Monday 17th October 2022


We are urged to pray together.  Requests, prayers, intercession, thanksgiving – prayer in all its ‘flavours’.  Do it alone and do it together.  Surprisingly, Paul tells us to pray for all rulers, including the evil Emperor Nero, who was in power at the time that Paul wrote this letter.  Why?  Because the Christian faith is able to grow fastest during periods of peace, social justice, and social order. 

We should also pray for those who are as yet unsaved.  However, our calling upon God is as much for our benefit as for theirs.  In the words of the great Charles Spurgeon:

“One thing more, the soul winner must be a master of the art of prayer.  You cannot bring souls to God if you do not go to God yourself.  You must get your battle axe and your weapons of war from the armoury of sacred communication with Christ.  If you are much alone with Jesus, you will catch His Spirit.  You will be fired with the flame that burned in His breast and consumed His life.  You will weep with the tears that fell upon Jerusalem when He saw it perishing.  And if you cannot speak so eloquently as He did, yet shall there be about what you say somewhat of the same power which in Him thrilled the hearts and awoke the consciences of men”. 

Men, in particular, are called to meet together to pray in a holy unity.  There is huge power in any group of men that does this, and that relies on the power and direction of the Holy Spirit in them.  Sadly, it seems that too many Christian men are ‘activists’ only, and regard prayer as being for ‘wimps’; they might not actually say that, but they tend to vote with their feet!

The role of women in directive church teaching and in overall church leadership – particularly being in authority over men – has always been a tricky topic.  “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner…” (2:11-13). 

One viewpoint is that this was a special restriction that was particularly necessary for Timothy’s church in Ephesus, where the ‘Artemis cult’ of women priests and temple prostitutes tended to lead many astray, and where women actually dominated pagan religious practices.  There was therefore a danger that this young and impressionable church would similarly adopt the same approach.  This viewpoint would claim that Paul’s restriction on female headship in the church was only temporary and aimed locally at Ephesus; the phrase “I do not permit…” would give slight weight to this viewpoint. 

An opposing viewpoint is that Paul’s reasons are based, not upon a local culture, but upon the whole nature of creation.  In other words, Adam was formed first and given a place of headship; Eve was deceived and her attempt to teach Adam ended in disaster.  This second viewpoint would argue that Paul’s restriction has universal application and does not depend on the quality or experience of the particular women in question.  You will need to come to your own conclusions on this question.  The tensions of these verses and this doctrinal conundrum largely disappear if local church leadership is based upon ‘team’ and a plurality of leaders of both sexes take united governmental decisions on behalf of God’s church.   

The final verse about “women being saved through the bearing of children” is subject to several different interpretations.  If the verse were translated: “the women shall be saved through the bearing of the child” – meaning the Child, i.e. Christ (Genesis 3:15) – then it is referring to salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  Alternatively, the majority of women are in a prime position to produce godly offspring who love the Lord; this kind of godly, consistent parenting will reap great rewards for the Kingdom of God. 

JEREMIAH 35, 36 and 37

“Why can’t you all be like the Rekabites?”  What on earth was Jeremiah going on about?  He had invited this extended family over for some hospitality and had deliberately included a large quantity of wine on the menu.  They, of course, refused to drink it, since their forefather had taken an oath that his family would never drink wine – nor live in houses either.  Jeremiah wasn’t surprised at this refusal since the family oath was well known throughout Judah.  He had tested the Rekabites to prove a ‘prophetic point’: if the Rekabites were prepared to submit to their earthly forefather’s wishes, why was Judah not prepared to obey the Lord?  Like all rhetorical questions, the only reasonable answer is already implied!

God then tells Jeremiah to take a fresh scroll and to write down all the words of the Prophecy of Jeremiah (presumably what is now in the Book of Jeremiah) that he had ever spoken.  This would be a witness to the people of the land, giving them fresh opportunity to repent of their sin before it was too late.  Baruch, Jeremiah’s faithful servant, was the one to act as scribe, and later to read the prophecy to the people, since Jeremiah was under house arrest.

When the King Jehoiakim’s officials heard the contents of the scroll, they were shocked and came to a sudden realisation that Judah’s doom was sealed.  “The king must know about this”, they agreed.  The prophecy was so politically explosive that they first hid Jeremiah and Baruch and then took the scroll to the king, who was in his palace, warming himself in front of a fire.  Showing complete lack of reverence for God’ word, the king pulled out his Swiss army knife and started hacking off whole sections of the scroll as soon as his secretary had read it aloud to him; these sections were added as fuel to the fire until the entire scroll had been burned.

God simply commanded Jeremiah to write a new scroll – with even more words on! – and added a new prophecy that Jehoiakim would himself be destroyed, along with his offspring.

This was fulfilled shortly and so Zedekiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin, was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.  Jeremiah was at that point a free man again and things were looking to improved, since the Babylonian army was otherwise occupied fighting the Egyptians.  But God spoke through Jeremiah to confirm that this was just a brief respite and that the Babylonians would soon return to finish the job.  As might be expected, this did not exactly enhance Jeremiah’s popularity amongst the locals, and he was soon arrested and kept in the courtyard of the Guard – but was at least being treated well and supplied with food.

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