Old Testament In a Year: October 21 – Jeremiah 7, 8, 26

Jeremiah 7, 8, 26
Focus Verse: Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.” – Jeremiah 26:12

After Jeremiah had finished speaking the word of the Lord – a word that was by no means nice – to the cities of Judah, he was grabbed by the priests and the prophets and all the people and threatened with death. Imagine that! The priests and prophets grabbed Jeremiah because he spoke the word of the Lord to them – the same Lord that they claimed to worship. Not only did they grab him, they threatened to kill him – a sin! – something which priests and prophets weren’t supposed to commit.

I’m sure Jeremiah must have been perplexed. Like: Yo, God, I obeyed You. I said everything You told me to say – the good, the bad, and the ugly…well, just the bad and the ugly because there wasn’t any good in those words. But still, I obeyed You, and now this? I’m being threatened with death! Can’t a guy get a break?

Regardless of what Jeremiah thought about his situation, however, he wasn’t about to disobey God. Even when threatened with death, Jeremiah remained faithful. When questioned about why he spoke the way he spoke and why he prophesied what he prophesied, Jeremiah said, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.” This wasn’t Jeremiah’s doing. Truth be told, he probably wouldn’t have minded living a safe and comfortable life that didn’t require him to be grabbed and threatened with death. But because God sent Jeremiah to speak, he spoke. Because God told Jeremiah to prophesy, he prophesied. And he never spoke or prophesied what he wanted to say or what he thought should be said, but only what God wanted him to say.

Because Jeremiah’s faith in God was firm, he knew his life was in God’s hands and that nothing could happen to him unless God allowed it to happen. Because Jeremiah’s obedience to God was unquestionable, it didn’t matter what he was faced with, it wasn’t going to cause him to stop doing what he had been called to do.

When He was here on earth, Jesus the Christ lived in complete obedience to His Father. Everything that His Father wanted Him to do, He did. Every word that His Father wanted Him to say, He said. Every place that His Father wanted Him to go, He went. But where did Jesus’ complete obedience take Him? To the cross. To pain. To betrayal. To hate. To death.

Complete, unquestionable obedience to God does not mean a safe life or an easy life. In fact, the more we do what God wants us to do, the more we will experience persecution by those who are not doing what God wants them to do. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should stop doing what God has called us to do. We should remain faithful. We should follow the path of obedience no matter where it takes us, keeping in mind that present persecution and present pain can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.

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Old Testament In a Year: October 20 – Jeremiah 6, 11, 12

Jeremiah 6, 11, 12
Focus Verse: Righteous are You, O Lord, when I complain to You; yet I would plead my case before You. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? – Jeremiah 12:1

Jeremiah comes to God with an age-old concern: Why does the way of those who are wicked prosper? Why do those who are treacherous thrive?

In presenting his concern, however, Jeremiah does not question the goodness of God. Even though unrighteousness and injustice seem to have the upper hand in the world, Jeremiah does not doubt God’s righteousness. In fact, it is because Jeremiah knows God is good and righteous that he asks why those with the opposite qualities always seem to win the day. In Jeremiah’s mind, this is irreconcilable with God’s character. Since God is good, should not those who strive to do good be the ones who prosper? If God is righteous, should not those who hunger and thirst after righteousness be the ones who thrive?

God is still being presented with the same concern by many today: Why do bad things happen to good people?

When we find ourselves contemplating such a question, we shouldn’t be afraid to bring it to God for an answer. We shouldn’t be afraid to complain to Him or to plead our case before Him. Whatever it is we don’t understand, we can let Him know about it. Because God is God, He is big enough to handle all of our concerns, doubts, and questions. We should not, however, let our concerns, doubts, or questions cloud the truth of who God is.

God is good even when we do not understand His ways.

God is righteous even when we think that we or someone else is being treated unfairly.

We must live in the light of the truth of who God is. Just. Holy. Wise. No matter how critical our concerns or how dark our doubts may be, they too must submit to the truth of God’s character. Divine. Ethical. Faultless.

Old Testament In a Year: October 19 – Jeremiah 3, 4, 5

Jeremiah 3, 4, 5
Focus Verse: Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever.” – Jeremiah 3:12

Israel had taken her rebellion and faithlessness toward God to an extraordinary level, but God’s compassion toward Israel remained greater still.

Despite all her sins and failures, God wanted Israel to return to Him. He called for Israel to return to Him. If she returned to Him, He would not treat her with anger, but with mercy.

