Today’s reading: Jeremiah 23:33-24:10; Jeremiah 29-31:14
Trying to write a blog post based on scripture readings on a daily basis is a difficult and humbling activity. I often find it is a very difficult to some how read the passage and then write about it with some sort of accuracy, thoroughness and authority. I typically review the passage the night before, read it the next day, ponder it and then choose something that jumped out at me to write about. Then I try to do a little research checking Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Bible Study notes etc.
It is a scary process sometimes because this is not a new book that I am trying to write about. Men and women have been writing about if for thousands of years. I often find myself saying – “what new idea can I add to this dialog?” or “why should anyone read what I have to say?” I do not hold a degree in theology, or a masters of divinity or even a degree in literature or religious studies. I am just a regular guy who studied criminal justice and had a Masters of Business Administration degree. I hold no formal recognition to be able to speak with much authority.
Unfortunately, over the last 3000 years there have been men much like me without any formal training or divine direction claiming to speak with authority. There have been men who go around saying that speak for God or that they have received a message for God. As a matter of fact whole new faiths have been started because one religious man claimed to have a divine personal message from God. Islam came about because Mohammad claimed to be the one true messenger of God. The Church of Latter Day Saints founder Joseph Smith also claimed to have received a special message and text from an angel of God, an angel called Moroni. Others had smaller followings but with more tangible consequences in modern time. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.
Jeremiah had the same problem 2600 years ago. There were men walking around saying that they had received special notices or messages or prophecies from God. They were false prophets and were misleading the people. He wrote about them with a warning in today’s readings:
Jeremiah 23:34 – 36 (NLT)
34 “If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the Lord,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family. 35 You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ 36 But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the Lord.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
As a reader of my blog posts I want you to hold me accountable to what Jeremiah is saying here. If you ever find that I am claiming to have received a prophecy from the Lord that you have my permission to challenge me on this. Call me up at home or work, ask me what I intended to say. Write me an email. Stop me on the street. I am not writing this blog with the intent to prop myself us as a prophet of the Lord. Do not trust this humanly flawed man to speak for God.
This advice is to anyone you hear who is trying to teach you about God and His Word. You are to challenge everything you hear. You are to ask yourself “Is this what the Lord is saying?” and “Is this what God says on this topic?”
We are taught through out the Bible that we need to know and understand the Word of God for ourselves. One of the central themes of the whole Reformation that changed Christianity forever was this concept that you and I can study and know the scriptures for ourselves.
Consider these scattered teachings on the subject, they are a few of many:
Deuteronomy 11:18 – 21 (NIV)
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”.
John 5:39 (NIV)
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me”
Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”.
Revelation 22:18-19 (NIV)
18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Finally, I write this blog as a fellow sojourner, attempting with others to walk down the path of life with a closer walk to Jesus. I believe that we can do this through regular time in God’s Word. My efforts to write are simply doing five things:
1. Allowing me to take what I read and learn and process it through into a written form.
2. Allowing me to share what I have learned from God’s Word and share it with others. With the hope that my efforts will encourage them as they go along on the same path.
3. Allowing me to open up the whole Bible to others who have not been as exposed to God’s Word as I have been privileged to be.
4. Allowing me to encourage others to spend time in God’s Word.
5. Giving me a means to share God’s Word within my own family.
I am not a prophet of God, I am simply a man trying to be all God wants me to be and to share the result of that activity with others.