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Judah to Serve Nebuchadnezzar May 14, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jeremiah 27.

Summary: In this passage, God commands Jeremiah to place a wooden yoke on his neck; this yoke is an object lesson for Judah and the following nations:

In particular, God will place the yoke of Babylon on them.

If any nation attempts to resist His will in this regard – by heeding the counsel of false prophets, who proclaim peace and prosperity – then He will punish them with the sword, famine and the plague.

Moreover, all of the articles in the temple in Jerusalem that have not been plundered by the Babylonians will eventually be taken to Babylon.

Thoughts: Here, we see that God commands various nations – including Judah – to submit to the rule of Babylon. This spurred me to consider the following principles that are established in Scripture regarding proper submission to the rule of non-believers:

  • being a good citizen brings glory to God
  • God has ordained the authority of all rulers – even non-believing rulers
  • one should only disobey their rulers when they compel them to sin, e.g. ordering them to worship a false deity.

In this case, while God commands Judah to submit to the rule of Babylon, He does not command them to worship the Babylonian gods, as that would be sinful; the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reinforces this point, providing an example of proper resistance to non-believing rulers. Yet this causes me to ponder a related issue: as far as I can tell, Scripture does not explicitly advocate the abolition of slavery. If this is correct, then what is God’s viewpoint concerning efforts along these lines, e.g. the 19th-century abolitionists? Our modern sensibilities inform us that slavery is a moral evil, and the laws of First World countries prohibit it – yet slavery was protected by law in those same countries for quite some time. Did the actions of the 19th-century abolitionists constitute proper resistance to their governing authorities?

In verse 22, we see that the items that remain in the temple in Jerusalem will be taken to Babylon. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

He now repeats and confirms that what still stayed in Jerusalem will be taken away by their enemies, the Babylonians, who will attack them. Nebuchadnezzar had spared part of the temple and part of the city. He had taken away the most precious vessels but had not completely denuded the temple of all its decorations. Since some of its splendor still remained, the Jews should have seen that God had been kind to them. He now says that the temple and the city will be totally destroyed.

It is evident that God wanted to bring His people to the nadir of their nation’s history – compelling them to repent of their sins and return to Him. Unfortunately, the post-exilic books describe the persistent sinfulness and rebellion of Judah after God brought them back to their homeland. Moreover, after the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His people failed to grasp the significance of His person and work – merely viewing Him as the One who would deliver them from the Romans. His people could not return to Him on their own – He had to plant His Holy Spirit in them for this to occur. Indeed, we need His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, as we are not naturally inclined toward Him.

Sexual Immorality July 20, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

Summary: Paul begins by noting that although he has great freedom as a believer – in reference to the Jewish law – he will not exercise his freedom in a way that 1) injures himself or others and/or 2) causes him to be enslaved to anything besides God Himself. As an example of this freedom, Paul notes that the stomach and food are designed for each other – yet this is a temporary arrangement; also, the body and Christ are designed for each other. Sexual immorality, though, destroys the connection between the body and Christ; this should not be taken lightly, since just as Christ has been raised from the dead, our bodies will be raised from the dead – showing that the (intimate) connection between the body and Christ is meant to be permanent. The Corinthians need to remember that they belong to Christ and are in close union with Him; given this awesome reality, it should be clear that sexual immorality severs this union by introducing “sinful life” into the body of the believer in question. All believers have this close union with Christ since they have the Holy Spirit – who has been initially given to Christ. In light of this, Paul commands the Corinthians to avoid sexual immorality at all costs, as it is in opposition to the body’s eternal destiny and the purpose for which it has been created. Moreover, since the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer’s body, the body cannot be profaned without divine repercussions. Paul concludes by noting that Christ has purchased the Corinthians with His blood; given this awesome fact, they need to use their bodies as instruments of worship and service to God.

Thoughts: This passage illustrates the important point that as believers, the manner in which we use our bodies has eternal consequences. Hodge offers some useful insights in his commentary on verse 13:

The body is designed to be a part of Christ and is the place where his Spirit lives. And Christ regards it as such, redeeming it with his blood, uniting it to himself as a part of his mystical body, making it an instrument of righteousness for holiness.

If we stop and think about this reality, it is disturbingly easy for us to remember at least some of the instances when we acted in ways that belied it. Clearly Christ Himself was aware of this reality during His time on earth, as He neither committed sexual sins, got drunk with wine nor physically/verbally attacked others. We need to continually remind ourselves of this truth and be circumspect as to how we use our bodies. If we strive to emulate the earthly life of Christ, we will inevitably use our bodies with eternity in mind (e.g. offering encouraging words to downtrodden strangers, giving college students rides to/from church, and cooking/serving meals at homeless shelters).