Daily reading for Thursday, October 24, 2013
Jeremiah 44:24-47:7; 2 Timothy 3:1-17; Psalms 94:1-23; Proverbs 26:6-8 (The Voice)
24 (to the entire assembly) Hear the word of the Eternal! You people of Judah who live in Egypt, 25 the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, has a message for you: “You and your wives have shown where your true devotion lies with both your words and your actions! You say, ‘We will keep our vows to the queen of heaven; we will continue to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to her.’ Well I say, ‘Go ahead. Keep your vows! Do exactly what you promised!’” 26 But hear what the Eternal now says to the Judeans now living in Egypt: “I swear by My great name that no man or woman of Judah now living in Egypt will ever again invoke My name or begin an oath with the words ‘As the Eternal Lord lives!’ 27 because I will watch over their lives to bring harm, not good. All the Judeans living in Egypt will suffer from war and famine until all have died. 28 There will be only a few who survive and return to Judah from Egypt. All the remnant of Judah who were so determined to live in Egypt will finally know whose word can be trusted—theirs or Mine. 29 Here is a sign for you so that you will know I am going to punish you in Egypt. This way you can be sure that My threats against you are not idle—they will come true. 30 And this will be your sign: watch as I hand over Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I handed over Zedekiah, king of Judah, to his enemy, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
To the very end, Jeremiah speaks out against the injustices and infidelities of his countrymen who keep turning to other gods. His words are strong, and Jeremiah lives to see many of his painful prophecies come true. What remains in the following chapters are words surely spoken before the prophet was an old man in Egypt: first is a brief message for his scribe Baruch in the heartbreaking aftermath of the burning of the scroll (36:1–8) and the terrible judgment then declared on Judah; second is a series of declarations or oracles against the various nations surrounding Judah in these historic times.
45 This is the message the prophet Jeremiah gave to his secretary, Baruch (son of Neriah) when he had written on a scroll all the words Jeremiah dictated to him. It took place when Jehoiakim (son of Josiah) had been king of Judah for four years.
Jeremiah (to Baruch): 2 The Eternal, the God of Israel, has given me a message for you, Baruch. 3 He heard you when you cried out, “Oh my, what pain I am in! As if I weren’t hurting enough, the Eternal has piled on even more sorrow. I am so tired from groaning; I can find no rest.” 4 And so the Eternal has given me this message for you: “Hear Me, Baruch, for I tell you I am about to upend what I have built and uproot what I have planted in this land, in the whole land. 5 Should you worry about achieving personal greatness? No, do not chase after such a dream! But take comfort that when I bring this disaster on all people, I will reward you by sparing your life. I promise to protect you wherever you go.
46 The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah concerning the nations.
Prophets often speak against foreign nations. God is not neutral to the designs and practices of outsiders. These first oracles are directed against the nation of Egypt, who fought and lost the Battle of Carchemish in 605 b.c. Though the fallout was not immediate, this battle was the undoing of Egypt. Babylon is now clearly the dominant world power, and Nebuchadnezzar is her despotic and cruel ruler. But as powerful as he is now and is destined to become, the Babylonian king is only an instrument in the hand of God. By continuing to oppose Babylon and fostering ill-fated political alliances with other nations, Egypt is, in effect, opposing God Himself. God will accomplish what He sets out to do—and all will answer to Him—for God is the God of all history and sovereign over all rulers.
2 This message is about Egypt and the army and her king, Pharaoh Neco; they were defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. This decisive battle happened when Jehoiakim (son of Josiah) had been king of Judah for four years.
3 Eternal One: Line up your shields, large and small.
March toward the battle!
4 Harness your horses; mount your stallions!
Get in position; put your helmets on!
Polish your spears; put on your armor!
5 And what do I see when I look at the Egyptian army?
They are panicked, pulling back in retreat;
their mighty warriors are already defeated.
Look how they run away so quickly,
never looking back, for terror is everywhere they turn.
6 The fast cannot outrun it; the mighty cannot escape it.
Beside the river Euphrates in the north, they stumble and fall.
7 Who is this I see rising like the river Nile,
like a swollen, flooding river?
8 It is Egypt that rises like the river Nile,
her pride like a swollen, flooding river.
Pharaoh blusters, “I will rise and cover the earth, like a river.
I will destroy the cities and their people who dare to stand in my way.”
9 Charge, O horses; go up into the fray! Let your chariots madly rush in!
March, mighty warriors, summoned to war.
Soldiers of Ethiopia and Libya who carry shields,
archers of Ludim who bend the bow, march to your defeat!
10 For this day belongs to the Eternal Lord, Commander of heavenly armies;
it is a day of vengeance, a day to pay back His enemies.
The sword will devour them until it is satisfied,
until its thirst for their blood has been quenched.
For the Eternal Lord, Commander of heavenly armies,
will offer them as a sacrifice beside the river Euphrates in the land of the north.
11 Go up to Gilead to find balm for your wounds,
O virgin daughter of Egypt.
But you will find no relief in your many medicines.
This time your wound will not heal.
12 The nations of the world hear of your shame;
the earth is filled with your cries.
One mighty warrior stumbles over another,
and both of them fall down together.
13 This is the word the prophet Jeremiah received from the Eternal about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to attack the land of Egypt.
14 Eternal One: Make this announcement in Egypt, and tell everyone in Migdol;
proclaim it in Memphis and Tahpanhes as well:
Take your positions, and get ready for battle,
for the sword will devour everyone around you.
15 Why are your mighty warriors lying face down?
They do not stand, indeed cannot stand,
Because I, the Eternal One, have pushed them to the ground.
16 These soldiers will stumble again and again—falling over each other.
They will say to each other, “Pick yourself up! Let us go home
To our own land and people;
let us escape the edge of our enemy’s sword.”
17 It is there, in that moment, that they will cry out,
“Pharaoh, king of Egypt, makes a lot of noise, but he missed his chance.”
18 As I live, says the King
whose name is the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
That one is coming who will tower over you
like Mount Tabor over the mountains,
like Mount Carmel over the sea.
19 Pack for the coming exile, you citizens of Egypt,
for Memphis will be a wasteland, a city destroyed and empty of life.
20 Egypt is like a heifer—beautiful, but helpless—
because a biting horsefly from the north is coming against her.
21 The mercenaries in her army are like fattened calves:
they will turn and run, all of them together.
They will not stand their ground, for the day of disaster is coming;
the time for their punishment is upon them.
22 Egypt will slither away like a hissing serpent
as her enemy marches on.
They will come with axes,
like woodsmen who cut down trees.
23 I, the Eternal One, declare, “As thick as the forest of Egypt might be,
they will chop her down,
For they are more numerous than locusts,
their numbers too great to count.
24 The daughter of Egypt will be disgraced;
she will be handed over to this nation from the north.”
25 Then the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, gave this word to Egypt and anyone foolish enough to side with Egypt.
Eternal One: Look! I will soon punish Amon, the god of Thebes, and all the other so-called gods of Egypt. I will punish all her rulers, including Pharaoh (who claims to be a god himself) and any who trust in him. 26 I will hand them over to the enemy who wants them dead—to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his officers. But later, I will restore Egypt. Her people will return in numbers to live there again as in the days of old. I, the Eternal, promise this.
27 Do not be afraid, O Jacob, My servant.
Do not be dismayed, O Israel.
For I will rescue you from that distant land;
I will bring your children home from the exile.
Jacob will again know peace and what it means to feel secure.
No one will make him afraid.
28 Do not be afraid, O Jacob, My servant, for I am with you.
Even if I completely destroy all the nations
To which I have scattered you, I will not completely destroy you.
Remember this, O Israel: I will discipline you out of justice.
I will not let you go unpunished.
Between Egypt and Babylon are several smaller nations whose futures hang in the balance. To whom will they submit in the coming years? The first of these smaller states to receive a word of judgment is Philistia. At one time a formidable foe of Israel, this nation has seen its power and influence slowly weakening for the last 400 years, since the time of the great King David. In these days of political intrigue, it is likely that the Philistines have entered into a treaty with the city-states of Tyre and Sidon to the north. These allies are among those considering standing up to Babylon (27:3). Perhaps it is this rebellion against God’s greater plan to use Babylon that is the reason for this judgment, or perhaps it is something else He sees in these people who live along the coastal plains of the Mediterranean. Whatever the case, it is God, the mighty warrior, who now moves against the Philistines.
47 The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah the prophet about the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza, one of Philistia’s five major cities.
2 Eternal One: Do you see how the waters are rising in the north?
They will become an overwhelming flood.
They will flow across the land, covering everything—
including the towns and the people who live there.
Those people will cry out;
those who live in that land will weep loudly,
3 For they will hear the pounding hooves of the charging horses,
the clatter of enemy chariots, and the rumbling of their wheels.
Fathers will panic and abandon their children,
their hands limp with fear.
4 For the time will come
to destroy all the Philistines.
She will find no help in Tyre and Sidon—
these allies, too, will be cut off.
The Eternal will destroy the Philistines,
this remnant from the coasts of Caphtor.
