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Jeremiah 37, Psalm 10
Jeremiah Warns Zedekiah
1 Zedekiah the son of Josiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah, reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord that he spoke through Jeremiah the prophet.
3 King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Please pray for us to the Lord our God.” 4 Now Jeremiah was still going in and out among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. 5 The army of Pharaoh had come out of Egypt. And when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.
6 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: 7 “Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: Thus shall you say to the king of Judah who sent you to me to inquire of me, ‘Behold, Pharaoh's army that came to help you is about to return to Egypt, to its own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city. They shall capture it and burn it with fire. 9 Thus says the Lord, Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from us,” for they will not go away. 10 For even if you should defeat the whole army of Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.’”
11 Now when the Chaldean army had withdrawn from Jerusalem at the approach of Pharaoh's army, 12 Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to receive his portion there among the people. 13 When he was at the Benjamin Gate, a sentry there named Irijah the son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans.” 14 And Jeremiah said, “It is a lie; I am not deserting to the Chaldeans.” But Irijah would not listen to him, and seized Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 And the officials were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison.
16 When Jeremiah had come to the dungeon cells and remained there many days, 17 King Zedekiah sent for him and received him. The king questioned him secretly in his house and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah said, “There is.” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.” 18 Jeremiah also said to King Zedekiah, “What wrong have I done to you or your servants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’? 20 Now hear, please, O my lord the king: let my humble plea come before you and do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, lest I die there.” 21 So King Zedekiah gave orders, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard. And a loaf of bread was given him daily from the bakers' street, until all the bread of the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
Why Do You Hide Yourself?
1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses[a] and renounces the Lord.
4 In the pride of his face[b] the wicked does not seek him;[c]
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8 He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
We have seen again and again that the flow of the book of Jeremiah is rarely chronological. Here we jump from the reign of Jehoiakim in chapter 36 to Zedekiah (Jer. 37), the puppet monarch installed after the last legitimate king of Judah, Jehoiachin, was transported to Babylon in 597 B.C. The date is 589—588. The two incidents described in this chapter reflect the further degeneration of the leadership and illustrate yet again God’s forbearance.
(1) The first incident (37:1-10) is apparently precipitated by the fact that Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt made a show of marching out to confront the Babylonians and relieve Jerusalem. The report was sufficiently troubling to the Babylonians that they temporarily lifted the siege of Jerusalem and turned to this new threat. Zedekiah sends some emissaries to Jeremiah, asking for his intercession—presumably to make this temporary respite permanent. Jeremiah responds with the words of 37:7-10: the reprieve is temporary, the Babylonians will return, Jerusalem will be destroyed. So do not be deceived into thinking otherwise.
(2) During the reprieve, Jeremiah tries to leave the city by the Benjamite gate, apparently with the intention of inspecting his newly acquired property in Anathoth (37:11-21; cf. 32:9). But he is arrested, beaten, and imprisoned under a charge of desertion. The officials do not believe a word the prophet says, so he remains incarcerated in an underground dungeon in the home of the secretary of state. The officials are very different from their predecessors under Jehoiakim (26:19; 36:19), who seemed to be open to Jeremiah but who were under the thumb of a stubborn and wicked monarch. Here the officials are contemptuous of Jeremiah and frankly cruel to him, while King Zedekiah, more out of desperation and fear than principle, tries to keep in contact with Jeremiah and finally makes his incarceration less painful.
All this suggests that in any hierarchy, including government and church, there are many different ways for things to go wrong. Sometimes there are a lot of weak, indecisive, but not profoundly amoral underlings being manipulated by a wicked leader. Sometimes there is an indecisive leader who is being controlled by a packet of incompetent, unfaithful, evil underlings.
Reflect: “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Ps. 10:1-4).
