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February 8 Read Jeremiah 27
In this chapter, we read that the kings of the surrounding nations sent ambassadors to meet with King Zedekiah to form an alliance against Nebuchadnezzar. But God sent Jeremiah to them with a sobering message to squash out the false confidence that this potential alliance brought. No army could save Judah from the judgment that God had already determined for them by means of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Jeremiah, wearing an actual yoke around his neck to emphasize his point, commands them to submit to the rule of Babylon because it was God’s will.
It is interesting to note that Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful king at this time, is referred to by God in verse 6 as “my servant.” Jeremiah’s message serves as an important reminder to us that God requires submission to those that he has placed in positions of authority. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). In what ways are you tempted to rebel against those that God has placed in authority over you?
Sing or pray Psalter #308
February 9 Read Jeremiah 28
In contrast to the message that Jeremiah brought from God in the previous chapter, here we read about the false prophet Hananiah speaking a contradictory message that was undoubtedly much more popular with the people of Judah. Even Jeremiah agrees in verse 6 that it would be much more pleasant for the nation if Hananiah’s false prophecy were fulfilled. But he also points out that Hananiah was not speaking the truth. This was confirmed when the false prophecy did not come true, but the prophecy that God gave through Jeremiah predicting Hananiah’s death was fulfilled within the same year.
False doctrine will always be more popular than the truth because it usually tells people exactly what they want to hear. That is why it is so important to judge everything that we read or hear on the basis of scripture, not based on if it sounds good or everyone around us agrees with it. To do this, we must know the scriptures and cultivate godly wisdom. We should strive to be “those who by reason off use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). And beware of those who “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18).
Sing or pray Psalter #253
February 10 Read Jeremiah 29
In verses 4–7 of this chapter, Jeremiah relays a message from God to the captives in Babylon. He encourages them to act out of the assurance of God’s promises by settling down to live a normal life in Babylon instead of living like refugees. They were not to isolate themselves, but rather to make themselves at home by building houses, planting gardens, getting married, and starting families. And they were instructed to seek the peace of the community that they were dwelling in as well.
Just like the exiles in Babylon, we are also refugees in this wicked world that is only our temporary home. And the calling to establish roots in whatever community God has planted us in applies to us too. Rather than isolate ourselves, we are instructed to spread the message of peace (that can only be found in Jesus Christ) to our community. Pray for your neighbors and your local government. And ask God to make your faithful, daily life in the middle of this dark world a light to all that see it. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Sing or pray Psalter #348
February 11 Read Jeremiah 30
Ever since the fall, all of mankind has been infected with total depravity. Verses 12 and 15 of this chapter use the word “incurable” to describe the condition of the people of Judah. They are spiritually on their deathbed. And this is our situation as well. We are in as hopeless of a position as those who were facing captivity in Babylon. It is important for us to recognize both the seriousness of our spiritual illness and also our need for a physician. Our pride can often blind us to our true condition, but the word of God exposes it just as the prophets exposed the sin of the people of Judah.
But Jeremiah brings a message of hope from Jehovah to the saints at this time and to us today as well. “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord” (v. 17). Jesus is the great Physician, the only one who can heal us from our incurable wounds. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Sing or pray Psalter #84
February 12 Read Jeremiah 31
Jeremiah 31:31–34 is the only passage in the New Testament that speaks specifically of a new covenant, although the idea is found throughout the Bible. Why was a new covenant needed? Did the old covenant fail? The problem was not with the original covenant, but instead with the wicked and rebellious people of God. The first 28 chapters of Jeremiah go into detail about exactly how Judah had broken the covenant by serving other gods. And we also break the covenant every time we sin against God.
The new covenant does not abolish the old, but it is actually a renewal of the original covenant. The new covenant is not just with Israel and Judah anymore, but with all the spiritual seed of Abraham. Jesus IS the new covenant, and therefore he keeps it on our behalf since we are not more able to keep the covenant than the Old Testament saints were. And through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts we are able to have a small beginning of obedience to God’s law. The promises of the new covenant include reconciliation, regeneration, satisfaction for sin, and everlasting life in heaven. What a wonderful hope for God’s people throughout all ages!
Sing or pray Psalter #275
February 13 Read Jeremiah 32
God presents Jeremiah with a test of his faith by commanding him to buy a field from his cousin. This was a terrible time to purchase property because, first of all, Jeremiah was in prison and not even able to take possession of it. And second, the Babylonians were just about to invade and take over the land. Nevertheless, Jeremiah follows God’s command and buys the field because he has faith that someday God is going to bring his people back from exile. The purchase showed that he believed in God’s promises even though there was no evidence that they would be fulfilled anytime soon.
Do you have the same faith? Do you live your life in a way that shows you believe in God’s promises even if it seems crazy to the world around you? Jeremiah’s prayer following this test of his faith reminds us that the God who created all things and redeemed his people will most certainly fulfill his promises. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me” (v. 27)?
Sing or pray Psalter #20
February 14 Read Jeremiah 33
God had shown Jeremiah a vision of the grim future that was in store for Jerusalem and its inhabitants. But this time of darkness and despair would not last forever. Chapter 33 serves as a reminder of the assurance that we have in God’s promise of deliverance. His children can always have hope in the glorious future that he has prepared for them. God promises to cleanse them from their sin and guilt. He speaks of taking away their sorrow and bringing joy and gladness back to the city.
How is this possible? It is only because of the “Branch of righteousness” that is spoken of in verse 15. Jesus Christ is the ultimate realization of all of God’s promises. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1:20). The covenant promises of God to his people are even surer than the basic laws of nature that we all take for granted. We can rely on God’s promises just as we rely on the sun to rise and set each day.
Sing or pray Psalter #56
February 15 Read Jeremiah 34
Under Old Testament law, Hebrew slaves were supposed to be freed every seventh year. This may have been because the slavery of fellow Hebrews was usually a result of debts owed and different from life-long slavery involving the actual purchase of another individual. However, at this time the command had been disregarded on account of the greed and selfishness of the people of Judah. When confronted by the king, the slave owners had initially freed their slaves, but later recanted and forced those people back into servitude.
How hypocritical that the same people who were complaining about Babylon’s oppression were all the while oppressing their own servants without thought! Jeremiah denounces the slave owners for going back on their oath before God and reminds them of how Jehovah had rescued their forefathers from slavery in Egypt. The compassion of God to the nation of Judah should have stirred in them compassion for others. Do you show the compassion of God to those around you? Or are you too engrossed in your own life to care about others? “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Sing or pray Psalter #369
February 16 Read Jeremiah 35
The Rechabites were a sect of Israelites who lived a simple, nomadic lifestyle that was committed to God. They avoided the corruption of city life and the idolatry that usually accompanied it. They also abstained from drinking wine as a form of self-denial. God commends the Rechabites for their obedience to the rules that their ancestor Jonadab had set forth long ago. Jonadab had given these instructions to his descendants out of concern for their souls. He wanted them to avoid as much as possible the corruption that he saw entering Israel already in his time.
Jeremiah used these people as a parable to show the nation of Judah how they had not obeyed God. The life of the Rechabites was intended to shame them. This sect was still obeying the wishes of a man who had died long ago, and yet the people of Judah were disobedient to the living God by ignoring his prophets and promises. Are you willing to live like a Rechabite? (Living in isolation in the wilderness is not a necessary requirement.) Are you willing to sacrifice certain earthly pleasures to be faithful to God’s commands?
Sing or pray Psalter #8
February 17 Read Jeremiah 36
We gain an interesting insight into the creation of the Bible in Jeremiah 36 when we read about how God spoke to Jeremiah, and then Jeremiah relayed the words of God to Baruch the scribe, who recorded them. The book of Jeremiah contains the revelation of God to his people, intended to turn them from their sin and to inspire repentance and restoration. But God’s word has always been a two-edged sword. When the words of Jeremiah’s prophesies are read at the palace, King Jehoiakim destroys the scroll in anger. This is a much different reaction than that of King Josiah back in 2 Kings 22:11.
Providentially and miraculously God preserved his word, just as he has throughout all ages. He hid Jeremiah and Baruch for a time so that they were able to re-write the scroll. Though we may not have the power to destroy God’s word, when we refuse to read it or ignore its implications for our life we are no better than Jehoiakim when he threw the scroll into the fire. “Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:88–89).
Sing or pray Psalter #335
February 18 Read Jeremiah 37
In desperation, the king of Judah sends messengers to Jeremiah and asks him to “pray now unto the Lord our God for us” (v. 3). On the surface, this may seem like a good decision on Zedekiah’s part, but it only serves further to incriminate him. When Jeremiah once again brings a prophecy that it was futile to resist the Babylonians because God had sent them to conquer the city, he is arrested and imprisoned as a traitor. From Zedekiah’s actions, we can see that he knew Jeremiah was a true prophet. Yet he still stubbornly refused to listen to a message that was undoubtedly from God.
