October - Reading 1

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Sep 30, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    This month we begin four new Books of the Bible simultaneously. As I have grown to be in the habit of posting a brief introduction and synopsis to each Book I will make this post seperately from our comments on the specific Scriptures.

    Ecclesiastes

    We are not entirely sure of the time nor author of the Book of Ecclesiastes though many passages in the text strongly point to Solomon as being its author even from the first chapter. However, there is also evidence in some of the text that the author was not a monarch and in fact he takes the title of "Teacher" in 1:1. See also 4:1-2, 5:8-9, 8:2-4, 10:20.

    Nonetheless, Ecclesiastes is a very poetic account of a man in his later years looking back over his life and pondering the many riddles that life has, the greatest of which is man himself. Ecclesiastes is a Book of Angst. The author recognizes the futility of man's limited understanding of the Nature of God and the meaning of life itself. Man struggles to master tasks and discover the great secrets of the universe but under evaluation the author views these pursuits as mere vanity and meaningless.
    The central theology of Ecclesiastes is that faith in God gives one the purpose that we strive to find. Without God all IS meaningless.

    Jeremiah

    We begin the second Book of the Major Prophets this month as well, Jeremiah. We are fortunate enough to have preserved for us a great deal of information about this prophet. Jeremiah's ministry began in 626 BC and continued past 586 BC. We are unsure of his demise but Jewish traditions holds that he was stoned to death in Egypt.
    Much of Jeremiah's prophecy is that of doom. Probably a timid man, he was assured by God that he would gain the fortitude to continue his ministry. His words were recorded by his personal secretary, Baruch. Jeremiah has been called by some the "Weeping Prophet."
    Jeremiah prophesized through 5 Judean monarchs: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. It was a time of major political instability in the Middle east and a time when Judah's fate was being sealed.
    Jeremiah, while hating and scorning the sins of his countrymen, loved the people themselves. He was a patriot and a compassionate minister. Jeremiah, along with Ezekial, is known as the "prophet of individual accountability." Like Isaiah, Jeremiah preached that a time would come for redemption after punishment. Though most of what we read in this Book will be of immediate concern to the Jewish people to whom he preached, we will also see Jeremiah's vision reach far beyond the horizon.
    We will be committing 21 days to this reading even though the Book itself is the longest in the Bible, that is to say, it contains more words than any other Book.

    John

    The author of this Gospel is the Disciple/Apostle John. The fact that his name does not occur in this writing is actually proof of this first person account. The John we will find mentioned in our first reading is John the Baptist, not John the Disciple. The Book is unquestionably the work of a first hand eyewitness to the ministry of Christ.
    The theology of John is more developed than the three synoptic Gospels. This leads scholars to two different theories on its origin: 1) John wrote this Gospel to supplement the writings of the other Gospels; or 2) This Gospel was written earlier and independantly of the other three.
    Either way, John makes his purpose quite clear in 20:31:
    But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

    James

    The next seven letters in the New Testament are referred to as the General Letters. James is the first of these. They were written to the churches in general, not to specific institutions. These Letters were at one time disputed as canoniacal quality, however, they develop our Christian philosophy into a more mature thought process and undoubtedly belong in our Bibles.

    We believe we know the exact identity of the author of James through the process of elimination. There are four New Testament characters who went by the name of James. The Apostle James, the son of Zebedee, died too early to be the author of this Letter. The Apostle James, the son of Alphaeus, and James the father of Judas (not the traitor) do not seem to have the stature in the church that this author does. Most likely, this James is Christ's brother, James the son of Joseph and Mary. James did not believe in nor understand his brother early in His ministry but later became convinced and became a pillar in the church.
    The theology of James does NOT contradict the Pauline Letters as some will assert. Rather, the message is that the Christian life is accompanied by a Christian lifestyle in which faith will exhibit good deeds.

    [ October 01, 2002, 04:57 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  3. Darla Pettit

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    Hi Clint,

    I've decided to start reading the Bible daily. I've been very sporadic in my reading up until now.

