10:2 (classic NLT) This is what the LORD says: "Do not act like other nations who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.
(NASB) Thus says the LORD, "Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens although the nations are terrified by them... What a HUGE distinction! I was instantly suspect of the way NLT read because the Bible teaches that God gave the sun, moon, and stars for "signs and seasons (Hebrew: divine appointments)." Sure, we are not to practice astrology, but we were given the skies to announce things that God is up to. I find it comforting that we are not to be terrified, even if/when God announces judgment through the skies. We don't have to be terrified because we know that we will be protected and taken care of, no matter what happens!
10:3-4 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Since the traditions of Christmas came out of paganism, especially Babylonian (we studied this in January), I would not be surprised if this is talking about the "Christmas tree." I am even more convinced than ever that these holidays steeped in paganism are going to create some dividing line for us in the future between true children of God and not. These modern holidays (Christmas and Easter), established my man, are not even close to the Holy Days established by God.
10:15 They (idols) are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. I don't know about you, but I look forward to the day when idols are no longer a temptation!
10:23-24 I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, LORD, but only with justice—not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing. Jeremiah knew that in calling up the Lord's justice, he was calling forth mercy. What a beautiful reminder that God directs our steps! His sovereignty is a lifelong journey of understanding in itself!
11:3-5 'Cursed is the man who does not obey the terms of this covenant-the terms I commanded your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.' I said, 'Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey'-the land you possess today." I answered, "Amen, LORD." It is so wonderful to understand this passage now! As soon as I saw a curse for not obeying the terms of the covenant, I instantly suspected the Mosaic Covenant (rewards for obedience). Sure enough! The Mosaic Covenant was given to the Israelites when they were coming out of Egypt and before they could enter the Promised Land. You can read more about the curses in Deuteronomy 28, but basically it is LIFE to obey, and DEATH to disobey. Life now, and life later. Remember that the Mosaic Covenant is still in force in the Spirit today, that those who are obedient will get into the future Promised Land, the Millennial Kingdom. I repeat some of this stuff in case we have newcomers who have not benefited from our foundation through the months. Here are more words about the Mosaic Covenant in this passage:
11:7-8 From the time I brought your forefathers up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, "Obey me." But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.
11:11 Therefore this is what the LORD says: 'I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. Remember there are consequences for breaking the Covenant, both for physical Israel in the OT, and for spiritual Israel now. One question I do have is if a person (or is this more of a "national" covenant) has to agree or "sign" the Covenant to be held accountable to it. It is different than salvation, but an agreement to obey and follow God wholeheartedly. I would like to study out these Covenants more thoroughly and feel as if I know so little about them.
3:23-25 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. More of the Mosaic Covenant! Please note that the Mosaic Covenant is not to be confused with salvation by grace, but deals fully with rewards for obedience. But this is powerful because we mentioned earlier in the week that most Christians (me until recently) believe that we won't incur judgment for sin. Now I am like, "That's totally NOT what the Bible teaches...how did I miss it?" All repented and reconciled sin (with man or God) will not be held against us, but we will definitely be judged for all the things we have not made right with man and God, especially when we are aware of them. I truly believe God is fair and just, and for many people, they are not aware of certain sins. But Jesus even said, those who KNEW better will be judged more harshly (Luke 12:47). Knowledge is dangerous-it is accountability! But if you have been following this blog, it is already too late for you! You won't be able to claim ignorance, and neither will I. Yikes! As a reminder of some of the sins Jesus and the Bible teach we will be held accountable for if they are not made right:
Oppressing other believers (Luke 12:45)
Living carnal lives (Luke 12:45)
Unforgiveness (Matt. 6:14)
Not helping the poor and needy (financially and materially) (James 5)
Idolatry (giving ourselves over to habit sins, addictions, materialism, etc., without struggling against them)
4:3-4 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Paul frequently prayed for courage, strength, and opportunity for sharing the true Gospel. It's because there was so much indignation and jealousy when the Jews heard that the Gentiles would also be saved. It is not unlike Jonah, who was mad at God that He was going to save Nineveh. Jonah thought Nineveh deserved to be punished and destroyed! People are so self-righteous that they do not want to believe God is that inclusive or that merciful. They want to see others punished indefinitely without the hope of reconciliation! What a pity.