Daily Reflections July 19, 2017
There are two striking images in today’s passage: We see a picture of God’s wrath against sin and we catch a glimpse into the discouraged heart of a persecuted prophet.
The image of God’s wrath is nothing short of horrifying. The nation has strayed so far into idolatrous rebellion that God would not even listen to intercessory prayers if they were brought to him by Moses and Samuel (v1). He vows to send the sword to kill the nation, and then even to send dogs, birds and wild beasts to desecrate the remains (v3).
In verse 4, we are told that it was the sinful reign of Manasseh that brought about this righteous anger. We read about Manasseh’s legacy in 2 Kings 21. There we find that the King erected alters and Asherah poles for pagan worship in the Lord’s temple. What’s more, we are told this terrible detail:
And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6 ESV)
Manasseh was leading God’s people into wickedness and false worship. They were performing indecent acts in the temple of the Living God in praise to Asherah – the pagan god of fertility. They were burning their children alive in acts of idol worship. They had become completely and utterly rebellious.
This is Jeremiah’s mission field.
Is it difficult to understand why Jeremiah wishes that he had never been born (v10)? He is hated by everyone in his culture because he continues to speak the truth (v10). He has always delighted in God’s word (v16)! He never wavered in his obedience to God – he never indulged in the sin of his people (v17).
“So,” he asks in verse 18, “why is my pain unending?”
Can you fault him for raising this piercing question? In our minds, Jeremiah’s obedience and faithfulness deserve to be rewarded with some degree of earthly success. But that was not God’s plan for him and I am humbled by God’s response to Jeremiah in verses 19 and 20. Rather than rewarding Jeremiah, God calls him to repent! Repent and keep preaching! What’s more, instead of pointing to a future revival, God gives Jeremiah this encouragement:
And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:20 ESV)
Keep preaching, Jeremiah. They’re not going to listen to you – in fact they are going to fight against you – but keep preaching. And know this: when everyone is against you, I am with you.
We should note that we are not promised to have numerous converts in our ministry. Your neighbor may never come to Christ. Your Dad might not ever repent. Your nation might fall into a rebellion that rivals Manasseh’s Judah. But don’t allow yourself to succumb to perpetual pouting. Don’t live with a “woe-is-me” attitude.
Keep preaching. You will be rewarded – not for your results – but for your faithfulness. And just as God promised His presence to Jeremiah, so too does God’s Son promise His presence to us as we minister in His name:
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b ESV)
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
Mark’s gospel is an announcement of the identity and mission of Jesus. He tells us straight up that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the good news that God has sent his Son into the world as our substitute to suffer and die for our sins. This key verse captures the mission of Jesus,
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
From the outset, Mark establishes the identity of Jesus Christ through the following witnesses:
a. Mark himself, who was likely an eyewitness of some of the events he wrote about:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1 ESV)
b. The prophet Isaiah, who spoke of the coming of the Messiah:
…the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”… (Mark 1:3 ESV)
c. John the Baptist, the prophesied messenger who came to prepare the way for Jesus:
And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. (Mark 1:7 ESV)
d. The Father and Holy Spirit, whose presence was evident at Jesus’ baptism:
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10-11 ESV)
e. An unclean spirit, who shuddered before the authority of the Son of God:
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24 ESV)
f. Finally, at the end of the gospel, as if to bookend what Mark has clearly stated in chapter one, the centurion who watched Jesus suffer and die:
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 ESV)
Here are 4 things we learn about Jesus the Son of God from the rest of this chapter:
- Jesus is tempted in the wilderness and emerges victorious over sin and the devil (see 1:13).
- Jesus calls disciples who will radically follow him in obedience (see 1:17).
- Jesus is committed to commune with his Father in prayer even when he is exhausted (see 1:35).
- Jesus is resolute in his mission to preach the gospel and restore broken lives (see 1:38, 40).
These authoritative witnesses and works of Jesus point us to the promised Deliverer of God, who alone can take out of bondage, take us through the wilderness of this world, and bring us safely home to the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom. What a great Saviour we have!
How should we then respond?
1. Repent. Confess your sin and confess your need of a Saviour. Ask God to change your heart and mind.
2. Trust. Believe in the compassionate Son of God who is acquainted with your weaknesses and has on your behalf defeated all the powers of hell.
3. Worship. Surrender your life fully to the one who surrendered his life fully for you. He alone is worthy of all your affection and attention.
4. Serve. Follow Jesus and obey his call to radical discipleship. Preach the gospel and call people to repentance. Pray for the sick and broken. Spread his fame.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross