October - Reading 3

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Oct 3, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    I hope you're all enjoying this month's readings as much as I.

    In Jeremiah today the first thing that caught my attention was in the beginning of chapter 5 when the Lord tells Jeremiah to try to find just ONE honest, truth-seeking person, then He would spare the city of jerusalem from its inevitable downfall. This seeking out individuals to save the masses is not unique to Jeremiah. We see it displayed in Genesis 18:26-32 when Lot was unable to find ten righteous individuals in Sodom. We see it again Psalm 14:1-3, Isaiah 64:6-7, Hosea 4:1-2, and Micah 7:2. The irony in this passage, however, is that the city of Jerusalem had people who DID claim righteousness for themselves. That is the whole intent of this opening stanza in chapter 5. In verse 12 the people are so smug in their confidence of Divine protection that they refuse to believe the prophets' warnings.
    Are we immune to this type of thought? I say no. I believe that we, too, make our faces "harder than stone" and refuse to repent even though we have been warned of the impending disaster of losing our doctrine and taking the way of the Pharisees through the New Testament Scriptures. Would the Lord find even one righteous amongst us? I hope and pray that He would.

    The phrase "the Lamb of God" is unique to this chapter of John and occurs nowhere else in the Bible. Many have tried to interpret the exact meaning of the phrase. While it most likely refers to Christ's eventual sacrifice, some try to tie it to Genesis 22:8, Exodus 12:3, Isaiah 53:7, or Jeremiah 11:19.
    The Gospel of John also points bluntly at the symbolism we see in Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, and Luke 3:22 but John takes it a step further. The Spirit that descended upon Christ from above remained there. In verse 33 John the Baptist reveals that this Spirit will then be poured out on the believers. We see this fulfilled in Acts 2 at Petecost.

    James' instruction stand well by themselves in today's reading and require no clarification. If you're going to be a mature Christian, you've got to be kind to others. If one is not doing so, they are not following the instructions of our Lord.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture - 8/3/03

    James 1:19 – 2:13

    Last week we discussed the first five sets of the eight imperatives, or exhortations, contained in the first chapter of James. This week we will conclude the first chapter and move into the next two lengthier imperatives of chapter 2.

    For review, here are the first five sets of exhortations:
    1. Joy in Trials (1:2-4) – Trials are the way to perfection.
    2. Secret of prayer (1:5-8) – Faithful prayer is the way to wisdom.
    3. The Rich and the Poor (1:9-11) – As James is paranetic, these two classes of people represent wickedness and piety, a popular view at that time.
    4. Trial and Temptation (1:12-15) – God does not tempt.
    5. God and Good Gifts (1:16-18) – In contrast to temptation, God sends Good and Perfect Gifts and is unchanging in His blessings to those who are authentic.

    James is quite concerned with authenticity or genuineness in Christian character. James is a Book about Christian responsibility. It is the main focus of the Book and when reading the text, that is an important point to keep in mind, especially in next week’s lesson. Despite the criticism of a lack of continuity of thought by Protestant scholars of the past few centuries, these first five paragraphs and the following four logically follow each other. In verse 18, James speaks of the “word of truth” and follows up that thought beginning in verses 19-21.

    6. The Importance of Meekness (1:19-21) – In verse 19 we find three commands. The first is to be “quick to hear,” the second is “slow to speak,” and the third is “slow to anger.” While this advice is applicable to all of humanity, we know that James is addressing converted Christians as he uses the term “brethren.” Therefore, the term “save your souls” is not referring to conversion but rather to the final judgment. The effect of following these commands is that one will be able to receive with meekness the “implanted word of God.” For the modern believer, this would, of course, be the instructions found in the Scriptures. It could also relate to the instructions received in worship or from the influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In James’ time it would be the Old Testament Scriptures and the teaching of the Apostles. In this context, the meekness in which the word is received is self-control and discipline. Quick to hear and slow to speak require self discipline and slow to anger requires humility on the part of the believer. In verse 20, we see that the anger of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Though there is such a thing as righteous indignation, we know that wrath and anger are vices of the flesh as Paul taught us in Galatians. It is rarely constructive. James will return to this thought in chapter 3.

    7. Hearing and doing the Word (1:22-25) - In this passage and the next, James is addressing hypocrisy. It is easy to see how little things have changed in two millennia. Again, in paranetic style, James classifies people into two distinct categories: hearers and doers. While one may hear the word, it does not necessarily follow that the will put that instruction into practice. As a result, the hypocrite, while claiming salvation and a relationship with Christ, is displaying a non-converted behavior, giving evidence that the conversion is insincere. The person is not deceiving anyone except himself. If the conversion is sincere, however, and the believer continues in worldly ways, James likens him to a man who sees himself in a mirror but then forgets his own appearance after he leaves the reflection. The Scriptures, or Word of God if you prefer, is a spiritual mirror in which we see ourselves reflected. Just as we use a mirror to correct our appearance, groom ourselves, or observe blemishes, so too we use the Scriptures to correct our imperfections. James also in this passage refers to “the perfect law, the law of liberty.” This is an obvious effort to distinguish the Perfect law of the Gospel, as we know from Christ from the old Jewish Torah.

    8. Pure Religion (1:26-27) – James continues his thoughts on hearers and doers in these verses and is now concentrating on the hearers. These are the self-deceiving hypocrites who claim conversion but show no evidence of such. Again, the Letter is to real Christian believers, so we are not talking about false belief, but rather insincere belief. This is not one who wears a religious mask, but rather one who really thinks that he is religious yet shows no characteristics of a believer. This is an important concept to grasp as we move into chapter 2. While only God judges the heart, we evidence our faith in Christ through our outward actions. God, who already knows the heart, in this context, does not examine this evidence, it is examined by our fellow man. If one observes another who can not control their temper or their speech, the logical conclusion is that they need to reevaluate their standing with God. We perceive that person’s religion as vain. On the other hand, we see that if a man’s religion is pure and authentic, he will display acts of charity as evidence. Orphans and widows were some of the most down trodden of James’ time and the most in need of the assistance of the church. James will greatly amplify the concept of “bridling the tongue” in the third chapter of the Epistle. As Christ defined our neighbor as the one who has need of us, this leads directly into the next exhortation.

    [ October 02, 2004, 09:40 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  4. computerjunkie

    computerjunkie
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    Interesting "group" of books we're reading at the same time! The passage in Ecclesiastes describes all this stuff we do, only to die and leave it to someone else. Meaningless, chasing in the wind.

    Then Jeremiah comes along and, in my opinion, describes us as a nation today, in total sin and depravity, turning a blind eye to what God says about sin and then getting complacent in thinking God's not going to do anything.

    Then James comes along and says for us not to just listen to the word, but do what it says.

    Then John comes along and says, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" He finishes powerfully when he says, "I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

    Whew! I feel like I've been to a revival!!!
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 3/31/05

    Jeremiah 5

    As far as we are able to determine, chapters 2-6 represent the earliest preaching of Jeremiah. Though scholars debate the actual timing and chronology of these Passages, this lesson will reflect the accepted view that these various poems and sections of prose occurred during the reign of Josiah.

    Chapters 2-4

    Overall, the primary message in chapters 2-4 characterizes the sins of Israel and Judah. It should be noted here that there is some ambiguity regarding the use of the term “Israel” in this section. Sometimes it refers to the Northern Kingdom, at other times it refers to all of God’s Covenant people. The sin of the people is specified as unfaithfulness to God characterized in apostasy and idolatry, but these sins led to a change in attitude, a wrong attitude, of the members of the Hebrew nation.

    In the poetry of chapters 1-4, Jeremiah uses several similes to describe Israel’s relationship to God. She is compared to a bride, sons, a prostitute, an adulteress, an ox, an ass, and several other colorful metaphors. Chapters 1-4 also contain several different forms of literary style including the conventional lawsuit, the lament of the people, the lament of God, and even outright threats.

    The message of Jeremiah is clear. Sin brings retribution and disobedience brings punishment. Israel had served as the example for her sister, Judah, decades before but Judah would not heed the warning (Jeremiah 3:6-11). For Jeremiah, hope remained if the people would repent. Should this occur there still remained a chance that the oncoming tragedy would be averted. As Biblical history records, Judah did not repent and Jeremiah begins in chapter 4 to expound upon the concept of retribution in the form of a foe from the north coming upon Judah. The foe is never named and this is fitting, as the foe’s name is irrelevant. What Jeremiah is concerned with is the behavior and attitudes of his fellow countrymen, not what political changes were occurring in his world.

    For Jeremiah the man, the prophetic foreboding he witnessed caused him great trouble. One should never lose sight of the fact that Jeremiah loved his country and his countrymen (Jeremiah 4:19-22).

    When we enter chapter 5, we are beginning a unique chapter in the Book f Jeremiah. In it, Jeremiah sent, through prophetic revelation, on a task to find “a man.” It is at this point that the point of the need for judgment is impressed upon Jeremiah. At the conclusion of this task Jeremiah makes a sharp critique of the society in which he lived. Jeremiah witnessed the degradation that occurs when there is no dynamic covenant relationship with God.

    Jeremiah 5:1-9 Corruptness of Conduct

    Jeremiah is sent on a quest to find a man – a single, solitary man – among the inhabitants of Jerusalem who does justice and seeks truth. This scene likely reminds the reader of Abraham’s plea for Sodm in Genesis 18 where the city would be saved for the sake of ten righteous men. Like the account in Genesis, the search proves to be fruitless. The idea here is to find one who leans upon God and shows fidelity to the Sinaitic Covenant. Such fidelity and steadfastness would manifest itself in this man’s daily conduct. Sincere piety and integrity would mark this man.

    So Jeremiah begins his quest searching the city, observing conduct and attitudes. He finds nothing but corruption. He thinks that perhaps he is unsuccessful in his search because he is seeking among the poor (v.4). His reasoning is that perhaps, because of their position in society, they are ignorant to how they should act. Perhaps they simply do not know the way of the Lord . Therefore he also goes to the “great,” that is to say the leaders, the priest, the teachers, the elders. He still encounters nothing but disappointment. All of the people he encounters are guilty of perjury (v.2), apostasy (6e), idolatry (v. 7), rebellion (v. 3d, 5b), and adultery (7d, 8).

