The ministry of Jeremiah covered many years, from the superficial reform that took place under Josiah through to the captivity of Jehoiachin. In Chapter 26, we are given an overview. Jeremiah and prophets such as Micah (26:18-19), Ahikam (26:24), and the martyred prophet, Uriah (26:26:24), prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. This judgment would be the result of their national failure to ‘listen,’ ‘obey,’ and ‘follow the Law of the Lord’. They failed to reform their ways and actions (26:4, 13).
Jeremiah is called to act out another drama. Early in the reign of Zedekiah, as Judah’s spiritual condition was worsening, Jeremiah is told by God to make a yoke and put it upon his neck. He was then to give a message to all the ambassadors and envoys from other nations in Jerusalem (those from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon), announcing that their nations would be given over to Babylon. They must submit to Babylon or suffer hard consequences. He warns them:
Jeremiah 27:8 8 And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,’ says the LORD, ‘with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand’.
They must reject the words of their own false prophets, whom he puts in the same category as occult workers, diviners, dream interpreters, mediums, and sorcerers. They prophesy only what they want to hear.
Jeremiah then gives the same message to Zedekiah, king of Judah. He tells him that the people can avoid destruction by sword, famine, and plague if they humble themselves and surrender to Babylon. He points out to the priests that their false prophets have no real interest in the things of God because they do not plead for the preservation of the sacred items of the temple (27:18). Jeremiah tells them that, indeed, the articles will be taken by the Babylonians, but after the captivity they would be returned, and the temple restored (27:22).
- Campbell Morgan offers an insight, pointing out the application to our lives:
“When God chastises for sin, the true action is that of yielding to His discipline, by accepting the stroke which He sends. When we do so we find that the suffering is a way of restoration. To rebel against such suffering, and to oppose our wills and our strength to it, is not to escape it, but to miss its restoring intention, and to involve ourselves in more terrible suffering. It was an understanding of this that made David, when he had sinned in numbering the people from a wrong motive, say, “Let us fall now into the hand of God: for His mercies are great. Let me not fall into the hand of man.”
God had providentially ordered the rise of Babylon as a dominating force among the nations. This would mark the beginning of the ‘times of the Gentiles.’ Israel would be under the domination of foreign powers for centuries to come.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 THESSALONIANS 3:1-18
First, “Pray for us!” Notice the prayer requests:
- That the message of the Lord would spread rapidly and be honored (2 Thess 3:1)
- That we be delivered from wicked and evil men (for not everyone has faith)
- That our hearts be directed into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance
Paul reminds them, “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
Secondly, “Keep away from every brother who is idle and those who do not live according to the teaching you received from us”. He warns them of laziness and rebellion. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (3:10). Paul was very aware that their spiritual progress was threatened by false teaching and bad companionship. They should not associate with those who are rebellious to spiritual leadership and the apostles’ doctrine. They should not shun them or regard them as an enemy, but rather, they should warn them.
Before he signs off, Paul notes that this letter was not a forgery (like the one mentioned in Chapter 2 that seemed to confuse them, 2 Thess 2:2). This was his genuine apostolic letter, bearing the distinguishing mark of a signature greeting written in his own hand.
Paul concludes with a benediction:
2 Thessalonians 3:16 16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. ….18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
A Prayer for Revival. This psalm most likely was written after the return from Babylon. The Psalmist is mindful of the mercies they have been receiving. God has kept his pledged word given through Jeremiah and Daniel and restored to them the fortunes of Jacob. He showed favor to the land. He forgave the iniquity of his people and covered all their sins.
This mercy prefigures what is ours through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. It is only through the cross that God’s desire for righteousness and peace can be satisfied. It is only at the cross that mercy and truth can compatibly meet together!
Psalm 85:3 3 You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
There is a prayer request for spiritual renewal. He senses the grieving of the Holy Spirit. Temporal fellowship is broken by their sin (Psalm 85:5-7), but the way back is clear: They are to hear the Word of the Lord and offer fresh repentance and obedience (v. 8-9).
The Lord has given His promise to the Psalmist and the returning remnant:
Psalm 85:9 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land.
Psalm 85:12-13 12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 25:16
Here is a strong warning against extreme self-indulgence and gluttony:
Proverbs 25:16 16 Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.
(from the Operation World Prayer App)
The fall of the Iron Curtain opened Eastern Europe and Central Asia to evangelism, church planting, rebirth of a Christian society, Bible translation work, and more. Churches more than doubled in number and in size, and the number of people who identify themselves as non-religious or atheist dropped by more than half from before 1991! Evangelicals tripled in number since 1991 and now have a recognized place within Russian religious culture. Their experience and maturity allow them to face with wisdom the agendas of both Western and Russian governments. But the days of fast growth (1990s) soon ended. Moscow and St Petersburg have only 10% of Russia’s population but the largest amount of mission activity, ministry, and resources.
PRAYER: Lord, we thank You for the redemptive work that Your Son accomplished on the cross on our behalf. It is there that mercy and truth can meet, and righteousness and peace can kiss each other. It is there that their demands on us are perfectly satisfied through our Mediator and Substitute, the Lord our righteousness. We can cast off the yoke of sin that heavily oppressed us in exchange for the yoke of Christ’s Indwelling Spirit, which enables us to bear life’s burdens in the power of His resurrection. We pray that You, the author and Lord of peace, shall give us peace in every way as we serve You with joy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.