Day 167: Hope in a Broken Flask

Jeremiah 19-20; John 18

Key Verses

Jeremiah 20:11
But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.

John 18:12
So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him.

Picture the scene… Jeremiah acquires a clay vessel, a flask of some kind, and assembles all of Jerusalem’s civic and religious leaders to meet him at… the dumping ground. It would be like an unpopular preacher asking the mayor to meet him at the dump! And what was Jeremiah’s message? He holds up his flask and breaks it – and says that Jerusalem will be reduced to pieces and thrown away – like the piles of broken vessels that surrounded them. Great message, eh?

Hidden in the message of brokenness is a message of hope. For Israel points forward to Jesus. Yes, Israel would be broken – but only to bring forth repentance and restoration. Jesus is the true Israel. And he was broken for our sakes…

We also read of Jeremiah’s brokenness in Jeremiah 20. He was broken by his circumstances as he was captured and beaten. We read of his sorrow and anguish as he doubts his call and he doubts his God. Jeremiah’s struggle is but a whisper compared to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane – as the synoptic gospels say he prayed so fervently that blood dripped from his brow.

In today’s reading, we see the results of those prayers as Jesus stands – strong and sovereign – in the face of arrest. The soldiers can only approach him when He allows it. Even throughout Jesus’ multiple trials, He seems calm and determined. His purpose was to die, His purpose was to be broken.

Just as Jeremiah broke the flask, and Jerusalem was destroyed – so would Jesus be broken and destroyed so that we might be repent and be restored! There is hope in a broken flask. There is hope in Jesus!

Day 162: Saved from the Last Day

Jeremiah 7-8; John 14

Key Verses

Jeremiah 8:18-19
My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick within me.
Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people
from the length and breadth of the land:
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
Is her King not in her?”

John 14:26-27
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

In the Old Testament, Jeremiah grieves over the hard-heartedness of his people.

In the New Testament, the disciples worry when Jesus says he’s going away. Thomas and Philip quiz Jesus. They ask him to show them where He is going. They just don’t understand.

In the Old Testament, God berates the people for worshipping in the temple with hearts void of devotion.

Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? (Jeremiah 7:9-10)

In the New Testament, Jesus teaches the disciples that obedience is evidence of devotion to the Father:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21).

In the Old Testament, God promises Judgment: Utter destruction of Jerusalem.

In the New Testament, Jesus prepares to receive the Judgment.

We are no better than the people of Jeremiah’s day. Look no further than Jesus’ crucifixion for evidence that we also deserve Judgement.

One difference is that we have the Helper (John 14:26), the promised Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives in us and convicts us of the Truth and empowers us to repent. We still have the choice to obey or disobey – but the Spirit also works to sanctify our character so that we are better able to obey.

There will be another Judgment. The Final Judgment on the Last Day. A far greater Judgment than Jeremiah wept over in the final verses of Chapter 8… And here’s the truth, I deserve that Judgment. Yet, because of the gracious, loving-kindness of God – He poured out judgment on His Son instead of me. I don’t understand that kind of love, but I’m grateful for it.

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

-2nd verse from “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” by Stuart Townend

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

Day 161: Motivated by Love

Jeremiah 5-6; John 13:21-38

Key Verses

Jeremiah 5:1
Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
look and take note!
Search her squares to see
if you can find a man,
one who does justice
and seeks truth,
that I may pardon her.

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jeremiah 5-6 concludes a series of sermons Jeremiah probably gave during Josiah’s reign (3:6). Chapter 5 opens with God asking Jeremiah to find one man who does justice – one man who seeks truth – so that He might pardon him. And Jeremiah can’t. The people are so absolutely corrupt that not one person could be found. God laments…

How can I pardon you?
Your children have forsaken me
and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
they committed adultery
and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this? (Jeremiah 5:7-9).

God desires to pardon his people – but what good would that serve? When he blesses them, they despise him. Even in judgment, there is grace, for God could never utterly destroy his people. God says twice in these chapters that he would destroy but “not make a full end” (5:10; 18). He will preserve a remnant. A remnant of people from whom the Promised One would come.

The Promised One… Jesus, betrayed by his own disciple. Jesus, abandoned by his closest friends in his darkest hour. Jesus, taking the punishment for our apostate selves, accomplished what Israel could not – perfect obedience motivated by love for the Father.

Not motivated by duty, or self-preservation – but by love.

God sent Babylon to destroy Judah because he loved them. God sent his only son to die on our behalf because he loves us. Even Jeremiah was motivated by love – love for God and love for his brethren.

Jesus – in the face of betrayal – gave his disciples a “new” commandment – a commandment to love as Christ has loved.

