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January 8- Read 2 Chronicles 34
In this chapter, the people of Judah find the book of the law and are fearful about God’s judgment, because their fathers hadn’t been keeping that law. In verse 22, they go to Huldah the prophetess, asking her what God has to say to them. Huldah tells them that judgment will indeed come upon the wicked people of Judah for their disobedience, but that it will not happen during Josiah’s reign because he humbled himself before God.
We read of many prophets in the Bible but not prophetesses, so I thought it interesting to see where else we read about one of these special, godly women. In Exodus 15:20 we read that Miriam the prophetess led the women of Israel to dance in praise to God. Deborah was not only the fourth judge of Israel, but also a prophetess, as we read in Judges 4:4. Although we aren’t told much about her, Isaiah 8:3 tells us that Isaiah’s wife was a prophetess. Finally, Luke 2:36 tells us about Anna, the only prophetess we read about in the New Testament. In closing, why do you think God sometimes used women to prophecy to his people?
Sing or pray Psalter #163.
January 9- Read 2 Chronicles 35
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s striking to see how often the words of Proverbs 16:18 ring true throughout the Bible: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” In 2 Chronicles 35, Josiah led Judah in restoring the Passover. In fact, verse 18 says, “And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
Josiah was on the mountaintop of faith, but immediately after we read of his downfall. Pharaoh Necho was on his way to fight the Assyrians. He told Josiah that God had told him to do this, and that he had no interest in fighting Judah, but Josiah insisted on attacking. His pride got the best of him, and he didn’t bother consulting God. As a result, Josiah was killed in battle. We must be on constant guard against pride, for that sin can destroy us in a moment.
Sing or pray Psalter #161.
January 10- Read Zephaniah 1
Zephaniah 1:18 says of the wicked, “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.” Throughout scripture, we see instances of this “speedy riddance.” In 1 Kings 20, the Syrian king Benhadad laid siege to the city of Samaria. He was so confident of victory that he continued partying with his generals even when Israel came out to fight. The result was that God delivered the Syrian army into Israel’s hands, and they had a great victory. Another example that comes to mind is when Nebuchadnezzar became like a beast in Daniel 4:33. He had begun to think of himself as greater than God, and God emphatically put him in his place. Then we have the story of Belshazzar bringing out the precious cups of the temple in Daniel 5. No sooner had he mocked God and his people than the writing on the wall appeared. Can you think of other instances where God brought this speedy judgment on his enemies?
Sing or pray Psalter #156.
January 11- Read Zephaniah 2
The last verse of this chapter reads, “This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.” This reminded me of a documentary about the deserted town of Pripyat, where workers at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl lived before the catastrophic disaster that spread deadly radiation all over the area. Despite these dangerous radiation levels, wildlife is thriving in the abandoned metropolis.
What do you think God is teaching us when men are destroyed and their habitations become a place for beasts to live? For one, I think we see how man’s pride leads him to his own destruction. Also, when nature reclaims an area, it can remind us that God is the creator and the one in control of history. Maybe things like this even point to the destruction at the end of the world, and God’s replacement of this creation with the new heavens and earth. What do you think?
Sing or pray Psalter #200.
January 12- Read Zephaniah 3
Our Reformation Day lecture this year was titled “The Coming Antichrist Apocalypse.” Our speaker talked about how the antichrist will come and lead all people to eradicate the church and worship him. It will seem as if he’s unstoppable, but then God will return on the clouds of glory. God will command the antichrist and his wicked followers to stand before him, and there won’t be any resistance. It will be no contest. The antichristian kingdom will be cast into hell for eternity, and the victory over sin will be complete.
Zephaniah 3:8 talks about this final destruction. The verse reads, “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” The nations will convince themselves that they are God, but when God declares the time for judgment has come there can be no disobeying. He is in complete control, and they are nothing.
Sing or pray Psalter #182.
