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Archive for the ‘Jeremiah’ Category

July 30th, 2018 by Scott Fritzsche

Satan the Christian?

My family and I are incredibly lucky that a pastor sought us out. Out faith was solid, we had been attending church, but not any one in particular with regularity. A pastor extended us an invitation, no strings attached, and was never pushy, but remained persistent. It was wonderful. Since being involved in this church, we have been blessed by friendly and faithful people, Wesleyan preaching, and a family that we do not otherwise have for the most part. Most recently, the sermons have been inspired by a fairly famous quote from John Wesley. “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”  Imagine that, pastors who are not only committed to trying to do this, but is not trying to do this second hand, or as a result of something else, but is challenging and leading his congregation to become those 100 preachers. It is amazing. I know that other pastors do this, but it seems less and less are trying and that to often those who do try are sort of attempting it on the sly and not as the primary goal. To be fair, that may just be my impression however. I certainly mean no offense to pastors and their individual styles of course, I am simply trying to explain how much I appreciate my pastors and their willingness to take this head on. As always, my opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the church that I attend, or the source material that inspired these thoughts.
So on Sunday, in a service where baptisms were performed, and the special music was amazing (my wife sang, so of course it was), an incredibly profound sentence was spoken by the pastor during the sermon. I do not remember the quote directly, but it went something like this. If the only thing that you need to do to be a Christian is believe that Jesus is the son of God, then even Satan can be called a Christian. There is a trend toward the belief that one does not need to go to church to be a Christian, yet scripture, the book of Hebrews specifically, seems to disagree fairly strongly. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised),  and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25) 
Looking at verse 23, we find the instruction to hold fast to our baptism. I am not going to reprint my thoughts on that here, but I encourage you to take a moment to read them. Wesley would comment in his New Testament notes, “The profession of our hope – The hope which we professed at our baptism.” An important part of our Christian faith is then rooted in baptism, but not simply the act of baptism, the profession of what we believe that called for baptism in the first place. Yes, all should be baptized of course, but yes, all should know what they are professing at baptism either as the one being baptized, or as those entrusted with raising the child being baptized. By the way, the congregation participates too, so you have a part in this. The congregation needs to remember these things and live up to their vows made at baptism as well.
Verse 24 is pretty straight forward on the surface of it. Provoke one another to love. Seems easy enough all in all, save that we rarely seem to understand or agree on what ‘love’ means these days. We have lost the understanding that the audience of Hebrews had about love. (More on love here. ) Consistently throughout both the Old and New testaments, love is tethered to obedience to ordinances and commands of God. We should provoke each other to follow the commands of God, to communion, to baptism, to the instructions of Christ (which are the commands of God of course), etc. Also, we should provoke each other to good works. This is also the message of James, though I dare say James puts it more bluntly. “My brothers, what profit is it if a man says he has faith and does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,   and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it?  Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself.   But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works.  You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble.  But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:14-20) No, this is not works based salvation, but that is a different discussion for a different day. Here James makes very clear that good works are a vital part of the Christian faith.
Finally we come to verse 25, and really the crux of all of this I do believe. Wesley would say: “Not forsaking the assembling ourselves – In public or private worship. As the manner of some is – Either through fear of persecution, or from a vain imagination that they were above external ordinances. But exhorting one another – To faith, love, and good works. And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching – The great day is ever in your eye.” Yes, Christians assemble together for public and/or private worship. It isn’t an option.
Christianity is not always easy. If someone told you it was, I am sorry. It’s easy to know what to believe above Christianity really, but it is not easy to live the life of faith that we are called to. We are called to a faith that is better than that of the demons and Satan, their master. We are called to the faith of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the church. Simple logic says that we can not wait upon Christ, the Bridegroom, if we are not a part of the Bride. In truth, if we are not devoting our time to the Bride, then we are in effect guilty of the same adultery that God divorced himself from Israel for. (see Jeremiah chapter 3) Brothers and sisters, I would have us all live the faith the God, through Christ, has called us to, and not the faith of the adversary. It may not be a pleasant truth, but it is a truth none the less: If we are not living the faith of Christ, through the church, then we are serving the faith of Satan.
May 10th, 2011 by Joel Watts

James is right – Jeremiah was a Deuteronomist

James has a quote and then writes,

Oh, I like that! It sounds like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Imagine finding it in Deuteronomy!

