“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these” (Jer. 7:4, KJV). The NET records this passage as, “Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here!” What was going on with these people in Jeremiah’s day?
In context, notice that God has sent Jeremiah to warn this sinful nation of their sin. He went to the gate of the Temple and cried out, “amend your ways and your doings” (Jer. 7:2-3). They responded, “The Temple of the Lord,” as if God would spare them from destruction because the Temple was in Jerusalem. They were reminded twice in this chapter not to trust in those lying words. The mere fact the Temple was in Jerusalem would not save them when the Babylonian army swept over them.
What would save them? God said salvation would come when they “amend” or change their ways (Jer. 7:5). In other words, repent, and they would be allowed to dwell in the land (v. 7). Notice that the key to their salvation was not in having the Temple in Jerusalem but living as God told them to live (v. 5-7). Even though many years had passed, the words of Joshua 24:14 were still true, and they needed to worship God “in sincerity and in truth”! They could not “ride the fence” by practicing their abominations and then turn around, beaming about having the Temple there (Jer.7:9-15). That Temple was made of physical material and could be destroyed (and was, II Kings 25)!
Friend, beware that you don’t have the same attitude as the Israelites of old did. It is easy to slip into the mindset that I am bound for Heaven so long as I am a member or have my name on the “roll” of a sound church. This is not always the case! Don’t misunderstand; we know that salvation comes through Christ (Lk. 19:10), and all those who are saved are added to His church (Acts 2:38-47). My point is that we must examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5) and make sure our actions match our words (Rev. 22:14; Lk. 6:46)! The people in Jeremiah’s day had to “amend” or change their ways because their actions did not match their words (Jer. 7:9-11). It takes more than merely having our names written on a piece of paper to be saved. We must be active in the Lord’s work (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:22-25; Heb. 5:9)!
It pains me to say this, but there will be people condemned to an eternity in Hell because their actions, speech, and thoughts were not in line with the Scriptures (II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46). Yes, some of these will be people who claim to be members of the Lord’s church. Why will this happen? It will happen because they weren’t slaves to God (Rom. 12:1-2) but obeyed only when they felt like it. When they were confronted with their sin, they said, “I’m a member of the Lord’s body!” Just like those folks said, “The Temple of the Lord!” As if that were all that was required! Sadly, Christ will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Let’s learn a lesson from this text and not act like those in Jeremiah 7!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:
- “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
- “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
- “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).
This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.”
As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).
When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?
Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.
Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!
Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The last part of Ecclesiastes 9:4 says that “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” What I find interesting is that in the days of Solomon, dogs were not “man’s best friend.” They were not considered pets but nuisances. Lions, on the other hand, were exalted and symbols of royalty. In those days, if one had the option, a regal-looking lion would be much preferred over some mutt dog. Yet, Solomon observed a living dog is still better than a dead lion.
What does such a statement mean? It is similar to our saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Put simply, it means that there are times when we are better off getting what is available, what is possible, instead of the things only wished for. We could say it this way: Take advantage of the opportunities you have instead of waiting for things that might never come!
I believe some folks are guilty of hoping for that “dead lion” when they think they will wait for a “convenient” time to be saved. Felix maintained this attitude (Acts 24:25), and though seeing Paul for over two years (v. 27), he never found a “convenient” time! Are we like this? Some wish to wait on their obedience to the Lord until they “know more” or until they have accomplished some goal. I know of people who said they needed more Bible knowledge before they could be saved. To these people, I asked, “You know the Lord’s plan of salvation and you know that you are in sin and need to be saved. At this point, what else do you need to know?” A living dog is better than a dead lion, friends!
Some will not tell others the truth about salvation and Jesus because they are afraid they do not know enough. They are concerned that some question might be asked of them that they cannot answer. Many are fearful of any type of “confrontation.” I think there is a large percentage of Christians who don’t wish to talk to people who are not like them -- whether racially, the same economic status, etc. What ultimately happens is that no teaching gets done, and a generation is lost in a Devil’s Hell. To these people, I say: “A living dog is better than a dead lion”! We are wasting our opportunities looking for the “perfect” opportunity, the “perfect” person, etc. Listen, those are not coming in that form. We need to understand that the “perfect” is only “perfect” in hindsight. Our opportunities to teach someone about the Lord doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty bow! They come to us at the bank and the grocery store. They come to us when we are dirty and sweaty from working, and with our children at night when we are tired. Opportunities to teach about Christ come to us looking like a flawed and failed person who is in sin and needs Christ. This person has sinned and has emotional or other types of “baggage” and regrets. It is these people who need to cast their care on Christ (I Pet. 5:7) but can’t do it until they are introduced to Him. What are we doing to help these people? Where is the love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:39)? Are we so busy waiting for “dead lions” that we are missing the “living dogs?”
