Day 181: A More Complete Picture of Jesus

Jeremiah 46:13-19

The word that Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, how that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon should come and strike the land of Egypt:
“Declare in Egypt,
publish in Migdol,
and publish in Memphis and in Tahpanhes;
say, ‘Stand up, and prepare,
for the sword has devoured around you.’
Why are your strong ones swept away?
They didn’t stand, because Yahweh pushed them.
He made many to stumble.
Yes, they fell on one another.
They said, ‘Arise! Let’s go again to our own people,
and to the land of our birth,
from the oppressing sword.’
They cried there, ‘Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise;
he has let the appointed time pass by.’

“As I live,” says the King,
whose name is Yahweh of Armies,
“surely like Tabor among the mountains,
and like Carmel by the sea,
so he will come.
You daughter who dwells in Egypt,
furnish yourself to go into captivity;
for Memphis will become a desolation,
and will be burned up,
without inhabitant.

I don’t know the history about this time in Egypt, but I do know from this prophesy what happened. Egypt was defeated by Babylon and the cities of Memphis and Tahphanhes were destroyed. People were taken into captivity. We also know that God caused the soldiers to fall and stumble over each other. They lost heart and wanted to go back home. They came to the realization that Pharaoh’s chance to take over had already passed and they were doomed.

I have been told that God the Father never refers to Himself as “Yahweh of Armies.” This is a reference to the Messiah and we know who that is. Jesus is calling Himself the King here and makes it clear that Egypt will be destroyed and the people taken captive. I think it’s important for us to take a moment to think about Jesus in the light of these events.

When Jesus came the first time, He put asside His wrath. He didn’t act like the commander of an army at all. I think that this is one of the problems the Jewish leaders had with Him. He wasn’t the Messiah they were expecting. If we aren’t careful, we will not have the right ideas about Him either. It’s important for us to have a complete picture of Jesus. I believe that our enemy would love for us to assume that Jesus is just a weak push-over who walks around in sandals and turns the other cheek. The Bible actually says that He is an army commander and a warrior. He has destroyed many civilizations in the past, but the real destruction is coming in the future. We should love Jesus, but it’s also important that we fear Him. Jesus is our Savior, but He is also the commander of Heaven’s army and the Judge of the World. We are supposed to turn the other cheek but Jesus won’t be doing that. He will eventually destroy every person and nation that chooses to rebel against His kingdom just like He did to Egypt and Judah. It is a fearful thing for enemies of God to think of Jesus this way, but it is a comfort to us because we can be assured that He will set things strait when He returns.

Day 145: A Difficult Verse

Jeremiah 33:17-18

For Yahweh says: “David will never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel. The Levitical priests won’t lack a man before me to offer burnt offerings, to burn meal offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.”

This can be a challenging passage. The Bible says that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice and this passage appears to be talking about a time when Jesus, who is the Branch of David, will reign on earth in Jerusalem. It makes a lot of sense to us that because Jesus will reign forever after that point, that “David will never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,” but what in the world does it mean that “the Levitical priests won’t lack a man before me to offer burnt offerings, to burn meal offerings, and to do sacrifice continually?”

I’ve read a few commentaries and talked to a few people at this point. Some of my most trusted commentaries actually skip verse 18 and only comment on the ones around it. God has shown me that this is usually a sign that there’s something very important that God wants us to know. What is it that God is telling us by making sure that we know this fact about the Levitical priests and offering sacrifices?

I need to discuss some of the things that it can’t mean. As we have been reading, we can’t say that this is all spiritual and it’s talking about the Church. Once you “spiritualize” a narrative, you can pretty much make it say anything. It leaves the interpretation up to the reader which would allow you to make the Bible say anything. So that’s not a good option. Another option I read from a prominent commentator was that this is referring to Jesus making intersession in Heaven. The problem with this is that it promotes the idea that Jesus suffers eternally for us. The Bible is clear that “it is finished.” It doesn’t solve the problem about having Levitical sacrifices after Jesus has already been the final sacrifice.

