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"Peace. Peace"

Friday, November 05, 2021

            “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

"The God of the Old Testament"

Thursday, November 04, 2021

            When we listen to some speak about Jehovah, we hear folks voice an opinion that says that the God described in the Old Testament is vengeful, petty, harmful, and seemed to have taken delight in looking for ways to punish His creation. In contrast, these same people seem to think that the God of the New Testament is a different person or different character. We are told that the New Testament God is patient, loving, kind, full of mercy, etc., and supposedly stands in contrast with the God of the first 39 books of the Bible.

            Is this true? While it is undeniable that God exacted punishment against sinners at times. We also know that He called for His people to go to war with the wicked and other things because Israel lived under a theocracy for 1500 years. However, does this mean He was strictly a vengeful God? Did He never show mercy? While we can choose to focus on only one aspect of God’s character, this is not fair to God nor the text of Scripture!

            One great example of God’s mercy is seen in Jeremiah 3. Notice the words spoken by God to His people, and see God’s patience and forgiveness! After naming the people’s sins and their consequences, God told them (through Jeremiah), “turn thou unto me” (Jer. 3:7). Again, God says, “Return, thou backsliding Israel … and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever” (Jer. 3:12). He called for the people to “turn” and He would bring them back to their former glory and more (Jer. 3:14-18). Add to this Psalm 136, and we see that, yes, God is gracious and forgiving. This nature has never changed (Mal. 3:6). Friends, these statements are not contradictory but agree with the image of God described in Acts 17:30-31, I Timothy 2:4, James 4:7-8, II Peter 3:9, John 3:16, and numerous other New Testament passages.

            “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). I believe this passage sums up God very well. There is severity, but there is also goodness. There is mercy, and there is also judgment (Matt. 7:21-23). Let us appreciate this truth about God. Let us be thankful we have a God who loves us, and at the same time, will not allow sin to go unpunished.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Two Evils"

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

            In Jeremiah chapter two, God declares that His people had committed “two evils” (v. 13). These evils were: “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and have hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” In short, this verse tells us why the people were in the shape they were in, spiritually. This explains why they were facing an enemy like Babylon and why Jeremiah, and other prophets, had warned the people of their unrepentant sin and impending doom for years. At the same time, this verse gives us insight into why our country and society are in the shape it is in today! What can we learn from this short passage (Rom. 15:4)?

            Judah’s problem was that they had forsaken the “fountain of living waters.” The phrase “living water” would be stated again in Jeremiah 17:13. This was repeated in the New Testament when Christ referred to the living water He could give to the Samaritan woman and whoever else wished to have it (Jn. 4:14). Revelation 22:17 tells us that “whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely.”

            Notice that forsaking God meant forsaking the “living water.” The Jews had forsaken God through their words and deeds. Have we not done the same? Look around and note the immorality, the utter abandon for anything that reminds us of God. In America, Christians have not “resisted unto blood” yet; but at times, the majority will make Christians feel ashamed for mentioning God, the Bible, truth, morality, godly standards, etc., in public. Our children learn early that it is hard to stand alone in school. I can remember numerous times where I stood alone in the face of friends, teachers, and others and had to say I would do what the Lord said even if others did not like it. Friends, have you had to make such stands? I am sure many of our dear readers have. When we stand like Jeremiah, Amos, and numerous others did in history, people might tell you to keep your religion to yourself or tell you to keep your beliefs “private.” This is because the majority has rejected the “fountain of living waters”! We have laws in our land that allow murder, fornication, drinking, gambling, and many other things. Our country has legalized many things God calls sin. Then, the majority of the people engage in these things because they are legal! Is there any wonder why I am finding a small number of people who are now ready to listen to God and do His will? They have tried what Satan and the world have to offer, and they are dehydrated! They need the true water and will find it nowhere else but with Christ (Jn. 4).

            The last part of Jeremiah 2:13 notes what happens when people reject God. You see, if man rejects God (Jehovah) in his life, then he does not simply forget God. He must then put another “god” in Jehovah’s place! Please notice in this passage that it wasn’t enough that men rejected God, the “fountain of living water.” What happened next? They still needed water, so they went and dug their own cisterns (v. 13)! The problem was that the cisterns they dug could not hold water! Physically, we would think a person foolish who has access to a clear stream, where he might use free water, who then digs a cistern to carry water to his house. Yet, we do this spiritually when we reject God but then invent our own “gods!”