Many so-called “Christians” today have the same attitude as Zedekiah about limiting God’s involvement in their life. They acknowledge the existence of God, and may even pray to him in times of trouble, but that is where it ends. They certainly don’t want to listen to what God commands if it interferes with what they desire to do. We must guard our hearts against this attitude as well! “Thus saith the Lord, Deceive not yourselves” (v. 9).
Sing or pray Psalter #182
February 19 Read Jeremiah 38
Here we find Jeremiah imprisoned in a dungeon because of his unpopular message from God that the people of Judah should submit to Babylonian rule. The princes demand that something is done about it and, in a move very similar to Pontius Pilate, King Zedekiah bends to the will of the people and consents to Jeremiah’s imprisonment. According to my research, the “dungeon” here was probably a cistern—a very deep pit used for storing water. Jeremiah was undoubtedly miserable.
Serving God is not always going to be an easy path. Sometimes we are going to find ourselves seemingly at the bottom of a pit, feet sinking in the mud, suffering with no end in sight. We may feel as though life could not possibly get any worse. But God does not let his people suffer more than they are able to bear. He sends Ebed-melech to save Jeremiah from the pit, and he has sent us a Savior too. In the words of David from Psalm 40:1–2, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”
Sing or pray Psalter #108
February 20 Read Jeremiah 39
Most of the leaders and people of Judah had ignored the numerous prophets that were sent from God for many, many years. They fooled themselves into thinking that the wrath of God was never going to come upon them, but here we see the evidence to the contrary. The day of judgment has finally come. Jeremiah’s prophesies are fulfilled when Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians.
Just like the unbelievers in Jeremiah’s time, today also the world around us doubts that the judgment of God is actually going to come upon them. This false sense of security can also creep into the church when we convince ourselves that we are “getting away” with certain sins because there are no immediate consequences. But God’s justice must be satisfied. A delay of judgment does not change its inevitability. No one knows when the final day of judgment is coming, but we can be assured that it will come.
Sing or pray Psalter #223
February 21 Read Jeremiah 40
Even in the midst of God’s judgment there is always mercy for his people. In the context of the chaotic & unsafe conditions in Judah at this time, it was probably difficult for Jeremiah to trust that God would take care of him. Here we see that Jeremiah is released from his chains by the captain of the guard and allowed to choose whether he will go to Babylon or stay behind in Judah. God also promised to provide for any of the Jews that would stay behind in Judah.
Our heavenly Father will not leave behind even one of his children in the day of judgment. We will all be spared from destruction just like Jeremiah was. We read in Amos 4:11 that God’s elect people are like “burning sticks snatched from the fire.” This amazing comfort should lead us to both praise God and to spread the message of the gospel with urgency as we live in the last days before Christ comes again.
Sing or pray Psalter #112
February 22 Read Psalm 74
The superscription “maschil” at the beginning of this Psalm indicates that it was intended to instruct the people of God. In this case, it instructs how to deal with difficult times during our walk on this earth. As we read on, we find Asaph lamenting the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar because it was symbolic of the Lord seeming to not dwell among his people anymore. But then he finds comfort and strength in remembering God’s past salvation of his people, his power, his love, and his faithfulness.
At certain times in our life, it may seem like evil is winning. We may question God as the psalmist did, “Why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture” (v. 1)? We may doubt God’s faithfulness and his ability to keep his promises. But when we remember who he is and what he has done for his people in the past, we can have confidence in the future. “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope” (Lam. 3:21). Our heavenly Father is in control of both good and evil, and he uses all things to serve his perfect plan. Therefore we are still able to pray with faith even in the face of trials that do not have an end in sight.
Sing or pray Psalter #205
February 23 Read Psalm 79
Similar to the psalm that we read yesterday, Psalm 79 is another lament of Asaph regarding the destruction of Jerusalem. He cries out to God for deliverance in a time of great need for the nation of Judah. Yet the psalm does not end on a note of hopelessness, but with a doxology of praise.
Just as the psalmist does, we also cry out to God in times of distress because we are confident that he will come to our aid. Help comes from the Lord, not because we deserve it, but because of the promises that he has made to his people. He is our Shepherd and will not forsake us. This blessed assurance leads not to despair, but to praise the Lord. So whether we are struggling through a trial or giving thanks in a time of peace, we can confess the words of verse 13, “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.”
Sing or pray Psalter #217
February 24 Read 2 Kings 24
Nebuchadnezzar’s decimation of Judah occurred in three stages over a period of about twenty years. In about 605 BC, during the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar had taken the first group of exiles back to Babylon. They included Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. A few years later, in 597 BC, another group of about 10,000 exiles was taken back to Babylon. Notable captives in this group were the prophet Ezekiel and Mordecai (uncle of Esther). The history of this second invasion is what we read here in 2 Kings 24.
