Old Testament In a Year: October 31 – Jeremiah 50

Jeremiah 50
Focus Verse: For behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a gathering of great nations, from the north country. And they shall array themselves against her. From there she shall be taken. Their arrows are like a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed. – Jeremiah 50:9

In this chapter, we read of how God plans to use a nation from the north to bring about judgment on Babylon. This is a stark contrast to previous chapters in the book of Jeremiah when God used Babylon to bring about judgment on His people, Israel. This shows that God is in control of everything in our world – every kingdom, every government, every person in power.

He lifts up. And He brings down.

At certain times and in certain places, He makes some mighty and others weak.

He guides the hearts of leaders wherever He pleases and directs the steps of humans…all so that His purposes may be accomplished.

Old Testament In a Year: October 30 – Jeremiah 27, 28, 29

Jeremiah 27, 28, 29
Focus Verse: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7

Because of their persistent disobedience, God’s people were living as exiles in a strange land. In a short space of time, they went from living in the promised land of Jerusalem to living in the heathen land of Babylon. Their easy and light yoke was replaced with a hard and heavy one. Yet, God did not instruct His people to curse their new yoke, to rebel against their new king, or to despair in the new land they were living in.

He called for them to prosper…to multiply…and to increase.

He called for them to seek the health, happiness and prosperity of Babylon. He called for them to pray for Babylon. He called for them to bless Babylon. In seeking the health, happiness and prosperity of Babylon, they would find their own health, happiness and prosperity. In being a blessing to Babylon, they would find a blessing of their own.

When we find ourselves in a place of exile, due to disobedience to God or for another reason, God does not want us to despair. Our place of exile may be a less than ideal job, a tight financial season, or a relationship with a difficult partner…but whatever the case, we can flourish in spite of the circumstances.

It may be that in praying for the prosperity of the less than ideal job we are in or in seeking the health and happiness of our difficult partner, we will find our own health, happiness, and prosperity. It may be that in being a blessing amid our financial tightness, we will find our own blessing.

Because our faith is in Jesus the Christ and because the power of God is within us, we can prosper, multiply, and increase wherever we are…not only when we’re in Jerusalem, but when we’re in Babylon; not only when we’re in a welcoming place, but also when we’re in a place of exile.

Old Testament In a Year: October 29 – Jeremiah 23, 24

Jeremiah 23, 24
Focus Verse: Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? – Jeremiah 23:23

God is both “at hand” and “far away.”

God is in Heaven (far away), but He does not only see, hear, and interact with those who are in Heaven with Him.

Although God is out of our sight, we are not out of His mind. He is very much involved in the affairs of humans. We cannot see Him, but He sees us. Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, God is near (at hand).

He is everywhere at the same time. There is no place we can go where He is not there. No where we can run where He cannot follow. Those who believe in Jesus the Christ can find comfort in this great fact. In every place and at all times, God is near to us. In our times of trouble, He is near to help us, hear us, and hold us.

Old Testament In a Year: October 28 – Jeremiah 49, 13, 22

Jeremiah 49, 13, 22
Focus Verse: Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. – Jeremiah 22:3

God blessed His people, Israel, because He wanted them to be a blessing to others.

After being recipients of His justice and righteousness, He now wanted them to show justice and righteousness to others. After being delivered from the hand of their oppressor, Egypt, He now wanted them to provide deliverance for others who were being oppressed. They had experienced no wrong or violence from His hand, so He now wanted them to do no wrong or violence to anyone else – regardless of how low their estate was.

The goodness which we experience from God is not for us to keep to ourselves, but to share with others. As His followers, we are blessed beyond measure with good and perfect gifts…and because we are so blessed by Him, He wants us to be a blessing for Him.

As Christ loves us, so we should love others.

As many times as Christ forgives us when we hurt Him, so we should forgive others when they hurt us.

As Christ is compassionate towards us, so we should be compassionate towards others.

Old Testament In a Year: October 27 – Jeremiah 47, 48

Jeremiah 47, 48
Focus Verse: For, because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken; and Chemosh shall go into exile with his priests and his officials. – Jeremiah 48:7

The people of Moab thought their works and their riches could keep them safe and protect them from God’s judgment…but they were wrong. Those who live their lives outside of God’s will cannot escape the consequences that will ultimately come from doing so. True safety can only be found by those who abide in God and place their confidence in Him.

