Saturday, December 26, 2020

Finding Our Shepherd - King



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In many places in the Old Testament we find “types” of Jesus, literally, other Bible characters whose lives reflect all or part of the life of Jesus and His ministry. As we learn from our reading today, David the son of Jesse was anointed to take the Throne of Israel at a young age. Jesus was destined to take the Throne of David, which was to be an everlasting Throne (Psalm 93:2 “Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.”)

It was many years before David was actually installed on Israel’s Throne to rule and lead the nation. Saul, the King at the time had lost favor with the Lord, and God sent the Prophet Samuel to anoint David in Saul’s place. David was anointed to be King while he was a lad tending his father’s sheep. If this sounds familiar, it should, for Jesus has been tending the flocks of His Father for centuries, and it is still a yet future date when Jesus will take the Throne of His earthly ancestor David, in Jerusalem.

In today’s main text, we learn of the shepherds tending their flocks by night outside of Bethlehem. The Angel of the Lord appears to them and told them of tidings of great joy. The shepherds headed in from the fields and found this infant-King, just as the Angel had told them, laying in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling clothes.

For Jesus, like David, it would be many years before He began His public ministry, and at the age of 30, He began to choose His Apostles, and they followed Him as He traveled throughout Israel teaching people the words of His Father, the way they were meant to be taught, learned, and lived.

And it was three years later that Jesus directs Peter to feed His lambs, feed His sheep, and again, feed His sheep.

Jesus is our eternal shepherd, and we are the flocks of His pasture!
“And ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”   Jeremiah 29:13



Today's Audio Message: "Finding Our Shepherd-King" - Luke 2:1-24


If ever there was an opportunity for God to enact his plan with a majestic flourish, it was at Jesus' birth. But God did not presume upon humanity when he stepped in to redeem it. There was no pretense in this arrival. Rather, God chose to identify in the humblest way with those made in his image. God’s own Son made His appearance on earth in the lowliest of circumstances. This humble birth conveys an amazing message to creation: the transcendent God condescended to come to us. Instead of coming to earth as a pampered, privileged ruler, Jesus was born in meekness, as one of us. He is approachable, accessible, available—no palace gates bar the way to Him; no ring of guards prevents our approach. The King of kings came humbly, and His first bed was a manger. It was quite a contrast to the birth of John the Baptist whose birth was announced in the capital, at the temple, in the center of the Jewish nation.

Jesus arrives in rural anonymity, yet it is Jesus' birth that draws an angelic host. Once again, appearances are deceiving. As humble as the setting is, his birth is accompanied by the attention of the heavenly host. The shepherds who are privileged to share in the moment become bearers of a story full of wonder.

The shepherds have the type of response any of us should have as we contemplate these events. Their curiosity leads them to go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened. As they see God's word honored in the presence of the sign, they come to testify to God's work and tell the story of the child. Mary depicts the wonder of experiencing the inbreaking of God in her life. She pondered these things in her heart. The audience to the shepherds' report were amazed. Their response exemplifies the awe that should fill anyone who hears Jesus' story.

In addition, there is the shepherds' glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen. This birth is no mere arrival of a new life, as poignant as each such event is. The story is not told so that hearers can identify with the new mother and father or enjoy a story of hope, of a touching birth in humble surroundings. This birth has value because of whose birth it is. The shepherds have found that the angel's words were true, that events have transpired just as they had been told. God's word is coming to pass; his plan is again strategically at work. They break out in praise to God because he has sent Jesus, the Savior, Lord and Christ.

Jesus is our Shepherd-King. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the one who will sit on the throne of David forever. He is The Son of David, the expected One, and He comes to set His people free from their yoke of bondage. He is the One with authority over us, yet He is a gentle and never forces His way into our lives. He is the One Who told the believers in Revelation 3:20 that He stands at the door, knocking and waiting for them to open the doors of their hearts and let Him come in and fellowship with them.


 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

How Will I Know?



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our modern times, one can know the joy of having a prayer answered, but with all odds against them, what extreme joy must have been felt by Zacharias and Elisabeth at the news Gabriel brought to them. They would indeed have a son! Zacharias is an old man by this time, and his wife is “well stricken with years.” It’s beyond human hope that this should be happening to them after a lifetime of prayers, and in their old age.

But as Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:37, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” When it His Word that is being fulfilled, there is no such thing as “Mission Impossible.” God’s plan will always take precedence over ours; His Will will be done, even if ours is set aside, or denied outright. For Zacharias and Elisabeth, the birth of John the Baptist was a lost hope, that is, until God’s orchestration brought people, places, and times together in a unique combination.

If you have been praying for a Godly purpose, do not give up hope. In such cases, God’s answer is “Not yet!” It is not “No.” And even if you don’t see your prayer answered in your lifetime, the future holds as much promise for us as it did for all those patriarchs who died in faith, not having seen the promises (Hebrews 11:4-13) fulfilled during their lives. James 4:1-5 encourages us to not pray for vain things, and 1 John 5:14 declares if we pray according to His will, He hears us, and will fulfill according to His will.

Do not doubt our God and Lord when it comes to His perfect will, and His purpose. His timing may be awkward for us; Elisabeth went and hid herself for five months, and Zacharias lost his voice! But with John’s birth, Elisabeth’s neighbors and cousins saw how the Lord showed great mercy upon her, and they rejoiced with her! Oh, how excellent is His name! And when naming the child John, as prescribed by the Angel Gabriel, Zacharias showed faith restored in God, his voice returned, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit! Truly nothing shall be impossible for God.

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.”  Psalm 113:9

Today's Audio Message: "How Will I Know?" - Luke 1:57-80

This morning, we come to a remarkable passage. It’s the story of the birth of John the Baptist. A story that shows us how God kept His promise to provide a messenger who would proclaim the Christ.

