Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 28)

28The opening time marker in chapter 28 indicates a continuation of the events recorded in chapter 27:  “in the fifth month of that same year, the fourth year, early in the reign of Zedekiah . . .” (1).  So this confrontation between Hananiah and Jeremiah occurs within a few months or weeks of Jeremiah’s “wooden yoke” pronouncement.

oxenWhile Jeremiah is in the Temple, evidently still wearing the yoke he had made earlier (27:2), he is confronted and corrected by Hananiah “in the presence of the priests and all the people” (1).  That Hananiah is an officially recognized prophet is indicated by his title (“the prophet Hananiah”—5, 15) and Jeremiah’s reference to him as a prophet in Israel (8).  Hananiah is from Gibeon (1), a city associated with deception—a fitting home for one who turns out to be a deceiver.

Hananiah speaks a message of hope and peace, a message people in Israel were longing to hear.  Jehoiachin and a group of leading citizens had been deported almost four and a half years prior and people longed for their return.  Many of the Temple articles had been taken to Babylon, leaving the Temple diminished in glory (27:16).  The nation had lived through years of war and subjugation to foreign powers; people were aching for peace and freedom.  As a result, Hananiah found a receptive audience in Jerusalem. Jeremiah acknowledges that he had “persuaded this nation to trust in lies” (15).
Hananiah’s message is a direct refutation of the message Jeremiah had been preaching.  Jeremiah had said the exile would last 70 years (25:12); Hananiah said it would be over in less than two more years (“within two years”—3).  Jeremiah had said Jehoiachin would die in exile (22:26); Hananiah said the king would join the exiles in the return (4).  Jeremiah often prefaced his messages with the phrase, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says” (14); Hananiah uses the exact same language (2).  Jeremiah makes the yoke; Hananiah breaks it (10).

Hananiah’s message is one the Jews in Jerusalem would have been glad to hear.  By contrast, Jeremiah’s message was grim.  His homemade wooden yoke was a symbol of further subjugation and humiliation.

This chapter reminds us that speaking God’s Word will be challenging for several reasons:  1) the marketplace of spiritual spokesman is filled with conflicting voices; 2) anyone can claim God’s divine backing for their words; 3) our message is not always “sweetness and light” but a call to repentance and trust; 4) people gravitate to words that promise peace without pain.

Jeremiah is put in a difficult place by Hananiah’s words. He, like all Jews, would want the exile to end quickly.  He wisely responds to Hananiah’s message in a way that shows he is for, not against, the return of the exiles and Temple articles:  “Amen!  May the Lord do so!” (5).  Interestingly, Jeremiah doesn’t mention Jehoiachin as coming back as he knows that is not God’s will (22:26); he does mention the exiles and the Temple articles.

After Hananiah publically contradicts his words and breaks Jeremiah’s homemade yoke, Jeremiah is simple said to have withdrawn from the Temple (“At this, the prophet Jeremiah went on his way”—11).  There is a time for a standing your ground and a time to stop throwing your pearls in the mud.  Courage is not always displayed by trying to shout down or argue down those who reject and refute our message.

We’re not told how Jeremiah responded internally to this public confrontation and personal humiliation.  He had essentially called a liar and false prophet by Hananiah. Was he angry?  Embarrassed? Saddened?  All we know is that “shortly after” it happened, God gave him a message for Hananiah (12).  It’s a message that calls out Hananiah as a false prophet “(“The Lord has not sent you”—15) who had damaged the spiritual life of the nation (“you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies”—15).  It’s a message of judgment:  “This very year you are going to die because you have preached rebellion against the Lord” (16).  It’s a message that was fulfilled within two months (17).

