This psalm shows us a great contrast between the righteous and the wicked. David turns to God for his help (v. 1). Why? David says the godly and the faithful have ceased and are no more. I do not understand this to be an absolute statement, but a poetic statement where it seems he sees no righteous people around. Indeed, righteous people existed then (and today), for God always has His “7000” (I Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:3-4)! Yet, David cries out in sorrow about the words of the wicked (v. 2).
He quickly understands, though, that “the Lord shall cut them off” (v. 3). Do we ever get downtrodden? Do we think that the world is so far gone that it is beyond help? Have we ever asked where God is during these times? If you have, then let David answer these questions in Psalm 12.
The words of the wicked sound mighty and intimidating, but I must remember that God’s words are “pure words, as silver… purified seven times” (v. 6). This means God’s word is without a speck of imperfection. It is without a hint of error! Remember that “seven” symbolizes that which is perfect or complete. Therefore, if God’s word is like “silver … purified seven times,” we can be assured there is no error to be found here! Man will lie and change facts to suit himself or to make himself look good. God changes nothing! His very word is truth (Jn. 17:17) and needs no change! We need to listen to it above anything a man might tell us!
Finally, the wicked men roam or walk when the vilest are exalted (v. 8). Sadly, this seems to be the lot of men who live on earth. God speaks, but His word is ignored by the wicked. Wicked men roam, walk, or strut when the vile are exalted. We see examples of this daily! Solomon lamented the same thing in his writings (ex: Prov. 14:34; etc.). Yet, let us remember that God is still on His throne. His pure word is with us. One day, there will be a reckoning of these things (I Thess. 4:13-17; II Thess. 1:6-9). Where will you be when that happens?
Yes, we sympathize with David’s concern, but we also know there is hope in Christ (Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:27; I Pet. 1:3; I Jn. 3:3)! Let us focus on this, and let us tell others about the hope and joy we have in the Lord (Mk. 16:16; II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) get much attention from us because they are noted as doing something without God’s authority. I intend to write about this truth, but the first thing I want us to notice is that sin ruins everything it touches (Ecc. 9:18b)! Leviticus 10 teaches us this loud and clear!
As we read Leviticus 8-10, we see these chapters recording events happening on the same day – the “inauguration day” of the Tabernacle and the worship of God. On the same day that we see God’s beautiful plan in action, we also see things ruined when Nadab and Abihu sinned and “offered strange (foreign) fire before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1). Their act resulted in God killing them for their disobedience. How ironic that on the day in which God sent down fire to light the altar (Lev. 9:24), He then sent down fire to stop men from violating His command (Lev. 10:2).
Of course, this fire stopped them dead (Lev. 10:2)! Now, a father of four has had his children reduced by 50%! On the day intended to be dedicated to God and His worship, Aaron has to watch the bodies of his boys carried out of the camp (Lev. 10:4-5)! Yet, he can have no part in this, nor tell his boys goodbye (Lev. 10:6-7)! What a tragedy! What suffering! Yes, sin ruins everything!
How these things could have been avoided if these men had acted in a way pleasing to God and not when God had been silent. Their sin left a “dark cloud” over the events of the day and certainly hurt a loving father who no doubt had planned on working with his sons at the Tabernacle for many years!
It is no different today. When men yield to their lusts and sin, it will result in death every time (Jas. 1:14-15)! Sin does not build; it destroys. It destroyed man’s relationship with God in the Garden (Gen. 3:6). It destroyed man’s relationship with his family (Gen. 4:1-11). Sin destroyed people’s minds (Gen. 6:5). It then destroyed the lives of millions in Genesis 6-8! Friends note the destructive power of sin, just in the first few chapters of the Bible! This destruction continues throughout Bible history, and just as it destroyed the lives and unity of a family in Leviticus 10, so also sin destroys in the very same way today (Rom. 6:23)!