But in returning to God, Israel had to acknowledge that she had turned from Him in the first place. She had to acknowledge her rebellion against God, her failure to obey His voice, and the guilt of her sins. Only with confession and repentance on Israel’s part would God be able to heal her faithlessness and bless her again.

We cannot return to God and call for His mercy to cover us without acknowledging that we turned away from Him in the first place. God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but before He forgives and cleanses us of our sin, we must first confess and repent of it.

Old Testament In a Year: October 18 – Jeremiah 1, 2

Jeremiah 1, 2
Focus Verse: Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in Me that they went far from Me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?” – Jeremiah 2:5

On behalf of God, Jeremiah asks the people of Israel why they forsook Him. Was it because they found some evil in God? Was it because God wronged them in some way? No and no.

There was no evil to be found in God. There was no wrong that He did. God only acted in goodness and love towards His people. The evil was to be found in them. They were the ones who wronged God. They left that which was worthy to pursue worthlessness, and in pursuing worthlessness, they became worthless.

We are no different from Israel. Our hearts are prone to wander away from the One who has been nothing but good to us. We are prone to leave the God who we claim to love, the God who we know loves us. We do not wander because we find wrong in God. We wander because of the wrong within us. We do not leave because there is fault in God. We leave because of the fault within us.

But in leaving God, we exchange worth for worthlessness…glory for shame…the fountain of living waters for broken containers that can hold no water. Our lives, which were a fertile field when we walked with God, become an arid desert without Him. Because without God, there can be no glory. Without the Maker, there can be no meaning. Without Living Water, there can be no abundant life.

Old Testament In a Year: October 17 – 2 Chronicles 35; Habakkuk 1, 2, 3

2 Chronicles 35; Habakkuk 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. – Habakkuk 3:18

In this Scripture passage, the word “yet” is used as a conjunction meaning “but at the same time; but nevertheless.”

Habakkuk is saying that even though he, his people, and their land are not presently experiencing blessings, his faith will remain in God. They are being afflicted, but at the same time Habakkuk will rejoice in the Lord. They are going through trouble, but nevertheless Habakkuk will take joy in the God of his salvation.

Habakkuk can rejoice amid distress because he has hope in God that Israel’s present affliction will not last forever. Their salvation will come. He has confidence that his strength, which is God, will bring Israel out of their low estate and enable them to walk on high places.

We too can determine like Habakkuk to rejoice in God regardless of what we’re going through. In this world, we will have trouble, but we can take joy in God because He is our salvation and strength and has already overcome the world. Amid distress, affliction, and doubt, we can look back and remember the great things that God has done in the past for others and be confident that God will do those great things – and even greater things – again in the future for us. Such confidence will fill us with joy.

Though we experience loss, yet we will rejoice in the Lord. Though our crosses are heavy to bear, yet we will take joy in God. Our present losses and crosses will not last forever. Our Savior will come. And where He is, we will be also.

Old Testament In a Year: October 16 – Zephaniah 1, 2, 3

Zephaniah 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. – Zephaniah 3:15

In this verse, Zephaniah gives several reasons for why Zion should sing, shout, and rejoice.

First, the judgments which were leveled against Zion because of her past sins have been taken away by God. The taking away of the judgments shows that Zion has repented, God has forgiven, and their relationship has been restored.

Second, God has cleared away Zion’s enemies. Those who God used to carry out judgments against Zion are no longer around to afflict, taunt, or destroy them.

Third, (and this is the best reason of all) God Himself is in the midst of Zion, ruling and watching over them as their very own King. Because God is no longer in some far off place, but is living right there among them, Zion does not have to fear evil. Nothing that is wrong can happen to them. Zion can experience peace.

We are still waiting to experience the physical presence of God, but His spiritual presence is already in our midst. It is not in some far off place. It is inside of us. Because God dwells inside of us, we have everything we need to succeed. Nothing around us is bigger, greater, more powerful than what we have within us. Because God is in our midst, we have nothing to fear.

Old Testament In a Year: October 15 – 2 Chronicles 33, 34

2 Chronicles 33, 34
Focus Verse: And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. – 2 Chronicles 34:2

Big props to Josiah right here. I mean, when this kid became king, he was not playing. He was dead serious about following God.

