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.  

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