The prophecy that God gave through Zacharias is the breaking of 400 years of revelational silence from God, as written in the last few words of Malachi 4:5-6; 
Behold, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD; And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
This promise was fulfilled in the birth of John the Baptist—as the Lord Jesus told His disciples—was that promised ‘Elijah’ (see Matthew 17:11-13). And now, after 400 years of waiting, we’re told that John is born as “the prophet of the highest” and he will announce the Messiah. God’s promise was made centuries before concerning the forerunner of the promised Messiah;
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me..."  Malachi 3:1.
John was that messenger from God who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. As God Himself said in Isaiah 40:3-5, John was born as …
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken”  
(Isaiah 40:3-5; see also John 1:19-23).
It was John’s task to announce to mankind, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And so here, in this passage, we’re told the story of this great man’s entry onto the scene of human history.

At the birth of his son John, Zacharias spoke praise to God, a prophetic message given by the Holy Spirit. Luke tells us;
Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began”
(vv. 67-70).
The first thing that Zacharias gave praise to God for was the Lord Jesus who was yet unborn. For it is Jesus who is the one who has visited and redeemed His people. It is He who is the “horn” (a symbol of kingly power) “of salvation”. He came as the fulfillment of God’s promise that King David would have a Son who would reign upon his throne forever.

The coming of Jesus into this world is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham—back when God called him to Himself in Genesis 12:1-3. Jesus is the promised King of the Jews; and it would be by Him that the Jewish people would be delivered, and restored from their years of disobedience to God, and would be enabled to serve Him.

What good news the coming of Jesus is! What a great role John filled in this world of announcing the coming of this Redeemer! But as great as John was, and as much as we wish to hear more about his growing up and the development of his ministry, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to only tell us just one-verse-worth of information about this great man’s life.  Luke closes this section off with . . .
"So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel ." Luke 1:80
But really, it wouldn’t be necessary for us to know much more than this. The focus should not be on John the Baptist; but rather, on the One that was born into the world to announce. As the apostle John has put it at the beginning of his Gospel;
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.   John 1:6-9
John the Baptist was given by God to be the prophet who bore witness of the Christ. He was only the messenger of the Coming One. He was only the forerunner of the King of kings and Lord of lords. It’s more important that we know the story of Jesus; and it is more than enough for us to know that God kept His promise in giving John to the world to declare Him.



Saturday, December 12, 2020

Elul, The Perfect Time

 


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Angel Gabriel visited the Earth again, in the sixth month. On his previous trip, a conversation with Zacharias the priest left the priest literarily speechless! This time, Gabriel returns to Earth, but not to Jerusalem, instead he comes to Nazareth. In John 1 we read a quote from the Apostle Nathanael (gift of God), as he asks, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” We can read between the lines here that the City of Nazareth did not have a good reputation. But God had His eye on a couple there, about to be married.

God chooses the who, what, when and where that best suits Him, not us. The scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.”

This tells us that God does the exact opposite of what mankind does. CEO’s are groomed to rule in industry because of college transcripts, looks, and abilities. Even a good track record of previous accomplishments is looked upon with great favor. Well, that’s man pinning the blue ribbon on other men.

God is more likely to find someone that’s unkempt, and grooms him or her specific to the ministry needs, not human expectations. To make the point, our audio specialist at church is hearing impaired, and our video specialist has more eye problems than most people. God calls whom He calls because He sees something that the human race misses. It’s not even a tangible, it is faith, and based in willingness to be bent to Gods will. Simply put, it is spiritually based and Spiritually discerned.

So where do we all “fit” in the Body of Christ? If you have ever wondered where you fit, it is best left up to the Lord Himself to plop you into the right place, at the right time, and for His right purposes. Pray to be His willing servant.
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” ~ Ephesians 4:16

Today's Audio Message: "Elul, The Perfect Time"

Do you have a plan for your life? – A list of things you hope or expect to accomplish? Maybe it’s finishing high school and going on to college, or graduating from college and starting your career. Perhaps it’s getting married and starting a family; or getting that promotion at work. We all have dreams and goals, what’s yours? How important is that plan to you? How would you feel if you knew that glorifying God most fully in your life would lead you to abandon all those plans? How would you respond to God?

Last week we began our study in the Gospel of Luke. The angel Gabriel announced to the priest Zacharias that he and his wife Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son. Elizabeth was barren and had prayed for years to conceive for a child, and here they are well beyond child bearing years, and God is answering that prayer. God had a purpose and a plan, and His timing is perfect. They would not just be parents, but parents of the forerunner of the long-awaited Messiah. Talk about a huge change in one’s life, but the angel tells Zacharias, “You will have joy and gladness.” The Lord has taken away Elizabeth’s disgrace and shame among the people, and Zecharias sees the link between this birth and the fulfillment of God’s plan that was written by the prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 40:3-8.

This week, we see the angel Gabriel announce God’s plan to the young girl Mary who had found favor with God. This announcement comes within sixth months of the announcement made to Zacharias and her cousin Elizabeth. Now Mary is told that she would conceive and bring forth a son whose name shall be called Jesus. Pregnancy for an unmarried girl was and still is very problematic. How would she explain this to her family, her betrothed? Yet that doesn’t stop God from fulfilling His plan, by His means, and in His timing according to His perfect will - and yes, takes care of every detail. God’s plan would changed Mary’s plans dramatically.

How does she respond? Why does she respond the way she does? What lessons does Mary provide for us, as God changes our plans? Let’s find the answer to those questions as we look at Luke 1:26-56.




Saturday, December 5, 2020

Of Priests And Kings












Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The telling of any true story requires details that can only be known by those that “lived” the story. Luke’s Gospel begins with minute details, and even a salutation for the one to whom he writes this tome.

After introducing the readers to his friend Theophilus, we are then taken back in time a bit in verse 5 of Luke 1, and introduced to Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. The time period is in the days of Herod The Great, King of Judea. And Zacharias, we learn, is a priest “of the course of Abia.”

