Daily reading for Saturday, October 19, 2013
Jeremiah 33:1-34:22; 1 Timothy 4:1-16; Psalms 89:1-13; Proverbs 25:23-24 (The Voice)
33 1-2 For a second time the message of the Eternal came to Jeremiah as he was being held in the court of the guard. The Eternal who made the earth, who formed and fashioned it, the One whose name is the Eternal, has this to say:
Time is growing short; the city is being squeezed, and the dreaded enemy is one step closer to victory. Some hope Egypt might come to Jerusalem’s rescue, but nothing can stop her inevitable defeat. In these dark days just before the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is still a prisoner of the king. People come to Jeremiah as he sits shackled in a courtyard, surrounded by guards. In this humiliating scene, another message comes to the prophet from God. Once again, Jeremiah is looking past the city’s present despair to a future God is showing him: one day God will restore Jerusalem and the people of Israel.
Eternal One: 3 Call to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you of great things, things beyond what you can imagine, things you could never have known. 4 I, the Eternal God of Israel, tell you that all these public buildings and royal palaces have been dismantled in vain. You thought you could strengthen the city walls with the scraps of those buildings, but it is a useless defense against the siege ramps and swords 5 of the Chaldeans. In this fight, the city will be filled with the dead whom I will destroy in My anger and wrath, for I have hidden My face from this city because of their wickedness. 6 Nevertheless, keep watching! I will restore this city and heal the wounds of My people. I will lavish them with peace and stability. 7 I will bring both Judah and Israel back from captivity, and I will rebuild their land to what it was before. 8 I will cleanse them from all the sins they committed against Me and forgive all the wrongs they have done and all the ways they rebelled against Me. 9 Jerusalem will have a sweet-sounding name once again. The good I do for her will bring Me joy, praise, and honor among all nations of the earth, for they will be in awe and tremble at the peace and prosperity I give to this city.
10 Listen to Me, Jeremiah. You say this place will become a desolate wasteland with no people and no animals, but it will not always be so. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem may indeed become lifeless, but I, the Eternal One, promise you the silence will be broken. Once again you will hear 11 the sounds of laughter and joy, the sweet words of the bride and bridegroom at a wedding, and voices of those who bring thank offerings to the temple singing,
Give thanks to the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
for He is good. His faithful love endures forever.
All of this will happen because I will restore the riches of this land to what they once were.
12 I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise: even this desolate place—with no people and no animals—and all of its ruined cities will once again have pastures where shepherds will rest their flocks. 13 In the towns of the hill country, in the villages of the western hills, in the cities of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the vicinity around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, once again flocks will be cared for by a faithful shepherd who will count each and every one of his sheep.
14 Look! The days are coming when I will fulfill the promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days, when the time is right, I will cause a righteous Branch to sprout from the old stump of David’s lineage; He will do what is right and just in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be liberated, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And the city will be called by His name, The Eternal Is Our Righteousness. 17 I tell you, the royal dynasty of David will not cease; the throne of Israel still belongs to his family.[a] Remember this, even as other kings rule over you. 18 Remember also that the line of Levitical priests will not cease; for all time they will stand before Me offering burnt offerings, grain offerings, and making sacrifices.
19-20 Again, the word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.
Eternal One: If you can figure out a way to break My covenant with the day and with the night so they do not always arrive on schedule, the very rhythm of life on this earth, 21 only then will My covenant with My servant David be broken and his son not rule from his throne. Only then will My covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before Me be null and void. 22 I will make David’s descendants, along with the Levitical priests who minister before Me, so numerous they will seem like the stars of the skies that cannot be counted and the sands of the seashore that can never be measured.
23 The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah again.
Eternal One: 24 Have you noticed what some people are saying? “The Eternal chose these two families, Israel and Judah, but He has now rejected them.” They clearly despise My people—they don’t even consider them a nation any longer! 25 But again, this is what the Eternal promises: “Just as I am not about to stop ruling the universe with fixed laws so that the day and the night become confused, 26 I will likewise keep My promise to the descendants of Jacob and David, My servant; I will not reject them. I will not forget the covenant I made with David that one of his descendants will rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will restore their fortunes and have mercy on them.
34 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his army, and all the kingdoms and peoples of his empire, to begin the final assault against Jerusalem and all the towns and villages. One by one they fell. As this dreaded ruler and his vast army drew closer to Jerusalem, the word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.
Eternal One: 2 The Eternal God of Israel has this to say: Go and deliver this message to Zedekiah, king of Judah: “I, the Eternal, am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it to the ground. 3 As for you, you will not escape from him. No, you will be captured and turned over to the king of Babylon. You will have to stand before him and look this powerful ruler in the eyes as you are sentenced to exile in Babylon.
4 “But hear this promise from the Eternal, O Zedekiah, king of Judah: ‘I declare that if you obey Me now, you will not die in battle, 5 but you will die in peace.’ People will burn spices at your funeral in your honor, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who ruled before you. Mourners will weep for you saying, ‘O, our king is dead!’ I, the Eternal, promise you this can still happen.”
6 The prophet Jeremiah faithfully related all of this to Zedekiah, king of Judah, while both were still in Jerusalem. 7 This was when the Babylonian king’s siege of Jerusalem and the rest of Judah’s cities was under way, with Lachish and Azekah the only other fortified cities that had not been conquered.
8 Now as the siege continued and the conditions became more severe, another message came to Jeremiah from the Eternal after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with the citizens of Jerusalem to free the slaves in the city. 9 The king commanded all those who held Hebrew slaves to release them—both men and women—so that no Jew would hold a fellow Jew in slavery. 10 So all the leaders and people of the city entered this covenant and agreed with the king to free all of their Hebrew slaves.