January 13- Read Jeremiah 1
We recently heard a presentation by one of our ministers who visited South Korea on a mission trip. What I learned there was astounding. Did you know that 30% of South Korea is Presbyterian? There are more Presbyterians there than in the rest of the world combined! The two specific denominations our delegation visited were larger than all the reformed churches in the US combined! What an amazing and humbling thing it is to learn that God’s Word has been spread so extensively throughout the nations that we can find much larger Christian denominations in the formerly pagan Far East!
I thought about this as I read that Jeremiah was ordained to be “a prophet unto the nations,” in verse 5. Already in the Old Testament God began sending his word out to the nations surrounding Israel. Although Jeremiah prophesied from Judah and his words were meant primarily for the people there, yet he also had words for the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Moabites. May it cause us to praise our heavenly Father as we see the extent to which the nations have received this word in the 21st Century.
Sing or pray Psalter #238.
January 14- Read Jeremiah 2
According to my study Bible, with this chapter ends Jeremiah’s introduction and begins the declaration of God’s judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although much of the book’s tone is very negative, that doesn’t mean that Jeremiah was a pessimist. He was, however, a realist, and Judah’s real situation was that they were ripe for judgment. Punishment would come soon, and Jeremiah was sent by God to warn them. As we will read in later chapters, the false prophets made lying claims of peace, but Jeremiah spoke the truth. Throughout the book, Jeremiah’s faithfulness stands in stark contrast to Judah’s wickedness. He bravely preached his unpopular message, even in the face of persecution. Like Paul, Jeremiah was rejected by his own people and was greatly grieved by the unrepentance he was met with. Unlike Paul, however, Jeremiah had no faithful friends who supported him in his work. In a recent lecture, we were reminded that we must be prepared to give up everything for the cause of the gospel. Jeremiah was prepared to make that sacrifice. Are you? Am I?
Sing or pray Psalter #234.
January 15- Read Jeremiah 3
Jeremiah 3:1 reads, “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.” Calvin explains that Jeremiah is rebuking the Jews for divorcing their wives for small reasons or for no reason at all. In contrast, God seeks to be reconciled with his people who have gone a whoring after other gods, like a husband who receives his unchaste wife again with a full pardon.
Calvin goes on to say, “God shews that he would be reconciled to the Jews, provided they proceeded not obstinately in their sinful courses.” Of course, we know that God doesn’t depend on us to repent. However, Calvin seems to say that he does here. If Calvin were here today, how do you think he’d explain that statement? Do you think there’s a proper way to explain it?
Sing or pray Psalter #217.
January 16- Read Jeremiah 4
A true friend is loyal and always looks out for your well-being, but a false friend will turn against you in a moment. Jeremiah 4:30 ends, “thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.” Calvin says the lovers specifically mentioned here are Egypt and Assyria. When Assyria threatened them the Jews looked for help from Egypt, and when Egypt threatened they looked for help from Assyria. However, both wicked nations were simply looking out for themselves and would quickly turn on the Jews if they deemed it advantageous to them. Jesus had this in his ministry as well. The people were excited to hear him and see the wonders he did, but when they found out he hadn’t come to create a heaven on earth they hated and tried to kill him. Similarly, people thought Paul was one of the gods when he performed a miracle and were ready to worship him, but when they found out he was giving all the glory to God they stoned him instead. What kind of friends are we? Do we defend our brothers and sisters or backbite and slander them when it has the potential to make us look good?
Sing or pray Psalter #241.
January 17- Read Jeremiah 5
Jeremiah 5:30 reads, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land.” What is this wonderful and horrible thing? Well, the next verse explains, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” It was a horrible thing that the priests misled the people, and the people were content to be misled. The priests heard the lying words of the prophets but saw that these words gained them earthly possessions and favor and did nothing to stop it. John Calvin compares this situation to the Roman Catholic Church, where the leaders purposefully spread fallacies in exchange for their own gain.
