Day 6: No Other

Galatians 1:7  :

and there isn’t another “good news.” Only there are some who trouble you, and want to pervert the Good News of Christ.

Many translations of the English Bible interpret the word that means “good news” into the word “gospel.” I think it is fine to use the word gospel in this context. “The Gospel” is the “good news” of Christianity. Just as there are not many Gospel’s, there aren’t many “Christianities.”

There are, however, many perversions of The Gospel about Jesus Christ.

One of the things that bothers me deeply today is that there are so many people who claim they are Christians who do not hold to the clear teachings in this letter to the Galatians. This book makes it exceedingly clear that any deviation from The Gospel, is perverse. Even the word “Gospel” in English has come to mean something basic that cannot and should not be changed.

Today, the power that works in the minds of the people of the world has convinced them that those who believe truth are perverse. When someone claims that they know the truth, people in our culture get irritated. This is a complete reversal of what is perverse.

This should not surprise us. Since the days that Paul wrote this letter, perversions of Christianity have been multiplying. Pilate, who ordered Jesus to be killed even said: “What is truth?” This idea is still around today. One way that we can detect a perversion is by whether the news is good. When the news fails to be good, something is probably wrong.

I hope it is clear that not all good news is the un-perverted gospel. But, there is a specific “good news” that describes what Jesus has done for mankind, but one way to tell the difference between the truth and a lie, as we shall see later, is the simple fact that with many perversions the news stops being good!

It is difficult to match the goodness in the news of Christianity with a mere man-made concoction.

Day 203: Not Forsaken

Jeremiah 51:1-8

Yahweh says:
“Behold, I will raise up against Babylon,
and against those who dwell in Lebkamai, a destroying wind.
I will send to Babylon strangers, who will winnow her.
They will empty her land;
for in the day of trouble they will be against her all around.
Against him who bends, let the archer bend his bow,
also against him who lifts himself up in his coat of mail.
Don’t spare her young men!
Utterly destroy all her army!
They will fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
and thrust through in her streets.
For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God,
by Yahweh of Armies;
though their land is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.

“Flee out of the middle of Babylon!
Everyone save his own life!
Don’t be cut off in her iniquity,
for it is the time of Yahweh’s vengeance.
He will render to her a recompense.
Babylon has been a golden cup in Yahweh’s hand,
who made all the earth drunk.
The nations have drunk of her wine;
therefore the nations have gone mad.
Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed!
Wail for her!
Take balm for her pain.
Perhaps she may be healed.

When I read this passage, I remember the words that Jesus said:

Matthew 7:2

For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.

In this prophesy, God tells us that Babylon was to receive arrows just as they gave them out. They were also to receive battle against those who wear coats of mail, have their young men cut down, and be attacked by people from far away. God was going to give back to them what they gave to His people Israel, but the most amazing thing I read here is what God said after that.

God said: “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, by Yahweh of Armies; though their land is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.” This may be the most clear and obvious passage that directly opposes replacement theology. That’s the belief that the Church replaces Israel and has now obtained all of her promises. The typical argument that I hear is that the Church has been given Israel’s promises because Israel was unfaithful to God. That argument is directly refuted here. God doesn’t give to Israel according to her deeds. God’s promise to be faithful to Israel does not depend on Israel’s performance. The reason that I bring this up over and over again, is because this is a Gospel issue. If God’s faithfulness depended on man’s performance, then salvation is based on man. The true and only Gospel teaches us that it is not by man’s performance at all, but by God’s faithfulness alone that we are saved.

The last few verses here should sound pretty familiar. That’s because something very similar is written again in the last book of the Bible. Many prophesies in the Bible have an immediate application as well as a future one. A surprising fact about the Bible is that Babylon is one of the biggest subjects. For a city that doesn’t even exist today, that’s kind of peculiar. Obviously, the old city of Babylon was destroyed many years ago, but what that nation started in the world is still alive and well. Babylon loved idols and was proud against God and it was eventually destroyed. It stands as a symbol of what is about to happen to all who have followed her ways.

Day 202: All Nations are Guilty

Jeremiah 50:41-46

“Behold, a people comes from the north.
A great nation and many kings will be stirred up from the uttermost parts of the earth.
They take up bow and spear.
They are cruel, and have no mercy.
Their voice roars like the sea.
They ride on horses,
everyone set in array,
as a man to the battle,
against you, daughter of Babylon.
The king of Babylon has heard the news of them,
and his hands become feeble.
Anguish has taken hold of him,
pains as of a woman in labor.
Behold, the enemy will come up like a lion
from the thickets of the Jordan against the strong habitation;
for I will suddenly make them run away from it.
Whoever is chosen,
I will appoint him over it,
for who is like me?
Who will appoint me a time?
Who is the shepherd who can stand before me?”
Therefore hear the counsel of Yahweh
that he has taken against Babylon;
and his purposes
that he has purposed against the land of the Chaldeans:
Surely they will drag them away,
even the little ones of the flock.
Surely he will make their habitation desolate over them.
The earth trembles at the noise of the taking of Babylon.
The cry is heard among the nations.