11 Not long after the people had freed their slaves, they changed their minds and forced the men and women they released back into slavery. 12 It was then that a word from the Eternal came to Jeremiah regarding the people of Jerusalem:
Eternal One: 13 I, the Eternal God of Israel, am reminding you that I made a covenant with your ancestors when I rescued them from slavery in the land of Egypt. I told them: 14 After six years of service, a fellow Hebrew slave must be freed from slavery in the seventh year.[b] But your ancestors never took My directive seriously or obeyed Me. 15 Not long ago, you changed your mind and did what was right in My eyes: you set your kinsmen free from bondage. You even established a sacred covenant before Me in the house that bears My name. 16 But now you have reversed yourselves, turned around, and broken that covenant! You have defiled My name by forcing these men and women you freed back into slavery.
17 That is why I proclaim the following: Since you have disobeyed Me and not declared that your fellow countrymen are set free, I will now set you free from My protection. I declare that you will be “free” to die by war, disease, and famine. The destiny I set before You will terrify the watching world. 18 Those who violated this covenant with Me will now be treated like the calf they cut in two and walked between when this promise was made.
In Jeremiah’s time, the agreeing parties affirm the terms of a covenant by participating in an ancient ritual. They gather in a sacred place, cut an animal in half, and pass between the two parts. These ritual actions depict an implicit threat that if either covenant partner violates this agreement, he will become like the sacrifice and suffer the consequences of death and dismemberment. It is hard to imagine people taking such solemn ceremonies lightly, but they do. They always will.
Eternal One: 19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court servants, the priests, and all people in the land who walked between the halves of the calf will suffer a common fate. 20-21 I will hand them over to their enemies, to those who want them dead. Their corpses will not be buried; they will lie on the ground and become food for the birds and wild animals. I will also hand Zedekiah (king of Judah) and his officials over to their enemies, to those who want them dead. Although King Nebuchadnezzar and his army have pulled back from your city, that is only temporary. 22 I, the Eternal One, will give the order and call them back to Jerusalem. They will fight against this city, capture it, and burn it to the ground. I will use the army of Babylon to destroy the towns of Judah so no one can live there.
1 Timothy 4
4 But even so, the Spirit very clearly tells us that in the last times some will abandon the true faith because of their devotion to spirits sent to deceive and sabotage, and mistakenly they will end up following the doctrine of demons. 2 They will be carried away through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences have been branded with a red-hot iron, 3 saying, “Don’t marry. Don’t eat such-and-such foods.” But God created all these to be received with gratitude by people who hold fast to the faith and really comprehend the truth. 4 For everything God made is good. That means nothing should be rejected as long as it’s received with a grateful heart, 5 for by God’s word and prayer, it is made holy.
Paul turns from moral character to solid doctrine. People were believing strange doctrines and passing rumors. Timothy is expected to confront legalism and immorality with truth and right thinking.
6 Place these truths before the brothers and sisters. If you do, you will be a good servant of Jesus the Anointed, raised and fed on words of true belief, trained in the good instruction you have so clearly followed. 7 Reject worldly fables. Refuse old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself toward godliness. 8 Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. 9 This statement is worthy of trust and our full acceptance. 10 This is what we work so hard for! This is why we are constantly struggling: because we have an assured hope fixed upon a living God who is the Savior of all humankind—especially all of us who believe.
11 So go out and insist on these things. Teach them. 12 Don’t let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure. 13 Until I get there, make sure to devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. 14 Don’t neglect the gift that was given to you through the prophecy spoken when the company of the elders laid their hands on you. 15 Cultivate all these practices; live by them so that all will see how you are advancing and growing. 16 Take care of yourself, concentrate on your teaching, and stick with these things. If you do, then you will be effective in bringing salvation to yourself and all who hear you.
A contemplative song[a] of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of Your unfailing love, Eternal One, forever.
I will speak of Your faithfulness to all generations.
2 I will tell how Your unfailing love will always stand strong;
and how Your faithfulness is established in the heavens above.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with My chosen one.
I made My servant, David, this promise:
4 ‘I will establish your dynasty
so that you and your descendants will always be secure.
Your rule will continue for generations to come.’”
5 Let the heavens join in praising the wonderful works of the Eternal.
The holy ones have gathered, singing of Your faithfulness.
6 For there is no one above who compares to the Eternal,
not one of heaven’s creatures is like Him in the least.
7 In the council of holy ones, God is lifted high and feared;
His presence overwhelms all who are near Him.
8 O Eternal God, Commander of heaven’s armies,
who is mighty like You?
You are completely faithful; that’s why we trust You.
9 The ocean waters are at Your command.
When violent waves rise up, You still them.
10 You defeated Rahab, that ancient monster of chaos,
and left it lifeless.
You routed Your enemies and scattered them by Your great arm of power.
11 Everything in the sky above and the earth below are Yours.
The world and all it contains are Yours, for You created them all.
12 Everything was created by You—the north, the south—
the mountains of Tabor and Hermon echo joyously the song of Your name.
13 Your arm is strong.
Your grip is powerful.
Your right hand is raised up high.
Acts of kindness, especially when we know they are undeserved, awaken a slumbering conscience, stimulate sorrow, and perhaps even effect a change. They are the best ways to turn an enemy into a friend.
23 As surely as a north wind drives the rain before it,
a backbiting tongue brings angry looks.
24 It is better to dwell outside on the corner of your roof
than to live inside your house with a badgering wife.