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Posts tagged ‘Judah’

Revival Pastors Wesley, Stacey Campbell Request Prayers for Son’s Spinal Injury.


 

Judah Campbell
Judah Campbell is currently recovering from a neck and spinal injury.

A son of pastors Wesley and Stacey Campbell is recovering from serious injuries he suffered at a rugby game Saturday. The founders of RevivalNOW! Ministries are also the senior pastors at New Life Church in Kelowna, British Columbia.

According to a message the couple sent out on social media, Judah Campbell hit his head during a rugby game and broke his neck. His spinal cord is also severely injured, and immediately after the accident he had no ability to move from the neck down.

In their message, the couple asked for prayer for Judah’s spinal cord to be healed, for “his emotions not to sink,” for his girlfriend and that he will “walk again and be normal.”

Wesley Campbell wrote Monday on a Facebook page set up for people wanting to follow his son’s recovery process that Judah has improved.

“Since Sunday there has been an increase in the mobility of Judah’s limbs,” he said. “Judah can move his toes, and bend his ankles like he were putting his foot on a gas pedal. Today we were excited to see Judah raise his leg a few inches off the bed … unassisted. This is very good news and a marked improvement from day 1.”

Campbell also wrote that Judah could somewhat lift his arm and could bend it at the elbow.

“Once the vertebrae are aligned and the swelling has gone down, they will undertake a serious operation on his neck … to repair the fracture,” he said. “They talked about putting in a hard plastic part or a piece of bone from his hip, as well as metal plates and screws. The operation will be from the front of his neck as well as the backside of his neck. They are expecting to operate sometime this week between Wednesday to Saturday. They mentioned that there is a 1% risk of heart attack or stroke, which is something, we all want prayer for as well.”

He asked for prayer that the swelling would go down, the realignment be complete and the spinal cord recovers entirely. He reported that Judah is in good spirits.

“I asked Judah today how he was doing emotionally? He said in typical Judah manner, ‘I’m good.’ Judah so much appreciates everyone’s concern and their prayers.”

Judah’s girlfriend, Alex “Lex Ann,” shared an update Tuesday morning.

“Last night was the best night that both Judah and I have had in the hospital since his arrival,” she wrote.

Alex said Judah’s doctors are in agreement that he will have surgery on the front and back of his neck, and he is fasting so he can be prepared for surgery at any time.

“Today is another fresh start and God makes all things new!” she wrote. “Excited to see where today will lead and what new progress is in store for us all in regards to Judah. He is so incredibly strong and so positive despite it all and I am very proud of him.”

The page “Judah Campbell Recovery,” where his girlfriend and family members are posting updates, was created Sunday morning and has more than 3,000 followers.

Wesley and Stacey Campbell co-founded New Life in 1986 and experienced a revival and move of the Holy Spirit shortly after. Within five years, the church had 1,000 members. According to Revival Magazine, this move allowed them to connect with John and Carol Arnott and the Toronto Blessing.

The Campbells were regular conference speakers at the Toronto Blessing, and they traveled as part of the team of extension itinerant ministries. It was at that time that they founded RevivalNOW! Since then, Wesley and Stacey Campbell have ministered in more than 60 nations.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Glenn Beck and His 10 Tribes of Israel Theory.


 

Talk show host Glenn Beck.
Talk show host Glenn Beck. (GlennBeck.com)

There are a lot of theories as to what happened to the 10 lost tribes of Israel—most of them improvable, some of them outright wacky. (Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, believed they, along with the apostle John, are floating in space on a piece of Earth that broke off.)

Recently, popular radio host and sometimes Trilateral-Commission-like conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck taught his listeners that the 10 tribes were the founders of the United States—at least, I think that is what he was saying.

He presented a history lesson—that had as much congruity as Ahmadinejad’s teachings on the Holocaust—backed up by no sources, no quote from any reputable historian and not even a Wikipedia reference. It simply left me dumbfounded and, truthfully, unable to figure what his point was.

I have a lot of respect for Mr. Beck. Over the years, he has confronted America on key issues. He has called out those in the political world who don’t share American values. He has revealed socialists and anti-Semites in the Obama administration. And most importantly, he’s funny. But every now and then, he will share something that is so far out in left field that I am left to wonder if he doesn’t have two personalities:

  1. Powerful prophetic voice to America.
  2. Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory before he gets his mind back.

