Jeremiah 23:5-12 The King Who Rules with Wisdom
Posted by adventbiblestudy on March 21, 2016
Jeremiah 23:5-12 The King Who Rules with Wisdom
Jeremiah 23:5-12 NLTse “For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. (6) And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. (7) “In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ (8) Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.” (9) My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the LORD has spoken against them. (10) For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning– its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have. (11) “Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the LORD. (12) “Therefore, the paths they take will become slippery. They will be chased through the dark, and there they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment. I, the LORD, have spoken!
Jeremiah 23 is a prophecy with two sides. The first part is about Jesus coming as King. We know this as His second coming, but Jews between Jeremiah’s time and Christ’s time looked at this as the one and only Messiah’s appearance. Based on previous studies, we know this prophecy points to a recorded fulfillment in the New Testament. There is one point repeated in this prophecy. Israel was enslaved in Egypt, then in what Jeremiah refers to as the north and other countries. Some people say the north points to Babylon, which it did in Jeremiah’s time. Other people attempt to place their private interpretations on the north which they cannot back up with the Bible. The north is where Satan placed his throne. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. (Isaiah 14:13 NLTse). Hence the physical interpretation points to Babylon while the spiritual points to Satan.
What comes to mind when you think about Jesus ruling with wisdom and doing what is just and right throughout the land? Most people look at this as a future event. Why do you think they look at it as a future event? Does the Bible tells us we have to wait for Jesus to rule with wisdom and do what is right in the future? Are you looking at those texts a little differently now? Jesus was along side His Father long before this world was created ruling with wisdom and always doing what is right and just. What makes people think we have to wait on some future event to take orders from Jesus, listen to His advice and begin taking advantage of and learning from His wisdom? It seems the world likes to think its on its own and has to come up with solutions to problems based on human knowledge and our ability to fit God’s law and wisdom into this sinful world. Look at the news today. Look at all the problems. You don’t need a list from me. This will apply to every problem everywhere in this world. Where do leaders look for solutions? Who are they relying on for answers? Where do world leaders turn for wisdom and the ability to do what is just and right throughout the land? The answer is always the same. They turn to themselves. No wonder this world is in the mess it is today. Everyone has given up on asking God to get involved — the world forgot how to go to the infinite source of wisdom to find out what needs to be done. Take a look at their track record. How many problems have world leaders been able to solve using their wisdom? How many problems have they created?
We don’t think or study enough about Jesus’ ministry, role, or life before He left Heaven to come to this world. But that is how this prophecy begins, by reminding us Jesus will come to claim David’s throne. What a small detail compared to Jesus’ role of sitting on His throne in Heaven next to God His Father. What do you think about that? Was Jeremiah trying to reach people on a level they should have been able to understand? Was Jeremiah pointing to Jesus’ concern for this world, or both? This is something I don’t understand but as I prayed about this study, I was shown Jesus on His throne before God’s plan of salvation was put into action in that tiny cattle pen in Bethlehem. Jesus walked in Heaven with angels far greater in stature, intelligence, honor, and glory than any human being. Every angel was willing to do anything to serve Him. That is every angel except those who sided with Satan. Christ won His first victory in Heaven by defeating Satan and his angels, then casting them here to earth. This was only the beginning of a long series of battles for Jesus who gave up His throne in Heaven to come to this world as a few living cells, too small to be seen with the human eye. But God’s eyes never left His Son. Jesus’ next battle was fought when He was born. This came after Mary, His mother had to face a few battles of her own. Outside of the usual threats of disease and other dangers of pregnancy, Mary had to face the possible rejection from Joseph who had to learn to listen to God’s voice and accept the unexpected. His wife was impregnated by God’s Spirit. Sure it’s easy to read those stories and say, “ya I would have accepted it.” But put yourself in the center of the story on one side, then the other and see the heart of the lessons. Mary had to accept the angel’s message and go forward on faith. Then Joseph wanted to reject her. Seeing a pregnant wife knowing it was not from him was too much for Joseph. Based on worldly knowledge and traditions, everything told Joseph what he should do. But that was not God’s plan. So God talks to Joseph in a dream. Think of that. Would you follow one of your dreams if God chose to talk to you that way? None of those details are normal by any stretch of the imagination. But that is God’s way of doing things. If one detail was not fulfilled, every part of Jesus’ ministry would have been ruined. It was as if God opened every door for Satan to succeed. God’s plan stacked everything against Himself. Every detail of Jesus’ early ministry was beyond human comprehension and reasoning. But Joseph and Mary cooperated and Jesus was born. Once again we see unexpected circumstances the world takes for granted. Jesus was born in an environment a small percentage of infants survive. There must have been a thousand ways Jesus could have caught some disease and died within hours or days. But God protected Him.
There is another unexpected event. A few people referred to as wise men stopped off at Herod’s palace to ask directions. This tips off Herod who doesn’t take any chances. He has every child in Bethlehem killed. Jesus faces another battle. This time He retreats to the last place anyone would expect, Egypt where a whole new set of temptations and trials wait. Generations before over a million people left Egypt to follow God. Only a small number made it to the promised land. God sent His Son on the same journey.
Only a few years ago Jesus sat on His throne in Heaven. Now He finds Himself going to Jerusalem with His family to celebrate the Passover. The King of Heaven finds His way to the temple and into a meeting with some of Israel’s most prestigious religious leaders. Led by God’s Spirit, Jesus asks them a series of questions. Those men are amazed as they listen to Jesus’ questions and attempt to answer them. Jesus gained a bit of respect with Jerusalem’s religious leaders – for a time. A sign of a small victory.
Somewhere between that trip to Jerusalem and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He lost His father. It must have been rough for Jesus. Did He have the power to save his father? How long did Jesus grieve? How did He grieve? What lessons did Jesus learn from the experience? How did His father’s death open Jesus’ eyes to the spiritual battle raging around Him? It didn’t take Jesus long to change His grief into a motivating factor. Jesus had to succeed to one day raise Joseph from his grave to eternal life. Joseph wasn’t the only person Jesus wanted to succeed for, so He could stand upon those clouds and call out their names raising them to eternal life. The spiritual battle Jesus came to fight in human form became personal.
The King of Heaven was called to action. His first order was to meet His cousin at the Jordan River where He was baptized. Even Jesus’ cousin tempted Jesus when John told Jesus it was he who needed to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus knew God’s plan and intended to follow it to the letter. After His baptism came one of the better know battles – Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. It took Jesus over a month to prepare for that battle lasting only a few minutes. Something Jesus had to go through to teach us a lesson. God’s plan of salvation took longer to plan than any of us can imagine. God’s plan of salvation deserves as much respect as Jesus and His Father deserve on their throne. God’s Word, which is His plan of salvation, is a view to His personality.
After Jesus’ victory over Satan, the King of kings next mission was to assemble an invincible army. Jesus chose a few fisherman, a doctor, a tax collector, someone to manage the money, and a few others almost no one would notice. Now Jesus was ready to face the world His army could see, and that spiritual army they couldn’t see with their eyes, which made it difficult to comprehend an attack. Jesus had His own method of attack. His major weapon was His words. Every one of them He received from Heaven. Jesus only had three and a half more years to fulfill nearly three hundred prophecies? Could any human memorize each one and ensure each was fulfilled on time and to the letter? Jesus had to rely on God’s Spirit from day to day, minute to minute. Jesus’ plan was simple. Teach people to look to His Father for answers and trust His Spirit. Jesus also turned the tide by healing hundreds of people. The King of the universe bending down to lay His hand on sick and suffering people. Most of those people were looked at as out casts of society. In Jesus’ eyes they were more precious than all the riches of this world. Jesus already proved that.
My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the LORD has spoken against them. For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. Jeremiah added a solemn point to the message. Of course God is upset when people claim to be His but don’t listen to Him. Of course God is upset when He sends His prophets and they still don’t listen. Look at the big picture. Jeremiah is only one of those prophets God sent during that period. Daniel was in Babylon and Isaiah was traveling from place to place, leader to leader delivering another set of messages. Who put those messages together? Is anyone putting those messages together today to get the bigger picture? That would make an interesting book. Not many people are looking at the big picture. It seems people are satisfied to look at scripture, pull out a few choice words, maybe a text or two, then let their imaginations run wild. What does that accomplish? Talk about false prophets — we still have them today. Prophets predicting this, that, and the other thing. Those false prophets have been wrong a thousand times and people would still rather listen to them then talk to God and learn the truth. No wonder God is upset. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have. “Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the LORD.
God knows the score. Not only does God know what they are up to, He knows the choice you made between them and Him. And God knows how to solve all the problems we have in this world. But most people would rather sit around and wait until something happens. People today are no better than those is Jesus’ day – expecting to find a Messiah who will do all the work — wave His hand and wham!!!! The whole world is changed. People tend to fall for fairy tales, lies, and deceptions telling them to sit still, not worry about a thing, wait and see, watch the world fall apart before your eyes, there is nothing we can do. The list of idleness never seems to end. When are we going to begin an era of listening to God, taking orders, going into action, becoming willing participants in this spiritual battle instead of spectators the enemy wants us to believe is our only role.
Jesus was about to introduce His most powerful weapon in that spiritual war. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24 NLTse). Jesus’ disciples didn’t know what He meant by taking up a cross. To them it was a weapon Rome used to intimidate anyone who wasn’t Roman. They lifted the King up on a cross. Jesus took the worst those priests and Romans could throw at Him, then rose from the grave.
It’s not very hard to see this prophecy about Jesus tells about the time He will once again sit upon His throne. For now, Jesus has another role. This study does not provide the exact date Jesus will be crowned King or show exactly what will lead to that event. In this case I chose texts which add to details shown in Jeremiah 23. It’s a show of faith to know the event will come to pass and a show of respect to study details about the event without worry about, or trying to prove a particular date. Based on other studies I’ve read and conversing with people, I see more interest in guessing at circumstances and dates than the Man/God soon to be crowned King. I wonder why the world lives off details about movies stars and other famous people like somehow knowing every circumstance and secret about their lives will somehow … well I have to admit, I have no idea why people thrive on such gossip. But when I bring up the subject of Jesus, what He’s done, is doing, and other details about His life and what He taught, few people seem interested. What did Jesus die for if no one is interested? I should say, few people are interested. The parallel texts I chose for this study shows one man who cared. One man Jesus was able to reach and change. And shows how much He cared. Look what Paul taught a young man while treating him like a son.
1 Timothy 6:8-16 NLTse So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. (9) But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. (10) For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (11) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (12) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. (13) And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, (14) that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (15) For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (16) He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.
The first sentence establishes the main theme – to be content. Why shouldn’t we be content when we see an entire eternity in front of us. An eternity far different than this world. An eternity where Christ rules as King! No more corrupt leaders. No more higher and higher taxes. No more foreclosures. No more loans or mortgages. No more working for a boss with an ego larger than the State of Texas or an owner with a desire for money deeper than hell itself. No more…. of this world. But Christ as King will create a whole new world without weeds, wild beasts, poisonous inspects or reptiles. A new world so unlike this one it is almost beyond explanation. Trees of perfect form. Warm days and cool evenings. Fruit with a flavor like it was meant to be. Vegetables grown without chemicals. Animals wandering about looking for attention. Children without a care in the world. Water so clear you can see the colored rocks and gems lying along the bottom. Grass so green and soft you’ll want to walk through it in bare feet. Then there is the city New Jerusalem with walls of jasper and foundations of every color. A city so large it seems it will take a life time to walk from one end to the other. But life with Jesus will be forever. And there will be Jesus sitting on His throne, walking beside you, sharing a meal, playing with children, telling us all about the animals, wonders of the world, and stories about His ministry here on earth and in Heaven. One of the events I am waiting for is the day we stand on the walls of New Jerusalem and watch Jesus recreate this world. Imagine being the first humans to witness creation. Not even Adam witnessed the creation of this world, but one day we will.
Why would anyone want to give up all of that? Maybe it’s because no one told them about the future with Jesus. Who would want to give up the opportunity to hear Jesus call them brother or sister, or God to call them son and daughter? Surely people can understand Heaven will be based on a personal relationship with Jesus and His Father. Why would they left greed, money, violence, drugs, and self gratification stand in the way of eternal peace? Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (Romans 8:5-8 NLTse).
Paul told Timothy it was a battle. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. Of course Paul told Timothy about all the weapons at his disposal. The most important is to be a witness and teach people to be witnesses. Which is one of those things we want to accomplish with this study. How do we become witnesses? How do we teach others to be witnesses? A witness in a court case is known for their testimony of what they’ve seen and heard. Now think about that in the context of being a witness for Christ. If you were called to witness in a court case could you give a truthful testimony for or against someone you’ve never met? Should a witness for Jesus be any different? Then why do I see so many people claiming to be a witness – and in so many cases their testimony has little or nothing to do with Jesus as a person, Savior, or King. In other words, they’ve never met Jesus. Their testimony is as false and damaging as the witnesses those priests trained to testify against Jesus and send Him to His death.
Looking at this prophecy and its fulfillment from a technical aspect, we see Jeremiah telling how Jesus the Messiah will one day be a King who rules with wisdom. Paul added, “the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever!” They also share another detail. Jeremiah recorded, “the time is coming.” Paul pointed, “at just the right time Christ will be revealed from Heaven.” So we know Christ will be crowned King in the future. This is a prophecy we are waiting to see fulfilled.
The prophecy and fulfillment also share key words.
Jeremiah 23:5-12 contains:
overcome, adultery, curse, abuse, ungodly, wicked, despicable, fall, disaster, punishment 1 Timothy 6:8-16 have the related words:
fall, temptation, ruin, destruction
God repeated these warnings for a reason. He doesn’t want to loose anyone. If only they would turn around an see what they will gain by breaking the law and compare it to what they’ll loose if they decided not to turn around. Why does Jeremiah continually write about adultery, curse, abuse, ungodly, wicked, despicable, fall, disaster, and punishment? These describe the scene Jeremiah witnessed and the conditions he found himself working in. Did Jeremiah see the depth of those conditions before he became God’s prophet? If you listen to God’s voice allowing yourself to be one of His messengers, you’ll see the world in a new light. You’ll begin to experience trials you never expected. You’ll see people taking advantage of you for no reason at all. You’ll find yourself linking those trials and events together to see a much larger picture. Suddenly world events will begin to make sense. You’ll see parallel lessons between stories in the Bible and current events which will explain reasons behind the events – if and only if you are willing to accept information like Jeremiah did during his training. Jeremiah accepted God’s Word and directions without question. That didn’t make life easy for Jeremiah who had to go through situations much worse than many people experience. Jeremiah had to endure trials to deliver God’s message with emotion and record them exactly how God dictated them. Prophetic training is not easy. The life of a prophet is not one of luxury. Prophets live in the thick of things, experiencing and living through the same trials as the people they deliver those messages to. Like Jeremiah saw, those messages are often rejected and additional trials and hardships are forced upon God’s prophets.
Jeremiah was a prophet trained by God. Paul was a disciple chosen and taught by Jesus. Paul then wrote letters containing details of what he handed down to one of his coworkers, Timothy. The introductions to the chapters we’re comparing here contain details with one one chapter complimenting the other. One of the subjects Jeremiah introduced tells us about shepherds, people who were supposed to be looking after and guiding God’s people.
Jeremiah 23:1-4 NLTse “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people–the shepherds of my sheep–for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD. (2) Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them. (3) But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. (4) Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD have spoken!
1 Timothy 6:1-7 NLTse All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. (2) If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved. Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (3) Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. (4) Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. (5) These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. (6) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. (7) After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.