I wonder what the reaction was in Jerusalem when the news of Hananiah’s untimely death occurred?  Or the reaction when the two years were up (during the sixth of Zedekiah’s eleven years) and the exiles were still in Babylon?  Did Jeremiah’s street cred rise? Did the people start to believe Jeremiah was God’s prophet and the others were bogus?  Were hearts so hardened and cynical that no one was listening anymore?

false prophetsAnd what should be our response today to “false prophets”—those who claim to speak for God but distort His revealed Word?  Jeremiah’s example is instructive.  While he disagreed with the content of Hananiah’s prophecy, he affirmed the hope Hananiah was announcing regarding the return of the exiles (“Amen!  May the Lord do so”—6).  So we too need to show we are for the welfare and blessing of people even when our message is contrary to the prevailing desires of those to whom we speak.  When Jeremiah was publically confronted, he graciously held his ground and did not let Hananiah’s provocative actions (breaking of the yoke) provoke an ungodly response; he spoke his message and then “went on his way” (11).  When directed by God (12), he confronted Hananiah (we don’t know if it was publically or privately) with the message of God’s judgment on his life, predicting his death within the year. While we can’t give timelines, we can confront those who distort God’s Word with a message of God’s promised judgment; God has revealed He is “against” false prophets (23:30) and will “punish” them (23:34). God’s Word will have the last word.

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Prayer Update November 16

CELEBRATE MISSIONSThe last few weeks have been full of travel and speaking opportunities.  We spent a week in Ottawa as part of the missions conference at the Metropolitan Bible Church.  What a joy it was to be back with a church family that is so dear to our hearts. What a privilege it was to speak at this year’s missions conference.  Linda spoke to several women’s groups; I spoke to the Young Adults and at the plenary sessions on Friday evening and Sunday morning (you can hear the Sunday morning message here).

We got home Sunday evening and I (Rick) flew to Vancouver on Monday morning.  I went there to attend the national conference of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.  Once again, I enjoyed the time with many pastors and church leaders who have become close friends and colleagues over the past six years.

I would ask you to join us in thanking God for safe travels, joyful reunions and ministry opportunities.  I’d also invite you to pray for these current requests:

ESLThis afternoon, Linda and some Heritage students/alumni lead an English as a Second Language group (ESL) in the local library.  Please pray that God would let them bring the love and light of Jesus to these new Canadians.

Tomorrow (Nov 17), Linda leads a “Women Teaching the Word” course at Heritage. It’s Linda’s desire to train women to teach God’s Word to other women in their churches and communities.  Ask the Lord to strengthen Linda to equip these women.

PKTomorrow (Nov 17), I speak at a national conference for Promise Keepers Canada in Toronto.  I’ve been asked to deal with the important topic of prayer.  Would you please pray that my message would help men learn to pray in meaningful ways.

Next Tuesday, we help lead an Alpha Group for friends in our community.  Pray that our time together would help each one move closer to knowing and following Christ Jesus.

Thanks for your ongoing prayers!

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Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 27)

27In this chapter Jeremiah lives out his calling as a prophet to “nations and kingdoms”, a prophet sent to “uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10).  He has a message for kings and kingdoms around Judah (1-11), for Zedekiah (12-15), and for the priests and people of Judah (16-22).

yokeJeremiah’s message to each group is that the “LORD Almighty” (YHWY of Armies) has decided to hand all the nations over to Nebuchadnezzar (and his son, and grandson—7).  So the surrounding nations can spare themselves great carnage by willingly surrendering to Babylon (coming under the yoke).  If they do so, God will see that Nebuchadnezzar will  allow them to remain in their lands (11).  If they resist, they will be decimated by “sword, famine, plague” (8) and banishment (10, 15).

In giving this message, Jeremiah confronts head-on the unified counter-message of the prophets in Judah and the surrounding nations. These prophets were promising success against further Babylonian domination (9) and, in Judah’s case, the soon return of the exiles that had already been deported (16).  Chapters 27-29 have a recurrent theme of Jeremiah vs. false prophets.  He openly denounces them as “prophesying lies” (10, 14, 16).  This open confrontation leads to reprisals from those who claim to speak for God (prophesy “in my name”—15).

Here would be evidence that God’s spokesmen will be contradicted in a cluttered spiritual environment and have to refute error as well as proclaim truth.  Here is evidence that God’s preachers will need to make clear the difference between their message and other pseudo messages.  This will bring vitriol and vengeance from those who feel attacked as speaking lies (see chapter 28).  Being a prophet in a pluralistic world is be a dangerous calling.

