Day 9: God Cannot Coexist with Sin

Lamentations 2:15-17 :

All that pass by clap their hands at you.
They hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying,
“Is this the city that men called ‘The perfection of beauty,
the joy of the whole earth’?”

All your enemies have opened their mouth wide against you.
They hiss and gnash their teeth.
They say, “We have swallowed her up.
Certainly this is the day that we looked for.
We have found it.
We have seen it.”

Yahweh has done that which he planned.
He has fulfilled his word that he commanded in the days of old.
He has thrown down,
and has not pitied.
He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you.
He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.

There was a time when Jerusalem was so wealthy that silver was as common as gravel. Foreigners would travel from far away to see it. It wasn’t just the beauty that they wanted to see. It was the wisdom that they longed to hear from the God of Israel. Jerusalem was a sign to the world that God was real and that He wanted a relationship with mankind, but now, after the exile and the destruction, the city became something else.

This passage reminds us that “Yahweh has done that which he planned.” As a reminder, let’s go look at those plans.

Deuteronomy 29:22-28 :

The generation to come—your children who will rise up after you, and the foreigner who will come from a far land—will say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses with which Yahweh has made it sick, that all of its land is sulfur, salt, and burning, that it is not sown, doesn’t produce, nor does any grass grow in it, like the overthrow of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which Yahweh overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath. Even all the nations will say, “Why has Yahweh done this to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?”

Then men will say, “Because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they didn’t know and that he had not given to them. Therefore Yahweh’s anger burned against this land, to bring on it all the curses that are written in this book. Yahweh rooted them out of their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and thrust them into another land, as it is today.”

Why would God plan such a beautiful thing, only to destroy it because of mankind’s failures? We now know that God did it to demonstrate the seriousness of our sin problem. The fact is that mankind has no hope in religion. There is no process by which we can make ourselves sinless. God used the history of Jerusalem to demonstrate that to us. When we try to be religious, we may start out well, but because sin is still living inside of our minds, it eventually works its way back out. God cannot coexist with sin and because of that, something had to be done about our sin before God could live with us.

Jerusalem was built back up but not with its original glory. Someday, it will be more glorious than it has ever been. That’s because mankind’s sin problem has been permanently removed by Jesus. When the time is right, He will return and restore Jerusalem and it will never be destroyed again.

Day 144: Yahweh Our Righteousness Once Again

Jeremiah 33:14-16

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that I will perform that good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah.
“In those days and at that time,
I will cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up to David.
He will execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved,
and Jerusalem will dwell safely.
This is the name by which she will be called:
Yahweh our righteousness.”

If this passage seems familiar, it’s because God already said something very similar back in Jeremiah 23:5-6. Although they are similar, they are actually different. It would appear that God is reminding Jeremiah, and us that He still intends for there to be a day when a Son of David will reign on earth in Jerusalem. At that time, He will “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” To Jeremiah, all hell was breaking loose as the current leadership in Israel was acting unrighteously and a foreign king was being allowed to destroy God’s city. I believe that it was very encouraging for Jeremiah to hear this. Isn’t it good to see how much God cares about our mental state when we are enduring persecution? Notice that He has no trouble repeating things if necessary.

I’d like to discuss one of the big differences between what is said here and what is said in Jeremiah 23. In the Jeremiah 23 passage, it says that there will be a King and He will be called “Yahweh our righteousness.” In this passage, it says that Jerusalem will be called “Yahweh our righteousness.” That’s one of those things that could seem like a contradiction, but it doesn’t have to be seen that way at all. When we assume that there were no mistakes here, all it means is that both Jesus and Jerusalem will be called the same thing. That is an amazing blessing don’t you think? It’s actually just a repeat of what God already said long before. Let’s look at that again.

Deuteronomy 12:11

…then it shall happen that to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the wave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow to Yahweh.

So here we read that God told Moses that there would be a place that God would cause His name to dwell. So it makes sense the Jerusalem would be called by the Messiah’s name. This isn’t a hard thing for most of us to understand today either. What happens to a woman’s name when she marries a man? Traditionally, she is then called by his name. This is pretty neat because Jeremiah is reminded, by God, that when this future king takes over, Jerusalem will be called by God’s name and that must mean that, somehow, Jerusalem is made righteous again.

That brings up the biggest point of all about this name. How can we be righteous when we have already spoiled our lives by sinning? This passage reminds us to look at Jerusalem. Jesus is our righteousness, just as Jesus is theirs. They didn’t deserve it and they were better than most of us to start out with. The Messiah’s name reminds us that we are righteous because His righteousness is given to us. If it weren’t for Israel’s Messiah, there would be no hope for anyone because He is our righteousness.