Take a moment for true self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). What opportunities and who are we overlooking in our vain pursuits? The dead lion offers nothing for you. Stop wasting time on the impossible and accept and work with what is real and true! The blessings are sometimes right under our noses. We need to get them out of the clouds and down where we can focus on what is instead of what is not.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not see things the way man does (Ps. 139:2). There is no denying this fact if we know anything about the Bible and what it reveals about the mind of God. Today, instead of writing a long article detailing the teaching in these verses, I thought I would make a chart that contrasts God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom.
Please study the chart below. Note the contrasts between God’s wisdom and man’s, and then decide who you will follow.
A good name is better than riches (v. 1).
Riches are the most important thing -- better than one’s reputation.
Our death day is better than our birthday (v. 1).
The day of death is the worst day of one’s life (with only a few exceptions, such as an incurable, painful disease).
The house of mourning is better than the house of feasting (v. 2).
Feasting is better than mourning.
Sorrow is better than laughter (v. 3).
Laughter is better than sorrow.
Wise men are in the house of mourning (v. 4).
Wise men are in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the wise man’s rebuke (v. 5).
It is better to hear encouragement.
The laughter of fools is as vain as expecting thorns to provide heat (v. 6).
The laughter of fools is to be desired.
Accepting bribes will corrupt you (v. 7)
There is nothing wrong with getting money “under the table” from time to time.
The end of a thing is better than the beginning (v. 8).
The beginning is better than the end.
The patient is better than the proud (v. 8).
Being proud is better than being patient.
Be slow to anger. Anger rests with the fools (v. 9; Jas. 1:19).
Becoming angry and “cracking heads” gets things done.
Don’t live in the past (v. 10).
The “good ol’ days” are better than what we have today.
This list from Ecclesiastes 7 teaches us much. Notice how these Bible facts from Ecclesiastes show that man’s ideas stand polar opposite to God’s intent. I find it interesting that the apostle Paul taught a very similar thing in I Corinthians 1:18-31 when he spoke of the preaching of the cross.
The ultimate question we must answer is: To whom will we listen? Will we listen to the world and follow “conventional wisdom” or listen to God and turn man’s wisdom on its head? Remember what David said about God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? Listen to him! At the end of the day, we must decide for ourselves, and must face the consequences of that decision. As for me and my house, we want to listen to God. Who will you follow, friend?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When John wrote his third epistle, he addressed it to “the well-beloved Gaius” (v. 1). This man stood out for reasons that become apparent in the first eight verses of the book. Evidently, he also served as a contact for John to write to the brethren since a direct approach had not worked (v. 9)! Can you imagine what happened when Gaius presented John’s letter, and the brethren were made aware that John knew what Diotrephes had been doing (v. 9-10)?
In this study, let’s focus on the blessing John states in verse 2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” What is John saying? He is saying I pray that your physical health and prosperity might match your spiritual health and well-being. Evidently, from observing his health and physical surroundings, one might not think Gaius was blessed, but on the spiritual side, he was blessed more than most (see: I Sam. 16:7).
This statement hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it. John wished that Gaius could have a healthy body as he has a healthy soul (III Jn. 2). On how many people today could we wish what John did? Is not the opposite true in our country? We have healthy bodies, and we financially prosper while we have emaciated souls! As I thought specifically about the Lord’s church in this nation, it is evident that some focus on physical health and prosperity to their spiritual detriment. Some have become like Laodicea, thinking that physical health means spiritual health. They have become like the friends of Job who equated physical health with God’s blessing. “If you are suffering, you have done something bad, but if you are not, then you are OK” is too many people’s mantra. We have forgotten II Timothy 3:12. We have forgotten I Peter 4:16. We have forgotten John 15:18-20.
Too many equate bodies in the seats of the church house with spiritual strength. Please don’t misunderstand. While it is true that a body in the pew equals a soul hearing the truth, we also must understand that many of the things men do to get bodies in the seats (including compromising the truth) are not conducive to spiritual health!
It is time for some vigorous examination (II Cor. 13:5)!
- How strong is your soul?
- How often does it get fed (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14)?
- How often does your soul get exercise (Heb. 5:14; Phil. 1:9-10; I Thess. 5:21)?
- How often has your faith been tried (Jas. 1:3, 12)?
Here is a question we do not hear mentioned often: How many enemies do you have and why? “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you” is Jesus’ warning (Lk. 6:26)! Through the years, several have noted that we can often tell as much about a man by the enemies he has as by his friends! I think that is true. A man needs some enemies, but he needs the right kind of enemies (I Pet. 5:8). He doesn’t want God for an enemy (Jas. 4:4)!
Friend, reread III John 2 and consider your spiritual health. It is time to look into God’s mirror (Jas. 1:25) and make the necessary changes. Take the time to read III John 3-8 and be another Gaius! Get your soul right, and the material things will fall into place (Matt. 6:25-33). If John wrote his letter to you, would he say, “I pray your soul would prosper and be in health even as your body”?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs