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A Higher Standard

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Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 33-34:22; 1 Timothy 4:1-16; Psalm 89:1-13; Proverbs 25:23-24

Old Testament

Despite the people of Jerusalem’s best efforts, fighting against the Babylonians was useless (Jeremiah 33:4-5). The outcome had already been decided even before the battle began because God had abandoned His people due to their incredible sin. This is essentially the definition of “hell” only hell will be permanent and eternal.

Hell is the absence of God. If we think things are bad on this earth now with all the mass shootings, and corporate greed, and terrorist attacks, and rampant diseases… this is nothing compared to hell. At least on this earth God makes sure things don’t get too far out of hand. But since God won’t be in hell at all – only human beings and angels who stubbornly rejected God will be there – it will be infinitely worse than the worst thing that will ever happen on this planet.

In these verses we see that God has a breaking point. For hundreds of years He tolerated their sinful lifestyle. He kept calling to them to come back to Him for their sake. But they ignored Him. God was very patient. But now there was no turning back. Babylon was going to conquer them and destroy their nation.

The obvious parallels to the United States are stunning. We, too, have eliminated God from our society. We’ve murdered 1, 375,000 unborn children every year, on average, for the past 40 years  (27% of all pregnancies). The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Our government is corrupt. Frankly, I’m amazed we’re still here. God is more patient than I. But as we’ve learned, His patience will run out at some point. At some point He’ll stop asking us nicely and inflict some heavy punishment on us to get us to come back to Him… all for our benefit.

Nevertheless, God promised to restore Israel as an independent nation (Jeremiah 33:6-13). This happened in 1948. But the complete fulfillment of this prophecy will happen when Jesus returns and reigns on the earth for 1,000 years (Jeremiah 33:14-16). It will not be until this time that Jews fully accept Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. What a great day that will be! It will be like two long-lost relatives finding each other after many years… only better.

The authors of the Bible  wrote with such specificity that if they were lying then their writings would have been exposed as fraudulent centuries ago. Case in point: Jeremiah 34:7. In this verse Jeremiah tells exactly when he was writing. Not by just giving a date – that would be how man would identify the time period – but by referencing a simultaneous event. This is extremely clever tactic (only God would think of it) and allows for corroboration. Historical documents, namely the Lachish Letters in the British and Rockefeller (Jerusalem) museums, verify that the city was under siege at this very point in history.

Many critics believe the Bible is completely self-contained without any outside, verifiable sources. As we’ve seen a few times this year, this thinking is false. God clearly wrote the Bible in such a way as to provide such verification. Thousands of historical artifacts in museums all over the world back up what the Bible says.

New Testament

Human beings are created creatures who are susceptible to being deceived. Paul told us in Ephesians 6 we are in a struggle not against other human beings but against evil spirits who are trying to deceive us. He repeats this warning in 1 Timothy 4:1. Anyone who speaks anything other than God’s truth – either intentionally or by accident – has bought into the lies of Satan and his minions.

God has already told us that angels are watching us all the time. The good angels are learning from us. The bad ones are trying to trip us up. I believe that there are invisible spirits in our presence 24/7. We know there is light at either end of the spectrum we cannot see (infrared and ultraviolet)… why can there not be angels around us we cannot see?

Many will teach people that the way to God is by keeping a set of rules – earning our way to heaven (1 Timothy 4:3) but this is false. The burden is on each person to verify the information he/she is getting. After we die and face Jesus we won’t be able to use the excuse “Well, so-and-so told me all I needed to do was be a good person…”. This will not work. We are responsible for our own eternity. Our society allows us to shift blame to others. But God doesn’t stoop that low. He holds us to a higher standard.

Timothy was a young pastor receiving encouragement and instruction from Paul in this letter. Notice that Paul tells Timothy that his primary job as pastor is to explain God’s word to his congregation (1 Timothy 4:6, 11). The job of a pastor is to provide us with truth and keep us on track (1 Timothy 4:7). It is up to us to act upon that truth. Again, we are ultimately responsible for ourselves.


In times of trouble the Christian can remain strong because God has promised to protect us. Our hope is not in government or friends or even family. Things may not always go as we like – to expect such is childish and selfish – but no matter what God will remain faithful to His promises (Psalm 89:1-4).

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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