Beck’s theory on the U.S. being founded by lost members of the 10 tribes of Israel went something like this:

  1. There were two kingdoms in Israel.
  2. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was made up of 10 tribes.
  3. The Southern Kingdom “was Judah, that has Jerusalem … root, Jew!” (Actually the word Jerusalem is not at all connected to the word Jew [Yehuda], and the Southern Kingdom was made up of Judah, Benjamin and half of Levi.)
  4. God speaks against the northern tribes through Jeremiah. (In fact, the northern tribes had already been conquered by Assyria before Jeremiah was born—86 years before!)
  5. Then Israel (the northern tribes) is taken into captivity by the Assyrians.
  6. “The kingdom of Judah was not scattered.” (Wrong! They were the ones to whom Jeremiah prophesied. In 586 B.C., Judah went into captivity. However, unlike the northern tribes, it remained an identifiable people group and returned to Jerusalem 70 years later.)
  7. When the Assyrians were defeated, they, along with the 10 tribes of Israel, fled together. (This is nuts! Beck just explained how ruthless the Assyrians were, but then they flee hand in hand with their buddies, the Israelites?)
  8. They flee together to the Caucasus Mountains. (I am not sure if Glenn knows where these mountains are, based on his next comments. They are, in fact, in northeastern Turkey, bordering Russia, Iran and a few other countries.)
  9. Then the Assyrians settled in Italy, Germany (both very, very far from the Caucasus Mountains) and Russia. According to Beck, the Assyrians were meticulous record keepers, but he doesn’t cite any of those records to prove his theory.
  10. The Israelites went north and settled on the coastlines, referring to the area where our pilgrims came from. (That would be England, Mr. Beck. Please go to a map and locate the Caucasus Mountains and then go north—you will be in northern Russia. London is 2,500 miles west of the Caucasus Mountains.)
  11. The Israelites then populated Western Europe. (Beck forgets that, according to his theory, the much larger group of Assyrians was also populating the region).
  12. Beck seems to claim that the pilgrims (who in reality were separatists from the Anglican Church in England) were, in fact, part of or the entire lost 10 tribes.
  13. Or maybe he is simply saying that the lost 10 tribes (who were idol worshippers, by the way) had a profound influence on the West and inspired the pilgrims (which would be difficult, because if the 10 tribes were actually in Europe, they didn’t know it—they had long ago assimilated).

You watch the clip and tell me in the comments sections if you can figure out what Beck was saying.

There are so many biblical accuracies in Glenn’s teaching that it is clear he has not studied this issue. It appears he is simply repeating by memory a theory he read in a book. With such a large audience, he was very reckless in handling the Word of God.

There is evidence that suggests that some of these Israelites did end up in an area near the Caucuses to which Beck refers. Some believe Peter was writing to them (the pilgrims of the Dispersion [as in exile] in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia). There is also evidence that some fled to India, China and even Africa.

I am not an expert on this. However, Beck’s assertion (again, he was all over the place, so I am not sure what he said) that Caucasians come from Jews who fled with Assyria and then either were the pilgrims or influenced them is fantasy.

What About the 10 Tribes?

When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom, without a doubt many fled to Judah—the Southern Kingdom. Plus, there was intermarriage within the tribes. My point is, every tribe to some degree has been preserved. Luke 2:36 says Anna the prophetess came from the tribe of Asher, and this was more than 700 years after the Assyrian captivity.

Beck does get one thing right. At about 6:20 in the clip, he says, “I am not the guy to go to on [Middle East History].” Sadly, he then went on to teach utter nonsense with an air of authority.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

RON CANTOR/MESSIAH’S MANDATE

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

2 Kings.


Elijah, Ahab and Jezebel

King Ahab and his cruel wife Jezebel both died violent deaths as prophesied by the prophet Elijah.

Photo: Getty Images

Introduction to the Book of 2 Kings

 

2 Kings:

God gave his law for the people of Israel to follow. He repeatedly sent prophets to warn of the consequences of sin, but the kings and people of both Israel and Judah ignored them.2 Kings details nationwide disobedience and God’s punishment of the divided kingdoms. The first part of the book records the miracles of the prophet Elisha, successor to Elijah, and a forerunner of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, Elisha raised the dead, cured people of leprosy, and multiplied loaves of bread to feed a crowd. Both Elisha and Jesus showed compassion to the powerful and the lowly, a stark lesson that God’s kingdom is available to everyone who believes.

As an historical book, 2 Kings documents the reigns of both wicked and godly kings in Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The good kings and prophets could not keep the people on a righteous path, so God used Israel‘s and Judah’s enemies to cause their downfall.

The brutal Assyrians overwhelmed Israel, carrying many of the Jews away, and more than 100 years later, the Babylonians destroyed Judah and took most of its inhabitants into captivity.