This is what Paul (by inspiration) said that the Gentiles did at one point. He showed that these people were so wicked that they “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom. 1:28). What they had done was “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image make like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23). Notice that these people didn’t reject God and then stop worshipping anything. Instead, they rejected God and found another god (in the case of the Gentiles, they created many)!

We have committed these same two evils today! We have rejected God and then made our own gods to worship! While some may think I overstate a case, I don’t believe I have. When God is taken off of His throne, men will put something or someone in that place. It might be a job, some physical pursuit, or hobby. It may be self, family, etc., but something will go in that spot! Sadly, we have elected officials who have been only too willing through the years to legalize sins so that they could be reelected! Rest assured, whatever we select in place of God will be a poor substitute -- just as poor as rejecting cool, clean water for drinking water we get from a leaky cistern! Rest assured, we will also suffer as those people suffered for rejecting God! “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). That was true in Old Testament days, and it is true today! If we wish to avoid the consequences of our sinful behavior, then let us repent of our sins now (II Pet. 3:9; Acts 17:30)! Let us turn back to God while we still can! We didn’t get this way in a day, and it will take more than a day to make all the corrections necessary. However, if we don’t start today, when will we start (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)? If we do not act now, when will we act? What is it going to take for us to listen to God? Let’s begin today to aright the ship of this nation and not continue in the same error as Judah!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Walking After Things That Do Not Profit"

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Jeremiah chapter two is a chapter where God demands that Jeremiah call His people to repentance. When we read Jeremiah 2, we see that God reminds them where they came from (v. 1-3) and where they are now (v. 5-8). Despite the fact God had blessed them, brought them into Canaan, and given them anything they wanted in this place, they still rejected God and turned from “the fountain of living waters” to a broken cistern (v. 13). These people were nothing like their forefathers had been when they first came into the land! Sadly, this happens to people too often! As a society, we digress and get worse (morally, spiritually) through the years rather than getting better. We are seeing that in this country, just as God saw it with the Jews so long ago.

Is there a cause for this? Is it possible that the sins that tripped up the nation of Israel also trip us up? When we read Jeremiah two, we see that God listed the specific problems those people had. For example, the people rejected Him because they refused to ask, “where is the Lord?” (v. 6, 8). In other words, the priests, those responsible for expounding the law to the people, were not asking whether or not God sanctioned what they were doing. Can you see a problem with how the priests were behaving?

Jeremiah 2:8 continues by noting that those who handled the law did not know God. Can we imagine such a thing happening? Those whose profession it was to handle the law of God (teachers) did not even acknowledge God! To refuse to acknowledge meant these people refused to comprehend, consider, discern, perceive, or have respect for God!

God said that “the pastors” (KJV) or “rulers” (NET) (i.e., civil authorities) transgressed against God. These were people expected to set the proper example before the people, and commanded to have God’s will read to them every day (Deut. 17:18-20). In this case, those who were the kings, princes, governors, and others did not respect the things God revealed and did not rule in a godly manner.

Finally, the prophets, the supposed mouthpieces for God, were speaking to the people through Baal! Prophesying “by Baal” means by his authority and not God’s authority. After saying something like this, is there any wonder why God would be so upset with these people?

After a casual reading of Jeremiah 2, do any of these things sound familiar to us? Friend, consider these following questions well. Are there not people who have little or no regard at all for what God says today? Are there not those whose profession is to expound the will of God, and yet they do not acknowledge Him? How about our civil leaders? Are there not civil authorities who have absolutely no regard for God? Even many laws passed today are laws that conflict with God’s laws! Finally, are there not those calling themselves preachers of God’s word who are actually speaking their opinions, the opinions of their creed book, synod, what is popular or “P.C.,” etc.?

As we see this occurring today, we must understand that we are in the same boat as the people were in Jeremiah’s day! We are doing that which does not profit. It is in vain (Ex: Matthew 15:8-9)! Let us make this chapter “personal.” What are we following? Who are we following? Are we walking after things that do not profit? The answer to this question is seen in how we treat God’s word today!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“My Words In Thy Mouth.”

Monday, November 01, 2021

                   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

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