Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday 19 June Jeremiah 37-39; Matthew 27:1-26 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 37-39; Matthew 27:1-26

Jeremiah is firm in proclaiming the inspired Word during the last two years before the fall of Jerusalem. In three private interviews with Zedekiah, he did not hesitate to announce the fearful fate awaiting the king, the city, and its inhabitants. Nor did scourging, jailing, and threat of death by the princes cower him into deviating from the truth. He was called to his first discussion with the king when Nebuchadnezzar lifted the siege of Jerusalem to engage an army under Pharaoh Hophra. Asked to pray that the Babylonians be forced to stay away permanently, Jeremiah announced their inevitable return to burn the city with fire. Jeremiah assures King Zedekiah and the city residents that the withdrawal of the Babylonians is only temporary. The Babylonians would certainly return and destroy the city, as God had ordained because of people’s sin. Sin brings terrible consequences. They are sometimes delayed, but they are inevitable. God never entirely abandons His people, but continues to call them to repentance with the promise of forgiveness and hope for the future. He continues to suffer for doing god’s will and speaking the truth. The world hates God and His Word and opposes those who proclaim its truth. However, God does not ignore the plight of His persecuted people, and He will not neglect you.

Jeremiah’s enemies secure permission from King Zedekiah to kill him for treason since he advised the city’s soldiers to desert and predicted their defeat at the hand of the Chaldeans. Rather than risk outright murder, they confine Jeremiah to a dry cistern with the expectation that he will die of thirst or starvation. God’s people often face death for their faithful proclamation of His Word. God rescues His people, even when they die, and gives them eternal life. Ebed-melech, an official of King Zedekiah’s administration, rescues Jeremiah with the king’s permission. Like Jeremiah, God’s people today should never give up hope but rather trust in the Lord, especially when things are at their worst. Also, God works through us to help one another in time of need, as Jesus helps us in our greatest need by rescuing us from sin and damnation. King Zedekiah arranges a private meeting with Jeremiah and learns that he can avoid capture and save the city by surrendering to the Babylonian army, yet Zedekiah fears his own advisers more. Go mercifully offers Zedekiah and his family their lives and will spare the city if only they will trust Him and leave matters in His hands. God’s people have always faced the difficult choice of trusting God and doing things His way or following their own wisdom and the world’s way. When faced with such dilemmas, pray that the Lord would grant you both wisdom and courage. Jesus, crucified and risen, is our wisdom. His courage in the face of death is the basis of our salvation.

After a siege of one and a half years, Zedekiah and his people experience the consequences of their idolatry and unbelief. Yet, as promised, God rescues a remnant of the people and will later return them to Judah. God’s Word of Law is kept, and His Word of Gospel is kept too. Nebuchadnezzar has Jeremiah released from custody and returned to his hometown. Before Jeremiah goes, he brings good news to Ebed-melech, who had rescued him from the dry cistern, that he will survive the fall of Jerusalem because he trusted in the Lord. You cannot avoid what you fear by disobeying God and trusting your own wisdom. Instead, trust that the Lord never forgets His people. Ultimately, He provides for you eternally through Jesus Christ.

In our Gospel reading for today, Peter’s denial is followed closely by Judas’s suicide. The two commit similar sins in betraying Christ, but things turn out differently for each. Both are sorry for their misdeeds-perhaps Judas is even sorrier in that he tries to undo the damage. But Judas ends his life in despair, while Peter ultimately trusts in Christ, who alone can save us from guilt and despair. Jesus silently listens to His accusers. His silence leads to His condemnation, but also to our forgiveness. When foes accuse you, curb your tongue. Loose your tongue in prayer to the One who takes away your sin. The crowd chooses to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. They prefer the sinful ways of Barabbas and seek to crucify their true Lord. Just as the Lord’s own ways disturbed and threatened the people of Jerusalem, His ways disrupt our self-security. The silent Lamb of God would lead us away from the ways of the world to walk in His ways. He was condemned to death, that we might go freely into His kingdom.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Jeremiah 40-42; Matthew 27:27-50


Conrad said...

I liked your comparison between Judas and Peter, and how they both betrayed Jesus but the outcomes were quite opposite. A good reminder that its not what we've done, but what Jesus can do for us!

TammyIsBlessed said...

I found it interesting how Zedekiah changed his mind back and forth about Jeremiah, sometimes he protected him, sometimes he fed him to the wolves. It seemed he was easily persuaded. How easy are we to listen to the advice of those around us by taking them at face value, instead of carefully discerning whether what they are saying is right and true?

I've always appreciated the contrast between Judas' and Peter's betrayals and, more importantly, their actions after the fact. Judas' repentance was revealed to be simply worldly - he may have felt overwhelming guilt and remorse, but he allowed that guilt to drive him away from Jesus and towards ultimate despair. Peter allowed his guilt and remorse to humble him, and to run to Jesus for His redemption. There are two ways to handle the guilt of sin - the way of death and the way of life. Let us always choose life!

Pamela said...

I like that you highlighted the contrast of Judas and Peter. Same betrayal. Two different very responses.