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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14 - Jeremiah 26-29: God Weans His Lighthouses from Their Temple

Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 26-29

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God gives Judah one more chance to repent.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God, through Jeremiah: "If you change your heart I will remove your punishment. If not, the Temple will be destroyed."
Judah's answer: "God won't destroy the Temple!"
Jeremiah was placed on trial. Ahikam assuaged the crowd.
"Nebuchadnezzar will be your ruler. Accept no alternatives. Go peacefully. The Temple will be rebuilt when it is time."
Hananiah challenged Jeremiah's authority. He died within a year.
Jeremiah encouraged the exiles to make themselves at home in Babylon and to pray for peace. Judah would return in 70 years and not a day less.
Shemaiah challenged Jeremiah's authority. His entire family was punished.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God does not want to punish Judah.

God gives Judah another chance to change their hearts. He is willing to remove their punishment if they would only change their ways. God's punishment is never set. He will remove it if His People will only change their hearts and ways back to His Way.

Judah cares more for the Temple than the Truth.

The trial against Jeremiah would shadow what would come in the future. We have seen how Judah cared more for being God's Chosen People than being lighthouses to the nations. Now when Jeremiah predicts God tearing down the Temple, as He warned Solomon on its dedication, the people freak out and want to kill Jeremiah. They want to protect the Temple—that building for that god they somewhat remember from their distant past and still give lip service to every now and then between sex offerings to the other gods who are more fun. But the Temple was their symbol of having God in their midst. They did not want to serve Him but they wanted Him around. Israel just doesn't get it.
To be honest, the comparisons to today's Christianity, especially in the USA, are equally disturbing. How often do we want to make sure we are worshiping correctly in the right place at the right time instead of encouraging, in Amos' words, rivers and oceans of setting things right. It may be too painful to discuss. Sometimes, we just don't get it, either.

Ahikam shows that not everyone in power misses God's Way.

I like Ahikam. He stands up for Jeremiah at the moment Jeremiah needs him the most. Ahikam gets it. He understands their hearts are the problem, not Jeremiah's denunciations. He stood in front of a crowd ready to kill and calmed them down enough to let Jeremiah go free. I hope we can have more and more like him in our leadership.

Jeremiah's enemies were punished.

Not many of Jeremiah's enemies were willing to stand before him and call him out. Sadly for them, neither fare well. They found themselves on the wrong side of God's Way. Wonderful for Jeremiah, God's promise was truthful—God saved Jeremiah from his enemies. God will punish anyone who stands in the way of Him setting all things right.

God's message to exiled Judah was to be lighthouses for Him in Babylon.

Judah was shocked and offended at Jeremiah's counsel to make themselves at home and work for Babylon's welfare. They wanted to pray for deliverance not peace. They wanted their vineyards in Canaan, not new gardens in Babylon. If they had understood God's purpose for His Chosen People all along they would have understood why God would want them to be His Lighthouses in Babylon. They were to be God's Ambassadors of His Goodness and Love. If they took His words to heart, maybe they could stop Babylon's punishment before it began. No matter where God's Chosen People may be they are to be God's lighthouses to the nations.

Are you trying to be a lighthouse for God even as an exile or are you trying to fight to hold on to a temple you care little for?

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