Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 51:54-52:34; Titus 3:1-15; Psalm 100:1-5; Proverbs 26:18-19
We finish up the book of Jeremiah today with some final prophecy about Babylon and the recording of the downfall of Jerusalem.
Even though God had allowed Babylon to conquer Judah it was not right for them to do so. What they did was sin and it had to be repaid. Every sinful act or thought of every human being is known to God and must be accounted for because God is 100% just (Jeremiah 51:56). He is not like human beings who ignore sin or minimize it. It would be unfair to let any sin slide.
The payment for even one drop of sin is eternal separation from God (we call this “hell”). But since every person is sinful this means that no one could ever be in heaven. So God came to earth as Jesus, got nailed to a cross, and went to hell for 3 days to pay for the sins of the world. So in the end all sin is paid for – either by the sinner (you and me) or by Jesus. Those who believe in Jesus for the payment of their sins go to heaven (John 3:16). Those who choose to pay the penalty themselves do not.
Jeremiah’s prophecy about Babylon was given to King Zedekiah of Judah five years before Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 51:59, 52:4). This was 75 years before Babylon would fall to Persia which wasn’t a very large or powerful nation at the time of the prophecy. I’m sure the Babylonians did not take this message seriously when they heard it. But pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). No nation is too strong to withstand God’s discipline, even today.
Jeremiah 52 records the final destruction of Jerusalem including the taking of the items in the Temple which fulfilled the prophecy he had given earlier (Jeremiah 27:19-22). Notice that another alleged prophet, Hananiah, had erroneously predicted that the items already taken would be returned in 2 years as would those people already exiled. Neither of these things happened, demonstrating that the proof of a true prophet is if the things he says actually come true. Since we know that Jeremiah was a true prophet who actually heard from God we can believe all of his writings.
The book of Jeremiah ends on a somewhat happy note as Evil-merodach, the next Babylonian king after Nebuchadnezzar, releases Jehoiachin from prison and treats him kindly (Jeremiah 52:31-34). This foreshadows the ultimate release of the Jews from Babylonian captivity approximately 70 years later by Cyrus of Persia.
Even though our government is increasingly, and almost exclusively, a-theistic Christians are commanded to obey the law (Titus 3:1). However, when secular law conflicts with God’s law I think we must follow God’s law even if there are penalties from our government for doing so. By standing up for God’s truth we will honor God and also teach others who are unaware of what God demands of us. Government decides what is allowed but God decides what is right.
The world around us is enslaved to many sins and Christians used to be like this (Titus 3:3). That is why we must be patient and humble with non-believers. We once lived just like they did. The phrase “remember where you came from” certainly applies here. We often hear stories of professional athletes who grew up dirt-poor but made it big. Some of them have a hard time with the fame and the money. But those who can remember their humble beginnings often display the most character. Its similar with Christians. We should never forget what we have been saved from.
Paul also reminds us that we are saved not because of anything we have done but because of God’s mercy (Titus 3:5). We didn’t ask to be saved. We didn’t even know we needed to be saved. God took it upon Himself, out of His great love and compassion for us, to give us a chance at new life. Keeping this in mind leads to humility.
The result of having someone save your life – including your eternal one – is gratitude. As thanks to God Christians are to commit themselves to doing good things (Titus 3:8). Notice that good works do not save – they come after salvation – and are a response to the merciful kindness God has shown us. These good works will be noticed by unbelievers and will in turn point them to God.
Its easy to forget that we are not our own. God made us and we belong to Him (Psalm 100:3). He owns us and takes care of us like a shepherd takes care of his sheep. For this we should be thankful and offer Him praise (Psalm 100:4).
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