The fact that God instructs Jeremiah to construct and wear a wooden yoke while giving the message to envoys and Israelites indicates that the Lord sees the value of communicating in a memorable way. Objects lessons and enacted messages drive the message home and help the hearers take it home.  The implication for those who communicate God’s Word today is that creative visuals are not only acceptable to God but also endorsed by Him.

A theological tension that arises in this chapter relates to the sovereign plans of God and human choice. Jeremiah tells Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem that their submission to Babylon will allow them to remain in their land and keep the city from becoming a “ruin” (17).  A few lines later, the Lord declares that the king of Babylon will come and remove the remaining temple articles (21-22).  While this removal of the temple treasures doesn’t require the decimation of the Temple and city, that’s what happened. Earlier prophecies given by Jeremiah also declare the coming destruction of the city.

So the question arises, to what extent did the king and people have the ability to change their future by believing the Lord and submitting to Babylon when the Lord seems to have already declared that the city would be destroyed?  Was the Lord giving an offer that could not or would not be taken to heart by those who heard it?  Was the fate of the city already sealed?  If so, why would the Lord have Jeremiah go to such lengths (wooden yoke) to give a warning that was doomed to fail?

These questions relate to the very character of God and the capacity of humans. Do humans have the ability to respond to God’s offers? Or are some invitations from God given for other reasons—perhaps to vindicate His justice and show his forbearance?

spurgeonI’ve been reading Spurgeon’s biography (Living by Revealed Truth) and considering his defense of man’s “moral inability.”  Like a good Calvinist, Spurgeon argues that humans only come to God as they are sovereignly drawn by His grace.  Otherwise, they will no more listen to the voice of the Lord than a wolf would listen to the voice of the shepherd.  Unless God moves people to respond, they remain dead to Him, His invitations and calls.  While I see Scriptural support for the strong emphasis of God’s prevenient grace, I find it difficult to see the Lord giving a message that He has already decreed would be rejected and could not be received by the hearers.  These messages from Jeremiah do not seem to be simply a show but feel like an appeal from God’s loving heart.  They were intended to ignite faith, for faith comes by hearing the word from God (Romans 10:17).

Further, verse 8 contains a phrase that shows God’s work is done in keeping with human will:  “until I destroy it by his hand.”  God works through His “servant” (6) Nebuchadnezzar to punish the nations. Nebuchadnezzar would have had no sense that he was a puppet, simply carrying out the Lord’s will.  He felt he was large and in charge.  But the reality was that the Babylonian king’s conquests were the outworking of God’s plan.

I am led back to a compatibilist understanding of God’s sovereignty and man’s choice.  I cannot land exclusively in a theological system that negates one or the other. Somehow both are true.  So I will hold high the doctrines of grace and exalt in the sovereign work of God in history and hearts (even over the “wild animals”—7).  At the same time, I will also proclaim the message of faith and repentance, believing that those who hear are responsible and  able to respond (response-able).

In this chapter Jeremiah is sent by God to set before kings, priests and people a choice between the way of life and the way of death. Trusting God and obeying Him (by submitting to the Babylonians) would sustain life (albeit in captivity); rejecting His Word (believing the ear-tickling messages of the false prophets) would bring “sword, famine and plague”(8), followed by destruction, banishment and death.  The alternatives were clear (not easy).  A choice had to be made (no middle ground).  The people were responsible and God was working out His decreed plan for history through their choices.

The same scenario still is being lived out today and will continue to the end of the age.

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Prayer Update November 8, 2018

Linda and I are in Ottawa this week, privileged to speak at the missions conference for the Metropolitan Bible Church.  We had the joy of serving at the Met for almost 15 years before coming to Heritage.  The church still has a deep love for God’s Word and a commitment to reaching God’s world.

CELEBRATE MISSIONSI’m writing to ask you to pray for me as I preach God’s Word Thursday night (young adult group), Friday night (all church) and Sunday morning.  (Linda spoke to two ladies groups yesterday).  Please pray that the Lord would empower me to speak with clarity and conviction on the topic of missions.  The Met has a history of sending out many missionaries.  Let’s pray that God would raise up more through this conference.

Also, join me in praising the Lord for answering the requests I gave last Friday.  I heard from Heritage today that the event with Dr. Christopher Wright was well-attended and well-received.  Also, our first year college students were out in the community today collecting food for the local food bank.  This is part of our Love Hespeler initiative, a way to show the love of Christ and to open doors for the message of Christ.

