Jeremiah 6:10, 1 John 2:16

The Pride of Life

My Mom used to say, “talking to you is like talking to a wall.” The truth is that about sums it up for me for most of my life. I like to think that changed when I became a Christian but 02 prideI don’t think Bible College and Seminary helped much. There’s a saying in the evangelical community about those who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. It goes like this: “You can always tell a Dallas man, but you can’t tell him very much.” It doesn’t take much pride to close our eyes and ears to the truth that surrounds us every day. Jeremiah is going to tell us in chapter 9 that “the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. Who can know it?” Yep, it’s easy to deceive myself about myself and close my eyes and ears to the truth. My Mom said “there’s no use in talking to you” with great frustration and weariness in her voice.

You can sense the same frustration in the Prophet himself in Jeremiah 6:10. He says, “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.” Yep, to Jeremiah talking to the people of Jerusalem was like talking to a wall. The translator’s handbook says, “In fact, the people’s stubborn refusal to listen has led to the point where they cannot listen; that is, they are now incapable of hearing. Their ears are closed, they cannot listen is translated by tev as ‘They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message.’”[1]

There’s a point that can be reached in every and any relationship where the parties are totally polarized and no amount of pleading, bargaining, compromising will break through the hardened attitudes of people. It’s usually pride.  Yep, pride is the greatest of all sins. We find its source in Lucifer himself. It’s true in politics. It’s true on the job. It’s true in the church, and it’s true in the family. I remember Roger Miller’s song from the 60’s, “Husbands and Wives.” One verse says, “Two broken hearts lonely looking houses, where nobody lives. Two people each having so much pride inside neither side forgives. The angry words spoken in haste, such a waste of two lives. It’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline of the number of husbands and wives.” It’s the chief cause in the decline of any and every relationship; such a waste.

tev Today’s English Version

[1] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 188.

Jeremiah 6:9, Romans 1:17

Getting Right With God

Jeremiah 6:9 Is a very complicated Hebrew construction and has met with two different translations as handled by the many different English Versions.  The verse says, “Thus says the 30 mr rightLORD of hosts:  They shall glean thoroughly as a vine the remnant of Israel; like a grape gatherer pass your hand again over its branches.” Many translations render the “gleaning” as a taking away to judgment. As I perused a number of various translations it seems most of them follow this line of thinking. The Handbook for translators makes this comment, “Translators who interpret the gleaning to refer to destruction rather than rescue could have something similar to cev: ‘I will tell your enemies to leave your nation bare like a vine stripped of grapes.’”[1]

I don’t think that the gleaning is a taking away to judgment but a taking out for rescue or salvation. Isn’t that what “gleaning” actually is? You look once again for the good fruit in order to save it for yourself?  When you glean something it’s usually something you want. The Handbook observes that many translations assume this is true. Today’s English Version, for example, says, “…you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time.” The Handbook suggests this rendering is possible: “They will examine Israel carefully to rescue what remains, just as a grape harvester gleans the vines to find the fruit that remains.”[2] Similar language is used by God regarding the days of Noah. God “gleaned” Noah and his sons from the corrupted crops who met God’s judgment, but Noah and his family were “gleaned” to safety.  Lot and his family were “gleaned” from Sodom and Gomorrah before judgment came.

This gleaning is often used by premillennials to illustrate the Rapture of the Church.  Jeremiah as he said earlier in the book was searching (gleaning) the fields of Jerusalem for the righteous remnant but he found none. We seem to think that those gleaned before God’s judgment, Enoch, Lot, Noah, Rahab and others were so chosen because they were “righteous” in some way. But the truth is they were taken out because of their “faith” not because of their goodness.  The book of Hebrews makes it clear that all these men and women of the past were “gleaned” for God’s salvation because of faith, not because of works.  There is “none righteous, no not one.” The only righteousness available to you and I today is that which comes by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 1:17 says that in Christ or, “…in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” Through faith in Christ, you can call me “Mr. Right.”

cev Contemporary English Version

[1] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 187.

[2] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 187.

Jeremiah 6:8, Isaiah 53:6-8

It Doesn’t Sound Like Good News!

God speaks to Jerusalem through Jeremiah and says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” But it’s difficult to see God’s love in what appears to be threats of abandonment that come 28 amazing gracefrom him to His people. Jeremiah 6:8 is one of those. It reads, “Be warned, O Jerusalem, lest I turn from you in disgust, lest I make you a desolation, an uninhabited land.” The Handbook for Translators helps us understand this passage better. It explains the first phrase “be warned” by saying, “The verb itself has the primary meaning of ‘take advice’ or ‘listen to reason.’ reb (Revised English Bible” translates ‘Learn your lesson,’ and njb  (New Jerusalem Bible) ‘Reform.’”[1] Every loving parent has probably talked to his or her children with similar words. We love them so much we don’t want them to make choices that would ruin their lives so we exhort, plead, and even warn them of the laws of sowing and reaping.

