Daily Devotional Week 47 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Ezekiel 40 – 42)

Daily Devotional

Week 47 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Ezekiel 40 – 42)

Ezekiel was taken to a mountain, in a vision, and told “Son of man, watch closely, listen carefully, and pay attention to everything I show you, for you have been brought here so that I can show it to you. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.”

Then he was brought into “… the inner sanctuary and … He said to me, “This is the most holy place.”

Ezekiel was shown more “This chamber which faces south is for the priests who keep charge of the temple, and the chamber which faces north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the descendants of Zadok, from the descendants of Levi, who may approach the Lord to minister to him.”

And more “The north chambers and the south chambers which face the courtyard are holy chambers where the priests who approach the Lord will eat the most holy offerings. There they will place the most holy offerings – the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, because the place is holy. When the priests enter, then they will not go out from the sanctuary to the outer court without taking off their garments in which they minister, for these are holy; they will put on other garments, then they will go near the places where the people are.”

The level of theoretical-temple detail matched that He had given to Moses and to David.

Ezekiel had a vision of a new temple which was remarkably detailed – it was intended to inspire the people – but it’s realization would be blocked by the rebellion of the people and replaced by the new individual covenant.

When have you contemplated the differences in your life between living under the ancient system of literal sacrifice versus grace and the new covenant of Christ?

Dear Lord, You provided Ezekiel – and through him the people – a visual representation of the new temple You desired to create for them. May I rest in the assurance that Your words in Jeremiah 29:11 remain forever-true, “… plans to give you hope and a future …”. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 46 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Ezekiel 35)

Daily Devotional

Week 46 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Ezekiel 35)

Ezekiel delivered a prophesy against Edom for their constant victimization of His people, especially when they were already troubled.

Edom lusted for the lands and possessions of Israel and was anxious to seize them once they lost the blessing and protection of God.

Why would Edom think that the same God whom they had insulted would allow them to profit from the punishment of Israel?

Edom would receive as they had given, losing what they had because they lusted after that which God had blessed Israel, suffering terribly as they had caused Israel to suffer – hopeless because they had insulted the only One Who could give them hope.

When have you observed a constant-critic or greed-obsessed person or organization, suffer just as they had desired that others might suffer so that they might benefit?

The Edomites forced the Israelites to make a large detour during the Exodus then later tried to take lands vacated in the punishment of rebellious-Israel.

Dear Lord, Those who speak and act hatefully toward You and Your children will pay a terrible price when the time of judgment comes. May I have the mercy to pray that those who spew anti-God venom, and that those who abuse power to harm those who love God, will turn from their sin before it’s eternally too late. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 46 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Ezekiel 33 – 34)

Daily Devotional

Week 46 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Ezekiel 33 – 34)

Ezekiel was warned to deliver the Lord’s message accurately and quickly or else the one who failed, due to lack of warning, would cause him consequences as well.

The spiritual shepherds of the people were judged as failures and thieves for abandoning the people to the world without teaching them and for selfishly taking resources while watching the people fall.

Each individual was placed on notice that God would judge them on their own merits as to their choices and their deeds.

Ezekiel was given the promise that the Lord would be the good shepherd Who gathered the faithful to a safe place, and then would give them a shepherd like the symbolic David (in his faithful persona).

God compared the religious leaders to a good shepherd and found them careless and selfish – so He promised to be a good shepherd to His people in their place.

Note the similarities to Jesus’ critique of the religious leaders and to the description of Jesus (God).

When have you observed a neglectful spiritual leader, or a faithful leader whom people enjoyed hearing but they treated time with him merely as a good-luck ritual – and ignored his teaching?