Idle musings of a bookseller: A new heart in Deuteronomy?.

Agreed. Oh wait, you don’t know what James is really saying?

I’ll help. What he is saying is that:

Jeremiah’s heart and Ezekiel’s heart and the heart in Deuteronomy are all the same. Further, he is alluding to the fact that Jeremiah was the proto-prophet of Deuteronomy 18 and the new covenant of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel is Deuteronomy.

James Spinti, as paraphrased by Joel Watts.

February 25th, 2011 by Joel Watts

Scratchpad – Exegesis of Jeremiah 31.31-37 – Suggestions?

The figure of Jeremiah on the Sistine Chapel c...

Image via Wikipedia

Admittedly, I wanted a passage for this work-up which was easy because my intention is not to focus on this text, but 2nd Samuel. However, here are some scratchpad thoughts. Suggests are welcomed and encouraged:

Jeremiah 31:31-37

Preliminary Observations

Christians have, since the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, used Jeremiah 31.31-33 as a hallmark of the faith, in describing the new order of the Covenant in which Gentiles were now full participants. The original meaning of the text, however, looked forward to a future time in which the exile would be ended, Judah and Israel secure and reunited as a Kingdom and in which the covenant with God was renewed. In it we find imagery of a divine marriage, references to the Canaanite gods, and a reference to the Law which seems to more humanistic in origin and application than the standing Mosaic Law. I note that the prophecy is not about the far distant future, but about the hope of the immediate future, perhaps in relation to the end of exile when no monarchy, at least no Israelite monarchy, existed, erasing the Image of God which had nearly destroyed the Covenant.

God is seen as the bridgegroom and the father at once, with the child Israel being taken by the hand and being led away from Egypt although the scene is equal to that of a husband redeeming his wife. The (re)newed law is clearly designed to be more human and more relational, having written the law on the heart. This may reflect the thought that God’s people will not be examined by their actions. Jeremiah is also showing his anti-priestly strain in verse 34 in that he allows that everyone will now be a kingdom of priests, equal before God, and no longer needing a stand between. Gorman notes that this seems to be contrary to the Deuteronomic concern for teaching, but this may be Jeremiah’s way of speaking about the priests as the centralization of knowledge. Perhaps as well, it alludes to the notion of a literary and liturgical use of the Law in which people will be able to freely hear and read what the Law says.

Verses 35-37 refer to cosmic degrees, in which people would see a strict relationship between the events on earth and what they believed had happened and were happening in the heavens. Creation plays a part here, but seemingly not the detailed creation stories of Genesis 1-3, as written in exile. Instead, Jeremiah is allowing the knowledge of the cosmos to reside solely in the mind of the Divine YHWH. What matters here is that YHWH wants the mystery of the cosmos hidden from the people because it is His realm alone and uses the mystic language to showcase the great love of Israel which He has, as displayed by the coming new covenant. A plain reading, or a botched scientific reading rather, would force away from v.35-37 the needed divine mystery of the cosmos wherein it is the great gulfs of unknown which displays the known love between God and Israel. Not sure how Genesis 1 plays into this passage of Jeremiah, if it does at all, as Genesis 1 is still not about solidifying knowledge about Creation itself. Instead, I would gather that the stories of Creation are connected here to the fact that YHWH is the One who is ordering with purpose the cosmos.

JPS NLT NASB
31 See, a time is coming — declares the LORD — when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I espoused them — declares the LORD.

33 But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days — declares the LORD: I will put My Teaching into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

34 No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, “Heed the LORD”; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me — declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquities, And remember their sins no more.

35 Thus said the LORD, Who established the sun for light by day, The laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is LORD of Hosts:

36 If these laws should ever be annulled by Me — declares the LORD — Only then would the offspring of Israel cease To be a nation before Me for all time.

37 Thus said the LORD: If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done — declares the LORD.

31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.

32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the LORD.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the LORD. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

35 It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says:

36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”

37 This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.

33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.”

37 Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

Differences in Translation:

I have chosen the JPS-1985, the New Living Translation (2007) and the New American Standard Bible as the translations of choice, although I will tend to use the Hebrew where it is appropriate in the exegesis paper. While there is not much difference between the three, at least none that really matter, my attention is drawn to the final verses in which the NLT relates the passage as a positive affirmation of the God’s love for Israel. The affirmation in v36 and 37 is a positive one, and yet, the more literal readings has it almost as a threat. There is absolutely no possibility that the natural laws will disappear from the Cosmos and neither will the measuring of the heavens above be accomplished because as science tells us, the Universe is constantly expanding.

