Thursday, May 8, 2014

"God's promise to Israel and Judah: 'They will be My people, and I will be their God' …"

Day #132:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - May 9th

Scripture Reading:  Jeremiah 32 - 36 …

Many have tried, but no one has succeeded in stopping God from bringing to pass that which He has said will happen.  The nation of Israel exists today in the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob some 4,000 years ago, and there is more to come.  Even though most of the physical descendants of Jacob do not acknowledge the one true God and reject Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the prophet Zechariah predicts a time when God "will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and supplication.  They will look on Me (Jesus), the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him …  On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity"  (Zechariah 12:10, 13:1).  As Paul writes in Romans 11:  "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:  'The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from jacob.  And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins" (Romans 11:26-27).

The lesson from our reading today is that God's Word cannot be stopped by any man or by any nations.  All the nations exist by God's command and purpose and He uses the nations to accomplish His purpose.  Any ruler, any nation, that arrogantly proclaims their power and might and that rejects the testimony of God's Word places themselves squarely in the path of God's judgment and it will most certainly come.  Meanwhile, God offers His promises to those whom He Himself has chosen and draws them to be reconciled to Him through faith in the promises of God and the Deliverer … Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, who came once to bear sin and who will come again a second time to gather His people to Himself.

Chapter 32 finds Jeremiah locked in prison and yet God tells him to buy a field.  The people of Judah were about to be taken into captivity and the land would be taken by the Babylonians, so why waste your money buying a field that you would never own?  Because it was a symbol of God's promise that He would restore His people to their land.  It was a sign of God's unchanging promise based on Who He is:  the "Sovereign LORD" the Creator of the heavens and the earth!  Jeremiah rightly declares, "Nothing is too hard for YOU!" (32:17).  Do you and I have such faith?  Can you look at history and at the present course of events in the world around us and in your own life and testify that God will do what He says He will do?!

After Jeremiah prayed, God confirmed what he had prayed:  "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for ME?" (32:27).  After pronouncing certain judgment God says, "I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.  They will be My people and I will be their God" (32:37-38).  God goes on to say that He will make "an everlasting covenant with them; I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from Me" (32:39-40).  So God says and so it will happen.  "I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against Me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against Me.  Then THIS CITY will bring Me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth …" (33:8-9).

Though God restored some of the remnant of Judah to the land, the promises made to Israel and Judah lie still in the future.  "The days are coming when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah … In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety" (33:14,16).  To those in the church today, let alone in the world, who despise God's promises and declare them null and void, God repeats the words of Chapter 31:35-37 in Chapter 33:19-26.  Only if day and night stop will God not keep His promises to Israel and Judah.  How foolish to declare today that the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have nothing to do with God's plans for the end of this age!

Yet millions in the visible church have been led astray and are guilty of pride and arrogance as they speak of God's grace.  In a very real way those who teach such things are like King Jehoiakim.  As Jehudi read the scroll that Jeremiah had dictated to Baruch, the king cut the words off of the scroll and threw them into the fire until the entire scroll had been burned.  Many are doing the same thing today as they determine which "parts" of the Bible might be true or worthwhile for us today.  They may as well take a knife and cut out the pages or a marker and blacken the words out.

But notice what God does … He tells Jeremiah, "Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll" (36:28).  God is not discouraged or turned back by the efforts of those who oppose Him, whether in king's palaces or presidential mansions.  "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against His Anointed One (Messiah).  'Let us break their chains,' they say, 'and throw off their fetters.' The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.  Then He rebukes them in His wrath, saying, 'I have installed MY King on Zion, My holy hill.' I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:  He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.  You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.' Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in HIM!" (Psalm 2:1-12).

I share that entire Psalm because this is what Jeremiah is speaking of.  This is the Word of the LORD, our God!!  "At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11).  It will happen, just as God says it will happen in His Word, from Genesis 3:15 through Revelation 22:21.  Israel and Judah, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are alive prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, will see every word of the prophets fulfilled.

By God's grace, we live in "the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2), when through the Gospel of Jesus Christ God is calling those from every nation to place their faith in Jesus Christ and be saved from His coming wrath.  "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13).  "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Have you been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ?  Have you placed your faith in Him alone?  Are your sins covered by His blood?  God offers forgiveness and eternal life to those who are united to Jesus Christ and grafted in to the "root of David" (Romans 11:11-24).  The wrath of God is even now being revealed, but God is storing up His fierce wrath and judgment until the "Day of the Lord," when His righteous anger against sin will be revealed in its fullness.  It is those who have heard the Word of the Lord who are charged with declaring God's coming judgment and offering salvation to those who repent and believe.  May we be so doing when He comes!!

"Almighty, everlasting God, I come to You again with humble thanksgiving, for You are mighty to save!  In You, and You alone, there is hope for the future.  While the nations rage and even those who are called by Your Name turn their backs, by Your grace to me I draw near in faith, trusting in the blood of Jesus, inspired by Your Spirit to praise and worship YOU, my God.  Thank You for Your unchanging promises to Israel and Judah, for in Your faithfulness to them, I find comfort and strength. As You have said, so it will be.  In Jesus' Name,  Amen"

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