Jeremiah 38, Psalms 11—12
Jeremiah Cast into the Cistern
1 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people, 2 “Thus says the Lord: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live. He shall have his life as a prize of war, and live. 3 Thus says the Lord: This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and be taken.” 4 Then the officials said to the king, “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” 5 King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands, for the king can do nothing against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
Jeremiah Rescued from the Cistern
7 When Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern—the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate— 8 Ebed-melech went from the king's house and said to the king, 9 “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern, and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13 Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
Jeremiah Warns Zedekiah Again
14 King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the Lord. The king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you a question; hide nothing from me.” 15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.” 16 Then King Zedekiah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the Lord lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” 20 Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is the vision which the Lord has shown to me: 22 Behold, all the women left in the house of the king of Judah were being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and were saying,
“‘Your trusted friends have deceived you
and prevailed against you;
now that your feet are sunk in the mud,
they turn away from you.’
23 All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned with fire.”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die. 25 If the officials hear that I have spoken with you and come to you and say to you, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; hide nothing from us and we will not put you to death,’ 26 then you shall say to them, ‘I made a humble plea to the king that he would not send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.’” 27 Then all the officials came to Jeremiah and asked him, and he answered them as the king had instructed him. So they stopped speaking with him, for the conversation had not been overheard. 28 And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was taken.
The Lord Is in His Holy Temple
To the choirmaster. Of David.
1 In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
3 if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”[a]
4 The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord's throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
5 The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
The Faithful Have Vanished
To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith.[b] A Psalm of David.
1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
7 You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us[c] from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
It is not easy to see how the events of Jeremiah 38 are tied to the events of Jeremiah 37:11-21. Some think they are two entirely separate episodes in the life of the prophet; others think Jeremiah 38 is an expansion of the previous chapter. However one resolves the issue, the final exchange in this chapter between Jeremiah and King Zedekiah demands serious reflection.
The events themselves are easily understood. For several decades Jeremiah has been preaching the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. For the most part, he has been ignored or mocked. With Nebuchadnezzar’s troops all around the walls, however, Jeremiah’s credibility is doubtless at an all-time high. So when he reports that the Lord says that anyone who remains in the city will die by sword, famine, or plague, while those who surrender will survive (38:2), he is much more likely to be believed than he would have been five years previously. The city’s officials, however, not believing that these words are from the Lord, see this religious God-talk as nothing more than treason—treason with the pernicious effect of undermining the confidence of the remaining troops.
The punishment Jeremiah faces is unpleasant. Most dwellings in Jerusalem in this period had cisterns, often bottle-shaped, for retaining drinking water. This one was unused, but had thick mud in its bottom. Left for very long in this place, probably without food and water, Jeremiah would die.
What saves Jeremiah, humanly speaking, is the fact that King Zedekiah still seeks his counsel. Jeremiah does not pull any punches. Though it is politically inexpedient, Jeremiah tells the king that he should obey the Lord and submit to the Babylonians: the alternative is the route to disaster (38:20-21). Perhaps Zedekiah found this hard to believe for historical reasons: the pattern of siege warfare meant that because he had resisted even this far, he was slated for execution even if he surrendered. Doubtless he also found Jeremiah’s words hard to believe for another reason: he was still far too dependent upon his “friends”—who, Jeremiah insists, would one day be mocked as useless allies who led the king into the mud (38:22).
The juxtaposition of chapters 37 and 38 (yesterday’s meditation and today’s) is no accident. Leadership of God’s people can go disastrously wrong at the top, with the underlings being better but too weak or afraid to effect the desperately needed change (Jer. 37). Or leadership may be weak or corrupt throughout the hierarchy, with the top figure too indecisive or too much of a wimp to clean things up. Saddest of all are the Christian institutions where weakness or corruption prevails at both levels.
Jeremiah 39, Psalm 13—14
The Fall of Jerusalem
1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, a breach was made in the city. 3 Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and sat in the middle gate: Nergal-sar-ezer of Samgar, Nebu-sar-sekim the Rab-saris, Nergal-sar-ezer the Rab-mag, with all the rest of the officers of the king of Babylon. 4 When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled, going out of the city at night by way of the king's garden through the gate between the two walls; and they went toward the Arabah. 5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. And when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, at Riblah, in the land of Hamath; and he passed sentence on him. 6 The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. 7 He put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon. 8 The Chaldeans burned the king's house and the house of the people, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carried into exile to Babylon the rest of the people who were left in the city, those who had deserted to him, and the people who remained. 10 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.
The Lord Delivers Jeremiah
11 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave command concerning Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, saying, 12 “Take him, look after him well, and do him no harm, but deal with him as he tells you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, Nebushazban the Rab-saris, Nergal-sar-ezer the Rab-mag, and all the chief officers of the king of Babylon 14 sent and took Jeremiah from the court of the guard. They entrusted him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he lived among the people.
15 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the guard: 16 “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day. 17 But I will deliver you on that day, declares the Lord, and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. 18 For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.’”
How Long, O Lord?
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
The Fool Says, There Is No God
To the choirmaster. Of David.
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,[a]
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord?
5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but[b] the Lord is his refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
A friend of mine once gave a university evangelistic address under the title, “Atheists Are Fools and Agnostics Are Cowards.” Needless to say, he drew a considerable crowd, even if the crowd was pretty hostile. Whether or not this was the tactically wise thing to do in that setting may, I suppose, be debated. What should not be debated is that my friend was being faithful to Scripture: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1). Indeed, if anything, the text of Scripture is stronger than the English suggests. The word rendered “fool” is in Hebrew a term of moral opprobrium suggesting perversity, churlish and aggressive perversity. Paul certainly understood the point: “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22). After all, “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” (Rom. 1:19); and “since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind” (Rom. 1:28). The Bible’s view is that in the last analysis atheism is less the product of misguided searching, a kind of intellectual mistake, than a defiant and stubborn rebellion.
The fact that atheism is not widely seen that way is itself an index of our depravity. In fact, the best-informed atheists commonly acknowledge the connection between morality and belief, between immorality and unbelief. There is a famous passage in Huxley that acknowledges that one of the driving forces behind atheistic naturalism is the desire to tear away any sort of moral condemnation of otherwise condemned behavior. In a passage scarcely less famous, Michel Foucault, one of the theoreticians behind postmodernism, frankly acknowledges that it became important for him to destroy traditional notions of truth and morality because he wished to justify his own sexual conduct. A few years ago, Foucault died of AIDS.
We must not misapply this text. Within the framework of their own presuppositions, there are many honest atheists. But the framework itself is wrong. That framework is never established by a single individual. It is built up piece by piece until certain beliefs are culturally possible, then probable, then almost inevitable—and each generation, each individual, has contributed to this massive rebellion, this lust for autonomy that refuses to recognize the rights of our Maker and our obligations to him. Atheism becomes not simply an individual choice but a social degeneracy. The ultimate result is the sweeping condemnation of Psalm 14:2-3. Compare Romans 3:10-18: sin is not merely ubiquitous but universal, and results in massive social damage (Psalm 14:4-6). At the end of the day, there is no help but in the Lord (14:7).
Jeremiah 40, Psalms 15—16
Jeremiah Remains in Judah
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he took him bound in chains along with all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being exiled to Babylon. 2 The captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, “The Lord your God pronounced this disaster against this place. 3 The Lord has brought it about, and has done as he said. Because you sinned against the Lord and did not obey his voice, this thing has come upon you. 4 Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well, but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go. 5 If you remain,[a] then return to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed governor of the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people. Or go wherever you think it right to go.” So the captain of the guard gave him an allowance of food and a present, and let him go. 6 Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.
7 When all the captains of the forces in the open country and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land and had committed to him men, women, and children, those of the poorest of the land who had not been taken into exile to Babylon, 8 they went to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan the son of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men. 9 Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. 10 As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah, to represent you before the Chaldeans who will come to us. But as for you, gather wine and summer fruits and oil, and store them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.” 11 Likewise, when all the Judeans who were in Moab and among the Ammonites and in Edom and in other lands heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, as governor over them, 12 then all the Judeans returned from all the places to which they had been driven and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah. And they gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance.
13 Now Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life?” But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam would not believe them. 15 Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah at Mizpah, “Please let me go and strike down Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he take your life, so that all the Judeans who are gathered about you would be scattered, and the remnant of Judah would perish?” 16 But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you are speaking falsely of Ishmael.”
Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?
A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
You Will Not Abandon My Soul
A Miktam[a] of David.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.[b]
4 The sorrows of those who run after[c] another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.[d]
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[e] rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.[f]
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When Jerusalem fell in 587 B.C. (Jer. 39), Zedekiah was punished horribly, though leniently by the standards of siege warfare of the day. As for Jeremiah, probably the reports of his prophecies about the fall of Jerusalem soon filtered through the captives to Nebuchadnezzar (who was not himself at Jerusalem, but maintained regional headquarters at Riblah, leaving the final assault to his commander Nebuzaradan). In consequence the emperor gave orders that Jeremiah was to be well-treated (39:12). Initially that order was carried out, and Jeremiah was turned over to Gedaliah (39:13-14), who became the new governor of the region after the imperial troops had withdrawn, taking countless captives into exile.
That sets the stage for Jeremiah 40. The framework of the story is simple enough; the closing verses of the narrative evoke reflection on a terribly important theme. First, the framework: Those who were to be transported to exile were gathered at Ramah, which served as a rallying point about five miles north of Jerusalem. Despite Nebuchadnezzar’s instructions to leave Jeremiah with Gedaliah, somehow the prophet was swept up in this group (40:1). Anyone familiar with the confusion of war understands how easily this could have happened. The commander Nebuzaradan freed him and offered to take him to Babylon; probably it would have added to the commander’s prestige back home to be the patron of a great prophet who had predicted Babylon’s success. But Jeremiah was free to make his own decision, and he opted to stay with the remnant in Judah. Nebuzaradan provided him with food and a gift (40:5)—one more instance of the principle that a prophet is often honored by everyone except those closest to him (cf. Matt. 13:57).
But the account rushes on to describe the early stages of Gedaliah’s governorship. On almost all fronts he did the right thing. He encouraged the poor to settle down and till the land and gather the harvest. He drew in the Jewish “army officers still in the open country” (40:13), a potentially dangerous guerrilla force that might have broken out in the kind of anarchy that would have angered Babylon again. Even those who had fled to nearby countries began to return home (40:11-12), reassured by the moves Gedaliah was making to ensure stability. But Gedaliah’s great weakness was that he could not believe ill of people. Despite all the evil of the previous years, he still did not believe that evil happens, that evil people do evil things, that leadership must sometimes oppose evil. On so many fronts he was a good man. But he paid for his Pollyannish optimism with his life.
Jeremiah 41, Psalm 17
1 In the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. As they ate bread together there at Mizpah, 2 Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land. 3 Ishmael also struck down all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.
4 On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before anyone knew of it, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came. As he met them, he said to them, “Come in to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.” 7 When they came into the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the men with him slaughtered them and cast them into a cistern. 8 But there were ten men among them who said to Ishmael, “Do not put us to death, for we have stores of wheat, barley, oil, and honey hidden in the fields.” So he refrained and did not put them to death with their companions.
9 Now the cistern into which Ishmael had thrown all the bodies of the men whom he had struck down along with[a] Gedaliah was the large cistern that King Asa had made for defense against Baasha king of Israel; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain. 10 Then Ishmael took captive all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king's daughters and all the people who were left at Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.
11 But when Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, 12 they took all their men and went to fight against Ishmael the son of Nethaniah. They came upon him at the great pool that is in Gibeon. 13 And when all the people who were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him, they rejoiced. 14 So all the people whom Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah turned around and came back, and went to Johanan the son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites. 16 Then Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him took from Mizpah all the rest of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, after he had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam—soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs, whom Johanan brought back from Gibeon. 17 And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt 18 because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
In the Shadow of Your Wings
A Prayer of David.
1 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
2 From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right!
3 You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
4 With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.
6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
7 Wondrously show[a] your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They have now surrounded our steps;
they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
12 He is like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O Lord,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life.[b]
You fill their womb with treasure;[c]
they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
The account of Gedaliah's assassination and its aftermath (Jer. 41) is brutal and ugly.