How does Jesus love us? Not in a sweet, sentimental way – but in a sacrificial – other seeking – sort of way. This is the sort of love God calls us to. This was the sort of love Jeremiah was called to. And even though we are not called to be prophets as Jeremiah was, we are called to love our neighbor sacrificially… so the world will see – that the world might be saved!

…Now if I could only practice what I write! Lord, help me to love others as you love me. Please pry my eyes off of myself and help me see the broken and lost – and give me compassion – and the grace to love them well.

Day 149: Prophet, Priest, & King

2 Kings 4-5; John 8:21-36

Key Verses

2 Kings 4:42-44
And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.'” So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

John 8:34, 36
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. …So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

In the Old Testament, God used prophets to communicate His truth and demonstrate His power.

Today we read of Elisha continuing the ministry of Elijah. God worked through Elisha to heal, give provision and bring life from death. Elisha was God’s mouthpiece as he persistently demonstrated that God, alone, was God of Israel.

In the New Testament, God sent His Son to fulfill the role of Prophet, Priest, and King.

As we read through the Pentateuch, we saw how Jesus perfectly fulfilled every point of the Law and the Sacrificial System. He is our High Priest – opening the way to the Father.

In the gospels, we see that Jesus is the ultimate Prophet, communicating truth and demonstrating God’s power. In today’s reading, Jesus continues to speak the words of the Father to the people, and through His words, he reveals that He is also the King.

Only a King has the authority to free slaves, and Jesus has this authority. But once again, as He is speaking, the people misunderstand Him. They interpret him literally and argue that they are not enslaved.

But they were enslaved. Everyone is a slave, spiritually. We are slaves to sin. And we need the King, not just of this world, but the King of Heaven and Earth to set us free from the bondage of sin.

Jesus, our Prophet, Priest, and King, gives us freedom. And we are free indeed!

Keeping up with the Kings
Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa (good), Jehoshaphat (good), Jehoram (son of Jehoshaphat)
Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram (Joram)

Day 135: The Lamb of God

Proverbs 22-23; John 1:29-51

Key Verses

Proverbs 22:17-19
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
That your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.

John 1:32; 34
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. …And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

In today’s New Testament reading, John, the disciple, gives us gives us an insider’s view of Jesus’ first meeting with himself and the other future disciples, Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.

When Nathanael first meets Jesus, he says to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Nathanael’s calling Jesus “King” reveals his expectations that Jesus would overthrow the Roman government and make Israel the most powerful nation on earth. All of the disciples expected this.

But John the Baptist saw something different in Jesus. He says twice in this passage, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” This is an astonishing statement!  By calling Jesus, “The Lamb of God,” John the Baptist was connecting Jesus to the Passover Lamb, which automatically conjured up images of sacrifice and death. Somehow, John the Baptist knew Jesus would be sacrificed as the final Passover Lamb. How else would He “take away the sins of the world” (vs. 29)?

Jesus was not what the Jewish nation expected. We have the luxury of hindsight and know why the Messiah had to suffer and die. We know that He is both the Lion and the Lamb! He established his spiritual Kingdom on earth through his humble Sacrifice. And because He is our King, He deserves our worship and praise!

Day 131: Among the Crowds

Proverbs 13-15; Luke 23:44-56

Key Verses

Luke 23:48-49 (The Message)
All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

What did the crowds see that caused them so much grief? Wasn’t this the same man about whom the crowds were shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” just a few hours before? It seems like they would have been pleased to see Him die. But instead, they went home, “beating their breasts (ESV).”

Imagine yourself there…in complete (inexplicable) darkness – with rumors circulating that the 4-inch-thick veil that guarded the Holy of Holies in the Temple had split in two. Impossible. That was impossible. And then your eyes would look on the man and you would know – just know that this man must have been innocent. And then the centurion said what you were thinking, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And hearing the words said aloud – you realize that they are absolutely, and horribly – true. And you think, “I have just killed an innocent man.”

I have just killed an innocent man. You don’t have to be a bystander in the crowd watching the crucifixion to relate to that statement. It’s true for all of us. Jesus died in the sinner’s place. Jesus died because of me. It’s a sobering fact. One that should be life changing…

Day 123: David’s Eternal Throne

2 Samuel 23-24; Luke 21:1-19

Key Verses

Luke 21:5-6
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

2 Samuel 23:5
“For does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.”

2 Samuel ends in today’s reading. Chapter 23 begins with “David’s last words,” a poem reaffirming the Davidic covenant, the promise that his throne would be established forever.

The book ends with David purchasing the threshing floor on which the temple would one day be built…

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings (2 Samuel 24:24-25).

Fast forward to today’s reading in Luke – and there we find Jesus – in the temple – teaching the values of the Kingdom.

Jesus is the son of David standing in the city of David in the temple that was rebuilt on the very site that David sacrificed to the Lord. How amazing is that?

