In the Courtyard

Luke 22.54-71

Peter denies Jesus. The guards mock Him. The council rejects Him. None of it catches Him by surprise. The cross is the only way. He loves us too much to turn back. He will die so that we can live. What a wonderful Savior!

Unfortunately failure is a reality that we must contend with as we strive to follow Jesus. It’s not something that we should accept with an “oh well” attitude, but it should lead us to godly sorrow. Big or small sins…whatever…they are a denial, a betrayal of Jesus. Godly sorrow leads to repentance. And that leads to the turning back. The Christian life is a sifting process…Jesus is committed to making us like Him, and prayer is one of the ways He does this. Is prayer a daily part of your relationship with Jesus? Is it a nice to have or a have to have for you? Learn from the Peter’s experience…prayer is not just a nice to have, but a must have in our pursuit of Jesus. Through prayer, not only are we provided with a way of escape from temptation, but we’re reminded of who Jesus is.

Much like the council who questioned who Jesus was, the world still asks the same question today. Was He just a Man who claimed to be God…because make no mistake, He did claim to be God…? And if He was just a Man who claimed to be God, was He insane or just a con-artist? Because if Jesus was just a Man who claimed to be God, He was not a very good Man. Despite how He’s portrayed in the Gospels, if He was just a Man who claimed to be God, He was a deceiver and a liar. If He was just a Man… But Jesus was not just a Man. He was and is the eternal Son of God. He is the King that we’ve long awaited, the Hero come to rescue us. He is both the Lamb and the Lion, enduring the cross to wear the crown, being sacrificed on the altar to sit on the throne. He is the forever God-Man, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Ruler of the nations, Creator of the universe, Savior of His people. Unequalled. Unmatched. Unrivaled. Unparalleled. Before whom every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that He is Lord. That’s who Jesus is!

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Fig Tree

Luke 13.1-9

The message for us is pretty simple…life is fragile and unpredictable, and so we need to repent so that we are not caught off guard and perish. God is patient, but judgment is coming…it will not wait forever. Now we are in a time of pure grace and divine forbearance. Paul in Romans 2.4 says, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (2 Peter 3.9-10)

We live in a broken world plagued by sin and death. Because of sin, death is the common denominator of us all. No one escapes. Death is one for one. All will die, but not all truly live…only those who have trusted in Jesus to rescue them, to forgive them of their sins, and have chosen to follow Him will experience life.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus should be obvious…the fruit of repentance should be evident in our lives. I want to ask you to reflect for a few moments…I want you to take a spiritual inventory and ask yourself the question…what evidence do I see in my life that I’ve trusted in Jesus? Do you see the fruits of the Spirit increasing in your life…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Do you have a greater desire for God and the things of God? Do you enjoy being around His people?

If the answer is “yes”, spend the next several moments thanking Jesus for rescuing you. If the answer is “no”, don’t wait. Your parents or your spouse may be believers…but there are no +1’s in the kingdom and God doesn’t have grandchildren. You may have said a prayer at some point, but when you trust in Jesus, you are not who you used to be…a fundamental change has happened at the core of who you are. If nothing has changed for you, then something’s wrong…maybe you haven’t trusted in Jesus. Maybe there is something else that’s keeping you from growing. Either way, ask God to rescue you.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our latest mini-series in the book of Luke, Life, Death and the Pursuit of Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Restoration Process Part 1

Daniel 9.1-19

We are going to do something a little bit different in response to the passage this week…I want to invite you to follow Daniel’s example and pray. We’ll use Daniel’s prayer as a guide.

We’ll start with adoration…in adoration we praise God’s character. “I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments… 7Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord…9To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness…” Now spend a few minutes praising God for who He is in your own words.

Next we’ll move to confession…in confession we acknowledge our sins against God and against others. I love the fact that Daniel includes himself in his prayer (we 8x), acknowledging, “I’m part of the problem, fix me.” “5we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. 6Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. 7Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day— to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. 8Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.” Now spend a few moments confessing where you’ve blown it in your relationship with God and others. Then move to a time of confessing where we as a church have blown it…both as a local expression and as the church in America.

