This book is an expression of Jeremiah’s sorrow over the loss of the city of Jerusalem – and indeed, the whole nation. Their sins had brought the wrath of God according to their covenant with God, and now all seems lost. However, in the middle of this book, we find hope. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning,” Lamentations 3:22-23a. The world is never out of control, Lam. 3:37-38, and we can count on the Lord to be executing his plans to save many for His great name!
1 Peter 4-5
- Sufferings, continued: 1 Peter 4:1-2, 12-14, suggest that we should look at our suffering in this time as the suffering of Christ. Christ’s suffering accomplished something; He endured the cross for the joy ahead of Him, Hebrews 12:2. Suffering is to be expected, and it accomplishes refining in us. For the people of God, suffering is discipline, Hebrews 12.
- “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 and James 4:6 both contain this quote of Proverbs 3:34. Think about the ministry of Jesus and the various people with whom He interacted. How did Jesus employ this truth?
- Hope: When we employ the advice Peter gives in this letter, we can be confident of the end of the matter. God himself will accomplish all things in us. 1 Peter 5:10.
2 Peter 1-3
- Grace: Like 1 Peter, 2 Peter begins with a review of what God has done for us, His people. This is the key to faithful Christian living.
- Christian practice: Notice as we build upon the foundation of faith, it produced great fruit, 2 Peter 1:5-11. This is the key to confirming our calling and election. We can be more confident of our faith if indeed we are building godly character upon its foundation. This is not what saves us – but what shows us we are saved. This is the way God brings us into the kingdom.
- The Word of God: Peter and the other apostles were eyewitnesses of what Jesus Christ did – including the transfiguration, 2 Peter 1:16-17; Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35. Peter and the others had the “prophetic word more fully confirmed,” and their teaching came from that position of ultimate authority. The prophecies of God (Old and New Testament) are products not of men, but of the Holy Spirit Himself, 2 Peter 1:20-21. Notice that Peter also includes the writings of Paul alongside the “other Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:16.
- Heresies: False teachers come with a variety of heresies, but most of them involve some kind of “sensuality.” 2 Peter 2:2, 18. In other words, what they teach indulges some fleshly desire – desire to sin, desire to feel special, desire for monetary or social gain. Greed is often their motivation, and they are willing lie and even to deny Jesus Christ to push forth their own agenda. Some of these people are those who once walked in our ways, but turned away, 2 Peter 2:20-22.
- Coming judgment: 2 Peter 2:4-22. As surely as God judged angels, the world in Noah’s day, and Sodom and Gomorrah, he will judge again, and false teachers will be at the front of the line! Some doubt that God will intervene with judgment because they see things are just moving along, business as usual. But they forget the past – that a flood was a massive intervention in the history of the planet. And during that time, those people were not expecting it. Every day that the return of Jesus is delayed is the grace of God being patient while people come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9. So how ought we to live? What should be our priorities know that the day is coming like a thief in the night? See 2 Peter 3:14-18.
During the destruction of Jerusalem, the Edomites (descendants of Esau) captured some of the people fleeing Judah and turned them over to Babylonian authorities. God never forgets this and pronounces judgment on Edom for this. See also Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14.
Jeremiah 40-44, 46-49, 50-51
- God cares for His own: A message from a Babylonian? Jeremiah 40-1-6. The captain of the guard of Babylon brought a message to Jeremiah – he was allowed to go, and to choose his way! Is there any limit to who God can use for his purposes? God remembered the faithfulness of Jeremiah and protected him through the chaos of the battle. How can we trust God in a similar way?
- Continued sin in the land: Despite all that came upon Judah to fulfill the words of the prophets, many continued to act wickedly. Struggles for power resulted in much violence in the land, Jeremiah 40-41. The remnant of people consulted Jeremiah about whether to flee the land to go to Egypt. The clear answer from God was “no,” Jeremiah 42. They of course go anyway, and Jeremiah’s message is that even Egypt will fall to Babylon, Jeremiah 43.
- Judgment on the nations: Jeremiah 46-49, 50-51. God not only deals with Israel, he is sovereign over all nations, and judges them also for their sins – first and foremost, how they treated Israel. God has always done this and will continue. What sins is our nation guilty of? Its leaders? Its people? What will God do to it? What about His people living within it?
- Psalm 137 – How must it have felt to be taken from Judah to Babylon? How would you feel about the nation that took you from your home? How would you feel about the neighbor that betrayed your people to the enemy? Are these feelings that we can bring to God? What are you holding back from God?
- Psalm 147 – Praises to God! In the midst of all was are reading in the Old Testament right now, we know that God will restore Jerusalem and bring Jesus Christ there to make a New Covenant! We know that every moment of history we read is pushing forward to the redemption of a multitude of people from every tribe, tongue, nation and language, including us! Praise the Lord for his wisdom and faithfulness. Praise the Lord for keeping all of his promises!
- Psalm 80 – This asks the question “why did God destroy Israel/Jerusalem?” Notice that the hope is in God’s right hand, Psalm 80:17, the son of man! Pray to God, “Give us life, and we will call upon your name!”