Tuesday 18th October 2022


It is OK to ‘aspire’ to be a church leader, since it is a ‘noble’, serving role in God’s church.  One of Timothy’s chief tasks was now to appoint a group of ‘Overseers’ or ‘Elders’ for each local church.  With Paul elsewhere and Timothy now moving from region to region, these appointments needed to occur fairly quickly to guarantee an orderly form of governance in each church.  Paul therefore gives Timothy a checklist of desirable qualities to expect in any candidate.  They fall into three groups: character and reputation (the biggest list), the ability to teach and preach (see also 5:17), and a good track record in family life, including the fact that any children believe in Christ.  Obviously, a leader’s circumstances change over time, and over time they build up a track record of their own as they bring leadership to the local congregation.  Paul’s ‘checklist’ was there to enable Timothy to make a relatively quick selection of leaders from a pool of potential candidates about whom he knew little.

There is nothing like living with someone 24/7 to decide whether their faith is genuine; children are experts at uncovering hypocrisy in their parents who might put on a good ‘show’ of Christian commitment on a Sunday but fail to follow through during the working week.   Parents: if you are like that, then you won’t be influencing your children towards salvation.

A recent convert will not make a good leader, mainly because he/she will be prone to conceit and pride, having not yet experienced the knocks and setbacks of living the Christian life consistently. 

The word ‘Deacon’ simply means ‘One Who Serves’ and their role was possibly similar to those of the ‘Seven’ in Acts 6 – chosen to take the administrative burden off the Overseers, in order to free the latter to give their full attention to prayer and preaching / teaching.  Deacons needed the same kinds of quality as Overseers, except without the requirement to be able to teach.

The main purpose of Paul’s letter was to encourage the people at Ephesus to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Lord – prior to Paul’s own visit to the church, which would have been his third one.  Paul regards the church as precious: God’s household, and the ‘pillar and foundation of the truth’.  If the truth of the gospel cannot be found there, then there is absolutely no hope for the world!

JEREMIAH 38, 39 and 40

The resentment against God’s prophet increased as the siege continued and soon Zedekiah’s officials decided to take matters into their own hands – with the king’s knowledge – and imprison Jeremiah in a ‘dry’ water cistern where he could not influence the population any further.  Poor old Jeremiah sank into the mud at the bottom of the cistern and expected to die.  Fortunately, a friendly royal official heard of this and petitioned the king, who agreed that Jeremiah could be rescued again – which is what happened – and the relieved prophet was reinstated under house arrest in the guard’s quarters.

At a secret private meeting with the king, Jeremiah spoke about the need to surrender to Babylon if the king and the nation were to survive intact, and the king swore Jeremiah to secrecy concerning the contents of the message.  If the word got out that God was still telling Judah to surrender, then the morale of the army would plummet like a stone!  Sadly, Zedekiah was not inclined to believe the Lord’s word and was therefore soon to suffer the consequences of that unbelief. 

In our day, religious belief is taken very lightly – seen as a completely valid personal opinion on life – rather than something that is literally a matter of life and death; in western society, a person’s personal beliefs are viewed as sacrosanct and must never be disagreed with or criticised.  As Zedekiah discovered, and as our own society is soon to discover, belief is an objective reality, and it really does matter what your views are.  Some beliefs are right, and others are simply wrong!

It all turned out as God prophesied: Jerusalem’s walls were broken through, and the Babylonians entered the city, at which time the king and his army escaped and fled.  But they were captured, and Zedekiah made an example of; the last thing he saw before his own eyes were gored out was the death of all his sons.

Jeremiah was protected by the Lord who caused Nebuchadnezzar to assign him a protector.  A new Governor was assigned to Judah, and he was given orders to look after the prophet.  Quite how Jeremiah’s reputation had first come to Nebuchadnezzar’s attention is unclear, but God is capable of anything to fulfil his word.  “You will escape with your life, because you trust in me”, said the Lord to Jeremiah.  (39:18).

Chapter 40 ends with a plot being hatched to kill Gedaliah the new Governor, who clearly represent imperial rule.  Jeremiah’s friend and guardian was therefore under threat – as would the prophet himself be soon.

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