Next we’ll move to thanksgiving…in thanksgiving we thank God for what He has done. “15And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.” Spend a few minutes thanking God for His work in your life, in the life of our church and in the nation.

Finally supplication…in supplication we bring our requests before God, humbly yet boldly approaching the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Faith believes, accepts and approaches God as our covenant God in and through Jesus. “16O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. 17So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. 18O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” Now spend some time praying for our nation…for our leaders, just laws, for repentance, restoration and revival, for the recent Supreme Court decisions, for wisdom on how we should respond as a church…how we can best engage the culture, remembering that there is only one eternal kingdom. All the kingdoms of the earth will one day fall…our hope is not in the things of this world, but in the One who came to rescue us and lead us to the eternal kingdom…King Jesus, the Head-crushing Seed of the woman. Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Daniel series entitled Reclaimed. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Reunited

Genesis 46

A powerful moment in the life of the chosen family. The next chapter in the life of the family will open in Egypt. Jacob’s faith has been reignited. He has been reunited with Joseph who is back from the dead. It’s a powerful reminder of the love between a father and a son. It’s a picture of the love that the Father has for His Son Jesus…and the love that He has for you and me.

The long-awaited reunion between Jacob and Joseph is the climax of this episode. And for some of us it’s a reminder of a reunion that we’ve been longing for. Maybe you are like Joseph and time and/or circumstances have created distance in a relationship, and the reunion you long for is with a family member or close friend. I want to invite you to make a phone call or send a text. Maybe you are like Jacob and tragedy has caused you to disconnect from your relationship with God and from others in your life, and the reunion you long for is with your heavenly Father. Maybe you’ve disconnected from Him and are longing to come back. I encourage you to follow Jacob’s example…return to the altar, that place of spiritual reconnection and cry out to Him. You will find Him waiting for you and the reminder that His presence is with you. For some us, the reunion we’ve been longing for won’t happen this side of heaven. Maybe it’s a spouse, a sibling, a parent or child, or close friend that has already gone to be with the Lord. My mom died when I was two…and I long to see her. Take some time to process that as well. Praise God that physical death is not the end of our story, but is a transition to eternity with the Father. One day there will be a magnificent reunion, both with our Savior and with those who have gone before.

I love God’s promise to Jacob… “I will be with you.” That promise wasn’t just to Jacob as the patriarch…it was a promise to Israel, the people of God who were on their way to Egypt, a scandalous people that included both a Canaanite and an Egyptian. Praise God that He is still pursuing folks on the fringes, amen?

May you know the love of the Father and the constancy of His presence today.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

OT Reading – January 26

Zechariah 1-4

Zechariah 1

A Call to Repentance

1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying, “The Lord was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.”’ But they did not listen or give heed to Me,” declares the Lord. “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.’”’”

Patrol of the Earth

On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, as follows: I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white horses behind him. Then I said, “My lord, what are these?” And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, “I will show you what these are.” 10 And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, “These are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.” 11 So they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, “We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet.”

12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “O Lord of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?” 13 The Lord answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words. 14 So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. 15 But I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster.” 16 Therefore thus says the Lord, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.”’ 17 Again, proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.”’”

18 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns. 19 So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” 20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I said, “What are these coming to do?” And he said, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen have come to terrify them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it.”

 

Zechariah 2

God’s Favor to Zion

2 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.” And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him, and said to him, “Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. For I,’ declares the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”

“Ho there! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens,” declares the Lord. “Ho, Zion! Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon.” For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. For behold, I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me. 10 Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. 12 The Lord will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

13 “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”

 

Zechariah 3

Joshua, the High Priest

3 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by.

And the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.

The Branch

Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’”

 

Zechariah 4

The Golden Lampstand and Olive Trees

4 Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep. He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.” Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, “What are these, my lord?” So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”

Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.”

11 Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?” 12 And I answered the second time and said to him, “What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?” 13 So he answered me, saying, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” 14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

October 20 – OT Reading

Jeremiah 1-3

Jeremiah 1

Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
10 “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”

The Almond Rod and Boiling Pot

11 The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” declares the Lord; “and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. 16 I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. 18 Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

 

Jeremiah 2

Judah’s Apostasy

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,

“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth,
The love of your betrothals,
Your following after Me in the wilderness,
Through a land not sown.
“Israel was holy to the Lord,
The first of His harvest.
All who ate of it became guilty;
Evil came upon them,” declares the Lord.’”

