Week 40 – Getting better acquainted with our Heavenly Father thru His Word

The Sinai Covenant is the predecessor to the Better Covenant of our Lord Yahshua (Jesus) Messiah…

DAY ONE – 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 52

At Sinai, some eight hundred years before this captivity, Yahweh God met Moses on the mountain and issued to him the Ten Commandments. At that time the Lord offered a covenant to Israel, who had just been brought out of slavery in Egypt and were chosen by God to take on His identity as a nation and bear that identity before all the other nations. As ‘God’s people’ they would enjoy special blessings and privileges that would ‘witness’ to the other nations how great their God was. Two of today’s readings show how miserably Israel failed of this generous and merciful covenant.  2 Kings 24:3-4 (NLT) 3 These disasters happened to Judah because of the Lord’s command. He had decided to banish Judah from his presence because of the many sins of Manasseh, 4 who had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. The Lord would not forgive this.  2 Chronicles 36:15-16 (NLT) 15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. 16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done. Innocent blood and rebellious impertinence toward God–these two habitual behaviors of Israel’s kings, priests and people finally wore the Lord’s patience beyond the stretching point. Then came calamity. Though it came in stages and not all at once, there was still no repenting, no humbling of themselves, no returning from their wicked ways. The northern tribes went first and their land was empty. Then Judah was led away to Babylon, and the Lord’s land finally had rest. The enmity against God had lost its voice and would be under the discipline of slavery once again–this time to a Babylonian king.

Two statements–“The Lord would not forgive this..” and “nothing could be done..”–should punch our ALERT button! How much innocent blood is too much? And at what point is it decided that nothing can be done; that all that can be done has been done? We should at least be cognizant of present conditions in our world and culture. We should recognize danger signals and warnings that are piercing the atmosphere around us. And we should be asking better questions! Not “why, Lord?” but “what would you have us do now?” May I suggest that, among whatever other things you have to say to God today, you might preface it with this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 (NLT)

DAY TWO – Jeremiah 41-44

Don’t ask the Lord what His will is if you don’t plan to follow His counsel. After several severe and treacherous situations among those who were still in Judah following the captivity, the leaders sent Jeremiah to seek Yahweh God to know what to do. They were talking of going down to Egypt to escape famine and the sword. They sought to protect their lives from the unstable conditions prevailing in Judah. Ten days later Jeremiah brought the Lord’s message of hope and comfort to the people with the proviso that they remain in their land. God’s only prohibition was, “Don’t go down to Egypt!” Egypt was the last place the Lord wanted for His people. That was the land of their slavery and oppression following their ancestor Joseph’s death. They were to never again look to Egypt… for anything. However, Jeremiah rightly discerned that they had already determined that is exactly what they would do, no matter what answer he brought back to them. Their decision was disastrous. It sealed not only their  fate but that of the Egyptians as well. They couldn’t hide from God in Egypt.

Where can we go when no place seems safe anymore? What can we do when we think no one can be trusted, when everyone seeks his own interests?  Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.  For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.  He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT) Their father King David gave them the answer centuries before, out of the overflow of His close, personal relationship with Yahweh God. As a young shepherd boy, David found refuge from the wild beasts. As a teenager he found victory over Goliath. And as a young warrior he safely walked with God through countless moments of danger and terror, emerging with a solid faith and trusting heart. The world may not be a safe place. 1 John 2:17  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (NLT)  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; Do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

DAY THREE – Obadiah, Psalms 82, 83

Esau (Edom) was Jacob’s twin brother. Jacob was Israel, chosen by God to inherit the eternal covenant, as his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham had been chosen. So envy, jealousy and bad blood remained between the twins in the centuries that followed. Obadiah’s prophecy reveals that Edom stood gleefully by during Israel’s captivity, blocked the roads when Israelites tried to escape, and plundered Israel when nobody was looking. Today you won’t likely find a single descendant of Esau, but millions of Jews have survived impossible circumstances and unceasing attempts to wipe them out. Abraham’s descendants keep coming home to Israel, and Israel is the focal point of international relationships today. Who is discussed most in the United Nations? Israel. Who is most accused of bad behavior in that questionable body? Israel. And yet who in modern history has produced an effluence of artists, scientists and world leaders? Israel. The Israel of God is at the center of His dealings with the nations; and the nations have to answer to God for how they treat Israel! Remember that.