I want to make it clear that there’s only one thing I know at this point and that is that whatever God meant by this, will happen no matter how hard it seems to me. That’s the point God has been making to Jeremiah. With that being said, here’s what I believe it means. I think that when it says “never” in the passage above, that it’s not talking about eternity, but about the 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth. There are a couple of big reasons for this. First, it’s clear in the Old Testament that when you separate the terms burnt offerings from meal offerings, you are talking about both killing animals and burning grain. That means this will be a time on earth when animal death still exists. When death still exists, so does sin because death is sin’s punishment. We also know that Levitical practices were intended for formal temple worship. It’s easy to miss but in Revelation 21:22, the Bible tells us that the New Jerusalem won’t have a temple. My understanding is that without death and without a temple, Levitical sacrifice would have to stop. So, because God is logically consistent, it only makes sense to me that this is a comment about the Millennial kingdom of Jesus. That tells me that during that time there will be a temple and in that temple animal sacrifices will be burned for the sins of the Jews in recognition of what Jesus had already done for them. Sin will still exist among those born during the 1000 years by natural, unredeemed mankind that lasted through the tribulation.

Why would this be important? Well, it certainly throws out a lot of bad doctrine doesn’t it? There isn’t any perpetual death of Jesus. Israel isn’t just spiritual and the Millennium is a time on earth when death still exists. Jeremiah 33:18 appears to force us to have a better eschatology, or understanding of the end of things. It also produces hope in us. There will be a time when this old earth will be run by a new Administration that will correctly govern it for 1000 years. We will see the world work like it was supposed to before it is ultimately recycled.

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 134: The Reversal of the Captivity of Judah

Jeremiah 31:23-30

Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Yet again they will use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I reverse their captivity: ‘Yahweh bless you, habitation of righteousness, mountain of holiness.’ Judah and all its cities will dwell therein together, the farmers, and those who go about with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.”

On this I awakened, and saw; and my sleep was sweet to me.

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of animal. It will happen that, like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to overthrow and to destroy and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” says Yahweh. “In those days they will say no more,
“ ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
But everyone will die for his own iniquity. Every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.

You can imagine that Jeremiah had trouble sleeping. God had given him a horrible glimpse into the future; one that involved the annihilation of his people. God had also allowed him to be hated by his own people including being disowned by his own family members. He even had people who wanted to kill him, but it appears that the thing that really kept him up at night was the fact that God’s wonderful plan for Jerusalem and His people Israel was stopping. So, what we have in this chapter is God making it extremely clear that God’s plan for Jerusalem and for Israel was not coming to a complete end. In fact, God intended to make things much better. Here we read that this revelation made it into the heart of Jermiah because he wrote here: “On this I awakened, and saw; and my sleep was sweet to me.” God told Jeremiah that He intended to “reverse” the captivity of Judah. God even refers to himself as: “the God of Israel.” It wouldn’t make sense for God to refer to Himself as the God of those He rejects. Jeremiah was obviously very concerned about God’s people and God’s land and perhaps even panicked when he heard of God’s intention to destroy them. God made sure to help His prophet through these thoughts so that his mind would be at ease. This same God helps us in our times of distress too.

The next section of this passage tells us that the future kingdom of Israel will be governed differently. The current kingdom allowed the children of those who sinned to suffer for their father’s errors. This is clearly not God’s intention and I believe that this is caused by poor government leaders. The reason I make this assertion is because I believe that God is referring to the future messianic kingdom of Israel here. One of the amazing things about the reign of Jesus on earth will be the difference in the speed and precision of justice. The Bible tells us that Jesus will rule with a rod of iron. He won’t be a passive leader at all. The Bible indicates that sinners will get caught immediately under Jesus’ rule. This won’t allow children to be affected by their parent’s sin anymore. There won’t be time for them to learn how to sin from their parents before the parents are publicly exposed and shamed. This may not be what people are expecting of Jesus in His leadership role, but I don’t see how it could mean anything else at this point. I don’t believe that there will be “death row.” People will probably die the day after they murder someone else and children will be given good fathers in their place. It’s hard to imagine Jesus ruling in our time isn’t it? But we should spend some time considering it because Jesus will eventually rule over this sinful world. I may not be right about what this is referring to, but I do know that Jesus will return and rule over this earth for 1000 years and we will see justice like we have never seen before.