It makes sense that these developments would be called horrible, but why wonderful? How could the apostacy of the people possibly be described as wonderful? In answer to this, Calvin says that wonderful here means full of wonder and amazement, or astounded. It’s astounding to see how far God’s people have fallen. The same words clearly apply to the church world today, as the earth becomes ripe for judgment.
Sing or pray Psalter #229.
January 18- Read Jeremiah 6
A while back I heard a sermon on Jeremiah 6:16, which reads, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” The minister brought out that the old paths here refer to God’s law and precepts. Someone who does not choose these paths says, “I want to make new paths.” The image is of a traveler at a crossroads. He has a choice to make, the old paths or the new paths. Judah had chosen the new paths. They’d rejected God’s Word, and Jeremiah had been sent to warn them of impending judgment.
The same message comes to us today. What decision will we make at the fork in the road of our earthly pilgrimage? Every day there are more temptations for us to take the new paths. Life down that way seems so easy and pleasurable, and the Bible tells us the life of a Christian is hard. However, let us follow the old paths, for it’s only in that way that we will experience rest.
Sing or pray Psalter #228.
January 19- Read Jeremiah 7
About a week before his crucifixion, Jesus cleansed the temple for the second time in his ministry. After overturning the tables of the moneychangers and the dove sellers Jesus said to the people, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:22). Jesus was quoting Jeremiah 7:11a, which reads, “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?” Jeremiah was rebuking the temple leaders in this passage, for they went through the motions of religion, but stole from the people and oppressed those in need.
This is the same kind of thing that was going on in Jesus’ day. According to Gertrude Hoeksema, since the temple tax was a half shekel, which wasn’t coined anymore, the people had to go to the money changers to get the temple tax. These money changers charged high rates for this service. There was also a lot of money in the sacrifice of animals. You had to pay to get your animal professionally inspected for blemished, or you could buy one they supplied for a very high price.
Sing or pray Psalter #223.
January 20- Read Jeremiah 8
Jeremiah 8:11 says, “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” This same phrase at the end is found in chapter 6:14 as well. Calvin says this verse is clearly directed at the priests and prophets. He points out how serious it is when those who are supposed to be leaders instead direct people in the wrong way.
This reminded me of the false prophets when Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to fight against the Syrians (2 Chron. 18). Jehoshaphat had an idea he shouldn’t really be partnering with wicked Ahab, so he asked if Ahab had any prophets who could tell him God’s will. Ahab assembled 400 of his top liars, who all assured Jehoshaphat that God would give them the victory, no problem. Jehoshaphat still wasn’t convinced, so he asked Ahab if there were any slightly more trusty-worthy prophets around. Ahab admitted there was one, but he always had mean things to say, so Ahab kept him locked up. Jehoshaphat requested Micaiah be brought, and, after Micaiah first mockingly told Ahab what he wanted to hear, he pronounced God’s decree that they would be defeated.
Sing or pray Psalter #266.
January 21- Read Jeremiah 9
Verse 23 warns us against putting our trust in earthly things, whether that be wisdom, might, or riches. Matthew Henry mentions Goliath and Ahithophel as good examples. Goliath trusted in his might, believing no one could defeat him. He was greatly offended when little David came out against him, but all it took was one small stone, and the giant was dead. Ahithophel was an extremely wise man and a trusted friend of David. He was so wise, in fact, that 2 Samuel 16:23 says that the counsel of Ahithophel was “as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God.” Yet, he chose to side with rebellious Absalom, his advice wasn’t taken, and he ended up killing himself.
After the negative comes the positive. Verse 24 continues, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” We don’t glory in ourselves, we glory in God, for he is the one that rules all and directs everything according to his perfect plan.
Sing or pray Psalter #265.
January 22- Read Jeremiah 10
Verse 2 reads, “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.” I first took the “signs of heaven” described in this verse to be synonymous with the signs of the times. With that I mind, I wondered how the heathen are dismayed at those signs? I remember a Dordt College professor talking about how the world isn’t sitting around in fear of judgment, and it’s definitely true that they live their lives as if it never even crosses their minds.
