October - Reading 12

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Oct 12, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    In my own humble opinion, we hit the pinnacle of Jeremiah in today's reading. After 29 chapters of almost nothing but visions and prophecies of doom and despair, Jeremiah moves into the vision of the restoration of Israel and, even more importantly to us as Christians, in verses 31:31-34 outlines the New Covenant. We had just read this same sequence of verses in last month's reading of Hebrews. It is from the interpretation of the Hebrew of the phrase "New Covenant" in fact that we derive the term "New Testament."

    As I always enjoy in these readings Jeremiah 31:6 ties directly to our reading in John 4:20. The prophets spoke of the time following the exile when the true worshippers would do so in their hearts, just as the New Covenant promised us.

    We round out the Book of James today with his final prayer for his audience. One note I would like to make on this particular passage is that many "faith healers" base their practice in part on verse 15. It should be noted that in verse 14 the elders called should anoint the sick with oil. This was a practice of medicine. The prayer was a part of the cure but as is fitting in the great Book of good deeds, a physical practice should not be forsaken.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture - 8/31/03

    James 5

    The Power of Prayer


    (James 5:13-18) For a final return to his theme on proper speech being a necessary element of good, Christian conduct, James once again turns to the subject of prayer. He has condemned grumbling and swearing, now he shows them the better way. It is notable that the suffering and rejoicing both call for a form of prayer. These two extremes bracket every situation in life and these imperatives show that prayer is a necessary element of the Christian life. The act is always appropriate for the believer. Aside from elation and distress, the believer is also encouraged to pray in sickness and in sin.

    The most curious and oft debated verse of this Passage is verse 14. The elders were the older and most respected members of the church. They served a specific role in the church and were appointed to office. This position was inherited into Christianity from Judaistic practice. The debate comes in on the use of oil during the prayer.

    Some contend that the oil was used as a religious rite and use for evidence that the anointing does not involve rubbing, pouring nor swallowing. Further, the verse reads that “the anointing is in the Name of the Lord.” On the other hand, the Greek “aleipho” is not used elsewhere in the New Testament as a ritualistic act. We also see in Isaiah 1:6 and Luke 10:34 that oil was a very common medicine in this day.

    Either way, this debate should not overshadow the fact that prayer is the more important of the commands given here. Even so, this verse informs us that lips that pray should be accompanied by hands that do. Also, significant to me, is that it is the sick person who calls for the elder rather than any assumption being made by the pastor.

    Further confusion has ensued over verse 15. Faith healers have used this verse to support the notion that all maladies come from sin. However, the “if” we find in this verse should erase this misunderstanding. It was (and is) a common belief that sin could cause illness as we see in 1Corinthians 11:27-31.

    As proof of the Power of Prayer, James hold up Elijah (Elias) as an example. While one may think of Elijah as some type of super hero, James assures us that he was merely a man, like any of us. If this one mere man could control the weather, perform miracles and even raise the dead through prayer, so, too, can we.

    Reclaiming the Wayward

    (James 5:19-20) Once again we see a challenge to the Doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints. In order for these verses to harmonize with this doctrine, we must assume that the wayward brother was one who was not genuinely Christian but fellowshipped among the believers. The “truth” spoken of in verse 19 is not right doctrine, but right conduct.

    Aside from the various interpretations of who this sinner is (believer or non-believer), there is also much debate over whose soul will be saved -–the sinner or the one who brings him back. We must also weigh the word “death” in context to the preceding Passage of prayer for the sick and the common usage for spiritual death. The multitude of conclusions based on these points make the many interpretations of this Passage too numerous to cover.

    James ends rather abruptly. Again this is a characteristic of the paranetic style. There is no benediction, doxology, or personal greeting. However, ending the Epistle with this final exhortation shows its importance. I would therefore urge you to explore the conclusions for yourself.

    [ October 04, 2004, 08:37 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  4. mark brandwein

    mark brandwein
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    Clint, I have enjoyed the reading today. God Bless you. I also want to note, about all the times I have corrected people in the world, for profanity, and using our Lords name in vain. I came from a family that the slightest ( bad gesters) you were punished. I know better. this is just a little input. God bless
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson

    Jeremiah 31

    Chapters 30-33 of the Book of Jeremiah comprise a collection of prophecies known commonly as the “Books of Consolation” or “Comfort.” The student will notice a change of character in these writings. One will note that God told Jeremiah in his call in 1:10 that he was appointed to “uproot, tear down, destroy and overthrow.” True to his name (which means the Lord hurls) and this call, Jeremiah has spent the majority of 29 chapters doing just that. To appreciate the Books of Consolation, we must now examine where Jeremiah stands as he writes, preaches and delivers these messages that comprise today’s lesson.