The Handbook says that the second phrase, “lest I turn from you in disgust,” might better be translated as “Lest I be alienated from you.” It suggests that some other translations might be more helpful: “…or else I will abandon you,” As today’s English Version has it. Or as the German Common Language Version has it, “or else I will turn my back on you.” The Handbook concludes its comments on this phrase by saying, “The construction is literally ‘or else my soul will be turned away from you.’”[2] Finally, the last phrase is “lest I make you a desolation.” The handbook suggests, “more simply, ‘or else I will make you something really shocking.’”[3]

We’ve all ignored the exhortations of our parents in some ways. We’ve all rejected the appeals to make right choices, yes “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all deserve to reap what we have sown. But “God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” It was Jesus whose soul was abandoned by God while dying on the cross for our sins. It was Jesus whose appearance on the cross was shocking and is shocking to the world. But it fulfilled what another Prophet predicted, “But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.         All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the Lord made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved.” [4] This is essentially the Good News!

 

[1] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 185.

[2] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 185.

[3] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 185.

[4] American Bible Society, The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation, 2nd ed. (New York: American Bible Society, 1992), Is 53:5–6.

Jeremiah 6:7, John 13:34-35

A New Commandment

As Ryken observes in his commentary on Jeremiah, “Jerusalem is Sin City. There is always a fresh supply of evil welling up like poison within her and overflowing into her streets. Her 26 love one anotherstreets are noisy with violence. Sin covers the city like an open sore.”[1] He takes that thought from Jeremiah 6:7 where God, speaking through the prophet, declares, “As a well keeps its water fresh, so she keeps fresh her evil; violence and destruction are heard within her; sickness and wounds are ever before me.”

According to Wikipedia, New York, New Orleans, Chicago and Miami have all been known as “Sin City” at one time or another in the past. But most popularly referred to as “Sin City” is Las Vegas, Nevada. The article begins by saying, “Examples of vices include sex-related services (prostitution, strip clubs, sex shops, etc.), gambling (casinos, betting shops, etc.), or drug use (alcohol, marijuana, etc. consumption), and even excessive organized crime and gang activity.” If you look at Jeremiah’s description, however, you see something a little different. In this description you see “violence, destruction, sickness and wounds.” Violence, destruction and wounds all seem to relate to the injuries of people on people. Sickness doesn’t fit that model. But Martin Luther translates the phrase “sickness and wounds” as “murder and blows.” Other translations agree with Luther’s rendering which makes the passage more consistent.  God’s judgment in Noah’s day was also the result of man’s ill treatment of man. According to Genesis 6:11 (English Standard Version) what God saw that moved him to bring judgment was “the earth was filled with violence…”

Ryken’s focus on “violence” being the key to understanding God’s judgment seems to be accurate and it’s this behavior that brought God’s judgment on Jerusalem and His chosen people. Jesus clarified all this for us when He talked about what the most important thing in life is. In contrast to the world’s tendency to use others for their own benefit and to take instead of give, Jesus taught us in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

[1] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 96–97.

Jeremiah 6:6

The Need for Punishment

God’s choice possession, Jerusalem, represents His people who have turned their back on God’s loving kindnesses and have become like all other nations seeking only wealth, 04 punishmentpleasures, power and possessions of the world. They’ve ignored their prime directive; to love God and Others. Instead they take advantage of each other and deceive and cheat each other to get ahead. They take whatever they want and won’t compromise or share. In other words, they have never learned to get along with others. Thus, the God of all the world’s armies calls for punishment on His own people. He calls the Babylonians to bring His judgment on His own people in Jeremiah 6:6. We read, “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Cut down her trees; cast up a siege mound against Jerusalem. This is the city that must be punished; there is nothing but oppression within her.”

Is it any surprise that God would punish His children for wanton rebellion and disobedience to His prime directive? When Cain killed his brother, God punished. When the whole world had turned to “violence” God sent the flood to end the hatred, murder, and oppression of people against people. Here it is remarkable that God steps in to punish His own people because, as the verse says, “there is nothing but oppression in her.” According to the Handbook for Translators, “There is nothing but oppression within her can be rendered as ‘throughout the city people are oppressing others or ‘everyone in the city is acting with brutality.’ God wants His children to get along together and sometimes it’s necessary to spank them. But isn’t spanking just another form of violence?

“The way to stop violence in America is to stop spanking children,” argued psychologist John Valusek. In a 1977 speech to the Utah Association for Mental Health, Valusek declared that parental spanking promotes the thesis that violence against others is acceptable. “Spanking is the first half-inch on the yardstick of violence,” said Valusek. “It is followed by hitting, and ultimately by rape, murder and assassination. The modeling behavior that occurs at home sets the stage: I will resort to violence when I don’t know what else to do.” His logic is airtight, isn’t it? Why, just think of it. Feeding a child is the first half-inch on the yardstick of gluttony? Hugging a child is the first half-inch on the yardstick of immorality? Unfortunately, Mr. Valusek did not realize that there is a qualitative difference between discipline and violence, just as there is between eating and gluttony, hugging and immorality, and all other acceptable human behaviors and their exaggerated extremes. To not see the difference is to surrender a part of our humanity to the machines—and for Christians it means being disobedient to God’s will for parents.

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