Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
O. (Jeremiah 8:4-11): This whole passage put a thought in my head of how impressionable we are from our parents and teachers. Family businesses, customs, recipes, beliefs and so many other things are handed down from generation to generation and they become so engrained in our minds that it’s hard to change them. That is all great, unless someone is handing down the wrong information from generation to generation and never questions it or looks at the rulebook, the Bible. What I’m saying is that we have a responsibility to check the rulebook and question what information we are being fed and then, what we hand down to our children. I think, that, in part, is some of what’s happening here. Remember when we went through the deluge of kings and many of them said that they were “evil in the Lord’s sight. (They) followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.” So, what one teacher or parent does is extremely impressionable on children. Two Sundays ago, the pastor was commenting on how people become what their parents envision. His dad said he would be a great leader. Now he is. Not that you should determine what profession your kids will go into, rather teach them love and point out their talents that they may want to share with others. And, question those practices that “are because they are and always have been.” When my mom was here this last summer, she told me she thought it was a good idea for me to continue working at this preschool. The school was great, but teaching is not a gift I have never had and probably never will. So, I told her I was trying to follow God’s direction. I must say though, it is not always easy to know where he is directing me. He has shown me my talents, but I don’t have a clear way of using them. (It just dawned on me that I am right now in this blog. So I need to be patient and open my eyes to what he reveals to me.)
Q. (8:18-9:2): When I first read this I thought it somewhat mimics the feelings Jesus went through as he struggled to get the people, especially the church leaders, to follow Him. Here, we are seeing God’s grief for His people. Is he sad because he has lost so many people? Is He angry or embarrassed because this nation who he is trying to make an example of is failing Him? Regardless, we see His steadfast love for them.
A. I don’t think God feels embarrassment, because that would imply that He was ashamed of something, but I think that He is wholeheartedly expressing anger and sadness for the way that Israel’s sin has hurt the people. It isn’t just the idolatry, it is the effect their sinfulness is having on their relationships with each other: their sin is leading to corruption of the leaders, exploitation of the people, and violence. These are always the consequences of sin left to its own devices. That, ultimately, is what God is upset about: the way the people’s sin is causing them to turn on their own people in order to get ahead.
O. (9:23-24): This is an unexpected nice little pearl in the midst of all this upheaval, bloodshed, destruction and rot.
23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
24 But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
(And I say, AMEN!! I’m a big foe of boasting!)
Q. (9:25): God is talking about those who have the mark of the Lord, but are void of the Holy Spirit?
A. He is talking about people who have the “outer” marking of belonging to God (circumcision), but whose hearts are unchanged by their relationship with God. This is a theme Jeremiah will continue to explore. Also, Paul takes up a discussion of this theme in Romans chapter 2, so watch for that down the road.
Q. (10:23, 25, 11:4): Rob, I know you are a believer that we have free choice. But, what do you say about Jeremiah’s statement in v. 23: I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.? Yet, in v. 25, Jeremiah says, “Pour out your wrath … on the peoples that do not call upon your name,” which indicates these people have a choice. V. 11:4 further hints at free choice when it says “If you obey me and do whatever I command you …” Is there any books you can recommend for the free-will vs. predestination debate?
A. There is ample evidence for both positions in the Bible, it is simply a matter of deciding how the theology of Predestination and Free Will “fit” into the greater story. I’m not sure I could recommend a volume on both positions, but I would recommend the work of Roger E. Olson on Free Will Theology (also called Arminianism) and the works of Kenneth Stewart on Calvinism.
Q. (11:14): God has definitely counted past three with no response. He’s done. The Israelites have obviously not been reminded lately of the story of Noah and the Ark! All the evil people died!
A. All of Judah will be punished, though not all of them will die. You have seen in our reading that it is already happening.
Q. (11:21-23): I like these verses. Jeremiah asks the Lord to get even. He basically says, “don’t worry, they will pay. That is my job as the great judge.” I enjoy the ending, “I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.” God is gently telling Jeremiah that He will take care of them, but reminding Jeremiah that He is Lord and it will come when He’s ready, not Jeremiah. So, don’t wait around for it. Go on with your life.
A. It can be of great assurance to some people that there will be a reckoning in life. There is an expectation among many of our most corrupt and wealthy today — sadly including clergy — that they can do whatever they want because they have the money and power to do so. I’m thinking of those individuals who basically wrecked our economy and caused millions to lose their homes by recklessly playing the financial market in order to make a ton of money. Jeremiah’s message rings for them as well: Beware! Judgment is coming, and you will have to answer for what you have done.