    These people have strayed so far from the way of the Lord that they are in peril of being pounced upon by a lion, a wolf, and a leopard. These swift and ferocious animals represent the Babylonians.

    Verses 1-9 represent the disillusionment of the prophet. They evoke from Jeremiah a frank exposure of the moral corruptness that has grown to overshadow the people of Jerusalem. The analysis concludes with two rhetorical questions from God in verse 9: Shall I not punish them and shall I not avenge myself? These questions announce the judgment. Corruption will end in retribution.

    Jeremiah 5: 10-19 Complacency

    Verse 10 is a threat followed by a reproach in 11-13 and a warning of judgment in verse 14. This expands into a poem, the sixth since chapter 4, concerning the foe from the north.

    God is speaking directly in verses 10-11. He commands the unnamed assailants to ravage his vineyard. The vineyard, Israel, is His, but the branches are not for they are bearing the wrong kind of fruit (Isaiah 5:1-2). Therefore, those branches are to be stripped away because the houses of Israel and Judah have been unfaithful to their covenant relationship. The manifestation of that unfaithfulness is found in their apathy. In their lack of integrity, the people have become indifferent.

    This apathy came about through a corruption in the view of election. Rather than recognizing the obligation they had to uphold a moral and ethical standard, they felt it was an unconditional relationship that guaranteed them national victory. They felt that election and destruction were mutually exclusive. When the true prophets like Jeremiah delivered their messages of doom the people would respond that they were just windbags with no sense of the Divine. What the people perceived as a wind from the prophets, however, would find that that wind would fan into flame a fire that would burn the people as if they were wood.

    The sin of complacency is a difficult one with which to deal. Jeremiah knows that it requires that they be shaken up and made to listen. He therefore launches into an extended prophecy beginning in verse 14 concerning the foe from the north. It is described as one that is enduring and old. They would speak a language that the Jews did not know. Jeremiah describes a siege and captivity by this foe. Since the people had insisted on serving foreign gods in their own land they would be forced to serve foreign masters in a strange land.

    Verse 18 adds, however, a note of hope. God would not make a full end to His vineyard for there would remain a remnant. In the midst of the retribution, the reader could almost miss this important Passage.

    Jeremiah 5:20-29 Callousness

    This Passage contains a rather lengthy reproach directed towards the house of Jacob, that is, Israel, declaring it in Judah. The primary characteristic of the sin described here is callousness. They have eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear. They have no sense of awe in the presence of God who created the sands as the bounds for the sea. They have no gratitude for God’s goodness in protecting them. They have no regards for His laws and, like fowlers filling their cages, they have filled their wallets with profits made off the defenseless of society. They have become defiant and proud and hardened. Therefore the penalty must be paid.

    Jeremiah 5:30-31 A Conspiracy of Evil in the Life of the Community

    The chapter concludes with a description of the deplorable state of affairs as Jeremiah found them in Jerusalem. There is an element of lament as well as accusation in these verses. The prophets spoken of here lie, either because they are of Baal or their words are the words of man rather than God. The priest rule by these lying prophets words, and the people love it just the way it is.

    This conspiracy of evil standing in the center of the society reached out throughout the whole community. Such a situation could have but one end – catastrophe. Only a radical change in lifestyle and behavior could avert the tragedy on the horizon for Judah. The chapter ends with the sobering question: What will you do when the end comes? Indeed, what can anyone do when Divine judgment is hurled upon them?

    Chapter 5 records for us God’s method of impressing upon His servant the moral necessity of judgment. He had the prophet go out among the people, both to observe and to preach. While it is imperative that the man of God spend time with God, he must also spend time with the people. The image of Jeremiah going about the city peering into faces in search of a man with integrity and piety suggests that the individual was coming more into focus in his thinking. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel we see a shift from the nation to the individual as the basic unit of religious experience.

    The conclusion is reached in the final verses that the corrupt individuals of chapter 5 made up a corrupt society. A corrupt society produced corrupt institutions and structures that perpetuated more corrupt individuals. By Jeremiah’s time, the cycle had become extremely vicious. Jeremiah presents to us in chapter 5 a catalogue of sins. The source of the trouble stemmed from the loss of loyalty to God. When that loyalty is lost, life falls into ruin and calamity is sure to follow. The only hope lies in the change of the human heart through the Grace of God.

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 6 lacks the cohesiveness of the preceding Passages and is likely a compilation of various writings also from the early preaching of Jeremiah. In it we find both reproach and threat. Verses 1-8 contain the seventh of the poems about the foe from the north and describe the siege to come. Verses 9-15 are in the form of a dialogue between God and Jeremiah and address the sinfulness of Jerusalem’s citizens. Verses 16-21 speak of sacrifice and ceremony being no substitute for surrender to God, a concept Jeremiah will expound in chapters 7-8. Verses 22-26 contain the eighth and final poem concerning the foe from the north and are in the form of a speech by God and the lament of the people. The chapter concludes with God telling Jeremiah that He has made him an assayer among the people of Judah. He has become one who measures their attitudes and actions.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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