Food Drive

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Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 26)

26This chapter is dated “early in the reign of Jehoiakim” (1) which makes it one of five chapters specifically tied to events from this time period (four chapters are from the “fourth year of Jehoiakim”—25:1; 36:1; 45:1; 46:2). Chapter 26 likely occurs before the fourth year as by the fourth year (perhaps as a direct result of what is recorded here), Jeremiah is banned from open proclamation in the Temple courts (36:5).

Jeremiah is commanded to fearlessly and completely (“do not omit a word”) proclaim a message of impending judgment on Jerusalem.  The Lord’s purpose in having Jeremiah repeat this message is redemptive: “Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way.  Then I will relent . . .” (3).  However, if they continue in their indifference and disobedience, the Lord promises to “make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth” (6; 7:12).

repentShiloh, a city in Ephraim, ten miles north of Bethel, had been the place Joshua set up the Tabernacle during the conquest, 500 years before Jeremiah’s ministry (see Joshua 18).  During the time of Eli, the ark was taken from Shiloh (and captured by the Philistines) making the Tabernacle diminished in importance.  During Saul’s reign (1 Samuel 21), David visits the priests at Nob who give him consecrated bread from a sacred tent (not specifically called the Tabernacle). Shiloh was no longer the place of meeting.  In fact, Shiloh became a wilderness and remains that way until today.  The message Jeremiah proclaimed about Shiloh was a reminder that God had allowed a holy place to be completely decimated before; He would do it again unless they repent.

A glorious past does not insure a glorious future.  The churches receiving letters from the Risen Christ in Revelation 2-3 are warned about having their “lampstand” removed if they do not repent (Revelation 2:5).  Today, those cities in Turkey are also spiritual ruins, devoid of a vibrant church.  This sober warning is one churches (and schools!) need to hear today.  Past fruitfulness must be matched by present faithfulness to insure future usefulness.

Jeremiah’s dire pronouncement about the Temple, Jerusalem and Judea caused quite a stir.  The prophets and priests who heard him were incensed, as were “all the people” (8). He is surrounded (like Paul would later be—Acts 21:32) and almost lynched.  He is brought to trial before the officials at the New Gate.  The priests and prophets call for the death penalty for having “prophesied against this city” (11).

Jeremiah’s defense is that “the Lord sent me” with the goal of warning the people of impending judgment so they might repent and obey the Lord.  Jeremiah’s good news was that if people repent, God would “relent and not bring the disaster He has pronounced against you” (13).  Jeremiah submits to their judgment on him, but warns that killing him would bring “the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it” (15).

Jeremiah voices the biblical idea of collective guilt: the actions of a few can implicate the many.  This truth was the basis for the punishment given to Achan’s entire family for his sinful actions (Joshua 7:24-26).  It is applied in a universal way in Adam’s sinful choice as well as the righteous life and suffering of the Second Adam (Romans 5:12-21).  Our lives have wider ripples than we often realize.

courageJeremiah again shows great courage and faithfulness to his calling.  When called to bring God’s message to the people at the Temple, Jeremiah obeys.  He has been ignored and insulted repeatedly by a people who “have not listened” (5), but still he goes.  As seen from the response of the priests, prophets and people, Jeremiah was putting himself in mortal danger.  But, like Paul, he is “ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem” (Acts 21:11).

I’m intrigued by the Lord’s statement in verses 3-5: “Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way . . . . though you have not listened.”  God sees the heart and knows the judgment is coming (1:13-16).  Yet He speaks in a way that confers causality upon people; their choice will determine His course (if they repent, He will relent).  Somehow God’s sovereign plans work out in conjunction with human choice (compatibilism: see http://da.rryl.me/2009/don-carson-on-compatibilism/).  God’s desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9) move him to give second, third, even thirtieth chances to stubborn sinners.  But there is a limit and a line that, once crossed, brings judgment.