    I also signed up for Pilgrim's Progress. If I concentrate on my current reading and hold off on the Bible Reading Plan until January, will you be starting over so I can follow along.

    I just hate starting in the third quarter. Let me know what you think.

    Darla
     
  4. bb_baptist

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    That's great!

    Yes, the Bible reading plan will start over next year.
     
  5. Darla Pettit

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    Thank you!! I look forward to both.

    Darla
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    ... and we will certainly look forward to you reading along, Darla. I have said before and will say again, reading the Bible is one of the most empowering acts that a Christian can do.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    Our reading of Jeremiah begins appropriately with the call of Jeremiah. We see the timid nature of the prophet right from the beginning. When God spoke to so many of the great figures of the Old Testament, they immediately responded "Here I am." Isaiah responded to his call by saying, "Here I am. Send me." Jeremiah on the other hand responds with an excuse, similar to that of Moses, that he is somehow underqualified. Yet the Lord had set the stage by immediately proclaiming His Sovereignty in that he knew Jeremiah before his birth. The first chapter ends with the Lord reassuring this young timid man that he is on a mission for the Lord.
    The second chapter buids the analogy of a bride to her groom being like that of Israel to God. Israel had been unfaithful to God and was deserving of the fate she would suffer. The chapter ends with an image of the Israelites leaving with their "hands on their heads," an image of walking away in captivity.

    The beginnings of the Gospel of John should be familiar to most any Christian who has heard the Gospel. The author begins his exhortation in a very Genesis-like way, at the beginning. The message in the first few verses is that Christ is the very Word of God.
    Beginning at verse 6, the author begins speaking of John the Baptist and his proclamation of the Word becoming flesh. There is a line of thought that part of the purpose of this Gospel was to persuade the followers of John the Baptist to begin adherence to the ministry of Christ, This opening passage supports that theory and will be furthered with tomorrow's reading.

    James begins his gritty narrative with a great statement: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. This Letter was written to firm believers who had accepted the Christian philosophy and were now on their way to putting into practice the Christian lifestyle. James uses the term "brothers" 15 times in only five chapters. This Letter is not a "talk the talk" urging, this letter was to urge these bretheren to "walk the walk." Do not let the trials of life buffet your faith. We have been assured that all is for the Glory of God. There is a purpose to everything and your trials may be benifitting another in a way you do not even know, and your trials should serve to make you strong!

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  8. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    This past year I began teaching an adult Sunday School class using the Lifeway Explore the Bible curriculum. James is one of the Epistles we have covered in the series. As I typed out and saved my lessons, I will share my research with you here, if the Lord wills, for the next twelve days.

    James – Introduction and 1:1-11

    Date: With the possible exception of Galatians, James is the earliest of the New Testament Writings. That is not to say that James was written before the stories of the Gospels, but that pen hit paper before the time of those Writings.

    Some date the Letter in the early 60s while others place it before 50 AD. The support for this early dating is as follows:
    </font>
    • Its distinctively Jewish nature suggests a time when the church was still primarily Jewish. This “Jewish nature” is found in the naming Of God by His Jewish title, Kyrios Sabaoth (Lord Almighty) in the original manuscripts and that the recipients are entitled “the Twelve Tribes which are scattered abroad” in verse 1:1. These early manuscripts show a very polished Greek style, undoubtedly written by a learned man.</font>
    </font>
    • There is a very simple church order. The only officers we see listed are “elders” and “teachers.”</font>
    </font>
    • There is no reference to the circumcision controversy. The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 occurred at the end of Paul’s first Missionary Journey that ended in 48 AD. (Though, realistically, the second chapter may reflect a Pauline controversy.)</font>
    </font>
    • In 2:2, the meeting place of the church is described by the term “synagogue.”</font>
    Author: There are three or four men named “James” in the New Testament. Two were Apostles, James the son of Zebedee, the other James the son of Alpheus (the Lesser). James the Elder was martyred in 44 AD disqualifying him from the outset. There is also a James in Luke 6:16 who is the father of Judas (not Iscariot) or the brother of Judas. The translation is muddied, hence in your KJV the words appear italicized. The fourth was James the half-brother of Christ found in Matthew 13:55 among other places. Early Christian writers claim that this is the same as James the Lesser. There is more Catholic superstition in this than scholarly evidence. A fifth possibility is an unknown, early Christian. The most plausible of these possibilities is Christ’s half-brother. For the purpose of this lesson, we will assume that this presumption is correct. James is likely the oldest of Christ’s siblings as he heads the lists in Matthew 13:55. He did not believe in his Brother at first as we see in John 7:2-5 (Read Text).

    Later, however, he became an extremely prominent member of the church and among his accomplishments were:
    </font>
    • He was one of the select individuals to whom Christ appeared after the Resurrection (1Corinthians 15:7)</font>
    </font>
    • In Galatians 1:19 Paul visited him on his first post conversion sojourn.</font>
    </font>
    • In Galatians 2:9 Paul calls him a “pillar of the church.”</font>
    </font>
    • Paul also saw him again on his final visit to Jerusalem in Acts 21:18.</font>
    </font>
    • In Acts 12:17, Peter told his friends to let James know of his escape from prison.</font>
    </font>
    • James was the leader at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).</font>
    </font>
    • James was prominent enough that Jude identifies himself as “the brother of James.” (Further evidence of James the brother’s authorship)</font>
    </font>
    • James was martyred in 62 AD according to Josephus.</font>
    Further confusion on the research of the authorship comes from the fact that “James” is actually an Anglicized name from Latin for the Grecized Jakobus taken from the Hebrew for Jacob. Therefore, the patriarch’s name is preserved while four men in the New Testament acquired new names for the modern reader!

    Place: Again, we must make a presumption of authorship to place the location of the origin of the Document. Presuming that James, the half-brother of Jesus is author, the place of writing would likely be Jerusalem.

    Literary Style: The style of James is unlike any other writings in the New Testament. The form is called paranetic, or it will be referred to as a paranesis, and resembles the Old Testament style of Proverbs. Paranesis is ethical exhortations on a variety of subjects. We find over 50 imperatives in only 108 verses! Unlike the Pauline Letters, we do not find a continuous line of thought. Rather, the flow is disjointed and abstract.

    James throughout post-Apostolic Christian history: There is a certain prejudice that exists in the Protestant realm concerning James. Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517 as a challenge for debate with the doctrines of the Catholic Church.. It took two years before his challenge was answered and a less skillful debater named Johann Maier of Eck took the position of Justification by works. Despite Luther’s careful construction of Pauline argument of “faith alone,” Maier would simply pull out his trump card of James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” This frustration manifested itself in Luther’s introduction to James in the Geneva Bible in which he called James non-apostolic, Jewish, and unorganized. He also at this point gave James his rather well known denunciation of the Document as “a right strawy Epistle.” Luther wanted James, among a few other Epistles, removed from the canon. It should be noted that he also wanted Jude, Hebrews and Revelation out as well. Luckily, he was unsuccessful in this endeavor. James was in fact slow to be received into the Canon as well.

    Interestingly, this trump is still played in modern debate by the “works salvation” crowd, Catholics, Lutherans, Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventists, etc. The best rebuttal that I have found to this is that the “works” they endorse, baptism and communion, are never mentioned in the Letter.

    Other scholars followed Luther’s lead and began to shoot theological arrows at James: there is no mention of the necessity of Christ’s death as necessary for salvation; the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the Letter with the possible exception of 4:5 depending on one’s translation; James does not mention the miracles nor clearly state the Divinity of Christ. When we consider these criticisms in abstract, it is easy to view James as rather “strawy” but as we begin our studies, the purpose of James becomes quite clear and the necessity of its preservation becomes evident. We will be lobbing some of these arrows back at the critics as we persevere in our study. This Epistle is a challenge to the seasoned Christian to live a life that reflects good Christian character. James is concerned about genuine Christianity, not just an empty confession or intellectual faith.