    Though dating the writings of the Book of Jeremiah is a tricky business, we can assume that the prophecies made early in his career are now coming to pass. The first wave of exiles had been taken into captivity in 597 BC when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon had successfully laid siege to Jerusalem. Jehoiachin, his family and his officials had been captured and taken away to liver in exile and the Temple and palace had been sacked. A decade later, the city as a whole, save a mere handful including Jeremiah, would be marched away under the hand of their oppressors east to Babylon. He, too, would march away to Egypt after the Babylonians established their occupying governors. Truly, the Lord had uprooted, torn down, destroyed and overthrown the rebellious nation of Israel and Jeremiah had seen it coming through the eyes of an oracle.

    And so now Jeremiah stands in the midst of wreckage. He has lost everything that he treasured save one – his relationship with God. We now look back to chapter 1 verse 10 and recall the second part of Jeremiah’s duty. He was to “plant and build.” Nowhere is this phase of his call more apparent than in the Books of Consolation. These writings are some of the most eloquent in the Bible and represent a theology revolutionary in Old Testament thought. We find in these Books the Gospel before the Gospel came to be.

    Jeremiah 31:1-40 The Optimism of Grace

    (1-6)


    Verse 1 is a variation on the covenant formula and stands as the header of the following Passages. “All the families of Israel” refers to the whole people of God. Verses 2-6 are written in poetry and are replete with images of Exodus. The prophecy in fact contains the concept of a new exodus in the homecoming of the exiled Israelites.

    The basis of Jeremiah’s glowing hope in the future is based on the Grace of God that goes out to those undeserving of it. Such Grace can only be based in His everlasting love. Because of His Grace, Israel, personified here as a virgin, will be rebuilt. Her cities will be renovated, farming revived and the people will worship with rejoicing in Zion.

    In verse 2, the “people who survived the sword (which were left of the sword – KJV)” are those who made it through the siege into captivity. The wilderness is a metaphor for a period of deprivation and discipline. The people are suffering for their sins in exile. God appears to them “from afar (from old)” in response to their seeking “rest.” And tells them (paraphrased), “With an everlasting love do I love you, therefore with grace I draw you.” (John 6:44)

    From this Passage we learn that God’s love underlies the trying experiences in our life. Even judgment is the instrument of His love. It is also noteworthy that the “thee” of verse 3 is singular. To be sure Jeremiah is addressing the whole people of Israel but once again we see the individual coming into sharp focus in this verse.

    (23-30)

    In the intervening verses between 6 and 23, the people in exile are urged to set their minds on the road that led them to captivity and to set up markers, perhaps both physical and mental, as this will be the road home. Now, on that day, some seventy years in their future, there would be a reversal. In this prophecy, viewed as Messianic by some, the same Lord Who had promised to pluck up and destroy would cause the members of the Covenant people to build and plant.

    But as verses 29-30 demonstrate, the renewal, which this reversal entails will be dependent upon individual responsibility. Each must assume responsibility for his own acts and must respond to God’s call for repentance and participation in his redemption. This is a new order of affairs for the Hebrew people – an order of individual ethical responsibility. These verses lead up to what one could consider the height of Old Testament prophecy – the New Covenant.

    Verse 29 is a popular saying that was being employed by the people at the time in an effort excuse themselves for their present predicament and pass the buck off on their forefathers and ultimately to God. Jeremiah uses this saying as a platform for the annunciation of a new truth. Ezekiel who prophesied among the captives and who was deeply influenced by Jeremiah used the same saying for a great sermon on the dignity, competency and responsibility of the individual before God (Ezekiel 18).

    (31-34)

    In this noble, profound and moving Passage we have the closest approach to New Testament faith in the entire Old Testament. The very word “testament” comes from the Latin for “covenant” marking this Passage as the inspiration for the naming of the two parts of our modern canonized Scriptures.