Dear Lord, You challenged Ezekiel to be bold, and You punished the spiritual shepherds for their failure to deal honestly and to teach the people – and each individual – to anticipate consequences for their own choices. May I be honorable as a leader, careful whom I follow, and faithful before You. Please reveal to me a troubled fellowship, or a troubled gathering of Believers, for whom You want me to pray. I agree to pray in earnest for a careless shepherd who is merely entertaining or ‘warehousing’ those who are trusting him for spiritual leadership, or for a congregation with a faithful teacher whose presence they seek as a celebrity but whose words from the Lord they ignore. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 46 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Ezekiel 31 – 32)

Daily Devotional

Week 46 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Ezekiel 31 – 32)

The Lord gave to Ezekiel an illustration of the pride of great pagan nations around Israel using trees.

He poetically-postulated that a cedar tree had human-like qualities of envy and pride and was so great it might elicit envy from the perfect trees in pre-Fall Eden.

He compared the Assyrians to that cedar tree.

He told of the consequences of the pride and violence of several nations and how they had all been sent to “Sheol”. “Sheol” referred to death and destruction – without hope for eternal redemption.

The fate of prideful Egypt was to be the same.

The Bible elsewhere teaches that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. [Proverbs
16:18]

The nation of Israel was being judged in much the same way, and for much the same reason, as these other nations.

Dear Lord, Those who have become proud, imagining themselves Your peers – have always been humbled eventually. May I neither imagine myself Your peer not associate myself with anyone or any organization that does. Please reveal any place in me where I may harbor a “haughty spirit”. It may be an intellectual or a social arrogance (judging others based on appearance, association, momentary-sin, race, wealth, etc.), or perhaps a works-righteousness arrogance. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 46 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (Ezekiel 21 – 22)

Daily Devotional

Week 46 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (Ezekiel 21 – 22)

Ezekiel was instructed to prophesy against Jerusalem and in so-doing he invited the Lord God to initiate a no-turning-back judgment.

He was also instructed to “… groan with an aching heart and bitterness” so that the people would ask why, and he was to reply “ Because of the report that has come …”

When have you observed someone’s emotional response and been brought to a greater awareness of the depth of significance of an event?

Ezekiel prophesied “O city, who spills blood within herself (which brings on her doom), and who makes herself idols (which results in impurity), you are guilty because of the blood you shed and defiled by the idols you made. You have hastened the day of your doom …”

The Lord declared “I looked for a man from among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one.”

[Note: He could find no leader to call the people
to repentance and therefore their cultural decay was too
deeply-embedded to rescue. In the past the Lord God was able to
find
a Nehemiah to “stand in the gap” and to literally “repair the
wall” but now He could not find someone to do the same for the
sick
hearts of the people.]

He then announced the initiation of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, followed by the prophesies against the nations, and finally the lamentations of the nations.

[Note: This should sound familiar. Similar
prophesies were given to other prophets in prior texts of these
studies. God is consistent and persistent.]

Because the people had sold-out any shred of integrity before the Lord the king of Babylon felt free to make excuses to breach his agreements with them as they had breached their covenant with God.

There’s a profound difference between secular and sacred “They do not distinguish between the holy and the profane, or recognize any distinction between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 2:26b

Dear Lord, Have we forgotten that as Your children we have been set-apart? We commit the terrible blasphemy of syncretism when we mix Your perfect truth with the partial truths and falsehoods of the world, then treat them as if they have equivalent value. May I be watchful against any drift into the rationalization of moral equivalence. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 46 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (Ezekiel 20)

Daily Devotional
Week 46 Day 1
OT (chronological)
Sunday (Ezekiel 20)

When the Elders of Israel came to Ezekiel for help from the Lord – God instructed Ezekiel to pronounce His holy judgment.
Ezekiel reminded the leaders of their history of rebellion and of His impending punishment upon them.
Ezekiel asked the Lord what he should do because they were accusing him of mere “… eloquent figures of speech”.

Just as in Ezekiel’s day the enemies of the truth of God today declare the Bible to be mere symbolism without authority – absent absolute truth – therefore nothing to trust and nothing to obey.

Why would the leaders, who were in chronic rebellion, imagine that they’d receive help from the very One against Whom they’d chosen to unrepentantly sin?

God was separating Himself from Israel because a continued association created the false impression that He was endorsing their sinful behavior – and the devil would suggest that He was powerless.

