Thru the Bible – Day 171

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Day 171 – Thru the Bible

Today we continue Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 10 – Jeremiah reminds the people of Judah that there are two ways to live. One is to trust in idols, a foolish path that leads to futility and destruction. The other is to trust in the Lord. He is sovereign over the affairs of the nations. He is the one true God and everlasting King. His wrath will be shown in the earth among these godless nations.

Babylon, the present threat to Judah, comes to be symbolic of everything in the world that is evil and hostile to God. There are those from among the nations of the world who will find redemption in Israel’s God (Acts 10; Revelation 7:9–17). But there are also those who will fall under God’s judgment (Revelation 18:1–3). Believers are called upon to keep themselves unstained from the world (James 1:27) and from idols (1 John 5:20–21). We can be either friends with the world and enemies of God, or hated by the world and friends with God. But this need not discourage us. The beauty of the gospel is that we who are natural enemies of God can freely become His friends—indeed, His sons and daughters—because the Son of God allowed Himself to be treated as God’s enemy (Galatians 3:13).

That God is the Creator of all things is basic to understanding His sovereignty. By contrast, idols have made nothing and will themselves be nothing. Creation demonstrates God’s power, His wisdom (see Proverbs 8:22–31), and the ability of His word to get results (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9; John 1:1–3).

In the New Testament these themes have new force. Jesus is the creating Word in the beginning (John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:15–17). The creative power, wisdom, and word are exhibited in the gospel and bring about the new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul likens the creation of a Believer to the creation of the world (2 Corinthians 4:6). Both bring something out of nothing. Both are a miracle of divine initiative.

How does this truth lead you to praise God?


Jeremiah 11 – The covenant involved God’s election of Israel, a people upon whom he set His love even though there was no virtue in them that He should desire them (Deuteronomy 7:6–11). It is sheer grace—undeserved gift—that grounds this relationship. The release from captivity in Egypt was also an undeserved gift. The redeemed people were instructed in the covenant at Sinai concerning how they should live. Obedience to this law could not save them (Galatians 2:16; 3:11). But continual and hard-hearted disregard of it brought the consequent curses of the covenant upon them.

Judah is now faced with the disgrace of having scorned its election to be the people of God. Yet to be reminded of this privilege is to be reminded of God’s covenant faithfulness. The grace and love of the covenant came to be summarized as, “I will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Jeremiah 7:23; 24:7; 30:22; Genesis 17:7–8; Leviticus 26:12; Ezekiel 11:20; 14:11; 36:28; 37:27).

Throughout the book of Jeremiah and the books of the other canonical prophets we are startled by repeated reminders that the faithlessness of Israel and Judah cannot frustrate God’s sovereign grace. He has determined to have a remnant of faithful people among whom He will dwell in glory. Paul applies this principle, for example, in quoting Leviticus 26:12 in 2 Corinthians 6:14–18. There he uses temple theology and categories to describe the body of Jesus, urging Believers to live as God’s people and to avoid godless pursuits.

Three times Jeremiah is told not to pray for this people (see also 7:16; 14:11). This is a terrible indictment of their sin. There comes a time when even prophetic intercession is impotent to reclaim those who persistently rebel against God’s word. Then, God may harden hearts and deafen ears to His mercy as part of His judgment against such resistance. As God hardened Pharaoh’s already hardening heart, so He hardens those who continue in their rebellion (Romans 9:14–18). But while God is absolutely sovereign, human responsibility is in no way undermined. We are all fully culpable for our own hardness of heart (Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34–35). So, while Jesus told His disciples to pray for their enemies (Matthew 5:44), Scripture also declares there will come a time when the opportunity for repentance is past (Hebrews 6:4–8) and the vine is cleansed by judgment (John 15:6). The gospel is good news only to those who trust in Jesus.

How do you celebrate being in Jesus?


Jeremiah 12 – Jeremiah’s complaint is similar to that of certain Psalms in which the psalmist cries out for vindication, often in the face of persecution (such as Psalms 52–57). The problem is the apparent prosperity of the wicked. A similar concern to justify the ways of God is expressed by the prophet Habakkuk (see also Psalm 73). A significant part of the answer given to Habakkuk is that “the righteous shall live by His faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; see also Psalm 73:23–28).

This great truth is used by Paul to encapsulate the heart of the gospel, which is justification by faith (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:1). In a world in which evil prospers, we need the assurance of God’s judgment. This includes not only confidence in God’s punitive justice that rights all wrongs, but also our being justified by faith in Jesus. In both cases, God is vindicated as supremely just.

The Lord’s response to Jeremiah’s complaint is that things will get even worse. This is because God has forsaken His house and His heritage. Desolation comes at the hand of false shepherds and evil neighbors, but ultimately it is “the sword of the Lord” that devours them. Clearly, the evil destroyers are God’s agents even though they have no idea that they are. Furthermore, they are guilty of their evil deeds. God will punish them for what they do to His people. At the same time, He will have compassion on the sinful people of Judah and restore them to their heritage. They will once again call on the name of the Lord.

Thus, in God’s providential use and divine judgment of the evil that humans choose to do, and in His salvation of those who at times choose to walk away from Him, we find two seemingly irreconcilable facts: God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. In Jeremiah these are brought together without explanation. We are therefore content to receive God’s word on this, even if it is beyond our finite capacities to fully understand how they fit together.

Jeremiah also points to the salvation of Israel as a light to the nations. The promise of Genesis 12:3 continues to travel down through redemptive history. In Jesus, this promise will explode out to the nations, as the gospel welcomes both insiders and outsiders to leave their moral records behind and come to Jesus.

How do you rely on the finished work of Jesus every day?


Jeremiah 13 – Jeremiah is commanded to act out a parable with a loincloth that is spoiled. The message is that Israel and Judah were intended to cling to the Lord as a loincloth but have refused, and the cloth is rotten. Now their pride will be spoiled. God’s purpose for His people is that they should be a name, a praise, and a glory for Him. They represent God, reflecting Him to a watching world.

In the final analysis, only Jesus was perfectly true to this purpose. Consequently, Believers are chosen “in Christ” from before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless, to the praise of God’s glorious grace (Ephesians 1:3–6, 11–12).

One of a number of threats in this chapter is that exile and captivity loom. Again there is the appeal to turn to the Lord, this time to give Him glory before darkness overtakes His people. To give God the glory is to acknowledge and to bow before His greatness as the One who has made all things and who now rules over all. It is to submit to His Word and to praise Him for the grace of redemption. It is to give due weight to His majesty and being. Glory belongs to God as the Creator and bringer of light, and ultimately to His Son who is His light to the world (John 1:14; 8:12; 9:5; Revelation 4:11; 5:12; 19:1–2; 6–8).

How has the gospel transformed you?


What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?


Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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