Author of 2 Kings:

The books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings were originally one book. While Jewish tradition credits Jeremiah the prophet as the author of 2 Kings, recent Bible scholarship attributes the work to a group of anonymous authors called the Deuteronomists. 2 Kings does follow the theme of Deuteronomy: obedience to God brings blessings, disobedience brings curses.

Date Written:

Between 560 and 540 B.C.

Written To:

People of Israel, all readers of the Bible.

Landscape of 2 Kings:

2 Kings is set in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Themes in 2 Kings:

Yahweh is the True God who demands obedience from his people. The Lord was determined to stamp out idolatry in Israel and Judah, but the people refused to give it up. God’s punishment came down, resulting in destruction and captivity.God’s word is always true and wise. God spoke through his prophets, whose warnings always came to pass. God’s Word later became flesh in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

God is faithful to his people. Despite the destruction of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, God kept his promise to King David, Israel’s second king. From the line of David came Jesus Christ, the culmination of God’s plan of salvation for the world.

Key Characters in 2 Kings:

Elijah, Elisha, Shunammite woman, Naaman, Jezebel, Jehu, Isaiah, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar.

Key Verses:

2 Kings 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (NIV)

2 Kings 17:18-20
So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. Therefore the LORD rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence. (NIV)

2 Kings 24:13-14
As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans-a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. (NIV)

Outline of 2 Kings:

    • Elisha’s ministry – 2 Kings 1-8.

 

 

    • Israel destroyed and exiled to Assyria – 2 Kings 17.

 

    • Reigns of kings of Judah – 2 Kings 18-23.

 

  • Judah is destroyed, sent captive to Babylon – 2 Kings 24-25.

• Old Testament Books of the Bible (Index)
• New Testament Books of the Bible (Index)

From 

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack’s Bio Page.

Christ Our Sanctuary.


Christ Our Sanctuary

“And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” (Isa. 8:14-15 ESV)

It’s easy to stumble over Jesus. He doesn’t fit the general profile of the nice-guy religious leader.

He does not ask you to work for him—to clean up your act, be measurably good, or bring any sense of your own righteousness to him. He simply asks that you trust him and the work he has done on our behalf for salvation, by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).

The simplicity of Jesus’ gospel work is troubling to people because he works for us, and we cannot add to what he is doing. Yet we should feel overjoyed and relieved to know God does the entire work of salvation through Christ, and then offers it to us as a gift.

Imagine a philanthropist providing you an all-expenses paid vacation to an exotic island resort. You would not be expecting for him to ask for something in return, to look and see what you had done to earn the gift, or hear you reply, “Well can I give you a little something for it?” This would be insulting to a true philanthropist! You would be stumbling because the offer would be too good. It is the same with Jesus, both in his offer to save us from wrath, and to save us from our enemies when we trust in him.

In Isaiah 8, King Ahaz of Judah is in trouble with some enemies. Two nations, Syria and Ephraim, have joined in coalition against him because Judah will not help them fight against Assyria. In such an overwhelming situation, the Lord sends Isaiah the prophet with word for Ahaz to live by faith. Isaiah’s son Shear-jeshub – whose name means, “A remnant shall return” (7:3), acts as a sign to Ahaz to indicate that a remnant of God’s people will survive the coming attack. The sign confirms the word of the Lord; God will make of his enemies two smoldering sticks (Isa. 7:4).

As so many believers do under the threat of losing a battle, Ahaz, makes a decision to follow the way of the world for help. He intends to throw his lot in with the Gentile nation, Assyria, rather than wait on the Lord in holiness, at whatever the cost. Ahaz might have been inclined to take a different course if he remembered that he served a God of wrath, who, being faithful to his word, fights on behalf of his people.

The word God sends to Ahaz again comes with a sign to verify the truthfulness of God’s word. Isaiah will have a second son, “Maher-shalal-hash-baz,” whose names means, “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens.” His name indicates the swiftness with which God would bring judgment upon Syria and Ephraim by the hand of the king of Assyria. It would happen before the boy is able to call out to his parents with understanding (8:4). The Lord confirms his word by the witness of Uriah and Zechariah (8:3).

Ahaz and the people of Judah would have no concern about their enemies if they would trust God’s word. It is reliable and sure; signs confirm it. But they chose to reject the Lord, represented in their rejection of Shiloah’s peaceful waters (8:6)–the place from which the promised Messiah would come (Gen. 49:10-12 NASB). As a result of rejecting God’s word in fear of their enemies, God promises judgment upon his people Judah.

