“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). God had to deal with false teachers in this time, trying to assure the people of “peace and safety” when no such thing was coming. Not in the immediate future, anyway! Jeremiah would face the false teacher, Hananiah, in Jeremiah 28, who claimed God would return the people from Babylon in “two full years” rather than the actual 70 years God had said (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10; Dan. 9:2)! Again, here is a man trying to proclaim “Peace” and “Everything will be all right” (NET) when that wasn’t the case at all.
Why might men like Hananiah and others want to tell people such falsehoods as “peace peace”? Could it be they thought men might pay them more to hear the pleasant message? Maybe they thought they would be more popular with the people? We know a message of victory and winning is much more popular than a message saying that we will lose! Jeremiah had the unenviable task of telling Judah that the best thing for them to do is give up and accept the punishment and be patient for 70 years (Jer. 27:1-11)! Who wants to have that job?
Jeremiah had an unpopular job, but it was for the best. His message was from God (Jer. 28:9, 15-17); the others’ messages were not. In like manner, we face an uphill battle because “Peace, peace” is the more popular message! Just as in Jeremiah’s day, Paul warned of people who would “not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Does this sound like the attitude we see among people today? Yes, it is alive well today, just as it was in days gone by!
We must make a choice. Will we listen to those who call and cry for “peace” when there is no peace? Yes, we ought to strive for peace with God and peace among others (Matt. 5:9). Yet, remember that Christ said His kingdom would bring a “sword” among the closest of family (Matt. 10:21-22, 34-39). There is no “peace” to be had between God and Satan. They are diametrically opposed, as are their teachings (II Cor. 6:14-17). Let us stop trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world when this is impossible (Jas. 4:4). It is high time we spoke the message of the Lord, that will hurt some, but bring healing to all in the end, as Paul did on the ship (Acts 27:10). At Ephesus, Paul said he spent three years preaching “all the counsel of God” and warning people, “night and day with tears” (Acts 20:27, 31). I wonder why Paul was crying? I wonder if he made those listening cry sometimes? What if it was a little of both? Why would Paul preach a message that caused people to “cry,” that made people “tremble” (Acts 24:25), and that caused some to run him out of town (Acts 17:10-15)? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to tell people, “peace, peace”? We could ask Jeremiah the same question. Isn’t it easier to just say, “peace, peace”?
We know what is easier to say, but it does not mean it is a better message. The best message is the message that comes from the Lord (Jn. 17:17). The best message is the one that has not been diluted by men’s thoughts and feelings (Gal. 1:6-10). The best message is the message that tells us what to do to be saved and then encourages us to continue to be faithful to God (Acts 2:37-38; I Cor. 15:58; Matt. 7:13-14)!
“Peace, peace” is, in our vernacular, sugar-coating the truth! As a friend of mine says, if you want sugar-coating, eat a doughnut! If you want the truth, listen to the Lord’s words (I Pet. 4:11; Jn. 17:17), and be ready to repent and to obey (Jas. 1:22-25)! Jeremiah preached the truth, but people didn’t want to hear this and were destroyed. You and I have a chance to listen to God’s word and obey (Ecc. 12:13). What will you do? Now is the time to decide!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
God chose Jeremiah to be His prophet at a young age. He would go on to speak God’s word for the next forty years! When he began this work. God told Jeremiah not to use his age as an excuse for not doing the work (Jer. 1:7). God then said something that had great significance. He told Jeremiah, “whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” and “I have put my words in thy mouth” (Jer. 1:7, 9). The NET Bible says it slightly different, using the words, “say whatever I tell you” and “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.” In this same chapter, God would again tell Jeremiah that He was giving him the words to say when He declared, “I will utter my judgments” and “speak unto them all that I command thee” (Jer. 1:16-17). The NET renders verse 17 as, “Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say.”
In either version, the point is abundantly clear. When the prophets of God spoke, they were speaking via verbal inspiration. Some are under the impression that when God inspired the writers of the Old and New Testaments, He only inspired a thought or a theme, and then the writers were to do their best in interpreting and expressing God’s teaching in their own words. A reading of Jeremiah shows us that this is not the case. Please note that God did not tell Jeremiah He would put the “thought in his head.” Instead, the “word” was going to be in His “mouth” (Jer. 1:9)! He was expected to say what God commanded (Jer. 1:17)!