It would be easy to read right over this last detail and miss the importance of Abia, a Grandson of King Solomon. This verse established Zacharias as being a priest in the Royal Family line. The same verse tells us also of Elizabeth his wife, who was “of the daughters of Aaron.” She is of the Aaronic Line of the Jewish priesthood. Aaron was the brother of Moses; they were born to a Levite man and his wife, Aram and Jochobed, and the Levites were the priestly Tribe of Levi. More Jewish “Royalty” in the Priesthood!

These are details that set the stage, tracing Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s heritage back to the days of Moses, a Deliverer of the Jews in his own rite. But for Zacharias and Elizabeth, it places them in a difficult time living under a King of Judea that was not even Jewish, but an Idumean, and therefore not a son of Jacob, but a son of Esau.

Further on in Luke, and in Matthew, we are introduced to Mary, a cousin to Elizabeth and her espoused husband Joseph, both of whom trace their family line back to King David. There is enough Royalty in this family’s bloodline to make it a curious thing that their Son Jesus would have such a humble birth.

For criminal actions, we are told to “follow the money.” But for the love of God, we should be following the bloodline of this narrative, from God, to the first Adam, to the Second Adam, and then to those that believe on His name. Follow the details in the story and discover the truth of our Savior and King, Jesus Christ.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be on His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father , The Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9:6


Today's Audio Message: "Of Priests And Kings"

As we begin the Christmas Season, we will be looking at Luke’s Gospel for the real reason we celebrate.  There is no greater gift to mankind than the birth of our Savior and Lord. His name is  Jesus.  He is that indescribable gift that God gave to us. He is the Savior who delivers us from sin and death. He is the Messiah who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets.  Jesus, who is fully divine, and the Lord of Heaven, entered our world taking on human flesh.  He is Emmanuel - God is truly with us!

In this first section of chapter one, we read the apostle’s account of the announcement of the miraculous birth of John the Baptist, who would be the forerunner of the promised Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5).  John was the chosen one to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  We will learn about his parents, both from a royal and priestly heritage - God did not miss one intricate detail in the fulfillment of prophecy leading to the birth of Christ.

It’s interesting that even the names of John’s parents leave no room for doubt about God’s plan, His promises and His complete ability to fulfill every detail of His word.  Zacharias whose name means ‘God Remembers’, and Elizabeth, whose name means ‘His Oath’.  Together their names mean, ‘God Remembers His Oath’. That oath can be found in Psalm 89:34-37 - God’s promise to King David, that his seed shall endure forever, and the throne of this coming King will be established forever!


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Babylon In Retrospect



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Like many nations in today’s world, God was left out of daily life among the Jews for an extended period of time. The Sabbaths of the land that had been ignored added up to a seventy (70) year time period for the soil to rest during the Babylonian captivity. But the Israelites would have to be removed from their land for that length of time. Being driven into captivity by the Chaldeans accomplished that task. God used a pagan foreign power to do His will.

Fresh in the bravado of being victorious in two world wars, the United States entered The Korean Conflict and could only win a compromised victory, splitting Korea into two nations. Then about the time of that infamous Supreme Court decision outlawing public prayers, followed by a ban on prayers in public schools, we went to war in Viet Nam. For many reasons, we lost that war after losing nearly 58,000 American lives. The USA had become the target of every enemy nation around the world, and though we win occasional battles, our enemies continue to fight against us.

And now because of a lack in upholding our own immigration laws, our enemies now reside within our borders, living next door to patriots. Such foolishness will undermine any nation’s sovereignty.

I liken it not to bad political policies, but to the Nation of Israel when they went to war against their enemies, but without God. Israel had enjoyed a string of victories with their leaders entering wars at Jehovah’s direction, and fighting with them to victories guided by God. But full of pride, they entered several skirmishes without God, and with only their own bravado. And without God, the Israelites lost every time.

Battling demons on a personal level, or fighting a political war is fruitless unless the Lord is directing both the battle and us. Bravado is nothing more than pride run-amuck, and tooting our own horn. It is a thing that the Lord hates according to Proverbs 6. It takes away the glory due to God and redirects it to man.

"The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD." ~ Proverbs 21:31 NIV


Today's Audio Message: "Babylon In Retrospect"

In this final chapter of Jeremiah we are given a summary of the events which have occurred, with a few additional details of the judgement that fell upon the Israelites because of their disbelief and disobedience. Jeremiah was chosen by God to speak to the people of Judah on the Lord’s behalf, even though they would not listen. He was a man of undeniable courage and of great sorrow over the plight of God’s people. He found himself addressing a nation hurtling headlong toward judgment from God because of their pride and refusal to repent.

The book of Jeremiah also provides us the clearest glimpse of the new covenant God intended to make with His people once Christ came to earth. In God’s promise of restoration He would put His law within them, writing it on hearts of flesh rather than tables of stone. God’s promise is that His people would know Him directly through the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

Because Jeremiah prophesied in the final years of Judah before God’s people were exiled to Babylon, it makes sense that the book’s overarching theme is judgment. Indeed, the first forty-five chapters focus primarily on the judgment coming to Judah because of its disbelief and disobedience. However, an element of grace is also present in these events. The fall of Jerusalem comes nearly nine hundred years after the original covenant between God and the Israelites in the Sinai desert (Exodus 24:1–18). Such an extended period of time witnesses to God’s great patience and mercy, allowing His people the opportunity to turn from their sinful ways—a lifestyle they began not long after they struck the original covenant with God (32:1–35).

Seeing God’s patience with His people in the Old Testament reminds us that God has always been and continues to be merciful. That His chosen people routinely ignored the covenant they made with Him for the better part of a millennia without immediate death and destruction should give us hope in our own struggles with living well for God. Though we fail Him, He is patient with us, working in us to bring about the best for our lives.

But the book of Jeremiah also reminds us that an end will certainly come.  This is a truth that should spur our hearts to follow after God.  Will we kick against His authority, refuse His Word and reject Him; or will we surrender, turning our hearts and lives back to God and follow Him? 

God is faithful to His Word.  If there is anything we have learned, it is that His Word is true, and every word will be fulfilled.  