Day 142: The New World Order

Jeremiah 33:1-9

Moreover Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still locked up in the court of the guard, saying, “Yahweh who does it, Yahweh who forms it to establish it—Yahweh is his name, says: ‘Call to me, and I will answer you, and will show you great and difficult things, which you don’t know.’ For Yahweh, the God of Israel, says concerning the houses of this city and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are broken down to make a defense against the mounds and against the sword: ‘While men come to fight with the Chaldeans, and to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have killed in my anger and in my wrath, and for all whose wickedness I have hidden my face from this city, behold, I will bring it health and healing, and I will cure them; and I will reveal to them abundance of peace and truth. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel, and will build them as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against me. I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against me and by which they have transgressed against me. This city will be to me for a name of joy, for praise, and for glory, before all the nations of the earth, which will hear all the good that I do to them, and will fear and tremble for all the good and for all the peace that I provide to it.’ ”

Isn’t it interesting that while Jeremiah was locked up that God decided to give him visions of the future glory of Israel? I would imagine that Jeremiah’s face was changed in a way that the guards could see. Perhaps Jeremiah’s time in jail was one of the best times of his life. Isn’t it amazing how God can change things?

So here we have God’s plan to restore Israel stated again. God tells us that He “will cure them” and “will reveal to them abundance of peace and truth” and “will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned” against Him. He tells Jeremiah that Jerusalem will be “for a name of joy, for praise, and for glory, before all the nations of the earth,” for God. God says that “all the nations of the earth” will hear about what is going on in Jerusalem and will highly respect God for it. It’s pretty obvious that this hasn’t happened yet. Right now it would appear that all the nations of the world are ready to control Israel for themselves. The time that Jeremiah saw has yet to happen but when it does, the nations will not try to do anything except get down on their faces before God.

At that time, there really will be world peace and it will come out of Jerusalem. We don’t have to worry about wars. We don’t have to worry about socialism. We don’t have to worry about global warming. Jesus is the one we should be worrying about because He will be the one to bring in the new world order.

Day 112: Jeremiah Curses the Nations of the World

Jeremiah 25:15-29

For Yahweh, the God of Israel, says to me: “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from my hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. They will drink, and reel back and forth, and be insane, because of the sword that I will send among them.”

Then I took the cup at Yahweh’s hand, and made all the nations to drink, to whom Yahweh had sent me: Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, with its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is today; Pharaoh king of Egypt, with his servants, his princes, and all his people; and all the mixed people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, all the kings of the Philistines, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; Edom, Moab, and the children of Ammon; and all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the isle which is beyond the sea; Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who have the corners of their beard cut off; and all the kings of Arabia, all the kings of the mixed people who dwell in the wilderness; and all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world, which are on the surface of the earth. The king of Sheshach will drink after them.

“You shall tell them, ‘Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel says: “Drink, and be drunk, vomit, fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.” ’ It shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at your hand to drink, then you shall tell them, ‘Yahweh of Armies says: “You shall surely drink. For, behold, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name; and should you be utterly unpunished? You will not be unpunished; for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth, says Yahweh of Armies.” ’

As far as curses go, I think you could call this an epoch curse. Isn’t it amazing that as the people in Israel became more rebellious against Jeremiah and tried to fight against Him, God merely caused Jeremiah’s message to get worse and more expansive. Here we learn that Jeremiah was to force the nations to drink a cup of God’s wrath that would make them drunk. Evidently, they were to begin attacking one another until, eventually, everyone is involved. Could this have been a prediction of the world wars that were to come? It is possible but those wars are over. I think that world wars are just a beginning. Once again, we learn a great deal more when we read the last book of the Bible about what is going to happen. There will be wars of all wars at that time and destruction the likes of which we have never seen. I believe that God is warning the world that things are going to get worse and worse and ultimately end in a great destruction.

I believe that this destruction of the nation of Israel and of Jerusalem triggered the beginnings of the final judgment against the world. It would appear that God used Jeremiah to alert the whole world of that fact. Starting with the wrath against Jerusalem, wrath was going to spread to the ends of the earth. When the people of the world ask why they should be involved, God answers that if He’s going to punish Israel, He’s certainly going to punish the rest of the world too. The implication here, is that Israel was bad, but that just makes the evil nations that were never a part of God’s program to look even worse. After all, these nations participated in leading His nation away from God.

The simple fact that we keep reading about is that no man on earth can avoid the punishment he deserves because of sin. That goes for whole nations as well. Either we come to God on His terms and be saved, or we must be punished.

Day 98: Repetition and Reputation

Jeremiah 22:6-9

For Yahweh says concerning the house of the king of Judah:
“You are Gilead to me,
the head of Lebanon.
Yet surely I will make you a wilderness,
cities which are not inhabited.
I will prepare destroyers against you,
everyone with his weapons,
and they will cut down your choice cedars,
and cast them into the fire.