    I believe that the most effective way to study the passage of today’s lesson, unlike our study of Galatians, is to read a passage and then address the issues presented. I will use the ESV for our study and at the end of the lecture read the text from the KJV. The first chapter of James is broken into an introduction and then eight paragraphs of exhortation, or encouragement.

    Greeting: (Read v 1:1) James has called himself a servant, more literally, a slave to God and Christ. By making this equation he has announced the Divinity of Christ from the outset. This follows the lead of many Old Testament figures who were also “servants of God,” for example, Moses in Malachi 4:4. Many scholars believe that the 12 tribes scattered abroad, or literally, in the Dispersion, refers to all Christians at that time. This is a hard one to call. We know that many converted Jews fled Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen.

    1. Joy in Trials: (Read vs. 1:2-4) As is characteristic of the paranesis style, the introduction is bridged to the text in verse 2. The Greek for “greeting” and “joy” sound very much alike. These three verses seem an odd way to begin a Letter, but James has called for the believers to count their trials (temptations in KJV) as joy. Again, in authentic Christian character, the believer wishes to reach perfection. This can only be accomplished by patience (perseverance) and perseverance can only be born of trials. “Trials” is likely a clearer interpretation of the term as James is likely referring to afflictions, troubles or difficulties. The favor of God is not measured in how readily God delivers us from trials, but rather how well the Christian bears up under them!

    2. Secret of prayer: (Read vs 1:5-8) This Passage may remind you of Solomon’s request of God for Wisdom. For the Greek culture, wisdom meant acquired knowledge from human endeavor in philosophy or ethics or science. In Judaism, Wisdom was believed to have been gained by the study of the Torah and related to religious and moral knowledge. However, James has introduced the concept that Wisdom is from God and in this context is directly related to prayer. As Paul implied in Galatians, this gift is brought to man by faith. James goes on to say that this must be an unwavering faith. The man who doubts is compared to waves on the sea and is said to be unstable.

    3. The Rich and the Poor: (Read vs 1:9-11) I vary from the Lifeway commentators here in my understanding of this Passage. Looking at James as paranetic reveals that this contrast has more depth than mere economics. James will speak again of the rich in 2:1-7; and 5:1-6 and when we look at them in this light, we see that the rich are, figuratively, the wicked oppressors while the poor are the pious believers. This was a very popular view in the first century. This also flew in the face of the Pharisees who rejected this view thinking that wealth was a sign of God’s favor. A study of Job may have done them some good! With this perspective, the Passage flows much better and makes a lot more sense.

    7/27/03

    [ October 01, 2003, 09:03 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  9. computerjunkie

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    Clint, I'm not sure this particular thread is designed for discussion, however I have a question. Please let me if this is not the place to ask!

    Referring specifically to James 1:5. What kind of wisdom does this imply we are to ask for? Do we ask for wisdom in a job search? In handling finances? In our day-to-day decision-making? Or does this imply asking for wisdom to know God's heart as Solomon did? (Ref. 2 Chr. 1:11) I have seen this verse quoted in all kinds of circumstances, but I'm not sure it applies to everything. What are your thoughts?

    CJ
     
  10. Clint Kritzer

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    Hi computerjunkie -

    First of all, discussion is VERY welcome in this forum.

    As to your query, my personal thought is that, yes, wisdom would apply to all facets of Christian life. James will expound further on wisdom in chapter 3:13-18. He will define "earthly wisom" vs. the "Wisdom from above." Earthly wisdom distances the believer from God whereas spiritual wisdom draws the believer closer. True wisdom involves fulfilling the demands of God.

    James will also expound further on prayer in 5:13-18. Notice in 5:13 James calls for the believer to pray whether suffering or rejoicing. These two extremes show the relevance and pertinence of prayer in any given situation. James was likely concerned that his audience was not recognizing the relevance of their religion in all situations of their lives. That is why he speaks of boasting about the future in 4:13-17.

    For some related verses concerning the two kinds of wisdom and the effectiveness of prayer, see 1Corinthians 1:18-31, 2:6-16; Matthew 7:7-8; Romans 1:22.