I mention these facts because when reading the Bible, it is very beneficial to understand the historical background of what you are reading. When you can place a chapter in context with of the rest of the Bible, it aids in developing a deeper understanding of the text. Since the Bible is not necessarily in chronological order, investing in a reliable study Bible or seeking out other trusted resources in print or online will be extremely helpful.
Sing or pray Psalter #94
February 25 Read 2 Kings 25
Here we read about the third and final stage of God’s chastisement through Nebuchadnezzar. The siege of Jerusalem has ended, and both the city and temple have been destroyed. The entire kingdom of Judah is completely humbled because of their idolatry and sin. God’s people had wanted to be just like the nations around them, and they got their wish. They were defeated by the Babylonians just like the surrounding nations had been. How will God keep his covenant promises now?
At the end of this final chapter of 2 Kings, we find a glimmer of hope when Jehoiachin was released from prison by Evil-merodach, king of Babylon. Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah when they returned to Jerusalem after the exile, would be a descendant of Jehoiachin. God was still preserving his covenant line even when all hope seemed lost. And eventually Jesus Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises, would come from this covenant line. “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
Sing or pray Psalter #362
February 26 Read 2 Chronicles 36
In the final chapter of 2 Chronicles, we read an account of Zedekiah foolishly refusing to listen to God’s words through Jeremiah and also going back on his oath and rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. Pride caused Zedekiah to ignore God’s commands in favor of his own thoughts and opinions. It was the cause of his downfall, and all of Judah as well. Idolatry is really at its root, pride in the form of self-worship. The pride of the people also led them to mock the messengers of God, despise his words, and misuse his prophets (v. 16).
Pride has been often called “the father of all sin.” No person is immune to the sin of pride. It can be found in the hearts of the most powerful rulers of the earth just as much as in the heart of a poor beggar on the street. You may recall the familiar words of James 4:6, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” If we do not humbly submit ourselves to our heavenly Father as servants, we will instead pay the price of being slaves to sin.
Sing or pray Psalter #138
February 27 Read Habakkuk 1
Not much is known about Habakkuk, but he most likely prophesied during the reign of Jehoiakim. At this time, the kingdom of Judah is facing an imminent invasion by the Babylonians as punishment for their sins. Therefore the word that Habakkuk brings is not a call for repentance, but rather a prediction of judgment and a promise that God will not completely destroy his people.
Although the Chaldeans are being used by God as instruments of judgment, they too would be judged for their evil deeds. Still, Habakkuk wrestles with the question of why God would use such a wicked nation to carry out his sovereign will. Can you relate to this? Do you ever question why things happen a certain way? We will never know all the answers in this life, but we may certainly bring these difficult questions to God in prayer just like Habakkuk, Job, Jeremiah, and many other saints in the Bible did.
Sing or pray Psalter #204
February 28 Read Habakkuk 2
In chapter 2 we read God’s gracious answer to Habakkuk’s questioning. Verse 4 summarizes the theme of the entire book well, “but the just shall live by his faith.” What does it mean to live by faith? It means accepting God’s justice even if it doesn’t make sense to us. It means looking away from our circumstances and towards God. The Reformation Heritage Study Bible puts it well when it says, “We may not always understand the reason, but we should live in the confidence that God is sovereignly accomplishing his purpose in all things.”
Just like Abraham walking up the mountain to sacrifice his sole heir, Isaac, Habakkuk also had to have faith in God’s promise to continue the line of generation even though it seemed impossible at the time. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Do you have this same faith?
Sing or pray Psalter #44
March 1 Read Habakkuk 3
In the final chapter of Habakkuk, he offers up a prayer of faith in response to God’s answer to his questionings. The closing verses of this prayer are a beautiful expression of the assurance that comes from finding contentment in the Lord regardless of earthly circumstances. True contentment is not just about finding the “silver lining” in whatever situation we are in. Verse 17 describes a scene where nothing good can be found. “Yet,” Habakkuk confesses, “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Despite the looming threat of Babylonian invaders, Habakkuk is at peace because his hope and joy are in the Lord, not in his circumstances. Pray that God will work this true peace in your heart as well.
Sing or pray Psalter #230
March 2 Read Jeremiah 41
In Matthew 10:16, Jesus sends out his apostles with this message, “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Gedaliah would have done well to take this advice. In the final verses of Jeremiah 40, he makes what seems to be a very unwise decision in rejecting the offer of protection against the threat of assassination. And Chapter 41 goes on to describe just how real the threat was when Ishmael kills Gedaliah and many others.
