Tag: captivity

Dealing with injustice

Scripture reading for May 09th: Nehemiah 5-8:1

Wise and godly leaders stand firmly against injustice!  Our sinful tendencies lead us relentlessly towards selfishness and taking advantage of those who are in need or in crisis or weak.  Slavery in America is an example of these selfish and sinful tendencies.  Slaves were bought and sold to build wealth for those they served.  Slaves did jobs that their owners did not want to do themselves.   Slaves were treated well by some and harshly and cruelly by others.  Injustice in this system led some leaders to take action and a civil war resulted that cost the lives of many Americans and many who named the name of Christ on both sides of this issue.

Nehemiah faced injustice in his day among his own people.  Taxes were high in Jerusalem and the Jews had to pay them to the Persian king.  Their brothers who had money were loaning to these Jews who had no money.  Mortgages were taken on the fields and vineyards and even their homes.  Even sons and daughters were being sold into slavery because of the usury that was going on among the Israelites.  An outcry because of this injustice reached Nehemiah and he pondered this problem. (Nehemiah 5:6-7)   Calling a meeting of all those involved,  he called out those charging unfair interest, commanded them to stop these practices. (Nehemiah 5:9-11)  They publicly agreed to do so.  He even shook out his own robe and prayed prophetically, “In this way may God shake out of His house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise.  So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!” Nehemiah 5:13

God’s people must beware of injustice, even in their own house!  Sin and selfishness can cause us to take advantage of others.  We can abuse or neglect the poor and the weak.  Spiritual leaders and pastors must guard their hearts in how they encourage giving, being careful not to manipulate.  A form of slavery results when our sons and daughters go into captivity and leave the church because of injustice in God’s house!  Righteous leaders are watchful and take direct action when they know about it!  Pray today for those in authority and let them know of any injustice among God’s people!

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Is there any word from the Lord? (Part 2)

Scripture reading for August 14th: Jeremiah 40-45

“Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant.  For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left.  Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” Jeremiah 42:1-3

These Jews were scared and feared the wrath of Babylon because their Babylonian appointed leader, Gedaliah, had been assassinated.  They were thinking about fleeing to Egypt but decided to seek a word from the Lord.  They approached Jeremiah and asked him to pray for them to “your God”.   People often ask spiritual leaders for a word, but not necessarily so they can obey!

After this group promised Jeremiah to abide faithfully by God’s word, he agreed to seek Him.  They said the right words and seemed so sincere.  (Jeremiah 42:5-6)  As Jeremiah prayed over their request, ten days passed before the answer came.  He called the Jews together to hear the Lord’s directions.   If they would stay in the land, God would plant them and build them up.  He would protect them from the King of Babylon and show them great compassion.  (Jeremiah 42:10-12)  However, if they did not obey and chose to go down to Egypt, what they feared would overtake them and they would surely die by the sword, famine and plague!  (Jeremiah 42:13-18)  Just to help them out, Jeremiah emphasized the right choice, “Do not go to Egypt.” (Jeremiah 42:19)

However, their words and actions were not really sincere because their hearts were not right with the Lord.  They had no fear of the Lord or His holy word.  They accused the prophet of lying and chose to do their own thing!  (Jeremiah 43:2-7)  They  gathered everyone and headed for Egypt!   Why would a people who knew God’s word and the penalty for disobedience choose to disobey and die?

As you think about this story today, examine your own life and check out your heart.  Are you seeking the Lord to hear His word and obey?  Or are you just curious about how He thinks?  Knowing truth means responsibility to act!

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Lesson of the dirty underwear!

Scripture reading for August 7th: Jeremiah 11-15

Object lessons employ the principle that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’.  God has always given object lessons through His prophets.  Some of these  are pretty graphic.  In today’s reading God instructs Jeremiah to go and buy a linen belt and put it around his waist.  This belt was a type of underwear that Jeremiah would wear close to his body in the most intimate place.  He was to wear it for a period of time but not wash it in water.  (Jeremiah 13:1)  Can you just imagine body sweat and the dust of the daily walk on the roads of that day causing the white linen underwear to soil?

The next thing God instructed Jeremiah to do was to take the underwear and hide it in a crevice of a rock.  After many days he was to go and retrieve it. (Jeremiah 13:3-6)  There were no surprises; the linen belt was ruined and completely useless.  What was this object lesson meant to teach God’s people?

God said that His people were like the white linen underwear.  He wanted to keep them close to Him in intimacy and as a special treasure.  They refused to listen and instead were filled with stubborn pride and rebellion.  The went after other gods and worshiped them and became useless, just like the linen undergarment.  They were supposed to be God’s people for ‘renown, praise and honor’, but fell far short of their calling.  (Jeremiah 13:11)

God’s Word contains another statement similar to this in the New Testament book of 1st Peter.  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1st Peter 2:9-10)  Another version uses the term “peculiar people”.  This term speaks of a special treasure–pocket change that God can use for His special purposes.  We belong to God and must choose to stay close to Him.  Intimacy requires purity!   He won’t wear “dirty underwear”!

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You can be sure. . .!

Scripture Reading for February 19: Numbers 31-33

As our last two adopted children were growing up, I had them write scriptures as a discipline for doing wrong.  This helped them in several ways.  They needed to learn to write English and it helped with that.  They needed to learn the Word of God and build their faith.  It helped with that.  After writing the verse, they needed to explain what it meant to them. Some of the things they did were normal childish things, but some were willful. They obeyed to a point, but always looked for a way to get around true obedience by twisting our instructions or taking it out of context.   One of the scriptures that we used was this simple warning found in Numbers 32:23: “you can be sure your sin will find you out.They wrote this verse dozens of times!

In our reading today, the context for this verse was a warning given by Moses to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  These tribes petitioned Moses to be able to stay on the east side of the Jordan River and not enter the promised land with the rest of the tribes.  They were lured by the lush pastures and the potential to make money with their large flocks and herds of sheep and cattle.  They were going to have a great life without their rightful inheritance promised by God.  They were satisfied with what they could see–why take a chance on what they might get?  They promised to fight and help their brothers take their inheritance, however.  So Moses warned them against failing to fulfill their promise to fight. It would be a sin that would find them out!

We have lots of people today like these tribes of Israel.  They experience the blessings of God’s deliverance from sin and see the miraculous daily supply of God.  They agree that a full inheritance is fine for others, but they are satisfied with what they can have right now.  They want the easy life and are not sure that what God promises is worth the chance or the effort.  They choose to go part way with God’s people, but want what they can see themselves, not what is promised!

The end of these tribes proves God’s Word is true again!  (1 Chronicles 5:24-26)  They were later unfaithful to God and prostituted themselves to other gods.  God gave them over to their enemies and they went into captivity!  They were faithful for a time, but in the end going just part way was not enough!  They sinned against God and their sin found them out!  God tried to warn them.  In his love, he tried to help.  But we often don’t learn from the warnings and have to be ‘found out”!  Don’t let this happen to you!  Take time today to be honest with God!

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