    This is the peak of Jeremiah’s teaching and is a direct revelation from God as is attested by the phrase, “says the Lord.” This oracle came to Jeremiah when he and the Jews were facing a serious dilemma. The old covenant had failed because the people had consistently and repeatedly broken it. It had been made with a nation that was now no longer a nation but an ethnic group scattered and in bondage. The covenant people had crashed against the rock of God’s Law. Now the question arose: How can a holy God maintain a relationship with a sinful people who, through collective guilt, have suffered divine judgment? The answer was in the concept of a new covenant, the nature of which would guarantee it against failure.

    The new covenant would occur in the future for the exiled Israelites. It would be when the very Son of God came to us in human form.

    The new covenant would be related to the old in several respects. First it would be grounded in the initiative of God. The Lord says, “I will make…I will put… I will write …I will forgive…” Like the old covenant, the new would have as its intent the dynamic relationship between God and His people. It will fulfill the purpose of the old: I will be their God and they will be my people. Like the old, the new covenant will be built around the law as the basis for God’s will for His people. Like the old, the new will be made with the house of Israel, that is to say, the whole people of God. It will transcend the national entity but not group solidarity. Though the individual will become the focus of the religious experience, it will not be the individual apart from the community.

    But if there was so much continuity between the old and the new, how would it be different? What would really make it “new?” First of all, the New Covenant would mark a new phase in salvation history. It would not be an external dictate but an inward direction. The law would no longer be written on stone tablets but on the inner heart of the individual. God would literally “put” His will into the man. Because of this, the need for external methods of communication would be circumvented. This does not mean that the teaching ministry would become unnecessary but rather this is Jeremiah’s way of speaking of the Holy Spirit making a new man. This new man would not only have illumination as to what God’s will is, but the power to respond in obedience as well. The new man under the new covenant will know God firsthand.

    The reason for this inner illumination is that the individual is brought into fellowship with God. One must recognize what Jeremiah means by “knowing” God. One can know the Law and not know God. Knowing God means refraining from wrongdoing and practicing justice, righteousness and love. Knowing God means responding to Him in obedience. Knowing God means having a dynamic, living relationship with Him. It does not come from formal creeds and ceremonies but through communication and contact. It is a recognition that He is an active participant in every aspect of one’s daily life. Under the New Covenant, this recognition would be possible “from the least of them to the greatest.”

    The question then arises: How can a sinner enter fellowship with God? The answer is that God “will forgive.” The only way in which one can enter a life-changing relationship with God is through the forgiveness of sin. Jeremiah had learned from the Israelites to whom he ministered that men’s hearts are stubborn and evil despite the earnest and repeated calls to repentance. Only God could do anything about man’s propensity towards sin.

    Jeremiah does not state how God will accomplish this miracle, only that He would. He then adds a remarkable feature. Not only will God forgive, but He will also “forget!” Sin is the only thing in the Bible that is featured as something God will forget.

    Six centuries later, God would fulfill the promise made to Jeremiah. The prophecy points to the cross and to the actualization coming in Jesus Christ. In Christ we have the forgiveness of sins, the fellowship with the father in love, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It is through Christ that we have the miraculous change within a man that allows him to obey.

    It is absolutely astounding that Jeremiah at the greatest depth of despair could utter a prophecy so important, so important, so true. Arthur Peake said that this Passage was the “supreme achievement of Israel’s religion and the author…the loftiest religious genius who adorned the lives of the prophets.”

    Hebrews 8

    (35-38)

    As a closing for the prediction, God sets a double seal on the new covenant and the new man He will make. The first part of the seal is set directly by the hand of God. It is set by His faithfulness as demonstrated by the fixed order of nature. This faithfulness is a guarantee of the permanence of the new Israel, the redeemed and restored people of Israel. As long as the fixed order of the universe stands, so too will the new covenant community.

    The second part of the seal is the promise of the New Jerusalem (38-40). This involves the action of man. Again we have the introductory phrase of “the day is coming.” The New Jerusalem is to be built “for the Lord.” It will be sacred and not uprooted or overthrown anymore.

    Many interpret this Passage as the rebuilding of the physical city and indeed such is plausible. However, history teaches us that the temporal Jerusalem has been torn down time and time again. Also the present Jerusalem was not built “for the Lord” but for secular purposes. We also read in Revelation 21:1-2 that this earthly city will be destroyed, going directly against the promise of verse 40. Therefore, there are higher and more eschatological implications here as well. Galatians 4:25-26
     
  6. lexinonomous

    lexinonomous
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    All scripture is beautiful. I enjoyed reading through these today. Thank you for taking the time to posts these daily.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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