We do not read in the text about Gedaliah seeking counsel from the Lord about this matter. But that is a key way to develop both practical and spiritual discernment. The experiences of our life coupled with seeking the Lord through prayer and reading his word cultivate wise judgment in a believer. Pray that the Lord will work godly discernment in you so that you may serve him in a greater capacity on this earth.
Sing or pray Psalter #337
March 3 Read Jeremiah 42
After Ishmael’s murder of Gedaliah, the desperate remnant of the Judahites finally comes to Jeremiah and asks him to pray that God will show the people what they should do. They promised Jeremiah that they would follow wherever God led them. But the hypocrisy in their hearts is revealed when they do not listen to what he says and go to Egypt anyway because it seems like a better choice. Also, they took Jeremiah with them by force.
Commentator Matthew Henry wrote about this passage, “We do not truly desire to know the mind of God if we do not fully resolve to comply with it when we do know it.” Take a moment to evaluate your own life. When you pray for the Lord’s will, do you already have your mind made up? Are you simply praying for show or hoping that God will bless your decision? Do you only obey God’s will if it lines up with your own desires?
Sing or pray Psalter #43
March 4 Read Jeremiah 43
It is extremely foolish to go against God’s will. It can be compared to having a bright light shining in your face, but then shutting your eyes and claiming that you didn’t see it. Johanan leads the people into the land of Egypt and directly defies what God instructed them to do. Since they had not obeyed the Lord, Egypt would not be the safe place that they were longing for. Jeremiah’s sign of burying the stones in the courtyard at Tahpanhes made it clear that they would not be out of Nebuchadnezzar’s reach even in Egypt.
In the familiar words of Proverbs 3:5–6 we are instructed to, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Do you trust the Lord’s will for your life?
Sing or pray Psalter #99
March 5 Read Jeremiah 44
Jeremiah 44 was most likely Jeremiah’s last public prophecy before his death. He once again reminds the Judahites who were dwelling in Egypt of their sin that had led to the desolation of Jerusalem. Despite witnessing their entire nation’s destruction by Babylon because of their idolatry, the remnant of Judah in Egypt continued to serve other gods. The punishment for their spiritual forgetfulness was that their supposed safe-haven, the land of Egypt, would also be invaded by Babylon.
Before you become too frustrated with these stubborn people, take a look at your own life. We are just as forgetful as the people of Judah. Like little children who need to be reminded over and over not to touch something, we need to be constantly reminded of our sinfulness and desperate need for a savior. Every sermon that we hear comes back to this same idea. Every book of the Bible points us to Christ. Every sacrament that we witness calls us to remembrance. And yet we still run back to our old, sinful ways. How very thankful we should be to have a patient, faithful Father who forgives his children and continues to remind them of the gospel.
Sing or pray Psalter #89
March 6 Read Jeremiah 45
Think back to the events of Jeremiah 36 where Baruch records the prophecies of Jeremiah, and then King Jehoiakim destroys the scroll by throwing it in the fire. Chronologically this chapter belongs directly after that one. Burdened and greatly discouraged by these events, Baruch (Jeremiah’s faithful scribe) bemoans his lack of earthly accomplishments. In this short chapter, God graciously comforts him in his despair.
In verse 5, Baruch’s attention is directed away from himself and towards God instead. God reminds Baruch that all the things of this earth will eventually be destroyed, so trying to make a name for yourself on this earth is a worthless endeavor. “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” Also, God assures him that he will be taken care of wherever he goes. This word is certainly applicable not only to Baruch but to any child of God who finds themselves discouraged and wallowing in self-pity.
Sing or pray Psalter #1
March 7 Read Jeremiah 46
Chapter 46 begins a new section of prophecies in which Jeremiah pronounces judgment on the nations surrounding Judah, starting with Egypt. Although most of his prophecies until now had been focused only on the nation of Judah, here he reminds the people that God is not just sovereign over Judah, but over all nations. No man can escape his judgment. Jeremiah very vividly describes the well-equipped Egyptian army and how they are completely defeated by Babylon. Egypt was helpless to defend themselves, and their pride was brought low. This entire account serves to emphasize just how ridiculous it had been for the people of Judah to have confidence in the power of Pharaoh Necho’s army rather than in God. Are you ever tempted to trust in yourself or something other than the one, true God?
But even in his wrath, God has a message of mercy to his people who were dwelling in Egypt. This judgment was further evidence of his great love for them. Though God chastises his people, he will never completely destroy them. Therefore this prophecy also contains a promise, “and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid” (v. 27).
Sing or pray Psalter #400