Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 23:21-25:38; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; Psalm 84:1-12; Proverbs 25:15
The world is filled with people who claim to speak God’s truth even though they have never heard from Him (Jeremiah 23:21-22).
Joseph Smith, the inventor of Mormonism, claimed God told Him the Bible was wrong and he needed to write a new one. Recently the Pope declared that homosexuality and abortion are not definitively sinful despite the clear and precise language in the Bible. Some denominations even state unequivocally that homosexuality is not sin.
The truth is the Bible. We know this because the Bible is the only holy book that contains specific prophecies that have come true. We’ll see one of the more amazing ones today. No other scripture – Koran, Book of Mormon, Hindu writings – contain clear, precise, and measurable prophecies. But the Bible does. And they have come true.
So when we hear people speaking on behalf of God all we have to do is compare what they say against what God says (in the Bible). If it matches, then that person is speaking accurately. If it does not, that person should not be followed.
Even though God was sending Judah into exile in Babylon, He promised to watch over them and care for them while they were there (Jeremiah 24:6) Notice that God is giving them exactly what they wanted. They didn’t want anything to do with Him, so He abandoned them. He removed His protection from them which in turn opened the door for the Babylonian invasion. Yet through it all God still cared for them.
God is love. And love does not force itself on someone. Love lets others make their own decisions. Attempting to control someone is not love for that person – it is love of self. God will let people reject Him. But He will never stop caring for them. This does not mean that there won’t be consequences for that decision. God will allow people to reject His offer to be with Him in heaven for all of eternity. But the consequence of that will be disastrous.
Notice too that God held the Judean leaders to a higher standard. He does not promise to protect them while they are in exile. Instead they will receive the worst treatment of all from their captors (Jeremiah 24:9). God tasks leaders with leading others to Him. This includes government leaders, business leaders, educators, and parents… anyone who has people subordinate to them. Any leader who prevents others from learning about God or who spreads false information about God will have a very difficult eternity, to put it mildly.
We’ve seen this numerous times in our Bible reading this year but it bears repeating. Every problem we have is a result of our sin (Jeremiah 25:7). We have no one to blame but ourselves. God wants to bless us. That is His first choice. But He isn’t going to do that if we continue to disobey. Otherwise we, as the not-too-bright creatures that we are, would receive those blessings as affirmation of our behavior.
Earlier in the year we read the amazing prophecy from Isaiah in which he predicts, almost 200 years before the fact, that a Persian king named Cyrus would conquer Babylon. History shows us this came true. Today we read another amazingly precise prophecy. In it God tells us that the Jews would be held captive in Babylon for exactly 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). History again confirms this happened just as God said it would. Prophecies like these were put in the Bible by God and are how we know the Bible is true.
The people in Thessalonika were afraid that Jesus had already returned to earth, gathered His people, and returned to heaven and that they (the Thessalonians) had missed it. Paul lets them know that this is not true because the events that must precede this had not happened yet (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). Before Jesus returns some very precise prophecies have to come true.
First, Israel had to become a nation again which it did in 1948. The next event on God’s timetable is the Rapture of believers – the split-second in time when God removes His children from the earth to spare them of upcoming collapse of the world system. This has not happened yet. At this time the world will go into mass-rebellion against God (how sad) and a certain man will arise on the world stage. We refer to this person as the antichrist.
This man will rule the entire world and demand to be worshipped as God Himself (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Notice that he will sit in the Temple. In order for that to happen the Jewish temple needs to be rebuilt. Here is another very specific prophecy that we can be looking for.
Many people will follow the antichrist because he will be able to perform miracles. But the true force behind those miracles will not be God – as they were in the case of Jesus’ miracles – it will be Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
End-times events (known as “eschatology”) is my favorite Bible subject. What we read today is just a glimpse of what God has revealed to us about those future days. We’ll learn more about it as we continue reading the Bible for the next 10 weeks.
It is a compliment for someone to invite us into their home. We feel welcome and wanted. Similarly, God invites and welcomes us into His home – the church. I find that when I walk into my church that the troubles and stress of life dissipates for 90 minutes. During that time I am with God, singing songs to Him and filling my mind with His teachings. This brings strength – His strength – into my life (Psalm 84:5)
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