However, after reading Calvin, I realize I had misinterpreted this particular verse. The “signs of heaven” should be taken literally here. The Chaldeans and Egyptians were attentive observers of the stars. When someone viewed the stars and claimed a calamity would come upon them they were afraid, but they brushed off the coming judgments spoken by God’s prophets. The world today has their big-ticket issues they spend all sorts of time discussing and worrying about, yet they don’t stop to think about their rejection of God’s commandments.
Sing or pray Psalter #300.
January 23- Read Jeremiah 11
When I was in junior high, our teacher took us to a cow-killing. It might sound slightly morbid, but I think the idea was to understand more fully where our food comes from and see what the butchering process is like firsthand. I remember how the cow was just standing there eating away, and one of the two guys just pressed a .22 to her temple a fired. The cow immediately went to her knees without a sound, and the other man walked up and slit her throat. Then they immediately started cutting off limbs with their enormous butcher knives. I couldn’t believe how fast and efficient it all was. The cow didn’t know what hit her.
In this chapter, we learn that the wicked people of Jeremiah’s own city plotted to kill him. In verse 19, Jeremiah compares himself to a lamb or an ox who doesn’t know they’re being brought to slaughter. However, God revealed the plot to Jeremiah at the last moment and saved his prophet. Our enemies love to catch us unawares with their attacks, but God will always care for the sheep of his pasture.
Sing or pray Psalter #299.
January 24- Read Jeremiah 12
God compares Judah, his heritage, to a lion and a speckled bird in verses 8 and 9. Calvin explains that they are like a lion in that they have attacked God viciously. One’s heritage should be delightful to him, but God’s had become utterly horrible. They thought themselves immune to judgment, just as we can be tempted to in the Protestant Reformed Churches, but God’s wrath would come upon them.
There’s some disagreement about the meaning behind the speckled bird. Matthew Henry suggests it refers to birds of prey that are constantly fighting, to birds speckled with innocent blood, to those speckled because of the mixing of pagan and true religion, or to those who were preyed upon by others because they look different. There’s some good application that can be made using these suggestions, but Calvin doesn’t agree with any of them. Instead, he says that speckled birds illustrate birds that are wild. God had gathered Judah to be his own, domesticated people, but they had rejected him like wild, untamed birds. These wild lions and savage birds would soon receive their judgment, for all the birds and wild beasts of the earth were ready to obey him.
Sing or pray Psalter #295.
January 25- Read Jeremiah 13
We read about a vision that God gave Jeremiah in the first eleven verses. God told the prophet to take a girdle and hide it in a hole by the Euphrates River. After many days, Jeremiah returned to find that the girdle was ruined. God concluded the vision by saying this is what would happen to the Jews. According to Calvin, this scene had to be a vision, because it would have taken Jeremiah much too long to make the trip to and from the Euphrates multiple times. That river here refers to Assyria and Chaldea, where the Jews would be captive. The hole in the rock demonstrates the people’s disgrace, and the time the girdle was left there pictures the time of captivity. Just as the girdle came out ruined, the captivity marked the end of the Jews being God’s chosen people. Just as a girdle is worn close to the body, God had kept Israel and Judah close to him. In another connection, a girdle can be ornamental, like the Jews were commanded to shine forth God’s glory. They prided themselves in being Abraham’s seed, but their wickedness had caused them to be cast off and destroyed.
Sing or pray Psalter #281.
January 26- Read Jeremiah 14
This chapter speaks of the great drought that came upon Judah because of their sin during the latter part of King Josiah’s reign. Verse 16 specifically talks about how people will be dying so rapidly that there won’t be anyone to bury them.