This Biblical description matches the definition of “inspiration,” because in II Timothy 3:16-17, “inspiration of God” comes from the original term, “theopneustos.” This term means “divinely breathed.” Some have shortened this to “God-breathed,” which is the same idea. For God to “breathe out” His will is similar to us breathing out our wills when we speak. Yes, God actually spoke to Jeremiah and the other Biblical writers and prophets, and they, in turn, told the people what God had said (ex: Jer. 1:11-14, 2:1-2; etc.).
Jesus said something similar when He first sent the apostles on what has been called the “limited commission.” Jesus told those men not to worry about what they might say when confronted by others. He told them, “take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:19-20). Jesus also respected the words from the Father, for He stated that while on earth, He was speaking what God wanted to be told to the world (Jn. 12:49-50). Paul declared, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (I Cor. 14:37).
When we read the Bible, we are not reading the words of men who had random thoughts concerning God’s teaching that needed to be interpreted and set forth to us in the best way they could. Instead, these words in the Bible are the inspired (God-breathed) words from the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:20-21). These words were given so we might know the mind of God (I Cor. 2:9-11), believe the truth, and obey it (Heb. 5:9)! This was God’s intention when He gave Jeremiah and every other inspired person the words to speak to a lost and dying world.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In the three “synoptic gospels,” we read where Jesus chose His twelve apostles. What comes to mind when we think about “apostles”? Often, we think of these men who had the ability to “heal sicknesses and cast out devils” (Mk. 3:15). Maybe we think about the men receiving the Holy Spirit’s power in Acts 2:1-5? I hope that when we think of the apostles, we think of them as teachers of the Word. This was their primary work (Mk. 3:14)!
Are you familiar with the word “apostle”? It has a simple meaning. It means “one sent” (Thayer, Vine’s). Someone sent to do a specific work is, in the strict definition, an apostle. For this reason, Jesus was called an apostle (Heb. 3:1)! This is because He was sent from Heaven to the earth with work to do (Jn. 3:16, 17:4). Of course, we know these men had a special work to do. They had been called explicitly by the Lord to take the gospel first to the Jews and later to the world (Matt. 10:6; Mk. 16:15). They also had to meet certain qualifications to be the Lord’s apostle (Acts 1:21-22).
What impresses me is the fact that these men were not what the “elite” or the “powerful” would have chosen to be apostles. Almost all of them were from Galilee, not from Jerusalem or Judea. They were from an area not known for their literacy (Acts 2:7). Four or 1/3 of the apostles were fishermen! Jesus also chose a tax collector (publican), a zealot, and others from nearby places in Galilee. These men who had not traveled much except within the borders of Israel were chosen to take the gospel to the world! Once taught and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they preached the gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These men who were sent by Jesus accepted the work, the hardship, the persecution, and finally, death in order to spread the gospel.
What brave souls! What true workmen! They lived through sad times, and they also saw many victories. To their number was added two more apostles, Matthias and Paul (Acts 1:26, 26:16-18). Though they came later, they still had the same mission -- to teach and preach to people and bring lost souls to Christ! This these men did until they met their deaths -- all except John died at someone else’s hands.
I know there are no living apostles today in the sense that Jesus had them (Acts 1:21-22). Yet, we still have their testimony with us in the epistles and gospel records. These men wrote the words of the New Testament. Therefore, we can take the words of the apostles of Christ to the world as we teach others and preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul told Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2). The point being that as Timothy told “others” what he had been taught, then they would tell “others,” and those “others” would tell “others,” etc., until we come to this present day! Friend, you and I are supposed to be in that “chain”! We are supposed to accept the Lord’s will, believe it (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24), obey it (Heb. 5:9; Mk. 16:16), and then teach others (Matt. 28:20) what we have done so that they can do it, too!
We are not the ones Christ chose, but we still must take up the mantle and go to others to tell them about the Lord and salvation. Are you going to do what God wants you to do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Hebrew 2:1-5, the Jewish Christians were shown the great salvation that belongs to those in Christ. What is it that makes salvation great? Let’s find out.
First, a great God planned our salvation (Heb. 2:3). God promised that it would be through Abraham that “all families” of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). We can also read in the Bible of the multiple prophecies of a coming Savior (Isa. 7:14, 9:6; 53; etc.). When learning about our great salvation, we see forethought and extensive planning on God’s part.