When have you made a choice you knew to be in rebellion against God and then sensed a lost-intimacy with His Holy Spirit? (He never leaves a genuinely saved person but He is offended by sin – which creates a barrier to intimacy.)

Dear Lord, From the Garden of Eden through this day – and until Jesus returns – humankind has rebelled, choosing the pleasures of the flesh over the joys of eternal relationship. May I pause to consider the meaning and consequences of every choice through Your eyes rather than the dysfunctional eyes of the flesh-centered world. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 45 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Ezekiel 12 – 15)

Daily Devotional

Week 45 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Ezekiel 12 – 15)

Ezekiel was instructed by God “Bring out your belongings packed for exile during the day while they are watching. And go out at evening, while they are watching, as if for exile. While they are watching, dig a hole in the wall and carry your belongings out through it. While they are watching, raise your baggage onto your shoulder and carry it out in the dark. You must cover your face so that you cannot see the ground because I have made you an object lesson to the house of Israel.”

He then was told “I will let a small number of them survive the sword, famine, and pestilence, so that they can confess all their abominable practices to the nations where they go. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Ezekiel was given a second instruction, as an object lesson to the people “Son of man, eat your bread with trembling, and drink your water with anxious shaking. Then say to the people of the land, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says about the inhabitants of Jerusalem and of the land of Israel: They will eat their bread with anxiety and drink their water in fright, for their land will be stripped bare of all it contains because of the violence of all who live in it. The inhabited towns will be left in ruins and the land will be devastated. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

He then was told that the expectation of old age and unchanging routines was over so that the saying ‘The days pass slowly, and every vision fails’? Would be ended as a local proverb, rather “The days are at hand when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will no longer be any false visions or flattering omens amidst the house of Israel. For I, the Lord, will speak. Whatever word I speak will be accomplished.” Things were about to change radically.

Ezekiel was told by the Lord that anyone who worshiped idols who then came to a prophet for wisdom would be punished, that any prophet who spoke unwisely to such men – because they deceived him – would be punished, any nation/tribe who worshiped idols would be punished, and that “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, [present in any place
where
judgment was to come] they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, declares the sovereign Lord.”

[Note: In the past Moses and others were able to
plead for the lives of others, despite their rebellion, that time
had
passed.]

He then was told that the people were like the useless wood of a vine, only good to be burned up in the fire, perhaps useful only for a momentary purpose. He was to understand that the people had made themselves like that useless wood of the vine and thus they also would be burned up.

Dear Lord, You continued to make clear to the people what was to come, and You also continued to show them a way to avoid destruction. May I remember Your consistency well into the New Testament where You taught in vs 1 Corinthians 10:13 that You would continue to provide “… a way out” in overwhelming [spiritual] circumstances. Please show me a routine or tradition that You want to change in my life so that I will not have any “dead” places in my heart. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 45 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Ezekiel 7 – 11)

Daily Devotional

Week 45 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Ezekiel 7 – 11)

Ezekiel delivered the terrible declaration of judgment of God, and it was as much personal as it was tribal “My eye will not pity you; I will not spare you. For your behavior I will hold you accountable, and you will suffer the consequences of your abominable practices. Then you will know that it is I, the Lord, who is striking you … Each person, for his iniquity, will fail to preserve his life.”

Ezekiel described God coming upon him “… as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting in front of me, the hand of the sovereign Lord seized me.”

He explained why God would soon-withdraw from the Temple “Son of man, do you see what they are doing – the great abominations that the people of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?”

Ezekiel described what happened next “Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub where it had rested to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen who had the writing kit at his side. The Lord said to him, “Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who moan and groan over all the abominations practiced in it.”

[Note: He marked those to be protected based upon
their individual volitional choices.]

He then described Heavenly beings about the process of the Lord removing His presence from the Temple – concluding with “Then the glory of the Lord moved away from the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim … Then the cherubim spread their wings with their wheels alongside them while the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them. The glory of the Lord rose up from within the city and stopped over the mountain east of it.”

