Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 42-44:23; 2 Timothy 2:1-21; Psalm 92-93:5; Proverbs 26:3-5
Today we read a scene that is similar to what still happens today. Some Judeans ask for God’s advice (through Jeremiah) and promise to do whatever He says (Jeremiah 42:5-6). But when God responds in a way that they don’t want to hear, they go back on their promise (Jeremiah 42:10-18, 43:1-2).
So often we vow to follow whatever path God sets for us only to decide later that we’d rather do things our own way. This is the story of human history – doing things our own way rather than God’s way. In the end the remnant of Judah got nothing but trouble. So too have we created nothing but trouble for ourselves.
When we do our own thing and make up our own rules we are only destroying ourselves (Jeremiah 44:7). What’s even sadder is that people don’t seem to care and, as a whole, show no remorse for these decisions (Jeremiah 44:10).
Just like the Judeans our country doesn’t want to listen to God. We do what we think will make things better (Jeremiah 44:16-17). Yet the problems the United States faces keep growing with nothing getting solved. We actually believe we can dig ourselves out of the hole we’ve created and we don’t need God’s help.
The Judeans blamed their problems on giving up their false gods for the true God (Jeremiah 44:17-18). Similarly, at some point our country decided that our problems can actually be solved by eliminating the Bible from our culture. Removing prayer and any mention of Jesus from schools is somehow beneficial to children’s development. Allowing same-sex marriage will make society better. Raising the debt ceiling (again) and running up $17,000,000,000 debt (which we just passed a week ago) is somehow wise. Making abortions cheaper and more plentiful allegedly improves our lives.
Eliminating God is not the answer – it is the problem. We’ve been eliminating God for at least 60 years and things have only gotten worse – much worse. Yet the vast majority of our country, including our leaders, don’t even want to consider this. The success and prosperity the United States enjoyed for 200+ years came from God and God alone. If we eliminate Him we eliminate any chance of future success and prosperity. God tells us as such in the Bible. And, without question, the past few decades confirm this fact.
Timothy apparently had a difficult time being strong in the face of adversity. 2 Timothy 2:1 is one of twenty-five times Paul tells Timothy to “be strong”. Notice that Paul didn’t tell Timothy to find the strength within himself which is what we tell ourselves today. Paul tells Timothy to find strength in the grace that God provided in Jesus. Knowing that we are one of God’s adopted children for whom He will fight is a great encouragement. But… this promise is only for those who are Christians (Paul’s audience for this letter is Timothy – a born-again believer).
Timothy was taught by Paul. Paul subsequently commands Timothy to teach others who can be trusted to teach even more people (2 Timothy 2:2). God’s truth is not meant to be buried in our own minds. We are to share it with those who do not know it. Studying the Bible is not simply an intellectual exercise. It certainly makes us more knowledgeable. But we should be willing to tell others what we’ve learned.
The Roman government thought they could stop the spread of God’s truth by putting Paul in prison and subsequently executing him (which happened shortly after he wrote this letter). Killing Christians – like beheading them or feeding them to hungry lions in front of thousands of morbidly-excited spectators – won’t work.
The Bible has been attacked more than any other book through history. It has been burned, banned, mocked, twisted, and ignored – but it has never gone away. God will not let it because it is the truth that all people need. I see a day coming when the United States government treats the Bible similarly. Just two years ago the mayors of Boston and Chicago declared that Chick-fil-A was unwelcome in their cities because its owner is a Christian. We can expect more of this type of thing in the future.
God gives a clear warning to anyone who would deny Him in 2 Timothy 2:12. If anyone denies God He will deny them. God will let us make our own decisions. If someone wants to be an atheist or believe in a false-god, like Allah, God will let you. But when you die God will deny you. As Jesus said, He will have to tell many people, upon their death, to “go away” (to hell) because He didn’t know them (Matthew 7:23). If someone dies without having a relationship with God through Jesus, God will have to deny them entry into heaven. That is how it works. And its all up to you.
Proverbs 26:4 & 5 seem contradictory but they are not. When someone makes a comment attacking the Bible that comment needs to be evaluated to determine whether a response should be given. If the comment touches on meaningless issues then its best to leave it alone. Otherwise arguing will only give credibility to the comment.
If, on the other other hand, the comment is in regard to an important theological concept then ignoring it will make the person think he is right.
Christians need to be slow to respond to comments that attack the Bible. We should first evaluate them to see if a response would be helpful or hurtful. This will often require prayer. Then, if necessary, a thoughtful response, directed by the Holy Spirit, should be given.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.