(1) The man responsible for Gedaliah’s death, Ishmael son of Nethaniah (40:8; 41:1), was a man of royal blood, and may have been incensed because he was not the one the Babylonians appointed to rule the people. It is always shocking to see people scrambling for power even when there is nothing more than disaster and poverty over which to exercise power.
(2) The depth of Ishmael’s perfidy is powerfully portrayed. To kill people at a meal you are sharing was far more shocking in the sixth century B.C. than in our own, inured as we are by Agatha Christie novels and the like. Moreover, Ishmael’s rage boils over so that others are assassinated, including the Babylonian troops left behind to keep an eye on things. The motive impelling the next atrocity (41:4- 7) is uncertain: Ishmael may still have been suspicious of anyone interested in serving Gedaliah (41:6). Or in the still terribly unstable political situation following the war, he may have been intent on robbery and mayhem. The latter view is favored by the fact that some of the pilgrims save their lives by telling Ishmael of a food cache (41:8).
(3) Johanan son of Kereah was the one who first warned Gedaliah of Ishmael’s conspiracy (40:13-14). Now he is equally quick to put together a band and go after Ishmael and his men and those they have taken captive (41:11-12). Even though Ishmael and eight of his men escape, the captives are rescued (41:14-15).
(4) Now Johanan must ask himself what to do. He and those with him are afraid that when the murder of Gedaliah and the others is reported back to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar will be so filled with rage that he will send back powerful army units and kill everyone who is left. So Johanan starts south, heading for Egypt, stopping near Bethlehem (just south of Jerusalem) to gather together those who want to escape with him.
(5) Theologically, all of this is part of the utter devastation befalling Judah. The city and temple have been destroyed. The Davidic dynasty has ended. All of the leaders, craftsmen, priests, and the like have been deported in waves (see 52:28- 30). And now, just when it seems that a good man, Gedaliah, might somehow nurse this broken nation back through slow recovery to real economic and political health, he is assassinated, and the few remaining leaders fear the Babylonians and plan to flee to Egypt. Unaware of what they are doing, they thus bring to perfect fulfillment the prophecies of utter doom that Jeremiah has pronounced for four decades.
Jeremiah 42, Psalm 18
Warning Against Going to Egypt
1 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” 4 Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”
7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.
18 “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. 19 The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day 20 that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says declare to us and we will do it.’ 21 And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. 22 Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.”
The Lord Is My Rock and My Fortress
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:
1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;[a]
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,[b]
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules[c] were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;[d]
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,[e]
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48 who delivered me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you rescued me from the man of violence.
49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.
There is an old joke about a reprobate who absorbs just enough religion to think he should try to get his life in order. He goes to a minister, who tells him that the best thing he can do is turn away from his whiskey, his women, and his gambling. The old boy looks thoughtful for a few moments and then says, “You know, I don’t think I deserve the best. What’s second best?”
One might have thought that in the wake of the disastrous destruction of Jerusalem, long predicted by Jeremiah, the prophet would have enormous credibility among the survivors. The sad reality is that he has enough credibility for them to consult him, but no more (Jer. 42). What they want is divine approval for the plan they themselves have already concocted. They do not want God’s best, or God’s will, but God’s approval of their will. Jeremiah carefully seeks God, and ten days later (42:7) the word of the Lord comes to him. The substance of the message is this: stay in Judah, and God will protect you; fly to Egypt, and God will take this as a further sign of rebellion, and God’s wrath will pursue you and destroy you there, just as it recently destroyed so many in and around Jerusalem. Even as he is delivering this message, Jeremiah sees that it is not going down very well, and that the hostility against it—and against him—is deep. The next chapter (Jer. 43) records the sneering skepticism and the resolve of the leaders to disregard Jeremiah and his messages, to dismiss his words as outright lies, and to collect the remnant of the people and travel to Egypt. That is what they do, bringing Jeremiah with them.