Ezekiel pleaded with the Lord for fear that He might completely obliterate the people and received this assurance “When I regather you from the peoples and assemble you from the lands where you have been dispersed, I will give you back the country of Israel.’ “When they return to it, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove the hearts of stone from their bodies and I will give them tender hearts, so that they may follow my statutes and observe my regulations and carry them out. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God.”

He concluded “Then a wind lifted me up and carried me to the exiles in Babylonia, in the vision given to me by the Spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me. So I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.”

Dear Lord, You explained clearly Your reasons to Ezekiel, and You also made clear that there was both individual and tribal responsibility for the punishment to come. While the tribal relationship is gone I remain constantly aware of my continuing individual responsibility to You for my choices. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Lamentations)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Lamentations)

Jeremiah was heartsick over what had happened.

Jeremiah used a rhetorical conversation between himself “The Prophet Speaks” as he described the circumstances and the response of the people “Jerusalem Speaks” as in “Look, O Lord! Consider that I have become worthless!”

The NET translator’s notes explain that he used a pattern which was an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet across chapters 1, 2, and 4 then in chapter 3 he used all 66 letters by themselves. In chapter 5 he did not use the acrostic.

Jeremiah, in chapter 5, switched to “The People of Jerusalem Pray:” where they appeal to the Lord God for rescue “Bring us back to yourself, O Lord, so that we may return to you; renew our life as in days before, unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.”

The Lord told the people that they would be in exile for 70 years, so why would they be whining and asking why He was taking so long to rescue them?

Jeremiah suffered alongside of his people, even though he had delivered the Lord God’s repeated warnings and had pleaded with them to repent.

When have you received punishment which you knew that you deserved and you knew was coming, and still cried-out for a short-cut out of it?

Dear Lord, After the fact Your people lamented but while You called them to faithfulness they were disrespectful and rebellious. May I choose faithful-obedience so that I am not left with endless laments later. Please alert me to a place in your life where I have not been fully-faithful and obedient – a place from which bad consequences may come to me if I don’t repent. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Jeremiah 41 – 46)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Jeremiah 41 – 46)

Jeremiah also reported on similar events as in Kings and Chronicles …

Just as Jeremiah had warned, the failure of the king to surrender to the Babylonians resulted in terrible consequences; not only was Jerusalem destroyed and the people taken away to Babylon “There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains to be led off to Babylon.”

Jeremiah was protected by the orders of the Babylonian king and allowed to remain among the people. Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was also protected for acting from faith in rescuing Jeremiah.

Gedaliah was appointed by the Babylonians to oversee the remnant people and a community rose at Mizpah. Some soldiers who had been hiding, as well as civilians who also managed to hide from the Babylonian army, joined them. “Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs.”

Ishmael (son of Nethaniah) and his small army murdered Gedaliah and many others and then took the rest of the people captive – marching them away to the Ammonites. Johanan (son of Kareah) and his small army heard what had happened and rescued the people, but Ishmael escaped with a few men to the Ammonites.

Johanan wanted to go to Egypt but feared the Babylonians would catch them so they asked Jeremiah to consult God. He prophesied that they should stay and not flee to Egypt but arrogant members of leadership called him a liar and insisted that they flee to Egypt, despite the warning from the Lord that they would be worse off there.

Jeremiah was taken with the people to Egypt and there prophesied doom for Egypt, and the rebels from Judah, at the hands of the Babylonians – who would destroy Egypt.

Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, was having a pity-party for himself and the Lord said to him “I am about to tear down what I have built and to uproot what I have planted. I will do this throughout the whole earth. Are you looking for great things for yourself? Do not look for such things. For I, the Lord, affirm that I am about to bring disaster on all humanity. But I will allow you to escape with your life wherever you go.”

Isn’t it amazing that the Lord caused the king of Babylon to preserve Jeremiah and the Ethiopian in the midst of the battle and the deportations?

