October 12, 2014

Bible Reading: God Does Not Leave Us ... / The New Covenant

Jeremiah was ordained, by God, a prophet unto the nations before he was even born (Jeremiah 1:5). God put His words in Jeremiah's mouth (Jeremiah 1:9).

Today we're going to read mostly from Jeremiah, because there are a great many things in this book that can help us today, and that explain why these people had to endure the wrath of the Lord...
But what is the wrath of the Lord, really? As we covered in our previous reading, God is most certainly the source of everything good, and he does not turn away from those who cleave to him and follow him with their whole heart.

And I will utter my judgments against them, *touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.
- Jeremiah 1:16

This nation, the people therein, had "forsook", "forgotten" and "rejected" their God (all of these words appear in Jeremiah, concerning their relationship towards God), and they did not obey the words of the first *covenant, or *agreement.. By reading Jeremiah 11:1-6, you will have more details, and a fuller picture:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
And say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,
Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God: 
That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord.
Then the Lord said unto me, *Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.

Then we look back to the Old Testament - when the covenant was made:

But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce you unto this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go possess it.
- Deuteronomy 30:17-18

Continuing in Jeremiah:
For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.
Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the *imagination of their evil heart: therefore will I bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did them not.
- Jeremiah 11:7-8

These verses alone are enough for me to know the Lord's patience towards these people. Yet there it says: they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear.

Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; thought they roar, yet can they not pass over it?
But this people hath a revolting and rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.
- Jeremiah 5:22-25

A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God.
- Jeremiah 3:21

What exactly were these people doing? It's said many times the type of things they did.

Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
- Jeremiah 7:9-10

And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?
Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshiped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
And ye have done worse than your fathers; for behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me...
- Jeremiah 16:10-12

When Jeremiah went to some of them:
The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled a fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.
And the Lord hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewdest me their doings.
But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be no more remembered.
- Jeremiah 11:16-19

They wanted to take Jeremiah's life, instead of listening.
In Lamentations, we read of what became of Israel during that time.

All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. Fear and snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction. 
- Lamentations 3:46-47

Then when turning back to Jeremiah:
Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thy heart.
- Jeremiah 4:18

How simple it all becomes when you read the word of God, and have understanding of it, given by the Lord. If we are truly following God, how could he ever forsake us? It is not He who leaves us - it is we who leave Him.
Can you not relate with these wicked people at all? We all can, for we are all wicked - but unlike them, I hope you will hearken unto the word of the Lord, and will obey his voice, that pleads with us every day. It is the Lord's desire that the wicked turn from their wicked ways, and live (Ezekiel 33:11). Every person who chooses the Lord, and obeys his commandments, chooses life. And when you follow the Lord with your whole heart, and you cleave unto him - you love all his ways, and they become what you love to do, and your way of life. We do not live our life according to His commandments because we want to 'secure' salvation, for we are saved by grace, but we live in his ways because we love all of them, and they give us peace.

My son, forget not my law, but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
- Proverbs 3:1-2

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither it is far off.
It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Neither is it beyond the sea, *that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mightest do it.
*to say
- Deuteronomy 30:11-14

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
- Deuteronomy 30:19-20

As you have read, this people turned from the Lord, and the Lord protested (Jeremiah 11:7), but it came to a point where he had to utter his judgment against them, because they broke the covenant (or agreement). It was warned from the beginning that they shall surely perish, if they turned from the Lord their God. But he did not bring them to a full end (Jeremiah 5:18).

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
For this covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: 
And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
- Hebrews 8:7-12

For thus saith the Lord, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament or bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even lovingkindness and mercies.
- Jeremiah 16:5

God is truly the Source of every good thing, so if we turn from Him, show shall we have peace? How shall we have any fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22)? By rejecting Him, we reject also his mercies, his lovingkindness, and his peace and his joy he gives unto us.

Know though, that when you call upon the Lord with your whole heart, you will find him:

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:13

Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. ... - Isaiah 58:9

The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. - Psalm 145:18

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