    [ October 02, 2003, 10:43 PM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  11. Clint Kritzer

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    Albert Barnes in his 1840 commentary, Notes on the New Testament, said this about the first part of verse 5:

    If you wish to research further, here is a great resource from Crosswalk.com:

    http://bible.crosswalk.com/OnlineStudyBible/bible.cgi?new=1&word=James+1%3A5&section=0&version=rsv&showtools=1&language=en

    [ October 02, 2003, 11:42 PM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  12. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lesson 3/6/05

    Jeremiah
    Introduction


    Though we are unsure of the exact translation of the name, “Jeremiah” most likely means “the Lord hurls.” So it is with this prophet whose forty year ministry hurled warning after warning to king, nation and individual alike. Because of his often doom-saying prophecies about Israel’s future pitted against his love of nation and countrymen, he has been coined the weeping prophet. In our study the term Jeremiah will denote the man and the Book that bear his name. For a fuller understanding, an introduction is certainly in order for both, albeit, extremely abbreviated.

    The Man

    Of all the prophets, we know more about Jeremiah than any other. This is in part due to his own frankness and self-denunciation as well as the faithfulness of his scribe, Baruch. Jeremiah began life as a country boy, a mere hour’s walk from the capitol city of Jerusalem. He was shy, sensitive, honest, somewhat impatient, impulsive, courageous, confident and often torn between his natural inclination and his duty as an oracle for the Divine.

    He was reared in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The small town was situated on a slope surrounded by olive groves, grain fields and fig trees. An arid rocky region, it sat in view of the hills of Ephraim to the north and the mountains of Jerusalem to the south. The town was off the beaten trail so it likely did not see many strangers come through, but it did hold the remarkable distinctive of being inhabited by the descendants of Abiather, who served as a priest under David and who took the wrong side of the struggle for the throne towards the end of David’s reign (1Kings 2:26). Hence, we surmise that Jeremiah was of a priestly lineage whose genealogy may have reached back to Eli and possibly even Moses.

    Jeremiah was probably born towards the end of the 55 year long reign of Manasseh, around 650 BC. As we learned in 2Kings 21, this was a terrible period for Judah, ethically, morally, and religiously speaking. During those terrible years as many of God’s chosen were being martyred, many families named their sons “Jeremiah.” One such family was of Hilkiah. In a time of national apostasy, names like Jeremiah (the Lord hurls) and Hilkiah (Yahweh is my portion) demonstrate that there was a token of loyalty to the Lord even in Judah’s darkest days. Growing up in a godly and priestly family, Jeremiah became well versed in the best of the Hebrew tradition.

    From these influences arose a young prophet, a poet with a sense of the Voice of God. His forty year ministry is marked with a foreshadowing of the way of the cross. He did not marry, he would be jailed, he would more often than not be ignored or cajoled or chastised as he spoke his vision of doom. Yet for all this, we have preserved before us one of the most colorful, courageous and Christlike characters of Old Testament history.

    The Book

    Should a novice Bible student merely pick up the Book of Jeremiah and begin reading, it would not be long before he found himself lost. There are a number of difficulties about the Book of Jeremiah, a few of which we will discuss in this introduction.

    First of all, one should think of the Book as a library, not a single work. It is a compilation of the entire four decades of prophecy and service rendered by the prophet. As such there is no chronological order to the writings and one will find a great deal of repetition of thought. In fact, there seems to be little order in the arrangement as the Book shifts in time and types of material. There are also sudden shifts in literary style leaving the novice thinking that the prophecy is a mere hodgepodge of material, undecipherable to the modern man. It is best at this point to remember the words of Martin Luther concerning Jeremiah when he said, “We must not trouble ourselves about the order, or allow the want of order to hinder us.” Recognition that Jeremiah is a collection of several collections is a necessary starting point for the serious student.