The priests, prophets and people of Judah respond to Jeremiah’s pronouncement not with personal reflection and genuine repentance but with indignation and attack.  They accuse Jeremiah of sedition and anti-patriotic speech; they seek the death penalty.  The officials from the palace convene to hear the case and decide for Jeremiah.  They see precedent for dire warnings in the prophecies of Micah (see Micah 3:12).  They reference Hezekiah’s positive response of Micah as an example of what should be done. Ahikam (father of Gedeliah—who was later appointed ruler by the Babylonians) “supported Jeremiah and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death” (24).

Inserted into the deliberations about Jeremiah’s fate is the sad tale of the prophet Uriah son of Shemaiah (20-23).  He gave a similar message as Jeremiah but was hunted down and killed by Jehoiakim (with the help of Elnathan).  This story is included here to show that Jeremiah was in a dangerous place.  It also shows God’s faithfulness to His promise to protect Jeremiah (1:19).

 

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Prayer Update November 2, 2018

It’s been several weeks since I’ve posted fresh prayer requests.  Last Friday I was at a meeting for presidents of Canadian Christian colleges, universities and seminaries.  We were given the data from a major study on Christian teens moving into adulthood.  The study revealed that young adults who attend a Christian college or university fare much better when it comes to staying true to their faith in Christ.  I will write more about this in the coming weeks.

God continues to work in some wonderful ways on the Heritage campus.  Many students are being impacted by God’s Word and prepared for His service.

Here are several key requests I would ask you to pray about in the week ahead.

Word of truthThis weekend I (Rick) am speaking at the Word of Truth Conference in Georgetown.  I’ll be giving three messages on the theme of “The Unchanging Nature of the Church in a Rapidly Changing World.”  Friday evening I speak on our Unchanging Need.  Saturday morning I will speak on our Unchanging Mission and Unchanging Power.  Please pray that God would empower me to speak HIs Word with clarity, courage and compassion.

CELEBRATE MISSIONSNext week, Linda and I head to Ottawa to speak at the Missions Conference at the Metropolitan Bible Church.  Many of you know that Linda and I served at the Met for almost 15 years before coming to Heritage.  It’s a joy to return to a church we love so much.  Linda speaks to the women on Wednesday morning and evening.  I speak on Thursday evening (Young Adult Group), Friday evening and Sunday morning.  Please ask the Lord to work powerfully through the messages to impact lives for Christ and HIs mission.

mission of GodNext Thursday at Heritage, we host Dr. Christopher Wright to speak to our students as well as students from Emmanuel Bible College and McMaster Divinity College.  Dr. Wright has written a number of important works, including The Mission of God.  Pray that his lecture will help students have their minds and hearts shaped by God’s truth.

Thank you for continuing to pray for Linda and me.  And thank you for praying the ministry of Heritage College and Seminary. God is answering our prayers!

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Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 25)

25When he was first called to prophetic ministry, Jeremiah was appointed “over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10).  Over the first twenty-three years of his ministry. Jeremiah had already “prophesied . . . against the nations” (including Babylon—25:13).  Now he is commanded to bring a message of coming destruction against Judah, the surrounding nations and, ultimately, against Babylon.  In this message, God’s judgment is compared to a “cup of wine” that nations are forced to drink until they are dead drunk, reeling and falling to “rise no more” (27).

Chapter 25 is given the same time stamp as Jeremiah 36 and 45:  “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim . . . which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar” (25:1). This is the same year Jeremiah is told to record all the words God had given him over the past 23 years (36:2; 25:2) and the same year Jeremiah was instructed to confront Baruch (45:1-5).  The fact that this message was given in the year Nebuchadnezzar came to power is significant—he would be the king God would use to subjugate and “completely destroy” (put under the ban) Judah and the surrounding nations (25:9).

The fact that God empowers Babylon and expands their reach and rule is not an indicator that He approves of their beliefs or behaviours. The prophet Habakkuk was troubled at the thought that God would use the Babylonians to judge His people, since the Babylonians were more wicked than Judah (Habakkuk 1:12-13).  God’s answer to Habakkuk and His revelation to Jeremiah was that He sees the guilt of the Babylonians (Sheshach—26) and, in His time, will judge them with justice and righteousness (Habakkuk 2:2-20; Jeremiah 25:12, 26).

