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Warning to Zedekiah June 11, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jeremiah 34:1-7.

Summary: In this passage, God speaks through Jeremiah during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, pronouncing His judgment on King Zedekiah. In particular, He asserts that King Nebuchadnezzar will:

  • capture and raze Jerusalem
  • capture him and transport him to Babylon – where he will die.

Yet God declares that Zedekiah will die in peace; moreover, his subjects will mourn his passing.

Thoughts: Here, we see that God addresses King Zedekiah. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verses 4 and 5:

And yet if we look at all the circumstances, it would have been a lesser evil to be put to death at once than to prolong life on the condition of being doomed to pine away in constant misery. When the eyes are put out….we know that a major part of life is lost. When, therefore, this punishment was inflicted on Zedekiah, would not death be considered desirable?

Calvin makes a compelling point in this instance, as I could not imagine life without my eyesight. Yet I wonder if, in some sense, God displayed His grace to Zedekiah in sparing him a violent death. In particular, my thought is that instead of putting him to death, God granted Zedekiah an opportunity to return to a proper relationship with Him. Given that Zedekiah would be blind – and helpless – during his exile in Babylon, he would have time to contemplate his sinfulness and arrive at a state of brokenness – where he could confess his sins before God. Now that raises the following question: did he confess his sins before God in Babylon?

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Jerusalem Under Siege February 15, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jeremiah 6.

Summary: In this passage, God speaks through Jeremiah, proclaiming imminent judgment on the people of Jerusalem. He describes the battle plans of the Babylonian army concerning that city – including a siege. He stresses that Jerusalem will be besieged due to the detestable actions of its inhabitants. Although they claim to worship Him with pure hearts, their hearts are evil. He has repeatedly warned them – through His prophets – of the consequences of their actions, yet they have ignored all of those warnings. Thus, He rejects their acts of worship. Indeed, they are utterly worthless in His eyes, and so the Babylonians will cause them to mourn and wail.

Thoughts: In verse 20, we see that God rejects the external acts of worship of His people, as they are internally rotten. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

The prophet replies to those hypocrites who thought they had made expiation when they offered incense and sacrifices, as if that were all that was necessary in serving God. See Jeremiah 7:21-22; Psalm 50:8-10; Micah 6:7.

Jeremiah presents a more in-depth discussion of this point in the next passage, but for now, this passage should suffice as a challenge to modern-day believers. Clearly there is nothing inherently wrong with the following actions:

  • singing loudly – and on-key – during a worship set
  • praying passionately – and eloquently – in a small group setting
  • taking copious notes during a sermon.

Yet this passage compels us to consider how we live during the week – in relatively mundane moments. What occupies our time on weekdays? Is God pleased with those pursuits? Are we blessing the disadvantaged when we are not in the presence of other believers? Indeed, if we do not love our neighbors when other believers are not observing us, then God will not accept our acts of worship during formal church activities.

In verses 27-30, we see that God has tested His people and determined that they are wicked. This spurred me to consider the trials that I have experienced – and His purpose for those trials. I often wonder: given the trials that I have experienced, how will I respond to future trials? One thought is that since I am human, it would be unnatural for me to not feel some degree of sadness when confronted with a trial. Trials are meant to be painful to some degree, and God does not call us to avoid pain in those instances. That being said, the fact that I have overcome previous trials will give me confidence – in the midst of pain – that God is working through any future trials that I experience. In particular, I am learning that a confident mindset is a key aspect of His plan for me to:

  • rely less on the things of this life
  • rely more on the things of the next life.

I will not be able to completely learn that lesson in this life, but each confident thought in the midst of a trial is a small victory in that regard – and reveals some amount of spiritual mettle.