Next, we see a great Savior executed the plan. Passages like Genesis 3:15, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53 show us that God’s plan included Jesus dying as a sacrifice for man’s sins. While on earth, Jesus had one motive: to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). His life, death, and resurrection was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. For example, His crucifixion in Matthew 27 was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. Jesus also prophesied of His own death and burial (Matt. 12:40). Such was foreshadowed in the life of Jonah. He then prophesied that He was to be resurrected the third day (Jn. 2:19). The four gospel accounts record His resurrection in which even His enemies declared that Jesus had risen! The Bible states that Christ’s resurrection gives us the hope of everlasting life (I Cor. 15:13-20; I Pet. 1:3). God’s plan for this great salvation was executed flawlessly by the Sinless Savior (Matt. 5:17; John 17:4, 19:30). We can have salvation today, thanks to what He has done!
Great miracles were performed to prove Jesus is our Savior. (Heb. 2:3-4). These miracles showed that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was speaking the truth (Jn. 2:11, 23; 4:46-54; 11:43-48). The Apostles and 1st Century Christians used miracles for the same reason (Acts 13:7-12). What good would it have done for God to offer salvation to people who wouldn’t believe Him? They didn’t have Bibles to read as we do (I Cor. 13:8-10), thus the need for miracles, signs, and wonders.
The simplicity of obedience makes salvation great! What good would it do for God to devise a plan of salvation that was impossible for man to obey? God’s commands have always been stated so that man can accomplish them. For example, in Genesis 2:15-17, mankind was to dress and keep the Garden of Eden and stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Wasn’t that simple? In II Kings 5:10-14, we read about Naaman, who complained about God’s plan for cleansing him from leprosy (an incurable disease) because it was so simple! Today, God’s plan of salvation is that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins, and be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Isn’t this plan simple? Have you obeyed it yet?
Finally, a great reward awaits those who accept God’s great salvation. This reward is an inheritance for His people (Matt. 25:34; I Pet. 1:3-4). This reward provides great joy to those saved (Matt. 25:21, 23). One of the best parts about this great reward is that those saved will be in the presence of Jesus forever (Jn. 14:1-3). This great reward makes salvation great! Will you neglect this great salvation? I hope not!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we read the book of Hebrews, it is evident that “better” is a keyword. Christ is contrasted with the angels and Moses. His priesthood is contrasted with Aaron’s, and His covenant contrasted with the Old Covenant. These and many other things (blood, etc.) show Christ and what He did to be “better” than all others. This is how God intended it.
I wonder if we miss one of the contrasts, though, because it is presented so early in the book. It is seen in the first two verses of Hebrews. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2).
While there is no question that the Holy Spirit inspired Old Testament writers and prophets (II Pet. 1:20-21), there is something different and notable about the fact that “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). Again, note the contrast in Hebrews one. In the past, God revealed His will in various ways and by various means. He stopped doing that when Christ came to earth. Christ came with a mission and a message, and it behooves all of us to listen! I think it is interesting to note that in the presence of Moses and Elijah, the words came from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5)!
When Jesus left the earth, the apostles had a message to preach (Mk. 16:15). Paul called it “the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:20). It was the same message he taught “everywhere in every church” (I Cor. 4:17). The message of Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection was taught as reality by Paul and all of those preaching in the first century, and it needs to be preached today with the same fervor and fire (I Cor. 2:2, 15:1-4).
This message is contrasted with Old Testament preaching because while those godly people preached about One to come, we can now preach that He has come to this world. What they looked forward to, we can have the trust and understanding that it has happened. What those from the Old Testament saw as a far-off glimmer, we see as the “day star” (II Pet. 1:19).
I hope this will help us see that great contrast in Hebrews 1:1-2. The Old Testament people had God’s word given to them (Rom. 3:1-2). This was indeed a great blessing. Greater still was when the word became flesh and dwelt among us! It was when the words were no longer words of what was to come, but words that proclaimed it has happened! God has kept His promises! We have salvation at our grasp because of the sacrifice of the Lord! Are you glad that you live in a time when you can benefit from the knowledge given since God has spoken to us through His Son?
As I close this, let me hasten to add I am not trying to take anything away from the work of the Holy Spirit after Christ ascended (Jn. 14-16; Acts 2; etc.). In this study, however, I have tried to emphasize what the text emphasizes – how God has spoken to us through Christ in these last days. What a blessing it is to have a Bible in our hands. Let us read it, learn, and obey, and we will see for ourselves how Christ is better than all!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs