October 20 One Year Bible Scripture Digest
The actions and reactions of the Jewish people and of King Jehoiakim to God’s messages in Jeremiah 35:1-36:32 are reprehensible at the least, total folly at the most.
In chapter 35, God tells Jeremiah to gather the descendants of Recab together and offer them wine. When he does, the Recabites tell Jeremiah they cannot drink it because Jehonadab, their ancestor, strictly forbade it. If they didn’t drink and followed his other instructions, they would live long, good lives in the land. Proverbs 25:26 warns against the godly compromising with the wicked. The Recabites refused to compromise.
What God says about the Recabites’ obedience and man’s disobedience is a sad commentary on mankind: “The families of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me! Therefore, the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened’.” We find further evidence of this refusal by the king’s actions in chapter 36.
God then instructs Jeremiah to write down all the messages He has been given, and present them to the people. Jeremiah does as instructed, then asks Baruch to read them at the Temple during the time of the fall Harvest Festival. News of their reading came to administration officials, who then asked Baruch to read them God’s messages. Badly frightened, these officials went to the king. As the messages are read to him, the King takes out a knife, destroys the scrolls and throws them into the fire. “Neither the king nor his officials showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard,” even when some of his officials begged him not to burn the scrolls. To this God said He would punish Jehoiakim severely: no heirs would sit on the throne, his body would be “thrown out to lie unburied,” and God would “pour out” all the disasters He had promised on the people of Judah and Jerusalem (36:21-31).
Even though the king destroyed the original scrolls and sought Jeremiah’s death, he couldn’t fight against God. God had Jeremiah re-write the scrolls and preserved Jeremiah’s life…and Jehoiakim met the fate God had decreed.
This should be a vivid warning to us: regardless of what leaders, governments, officials, zealots or others do in an attempt to thwart God, they will not succeed in the end. Like the Recabites, those who believe in God cannot compromise in being obedient to Him and His word.
The primary focus of I Timothy 5:1-25 is “who should go on welfare rolls?” The basic answer is “Very few!” In God’s eyes, “welfare” – the care and feeding of those unable to care for themselves – is first and foremost the responsibility of their family members. While many will argue that the “nuclear family” of New Testament days is not the norm today, our contemporary culture does not repudiate God’s word and will. In His will, men and women marry, raise a family, do not divorce but stay together. They study His word and are obedient to it. If a family member has a need, the family takes care of that need. If someone is truly a “widow,” with no known family members, then that person becomes a responsibility of the church (or community). Some who have studied the problem say that if God’s plans had been followed, fewer than 2% of those on our nation’s welfare rolls would require public assistance. That, too, is a sad commentary on how far we have drifted from what God intended for mankind.
Paul also discusses our courteous treatment of everyone (verses 1-2), then in 17-22 returns to the subject of congregational elders which he had begun in chapter three. Paul says that elders who “work hard at preaching and teaching” should be paid well. Some denominations designate only the pastor or other ordained staff members as “elders,” but verse 17 would indicate there are others in the congregation who meet the qualification of “elder.” He closes out the chapter by suggesting wine for medicinal purposes, and reminding us that some sins are seen openly while others are known only to ourselves. However, at the judgment, both “overt” and “covert” sins will be revealed.
Psalm 80:14-37 opens with these words: “Your (God’s) throne is founded on two strong pillars – righteousness and justice.” That was God’s plan for us from Adam onward through eternity. We cannot return to the past to right old wrongs, but we can – and should – go forward from today doing our best to put righteousness and justice into practice!