5 The people of Gaza will shave their heads in mourning,
for Ashkelon is no more.
You who remain in the valley,
how long will you cut yourselves in grief ?
6 You cry out, “O sword of the Eternal, when will you stop?
Return to your sheath, rest from your destruction, and be still!”
7 But how can His sword be still
when the Eternal has given it a direct order?
For Ashkelon and those along the coast will be no more!
2 Timothy 3
3 And know this: in the last days, times will be hard. 2 You see, the world will be filled with narcissistic, money-grubbing, pretentious, arrogant, and abusive people. They will rebel against their parents and will be ungrateful, unholy, 3 uncaring, coldhearted, accusing, without restraint, savage, and haters of anything good. 4 Expect them to be treacherous, reckless, swollen with self-importance, and given to loving pleasure more than they love God. 5 Even though they may look or act like godly people, they’re not. They deny His power. I tell you: Stay away from the likes of these. 6 They’re snakes slithering into the houses of vulnerable women, women gaudy with sin, to seduce them. These reptiles can capture them because these women are weak and easily swayed by their desires. 7 They seem always to be learning, but they never seem to gain the full measure of the truth. 8 And, just as Jannes and Jambres rose up against Moses,[a] these ungodly people defy the truth. Their minds are corrupt, and their faith is absolutely worthless. 9 But they won’t get too far because their stupidity will be noticed by everyone, just as it was with Jannes and Jambres.
Paul challenges Timothy to be prepared. Hard times are coming. Things will go from bad to worse, he warns, because pretentious, hostile, hateful, and betraying people are out there. He tells Timothy to stay away from them and to continue to look to Paul’s example, enduring in love and recalling how Paul himself has followed Jesus. For if Jesus was persecuted, then what should His followers expect for themselves? In the midst of this warning, Paul encourages Timothy.
10 You have been a good student. You have closely observed how I have lived. You’ve followed my instructions, my habits, my purpose, my faith, my patience. You’ve watched how I love and have seen how I endure. You have been with me 11 through persecutions and sufferings—remember what they did to me in Antioch? In Iconium and Lystra? I endured all of it, and the Lord rescued me from it all! 12 Anyone wishing to live a godly life in Jesus the Anointed will be hunted down and persecuted. 13 But as for the wicked and the imposters, they will keep leading and following each other further and further away from the truth. 14 So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust 15 because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. 16 All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right 17 so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.
1 O Eternal God of vengeance,
O God who sets things right, shine upon us.
2 Rise, O Judge who presides over the earth,
and pronounce Your sentence upon the proud.
Give them what they deserve!
3 How long, O Eternal One, how long
will the guilty revel in their prosperity?
4 Arrogance pours from their mouths;
all these troublemakers brag of their exploits.
5 They have broken Your people to pieces, O Eternal One,
and brought ruin to Your future generations.
6 They slay a widow, kill a newcomer,
and murder an orphan.
7 Then they say, “The Eternal can’t see what we’re up to;
the God of Jacob’s people pays no attention to us.”
8 Think, brainless people;
stupid people, when will you get it?
9 Does the God who set the ear in its place not hear?
Does the God who made the eye not see?
10 Does the God who teaches the nations
and guides humanity to knowledge,
not exercise just correction?
11 The Eternal knows the highest thoughts of the wise,
and they are worthless.[a]
12 How fortunate are those You discipline, O Eternal One,
those You train by Your divine law;
13 You relieve them in times of distress,
until a grave is dug for evildoers.
14 The Eternal will not abandon His people;
He will not turn away from those He redeemed
15 Because justice is coming for those who do what is right
and all the good-hearted will pursue it.
16 Who will back me up when evildoers come against me?
Who is willing to take my side against the wicked?
17 If the Eternal had not come to my rescue,
my soul would have descended to the land where death silences every voice.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping!”
Your unfailing love, O Eternal One, held me up.
19 When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many,
Your comfort lightens my soul.
20 Can wicked tyrants be Your allies?
Will You align with rulers who create havoc with unjust decrees?
21 They have joined forces against the life of the just-living, the right-seeking,
and have sentenced the innocent to death.
22 But the Eternal has been my citadel;
my God, a sure safe haven.
23 He will fold their wickedness back upon them,
and because they are malicious, He will silence them.
The Eternal, our True God, will scatter them.
6 Like someone who cuts off his feet or drinks to his ruin,
so is the one who uses a fool to pass on his message.
7 As lame legs are useless, dangling on the crippled,
so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like one who ties a stone in his slingshot,
so is one who honors a fool.