Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Month: July 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Two Problems; One Solution

“Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!” (Job 31:35)

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

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This morning my devotional reading juxtaposed two men, both in deep woe, but for profoundly different reasons. My Old Testament reading concluded in Job 31, which is Job’s last gasp of complaint over what appears to him to be the injustice of his sufferings. My New Testament reading included Romans 7 and 8, where we find Paul crying out in despair over his struggle with sin.

Both men are tormented and distraught; both are crying out in anguish. Job goes through a litany of seven areas of sin, showing how thoroughly he has probed his heart for any evidence of sin as he tries to find a reason that makes sense of why God would let him suffer as he does (Job 31:35-37). Paul, on the other hand, is in anguish because everywhere he turns in review of his ways he finds nothing but sin. He sees sin everywhere in himself. He is looking for someone who can save him from God’s just judgment and the power of sin.

Job sees no sin anywhere in his life, yet he suffers. Paul sees sin everywhere in his life, yet he is powerless to deal with it. Both are beyond distraught.

The answer in both cases is: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25a).

Job repeatedly longed for someone to stand between him and God as a mediator (Job 11:33; 16:19-21; 19:25-26). Paul knows Jesus to be just that one, a perfect Mediator, who at the cost of His own life paid our sin penalty (Romans 8:3), whether we are able to discern those sins or not (Psa. 19:12-13). Jesus causes us to gladly cry, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1). Plus, Jesus sends His very own Spirit to reside within us (8:9), to deeply and personally make real our connection and fellowship with God (8:15-17), and to produce through us all that He requires of us (8:2-4)!

In Jesus we find the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5-6), in whom we may rest as life and its hardships do not make sense. In Jesus we find the one and only sin sacrifice, in which we may rest when our sins overwhelm us. In Jesus we receive His Spirit, in whom we may rest, trusting His empowering to free us from the power of sin.

Truly we cry, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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This is My Father’s World

“History is but the unrolled scroll of Prophecy.” — President James A. Garfield

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“This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord …” (Ephesians 3:11)

“… according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will …” (Ephesians 1:11)

“… remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

“… the King of the ages …” (1 Timothy 1:17)

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.” (Acts 15:18, NKJV)

“… God desired to show … the unchangeable character of his purpose …” (Hebrews 6:17)

Who Do People Say That I Am?

One day Jesus asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’” You can find that account in Matthew 16:13. Our minds tend to remember the follow up question (“But who do you stay that I am?,” v.15) more than the answer the disciples gave.

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Interestingly, the disciples reported the names of three individuals that Jesus made people think of (v.14). The first was John the Baptist. No big surprise there. John and Jesus had been linked for a long time. Jesus submitted Himself to John’s baptism. With John now martyred, they probably though John had come back to life. The second was Elijah. Again, no big surprise. Elijah was the unparalleled miracle worker of the Old Testament. Jesus did so many miracles it is natural they would have likened him to Elijah. But the third individual that people identified Jesus as might surprise us: Jeremiah.

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Why Jeremiah?

While Scripture does not explicitly name Jeremiah as a type of the Messiah, there are many suggestive parallels between the two. Here are some of those proposed by Dr. James T. Dennison, Jr. with a few more I’ve added.

Reality                                                                      Jeremiah                                            Jesus

Suffering                                                                  Jer. 4:19                                              Luke 24:46

Rejection                                                                 Jer. 1:17                                              Luke 9:22

Spurned proclamation                                    Jer. 7:27                                              Matt. 13:13

Denunciation                                                       Jer. 20:10                                            Matt. 11:19

Object of conspiracy                                       Jer. 11:9, 19                                       Matt. 26:4

Mockery                                                                 Jer. 20:6                                               Luke 22:63

Plotted against                                                   Jer. 18:18                                            Mark 14:1

Arrested                                                                 Jer. 37:13-14                                    John 18:12

Beaten                                                                     Jer. 20:2; 37:15                               Luke 22:63

Condemned                                                          Jer. 38:9                                              Luke 24:20

Publicly humiliated                                          Jer. 20:2; 29:26                               Matt. 27:28-31

Incarcerated                                                        Jer. 38:6                                               Matt. 27:1-2

Born of humble, rural surroundings      Jer. 1:1                                                  Matt. 2:23

Forced to live in Egypt                                   Jer. 43:5-7                                          Matt. 2:19

Chosen before birth by God                      Jer. 1:5                                                  John 3:16

Predicted destruction of the temple    Jer. 7:14                                               Matt. 24:1-2

Predicted the fall of the nation                Jer. 20:4                                               Matt. 24:34

Draws enmity of listeners                           Jer. 18:10                                            John 15:18

His own people plot his death                  Jer. 11:21                                            Luke 4:16-29

Religious leaders call for his death        Jer. 26:8, 11                                       John 19:6

Innocence proclaimed by some               Jer. 26: 16                                           John 18:38

Bound over to death                                      Jer. 26:8                                               Mark 15:15

Condemned for telling the truth            Jer. 26:15                                            John 8:45-46

Preached in the temple                                Jer. 7, 26                                              John 7:28

Struck by/before a priest                            Jer. 20:1-2                                          John 18:19-22

Died forsaken                                                   Jer. 43:5-7                                           Mk. 15:34, 37

Isaiah said the Messiah would be a “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3). “Jesus wept” at Lazurus’s tomb (John 11:35). Even as Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem to official present Himself to her as the long anticipated King, “he wept over” the city (Luke 19:14), anticipating their rejection and the inevitable judgment that must befall her. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears …” (Heb. 5:7a).

Jeremiah has often been dubbed “the weeping prophet.” Many saw the grief-burden Jesus carried about as He was rejected by those around Him. His tears, His grief, His sorrows—it all reminded them of someone. Both Jesus and Jeremiah understood lament. They both knew grief and grieving.

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets [of whom Jeremiah was one] who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:10-11).

Jeremiah’s sufferings carried no atoning value. Christ is the only Savior. And part of Jesus’ saving work is to remind us all—Old Testament prophet or New Testament saint—that if you find yourself burdened, broken, bereft, and if at times you feel like bawling your eyes out, know this: you are in good company.

Jesus asks still, “Who do people say that I am?”

I answer, “You are ‘The LORD [who] is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit’” (Psalm 34:1).

In The Potter’s Hand — Jeremiah 18-19

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