The Lord behind the Scriptures is faithful and true. Signs like the resurrection of Christ, as Christ promised, confirm the truthfulness God’s word. We who believe are called to read the Scriptures, to trust it as true, and let its truths shape our decisions and feelings—including feelings of uncertainty, fear, and potential defeat for living in a manner that honors the Lord.

In the Scriptures, God promises to give grace to the humble (Ja. 4:6). He promises to exalt his own in due time (1 Pet. 5:6). He will be a refuge for his people (Ps. 59:16). He will guide the lives of believers in wisdom (Prov. 3:6). All of this and much more are said in his word and confirmed by all he has done.

Therefore we should hold to his word in our walk in this world, even when it seems more like salvation to cave in to a threat to conform to the demands of the world (8:11). Rather than stumbling over his work and his promises, we should continue to trust Christ in the face of threats in the same way we trusted him alone for salvation.

For those who trust him, in contrast to being a stone of stumbling, the Lord will be a sanctuary(8:14-15). He will be a holy place of security.

Being holy is hard; being holy under great pressure is harder. Unlike Ahaz, we do not have to conform to our enemies. We go to Christ our sanctuary and rest in him.

Eric C. Redmond

 

Eric C. Redmond is Bible Professor in Residence at New Canaan Baptist Church, Washington, DC, and author of Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men’s Questions about the Church. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricCRedmond

Jeremiah: Answering the Call.


The rabbis called him “the Weeping Prophet.” They said he began wailing the moment he was born. When Michelangelo painted him on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he presented him in a posture of despair. He looks like a man who has wept so long he has no tears left to shed. His face is turned to one side, like a man who has been battered by many blows. His shoulders are hunched forward, weighed down by the sins of Judah. His eyes also are cast down, as if he can no longer bear to see God’s people suffer. His hand covers his mouth. Perhaps he has nothing left to say.

His name was Jeremiah. His story begins like this:

The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile. (vv. 1-3)

This introduction tells us a great deal about Jeremiah. He was a preacher’s son, for his father Hilkiah was a priest. He was born in the village of Anathoth, close enough to Jerusalem to see the city walls, but at the edge of the wilderness, where the land slopes down to the Dead Sea. He labored as God’s prophet for forty years or more, from 627 b.c. to some time after 586 b.c. Four decades is a long time to be a weeping prophet.

Jeremiah lived when little Israel was tossed around by three great superpowers: Assyria to the north, Egypt to the south, and Babylon to the east. He served — and suffered — through the administrations of three kings: Josiah the reformer, Jehoiakim the despot, and Zedekiah the puppet. He was a prophet during the cold November winds of Judah’s life as a nation, right up to the time God’s people were deported to Babylon. Jeremiah himself was exiled to Egypt, where he died.

A Divine Call

Jeremiah’s sufferings began with a divine call:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (vv. 4-5)

God did wonderful things for Jeremiah before he was even born. He knew him. He formed him. He set him apart and appointed him as a prophet to the nations. He did all this long before Jeremiah drew his first breath or shed his first tear.

The call of Jeremiah is rich in its doctrinal and practical content. Among its important teachings are the following:

1. God is the Lord of life. God formed Jeremiah in the womb. Jeremiah had biological parents, of course, but God himself fashioned him and knit him together in his mother’s womb. Telling children who ask where babies come from that they come from God is good theology. And it is not bad science either. The Lord of life uses the natural processes he designed to plant human life in the womb.

2. A fetus is a person. A person is a human being, created in the image of God, living in relationship to God. This verse testifies that the personal relationship between God and his child takes place in the womb, or even earlier.

Birth is not our beginning. Not even conception is our real beginning. In some ineffable way, God has a personal knowledge of the individual that precedes conception. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” This is the strong, intimate, Hebrew word for “know” that is also used to describe sexual intimacy between husband and wife.

“I knew you.” What a beautiful thing for God to say to his children! “I loved you and cared for you in eternity past. I made a personal commitment to you even before you were born.” And what a beautiful thing for parents to say to their children: “God knows you, God loves you, and God has entered into a personal relationship with you.” This verse holds special comfort for mothers who have had miscarriages. It gives hope to parents who have lost children in infancy, and even for women who aborted their own babies. God knew your child, and he knows your child.

3. We do not choose God before God chooses us. If you want to know who you are, you have to know whose you are. For the Christian, the answer to that question is that you belong to Jesus Christ.

When did Jeremiah start belonging to God? When did God choose him? The prophet was set apart before he was born. While Jeremiah was being carried around in his mother’s womb, God was making preparations for his salvation and his ministry. To set something apart is to sanctify it or to dedicate it to holy service. Long before Jeremiah was born, God chose him and consecrated him for ministry.