And what was Jesus teaching? That the temple would be destroyed. Consider this… What was the purpose of the temple? The temple was where the priests led the people in worship through the sacrificial system. And the temple was where the presence of God dwelled.

Can you see how Jesus’ final sacrifice and resurrection made the need for the temple obsolete? Do you think David could have imagined the future? The splendor of Solomon’s temple being destroyed and rebuilt and then desecrated by the moneychangers of Jesus’ day and then ultimately, David’s heir would sit on the eternal throne and because of His suffering and atoning death – open the way to the Holy of Holies to all people from all nations?

Never could David have imagined anything so terrible and wonderful! And neither can we imagine the wonder of the end of the age when Jesus will come again and make all things new!!! There will be no sun, for his glory will give light to the world. There will be no temple because the dwelling place of God will be with man. There will be one King – who will reign in peace forever!

Yes, David’s throne is established forever… in Jesus!!!!

Day 101: God’s divisive presence

1 Samuel 4:1-7:2; Luke 12:35-59

Key Verses

1 Samuel 6:20-21
Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

Luke 12:51
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

We read today of Israel’s great defeat by the Philistines – not just once, but twice. After Israel’s first defeat, they bring the ark of the covenant from Shiloh as a desperate measure to aid them on the battlefield. But God was not with them, and the ark was captured. When Eli, the priest, heard that the ark had been captured by the Philistines, he fell over and died. Eli seemed more grieved by the loss of the ark than the death of his two sons in the battle.

But something interesting happened after the ark was captured… The ark – symbolizing the presence of God – brought great calamity upon the Philistines. So much so, that the Philistines kept moving the ark from city to city trying to get rid of it and ultimately sent the ark back to Israel!

This is a vivid picture of an important biblical principle. God’s presence can bring comfort and protection to the believer but is the terror of judgment to the non-believer.

This is also evident from Jesus’ teaching in today’s passage from Luke. Jesus speaks of his future return to the earth. These end-time parables seem to divide people into the “faithful” and the “unfaithful.”

For those outside the Kingdom, to be in God’s presence will be sheer terror – as there will be no Sacrifice to shield them from his wrath. But for God’s children, the Sacrifice makes it possible for us to draw near to the balm of His Presence and find peace and rest!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

Day 100: Hannah’s treasure

1 Samuel 1-3; Luke 12:1-34

Key Verses

1 Samuel 2:1-2
My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

Luke 12:34
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

1 Samuel opens similarly to Ruth… with the story of a faithful family that lived during the time of the Judges. We are introduced to Hannah, and similar to many of the Bible’s heroines, Hannah was barren. But God opened Hannah’s womb and gave her a son. Her son, Samuel, would grow up under the care of Eli, the priest, and would be used by God to usher in the time of the kings.

Samuel was a mighty prophet in God’s Kingdom – but he was born to a faithful, and broken, woman.

Where was Hannah’s treasure? On first glance, you might say her treasure was her son, Samuel – or maybe her other 5 children that God so graciously gave her. But no, Hannah’s treasure was the Lord himself. She put God before her son as she offered him for the Lord’s service – and God multiplied Hannah’s sacrifice into the abounding ministry of Samuel – who would later anoint both Saul and David as kings of Israel.

Where is our treasure? I pray, that like Hannah, my treasure is the Lord!

Day 96: Strength from on High

Judges 15-16; Luke 10:1-24

Key Verses

Judges 16:28
Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Luke 10:17-18
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Samson brings the time of the Judges to a close. His life mirrors the moral condition of the people he judged…corrupt. We do see a glimmer of faith in Samson’s life – but only after he has been blinded and humiliated…

God stooped and granted Samson the strength to topple the house and kill 3,000 Philistines, and in so doing, he also killed himself. But even Samson’s sacrifice was tainted, as it seemed to be motivated by vengeance instead of concern for Israel.

Today’s passage from Luke highlights one of the fundamental differences between the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God set apart a physical nation whose purpose was to reveal God’s character to the world. The New Testament begins with John the Baptist exhorting the Jews to repent “for the Kingdom of God is near.”

John was preparing the way for Jesus. And when Jesus came, he instituted a spiritual nation, which he called “The Kingdom of God.” Unlike the Israelites, the people of God’s Kingdom do not go to war against other nations – rather they engage in battle in the spiritual realm.

God empowered Samson with physical strength to defeat the Philistines, his physical enemies. In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus empowers the 72 with spiritual strength to overcome their spiritual enemies.

We, as believers in Christ, are part of God’s Kingdom and are commanded to enter the spiritual battle – proclaiming that “The Kingdom of God is near!” If God can empower and use the likes of Samson, He can surely use you and me!