    It may be helpful to view the Book in three wide-sweeping sections with an appendix comprising the fourth. Chapters 1-25 have been called “the Words of Jeremiah” and contain the prophecies of the man primarily in poetry but partly in prose with a smattering of biographical writings. Chapters 26-45 have been called “The Biography of Jeremiah.” This label, however, is a bit misleading, as there is no definite chronological order to the chapters. They bear the mark of being compiled and edited by Baruch in an effort to preserve the memoirs of Jeremiah spanning the time from the Temple Sermon to his time (and traditional martyrdom) in Egypt during the exile. These chapters are also peppered with various prophecies and have one major insertion that we refer to as the Book of Consolation found in chapters 30-33. Chapters 46-51 are the books of foreign prophecies. These verses are a rich text full of virtually unknown names and places in the form of masterfully constructed poetry. This section is full of forbidding and difficult prophecies essential to our understanding of Jeremiah’s perspective. Chapter 52 concludes the Book with an appendix describing the destruction of Jerusalem and which is an excerpt with some modifications of 2Kings 24:18-25:30.

    A note should be added here about the literary styles we find in Jeremiah. Jeremiah the prophet was a master at the Hebrew language and incorporated a large range of styles within his work. His metaphors often reflect his rural upbringing in an agricultural town. He also was fond of using word play that is lost in the translation. His preaching style is reminiscent of Amos and his prophecies reflect those of Isaiah but Jeremiah has been credited as the most influential writer in the Bible. We see his style emulated in Ezekiel, the Psalms, the Gospels, the Letters of Paul and Revelation. Jeremiah focused a great deal on repentance and we find messages of disaster alongside messages of deliverance.

    Jeremiah was also fond of using what we call the “Judgment Speech.” This method of prophecy incorporated two major components: (1)the accusation, and (2) the announcement of judgement. The prophet used this pattern with great force.

    The Historical Setting

    Jeremiah’s ministry begins in about 627BC under the reign of the young reformist king, Josiah. The bulk of that preaching is contained in chapters 2-6. These chapters reveal a thoughtful, insightful, and courageous young preacher with a gift for poetry. In 622 came one of the pivotal moments for Judah and Jeremiah – the finding of the Book of the Law. This sparked the reformation of the Jewish religion at the time and the nation had the potential to conform back to the Will of God. Although there is no mention of Jeremiah in the account of Josiah’s reformation, it is easy to deduce that he had a voice in the preparation for it. The movement, however, lost its initial momentum and went tangent towards formalism and legalism. We watch Jeremiah’s sermons then turn towards a more cautious and critical tone beginning in chapter 8. He eventually breaks from the movement in chapters 7 and 26 with his famous “Temple Sermon. From 622-609 BC Jeremiah remains silent.

    When Josiah fell at the hands of Pharaoh Neco in 609, Jehoiakim ascended to the throne. At this juncture in history, Judah lost her independence as Jehohaz was deported to Egypt and the people began to proclaim Neco as the ruler of Judah (2Chronicles 35:20-25; 36:2-3). The Assyrians, who had already conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel nearly a century before, had begun to wane in power as the Babylonians arose. Neco’s desire was to maintain Assyria’s power so that they would remain a buffer state between the emerging Babylonian Empire and Egypt. Jeremiah emerged once again as an advesary to Jehoahaz’s submission to Egypt and was thrust on to the stage of history as a critic and counselor of kings.

    During this time the royal family conspired against Jeremiah and there were plots for his assassination even in his hometown. There arose a spiritual crisis in the man reflected in Passages we refer to as “Jeremiah’s Confessions” found in 11:18-12:6; 15:10-21; 17:9-10, 14-18; 18:18-23; and 20:7-18. These Passages are crucial to our understanding of Jeremiah’s ministry. They reveal the intimacy between the prophet and God.

    In 605BC the Babylonians won a crucial battle against the Egyptians in Carchemish and began their supremacy and the quick slope down for Judah. For more than two decades Jeremiah had preached the necessity of repentance or God’s Judgment would result in retribution in the form of a foe from the north. Now it was just a matter of time. His prophecies now entered a fervent, almost desperate, tone with hope that repentance could still avert the impending tragedy. For the first time recorded, Jeremiah dictated his prophecies to Baruch to be read in the Temple from which he had been barred, only to have Jehoiakim destroy the scroll with fire. Undaunted, Jeremiah dictated the prophecy a second time. We have before us the evidence that Jeremiah’s prophecies were preserved deliberately by the man himself.