“Many nations will pass by this city, and they will each ask his neighbor, ‘Why has Yahweh done this to this great city?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh their God, worshiped other gods, and served them.’ ”

God has repeatedly told Judah about His plan to destroy them hasn’t He? Sometimes I worry about what God’s will is. I wonder if I missed the memo somehow, especially when I suffer for one of my decisions, but when I read Isaiah and Jeremiah, I remember that if God had wanted me to know something, He would have probably repeated it several times like He did for Israel and Judah. When we are punished by God, it’s because we didn’t obey the clear direction that God gave us. God loves Israel and didn’t want to punish them, but just like when a parent threatens a child with punishment, they may become complacent and rebellious thinking that they will get out of it and still do whatever they want. Eventually, a loving parent has to take action to punish a child. At that time the child will know what they are getting punished for, that’s for sure.

One of the reasons that God must punish rebellion is because His reputation is important for those who are watching from the outside. If God’s people were to get away with murder, everyone would learn that God is a push over. He doesn’t really mean what He says when He tells them to follow His laws. It’s interesting that Moses was concerned that if God destroyed the people, He might get a bad reputation, but the exact opposite is true. If God were to not destroy a wicked people like Judah, people would not understand the seriousness of His law. So, we read here that one good result of God’s destruction of Judah and Jerusalem will be that people will walk by the destruction and know why it happened. It will actually promote the fear of God among the nations. God intended for Israel to participate in causing the nations to fear God, and here we see that God is able to accomplish that with or without them.

Day 95: The Way of Life and the Way of Death

Jeremiah 21:8-10

“You shall say to this people, ‘Yahweh says: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he who goes out and passes over to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he will live, and he will escape with his life. For I have set my face on this city for evil, and not for good,” says Yahweh. “It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire.” ’

This may seem a bit philosophical but because of how important it is here in the Bible, I believe it’s something God expects us to consider. Do you have to believe in the Bible in order to believe in God? Obviously, we should believe in both, but the reason I bring it up is because it is possible to think you believe in God without really trusting in His word. The reality is that you really can’t know anything about God if you don’t believe His word because it is His word that tells us about God. When we start to think that, by our own intuition, we can simply trust God without His words, we are in a dangerous position. We may actually miss the way of life. That’s because we are placing our own intuition or tradition above God’s word. If this is true in your life, God may give you a life or death decision like He did to Judah here.

God set up a situation in which Judah had to simply trust God’s word instead of trusting everything they had come to know about God and Jerusalem. I am sure that most every Jew in Jerusalem knew that it was God’s city and that if they wanted protection they should stay as close to God as possible, yet, God’s word through Jeremiah was that they must flee to their enemies now and live. They probably knew the story of Hezekiah and Rabshakeh in 2 Kings 18 very well. At that time, King Hezekiah told the people to not defect to the enemy but to stay in the city. God’s word in the past was the exact opposite of what Jeremiah was telling them to do now! God set this situation up in such a way that they were not able to trust in their own intuition or in the events of the past. They were forced to either trust God’s word now and live or die by trusting their own beliefs about what God thinks.

This is the way it has always been for mankind. God has given us the choice. We either trust in His word and live or we die because of our lack of faith. The choice we have before us now is the option to trust that Jesus is God and that He really did die to take away the sins of the world. Everyone who believes in God’s word, no matter how intuitive or scientific they think it is, will live. Those who don’t will suffer. It may go against everything that we think is right. God wants us to stop trusting in ourselves and turn to faith in His word alone because only faith in God’s word will save us.

Day 89: From Hell to Heaven

Jeremiah 19:14-15

Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where Yahweh had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of Yahweh’s house, and said to all the people: “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel says, ‘Behold, I will bring on this city and on all its towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have made their neck stiff, that they may not hear my words.’ ”

So we read that God had Jeremiah travel from Gehenna back to the temple court and preach there. It’s like he moved from hell to heaven and had a message that had to be given in both places. I’m not sure what the significance of that is but I believe there may be something there to discover. It could be that Jeremiah was simply illustrating the preaching that Jesus was to do in the spiritual realm. We are told that Jesus first went to Hell to preach to those bound there and then He was resurrected. He has yet to return to Jerusalem to pronounce His final judgment there. Jeremiah was called to issue a final judgment when he was sent to Jerusalem in his day.

Jeremiah told Judah that this was the end. Everything that God had pronounced against Jerusalem and its towns was going to be done. Do you remember way back in our study when God called Moses and Joshua together and had a meeting? Do you remember what He talked to them about? He talked to them about the day when Israel would have to be punished because of their refusal to obey His rules. You can read that again in Deuteronomy 31:15-18. Right there at the beginning of Israel’s government, God started talking about how He would have to punish Israel and now all of those things were about to be done.

God reminds Israel again as to why they were now going to be punished. He said it was “because they have made their neck stiff, that they may not hear my words.’” Israel’s sin wasn’t accidental. They had decided to avoid the Bible rather than to follow it. Israel was carefully given the Bible and they were all supposed to follow it. In the same way, God has made sure that the Bible is freely available to all today. He expects everyone to follow it but people are stiff necked and purposefully avoiding it today. This is more evidence that the world can expect the same kind of consequences that Israel received as well.