Dear Lord, The persistent arrogance and rebellion of the people angered You, yet You retained a remnant so that You could keep Your covenant with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. May I rest in the certainty that Your every sovereign promise will always be kept. Please reveal to me any place where I am, like Baruch, too obsessed with my own stuff to notice what You are doing all around me. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Habakkuk 1 – 3)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Habakkuk 1 – 3)

Habakkuk is estimated to have been written variously around 600 to 650 BC. He prophesied the destruction of the Chaldeans just prior to the fall of Jerusalem.

He pleaded with God to explain why the law was not causing sin to end.

He seemed to suffer some of the same confusion as Job and others who were unable to see the big picture – and thus questioned God’s actions.

[Note: God answered Habakkuk’s questions but
ignored his apparent unintentional insolence.]

God would allow the Babylonians to be His instrument of terrible punishment but then they, because they’d imagine themselves to be gods, would also be punished.

Habakkuk was given a word of hope “Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion, but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.”

Habakkuk reviewed recent events in history and the Lord’s promises “I will rejoice because of the Lord; I will be happy because of the God who delivers me! The sovereign Lord is my source of strength. He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.”

Why would Habakkuk have failed to understand that the purpose of the law was to convict and not to make-perfect?

When have you been frustrated with sin and cried-out to the Lord?

Dear Lord, You punish the wicked, chastise the sinner, but “… the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.” May I grow to become more and more a person of integrity so that I may be one of Your instruments of redemption in this world. I will humbly submit to Your teaching, repent of my sin, request and receive Your forgiveness, then step out in greater faith to serve You. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (2 Chronicles 36:1-21)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (2 Chronicles 36:1-21)

Note: Kings and Chronicles overlap in the reporting of historic events …

Jehoahaz son of Josiah became king but only for a few months “… the king of Egypt prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem.”

The king of Egypt then made his brother Eliakim king – and he changed his name to Jehoiakim. King Necho took Jehoahaz away to Egypt

Jehoiakim was king for eleven years but did evil before the Lord so Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took him captive along with some of the items from the temple.

His son Jehoiachin was king for three months and four days, he was also evil, and Nebuchadnezzar took him and more items from the temple to Babylon.

Zedekiah was king for eleven years during which even the priests did evil, defiling the temple, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple – taking the remaining treasures and those who were not killed were taken to be servants in Babylon – fulfilling the prophesy given through the prophet Jeremiah.

The foolish experiment with human kings, which the people of Israel had demanded of God, began and ended badly – just as He had warned.

Why would Jehoiakim act in rebellion against the Lord knowing the likely consequences?

Persia, the next empire to rise, was a region on the opposite side of “Sinus Persicus” (the Persian Sea) from Saudi Arabia. They would eventually control and area far larger than the Babylonians. The Persian people were Elamites, descendants of Elam, the first born son of Shem – one of the sons of Noah.

When have you experienced or observed someone entrusted with spiritual leadership choosing to do evil?

Dear Lord, You have been perfectly consistent in fulfilling your prophesies, blessings for obedience and troubles for rebellion. You have used both the faithful and unbelievers as instruments of Your sovereign plan. May I never forget that everything belongs to You, that You permit humankind great liberty to make choices, but in the great scheme of things Your sovereign will shall be done (with or without my agreement or my willing participation). May I be inclined to make myself Your instrument of blessing. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (1 Kings 24 – 25)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (1 Kings 24 – 25)

Jehoahaz was king for three months and did evil – so Pharoah Necho imprisoned him, levied a heavy tribute on the people, and installed Eliakim king in his place, and changed his name to Jehoiakim – he ruled for eleven years.

During this time King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked and made Jehoiakim his subject for three years.

Jehoiakim rebelled, so the Lord sent Babylonian, Syrian, Moabite, and Ammonite raiding bands to destroy Judah for generations of rebellion (highlighted by Manassah’s extreme evil).

Jehoiachin became king and ruled for three months and did evil.