Given the intimacy of God’s knowledge of Jeremiah, it is appropriate for Jeremiah to address him with the title “Sovereign Lord” (v. 6). God is sovereign. He not only forms his people in the womb, he sets them apart for salvation from all eternity.

God’s choice is not unique to Jeremiah; it is true for every believer. This is known as the doctrine of divine election. “You did not choose me,” Jesus said to his disciples, “but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit” (John 15:16a). “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:3-4). This promise is for the whole church. Therefore, it is for the comfort of every Christian. God not only knows you, he chose you; and he did so long before you were ever conceived.

Eugene Peterson offers these practical conclusions about God’s choice of Jeremiah:

My identity does not begin when I begin to understand myself. There is something previous to what I think about myself, and it is what God thinks of me. That means that everything I think and feel is by nature a response, and the one to whom I respond is God. I never speak the first word. I never make the first move.

Jeremiah’s life didn’t start with Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s salvation didn’t start with Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s truth didn’t start with Jeremiah. He entered the world in which the essential parts of his existence were already ancient history. So do we.1

4. Every Christian has a calling. There is a general call, of course, to believe in Jesus Christ. But everyone who believes in Christ also has a special calling to a particular sphere of obedience and ministry. Jeremiah was not just set apart for salvation, he was set apart for vocation. God had work for him to do. The prophet had a mission to accomplish and a message to deliver to his generation.

Jeremiah’s unique appointment was to be a prophet to the nations. God intended his ministry to be international in scope. Part of Jeremiah’s job was to promise God’s grace to the nations, proclaiming, “all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord” (3:17).

But to be a prophet to the nations also includes announcing God’s judgment. By the time he reached the end of his ministry, Jeremiah had pronounced a divine sentence of judgment upon every nation from Ammon to Babylon. Just as all nations receive God’s sovereign grace, all nations are subject to God’s severe justice.

Jeremiah’s calling is not for everyone. The first chapter of Jeremiah is mainly about his call for his times, not your call for your times. But you do have a call. God not only knows you and chose you, he has a plan for your life. As F. B. Meyer so eloquently puts it, “From the foot of the cross, where we are cradled in our second birth, to the brink of the river, where we lay down our armor, there is a path which he has prepared for us to walk in.”2

Perhaps you are still trying to figure out what God’s plan is for you. Many Christians long to know what God is calling them to do. If you are not sure, there are at least two things you ought to do.

The first is to do everything you already know God wants you to do. You cannot expect to be ready for God’s call, or even to recognize God’s call, unless you are obeying what God has already revealed to you. This includes the obvious things, such as spending time in prayer andBible study, serving the people with whom you live, remaining active in the worship of the church, and being God’s witness in the world.

Second, ask God to reveal his will for your life. If you ask, he has promised to answer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

A Dubious Candidate

Jeremiah knew what God wanted him to do. Yet even after he received his divine call, he was still a dubious candidate: “Ah, Sovereign Lord,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child” (v. 6).

Jeremiah had two main objections to becoming a prophet: his lack of eloquence and his lack of experience. To paraphrase: “Ahhh, wait a second, Lord, about this whole prophet-to-the-nations thing . . . It doesn’t sound like that great an idea. Prophecy is not one of my spiritual gifts. As you know, I am getting a C in rhetoric at the synagogue. Besides, I am just a teenager.”

Was Jeremiah being modest or faithless? Was it right for him to object to God’s call or not?

A good way to answer those questions is to compare Jeremiah with some other prophets. Later the Lord reaches out his hand and touches Jeremiah’s mouth (v. 9). This reminds us of Isaiah’s experience when he saw “the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

Isaiah had one or two doubts about his calling too, but his doubts were different. Isaiah’s main problem was that he had a guilty conscience: “‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty’” (v. 5). Isaiah did not doubt his ability, he doubted his integrity. When the seraph flew from the altar to touch Isaiah’s lips with a live coal, he said: “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (v. 7).

Isaiah’s experience was somewhat different from Jeremiah’s. When God touched Jeremiah’s lips, it was not to take away his sins, it was to give him God’s words.

What about the call of Moses? Was Jeremiah’s call like the call of Moses? Jeremiah’s objection sounds very much like the objection Moses made when God called him: “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Unlike Isaiah, Moses doubted his competence rather than his righteousness.