I remember studying in history how this was a real problem during the Black Death of the Middle Ages. Estimates differ, but this disease could have literally wiped out half of Europe’s population. Entire villages were taken off the map. Interestingly, the surviving Europeans than traveled over to America a few hundred years later and brought an even worse outbreak with them. Since Native Americans had zero resistance to European diseases, like smallpox, unbelievable numbers of them died shortly after the Europeans landed. In fact, it’s estimated that disease killed 90% of the Indians in New England. With numbers like that, there’s no one left to do the burying.
These stories remind us that life without God is death and destruction. Satan claims 100% of those who Christ has not saved from this epidemic. How humbling it is to think that we have been chosen when such mind-boggling numbers of people have not.
Sing or pray Psalter #280.
January 27- Read Jeremiah 15
Do you think Manasseh was saved? Jeremiah 15:4 says Judah would be scattered throughout all the nations because of his sin, and sin he did. Amongst other things, Manasseh put an idol in the Holy Place of the temple, offered his own children as sacrifices to Molech, and fiercely persecuted God’s people, making Jerusalem red with the blood of the saints (2 Kings 21:16). He was even worse than the heathen nations around him. Also, Jeremiah brings out that he was Hezekiah’s son, who brought religious reform to Judah, and judgment is even greater for those who grow up under the truth and reject it. Calvin says the repentance towards the end of his life wasn’t genuine.
However, I remembered from Bible class last year that Gertrude Hoeksema looked at this a little differently. According to her, Manasseh repented and God forgave him, but he was unable to make Israel turn back to Jehovah after teaching them to worship idols for 50 years. As evidence, she points out that he tried to undo as much as possible, and we read that God “was intreated of him and heard his supplication” (2 Chron. 33:13). What do you think?
Sing or pray Psalter #292.
January 28- Read Jeremiah 16
In Jeremiah 16:2–4, God tells the prophet not to have a wife and children because they would all die horrible deaths. John Calvin and Matthew Henry seem to disagree about the application here. Calvin says that these verses aren’t meant to commend celibacy, but simply to show that the land wasn’t even worthy of marriage. God was showing the people of Judah that they deserved to be exterminated from the earth. On the other hand, Henry says that this shows it may not be advisable to marry in such dire situations as Jeremiah was in. As supporting evidence, he points to verses like 1 Corinthians 7:26 and Luke 23:29.
What do you think? Is there an argument for encouraging people not to marry when persecution is great, and life is extremely difficult? If so, consider that the lives of God’s people have been fraught with danger throughout history, so where would you draw the line? If not, how would you explain why it’s still good to marry and bear children even in the face of severe trials?
Sing or pray Psalter #298.
January 29- Read Jeremiah 17
During Bible times, business transactions were often done at the gate of the city. In Ruth 4, Boaz met the nearest kinsman at the gate to take on the responsibility of marrying Ruth. Parents were commanded to bring a rebellious son to the city gate so the elders could pass judgment, as we read in Deuteronomy 21:18–21. Finally, David gave instructions to his troops from the city gate (2 Samuel 18:1–5).
Jeremiah 17:27 forbids doing business on the Sabbath day by relating it to the city gates. Here, we read that if the people enter into the gates on the Sabbath day that God will destroy the city with fire. This pronouncement of harsh judgment shows how much God abhors those who break his sabbath day.
In what ways are we in danger of “entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day?” For the most part, we know enough to stay away from outright business on Sunday, but there’s always the temptation just to answer those couple emails or daydream about that big project when we should be listening to God speak to us. What other ways do you think we can break this commandment?
Sing or pray Psalter #349.
January 30- Read Jeremiah 18
In the first six verses of this chapter, Jeremiah is told to go to the potter’s house. He watches the potter take a vessel off the wheel that didn’t turn out right. When the potter saw this, he put the vessel back on the wheel and fashioned it the way he wanted. God explained to Jeremiah that he is the potter and his people are the clay. He is in complete control and can mold his people any way he wishes.
