Thursday 13th October 2022


This letter was sent for the same reason that 1 Thessalonians was written – and as a follow-up and reinforcement to it.  A church in the middle of persecution needs a great deal of encouragement, with reasons for enduring and persevering emphasised strongly.

God will not let us be tested nor tempted beyond our endurance and, in the Thessalonian Christians’ case, it was obvious that God had gauged it correctly, since they were growing in faith and a love for one another.  The payback for enduring persecution is a greater reward from God when Jesus returns.  Have a look at Hebrews 11:35b.   On that Great Day, we will all be relieved and rewarded, and those who have persecuted us will be severely punished, along with all who have refused to obey the gospel.

That punishment will indeed be severe!  Those who have rejected Christ in this age will themselves be rejected by Christ.  The terrible phrase “everlasting destruction” is indicative of an everlasting punishment, rather than an instant annihilation; the Greek phrase means ‘complete ruin’.  They wanted nothing to do with God the Son in their lives and so will be eternally separated from Him in the Age to Come.  The terrible truth is that these people will be given what they have asked for all their lives – whereas, by grace, we have been given what we need, rather than want!

Our destiny, given by pure grace, is to see and live in his glory and to marvel at him day after day forever.  The power of the gospel is eternally far-reaching!  Paul emphasises that our faith in this age should produce good character and good deeds, thereby glorifying Jesus now, in the hope that the lost may look on and turn to him before it is all too late!  Pray that we are supernaturally effective.

JEREMIAH 26, 27, 28 and 29

The queue of people wanting to become true prophets of the Lord was short and orderly: Jeremiah plus one!  The queue of applicants to be self-serving false prophets was huge and a disorderly rabble.  Why the difference?

Jeremiah was given one of the most unpopular messages ever delivered by the Lord: (a) This nation will certainly be taken into exile; and (b) Do not fight against your oppressors but serve them faithfully in the land of your exile; pray for their prosperity!  As you can imagine, this double-barrelled prophecy was very low down in the popularity stakes and would have been ‘voted off’ by the audience! 

Why did God send his faithful prophet to a nation whom he knew would ignore the message?  Why did he send him out in danger of his life to a national leadership who regarded unfavourable prophecies as blasphemy?  (See 26:8-9).  There are some answers that we just cannot know in this life – and any that are given are usually not completely satisfying.  My feeble attempt is that God will one day judge the likes of these Jews and the case for the prosecution will have to include the evidence that God commanded them to act in a certain way.

More worrying still is that, whilst Jeremiah was eventually rescued by the Lord from being put to death, the equally faithful prophet, Uriah, was extradited from Egypt and put to death with the sword – having preached almost the same message as Jeremiah.  (See 26:22-23).  It could so easily have been the other way around – in which case we would be studying the Book of Uriah!  Why is it that one good man is allowed to die and another spared?  This is another question for my ‘list’!  If you were Uriah’s children or spouse or parents, you too would have serious questions of the Lord and would be tempted to think God unjust.  The rest of scripture tells us some facts that we must accept: God is perfectly just; God is infinitely loving; and God is totally wise.  Our experience of life seems broad, but it is incredibly narrow – rather as though we were looking at a majestic landscape through a drinking straw (try it one day!) – we just don’t have enough information across time, space, and eternity to pass judgment.  So, all we can do is to put our trust in the infinitely just, loving, and wise Lord of Heaven and Earth.

In chapter 27, God again makes it clear that any nation that will not serve the King of Babylon will be punished.  The same is true of us under any king or government.  And furthermore, the precious articles of the temple will not quickly be returned but will stay in Babylon until God decides that the time is right.

There is a very easy way (Jeremiah 28) to judge a prophecy: see if it comes true!  Hananiah, the false prophet failed in his prophecy and, by his death, fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that said he would die that year.

In 29:10-14, we have the great verses that speak of forgiveness and the return from exile, also much-quoted by Christians: “When the seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you – declares the Lord – plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  They you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you – declares the Lord – and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you – declares the Lord – and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile”. 

Notice that this was dependent upon the seventy years being completed first; only after that will a calling upon God be effective, not before.  But a calling is required.  I love that promise about finding God when we seek with all our hearts.  Go to it, church!

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