As we read earlier, there were those who thought that Jeremiah was helping Babylon’s cause by discouraging the people with his words. It’s pretty clear that Jeremiah was simply speaking God’s words because God also had quite a few things to say against Babylon. I think that Jeremiah had something bad to say about all of the countries in the area. There’s a lesson for us even in these things.

Just because someone says something that sounds discouraging, doesn’t mean that it isn’t right. It’s easy for us to make the assumption that we are doing fine, when actually we have been sinning. It is discouraging to hear that we have been sinning, but it is very arrogant for us to pretend that we haven’t. When God warns us of the consequences of our sin, the most positive thing that we can do is repent. Attacking the messenger just makes our sin bigger.

The fact that Jeremiah had something bad to say about everyone, reminds us of another basic Gospel truth. One of the important purposes of God’s word, is to expose our sin. If our sin isn’t exposed, we can’t see that we are sinners that need saving. God’s word through Jeremiah informed all of the nations in the area that they were all guilty before God, including Israel. The fact that all have sinned, is foundational to the Gospel. Let’s look at what God told us through Paul:

Romans 3:23

for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

No nation is good enough to stand before God and that’s because no individual is good enough either, except for one. Jesus is the one who was good enough to stand before God and He spent His life in order to save us from the consequences of ours. Just as Jesus saves us individually, He will also be saving the nations of the world someday too because He is the only one who can stand before God without being judged by His word.

Day 135: The New Covenant and a Restored Israel

Jeremiah 31:31-40

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which covenant of mine they broke, although I was a husband to them,” says Yahweh. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says Yahweh:
“I will put my law in their inward parts,
and I will write it in their heart.
I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
They will no longer each teach his neighbor,
and every man teach his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh;’
for they will all know me,
from their least to their greatest,” says Yahweh,
“for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.”
Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day,
and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night,
who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar—
Yahweh of Armies is his name, says:
“If these ordinances depart from before me,” says Yahweh,
“then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before me forever.”
Yahweh says: “If heaven above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” says Yahweh.

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that the city will be built to Yahweh from the tower of Hananel to the gate of the corner. The measuring line will go out further straight onward to the hill Gareb, and will turn toward Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields to the brook Kidron, to the corner of the horse gate toward the east, will be holy to Yahweh. It will not be plucked up or thrown down any more forever.”

One of the things that really exposed the Pharisees that persecuted Jesus was the fact that they disregarded this passage. God clearly told Israel, through Jeremiah, that He considered the Old Covenant given through Moses to have been broken. I believe that the fact that the Pharisees were trying to resurrect the broken covenant, exposed their motives to use that system to control their followers. At that time, the New Covenant was about to be instituted and they were not ready for it. Only those that John the Baptist prepared, were. So here we have God’s plan revealed. Right when things were about to get dark for Israel, and right when Jeremiah’s heart was filled with sorrow, God gives him a vision of the gospel.

God tells us that this New Covenant will change the hearts of the Israelis. This was the problem that God was exposing the whole time they attempted to follow the Law of Moses. No matter how hard they tried to follow rules, their hearts longed to disobey and would eventually make it impossible for them. It’s also interesting that the nature of the heart change will be that God will put the knowledge of His word into each individual. Finally, we read that sin will be completely forgiven. Jeremiah isn’t told exactly how this will be done yet, but that’s exactly what happened when Jesus came and died for us and then went to heaven to give us the Holy Spirit. We know this New Covenant as Gentile Christians, but this covenant is going to be unleashed on the physical nation of Israel in a big way in the future.

God’s intention to follow through with restoring Israel permanently is written in such a way that it’s impossible for us to deny without denying our own lives. Here it says that when the Sun, Moon and stars go out, then He would give up on Israel. Then He says if you can measure outer space and fully investigate the earth, then He would get rid of Israel. These words have specific application to us right now. They shame our culture on two fronts. First, God loves Israel so much that if they were not to survive, then the Sun and Moon might as well not be there and of course we wouldn’t be able to exist either. We are completely dependent on the operation of gravity and the heavenly bodies that the God who loves Israel put there. Also, If we think we are so knowledgeable about what God intends to do, why don’t we figure out how big the universe is first. Perhaps we should just fully understand the earth first. I sense sarcasm in God’s message that could be directed toward arrogant Gentiles. God will save Israel, and anyone who claims to believe in God, cannot logically disagree without doing damage to what they say they believe.