This made me think about the importance of visual illustrations. God could have just told Jeremiah that he was in control of his people but using the physical example of the potter made it much more real and memorable. The same is true in parenting and teaching. When we give real-life examples in our teaching, it tends to make a stronger impression. As we are currently studying in Bible class, Jesus himself did this with all his parables. Again and again, he used earthly examples to illustrate heavenly truths.
Sing or pray Psalter #347.
January 31- Read Jeremiah 19
Eating one’s own children must be the most disgusting of all sins. Jeremiah 19:9 says the Jews would do this as part of their judgment, demonstrating how their fall was utterly complete. This stomach-churning act is threatened in Leviticus 26:29 and Deuteronomy 28:53 and said to have occurred when Jerusalem was defeated by the Chaldeans (Lam. 4:10). We all know the story of this during the Syrian siege of Samaria, as recounted in 2 Kings 6:26–29. The king is walking despairingly along the wall and a woman calls up to him. She says she and a friend agreed to eat their children. They had eaten her son yesterday, but now the friend hid her child and wouldn’t give it up. Calvin points to an account of Josephus, a Romano-Jewish scholar and historian, where cannibalism was witnessed by Mary of Bethezuba during the final defeat of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. The Roman soldiers found Mary after she’d killed her son and eaten half. When they discovered what she had done she tried to appease them by offering them a share. These stories show just how severe God’s judgment comes upon his people who rejected him.
Sing or pray Psalter #331.
February 1- Read Jeremiah 20
How could verses 13 and 14 of this chapter possibly follow one another? The prophet is praising God for delivering his people, and then he’s suddenly cursing the day he was born and the man who brought the message. Calvin explains that Jeremiah isn’t being inconsistent here, but instead is demonstrating the depths he was delivered from, thus fitting with the theme of thanksgiving in verse 13. Not only was Jeremiah fighting against the enemies around him, but he was fighting an inward battle as well. Calvin says it was a serious sin for Jeremiah to speak this way, but that the source of his zeal was right, because he was greatly troubled at the people’s rejection of God’s Word. Job also cursed the day he was born when he was in the depths of his afflictions in Job 3. Matthew Henry draws from Psalm 39:1–2 when he advises, “When the heart is hot, let the tongue be bridled.” I think that’s something we can all work on.
Sing or pray Psalter #328.
February 2- Read Jeremiah 21
This chapter and the one before it both speak about a Pashur who opposed Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 20, Pashur, the son of Immer, smote Jeremiah and put him in the stocks when he heard his prophecies of impending judgment. When he took the prophet out of the stocks the next day, Jeremiah told him his name would now be Magormissabib, meaning “terror on every side,” as he and his house would be carried away captive to Babylon and die there.
At first, I had assumed the Pashur of Jeremiah 21 was the same person, but this Pashur is the son of Melchiah. He was one of the chief priests in the temple court during the reign of Zedekiah, and the king sent him with others to Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord when Nebuchadnezzar was planning his attack on Jerusalem. Later, in Jeremiah 38, Gedaliah the son of Pashur (probably this one), was one of those who advised Zedekiah to kill Jeremiah for his supposed hate speech against the nation. This led to Jeremiah being thrown into a miry pit. No doubt, Jeremiah received much persecution at the hands of these wicked men.
Sing or pray Psalter #327.
February 3- Read Jeremiah 22
In verse 13, the people are rebuked for taking advantage of each other and not loving their neighbor as themselves. It reads, “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.” As Calvin puts it, those in authority “employed their neighbors, as though they were slaves, in building houses and palaces, for they denied them their wages. But nothing can be more cruel than to deprive the poor of the fruit of their labor, who from their labor derive their daily support.”
In his explanation of this verse, Calvin says that the Jews were treating their neighbors like slaves. This leads into a discussion on the interesting topic of slavery. Slavery is referred to often in the Old Testament, so why would Calvin rebuke them for it here? Can slavery still be done properly today? How about the slavery that existed in our own country before the Civil War? Can slavery then and now be a part of our society without breaking Jeremiah’s command to care for the neighbor?