This was precisely Jeremiah’s objection. He was not sure what to say or how to say it. He may have even been concerned about his foreign language skills, since God was calling him to an international ministry. Perhaps his grasp of Akkadian and Ugaritic was deficient. In any case, Jeremiah had his doubts about whether he could do the job.

Jeremiah’s doubts find an echo in J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Fellowship of the Ring. A hobbit named Frodo has been chosen to make a long and dangerous quest to destroy the one ring of power, a quest he himself would not wish to choose. “I am not made for perilous quests,” cried Frodo. “I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?”

The answer Frodo is given is similar to the one God’s prophets often receive: “Such questions cannot be answered. . . . You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”3

When God gives his servants a clear calling, he does not accept any excuses. “The Lord said to him [Moses], ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’” (Exodus 4:11-12).

God said much the same thing to Jeremiah. To put it plainly, he said, “Don’t give me that stuff!” “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you’” (Jeremiah 1:7). “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth’” (v. 9).

God did not disqualify Jeremiah on the basis of his youth and inexperience. In fact, he treated him the same way he treated Moses. He did not deny the basis for the prophet’s objection. He did not argue with Jeremiah about his speaking credentials or quibble with him about his age. Jeremiah may have had reasonable doubts. But God exposed his false humility for what it really was: a lack of faith.

Jeremiah had forgotten that God is not limited by human weakness. God himself possesses everything Jeremiah needs to answer his call. In fact, enabling weak tools to do strong jobs is God’s standard operating procedure. His entire work force is comprised of dubious candidates. When God calls someone to do a job, he gives him or her all the gifts needed to get the job done. With God’s calling comes God’s gifting.

This does not mean that your gifts and abilities do not matter when you are trying to figure out what God wants you to do with your life. They do matter. If you do not know what God is calling you to do, take an honest look at the gifts he has given you. If necessary, ask others to help you figure out what your gifts are.

But once you know what God has called you to do, trust him to equip you to do it. God equipped Jeremiah to be an international prophet in some amazing ways. He was a polymath, a great scholar, a man of prodigious learning. He was able to converse in the fields of politics, economics, comparative religion, geography, theology, botany, zoology, anthropology, military strategy, architecture, industry, agriculture, fine arts, and poetry.4

If God has actually called you to do a particular job, then he will do for you what he did for Jeremiah: He will give you everything you need to do that job. If you think you know what the Lord wants you to do with your life, get busy, trusting him to give you the grace to answer his call.

A Dangerous Commission

Once God had issued his divine call and dealt with his dubious candidate, he gave him a dangerous commission: “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (vv. 7-8).

Frankly, that sounds a little ominous! God does not spell things out, but it is easy to tell that Jeremiah’s job will be dangerous. Telling someone “Do not be afraid” is the kind of advice that tends to have the opposite effect than the one intended. The more people tell you not to be afraid, the more you start to wonder what you ought to be afraid of! It is like the king who sent one of his knights off to rescue his fair princess. Just as the knight rode away from the castle, and just as the drawbridge was closing behind him, the king yelled down from the ramparts, “Don’t be afraid of the dragon!” “Dragon? What dragon? You didn’t say anything about dragons!”

God’s promise to rescue Jeremiah is also a bit worrisome. Rescued from what? The promise suggests that the prophet will fall into grave danger. God does not promise that Jeremiah has nothing to fear or that he will not need to be rescued. But he does command him not to be afraid, and he does promise to rescue him.

The reason Jeremiah did not need to be afraid was that he had the promise of God’s presence. The Lord gave him the same promise he made to Moses, to Joshua, and to all his children: “I will be with you.”

Once there was a man who understood the danger of the prophet’s commission and the comfort of God’s presence. He was an evangelist God used to bring renewal to the Colombian church during the 1980s and 1990s. Since he was an enemy of the drug cartels, his life was in constant danger, until he was finally gunned down by assassins. Yet shortly before he died, he said, “I know that I am absolutely immortal until I have finished the work that God intends for me to do.” God’s servants are indeed immortal until they have completed their service.

Not only did Jeremiah have God’s presence at his side, he also had God’s words on his lips: “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth’” (v. 9). This is another connection between Jeremiah and Moses. God promised that he would raise up a prophet for his people like Moses: “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18).

Whenever Jeremiah spoke in God’s name, God was the one doing the talking. Who wrote the book of Jeremiah? From one point of view, it contains the words of Jeremiah, as the Scripture says: “The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah” (1:1). From another point of view, however, these are the words of God himself: “The word of the Lord came to him” (v. 2).

The Bible is never embarrassed to speak this way. There is a meaningful sense in which the words of Jeremiah are recorded in the pages of the Old Testament. The book of Jeremiah gives us a glimpse of the personality and experiences of the man, Jeremiah. But at the same time the Holy Spirit is the One who breathed out the words of the book of Jeremiah. “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The book of Jeremiah is God’s words and Jeremiah’s words. When we read them, we do not just see God through Jeremiah’s lens; God speaks to us directly.

The reason Jeremiah has authority “over nations and kingdoms” (1:10) is that he is not speaking on his own behalf. God is sovereign over the nations, and he rules them by his Word. When prophets speak in his name they are mightier than kings. When preachers preach according to God’s Word they are mightier than presidents.

Once when I was interviewed by a pastoral search committee, I was asked if I was easily intimidated. (The church was frequented by scholars and other learned individuals.) “Would you feel comfortable preaching to so-and-so?” I was asked. Before taking time to think about my answer, I blurted out, “Yes, I’d preach to the Queen of England.”

I think it was a good answer. God rules the nations of this world by his Word. Those who have been appointed to preach that Word have a spiritual authority over the nations. The Lord instructed Jeremiah to be a bold prophet, not because of his preaching ability or because of his age and experience, but because he was called to speak God’s own words.

A Depressing Conclusion

It was not always easy for Jeremiah to speak God’s words. His commission was not only dangerous, it was often depressing. We have already been given a clue that the book of Jeremiah does not have a happy ending. It ends with the people of Jerusalem being sent into exile. Thus the book of Jeremiah is a tragedy rather than a comedy. It is about the unraveling of a nation. It is the sad story of the decline of God’s people from faith to idolatry to exile.

It is this decline that makes Jeremiah a prophet for post-Christian times. He lived in a time very much like our own, when people no longer think God matters for daily life. Public life is increasingly dominated by pagan ideas and rituals. Some people still meet their religious obligations, but they do so out of duty rather than devotion.

The spiritual problems we face at the dawn of the twenty-first century were the same problems that Jeremiah found depressing 2,500 years ago. The discouragement of his ministry is evident from the verbs God uses to describe it: “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (v. 10). The prophet’s job description includes six tasks, and four of them are negative. Two to one, his words to the nations will be words of judgment.

“To uproot” is to dig up nations by the roots and turn them under. It is a word that Jeremiah uses more than all the other biblical writers combined, often to describe the uprooting of idols (e.g.12:14-17). To “tear down” is to tear down a standing structure, like knocking down a city wall or toppling a tower. “To destroy” is another word for knocking things down. To “overthrow” is to demolish, to bring to complete ruin.

Once the Lord uproots, tears down, destroys, and overthrows a nation, there is not much left. There is a great deal of that kind of judgment in the rest of Jeremiah’s book. This verse is not only Jeremiah’s job description, it is also a helpful plot-summary of his book. He lives in such evil days that judgment will outnumber grace two to one.

But grace will have the last word. When the cities of evil have been torn down and plowed under, God will start afresh. He will begin a new work. He will “build” and he will “plant.” He will bring renewal out of demolition.

This is God’s plan for the kingdoms of this world (cf. 18:7-10). He is the one who is in charge of the beginnings and endings of history. He is the one who uproots some nations and plants others. He is the one who tears down some kingdoms and rebuilds others.

This is also God’s plan for salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19). The temple of Jesus’ body was uprooted and torn down from the cross. It was destroyed and overthrown to the grave. But God built and planted resurrection life into the body of Jesus Christ.

Now God builds and plants that same resurrection power into the life of every believer. First the Holy Spirit uproots and tears down sin in your heart, and then he plants faith and builds obedience into your life. Like Jeremiah, you were a dubious candidate at the beginning. Yet God has known you from all eternity, and he has set you apart for new life in Christ.

If God has done all that for you, will you go wherever he tells you to go, and say whatever he wants you to say, even if it turns out to be a dangerous commission?

By Philip Graham Ryken


Notes

1. Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1983), p. 38.

2. F. B. Meyer, Jeremiah: Priest and Prophet, rev. ed. (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1993), p. 17.

3. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 70.

4. R. E. O. White, The Indomitable Prophet: A Biographical Commentary on Jeremiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), pp. 4-5.


Jeremiah and LamentationsTaken from Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope by Philip Graham Ryken. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.

While the book of Jeremiah shared the last, desperate days of the Jerusalem the prophet loved, Lamentations expresses the cries of his heart. Yet they reveal more than the prophet’s grief—they are an attempt to reflect on the meaning of human suffering. Lamentations gives voice to the deepest agonies, with the hope that some comfort may come from crying out to God for mercy. Together the two books illustrate the eternal principle that man reaps what he sows.

