of this in Matt 24. There seem to be both near and far view prophecies contained in this teaching. The near view is the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the far view relates to the return of Christ in the future. The cosmic phenomena of 13:24-25 are events just prior to Christ's second coming. Christ's return will be visible, personal, and glorious: "And then they will see [visible] the Son of Man [personal] coming in clouds with great power and glory [glorious]" (v 26). This rules out claims of the cults that Jesus has already returned in some hidden or mystical way, or in the form of some popular religious leader.
STAY AWAKE! Several times we are told to "be on guard" or to "stay awake". There will be many false teachers, and also many opponents of Christ at that time, even more so as we near his return. His coming will also be sudden and unexpected. One of verses I have memorized from this chapter is Mark 13:31... "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." We have his word today (and forever), not only because of who he is, but also because he has guaranteed that we would have his word. He has not left us without guidance, or without his promises. These things will come to pass in just the way he said. We need to be vigilant and prepared for his return.
READ MORE HERE on Mark 14. And here on Mark 15.
Image credit. The old city of Jerusalem as viewed from the Mount of Olives, photo by Sander Crombach 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.