Significant Concepts:

YHWH is speaking about a day coming in which the Kingdom would be reunited, which is interesting noting that if the dating of the discovery of Deuteronomy is correct, and the sentiments that Deuteronomy is more of a northern kingdom book, then Jeremiah may be giving political cover to the use of the defunct Kingdom’s law.  I also note that the teaching of the Lord, the new covenant, will be placed inside the individual demanding, perhaps, a visual sign of deeds to express the community’s response to the Covenant. Noticeable as well is the fact that Israel is given the New Covenant out of God’s love, even after the terrible divorce and rebellion by Israel.

Creation is present in the New Covenant, at least as a backdrop. One of the common explanations of the miraculous Creation, as many understand Genesis 1 to mean, is that God ignored natural laws/natural order along the same lines as the Resurrection, although we have two very different things there. This discounts all of the theories (facts) about the speed of light, the size of the universe and other such things which must be denied in attempting to prove that the 6-Day interpretation is the only inerrant interpretation of Genesis 1. In essence, they seek to frame a literal interpretation of Creation as a miracle, something that is not actually seen in Scripture. Further, they require that God bend, break or destroy natural laws, such as the speed of light, in order to hold to their theories, although I doubt this will actually make it into the exegetical paper. However, what will make it into the paper is the fact that during the significant events in Israel’s life, the theme of Creation seems present.

If I were to choose this passage for exegetical work, and I doubt that I will, I would explore the use of Creation as a motif, divorce and remarriage between YHWH and Israel in context of social norms of the time. Of interest as well as the imagery of YHWH as that normative Canaanite divine husband. Further, I would investigate the use of future language, comparing to other such language in Jeremiah. Finally, I would examine the new Law/Teaching in regard to Deuteronomy.

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February 24th, 2011 by Joel Watts

Does the NLT get it right in Jeremiah 31.35-37? Even Rodney agrees…

While doing the work up on this for my OT class, I noticed something which again reminds me of why I enjoy the NLT:

JPS NLT NASB
35 Thus said the LORD, Who established the sun for light by day, The laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is LORD of Hosts:

36 If these laws should ever be annulled by Me — declares the LORD — Only then would the offspring of Israel cease To be a nation before Me for all time.

37 Thus said the LORD: If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done — declares the LORD.

35 It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says:

36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”

37 This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.”

37 Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

The affirmation in v36 and 37 is a positive one, and yet, the more literal readings has it almost as a threat. There is absolutely no possibility that the natural laws will disappear from the Cosmos and neither will the measuring of the heavens above be accomplished because as science tells us, the Universe is constantly expanding.

Frankly, the NLT’s translation shines through here and relates to us God’s unending love for His people.

February 24th, 2011 by Joel Watts

God Wouldn’t Have Circumvented Natural Laws in Creation – Jeremiah 31.35-36

One of the common explanations of the miraculous Creation, as many understand Genesis 1 to mean, is that God ignored natural laws/natural order along the same lines as the Resurrection, although we have two very different things there. This discounts all of the theories (facts) about the speed of light, the size of the universe and other such things which must be denied in attempting to prove that the 6-Day interpretation is the only inerrant interpretation of Genesis 1. In essence, they see to frame a literal interpretation of Creation as a miracle, something that is not actually seen in Scripture. Further, they require that God bend, break or destroy natural laws, such as the speed of light, in order to hold to their theories.

Interesting enough….

God says otherwise:

35 Thus said the LORD, Who established the sun for light by day, The laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is LORD of Hosts:

36 If these laws should ever be annulled by Me — declares the LORD — Only then would the offspring of Israel cease To be a nation before Me for all time. – JPS

35 It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says:

36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” – NLT

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” – NASB

So, unless you decide that God can only be speaking after the Creation, or some other excuse for not reading the text ‘plain’, one must conclude that due to measuring the speed of light, the universe is older than 6000 years…. way, way older.

Sure, you could refer to the understanding of cosmic decrees which more than likely is what is in the Prophet’s mind, but then… you wouldn’t be reading the text plain, literal, and the what not… now would you?

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