The Lord reveals through Jeremiah that the coming “tumult” among the nations is His righteous judgment on sinful nations (31). He promises to “completely destroy” a host of countries: the Hebrew verb translated “complete destroy” (חָרַם) speaks of devoting or consecrating something to God, often for destruction (Joshua 2:10; 7:11; 8:26).  Five times in the chapter the Lord speaks of calling down a “sword” on the nations (16, 27, 29, 31, 38). This is why verse 33 refers to “those slain by the Lord” and verse 38 links together the “sword of the oppressor” and the “Lord’s fierce anger.”  The Lord brings “charges against the nations” (31) and judgment upon them for their guilt.

wine cupThe list of nations that will be forced to drink the “cup filled with the wine of my wrath” (15) begins with “Jerusalem and the towns of Judah” (18).  God holds His people to a righteous standard and judges them for their persistent idolatry (6-7) and disobedience (“evil ways and evil practices”—5).  Then comes Egypt (19), Uz (20), the Philistines (20), Edom, Moab, Ammon (21), Tyre, Sidon (22), Dedan, Tema, Buz (23), Arabia (24), Zimri, Elam, Media (25—east of Babylon), all the kings of the north (25) and finally Babylon (26—“Sheshach”, a cryptogram for Babylon).  The final chapters (46-51) give extended prophetic judgments on many nations mentioned in chapter 25, starting with Egypt and ending with Babylon.

The final, poetic verses of the chapter (34-38) call the leaders (“shepherds”) of the various nations to “weep, wail” and “roll in the dust”(35).  There is nothing they can do to avert the coming destruction.  When God says it’s time for judgment to come, come it will!

God’s coming judgment is described in global terms; it reaches to “all the kingdoms on the face of the earth” (26).  He “roars”, “thunders” and “shouts” against “all who live on the earth” (30).  The result of the sword He sends will be catastrophic:  “those slain by the Lord will be everywhere—from one end of the earth to the other” (33).  The near context for this judgment is the next “seventy years” (12).  However the language of this chapter, including the climactic judgment on Babylon, is picked up in Revelation to describe the final global judgment at the return of Christ to establish His kingdom (Revelation 18).

It’s clear that while the Lord is the “God of Israel” (15), He is no tribal deity but the “LORD Almighty” (8).  He raises up and brings down (Daniel 2:21).  He determines the duration a nation will be subjugated or be supreme (70 years—25:12).  No one can resist His will or refuse to drink the cup of judgment He gives them: “make all the nations to whom I send you drink it” (15).  He is the King of kings and sovereign ruler of all nations.

The Lord works His will through the events of history. On one level, history can be explained in purely human terms: political developments and military might. However, this viewpoint is only part of the story.  God moves kings, nations and armies to accomplish His plans.  He is the One who will “summon” Nebuchadnezzar (“my servant”) and his allies and “will bring them against this land . . . and against all the surrounding nations” (9).  He gives Babylon seventy years of supremacy as the world power (11).  He is also the One who, after seventy years, will “punish the king of Babylon and his nation . . . for their guilt”; He will make Babylon “desolate forever” (12).

In spite of His unsurpassed greatness and global power, God’s own people would not listen to His words or align with His will. Jeremiah preached to an unresponsive people:  “the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again but you have not listened” (3). We learn in chapter 36 that the Lord had Jeremiah record “all the words I have spoken to you concern Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you” (36:2).  God was giving them one more chance to turn from their wickedness and be forgiven (36:3).  Sadly, the nation stubbornly refuse to respond; by their indifference (“you have not . . . paid any attention”—4) and insolence, they “brought harm” to themselves (7) from the hand of the One who promised not to “harm” them if they would obey (6).

communion cupIn this chapter we see the themes of God’s sovereign, global Kingship, His justice and judgment on nations (and the people in them) and His offer of grace and goodness to those who listen and follow His words.  He works through the events of history to bring devastation to the disobedient.  He makes the world drink the “cup” of His wrath (15).  In the New Testament, we see Jesus drinking that “cup” of God’s wrath for us (Matthew 26:39, 42), taking the harm we deserved for our sins.  At the cross God’s justice and mercy meet to bring the offer of salvation to those from every nations who listen and believe the gospel.

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