Saturday, November 21, 2020

I Will Plead Thy Cause


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Our reading this morning is a reminder of the difference between a true prophet, and a false one, the false one speaking presumptuously, without the authority of God. We read Jeremiah and we find instead that even secular history proves him to be a true prophet of God.

The Persian Gulf is the depository for the waters of many rivers, the grandest of which are the Tigris, and the Euphrates. The land between these two ancient rivers is transformed into a fertile “island” in an otherwise desert region. Near modern Baghdad, Iraq, the Tigris joins the Euphrates, the headwaters of the latter which are in the highlands of central/eastern Turkey.

The great City of Babylon, 12 miles square, was a formidable fortress in the area of this fertile island in the desert, with walls 40 feet high, and wide enough to accommodate Chariot Races atop the walls! I can’t help but think of what God says about building a house on a foundation of sand. It’s unstable, and in the case of Babylon, the mighty Euphrates flowed through the city. The entire city was built on shifting sand!

Jeremiah prophecies in 595 BC that Babylon would sink! And history records that Cyrus, King of Persia, defeated the City of Babylon by diverting the waters of the Euphrates River, and making Babylon vulnerable to the Persian Army in 539 BC, causing Babylon to sink less than 60 years after Jeremiah reiterated God’s Words to encourage His people.

Jehovah has His words recorded by the Prophets, and the His people saw His word fulfilled as truth. But it does not end there. We know this because another “Babylon” rises up in the Book of Revelation.

From the hymn “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” :
“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”

Today's Audio Message: "I Will Plead Thy Cause"

As I look over the book of Jeremiah and see now how the final judgment of Babylon plays out, it’s pretty amazing to think about all that Jeremiah had been through in over 40 years of prophetic ministry. God had provided for him and kept him alive through it all. From the beginning when God asked Jeremiah to run with the horses, through the destruction of Judah, and Jerusalem and into captivity, God stayed true to His Word and faithful to His people and to His prophet. Jeremiah was a true prophet, and history confirms it. Every word that God spoke through His prophet is confirmed by it’s certain fulfillment.

Now in these last few verses of chapter 51, Jeremiah closes with these final prophetic words against Babylon as he asks to have the scroll read publicly and then tossed to the bottom of the Euphrates river with a stone tied to it. The symbolism, of course, is that Babylon will be no more. It would be shocking to see this powerful kingdom reduced to nothing but rubble as God brings judgement for the cruel persecution of His people, and the desecration of His temple.

At its pinnacle in 560 BC, Babylon had conquered the Assyrian Empire along with Judah and Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar ruled the entire fertile crescent of land including Arabia. Though it seemed impossible by human standards, it would all come crashing down through the hand of God.

These last few chapters have been difficult to go through, reading through the accounts of God’s judgement against those who have made themselves His enemy. Yet even so, God is faithful to address his own children with a message of hope, of mercy, of love, of restoration, and of promise of a bright future.

God is always faithful and true to His Word. He was faithful to Jeremiah, and faithful to bring his people back to Zion restoring them once again. He was faithful in bringing judgment to their enemies. He will plead their cause, and He will plead our cause as well.

As we see our own country in upheaval, the power struggle, the deception, the infighting, the division, ruler against ruler, clashing ideologies, and worldviews we must remember that  God is in control of all things. He's got this, and He’s got us and He will not let us go. No one can pluck us out of His hand!

The apostle Paul wrote,

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  - Romans 8:38-39

If we are a child of God we can have confidence in even the toughest of times, and rest in the assurance that God is in control.  "A
nd we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28 

He will plead our cause, He will save us and will bring us safely home.  Trust Him!






Saturday, November 14, 2020

Babylon Is Fallen



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We read in three different places in the scripture that Babylon is fallen. We find it here today in Jeremiah 51, but Isaiah wrote the same more than 100 years before, and the Apostle John writes of it again at the end of the first century AD in Revelation 14 and 18. (Is. 21:9 and Revelation 14:8 & 18:2)

Egypt became a euphemism for sin, and looking back to a time when we were comfortable and at ease. Babylon has become a euphemism for sin’s pervasive quality, and its tenacity, always seeming to come back, never quite being wiped out or obliterated. Though Babylon itself lies in ruins, sin is alive and well, for it lives on in the hearts of mankind.

The Babylon mentioned in the Book of Revelation is said to be built on seven hills, and there are more than a dozen cities around the world that can lay claim to that description. But according to the Bible, there are other qualifications to meet for the Babylon of prophecy to be identified. Namely, that the prophetic Babylon is as a prostitute, and that she has caused the Kingdoms of the world to drink of her cup of fornication. Physically, on Earth, that reduces the possibilities to only two cities: Jerusalem or Rome.

But spiritually, it goes far beyond those two cities, for we each have our own “high places” to where we escape and worship at that altar from time to time. To put it simply, it is our comfort zone; where we can escape the stresses and the pressures of everyday life.

If you can identify that place, and it’s not with Jesus, then you have identified your idol. Idolatry brought judgment on God’s Chosen People. And then it brought judgment upon those sent as judgment against Jerusalem.
It’s a vicious and destructive cycle, building all the time. Believers have an escape, and His name is Jesus.
"There hath no temptation taken you except as is common to man: but God is faithful , Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will, with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
Come out from among them, come home to Jesus, and find your rest.


Today's Audio Message: "Babylon Is Fallen"

We are drawing to a dramatic end to the prophecies of Jeremiah where God’s final words were spoken against Babylon, and in great detail of what He would do this nation. Although chapters 50 and 51 were directed against the Babylonian empire of the 6th century BC, they are also directed against “Mystery Babylon” of the end-times in Revelation 14; 18.

In Jewish tradition, Babylon symbolizes a cruel oppressor against which God's people must struggle. In Christianity, Babylon symbolizes worldliness, evil and sin. In the book of Revelation, chapters 17-18, Babylon is the source of all godless economy, government and religion.