Most movements that spring up from the fertile soils of Christendom appeal, in one way or another, to the will of God. Few probe the will of God very deeply. God is for evangelism; therefore he is for the way we are proposing to do evangelism, and we invoke his will to sanction our methods. God is love; therefore he is against church discipline except in the most egregious cases (which either never arise, or, if they do, by the time they do they too are covered by the love of God), and we invoke God’s will to sanction our determined niceness. God wants his people to be separate and holy; therefore we must withdraw into huddled isolationism and lob hateful barbs against all who disagree with us, and we invoke God’s will to authorize our tearless harshness and ruthless condescension. These wretched pits are terribly easy to fall into. All it takes is resolution, and no more real interest in the will of God than what we need to sanction our preferences.
Jeremiah 43, Psalm 19
Jeremiah Taken to Egypt
1 When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord their God, with which the Lord their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah. 5 But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven— 6 the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. 7 And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the Lord. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes: 9 “Take in your hands large stones and hide them in the mortar in the pavement that is at the entrance to Pharaoh's palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah, 10 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will set his throne above these stones that I have hidden, and he will spread his royal canopy over them. 11 He shall come and strike the land of Egypt, giving over to the pestilence those who are doomed to the pestilence, to captivity those who are doomed to captivity, and to the sword those who are doomed to the sword. 12 I shall kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and carry them away captive. And he shall clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd cleans his cloak of vermin, and he shall go away from there in peace. 13 He shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt, and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.’”
The Law of the Lord Is Perfect
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,[c]
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules[d] of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19 is one of the precious gems of the Psalter. It has three sections. The first delights in the wordless disclosure of God in the universe (19:1-6); the second exults in the clarity, perfection, and wealth of God’s written revelation (19:7-11); after a transitional verse (19:11), the third section portrays the appropriate response of the believer, a response full of self-examination and godly resolve.
If ancient Israel was sometimes inclined to worship the created order—sun, moon, stars—our generation is more inclined to marshal arguments that make them the product of impersonal forces and nothing more. Both stances are abominations. Owing to our culture’s prevalent philosophical commitment to naturalism, the powerful evidence of intelligent design is marginalized until we can no longer see the obvious: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (19:1). The paradox of wordless utterance is delightful, as is the vision of irrepressible speech: “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (19:2-4).
But it is in connection with his written self-disclosure that the covenant name of God, Yahweh (“the LORD” in many of our English Bibles), appears seven times (19:7-11). The six predications (19:7-9) overlap somewhat, but together they project a vision of written revelation that anticipates the even fuller exposition of Psalm 119. One of the striking things about these six affirmations is that several of them are not merely abstract. The text not only says something about the words of God, but about their function in the lives of those who absorb them and follow them. For instance: “The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy” (19:7): that is so, but the psalmist does not leave things there. Precisely because the LORD’s statutes are trustworthy, they serve to make wise the simple. Again: “The precepts of the LORD are right” (19:8)—a point strengthened in the next verse: “The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous” (19:9). But that is precisely why they give joy to the heart (19:8): we are dealing with the Lord’s righteous precepts and ordinances, so they are never corrupt or manipulative.
What these two spheres of revelation demand is more than awe in the face of transcendent power, and more than personal delight in the personal, talking God—but both. Indeed, the appropriate response is repentance and faith, and zealous prayer that God himself would purify us within and make our words and meditations pleasing in his sight (19:12-14).
Pray for the Church
Praise God for the gift of His Word and for His guidance in each of our lives. Ask God to protect us from the temptation of sin and to strengthen our resolve to resist sin when we are faced with it. Confess any unrepentant sin and rejoice in God’s forgiveness and restoration. Pray for God to “deepen our roots” as both individuals and as a church in His Word. Ask God to grant us wisdom and discernment in particular regard to whom and what we allow to influence our thoughts and actions. Pray for all those you know still lost in sin to repent and trust in Christ so we might all stand together in the final judgment.
Pray for the City
This week we are praying for Restoration Academy (restorationacademy.org), a K-12 Christian school located in Fairfield, AL, with a mission to provide an excellent, Christ-Centered education to students predominantly from lower-income families. Restoration Academy is committed to meeting individual students at their point of need, providing dynamic instruction and curriculum, competitive sports, and outlets for kids to grow into all God desires while breaking generational cycles of poverty, violence, addiction, and fatherlessness. We are also praying for The Oaks Community Church, Chelsea, and Chris Harris, Pastor.
Day 1: Pray for the administration, teachers, and volunteers at Restoration Academy who daily pour into the students. Pray for them to walk in faithful obedience to God’s will and to be encouraged and strengthened by His Spirit.
Day 2: Pray for the gospel to be proclaimed to students who do not yet know Christ. It is the school’s goal that, upon graduation, each student would have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and be committed to following Him.
Day 3: Pray for the 70+ weekly tutors who invest in the students and the 100+ volunteers who serve as teachers aides, classroom sponsors, and “Room Moms.” Pray for God to raise up additional tutors, mentors, and fundraising advocates.
Day 4: Pray for the students who have already put their faith in Christ, to be salt and light in their community, school, and family. Pray for them to discern the will of God and have the courage to be set apart from the rest of the world.
Day 5: Pray for the families of the students, many of which are facing financial and family problems. Pray, through Christ, for their relationships with God and with others to be reconciled and physical needs met.
Day 6: Pray for the City of Fairfield where Restoration Academy is located. Fairfield is a lower-income, higher-crime city in western Jefferson County. Pray for Fairfield to be revitalized by God’s restoration and peace.
Pray for the World
This week we are praying for Brook Hills Member Organization, SPEAR International. SPEAR International exists to encourage, equip, and empower believers worldwide to fulfill their role in the great commission. SPEAR primarily serves in Kenya, Cuba, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Join us this week as we pray for SPEAR, their leadership, and the work God is doing in and through their ministry. For more information visit spearim.org. This week we are also praying for our Short-Term Team serving in the Middle East.
Day 1: Praise God for SPEAR and all He is accomplishing through their ministry. Praise God for the way the gospel is spreading through partnerships with SPEAR and local churches around the world.
Day 2: SPEAR is constantly widening their circle of partners. Pray for wisdom regarding potential partnerships with internationals and with other like-minded organizations in the United States.
Day 3: SPEAR has a strong partnership in South East Asia with a pastor named “J.” Pray for “J” and his family as they face hardship and persecution because of their faith. Pray for God to use SPEAR to encourage and strengthen this brother as he perseveres in ministry.
Day 4: Pray for wisdom, faith, and courage as the leadership of SPEAR International seeks to discern and follow the leading of God.
Day 5: SPEAR is helping The Church at Brook Hills develop Mid-Term opportunities in South East Asia this Fall. Pray for God to open doors for our faith family to be able to serve among unreached people groups and for wisdom to see how best to participate.
Day 6: Pray for God to continue to strengthen SPEAR’s ministry and influence around the world.
What heart could hold the weight of Your love
And know the heights of Your great worth
What eyes could look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
You are holy holy holy
God most high and God most worthy
You are holy holy holy
Jesus You are Jesus You are
Jesus You are Jesus You are
Your name alone has pow'r to raise us
Your light will shine when all else fades
Our eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You God
Who shall we say You are
You're the living God
Who shall we say You are
You're the Great I Am
The highest name of all
You're all You say You are
And You will come again in glory
To judge the living and the dead
All eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You God
Man Of Sorrows
Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid
Oh that rugged cross my salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee
Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father's will
He took a crown of thorns
Oh that rugged cross my salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee
Sent of heaven God's own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree
Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He's risen from the grave
Nothing But the Blood
What can wash away my sin
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my pardon this I see
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my cleansing this my plea
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Nothing can for sin atone
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Naught of good that I have done
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my hope and peace
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my righteousness
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Jesus Firm Foundation
How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He has said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled
Fear not He is with us O be not dismayed
For He is our God our Sustainer and Strength
He'll be our Defender and cause us to stand
Upheld by His merciful almighty hand
How firm our foundation
How sure our salvation
And we will not be shaken
Jesus firm foundation
The soul that is trusting in Jesus as Lord
Will press on enduring the darkest of storm
And though even hell should endeavor to shake
He'll never no never no never forsake
He'll never no never no never forsake
Age to age He stands faithful to the end
All may fade away but He will remain
He will remain