Sing or pray Psalter #323.
February 4- Read Jeremiah 23
Jeremiah 23:5–6 give us the promise of Christ’s coming. We are told that Christ will come as a “righteous Branch” out of David to rule the earth, execute judgment, and save his people. As verse 6 ends, Christ’s name will be “The Lord our Righteousness.” Calvin explains that Jeremiah and the other prophets mentioned Christ whenever they sought to encourage the remnant in a time of great wickedness. The remnant need not despair, because in Christ the promises were sure.
We just had a sermon on Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It was brought out that the passage doesn’t say, “through Christ which HAS strengthened me.” That wording would distance us from Christ. The image is not of Christ handing us all the strength we need at the beginning of our life, but of Christ who we are joined to and from whom strength flows into us for each trial as it comes. When we have the confidence that we are in Christ, then we have nothing to fear, for we know his promises are sure.
Sing or pray Psalter #317.
February 5- Read Jeremiah 24
Two things stood out to me as I read this short chapter. First, we see here again how God uses simple analogies in teaching us. As we are currently studying in Bible class, throughout his ministry Jesus used parable analogies to teach his people things about the kingdom of heaven. In this chapter, the good figs represent those who were already taken into captivity, and the bad figs represent those still in Judea. God could have just told Jeremiah that his people were with the group in captivity, but using this imagery made the teaching more effective.
Second, in verse 5, God says that he sent the remnant into captivity for their good. As Matthew Henry puts it, this is a great example of how “the same providence which to some is a savour of death unto death may by the grace and blessing of God be made to others a savour of life unto life.” This affliction was very difficult for God’s people, to be sure, but it purified and strengthened them until they were ready to return to the promised land once again. Similarly, the trials God places in our lives prepare us for our place in heaven.
Sing or pray Psalter #302.
February 6- Read Jeremiah 25
As we discussed earlier in the book, Jeremiah speaks judgment against nations surrounding Israel and Judah as well. Egypt is mentioned first in this chapter, as Israel had looked for deliverance from them when Assyria threatened. Then, other nations are brought in, showing that God is in complete control and will always judge sin. Verse 21 mentions the nations of Esau and Lot: Edom, Moab, and Ammon. Following are nations who had come to Judea in ships. Verse 22 begins, “And all the kings of Tyrus,” indicating that the judgment could come at any time, and was not directed towards just one king. After mention of some other surrounding nations, verse 26 says that God would use the Chaldeans to bring these judgments, which Calvin says is seen from the phrase, “and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.” Although God will use Babylon to bring these judgments upon the nations, they will experience God’s wrath after they have completed his purpose for them. God always uses the wicked world for his purpose and brings his just judgment upon them when the cup of their iniquity is filled.
Sing or pray Psalter #206.
February 7- Read Jeremiah 26
At the end of this chapter, the priests and false prophets rise up against Jeremiah, demanding he be put to death. As they said, Jeremiah had spoken of the temple’s destruction, and hadn’t God decreed he would dwell in the temple forever (Ps. 132:14)? These false teachers claimed none of the other prophets spoke like that, so why should Jeremiah be allowed to continue?
These words prompted the elders and common people to come to Jeremiah’s defense. They gave the example of the prophet Micah during the reign of Hezekiah, who spoke words similar to Jeremiah and was spared.
Next, the example of the prophet Urijah is included. There is disagreement about whether this example is given by the elders or the false prophets. Calvin says that both arguments have their merits, but he believes the elders are still talking here. As he sees it, the elders are imploring the false prophets to put an end to the cruelty before the judgment of God comes upon them. Read that section again. Who do you think gives the Urijah example? Whatever the case might be, Jeremiah was spared to continue his work.
Sing or pray Psalter #207.