Jeremiah pictures Babylon being winnowed by a strong destructive wind that blows away the chaff. Babylon’s whole army will be suddenly destroyed. She has been a gold cup in the Lord’s hand, making the nations drink the wine of wrath. The evil influence of Babylon extends far beyond the time of Nebuchadnezzar, all the way back to its founder, Nimrod (Gen. 10:9-10). As a result, Babylon is called "The Mother Of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth" (Rev. 17:5). Jeremiah saw this cup of God’s wrath in chapter 25, Jerusalem had to drink it first, then all the nations, and lastly, Mystery Babylon.

God will denounce all of her idolatry, her rebellion, her wickedness and cruelty and bring it to an end. There is no doubt that God allows evil to inundate this world, the headlines affirm it, politicians make it law, and the people relish in it. Yet the Lord will at some point rise up in righteous judgement, and will pour out His holy wrath upon those who have rebelled against Him.

The good news is that God WILL NOT forsake His own! He chastens and disciplines His children, but in His mercy will also relent when the truth of repentance takes place.



Saturday, November 7, 2020

Weapons of His Indignation



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our first verse today, Jeremiah 50:25, the Word tells us that God is bringing forth the weapons of His indignation against Babylon.

Indignation: anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.
“Unfair treatment” is an understatement for what Babylon did to Israel as they carted the Jews off to bondage. Their cruelty, and then the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s holy Temple was not called for. Babylon had sinned against the Lord. But then, they only knew one way to invade another homeland: decimate it!

The Babylonians did not worship Jehovah God, in spite of the fact that at one time, they were all descendants of Noah, who acted on faith to believe God’s warnings of a flood, and His directions for building a large boat. The Ancient Mesopotamians ignored the God of all Creation and worshiped seven other deities, all of them devised by man, and they took on the attributes of mankind, both good and evil. Later on, the national god of the Babylonians was Marduk, a deity whose popularity increased paralleling the spread of Babylonian power and influence.

According to Romans 1:21-23, this is the first step in a relationship with God that is spiraling away from the one true God, and spiraling downward towards the idol worship of gods conceived by the human mind. The rest of that chapter describes the continuing trend away from God, and it’s inevitable conclusion of uncleanness, immorality, and final full rejection of God.

Sadly, not much has changed spiritually in that part of the world. But the Persian Gulf region cannot be singled out in that regard. These things remain a temptation for the whole world, ALL of God’s creation.

God, in His fairness has given all mankind a way out of these sinful worship practices, through His Son Jesus Christ. I would personally never want to come face-to-face with God’s 
'weapons of indignation." Such weapons cut through the soul and could lead to being turned over to Satan and his hordes.

But repentance and confessing our sin(s) sets us aright with God and His Son Jesus the Christ. (1 John 1:9)

“Thou shalt have none other gods before me.”  -  Deuteronomy 5:7

Today's Audio Message: "Weapons Of Indignation"

We are almost to the end of the section in Jeremiah where God has been declaring judgement on the unrepentant nations of Jeremiah’s day. Jeremiah devotes two long chapters of divinely given messages to Babylon declaring God’s judgment upon them for their cruelty to His people, and their wicked pride.

The LORD makes a renewed call for Babylon and its armies to be destroyed and summons all who draw the bow. The LORD has opened His armory, a mighty army, well equipped, brought by the powerful providence of God. The whole world is his armory, at His disposal, and he can raise up instruments to do his will at pleasure. All her soldiers will be killed.  Babylon's refugees will declare that God is taking revenge for what Babylon did to God's temple and Babylon will be burned and humble.

A mighty nation and many kings will come together against Babylon from the north, and the king of Babylon will be paralyzed with fear when he hears about it. (See insert: Map)

Just as Israel was scattered like sheep by the lion of Babylon, so now God’s lion will rise up and scatter the Babylonians. In its historic context, this lion was Cyrus the Persian, but in its end-time context this Lion is Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.




Saturday, October 31, 2020

Past And Future Judgment



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we think of all the judgment that has been prophesied against the enemies of Israel, and what we begin to read of today in Jeremiah 50, One cannot help but think of a lioness that goes after a prey, and kills it for her cubs, she must also chase away the scavengers that come to steal bits and pieces for themselves. Hyenas and buzzards invariably gather for the feat, and must be chased away for their numbers will consume all the prey unless they are kept at bay.

In many ways, Babylon is that lioness that has set her eyes on Israel as prey. And the tribes surrounding Israel geographically are like the scavenger hyenas and buzzards. They are opportunists that saw Israel “on the ropes” and were willing to kick her while she was down in captivity, and divided: Egypt, Philistia, Tyre, Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, Damascus, and Elam. (circa 600 BC).

In judging them all, God has chased the scavengers away while they were vying for position at the carcass. As God Himself had sent Babylon (Chaldeans) as judgment upon the Israelites, it is now Babylon who will suffer loss because of their excessive cruelty against God’s Chosen.

Historically, the Chaldeans were of the same blood line as the Israelites. The Tower of Babel (Babylon) was built during chapter 11 of Genesis. It is in the previous chapter (10) that we begin read of Noah’s descendants and all their names and the places they established as mankind again spread across the known world in the days after the great flood (circa 2350 BC).

It is with irony that we read that Abram (Abraham) came from Ur of the Chaldeas. This is the Persian Gulf region from which Abram moved away, directed by an inspired message from God (Genesis 11:26-29) to a new land.

In Genesis 10, the sons of Noah moved out from Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey and found their way to the fertile Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys. Your Bible maps reveal the proximity of the two regions. There they established a base, and they were all of one tongue, until God confused their language. Babylon is named for the languages that suddenly sounded like babble to one another. But all these were Noahites, descended from Noah after the flood.

“These are the generations of Shem"  Genesis 11:10-26 ~ Abram’s ancestry.