The shifting of world powers, the rise and fall of kingdoms, and the burgeoning economic crisis overtaking the whole world is symptomatic, perhaps even prophetic, of Yahweh God’s plan to save the world AND Israel, while severely judging the nations that wish to inordinately appropriate to themselves what belongs to the Lord Himself. By right of creation and by right of redemption, Almighty God is the owner and proprietor of this planet shared by humankind. And yet we often treat Him as if He is an interloper, interfering with the plans we have for our life. Do we wish God to go away and leave us alone? Do we wish Him to just give us what we need and help us when we are in trouble? Or do we wish Him to be God Almighty; to save us and redeem us; to help us find our way as we struggle with the necessities of modern living? He is Who He is; we cannot change that; but we can humble ourselves before Him, turn from our own stubbornness, and welcome Him into our lives. From the days of Adam and Eve every human in every generation has had to face the reality of God the Creator and decide whether he is to be worshipped or resisted; whether to believe Him or turn Him into a lie; whether to choose the life He offers or the death that is otherwise inevitable. Is He the Father God, the Lover, the Savior, our Friend? May you find Him to be all that and more.

DAY FOUR – Jeremiah 45-48

This is a rather long book of the Bible and filled with much denouncement against Judah’s people and the nations. Considering that we have covered twenty-five or so years of real time in Judah through Jeremiah’s preaching, I find myself a bit worn out. There hasn’t been much good news in these messages. It makes me stop and think: what if we really were at war… on this continent and in our cities? How quickly would calamity wear us out? What would we do? This brief chapter in our reading reveals how Baruch held up–or not–as Nehemiah’s secretary and recorder.  The prophet Jeremiah gave a message to Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, after Baruch had written down everything Jeremiah had dictated to him. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’ “Baruch, this is what the Lord says: ‘I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!'”  Jeremiah 45 (NLT)  Baruch loved God. As Jeremiah’s assistant he was frequently involved with the weeping prophet and could only write what he was told. It had to be very difficult. So God gave him a personal message of hope in the midst of disaster. God loved Baruch and remembered him.

Our Lord is a personal God. He loves you and me, individually. He takes note of us and our situations. If we seek Him out and find Him; if we give Him the worship He deserves–with praise and thanksgiving, He really does work good in our behalf. He so cares about us. Don’t ever think you are going unnoticed by Yahweh God. Talk to Him; explain yourself. Be honest. Let Him know how you feel. But DON’T ACCUSE HIM OF LETTING YOU DOWN. He cannot do that. You may let Him down, but He will love you still. Humankind is highly capable of perpetrating sin and transgression against each other. But the Lord wants to save us all. Can you trust Him for that?

DAY FIVE – Jeremiah 49-50

We have already read nearly two-thirds of the Bible, mostly history and prophecy. We have met the ancients such as Adam and Noah, Abraham and his descendants–Joseph, Moses, Joshua; and a host of judges, kings and priests. But there is only ONE Creator, Supreme and Sovereign God, who called Himself Yahweh, the name variously rendered as Adonai (LORD). He has taken credit for the contents of the Bible books we have read, claiming to have spoken to the various authors in what we refer to as ‘divine inspiration,’ or ‘God-breathed.’ We have witnessed His activity and influence among all the nations, but mostly we are discovering His true CHARACTER and learning to know and trust Him with ALL of our life and circumstances. We are learning the high value of thanksgiving and praise as components of a worshipful life, as well as His ongoing plans to save the world from evil desolation and destruction. Those who reject God and fight against Him are LOST and devastated. And always history responds to the Divine Initiative in spite of humankind’s efforts to create and rule their own destiny. So by now it is reasonable to say that God IS in control; and it is highly reasonable to decide that I want His control over my life. For that reason I choose a life of humble repentance, prayerful trusting and seeking after the Lord, and willingness to discover His guidance in everything.

The STANDOUT in biblical history is the nation of ISRAEL, the nation founded by Yahweh God Himself when Moses brought them out of Egypt to Sinai. From then until now we recognize them as the pivot point or fulcrum that God uses to measure and judge all the nations. Israel has been blessed and judged, but Israel has not been forsaken or left without a future. God has led them, plead with them, forgiven them and put up with them. At times we are tempted to ask why He continued to do so? Let’s remember then, that Isaac, the miracle son of Abraham and Sarah, was the seed sown into that race of people known as Israel, from whom the anticipated Messiah would come to bless and refresh the nations with eternal salvation. This explains why the Lord saves us, puts up with us and uses us to go forward with His plans on earth: from Adam until now He has relentlessly pursued the human race to find those who will welcome His covenant and surrender to the blessed future He is planning. If you are still reading His Word–the Bible–then you are likely among the Covenant People who are waiting for our eternal salvation from heaven, believing that God’s Word is true, faithful and trustworthy. So let’s keep moving!

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