Daily Reflections August 18, 2017
Jeremiah 47 continues the oracles against the nations. The purpose of these oracles is to establish God as the Lord over all nations of the world. He is the God of Israel but all kingdoms rise and fall by the hand of God. Here, the Philistines are in view. Although they are mentioned in a few stories in the Old Testament, many remembering them from the popular story of David and Goliath, and giving us the current name Palestine, the Philistines eventually disappeared from biblical record and history altogether. They were often referred to as the ‘uncircumcised’ (2 Samuel 1:20) which meant that they were not God’s people and had no relationship with him. So, even though God prospered them for a time, God would not allow an evil nation to not be judged. In this passage, we can observe the immense severity of the hand of God and the sorrow that it caused. Fathers are so burdened with anxiety and anguish that they do not have a care for their children. To most parents, this would be unthinkable and yet the event is overwhelming all of their natural instincts.
I think this oracle should make us consider the overarching sovereignty of God over all nations, and therefore, we should not assume that the one he allows to prosper today will not be destroyed tomorrow. There is a place for being thankful for living in a nation that is free and provides so many benefits, but we ought to never confuse temporary blessing for never-ending favor. Through Christ, we are made into a new people, a new nation and that should be our primary identity and hope.
I think this oracle also has a personal component and warning as well. How much more will God who judges nations who are rebellious against him also judge individuals who deny him. God may relent for a time. He may even allow you to prosper for a long season. But one day God’s forbearance will come to an end, and he will justly judge every person. The overwhelming wrath of God will come like a flood that cannot be controlled or escaped. And each person will either be subject to that wrath or appeal to the finished work of Jesus Christ who has endured that wrath upon their behalf.
“We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:2-5)
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
In our reading today we encounter two psalms of David. The first, Psalm 23, is unquestionably the most famous of all the psalms. Upon reading it, the reason for its popularity quickly becomes evident. While being short and concise, it is packed full of beautiful imagery that stirs the heart. Our second psalm for the day, Psalm 24, is less familiar, but also offers a beautiful display of God as creator, holy, and glorious. Read together these psalms remind us that our God is large and in charge, but also that He is intimate and kind.
Psalm 23 depicts the Lord as the shepherd who cares, provides, and protects His flock. He leads His children into areas of peace and abundance, where both rest and complete provision are found. Even when those peaceful pastures are replaced with “the valley of shadow and death,” our God goes with us to guide and comfort us. All of this imagery should remind us of the words of Christ in John 10. In this chapter Jesus presents Himself as the Good Shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
The close of Psalm 23 reiterates the care and provision of God through the use of banquet imagery. We are told that God prepares a table in the presence of our enemies and anoints our head with oil. All evil will be overcome, and there will be a great feast for God’s children. Once again we see this same imagery being used in the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 22:1-4).
The care and provision depicted in Psalm 23 is made even more marvelous by Psalm 24’s depiction of God. The God who cares, comforts, and leads His people is the same God who created the earth and all things that dwell within it. He is the same God who sits in holy places and requires clean hands and pure hearts of His people. He is the King of glory, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. We see now why David could so confidently claim, “I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).
As you go out this week into a chaotic world, be reminded that the King of Glory who dwells in holy places cares for you, restores you, and protects you. He is your shepherd, and He will not lead you astray. Keep your eyes set on Him and your ears open to hear from Him. Go forth in the boldness to fear no evil and in the confidence that you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.