Tag Archives: sin

Jeremiah 34-36

Following God doesn’t mean there won’t be trouble.

While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.

“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. (Jeremiah 34:1-5a, NIV)

God doesn’t spare us from trouble, but he goes with us through it.

As I read, I see Zedekiah and the people switch gears, and in doing so, change their fate. I read of another leader who hears the words from the Lord and sets them on fire, with blatant disregard–like saying, “I don’t want to hear it, and I don’t want to see it either.”

These chapters highlight pride, sin, integrity, faith, and so much more. Throughout all of it, I see how God, in his love, sends a warning, time and again.

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.’” (Jeremiah 35:12-17, NIV, emphasis mine)

There’s a lot going on in these chapters, and a lot of people. I wanted to get clear on who is who, so I searched for “whatever happened to Zedekiah,” not reading ahead. I got the story on him.

Lord, your word is full of real life examples. How often have I been negligent to listen to you? I want to listen well trust you. You give me your word in my hands. You want me to know you and follow you and love you. You’ve always pursued me. You are so faithful. And I am so grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Nehemiah 8:9-11:21

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned away from God.

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. (Nehemiah 9:16-18, NIV, emphasis added)

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned to God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

36 But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:32-37, NIV, emphasis added)

I sit with these scenarios. Sin. Choice. Slavery. In the first, wanting to return to it. In the second, slaves again. I read these words, just now, and know that I will sit with them throughout the day.

Lord, help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to guard my heart–to remember your goodness and all that you’ve done; to not become hardened or unwilling to serve you. While (kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors) made decisions that affected me, I am still and only responsible for my obedience to you. Help me to live in the free indeed found in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 10:25-14:10

27 They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.

28 So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. 29 However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. (2 Kings 10:27-29, NIV, emphasis added)

In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. (2 Kings 12:1-3, NIV, emphasis added)

In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son. (2 Kings 13:1-3, NIV, emphasis added)

When someone new steps up to lead, I think there’s a hope that things would change for the better. A new politician, a new boss … even as a kid, I remember thinking, “When I’m a grown-up, I’m not going to do (that)!”

The reading today reminds me of a pendulum swaying side to side–a move towards improvement, a move towards decline. One way an effort to clear out the bad, another way a means to usher it in. I notice, though, even in the better times, sin lingers waiting in the wings.

Lord, where are the places in my life that I’ve left a door open to let sin gain a foothold? When I’m following after you, show me any places I’ve neglected to take seriously that offend you. Help me to turn from it all. I don’t want my life or example to be marked like Jeroboam’s. Thank you for this caution.

Courtney (66books)

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Ezekiel 28-30; John 10

God is just. When he sends word to the prince of Tyre, he explains the fault and the consequence. And I am most effected by how the attitudes of the heart can be such a trespass against the Lord.

In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god!
    I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’
But you are only a man and not a god,
    though you boast that you are a god.
You regard yourself as wiser than Daniel
    and think no secret is hidden from you.
With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth—
    gold and silver for your treasuries.
Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich,
    and your riches have made you very proud.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Because you think you are as wise as a god,
    I will now bring against you a foreign army,
    the terror of the nations.
They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom
    and defile your splendor!
They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die in the heart of the sea,
    pierced with many wounds.
Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’
    to those who kill you?
To them you will be no god
    but merely a man!
10 You will die like an outcast
    at the hands of foreigners.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 28:2b-10, NLT, emphasis added)

God’s heart was for man. He wanted the best for man. I find this passage a tender grief and grievous contrast between the life the Lord offered and the life man chose.

You were the model of perfection,
    full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty.

13 You were in Eden,
    the garden of God.
Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone—
    red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone,
    blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper,
    blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald—
all beautifully crafted for you
    and set in the finest gold.
They were given to you
    on the day you were created.
14 I ordained and anointed you
    as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
    and walked among the stones of fire.

15 You were blameless in all you did
    from the day you were created
    until the day evil was found in you
.
16 Your rich commerce led you to violence,
    and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
    from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
    from your place among the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was filled with pride
    because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
    by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground
    and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings.
18 You defiled your sanctuaries
    with your many sins and your dishonest trade.
So I brought fire out from within you,
    and it consumed you.
I reduced you to ashes on the ground
    in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All who knew you are appalled at your fate.
    You have come to a terrible end,
    and you will exist no more.” (Ezekiel 28:13-19, NLT, emphasis added)

Jesus explains abundant life–he is the gate. He is the shepherd. He watches over, protects, and provides for his flock. He loves them (to death!), and they love and trust him.

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:7b-18, NLT)

I think of this selection alongside the previous one–of things given on the day we were created. How sin, arrogance, pride, greed, haughtiness, unbelief–all the things that can come between us and a pure and rich relationship with God. It starts in the heart.

24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:25-27, NLT)

Lord, I focus on you and keep you center of my vision. It’s so easy to be distracted by polarizing points, the next great fear or concern, or even when the good and great things happen–to be fed full of the reward to lose sight of the provider. Be my center. Be my focus so I’m not distracted or diverted down wrong paths. Gate and shepherd–you are truly all that I could ever need.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; 1 Corinthians 7

When I think of worship, I think of song. But worship is more than that, isn’t it? Judah, Israel, the surrounding nations, all of them were guilty of turning from the Lord and worshiping something else. They installed their idols in shrines and altars. They offered sacrifices to idols. So worshiping is more than just singing to something–it’s giving it a place of honor; consulting and trusting in it for needs, favor, salvation; placing all hope in it; giving offerings/making sacrifices to it; revering it; talking about it. In all, worship is giving something/someone a place of honor, and power, over us.

22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23, NLT)

King Ahaz rejected the Lord, even in his times of trouble. He gave honor and power to something else, which led to his ruin. And it led to the ruin of his nation.

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings. (2 Kings 17:7-12, NLT)

The Israelites put in great effort and attention to worship other gods and idols. They were intentional. When I read this passage from 2 Kings 17, they were busy and active pursuing practices of other nations, as well as funding and building things to revere in place of the Lord.

The Lord sends a message through prophets and seers–he persists to turn them from their sin. Like a parent warning a child of imminent danger: “Don’t do that!” The warnings go ignored.

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. (2 Kings 17:14-17, NLT)

It’s easy for me to point to the leaders of these nations for setting a dangerous course. Leaders do carry responsibility. And leaders are accountable for their actions.

But so am I.

Lord, help make it clear to me who I follow, where I put my trust and hope, what or who I’ve given power to. And if it’s not you, help me to see my error and correct my way. I cannot imagine a better life or truer calling apart from you. Thank you for your persistent love.

Courtney (66books365)

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