God refers to the leaders of His people as shepherds. Here we see another example showing how God clearly identified a symbol. There is no doubt. “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people–the shepherds of my sheep–” Another symbol, sheep is identified as God’s people. Looking back at the introduction we can see the destruction and evil mentioned in the prophecy refers to leaders inflicting hardships on their own kind – people they were supposed to serve. This is another detail you’ll see in your life when you begin serving God. Suddenly people around you will display their real intents. People you thought you could trust will take advantage of you. But don’t worry. Other friends will step up to show you a side of faith and concern you never noticed. Their support will more than make up for the brief trials marginal friends will cause. As this happens your eyes will open to spiritual battles around you. New understanding will flood your mind to such a degree you can feel it in your veins. Understanding becomes a part of your being. Your first desire will be to find people to share your experiences with on a spiritual level. God will provide that outlet. God will fill your life with people having the same experiences. You’ll soon find out how God confirms His messages with His Word as well as through His people — those who are not following those marginal shepherds.
Jeremiah filled in a few vague details. Those disloyal shepherds have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Paul fills in a few of the details showing how and why those leaders desert, turn their backs on, or take advantage of God’s people. Those leaders will long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. It will be all about money. Every aspect of life, every trial, misery, compromise, and destructive cause will be center on the lust for money. Jobs are center on money. Inflation is centered on money. Taxes rely on money. And yes, religions today compete for and thrive on money.
Jeremiah tells a completely different side of the story for people who won’t be fooled by those misleading shepherds. I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD have spoken! Paul also told Timothy some of the attributes and qualities God’s followers will live by. But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. Paul referred to it as a fight. Jeremiah lived through an invasion by enemy forces. Most people look at the enemy outside Jerusalem’s gates. But when you read Jeremiah, you can see the real enemy lived inside those walls. Think of that when you think about those misleading shepherds. Some times they are found inside the walls, closer to you than what you think.
Paul opened this part of his letter by using slaves as an illustration then tells Timothy to teach the lesson. What is that lesson? To pay attention to how people act. It doesn’t matter if their a slave or master, proper Christian actions will be noticed. If you don’t see the right actions and reactions how do they show they are good shepherds? Paul is the type of writer who used common teaching methods in his letters. Paul often provides an answer, followed by and explanation leading to a question. In this case we see ourselves asking how to tell a good shepherd from a bad one. When we looked back we found the answer. Good teachers arrange lessons so students go back and forth comparing notes and details. This also entices students to pay attention. Once they learn the pattern, it is easy to follow. We get a different effect by comparing the prophecy with the fulfillment. Putting the two together we can see symbols explained and details about those symbols we may not have thought of when reading one or the other chapter alone. When we find chapters like these two that compliment one another so well, we can’t help but appreciate the effort God put into writing the Bible. You know on a relationship basis, appreciation is an important element. Those of you involved in a relationship where you didn’t feel appreciated know what I mean. Now apply that to God. How do you think God feels about all those people who don’t appreciate Him or take Him for granted? That’s another sign of those disloyal, marginal shepherds. One of the areas I see abused most is prophecy. Let’s face it. The world is filled with people who want to make a name for themselves by solving prophecies. How do they do it? Completely backwards. They see an event then find a text they can use to convince people that event was in the Bible. Then they call it prophecy. Does that make God feel unappreciated? It sure doesn’t. First of all, those prophets are calling all the glory and attention to themselves. Secondly, those prophets claim a higher power. They don’t exhibit the humility Jesus possessed and neither can they teach it. In addition to that, those prophets are wasting time and leading people away from God and His Spirit.
Jeremiah 23:36-40 NLTse (36) But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (37) “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ (38) But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the LORD!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the LORD,” even though I warned you not to use it, (39) I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. (40) And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.'”
1 Timothy 6:17-21 NLTse (17) Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. (18) Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. (19) By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. (20) Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. (21) Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. May God’s grace be with you all.
Jeremiah delivers a massage to some of those prophets he faced in the kings court. Jeremiah stopped using symbols and moved to the word prophets. God wanted those prophets to make sure who Jeremiah was addressing. “Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:11 NLTse). This shows how important the message is. It also points out how inept those prophets were at interpreting symbols. They couldn’t figure out what a shepherd represented, so Jeremiah told them. Think of it. Do you think any self proclaimed prophet will in any generation ever figure out those warnings in God’s Word? Of course not. Now ask why not. For one thing, they don’t have a relationship with God, His Spirit, or Jesus. They have the ability to relate prophecies to current events. But they are always wrong and lead people away from the truth at the most crucial time. They can also relate modern stories and events to parables and stories in the Bible, but on a very shallow level. Self proclaimed prophets can mislead people new to God’s Word, people with a dim view of God, people who don’t see a need to study on their own, and Christians missing a personal relationship with God. Now you have to ask why the majority of Christians are missing those qualities. You also have to ask why the world lacks preaches capable of teaching those qualities. Why can’t preachers teach people like the disciples did in Acts? They went to a group, preached about Jesus. Introduced them to God’s Spirit. Prayed for them, and when they say God’s Spirit on them, moved onto the next place God needed them.
It’s not hard to see, God doesn’t like people claiming to be prophets when they really don’t know Him. When we look at the beginning of Jeremiah, we see exactly how God chose Jeremiah, trained him, tested him, and what God expects from His prophets. It’s not that difficult to figure out. Paul loved teaching. One of the subjects he taught was how to seek, find, and understand God. Look at the first few chapters in 1 Corinthians. Notice how Paul used key words wisdom and understanding. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21 NLTse).
Of course when Paul quoted scripture, we have to look at it. “‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies? These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD. Are they so wise after all? (Jeremiah 8:8-9 NLTse). We find a little more information about prophets misleading people. But we don’t want to be misled. So we’ll follow standard Bible Study rules and check the introduction and summation to the chapter Paul quoted. “In that day,” says the LORD, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem. They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars–the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure. (Jeremiah 8:1-2 NLTse). In the introduction we see Jeremiah using symbols. We have to remember the lesson Jeremiah had to learn. Never guess at a symbol. Always let God explain it. All we can see is the physical aspects. Graves of kings, priests, and prophets are being disgraced. We don’t know exactly who those people are, so there is no way we can guess at what the rest of the prophecy means unless we find the explanation in God’s Word. Since the introduction and summation share the same theme, we find a clue there. “The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!” I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people? (Jeremiah 8:20-22 NLTse).
Jeremiah tells us bones of important dead people will be dug up and scattered. People can come up with a thousand interpretations based on a few texts, but what do we find when we compare them with the summation? One point in particular stands out in the summation. People are not saved. Comparing that to the introduction, we see why those bones are dug up and scattered. Those bones represent a false sense of salvation, finding God, prophecies, and every detail concerning God and His plan of salvation. The introduction also tells us those bone will be, spread out on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars–the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. When we put all the details together, we can see Jeremiah is pointing out a general deception. Now this is where most people go wrong. They stumble upon something in God’s Word then say, “thanks, I can take it from here.” People fail to see exactly how vague the details are. God didn’t tell us exactly what the enemy and those false prophets will use to mislead you. The point is. The only way you can be safe is to remain in constant contact with God’s Spirit so He can warn and protect you from those deceptions when they come.
In addition to pointing us back to Jeremiah in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul also gave Timothy sound advice. Instead of using symbols, Paul instructed Timothy with specific details. Money is one of the evils or temptations we will have to look out for. Of course the most common thought about this warning is, it’s for those rich people, but not for me. Don’t be like those wannabe prophets who think those warnings apply to everyone else but themselves. First examine yourself. Better yet, pray and let God’s Spirit tell you all the details you need to see. Let’s face facts. As long as we have enough money to be comfortable, we feel a sense of independence. Part of that independence is feeling we don’t need God all the time. We begin to make our own decisions. We begin to slip away a little at a time. Most times without noticing.
Paul really loved Timothy and didn’t want to see him slip away. So Paul told Timothy what to do. The most important detail was to know what is good and teach it to people. When you know a subject well enough to teach, you won’t easily forget yourself. Teaching also opens up new doors to learn, and learn at a higher level. Paul told Timothy to be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. Paul does the best job of summing up this lesson. Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. May God’s grace be with you all.