Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jeremiah 7

Today's reading in our daily plan is Jeremiah 7. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Today’s chapter opens with God sending Jeremiah to the Temple (which was the place where God’s people went to worship Him) gates to give a message to those who believed that God would not let harm come to His Temple or to those who lived near it.
  • Again, as in previous chapters, God gives the people of Israel an opportunity to change their ways and to follow Him; if they do so, God will show them mercy and will not send destruction to the city of Jerusalem.
  • God asks for obedience from His people in practicing justice, in refusing to take advantage of those who are defenseless and vulnerable, and to end their worship of “idols” (which are false gods). The Israelites would participate in these types of acts and then bring an offering to the Temple without changing their hearts and they believed the act of these rituals would keep them safe.
  • God reminds the Israelites that although His Tabernacle was among the Israelites in the city of Shiloh, God allowed His people to be defeated by the people of Philistia because of their wickedness (see 1 Samuel 4:3-11). The Tabernacle was a portable tent that served as a place of worship for the Israelites; they used the Tabernacle during their 40 years in the wilderness and when they entered the land of Israel, the Tabernacle was placed in the city of Shiloh. The Temple was a permanent stone structure for worship built in Jerusalem.
  • God had been sending prophets to the Israelites for generations to give the people God’s message and instructions about how to live. But for hundreds of years, the people of Israel refused to listen and pursued their own desires.
  • The passage ends with God’s anger about the Israelites offering their children as sacrifices in a valley close to Jerusalem, and the Temple, which was used as a dumping ground for debris and rubbish from the city of Jerusalem. Because the sinful ways of the people of Israel would bring their death and destruction, this valley would soon be known as “the Valley of Slaughter”.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The people of Israel were following a worship ritual and going through the motions but they continued in their sinful ways. It was religion without personal commitment to God. God does not need our offerings; the system He designed was to encourage His people to joyfully obey Him. The sacrifices themselves did not please Him, but rather the sacrifices were a way for the people to recognize their sin and refocus on living for God.
  • God is consistently faithful even when faced with human resistance. He reminds His people over and over again of what He desires for them and of the past failures of His people. The reminders of the history of His grace and the stubbornness of His people are intended to guide us and prevent us from making the same mistakes.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Are you just going through the motions when you come to church on Sunday or Monday? Do you slide into your seat just as the lights are dimming? Do you stand and half-heartedly mouth the words of the worship songs? One way to be more intentional with your time at church is to participate in fellowship. When you come to Verve services this week, try showing up ten minutes early, mingle in the lobby, grab a cup of coffee, and say hello to someone you haven’t chatted with before.
  • This weekend, would you be willing to sign up for a First Serve? It’s a chance to check out any (or all!) of the volunteer ministries until you find the one that feels like the right fit. Getting connected to a volunteer ministry is another way you can be deliberate about loving God’s people and turning the world upside-down.