God’s anger “marks the end of indifference.” It marks the end of His patience with sinners, and ironically, it also signals the opening of the door to experiencing His mercy. This is the discipleship of Jeremiah—who spoke with compassion yet clarity and realism and counseled his people toward a relentless pursuit of the Lord through their pain.
God is love. He would never intentionally bring pain and suffering into my life. Therefore, the grief that I experience is from some impersonal force—like fate— something random and out of control. It certainly cannot be from God. He is too good to let me suffer.
Many professing Christians reason this way.
But the Bible clearly teaches that God is both infinitely good and in control of all creation—even the evil in the world. Though He is not the author of evil, He is Ruler over it, as the book of Job illustrates. And because God is in control of all things, we can have hope and turn to Him for mercy and grace in the face of overwhelming circumstances.
In Lamentations 2:1-22, Jeremiah did not stop with simply recognizing that the Lord was the One who was behind Judah’s horrifying circumstances. To simply say, “God did this,” and then stop would leave God’s people to dangle over the precipice of bitterness and despair. It would inevitably lead to hardness of heart and hopelessness. Instead, as pastor-poet, Jeremiah moved on to shepherd the severely disciplined nation and thus minister a measure of comfort and hope to them.
We, like Jeremiah, must live with the temporal consequences of sin in a fallen world.
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By Rick Conrad — 2 months ago
For Jesus the words of Exodus were not simply a record of what God said to his people in the past, but a word that God was continuing to speak to people who were living 1,500 years later. And although the Sadducees evidently either didn’t understand or didn’t believe the words that they read, God had spoken to them nonetheless, and Jesus holds them accountable for the message that they had received from their Creator.
When we open our Bibles, who is speaking to us through the words that we read? Is it God himself, or do we just have the thoughts of people like us who lived a long time ago? Could it be, as Muslims say, a word that originally came from God but was corrupted by copyists over the centuries? Or should we be even more sophisticated and say that the Bible isn’t God’s word but that it contains God’s word, or that it can become God’s word when he chooses to speak through it?
Well before we go and ask the theologians, let’s pose the question: what did Jesus think about the Bible?
But when I say “the Bible,” I mean Scripture, and you don’t have to spend much time in the gospels to see that Scripture is a big deal to Jesus. What I want to know is, according to Jesus, what is the nature of Scripture? Whether you have five books as Joshua did, thirty-nine books as Jesus did,1 or sixty-six books like we do today, who is (ultimately) the author of the books that you have? Are these merely the thoughts of men, or are we holding the word of God?
Jesus’ Use of the Bible
By Kendall Lankford — 5 months ago
As Jesus declared, false messiahs would arise in Judah. Wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and persecutions would likewise break out within the empire. According to His Olivet prophecy, many confessing Christians would be tortured into apostasy, the nation of Judah would be plunged into murderous insanity, and the Gospel would be declared boldly throughout the Roman world by evangelists like Paul and his companions. All of these things happened before the legions of Rome surrounded the city of Jerusalem, which means we are not waiting on a future fulfillment, but we may rightly extol the glory of Christ for this magnificent prophecy that was perfectly fulfilled in a single generation just like He said.
Today we continue our look at the signs of the times by looking at several additional pieces of evidence that Jesus gave that would mark this tumultuous period immediately before Jerusalem’s fall. He tells us in Matthew 24:10
10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:10-14
Many Will Fall Away
Before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies, a period of increased apostasy would plague the first-century church. Jesus predicted that the combination of persecutions, false messiahs, false doctrine, and other calamities brought about in this unique period would be so severe that many would fall away from their faith and would stop walking with Him. This would be especially tempting for those who converted from Judaism since they could likely end their suffering by denying Christ. Scripture attests to the veracity of all of this.
For instance, Paul expresses shock in one of his earliest letters that so many Christians were abandoning Christ (Galatians 1:6) and going after a false Gospel (Galatians 5:4). He warned the Thessalonian church not to be deceived by any of the liars or false teachers that were busily fomenting perverted teachings in their midst because a great apostasy had to occur before the Lord would return in judgment (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He told Timothy that the Spirit expressly revealed this period of apostasy was coming (1 Timothy 4:1), where men would become spiritually shipwrecked and stray away from their Christian faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 6:20-21). He warned that abandoning Christ and apostolic teaching, to return back unto Judaism, would cause them to become re-enslaved to the powerless law (2 Timothy 4:10; Galatians 4:8-10) which tickled many apostates itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Paul is not the only one who acknowledges this reality and affirms Jesus’ prophecy. Peter warns the saints not to follow the false prophets (2 Peter 2:1-3), who behave like unreasoning animals (2 Peter 2:10-15), who return to their own vomit (2 Peter 2:20-22). If they follow such men, Peter warns them that they will be carried away (2 Peter 3:17) and driven into the same eternal darkness those who are polluting them are destined for (2 Peter 2:17).
Jude, likewise, calls the apostates within the community hidden reefs that will bring tremendous ruin upon the church (Jude 12) who are called to contend for the Gospel and build themselves up on the most holy Gospel (Jude 4, 20). The author of Hebrews says that some, who had tasted the goodness of that Gospel, unforgivably decided to return back to the damnable troughs of the Jewish religion (Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-31). They did this instead of waiting on the judgment coming of the Lord (Hebrews 10:35-39).
The apostle John, in much the same manner, reminds his audience that everyone departing from the community of faith was not truly in the faith, to begin with (1 John 2:19), but even so, the faithful should attempt to call those who left to repentance before destruction overtakes them (1 John 5:16-17; See also James 5:19-20; Jude 22-23).
The plain and simple truth is that we are not waiting on a future apostasy to fulfill the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. That period has already occurred within the early church where countless believers made shipwreck of their faith and ran back to the manure of religion. Sadly, they would find the sacrifices and trappings of Mosaic Judaism ill-equipped to stop the judgment Christ was bringing.
Many Will Betray and Hate One Another
Another sign Jesus gave was that Jewish people would hate and betray one another, which went beyond the persecutions they would inflict upon the Christians. Jesus told them elsewhere that a “brother would betray his own brother” and that family members would turn in violence upon one another in those darkest of days (Matthew 10:21-22). This fact is illustrated powerfully in the writings of many ancient historians, which we will not have time to cover extensively but will sample for just a moment.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the nation of Judah underwent rapid political instability that drove them towards madness. From emperors like Caligula demanding that his statue be erected in the temple to Roman procurators like Gessius Florus who killed thousands of Jews in the city, simply for mocking his greed, it seemed like the Jews were being provoked toward all-out war and they were taking the bait “hook, line, and sinker”. Yet, instead of unifying together against their common enemy, factions splintered and they began attacking each other.
Josephus tells us that the land became filled with despicable tyrants, murderers, and robbers who murdered their own countrymen for more than two decades (Wars 2.12.5). After that original band of murderers was put down by Governor Felix, a new group of Jewish assassins, called the Sicarii, began slaying their own people in broad daylight for obeying the Romans (Wars 2.13.3). Another group soon began polluting the city with talks of insurrection and like the former was put down by Governor Felix (Wars 12.13.4). Still another faction began murdering anyone in the city who refused to revolt from Rome, even setting houses on fire with women and children in them (Wars 2.13.6) and plundering the corpses for sport.
By Shane Idleman — 5 months ago
Before there is a battle cry there must be a heart cry. Before we fight, we must repent. Sadly, many Christians are angry but still arrogant, wound-up but not worshippers, haughty but not holy. What’s it going to take to finally break us? More perversion? More violence? More depravity? Wake up church!
A battle cry is used to summon armies to war. A loud, unified shout could intimidate the strongest of enemies. Confidence in battle often tilts the scale toward victory, whereas timidity, fear, and cowardliness will surely lead to defeat.
In these dreadful times, don’t be shamed into silence. Follow Isaiah’s lead and raise your voice like a trumpet — awake and arise! (58:1; 60:1).
Can We Handle the Truth?
America today is a lot like Israel in Isaiah’s time. He painted a very vivid picture of Israel’s depravity: “You sons of the sorceress, you offspring of the adulterer and the harlot!” (57:3).
The love of the occult, magic, and divination has never been greater, nor has sexual perversion. The stench has surely reached the nostrils of God.
Isaiah lamented that they inflamed themselves “with gods under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks” (57:5).
They slaughtered their children on the altar of pleasure. Sound familiar? Did you know that rape or the loss of life of the mother is not the driving force behind abortion? The main driving force is failure to take responsibility for sexual sin.
Blatant Sin Demands a Strong Rebuke
Many today would no doubt chide Isaiah for his apparent lack of grace and love. But God showed tremendous grace, mercy, and love while dealing with Israel. Even today, He is patient and long-suffering with us.
Although many of the prophetic books are not always in chronological order, we find in Isaiah 55 that everyone who thirsts could come to the waters and drink freely, and that those who seek the Lord will find Him. What an incredible promise!
In Isaiah 56, we are encouraged to seek righteousness. He then switches gears and talks about blind watchmen who cannot bark and warn the people. God loved His people so much that he would send prophetic voices to warn them. Are you listening today?