Since this is true, what is your view of sin? Is there any wonder why God’s people from Old and New Testament days preached a message of repentance? Repent of your sins or perish (Lk. 13:3, 5). God has commanded all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Now we know why! Turning back to God and following in the footsteps of Christ is the only thing that will save us from destruction! If the sons of Aaron had listened to God, they would have been spared an instant death! Just think of what you will avoid if you will repent of your sins today and obey the Lord (Heb. 5:9). Don’t continue down the path that leads to destruction. Instead, repent and walk in the path that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Throughout Scripture, God overwhelmingly equates leaven with something sinful and spiritually deadly. In my observation, leaven is considered as a “foreign” substance that was added to an otherwise pure offering or pure sacrifice. Thus, God said no less than 18 times in Scripture to stay away from it. There are only two exceptions to this rule in the Bible, to my knowledge. Only two passages speak positively of leaven. One passage is Leviticus 23:17, and the other is Matthew 13:33 (parallel passage: Lk. 13:20-21). When you read those passages in context, you can see why God made the exception in those cases.
As we noted, leaven is condemned by God more often than not. In studying about leaven, we find God telling His people to make sure literal leaven was not in specific offerings (Ex. 12:15, 19, 13:7, 34:25; Lev. 2:11, 6:17, 10:12). In the New Testament, leaven was symbolic of false doctrine (Matt. 16:6-12; Mk. 8:15; Lk. 12:1) and sinful behavior (I Cor. 5:6-8). We are reminded on two occasions, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). This means that sin has no natural stopping place! If we allow a little sin to creep into our lives, or into the church, or into a nation for that matter (Prov. 14:34), it will not be long until this brings great ruin to that person, church, or nation. Remember, sin brings death every time (Jas. 1:15)!
When we read Leviticus 2:11, we see God telling Moses that when the people offer their grain (meal, KJV) offering, they need to make sure there is no leaven in it. Why is God this exacting? Perhaps understanding the spiritual side of this subject helps us to understand why. God did not want anything in the offering that would permeate or influence its environment the way leavening agents do with grain or flour offerings, just as He did not want the “leavening” influences of pagan or idolatrous worship in the people’s practices!
A little later, we will read about God forbidding the people to marry the Canaanite people (Deut. 7). Why say this? It was because He knew such an arrangement would cause those people “to turn away … from following me” (Deut. 7:4). Yes, “a little leaven” can do much damage! Is there any wonder why there are continued warnings about adding to or taking from God’s word in the Scripture (Deut. 4:2, 12:32; Josh. 1:7; Prov. 30:6; Matt. 15:8-9; I Pet. 4:11; Rev. 22:18-19)? Even minor changes can do significant damage to God’s revelation! If you are not sure about this, just ask Eve about what happens when someone adds a “not” to God’s word (Gen. 3:4-6)!
God was very exact in what He wanted in the offerings. This was an object lesson to the people to show He is also precise in His teachings and what He expects us to say to others! Let us then learn the lesson about leaven and make sure that the words we say are true words, and not mingled with anything that would corrupt God’s pure message (I Pet. 4:11)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
One of the saddest verses, next to Jeremiah 8:20, is the three questions asked in Jeremiah 8:22. The Lord asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” I struggled with what was being asked until I came to understand that these were rhetorical questions. Interestingly, Jeremiah 8:22 is written entirely differently in the NET. There, we read, “There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have my dear people not been restored to health?” These translators chose to forego the ambiguity of the rhetorical questions and simply state the facts. Whether or not we agree with such actions is a discussion for another time. The point is that God was emphasizing to the people (yet again) that their transgressions could be healed if they would be willing to change. This was done by pointing out a physical truth to make a spiritual point.
Using physical examples to make a spiritual point was how Jesus taught the majority of His time on earth (Matt. 13:34-35). His teachings are called “parables,” but in Jeremiah, this was not a parable but instead a rhetorical question to open the eyes of the people. Is there no balm in Gilead? “Balm” was used for medicinal purposes, and Gilead, and this region, was known for having an abundant supply. “Is there no physician there?” Again, in Gilead, there would be doctors in abundance ready to apply the balm to the hurting. Since a lack of balm and a lack of doctors is not the problem, then why are His people not recovered?
The reason they had not been recovered is the same reason someone might not recover physically even if there is “balm in Gilead.” What is this reason? In order to be healed physically, those people needed to apply the balm to the affected area! If one refuses the medicine, do not be surprised if this person does not recover from the illness! In like manner, if Israel (and us by application) refuses to listen and apply God’s teaching, then they will never recover from the harm of sin and will die in that condition! Remember, they have already told Jeremiah “no” in 6:16, and it does not look like they will change anytime soon. Therefore, when Babylon comes to conquer, when multitudes die, when people are enslaved, and when the land is ravaged, it is not because the people did not have “balm.” It is not that they had no one to heal (physician), it is because they refused to accept God’s “medicine”!