Today's Audio Message: "Past And Future Judgment"

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

With just a few chapters left in the book of Jeremiah, we continue to read the historical account of the judgments declared on the unrepentant nations of Jeremiah’s day. God speaks of the judgment against Babylon. From their inception it is clear they turned away from God to build a kingdom that pleases the desires of their own flesh. How interesting that God would use this pagan nation to execute His judgment against His rebellious people. Yet God does not turn a blind eye to the sins of this enemy, they would be judged for their pride, their wickedness, and particularly for their cruelty to God’s people, the Jews. Jeremiah devotes two long chapters of divine message to Babylon. It is a prophecy of judgment for this mighty world conqueror, but of restoration for an exiled Israel. The pride of men’s hearts sets God against them. Those who oppose God's presence and His purposes in their lives, and in this world, have made themselves His enemy.  They are weighed in the balances and found wanting, and God Himself has numbered their days.




Saturday, October 24, 2020

Zealous And Jealous


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

There are six verses (Six being the number of man in the Bible) that speak of God being a jealous God. All six serve as a warning to mankind to not fall away from God and worship strange gods. There are three verses (Three being the number of God and the Trinity) that speak of the zeal of the Lord. All three speak of the Lord’s provision and protection over His people.

God is both zealous for us, and jealous for us. So often, as did the Israelites, we turn away from God and follow our own hearts. And as often happens, our hearts can be even further divided and we go in multiple directions, and have no time for God.

All the world’s population began somewhere in the line of Noah: the world was populated either from Ham, Japeth, or Shem. According to the Bible, Jesus was descended from the line of Shem (Semites), and prior to that, even the Godly line of Seth, Adam’s third-named son (again, the number three is dominant).

Does God follow numerology? No, for there is no science in the numbers God uses in scripture, other than the numbers of holiness, Godliness, sin, and judgment seem to appear repeatedly. Seven? Completion. Eight? New beginnings. Six? Mankind. Four? Judgment (These make for a curious study).

Whole cultures have turned their backs on God and created their own god or gods. And though we all have a tendency to wander away from Him because something else catches our eye, we should always be aware that all that glitters is not gold. Call it the “bling factor.” Satan uses it all the time in the temptations he presents to us.

Today in the second half of Jeremiah 49, we learn of a few more cultures that went their own way and find themselves on the wrong side of God and without a relationship with Him. But we also learn of God’s zeal towards one tribe of people. With the Elamites, after they suffer a while, God raises them up to receive a promise in Latter Days. God’s zeal for His own, a grandson of Noah, by Shem, displaces the judgment sent to them at first.

The Lord knows how to deliver His Prodigals from their troubles and trials.

Today's Audio Message: "Zealous And Jealous"

We could title the last few chapters of Jeremiah, “God’s Word Tested and Proven.” What a testament of a “MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY,” as the inspiration of Scripture is proven by its fulfillment. These chapters have been somewhat difficult as we read of the pronouncements of judgment against several nations surrounding Judea, but we must never forget that “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable”; and we can be sure that these portions of scripture were written for our admonition.

As we finish up chapter 49 of Jeremiah, verses 23-39 focus on the prophesies against Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam. Those who reject God’s Word should take heed, He will not be trifled with. God’s standard of judgment is defined by His holy character, before which none of us can stand.

In the age of grace, God who is infinitely rich in mercy, provided for us the perfect sacrificial Lamb as a sacrifice for our sins. He gave His Son to die in the place of corrupt men and women (John 3:16).  Our salvation depends upon Jesus' flawless nature because, as God made clear to the Israelites, only a perfect sacrifice would do.  Jesus, the Son of God,  was the perfect Lamb, unblemished in every way, and that is why God accepted Christ's sacrifice.  The way we lay claim to the offering made on our behalf is by placing faith in Him. Our salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.  Those who come to Christ by faith are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all things and lead us into all truth.





Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hath Israel No Sons?



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Ammonites, and others, are the focus of Jehovah’s wrath in chapter 49 of Jeremiah. The modern Heshemite Kingdom of Jordan lies to the east of Israel, just across the Jordan River. Its Capitol is Ammon. The name Heshemite comes from the Royal Family’s name, Heshim. The family line goes back thousands of years, and includes the Prophet Muhammad in the 6th century, and before! This extended Arab family has ruled over the Countries of Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia at one time, and continues to rule. King Abdullah, and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan have a peaceful, if controlled relationship with Israel, but it wasn’t always so.

The Ancient Ammonites were perennial enemies with the Israelites, and occupied the land of Gilead, near Mt. Gilead. The Ammonites eventually established their own kingdom, north of the Moabite land in the Thirteenth Century. It is the land of Gilead. It was a land for grazing, and the Tribes of Reuben and Gad had many cattle. The ancient City of Rabbath-Ammon was an Israelite city. In truth, the Heshims were squatters on Israelite soil. As we read in Genesis 15 today, all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates was given to Abraham and to his seed. It was part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

All that land is referred to as “the Levant.” There we find many countries today. The Israelites never received all the land they were given by God, because of their disobedience. They were to be conquerors over the heathen tribes, and purge the land of its idolatry, making the land a Holy Land in which God was served. In obedience, God would go before them, but in disobedience, they fought alone.

Instead of God’s plan, they chose their own, and the Nation-State of Israel today is but a fraction of what God gave them. They’ve been persecuted and under severe judgment ever since. And the nations that occupy the majority of the Levant today are among Israel’s staunchest enemies who now have their own Prophet, their own faith, and their own god.

Islam did not exist until 500 years after the diaspora of 70 A.D., so although Israel could not have adopted anything from Islam, they did adopt the idolatrous practices those of the heathen pagan cultures around them.

The leaven of sin will cause even the chosen dough to rise and be unclean.

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”  1 Corinthians 5:6


Today's Audio Message: "Hath Israel No Sons?"