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord,

“What injustice did your fathers find in Me,
That they went far from Me
And walked after emptiness and became empty?
“They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
Through a land of deserts and of pits,
Through a land of drought and of deep darkness,
Through a land that no one crossed
And where no man dwelt?’
“I brought you into the fruitful land
To eat its fruit and its good things.
But you came and defiled My land,
And My inheritance you made an abomination.
“The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me;
The rulers also transgressed against Me,
And the prophets prophesied by Baal
And walked after things that did not profit.

“Therefore I will yet contend with you,” declares the Lord,
“And with your sons’ sons I will contend.
10 “For cross to the coastlands of Kittim and see,
And send to Kedar and observe closely
And see if there has been such a thing as this!
11 “Has a nation changed gods
When they were not gods?
But My people have changed their glory
For that which does not profit.
12 “Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the Lord.
13 “For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.

14 “Is Israel a slave? Or is he a homeborn servant?
Why has he become a prey?
15 “The young lions have roared at him,
They have roared loudly.
And they have made his land a waste;
His cities have been destroyed, without inhabitant.
16 “Also the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
Have shaved the crown of your head.
17 “Have you not done this to yourself
By your forsaking the Lord your God
When He led you in the way?
18 “But now what are you doing on the road to Egypt,
To drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what are you doing on the road to Assyria,
To drink the waters of the Euphrates?
19 “Your own wickedness will correct you,
And your apostasies will reprove you;
Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter
For you to forsake the Lord your God,
And the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord God of hosts.

20 “For long ago I broke your yoke
And tore off your bonds;
But you said, ‘I will not serve!’
For on every high hill
And under every green tree
You have lain down as a harlot.
21 “Yet I planted you a choice vine,
A completely faithful seed.
How then have you turned yourself before Me
Into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?
22 “Although you wash yourself with lye
And use much soap,
The stain of your iniquity is before Me,” declares the Lord God.
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled,
I have not gone after the Baals’?
Look at your way in the valley!
Know what you have done!
You are a swift young camel entangling her ways,
24 A wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness,
That sniffs the wind in her passion.
In the time of her heat who can turn her away?
All who seek her will not become weary;
In her month they will find her.
25 “Keep your feet from being unshod
And your throat from thirst;
But you said, ‘It is hopeless!
No! For I have loved strangers,
And after them I will walk.’

26 “As the thief is shamed when he is discovered,
So the house of Israel is shamed;
They, their kings, their princes
And their priests and their prophets,
27 Who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their back to Me,
And not their face;
But in the time of their trouble they will say,
‘Arise and save us.’
28 “But where are your gods
Which you made for yourself?
Let them arise, if they can save you
In the time of your trouble;
For according to the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah.

29 “Why do you contend with Me?
You have all transgressed against Me,” declares the Lord.
30 “In vain I have struck your sons;
They accepted no chastening.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.
31 “O generation, heed the word of the Lord.
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
Or a land of thick darkness?
Why do My people say, ‘We are free to roam;
We will no longer come to You’?
32 “Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me
Days without number.
33 “How well you prepare your way
To seek love!
Therefore even the wicked women
You have taught your ways.
34 “Also on your skirts is found
The lifeblood of the innocent poor;
You did not find them breaking in.
But in spite of all these things,
35 Yet you said, ‘I am innocent;
Surely His anger is turned away from me.’
Behold, I will enter into judgment with you
Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 “Why do you go around so much
Changing your way?
Also, you will be put to shame by Egypt
As you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 “From this place also you will go out
With your hands on your head;
For the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
And you will not prosper with them.”