God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to besiege the city and take the king and his royal court and ten thousand people prisoner, installing Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, as king in his place. He stripped the palace and temple of valuables – and he renamed Mattaniah to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah ruled for eleven years when, following his rebellion against them, the Babylonians breached the city walls and destroyed the siege-impoverished city. They killed Zedekiah’s sons as he watched, gouged-out his eyes, then took him away in chains.

Nebuchadnezzar sent his forces to destroy everything of significance in Jerusalem, including the temple, the royal palace, all of the larger houses, and the protective city walls. The remaining members of the kings court were found and executed and everyone but the poor were deported.

Gedaliah was appointed governor of the remaining people and invited the remnant military in hiding to join him, once things were safe, but they had to submit to the Babylonians. Rather than follow Gedaliah they waited a few months, returned and killed him, then fled to Egypt with the remaining people – for fear of the Babylonian’s revenge.

King Evil-Merodach of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah, gave him prestige above the other captive kings, and allowed him to join him at the royal table for the remainder of his life. [The text is unclear as
to
the reason for this action.]

Dear Lord, You place boundaries on Your patience, thus rebellion is not tolerated endlessly. May I remember to not presume upon Your patience with repeated sin. Your sovereign will is sometimes administered by non-Believers who are unaware that they serve Your purpose. May I be watchful for Your action in this world, always remembering that Your means to an end are always the most-perfect possible. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Jeremiah 34 – 40, Psalms 74, 79)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Jeremiah 34 – 40, Psalms 74, 79)

Jeremiah delivered the Lord’s judgment. King Zedekiah, his court, and the people of Judah had ignored God “… even if you were to defeat all the Babylonian forces fighting against you so badly that only wounded men were left lying in their tents, they would get up and burn this city down.”

He was falsely accused of intent to desert to the Babylonians, flogged and imprisoned. When the king summoned him and asked if there was word from the Lord he told him what he had before, that the Babylonians would destroy the city and take him prisoner. He asked not to be left in prison and was moved to the courtyard and given a loaf of bread a day until all of the bread in the city was gone – due to the siege.

Jeremiah was again falsely charged with treason and lowered into a muddy cistern [a shallow well] and left to die. The king was aware of the plan but said he could not prevent it. An Ethiopian official received the king’s permission to rescue him from the cistern but not the courtyard.

He was secretly summoned to the king where he repeated the requirement that he surrender or he and the city would be destroyed. He was instructed by the king to tell no one of his conversation. He remain imprisoned in the courtyard.

Just as Jeremiah had warned, the failure of the king to surrender to the Babylonians resulted in terrible consequences; not only was Jerusalem destroyed and the people taken away to Babylon “There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. 39:7 Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains to be led off to Babylon.”

Jeremiah was protected by the orders of the Babylonian king and allowed to remain among the people. Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was also protected for acting from faith in rescuing Jeremiah.

Gedaliah was appointed by the Babylonians to oversee the remnant people and a community rose at Mizpah. Some soldiers who had been hiding, as well as civilians who also managed to hide from the Babylonian army, joined them. “Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs.”

The Rechabites proved that it was possible to keep ones word across many generations.

King Zedekiah was so confused that even as he deliberately ignored the Lord, and mistreated His prophet, he still asked him for help and information from God. The Lord kept providing opportunities for the people to choose faithful-obedience to Him and they persisted in rebellion.

Lord, You had to send a foreigner to rescue Jeremiah because none of his people were listening to you. May I be watchful as Your blessing may come from an unexpected source. Please reveal to me any place where I have read Your Word but have chosen to ignore it. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Jeremiah 23 – 33)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Jeremiah 23 – 33)

Jeremiah delivered the angry observation of God that the religious leaders were failing His people “They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered.”

Jeremiah was threatened by the political and religious leaders, even put on trial, but one key leader used his influence to protect him.

Jeremiah was challenged by the false prophets but he challenged them right back in the authority of the Lord.

He prophesied that – after 75 years in Babylon – God would also rescue the people who were His, and that He would destroy any who troubled them.

He prophesied that there would be a new covenant where “… each person will die for his own sins.” and knowledge of the Lord would be individualized “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people.” and all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

Rebellious religious leaders generally represent a rebellious people and that is why the people were not innocent when God condemned the apostate leaders. In the midst of chronic rebellion the Lord still sought a reason for hope among the exiles in Babylon. The Lord would rescue contrite and repentant people.

When have you been in a difficult situation and realized that the only way out was to turn fully away from your heart-condition (repent) and to surrender to the Lordship of Christ?

When have you been faced with a lengthy wait to accomplish or to be liberated and found yourself tempted by potential short-cuts?

When have you been troubled and it was only the Lord’s promise of Heaven that could bring you certain joy?

Dear Lord, Your great plan included a purge and punishment of Israel and Judah and a desire to rescue and restore those whose hearts had turned toward You. May I be careful to keep my eyes and heart on You so that I do not require Your discipline. Please reveal where I need to make changes in my parenting, dealing with family and friends, in the classroom or the workplace, or in some other context. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Jeremiah 11:18 – 22)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Jeremiah 11:18 – 22)

Jeremiah confronted the people with the Lord’s summary of choices and consequences.

Jeremiah shared God’s description of the terrible end for Jerusalem and Judah.

Jeremiah asked the Lord for a wisdom-teaching “Lord, you have always been fair whenever I have complained to you. However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice. Why are wicked people successful? Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives? … The Lord answered, “If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out, how will you be able to compete with horses? And if you feel secure only in safe and open country, how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River?” – essentially, he was reminded that it was not in his strength or wisdom that he would complete the ministry of God.

Jeremiah was told how to reply when the people feigned ignorance of the reason for their terrible punishment “Why has the Lord threatened us with such great disaster? What wrong have we done? What sin have we done to offend the Lord our God?’” he was to “… tell them that the Lord says, ‘It is because your ancestors rejected me and paid allegiance to other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law. And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me.”

The Lord promised to have Jeremiah’s back – and He demonstrated it to Jeremiah – first making him aware of a secret plot against him, then describing the terrible consequences for the plotters. (The blessing and suffering experienced by the people was always linked to their obedience.)

Jeremiah was publicly flogged and placed in the stocks at the order of the priest who was responsible for Temple security. When was released he announced the Lord’s specific curse upon that priest, his family, and his friends.

Is it possible that the Lord allowed the flogging of Jeremiah to jog him loose from his reluctance to pronounce condemnation upon the rebellious people?

When the term “destined” was used it did not imply fatalistic-predestination but merely God’s perfect awareness of where their choices and circumstances would lead. Just as the fire of hell is described as “never going out”, so it was written here “… you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.”, but it isn’t intended to teach that God’s anger would literally rage eternally.

Dear Lord, The responsibility for the destiny of the people was upon them, You had given them generations of grace and now temporal justice and law had to be satisfied. May I recognize that You still balance grace and justice and that there is a difference between Your present-day chastising and hard-knocks teaching and Your perfect and final eternal judgment. Reveal to me a place in my life where fear has caused me to resist telling Your story and testifying to Your truth. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Jeremiah 1 – 11:17)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Jeremiah 1 – 11:17)

Jeremiah’s calling was a powerful one “… get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. I, the Lord, hereby promise to make you as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and all the people of the land. They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah was instructed to remind the people of their early faithfulness, followed by unfaithfulness, then what the Lord described as “spiritual adultery”.

He proclaimed God’s challenge for seeking protection from pagan foreign governments and His ridicule for trusting pagan idols “They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’ They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’

Jeremiah shared the frustration of the Lord with their arrogant presumption “Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father! You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young. You will not always be angry with me, will you? You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’ That is what you say, but you continually do all the evil that you can.”

Jeremiah delivered God’s plea to Israel to repent of their sinful rebellion so that he might forgive, reconcile, and restore them – even reuniting them with Judah.

He was assigned to deliver a tribulation and then to observe their response, he said “All of them are the most stubborn of rebels! They are as hard as bronze or iron. They go about telling lies. They all deal corruptly. The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely. But there is too much dross to be removed. The process of refining them has proved useless. The wicked have not been purged. They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’ because the Lord rejects them.”