As we look at the first part of Jeremiah 49, we see more of the judgments being poured out on the nations surrounding Israel. This chapter contains the poetic oracles against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. God declares to kingdoms, tribes and cities, those who have set themselves against Him will be called to accountability. These lands are part of the covenant promise that God had given to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:18-21). God had chosen Abraham and his seed, and this land to be a holy people and set apart for Him. Yet because of disobedience and rebellion, the children of Israel had become corrupted by pagan nations. Their enemies would rejoice in their ruin, and take part in their destruction. These enemies are nations who would not submit to God’s authority but exalted themselves over him. As always, God will have the last say!

First up - the Ammonites. 
They were related to the Israelites, being the descendants of Ben-ammi, the son of Lot by his younger daughter. Yet they were hardened enemies to Israel.  They exalted in the miseries of Judah.  They Ammonites had cruel animosity towards them, and they made great show of inappropriate celebration of the sufferings of their brethren.  Their lack of decency marked their depraved nature.  Ezekiel 25:1-7 tells us they stomped their feet and clapped their hands in great delight over Judah's misery. When the King of Assyria invaded them, desolated their land and took them captive, they rejoiced. When Judah was conquered and carried into exile to Babylon, they triumphed in their national ruin. They rejoiced in the desecration of God's temple, blaspheming the Lord God. "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamity shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5).

Next up - the Edomites. These are the descendants of Esau who dwelt in the land south of the territory of Moab. These people had a long history of antagonism with the Israelites that date back to the days of Jacob and Esau. Their sins included revenge. Revenge is an act of passion, it is wicked, cruel and malignant; vengeance is an act of justice, it is righteous and majestic and belongs to God. Edom exercised vindictive revenge upon the house of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, the Edomites joined them taking active part in the plunder of the city and slaughter of the Jews. Their cruelty is declared in the 37th Psalm. The Edomites hated the Jews and rejoiced in revenging themselves upon them. Paul writes, "Render to no man evil for evil...Avenge not yourselves, beloved…Vengeance is Mine; I will repay saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:17, 19-21).


 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Pride Of Moab



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we learned last week, the LORD shall not be “quieted” until He has silenced His enemies, and fulfilled His judgments against them. The seven verses last week pertaining to the Philistine judgment is multiplied nearly seven-fold against the Moabites. Idolatry was rampant among the Moabites, and they even worshiped their National Deity, “Chemosh.” (Pronounced khem-owsh’)

With their roots in the family of Abraham, they fell away from Jehovah and the faith of Abraham and eventually fell to drunkenness and sin. Their namesake ancestor was Moab, a child born in illegitimacy by Lot’s eldest daughter, and fathered by Lot himself. Living in the sexually free society of Sodom and Gomorrah had taken its toll, and 
come full circle to Lot’s daughters. (Aptly named, “Moab” means “of the father.”)

It is still sin when a nation of foreigners fall into Idolatry, like the Philistines, but it seems to raise the ire of Jehovah God all the more when the family of His chosen Abraham falls away from Him, and into the worship of false gods. A god of learning and “letters,” Chemosh was not unique to the Moabites. First and foremost, he was a Babylonian deity, and that’s a problem. But Chemosh also corresponded to Hermes of the Greeks; to Mercury of the Latin speaking Romans; and to Thoth of the Egyptians. Wherever cultures cropped up, the same gods followed them, because their gods are man-made.

Humanity shares this common trait: we all recognize our need to worship, but the majority of cultures miss God’s revelation of Himself in His creative work in nature, and in the world around us. From Romans 1:19, to the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit sheds light on the issue, exposing the error, and telling us the results of that error: “professing themselves wise, they became fools...”

How gracious God is, however. He sent His only begotten Son to us, that whosoever should believe on Him would be saved from the judgment coming against those that refuse and reject His witness. Jesus also affords us the benefit of the Holy Spirit, teaching us of all God’s mighty works, and that God alone is worthy to be worshiped.

Revelation 4:11 – 

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”


Today's Audio Message: "The Pride Of Moab"

The judgment of the Moabites is their pride. We have seen God’s judgment poured out over His own people, using Israel’s enemies to humble them, and for the last few chapters we have been reading about God humbling Israel’s enemies for the very same reason. God hates sin and will ultimately judge it! 

Those who trust in the LORD, understand God’s goodness, mercy and grace. They follow His leading and rest under His protection. They hide His word in their hearts and count themselves blessed as they openly declare their dependence upon Him.

Those who easily forget God take great pride in their own abilities opening themselves up to moral corruption and apostasy. The pride of man is the root of ALL sin! Moab had become complacent in its relationship with the Lord. Satisfied in their own abilities and situation, they were completely unaware of the danger they were in. They had forgotten God, and in their arrogance and pride began worshiping false gods, adopted the pagan culture around them, and legislated their own law after their own lusts. They have become the dregs at the bottom of the wine vessels, impure, bitter and foul.

Lukewarmness is a spiritual condition that Jesus can’t stand. Another name for it might be “complacency.” Complacency is not contentment. Where contentment is finding joy in the blessings of walking with God, complacency has stopped walking in truth and perfectly satisfied to do so.

If we view ourselves higher than what God determines to be true. (Luke 18:10-14). If we live in an attitude of self-sufficiency. (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we are comfortable in the sinful culture in which we live. (1 John 2:15-17). If we are spiritually satisfied, in false spirituality. (Ephesians 6:12-18). We have fallen into spiritual complacency, sin and may even end up apostate.

The way to guard against complacency is to seek the Lord with all diligence - heart, soul, mind and strength. Real contentment is in Christ. He is our life. He is our satisfaction. He is our Goal. He is our ALL! Run the race and finish strong!






Saturday, October 3, 2020

Can The Lord Be Quieted?


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our reading this morning, we are reminded of that false prophetess, Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, who was a King of Israel for 22 years, reigning from Samaria, (see John 4:9). King Ahab did more to anger the Lord than all the kings that went before him. Among other things (SO MANY other things) Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the King of the Zidonians (City of Sidon), of the Philistine tribes.

This “Power Couple” were exceedingly wicked. 1 Kings 21:25 says this of them: “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” It is one thing to marry unwisely, and another thing to marry unwisely and get thoroughly caught up in the sin, wickedness, and idolatry of the world.

What we know from Scripture is that God will not always supply grace, particularly to His enemies and His children that align themselves to them. God’s boundless grace and forgiveness has its limits towards those that refuse His Word, His Counsel, and His Law(s). Accordingly, Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” Clearly, at some point, the Lord will withdraw Himself from those that resist Him.

The horrors of Jezebel’s death can be read in 2 Kings 9. God did not let her live, due specifically to what she was modeling for the northern Tribes. The wife of their King was steeped in all the idolatrous practices of her family, the Philistines.

Jeremiah’s prophecy against the Philistines is our study in Jeremiah 47 today. The cities of Tyre and Sidon will be chewed up as Jezebel, with nothing left of them. The parallels of Jezebel and the Philistines are uncanny. Have you met a Philistine... ever in your lifetime?

Take heed!

Damascus, Syria is fulfilling a prophet’s warnings today in the media:
“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.”  - Isaiah 17:1 -

“Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near.”
~ Isaiah 55:6 ~


Today's Audio Message: "Can The Lord Be Quieted?"

When God sends judgment it is always just! God is not a warmonger who arbitrarily takes out his frustration out on innocent people, as some have suggested. Nor are the judgments of God some meaningless whim. He doesn’t just suddenly decide to move against people based upon prejudice or revenge. The Creator of all things and Sovereign over all will not allow rebellion against His word, nor His name to be polluted. He is the Judge of men and nations, the self-revealed God wields unlimited authority and power. He will not share His kingdom and His glory with the false gods made by man. He will not tolerate their sin, idolatry and wickedness. God who is merciful will reason with man to repent and turn to Him, but He will not strive with them forever. He promises blessings to those who receive His Word, and judgement to those who reject Him.

The sword of the Lord now comes against the Philistines just as he came against the Egyptians in the previous chapter. They had long been a thorn in Israel’s side, a warring and a wicked people. And we know that those who touch God’s children, touch the apple of His eye. The sword of the Lord cuts deep reminding all people that His power and authority is unmatched, His enemies will fall. It is a stunning and powerful reminder of the sovereignty of God over both his people, but also, everyone else in the world. When he commands one army to defeat another, it happens exactly as He said it would.

All of man’s lofty ideas are nothing compared to God who is all-wise, merciful and just. He calls all men to repentance and to put their trust in Him. God is not willing that any should perish. His abundant grace provides us space to repent, but when we refuse to do so and reject His word, judgement falls upon all those who align themselves against Him.




 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

I Will Deliver


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We have repeatedly seen in the scriptures, that when Israel looked to their neighboring countries, they failed to draw the line when it came to the pagan religious beliefs of those neighbors. God’s Commandments were quite specific, and held no room for compromise. In the New Testament we read how we are IN the world, but God calls us to not be OF the world. So the same concept of separation applies to the Church that applied to Israel. This is not a double-minded message; we can live peacefully among those with whom we do not share beliefs and cultures. It’s called “civility.” But we cannot adopt their pagan beliefs without putting our faith at risk of compromise. This is a major pitfall in a multicultural society like our own.

Whether it was Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, or Babylon, it was a rule of international law that you “conquered, or be conquered.” Being at the crossroads of ancient trade routes between three continents, Israel always found themselves with foreigners in the land. And for the biggest and most powerful nations, whoever controlled the Trade Routes, controlled the spread of great wealth. They all had their eye on Israel because of its strategic location.

God is more powerful than them all, so Israel should have been turning to God at every threat. But they didn’t. They turned instead to the pagan gods of enemy nations to supply provision and protection. God eventually used those same foreigners to bring judgment upon His people.

But in God’s anger, He never sought to destroy them, because they were His people. And to free His people from idolatry, He would judge the ones He used to bring judgment upon His own. That’s what these next few chapters are all about: Judgment against the nations that sought to overrun Israel and conquer her, and to use and abuse her people... God’s people! Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, and Babylon all became targets of God’s wrath.

God wants His people to be free, free to live for Him, and free to worship Him only, and free from the world’s habits and tenets.


Today's Audio Message: "I Will Deliver"

As the book of Jeremiah comes to a few remaining chapters, God has some final words for the surrounding Gentile nations who had not escaped God’s judgment for their own sin.  In the OT we have the Word of the Lord against the Gentiles, in the NT we have the Word of the Lord for the Gentiles.  Egypt is the first to be judged. In 605 BC two major world powers would come to a face off.  The Babylonians were on the move to take over as the most powerful nation. God had warned Judah not to go to Egypt because He knew they would be defeated, yet they willfully disobeyed.  Judah would not be safe apart from God, they would be punished for their disobedience and deliberate sinfulness. Egypt is defeated by the Babylonian armies and ceases to be a dominant power. 

Eighteen years is a long time for God to move on His prophetic word, but He did, and He will. Today is no different! As we await the Lord’s return and coming judgment, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God has delayed His coming.  The apostles expected him in the first century, but he did not come. Now many centuries later, those who have given up the hope of His return have fallen away serving themselves and other gods. When you do not take God at His Word, the consequences are devastating. One thing is for sure, He Is Our Hope, We Can Be Sure Of His Word, and He Will Bring It To Pass.  His delayed timing is an act of mercy, giving His children time to repent and turn back to Him. Don’t overlook the years of mercy that He is possibly extending to you, because He will keep His word and it will come to pass! God is merciful, longsuffering and loving, and is not willing that any should perish, but He is also Righteous, Holy and True, and He will not turn a blind eye to sin.

Chapter after chapter we have seen that when we stray there are dire consequences. But we also see when we repent, He forgives and restores us.  When we are overcome by the enemy, He provides protection.  When we feel abandoned, He comes to our rescue.  When we are discouraged, He give us Hope!  And He certainly provides hope for Israel as He reminds them of His promises to come! 

“ . . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2


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