Franklin Graham: What About Our Spiritual Cliff?.


Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham

As we come into the new year, America is facing many challenges. For the past few weeks, the media has been focused on what has been termed as the nation’s “fiscal cliff.”

Our country’s financial problems, however, are nothing compared to the spiritual and moral cliff that is far more destructive to our nation than any economic concerns.

Since the recent election, we’ve seen same-sex couples lining up at courthouses in several states to receive their marriage licenses, and hundreds of people gathering in public places to light up marijuanacigarettes in the states where it has just been decriminalized.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The moral decline we see on television programs—blatant immorality, senseless violence, media-friendly gay and lesbian behavior—is just a reflection of the moral corruption that has infected our entire nation. These are indeed dark days … but there is hope.

The Bible says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, ESV). No question our country’s foundations are being destroyed, but I am reminded of an era in the OldTestament where the Lord moved in a dramatic way to bring godly change to a spiritually dark and depraved nation like Judah, whose moral foundations had been seriously eroded.

Manasseh was the wickedest king to rule over Judah. Throughout his 55 years of evil reign, the land had been defiled with innocent blood. He led Judah into witchcraft, sorcery, and the worship of false gods and idols, including the fertility goddess Asherah. He even sacrificed his own son in the fires of idolatry.

Not many years later, God worked in an extraordinary and unexpected way to bring national revival.

Josiah, Manasseh’s grandson, became king at age 8. Ten years after becoming king, Josiah asked his high priest, Hilkiah, to collect funds to repair the temple that was in disrepair. As they worked, they uncovered the book of the law (the first five books of the Bible). Apparently it had been lost and neglected for a number of years. When Josiah heard the books read aloud by a scribe, he tore his clothes and said, “Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13).

When the Word of God was then read aloud to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, it pierced their souls and the stage was set for national repentance. Idols were smashed, spiritists and mediums forcibly removed, and the worship of the one true God reinstated. Once again, righteousness ruled.

For far too long, as a nation we have neglected—and even rejected—the Word of God and His commands. Yet the Scriptures are mighty, able to penetrate even the most hardened and darkened hearts with convicting, life-giving power. They are God-breathed, and any new season of repentance and revival in America can only come through a renewed focus on the great truths of God’s Word.

Just as the Lord used an 18-year-old king to begin revival in a corrupt nation more than 1,500 years ago, He can use us as we earnestly seek Him, stand for His truths, and pray for America. This is the only cure for a sin-sickened country that is about to slip into a moral abyss, and it is why we must proclaim the Good News.

My hope and prayer is that the Lord will once again move in our land. It can happen, and we are trusting that a fire of revival will ignite as tens of thousands of homes are opened up this year to share the Gospel through My Hope with Billy Graham. It will be a tremendous outreach across our country, the most extensive we have conducted in the history of this ministry, and we need your prayers and financial support as we put this massive evangelistic effort together.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ knows what lies ahead of us in the coming year, but I do know that He promises to be with us every step of the way, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Click here to read the original story on BillyGraham.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

God Loves Justice.


For I, the Lord, love justice. —Isaiah 61:8

The God of the Bible loves justice, and if you are being treated unfairly, God knows it. It is only a matter of time, and He is going to compensate. That’s a promise. Let me tell you something about Jesus, God the Son: Jesus is full of compassion. Jesus sees your tears. He knows you’re hurt.

Did the Lord notice how Leah was feeling? The Bible says, “When the Lord saw Leah was not loved, he opened her womb” (Gen. 29:31). What was Leah’s compensation? Rachel, whom Jacob loved, was barren. Leah, the unloved woman, came through where it ultimately mattered. Nothing could stop Jacob being the father of many sons because God had foreordained it. Therefore, God’s word was at stake (Gen. 22:17). You could call it His sense of humor, you could call it His sense of justice, but when God saw that Leah was not loved, He opened her womb. Rachel, the one who was loved, was contributing nothing to this oath that God swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Leah gave birth to Judah, the one through whom the Messiah, God’s Son, came. Her crown was that she graced the church with glory as no other wife of Jacob could have done. Leah’s desire was to have a husband who loved her, but her crown was what she did for the future of Israel. Jacob never appreciated Leah, but God did. And so do we.

Are you an unloved woman? God knows that. He’s going to do things for you, and if you start counting your blessings, He’s going to make it up to you—it’s only a matter of time.

Excerpted from All’s Well That Ends Well (Authentic Media, 2005).

By R. T. KENDALL.

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