Bible reading for Aug 16 -- 17
Aug 16 -- Jeremiah 44-45 and Psalm 20-21
Aug 17 -- Jeremiah 46 and Psalm 22
"And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs. " (Jeremiah 44:28)
NO QUEEN OF HEAVEN (ch 44). The remnant of Judah, left behind after three deportations to Babylon, have not done well. In fear of the king of Babylon, they have fled the land for sanctuary in Egypt. But even there they do not trust the Lord. The women are called out for their goddess-worship (cf 7:18), of which their husbands were supportive. This "queen" is likely some form of Ishtar (or Astarte), whose cult likely involved star worship and ritual prostitution. Such goddess-worship was a kind of female-empowerment in all the wrong ways. God's word to them through Jeremiah was that even in the supposed safety of Egypt these idolaters would be destroyed and only a remnant of that remnant would return to Judah. Verse 30 mentions the Pharaoh at that time was Hophra (aka Apries), who reigned c. 589 to 570 BC.
NO TIME TO COMPLAIN (ch 45). Baruch, Jeremiah's assistant, has been complaining how difficult things are for him. But in God's dealing with Judah, everybody is suffering, including Jeremiah. So, God's word to Baruch is, "And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the LORD. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go." (v 5). It is privilege enough to have life and to be a servant of God. The believer can always say, no matter the circumstances of life, that he or she knows God, serves him, and has eternal life.
NO NATION EXEMPT FROM JUDGMENT (ch 46). This chapter begins several chapters of Jeremiah's prophecies against the nations, and first up is Egypt. This prophecy addresses Pharaoh Neco (Necho II, father of Hophra/Apries) who was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar in 608/7 BC at the battle of Carchemish (on the Euphrates). Nebuchadnezzar would go on later to invade lower Egypt during Hophra's reign. In the midst of all these judgments, God comforts his people: "Fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished" (v 28).
NO COMPROMISE. From these chapters we learn some important lessons: Husbands and wives are meant to support each other in true, biblical piety. We cannot yield to our spouses by embracing false teaching or fleshly practices, no matter how popular or pleasing they may seem. We must follow the biblical roles that God has set out for us. We should be satisfied with the place to which God has called us and not expect a life of prosperity and ease. We are to be marked by contentment and a willingness to serve the Lord in whatever difficulties we may face. We also go forward in confidence that all nations, not just God's people, are accountable to God. Every nation that exists will face divine judgment. But the difference is that, when God's people are judged, they experience only a momentary chastisement rather than a final end (cf 1 Cor 11:32; Heb 12:5-11). So, we need not be afraid. God's word to us, as it was to the Jews, is "fear not" (46:27-28).
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? " (Psalm 22:1)
THE BLESSED KING (Ps 20-21). In Psalm 20 the people pray for King David ("the anointed") and his success. He knows that his strength and salvation come from the Lord, for he has placed his trust in God, not in his own military power: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (20:7). Psalm 21 continues the theme of David's kingship. It is a joyful and confident psalm about the blessedness of trusting the Lord (21:7). As subjects of the greater Son of David, Jesus Christ, we too rejoice in God's blessing, strength, answered prayer, gladness, and security. Scripture teaches that we also will rule with him (Rev 3:21; 5:10; 22:5). Just like King David we should long for the day when wickedness will be punished and evil banished forever. We should pray for Christ's rule to be established on earth: "May your kingdom come!" (Matt 6:10)
THE SUFFERING KING (Ps 22). A thousand years after David wrote this psalm of lament, his royal descendant, Jesus, spoke the first verse of it while he was dying upon the Roman cross. Of course, that doesn't mean only that one verse, but rather the whole of the psalm, is about him. The suffering of the Messiah is plainly set forth, as it is also in Isaiah 53. David describes in detail what happened at the cross of Christ. At first reading of the psalm we observe that David seems to be describing a rejection of his own kingship, and that is likely the context of its writing. But then we notice things that never happened to David... the dividing of clothing by lots, the pierced hands and feet, and the physical condition of his parched thirst, his bones, etc. He is suffering not for his unrighteousness, but for righteousness' sake, and is experiencing abandonment by God at the same time.
HE HAS DONE IT! Psalm 22 ends in triumph (v 27-31). The suffering King will yet experience deliverance from God, and he (alive) will give praise to God in the midst of the congregation (v 22-26). Because of his suffering, and God's vindication of him, people from around the world (Gen 12:3) will turn to the Lord. He will rule the nations (v. 28; cf Ps 2). Those who fear, or who are facing death (v 29) now have confidence (Heb 2:15). And the message (or gospel) of this suffering-now-triumphant King will be for the blessing of the generations to come (v 30-31). All the people of the world will see that salvation is accomplished by God's righteousness -- not our righteousness -- and that it is a finished and completed work: "he has done it" (v 31). And so we hear Jesus proclaim, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). The psalm which begins with, "why have you forsaken me?" ends with "He has done it"!
Image credit. Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger 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 Aug 16 -- 17