 

Jeremiah 3

The Polluted Land

God says, “If a husband divorces his wife
And she goes from him
And belongs to another man,
Will he still return to her?
Will not that land be completely polluted?
But you are a harlot with many lovers;
Yet you turn to Me,” declares the Lord.
“Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see;
Where have you not been violated?
By the roads you have sat for them
Like an Arab in the desert,
And you have polluted a land
With your harlotry and with your wickedness.
“Therefore the showers have been withheld,
And there has been no spring rain.
Yet you had a harlot’s forehead;
You refused to be ashamed.
“Have you not just now called to Me,
‘My Father, You are the friend of my youth?
‘Will He be angry forever?
Will He be indignant to the end?’
Behold, you have spoken
And have done evil things,
And you have had your way.”

Faithless Israel

Then the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,” declares the Lord.

God Invites Repentance

11 And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say,

‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord;
‘I will not look upon you in anger.
For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord;
‘I will not be angry forever.
13 ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the Lord your God
And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the Lord.
14 ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord;
‘For I am a master to you,
And I will take you one from a city and two from a family,
And I will bring you to Zion.’

15 “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. 16 It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the Lord, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.

19 “Then I said,

‘How I would set you among My sons
And give you a pleasant land,
The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!’
And I said, ‘You shall call Me, My Father,
And not turn away from following Me.’
20 “Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover,
So you have dealt treacherously with Me,
O house of Israel,” declares the Lord.

21 A voice is heard on the bare heights,
The weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel;
Because they have perverted their way,
They have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “Return, O faithless sons,
I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to You;
For You are the Lord our God.
23 “Surely, the hills are a deception,
A tumult on the mountains.
Surely in the Lord our God
Is the salvation of Israel.

24 “But the shameful thing has consumed the labor of our fathers since our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day. And we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Slow to Anger but Great in Power

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

It seems just a few weeks ago we were reading about Jonah and celebrating the revival of an entire city – the city of Nineveh.  But as we turn our attention to the Book of Nahum, we realize something bad has happened.

Nineveh has turned away from the Lord and returned to her old ways.  Instead of celebrating the Lord’s salvation  – we learn that Nineveh has come under judgment.

Nahum 3:3 reminds us – “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power…”

The main theme of the book is the impending judgment of Nineveh by the Lord, by which He would deliver His people – Israel. Yahweh would pay back Nineveh and the Assyrians in the same way they had mistreated their enemies.

The Book of Nahum is much like a sequel to the Book of Jonah.

As a reminder, Jonah was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25-27), who received a word from the Lord to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of their wickedness. (Jonah 1:2)

Jonah was resentful of the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the military capital of Assyria, (modern day Iraq) a people known for its violence and evil.  Because Assyria had caused much harm to the people of Israel – Jonah was slow to forgive them.

Consequently, when the Lord commissioned Jonah to preach repentance to this bloody, brutal people, Jonah went as far as he could in the opposite direction in fear that they would receive his message and experience God’s forgiveness.

After trying to run from the Lord and His calling, Jonah begrudgingly preaches the Word – the city repents, and Jonah ends up upset that the enemy of His people have repented and turned to the Lord.

Now, one hundred fifty years or so later, we pick up the story in the Book of Nahum—a book that divides itself into three sections.

In chapter 1, Nineveh’s doom is declared.

In chapter 2, Nineveh’s doom is described.

In chapter 3, Nineveh’s doom is deserved.

The book of Nahum dramatically portrays God judgment over Assyria to relieve His oppressed people.

It was certainly a harsh message for Israel’s enemies, but for the people of Judah it was a message of hope.

Nineveh comes to stand for those who have hardened themselves to God and oppose both the Lord and His people. God’s people can rejoice in God’s justice only because they have themselves been humbled and chastened, having been brought to repentance through His great patience (v. 3).

God’s patience manifests His love and His desire that all would repent and turn to Him, but this patience should not be mistaken for approval of the unrepentant.

The book of Nahum provides a great view of a powerful, just God who maintains His absolute moral standards and offers hope to those who are despised and downtrodden.

God overthrows and destroys dominions that are opposed to His rule and oppress His people.

Judgment upon wickedness will inevitably come. All will be set right. We can be hopeful and patient.

Nahum teaches us to trust God. Even when we despair of any help, we can know that God will stand with those who belong to Him.

Amen!

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts were taken from the following sources for this blog: The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Gospel Transformation Bible, HCSB, Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2