Jeremiah was heartsick.

Jeremiah delivered God’s wisdom, which the apostle Paul later paraphrased “If people want to boast, they should boast about this: They should boast that they understand and know me. They should boast that they know and understand that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth and that I desire people to do these things,” says the Lord.”

Dear Lord, When You called Jeremiah You made it clear that he was to be fearless in his work for You. May I also, with Your indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit, be fearless. The foolish idolatry of false gods breaks the covenant of intimacy with You. May I learn from the past and be careful to place nothing between You and me. I will be a “good Berean”, consulting the Word, and will ask fellow Believers to pray in-agreement for clarity and courage. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Zephaniah 1 – 3)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Zephaniah 1 – 3)

The prophet Zephaniah served at about the same time as Nahum, approximately between 650 and 600 BC. He prophesied to all of Israel and in some ways to all people.

He explained why God was angry and warned that the day of judgment was coming soon.

Zephaniah proclaimed the justice and mercy of the Lord “Seek the Lord’s favor, all you humble people of the land who have obeyed his commands! Strive to do what is right! Strive to be humble! Maybe you will be protected on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.”

He challenged the people of Jerusalem “The just Lord resides within her; he commits no unjust acts. Every morning he reveals his justice. At dawn he appears without fail. Yet the unjust know no shame.”

Zephaniah concluded with hope from God Who “… will rescue the lame sheep and gather together the scattered sheep. I will take away their humiliation and make the whole earth admire and respect them. At that time I will lead you – at the time I gather you together. Be sure of this! I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you when you see me restore you,” says the Lord.”

The judgment of God would come against every nation, first in judgment-to-purify Israel, then in judgment to punish the pagan nations.

How is it that “The just Lord resides within her …” [Jerusalem] – yet they fell into such sin?

How does the same explanation apply to Christians in whom the Holy Spirit of God resides?

Dear Lord, You always offer hope, even as you punish us – Your ultimate purpose is to purify the willing and to purge the unwilling. May I be teachable so that You will not need to take extreme measures to purify me. Today I will celebrate and give praise for the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit and I commit myself to a more intentional walk so as to not offend You. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (2 Kings 22 – 23, 2 Chronicles 34 – 35)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (2 Kings 22 – 23, 2 Chronicles 34 – 35)

Josiah became king at the age of eight. By the time he was sixteen he was inquiring about the expectations of God and thus he went throughout the land to remove the altars to the false gods.

During his thirty-one years as king Josiah restored the faithful leadership of his grandfather, Hezekiah, following the rebellious leadership of his father Manassah.

Josiah destroyed every evil thing that Manassah had built and located and destroyed that which even his grandfather had missed.

Josiah instructed that the Temple be repaired. He instructed the priests to gather and melt silver for the repair of the temple and as the construction progressed and the silver was being transferred they discovered a scroll.

When the scroll was read aloud to Josiah he discovered that the Lord was angry with Israel and Judah for rebellion. Josiah was heart-sick and tore his clothes and wept, then instructed the priests to get an oracle from the Lord via a prophet(ess) of God.

He commanded the people to gather to renew their vow of obedience before God. He also restored the Passover celebration which had been neglected during the entire period of the kings.

The prophesy contained in the scrolls was that the Lord intended to bring complete disaster upon the people for their rebellion but because Josiah responded righteously to the contents of the scroll he would not see that terrible day.

In his thirty-first year as king Josiah led his forces against the kings of Assyria and Egypt. He was killed in battle because he neglected to consult God before the battle.

Dear Lord, You know the hearts of every person among even a huge nation of people, thus even the right heart of a single king cannot redeem a people bent upon rebellion. May I constantly check my heart-condition with Your Holy Spirit so that I never drift into a rebellious mind-set. You allow us to choose to repent – turn away – and to return to You, and You bless us when we do. May I be faithful to respond with humble repentance every time your Holy Spirit shows me where I have had any part in disobedience. Amen. dmc2016