Day 181 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 49 & 50 – Recall, Jeremiah 46–51 contains a series of judgment oracles against those nations that are part of Israel’s world. Likewise, we all are without excuse if we have rejected the revelation of God in creation and in their own consciences (Romans 1:18–32).
Babylon is a special case to the Lord, since it is the nation that brought destruction and deprivation to His people. Although Jeremiah had been entrusted to proclaim that God was giving Judah and Jerusalem, with its temple, into the hands of the Babylonians, these destroyers would, in God’s time, meet their own destruction. Isaiah speaks of Cyrus the Persian, destroyer of Babylon and liberator of Judah, as His anointed one (messiah) (Isaiah 45:1–4). Cyrus’s edict of return (538 b.c.) led to the return of the exiles as recorded in Ezra–Nehemiah. “In those days and in that time” (50:4) refers to the day of the Lord. These terms are not merely saying that one day God will act; they proclaim God’s lordship over history. He has determined the rise and fall of nations and has set the day for the first advent of Jesus. This “fullness of time” speaks of God’s purposes revealed in His Word being fulfilled when and how He determines (Galatians 4:4–5; Ephesians 1:9–10; Mark 1:14–15; ).
Jeremiah’s prophecy foreshadows that event when the final return is achieved, as the saints come to Zion through faith in Jesus (Hebrews 12:22–24). He sees the faithful returning in repentance and seeking the Lord. They will desire God, not in some self-generated religious feeling, but as a desire to know the God of the covenant. They will seek the way to Zion, the throne of God, so that they might find everlasting acceptance in His Covenant. Here we learn again that the humble way of salvation is not an undefined god-feeling. That all religions lead to the same god is the lie of the Devil. The covenant God made with Abraham to bless the nations through His Seed is the path of salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The lost sheep of Israel, led astray by false shepherds (23:1–4), will be restored (50:19). God’s remnant will be pardoned and cleansed. This will happen through the true and final Shepherd. This Good Shepherd comes to seek and to save His sheep (Matthew 9:36; John 10:11–18; Hebrews 13:20–21; 1 Peter 2:21–25). Believers need to understand that naming Jesus “the Good Shepherd” is more (though not less) than a metaphor for a tender, caring Savior. The term has its roots in the imagery of the Old Testament that speaks of the mighty, ruling, messiah-king. Our eternal security is in the mighty Lord who is exalted on high and rules over all.
The theme of God the warrior is repeated. Babylon was His unwitting agent of judgment, but Babylon is also culpable for all its evils. So reprehensible were its practices that it became a byword of evil. Thus John speaks of the fall of Babylon to refer to the overthrow of all the evil, godless powers of mankind (Revelation 18). Whatever the turmoil of our time, and however intractable the corruption of societies on earth, God will overthrow all powers and dominions that oppose His kingdom. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus mean that we join the heavenly chorus: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
God will wreak vengeance for the destruction of His temple. God’s temple or sanctuary is where He dwells with His people. Originally it was the garden of Eden, then the tabernacle in the wilderness. A sanctuary was built at Shiloh and then, eventually, in Jerusalem. The Babylonians’ destruction of this temple could never go unpunished. The prophets also look forward to a new temple in a new Eden (Isaiah 2:2–4; Ezekiel 40–47; Zechariah 4), and a new creation (Isaiah 65:17–25). Jesus is shown to be that dwelling place of God with us: Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21–23). The destruction of that temple is doubly culpable, for wicked people crucified the Lord of glory (John 2:19–22; Acts 2:23–28; 1 Corinthians 2:8). By coming to the true temple, Believers themselves are built into a spiritual house as God dwells with us by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; Ephesians 2:19–22; 1 Peter 2:4–6).
The final biblical word regarding the temple is in Revelation 21:22: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”
The oppression of God’s people in the Old Testament is the outward expression of the captivity of Adam’s fallen race to sin, Satan, and death. A strong Redeemer pleads their cause. This advocacy indicates that their oppression is self-inflicted and they are guilty. “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). God is on the side of His people, and this is the winning side! That Jesus makes intercession for us (Romans 8:31–34; Hebrews 7:25) means that a strong Savior has conquered our foe to redeem us, and none can condemn us before God.
Reflecting on this great deliverance, how do we follow our Savior out of a heart transformed by His mercy rather than out of mere obligation or joyless duty?
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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