I hope that the application to Jeremiah 8:22 is apparent to us (Rom. 15:4). Though Babylon is not coming to destroy, we still face something greater than a physical threat, for we are facing a judgment day (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31; II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14). Sadly, there is a real possibility of people dying in their sins (Jn. 8:24; Jas. 1:14-15; II Thess. 1:6-9). If we die in our sins, who can we blame for this besides ourselves (Ezek. 18:20; Col. 3:25)? Is there no “balm,” the gospel, that tells us what to do to be saved from our sins (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 3:6-17)? Is there not a physician, a “great Physician” who is ready to heal our spiritual ills (Matt. 9:12, 11:28-30)? Then why is there a world of people not yet saved? I think I know at least part of the reason is that those who are aware of the Physician’s prescription (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38) do not want to accept it! I say again, if we are sick and refuse to accept the medicine the doctor prescribes, then do not be surprised if you do not recover from the illness! While I know people can cite dozens of cases where people “wore out” their physical sickness with time and determination, there is no one who will “wear out” the spiritual sickness called “sin”! There is only one cure for it, and if you refuse the cure, nothing else will cure you!
In the long ago, God, through Jeremiah, called out to his people to tell them that there is a way to be healed if they would accept, and they said “no”! These people are dead and gone and have died with their decisions. You and I are still alive, though! What will you do? What will be your response to the Lord and His plan for healing (saving) you from your spiritual ills? Choose wisely (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
John the Baptist (or John the Immerser) stands as a key figure in Bible history. It was he who was the forerunner for Christ. He “prepared the way” for Jesus by preaching repentance and telling folks the Messiah would soon be on earth (Mk. 1:2-5). In his humility, he was quick to tell people that he wasn’t the Messiah (Jn. 3:28). John thought he wasn’t worthy to untie the Messiah’s shoes (Mk. 1:7)! In our vernacular, he was like the best man at a wedding (Jn. 3:29). He would rejoice for the groom and get out of the way (Jn. 3:30)! Those who have studied about John say that the majority of his work took place over a matter of months. Not only this, but his work overlapped with Christ’s, though John was finishing up as Christ was starting!
Mark 6 records a day that would change the course of John’s life. We know John had preached about the need for repentance (Mk. 1:4; Matt. 3:2). Yet, there was a time in which John made things “personal.” He stood up to Herod and let him know it wasn’t lawful that he’d be married to his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias (Mk. 6:17-18). John stood for the truth, and though imprisoned for preaching the truth and ultimately losing his life, he didn’t back down, apologize, or compromise the truth.
Such an example ought to cause us to stand up and cheer. John takes his place with so many Old and New Testament worthies who chose death over compromise (Heb. 11:32-39; Acts 7:54-60; Rev. 2:13). His brave actions haunted wicked Herod afterward. We see that when Jesus began His preaching in earnest, Herod was convinced that Jesus was actually John that he had killed. Now, we know why the apostles told Jesus that some thought Him to be John (Matt. 16:14). It is because Herod insisted John had been raised from the dead and was preaching once more (Mk. 6:14-16).
Why might Herod have made any connection at all between Jesus and John? May I suggest it’s based upon the subject matter in His preaching? Jesus came preaching, “repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17), as did John (Matt. 3:2). Jesus didn’t compromise with those in error when preaching (Mk. 7:5-16), and neither did John (Mk. 6:18). Even in death, we see that just as the disciples laid John’s corpse in a tomb (Mk. 6:29), so did the disciples of Christ do this for His corpse (Matt. 27:57-60). Of course, the difference is that in three days, Jesus resurrected while John’s body remained in the grave (I Cor. 15:1-8).
Later, there were people who took note of the fact that the apostles had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Why did they say this? For many of the same reasons, Herod saw a similarity in the teaching of John and Christ. In light of these facts, I have a simple question to ask.
Who do people think of when they see you? Do your actions and words remind people of Christ or someone else? Christ left you an example that you might follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21). Are you following Him? If not, why not? When people see you, do they see Christ in you (Gal. 2:20; Matt. 5:16)? If not, who do they see and why? Herod saw a connection between John and Jesus. Does the world see a connection between you and Christ?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs