“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.”
Paul expresses his ability in Christ to be content in every circumstance and to face any deprivation as a proclaimer of the gospel.
Within its context, the verse is still appropriate today for Christ’s saints in their mission. But it is not a statement of unqualified success.
The date of Nahum’s prophesy is unknown, but was probably around 650 B.C. That date would follow Jonah’s earlier prophesy against Nineveh by about a hundred years. Nineveh, known as the bloody city was the capitol of Assyria, a ruthless and dominating world power who had controlled much of the area for hundreds of years. God had used them to administer His wrath against Israel several years earlier. However, that did not mean that He was pleased with the Assyrian people. He was not! It was Nahum’s commission to warn the Assyrians of their impending destruction.
Nahum received his message through a vision from God. He began by relating the immense power of God to the Assyrians. His power is shown by His wrath against those who are evil and through His goodness to those who are obedient to Him. He then began to describe in specific terms how God would deal with them. “The gates of the rivers are opened…” Those words were comforting to Judah as Assyria had been a threat to their security. Archaeological studies relate that the Tigris River overflowed and destroyed a large portion of the city’s wall and left it open for attack.
“Woe to the bloody city!” The prophet listed some of the vile attributes of Nineveh as he warned them of their doom. “‘Behold, I am against you,’ says the Lord of hosts…” As Nineveh had done to those around her, the same fate would befall that great city. “You also will seek refuge from the enemy.” In the end, “All who hear news of you Will clap their hands over you…” God will have destroyed one of His tools, but there would be others.
God declared to Jeremiah that if he could find anyone who sought truth, He would pardon them. He was longsuffering and wishing that He could spare Judah. The prophet observed that the common people had refused to hear his words. He then pointed out that their leaders who should have known God’s way had also turned their backs on Him. Because they had forsaken the Lord, He informed the people of His fierce judgment upon them. The Babylonians were portrayed as wild beasts attacking and destroying their prey. Man may choose to ignore truth and obey a lie; however, that does not change the truth. Truth never changes.
Even though the destruction of Judah would be intense, God would not completely destroy the nation. There would be a remnant preserved to provide an avenue for the coming of His Son hundreds of years later.
As Jeremiah continued expressing warnings from God, he specifically mentioned Jerusalem and Benjamin. Benjamin was a part of Judah and Jerusalem. He described the disaster that would come from the north. With all of the warnings and details of their impending punishment from God, the people continued to ignore Jeremiah. God still would have spared them if they would have repented. They stated that they would not walk in “the old paths” nor listen to the warnings of the watchman’s trumpet. In the end, “People will call them rejected silver, Because the Lord has rejected them.”
The Scripture teaches that Jesus gave up His life for us individually. That is, He gave up His life for all those who love the Lord and call on His name (John 3:16; Acts 2:21). Paul wrote to those of Galatia, “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4, ESV). Reflect on this for a moment: Jesus gave up His life, that we might have life. We should respect this gift of life given to us in such a way that our lives are changed, changed in the direction of holiness. “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16, ESV). RT
The first two of the Ten Commandments were, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image…” Another commandment was, “You shall not commit adultery.”
God likened the idol worship of Israel and Judah to the sin of adultery. They, as God’s “wife” had conducted themselves as a wife who had left her husband and had embraced the life of a harlot. In His mercy, He had pled for Israel to completely turn from their idolatry in repentance and wholeheartedly return to Him. They did not. God was also pleading through Jeremiah the same plea for Judah to turn back to Him before it was too late.
Jeremiah painted a desolate picture of destruction and ruin in a land that had refused to repent and return to their God. That picture was of Judah and her cities that would lie in waste. So great would be Judah’s destruction that the prophet saw a land that was without form and void with black heavens as it had been before the beginning creation. Jeremiah took no joy in relaying his message of doom. “O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart!”
II Kin. 23:26, 27; Jer. 1:1-2:37
It is unclear as to the exact time that Jeremiah began his prophecy. His father was Hilkiah, a priest. He was possibly the high priest that was serving during the time that King Josiah was restoring true worship in Jerusalem. Some speculate that he may have been born during the thirteenth year of Josiah’s thirty-one year reign and actually began to prophesy several years later as Josiah’s reforms may have begun to crumble. He continued to prophesy until Judah was carried into Babylonian captivity.
As Moses had done many years earlier, being slow of speech, Jeremiah humbly objected to his call stating that he was a youth. God stated that He would provide what the prophet should speak and would be with him. Also like Moses, he accepted his commission and moved forward. Likewise, the Lord has provided His word for us in the Bible and we are to speak it—whether we are young or old.
Jeremiah’s mission was to purge by condemning the evil of the people and to rebuild by giving hope if they would repent and return to God. The picture of a boiling pot being poured out from the north signified the destruction of Judah by the northern Babylonian empire and other invaders from the north.
As the Christian life has its struggles with various persecutions, Jeremiah was faced with suffering. If he failed through dismay to speak God’s word, God would add to his dismay. If he did all that was commanded of him, everyone would become his enemy, “but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you…to deliver you.”
The Lord instructed Jeremiah to remind Jerusalem of the highs and lows of the wilderness wandering after their deliverance from Egypt. He pointed out the law/covenant that He had made with them on Mt. Sinai. God had delivered Israel/Judah from a land of slavery into a land flowing with milk and honey. They had shown their gratitude by turning from Him to worship the handmade gods of other nations.
God referred to Himself as a fountain of living waters and the false idols as broken cisterns that can hold no water. Instead of turning to Him for help, Judah had turned to other nations and to their gods. However, in times of deep trouble, they would turn to Him to, “Arise and save us.” God had reached the point that He said regarding their gods, “Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble…” The sins of the people would ultimately bring them into ruin with their hands upon their heads being led into slavery.
There are many in today’s religious world (including not a few in the Lord’s church) who claim the letters of the New Testament fail to carry the weight of spiritual authority previously thought.
Such teaching leads to dangerously (if not blasphemously) supposed conclusions: Regulations pertaining to worship don’t apply because they were only cultural. Commands concerning one’s lifestyle is relegated to a position of mere historical opinion. Interpreting “Paul through Jesus, not Jesus through Paul” apparently due to a “greater level” of inspiration in the gospel letters in comparison to the remaining epistles.
So how do we know God means for his inspired word (particularly the New Testament) to carry the same authority it was meant to have the day it was recorded? It’s as easy as listening to what Jesus says when … Continue reading