Old Testament In a Year: October 26 – Jeremiah 25, 45, 46

Jeremiah 25, 45, 46
Focus Verse: Fear not, O Jacob My servant, declares the Lord, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished. – Jeremiah 46:28

Much of the book of Jeremiah details God’s strong condemnation of Israel’s disobedience toward Him. It tells of coming chastisement due to their rejection of His commands. Yet, God does not leave Israel without hope.

After their land has been ravaged, after spending many years in captivity, after enduring famine and siege and sickness and bloodshed, after being abused and beaten down and nearly destroyed…God promises to save Israel. He promises to bring them out of captivity. He promises that they will return to their own land and once again have quiet and ease.

Amid utter failure, Israel does not have to fear. Amid devastating destruction, Israel is encouraged not to be dismayed. God will be with Israel through pain, rejection, and captivity. He will be with them in a foreign land among pagan people. He will be with His own in a fiery furnace, before a prideful king, and in a lion’s den.

Because of His character, God does not cast us off when we repeatedly disobey Him, but neither can He bless us. He rightfully chastises us, but amid His chastisement, He still cares for us. He walks with us as He wounds us. And after He wounds us, God also bandages us. His hand that hurt us, also heals us.

Old Testament In a Year: October 25 – Jeremiah 20, 35, 36

Jeremiah 20, 35, 36
Focus Verse: The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to Me. – Jeremiah 35:14

Our Heavenly Father desires for us as His children to obey Him the way Jonadab’s sons obeyed their father. He wants us to obey Him not only when we understand His commands or when we have something to gain from obeying His commands, but He wants us to obey Him day in and day out.

He wants us to follow Him even when we do not know the way He is leading us. He wants us to keep moving forward even when we cannot see the next step. He wants us to maintain faith in Him even amidst moments of fear.

He wants us to trust and obey Him because there is no other way to live a blessed life in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

We can never say that we do not know what God’s commands are. He has given them to us in His Word and He often uses people and situations in our lives to reveal to us His will for us.

God is speaking. The question is: Are we listening?

Old Testament In a Year: October 24 – Jeremiah 18, 19

Jeremiah 18, 19
Focus Verse: And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. – Jeremiah 18:4

With our sins, mistakes, failures, and all-around imperfection, we are often like damaged clay in the hands of God. But God is a gifted potter, and if our hearts are pliable and not hardened, He is able to reshape us into a work of art.

Before we are even born, God has a specific purpose for each of us and He shapes us to fulfill that purpose. But many times, the difficulties of life end up clouding the purpose that God made us to fulfill. Life mars us, bruises us, cracks us, and sometimes breaks us. In such a damaged condition, we are no longer spiritually, emotionally, or mentally fit to fulfill the purpose which God originally intended for us to fulfill.

In His grace and love, however, God does not leave us damaged. He does not give up on us.

He takes us into His hands, once again, and reshapes us into another form that will help us better fulfill the purpose He has for. As it seems good to Him, God reworks our sins to point others to His salvation…He reworks our mistakes to be used for ministry…and He reworks our failures to increase our faith.

Like clay in the hand of a potter, so are we in the hands of God.

Old Testament In a Year: October 23 – Jeremiah 15, 16, 17

Jeremiah 15, 16, 17
Focus Verse: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. – Jeremiah 17:7

If we put our confidence in ourselves or in other people, our heart will be turned away from the only One who deserves our confidence. Our lives will be like dry shrubs in the desert, unable to bear fruit…like parched land, unable to bring forth any good results.

If we trust in our own righteousness (which is nonexistent) and depend upon our own strength, we will not prosper. If we think we are good without God, we will not abound in grace.

But if we put our confidence in God, our lives will be like a well-watered tree, bringing forth much fruit…like fertile land, flourishing amid drought. If we trust in God’s righteousness and depend on His strength, we will experience eternal hope and perfect peace. We will have enough…more than enough and will never stop bearing good fruit.