    Our final glimpse of Jeremiah is his deportation to Egypt. He was given the choice to remain with the remnant in Judah but he was forced to follow his countrymen west, still preaching repentance and warnings against idolatry.

    Exposition

    Jeremiah 1

    The first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah beginning at verse 4 is commonly referred to as the “Call of Jeremiah.” In some ways it bears a resemblance to the call of some of the other Old Testament prophets, notably Isaiah, Ezekiel, and even Moses. We are blessed to have before us a preserved direct encounter of a man and God. For the modern Christian, the relevance is evident. God is an active and aware entity within both worldly and personal events. More than this obvious truth, however, is the revelation that not only is God at work in the world, but He also has work for us to do in it.

    In the Old Testament, God spoke to men through men and used their unique personalities and experiences to framework His Message. Today we begin a brief study of one such mission. Jeremiah arose at the end of the great Judean Kingdom and embarked on one of the most hopeless, frustrating, but edifying missions recorded in the Bible.

    Jeremiah 1:1-3 The Preface

    As much of the commentary on this Passage has been covered in the introduction, my comments will be brief.

    The reader will notice that the phrase “the Word of the Lord came to me…” or some equivalent variation appearing all through the Book of Jeremiah. It is necessary to a proper understanding of the text that one understands the Hebrew concept of “the Word.” The Hebrew dabar can be translated as “word” or “deed.” This is not because they are homonyms but because they are part of the same concept. Once the Word was spoken, it became an entity in and of itself. It could not be recalled. It became an actualization. So it is with the prophecies of Jeremiah.

    Jeremiah 1:4-10 Divine Call through Ecstatic Vision

    The word happens to Jeremiah in some undisclosed area. It was likely not the Sanctuary or some altar but somewhere in or near his rural home. God tells him that He knows him and has known him since he was in the womb. The verb “form” is used mostly in association with craftsmen telling us that Jeremiah was endowed with the characteristics necessary for his mission. He consecrated (KJV – sanctified) him meaning he set him aside for a holy purpose. This mission and purpose was to be a prophet, not only for Judah, but for all the nations of that turbulent and fluctuating time.

    In verse 6 Jeremiah responds with reluctance, reminiscent of Moses’ encounter with God. His response of “Ah! Lord God!” is a sharp exclamation of awe and anguish. He responds to God’s call with a lament that things are as they are. He does not feel qualified to carry out this task. His states that he is a youth. (The term “child” in some versions should not be pressed. Jeremiah was likely between twenty and twenty-five at the time of his calling.) In those days, young, unmarried men were expected to remain quiet in the assemblies and allow the heads of households to do the talking. Jeremiah’s reasoning, however, is not so much his chronological age or his social status, but that he just does not feel adequate to the challenge. This attitude is a prerequisite for an effective servant of God. Jeremiah’s awareness of his own insufficiency would make him completely reliant on God’s sufficiency.

    God responds to Jeremiah that his youth and social status are irrelevant to the task at hand. It is He Who would send him and He Who would command. Verses 7-10 then deal with two primary subjects: (1) the preparation of the prophet and (2) the nature and scope of his work. God will equip those whom He sends. Jeremiah was to accept that he was now under orders. He was under Divine authority. His only obligation was to obey.

    The phrasing in verse 8 that Jeremiah not be afraid of their {his audiences’} faces is quite interesting. He would be facing bored faces, mean faces, indifferent faces, antagonistic faces. He was to be afraid of none of these as God would be there to deliver him. God would be the source of Jeremiah’s security and strength.

    In verse 9 God puts forth His hand touches Jeremiah’s mouth. While this is similar to the event in Isaiah’s call in which the seraphim touches Isaiah’s mouth with a coal, this action does seem related to purification. It was an act designed to inspire and to empower. It is at this moment that Jeremiah is given the gift of prophecy.