Josiah’s determination and dedication to following God is such a big deal because: (1) his immediate family background was not super Godly by any stretch of the imagination, and (2) he was only an eight-year-old.

Focusing on point one, let’s back up to the previous chapter (33) in which we are introduced to Josiah’s granddaddy, Manasseh, and his daddy, Amon. Manasseh was just about to hit his teen years when he started to reign in Judah at the age of twelve. But unlike Josiah, Scripture says, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” He built altars to false gods. He worshipped the sun, the moon, and the stars. He burned his sons as an offering. He used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery. He had dealings with mediums and with necromancers. Not only did Manasseh do evil, but he led his people to do evil, as well. He did so much evil that God was angered by it.

Manassah, stop your evil, God warned him. Or something really bad is going to come of it.

But Manassah did not pay God any attention. He went right on doing evil.

So, God had another king – the king of Assyria – to capture Manasseh with hooks and bind him with bronze chains. He was taken from his kingdom of Judah and forced to live like a prisoner in the king of Assyria’s kingdom of Babylon. Now, God had Manassah’s attention. Now, Manassah knew that God was God.

O God, I’m so sorry for doing evil, Manassah cried. O God, please hear me. Please save me.

Did God hear him? Did God save him?

It may be hard to believe, but even after all the bad things Manassah had done, God did hear him and God did save him…because God is awesome like that. He didn’t stay angry at Manassah. He still loved Manassah. And because Manassah was truly sorry for doing evil, he was allowed to return to Judah. Once he returned to home sweet home, Manassah tore down all altars to false gods and he no longer worshipped the sun, the moon, and the stars. For the rest of his days, he only worshipped God. When he died, his son, Amon, became king.

Amon was twenty-two-years-old when he started to reign in Judah. You would think that after seeing all his daddy went through, Amon wouldn’t even think about doing evil. But, no. Amon took the sins of his daddy to a whole nother level. He was so bad that the Bible doesn’t even bother to elaborate on his badness. I’m guessing that Amon’s servants didn’t want to put up with another bad boy extraordinaire because after two short years they conspired against Amon and killed him. This act was unfortunate, but it cleared the way for Amon’s son, Josiah, to become king.

Now, Josiah was smart. Daddy and granddaddy, I love y’all and all, he said. But I’m wearing the crown now and I don’t have time to repeat y’all’s mistakes. I gotta be about doing what’s right.

Focusing on point two, Scripture says that Josiah was eight-years-old when he started to reign in Judah. Can you imagine: One day, you’re just struggling to keep up with third grade homework assignments, and the next day, you’re told that your daddy has been murdered and you’re responsible for running his kingdom? I know. No big deal. Right?

Right, Josiah said. I got this.

Even though he was just a kid, Josiah was already dedicated to doing what was right in the eyes of God. He was already determined to follow the good example of David and not the bad examples of his daddy and granddaddy. He was already devoted to practicing righteousness and would not be turned aside to the right or to the left.

One is never too young to seek God, to have a heart that is tender to His Word, and to have a spirit that is humble before Him. You do not have to follow what those before you did or what those around you are doing. Follow God. Determine to walk after Him and to keep His Word, with all your heart and with all your soul. In the words you say, in the things you do, and in the ways you love, set an example for others…then no one will look down on you because you are young.

Old Testament In a Year: October 14 – Nahum 1, 2, 3

old-testament-in-a-year-october-14

Nahum 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him. – Nahum 1:7

God is good.

In all that He does and in all that He allows, God is good. In and of Himself, God is good.

Even in days of trouble, He is still good. And because He is good, He will work those days of trouble out for the good of all who take refuge in Him. Everyone who trusts in Him, He knows by name and He loves and protects them.

Old Testament In a Year: October 13 – Micah 6, 7

Micah 6, 7
Focus Verse: But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. – Micah 7:7

I like the decisiveness with which the prophet Micah speaks in this verse. He is resolute; He is determined; He displays no hesitation as to where his trust lies.

I don’t know who other people are looking to, Micah says. But as for me, I will look to the Lord.

I don’t know who others are waiting for or if they are even waiting at all. But as for me, I will wait for the God of my salvation.

I don’t know if others are confident that God will hear them. But as for me, my God will hear me.

Micah uses the verb will in all three of his statements. Will, in this sense, means that the thing that has been stated is about to happen or is going to happen. No ifs, buts, or maybes. It will happen. With Micah, there is no doubt as to where his God is or to what his God can do.