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Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Luke 10–11
Chronological Order: Luke 12-13
New Testament Only: 2 Thessalonians 1

I Will Not Serve

Jeremiah 1:1–3:5

Strike - White figure with strike signWhere did Isaiah go?  That seemed really fast!  Reading the Bible in one year has its drawbacks.  There is so much going on in every book of the Bible that to read it in one year means that you are going to have to rush right by innumerable brilliant shiny gems!  Oh well, I guess that is why you can read the Bible every day of your life and learn something new each time.  On to Jeremiah!

I found a couple of things on which I could comment but I read an introduction to Jeremiah in “The Bible Reader’s Companion” and thought it would be more appropriate to share that with you instead.

Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible readers companion (electronic ed.). Wheaton: Victor Books.

JEREMIAH

Jeremiah’s writings are among the most emotional and intense to be found in the Old Testament They also seem hard for the casual reader to follow. This isn’t surprising. The book is actually a collection of sermons the prophet preached over a 20-year span, interspersed with powerful poetic oracles and fervent expressions of his personal reactions to events. Jeremiah was a sensitive person, torn by the rejection of his contemporaries.

Jeremiah’s ministry began approximately 627 b.c. and continued past the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c. A few of his messages are dated during the reign of godly King Josiah (640–609 b.c.), but most date from the times of his successors, Jehoiakim (609–598), Jehoachin (598–597), and Zedekiah (597–586). During the reign of these kings Judah was first threatened and then dominated by Babylon. Jeremiah’s unpopular mission was to call Judah to submit to foreign domination as a discipline from the Lord. But the kings and the people of Judah bitterly resented Jeremiah’s preachings, even as they rejected God in favor of a host of pagan deities. Ultimately, Judah’s refusal to submit brought an overwhelming Babylonian force into the Jewish homeland.

It’s against this background that we need to read and understand this magnificent Old Testament book. We can hear again Jeremiah’s dramatic sermons calling for a return to God and warning of impending doom. We can wonder at the frequent “prophetic oracles,” those brief poetic interludes introduced by “thus says the Lord” and “hear the word of the Lord.” We can also meet the writer, as Jeremiah includes more biographical material than any other Old Testament prophet. Perhaps most enriching, we can enter into Jeremiah’s spiritual life, for the prophet often shares his innermost feelings in passages that have been called his “personal spiritual diary” (cf. 11:18–12:6; 15:10–21; 17:5–10, 14–18; 18:18–23; 20:7–18). This great Old Testament book, addressed to a rebellious people in a time of national peril, invites us to hear and apply God’s Word to our own times. And it helps us appreciate the courage of godly people who often despair, but who continue to wrestle with God in prayer and boldly confront the sins and sinners of their times.

JEREMIAH’S SERMONS

In Josiah’s time Jer. 2:1–3:5; 3:6–6:30; 7:1–10:25; 18:1–20:18.

In Jehoiakim’s time Jer. 14–17; 22–23; 25–26; 35–36; 45–48.

In Zedekiah’s time Jer. 21; 24; 27–34; 37–39; 49.

In Gedaliah’s time Jer. 40–44 (Note: Gedaliah was a governor appointed by the Babylonians after the nation was destroyed.)

Later messages Jer. 50–52

KEY PASSAGES IN JEREMIAH

Jeremiah 2. The prophet catalogs the sins of Judah.

Jeremiah 17. Sin is a heart condition of mankind.

Jeremiah 23. False prophets and how to know them.

Jeremiah 28. Prophets, the false vs. the true.

Jeremiah 31. God promises His people a New Covenant.

Jeremiah 42–43. The persistent unbelief of the survivors.

A THEOLOGICAL OUTLINE OF JEREMIAH

I.   JEREMIAH’S MISSION               1–10

II.  THE BROKEN COVENANT         11–20

III.  JUDGMENT APPROACHES      21–29

IV.  THE NEW COVENANT              30–33

V.   JERUSALEM’S FALL                   34–52

More info than you ever wanted right?  Well, I hope you won’t mind but I believe the Lord put a couple verses on my heart and I’d like to share them with you.

Jeremiah 2:20-21 ESV

“For long ago I broke your yoke
and burst your bonds;
but you said, ‘I will not serve.’
Yes, on every high hill
and under every green tree
you bowed down like a whore.
Yet I planted you a choice vine,
wholly of pure seed.
How then have you turned degenerate
and become a wild vine?”

Long ago the Lord broke my yoke of slavery to sin.  He placed me in a lush, shady spot as a pure seed, a choice vine.  I was set free from the death I had coming.  I wonder if my behavior since has shouted “I will not serve”.  Serving does not necessarily mean selling everything you have and moving to a foreign land just to be martyred by some aboriginal tribe.  Serving can be singing in the choir, greeting people as they enter the church, or even mopping a floor.

The issue is never what you do in serves.  The issue is always obedience in service.  God put you together in a very specific way for a very specific purpose.  Your talents, abilities, experiences, and even your brain have been put together specifically by God for His purpose.  The service you are called to will not be contrary to how He put you together.  But no matter what service He intends of you, the issue is obedience.

Do not become a wild vine.  Do not reject God’s call to service.  He has a plan for you.  Get to work!

Have a day filled with a servant heart!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

P.S. Everyone can mop a floor, greet people, and share the Gospel.  Paul wasn’t called to make tents but he did in order to facilitate his calling.  No one is called to mop.  We mop if mopping needs to be done.  We are all called to share the Gospel.  There are generic callings in which we all share and there are specific callings based on who God created us to be.  As always, there are things that just need to be done and calling has nothing to do with it.

(Originally posted 8/12/10)

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