    In God’s description of Jeremiah’s mission, He informs the prophet that he will serve a dual purpose. There are four negative verbs: pluck up (KJV – root out), pull or break down, destroy and throw down or overthrow. Jeremiah will be a prophet of doom. There are also two positive verbs: build and plant. The end result of Jeremiah’s prophecies will have a positive effect. He will destroy in order to rebuild. He will not just be a prophet of judgment but a prophet of salvation as well.

    Jeremiah 1:11-16 Divine Communication through Symbolic Perception

    Scholars are in disagreement as to when these two inaugural “visions” occurred. However, the position of the two events in relation to the call would seem to place them as adjacent events occurring at the same time or in the days immediately following.

    Though it is customary to refer to these events as visions, technically they are not. They are symbolic perceptions. The difference in the two is that a vision is an internal event and is seen only with the inner eye. A symbolic perception is when a material object is beheld with the natural eye and it becomes the medium for revelation.

    In the first symbolic perception, Jeremiah sees the rod of an almond tree. Perhaps he was out walking in the late winter contemplating the current situation in Judah and how it related to his calling. Corruption and apostasy in the past 6 decades under the leadership of Manasseh and Amon had run amok. Some of the great prophets had spoken their words of warning nearly a century before and it seemed that God was inactive or, perhaps even worse, apathetic. During his (theoretical) contemplation he noticed a branch on an almond tree.

    Then the Word of the lord came to Jeremiah. He asked Jeremiah what he saw and the prophet replied the branch of an almond tree. There is a wordplay here that should not be overlooked. The word used to designate the almond tree is literally interpreted the “wake-tree.” The almond comes into bloom before its foliage appears, just as our peach or cherry tree does. It came out of its winter dormancy earlier than other plants and was a sign of spring.

    God replies that the prophet has seen well for He is continually awake and will see that His word is done. This likely refers to the warnings issued by Isaiah and Micah and the messages that will be delivered by Jeremiah as well. The God who is awake in nature causing the almond tree to begin its cycle for the year was also awake in history ready to bring being to His judgment of Judah.

    Perhaps on the same walk, God once again asks the prophet what he sees. This time it is a boiling pot with its mouth tipped from the north. From this image God revealed that from the north will come an evil upon Judah. God would see to it that the tribes of the north,, not named here but later in history, would sweep down through the land as a retribution on Judah for her sins. This is the sentence for the breaking of the covenant particularly through idolatry. The real revelation here is that God was in control of the situation and would use these pagan invaders as His instrument of judgment.

    Jeremiah 1:18-19 Divine Charge through Admonition

    The chapter ends with God’s charge and His assurance to Jeremiah. “Girding up one’s loins” refers to pulling the heavy robes of the time up into one’s belt in order that they could discharge some physical activity. Jeremiah had a monumental task ahead of him and he must prepare himself for toil. That task would be to arise and speak. He was to speak everything that God told him to and leave nothing out. If he lost confidence and became a coward God would allow the ramifications of his cowardice to manifest.

    His message was to be one that would cut across the grain of the established religious order. It would raise the hackles of his monarchs. It would dismay and be rejected by his countrymen. God would however make Jeremiah a fortified city, an iron pillar, a bronze wall. He was to be the immovable object.

    Jeremiah’s call came at a time of impending national disaster. It came at a time that a strong spokesman for the Almighty was needed. It was a profound experience that came to a simple country boy of priestly lineage who held to the line of God when all those in power around him had become entrenched in the status quo. God not only gave Jeremiah the charge to go and prophecy, but He also assured him victory.

    [ October 01, 2005, 12:31 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  13. HOHNancy

    HOHNancy
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    That's good to know since I may go with your new Bible plan next year. [​IMG]
    I have a Bible Study book I bought at the local bookstore on the Book of John. It's very good and it made me think. [​IMG]
     
  14. Gwyneth

    Gwyneth
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    Thanks Clint,
    I`m still reading and really appreciate all the extra help you are giving with the commentaries, and other reading you post here.
    Gwyneth:wavey:
     
  15. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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