Jeremiah 2

Today’s reading…

Jeremiah 2 (ESV)

1The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

2“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

3Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.”

4Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel.

5Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?

6They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’

7And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.

8The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

9“Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children’s children I will contend.

10For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing.

11Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.

12Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord,

13for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

14“Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey?

15The lions have roared against him; they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.

16Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved the crown of your head.

17Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way?

18And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates?

19Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts.

20“For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore.

21Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?

22Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord God.

23How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done— a restless young camel running here and there,

24a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.

25Keep your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘It is hopeless, for I have loved foreigners, and after them I will go.’

26“As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets,

27who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, ‘Arise and save us!’

28But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.

29“Why do you contend with me? You have all transgressed against me, declares the Lord.

30In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.

31And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you’?

32Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

33“How well you direct your course to seek love! So that even to wicked women you have taught your ways.

34Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the guiltless poor; you did not find them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things

35you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’

36How much you go about, changing your way! You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria.

37From it too you will come away with your hands on your head, for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper by them.

Thoughts…

Why was judgment coming to the nation of Judah? Because the people were unfaithful to God and had mixed the worship of Jehovah with the worship of heathen idols. Religion was very popular in Judah, but it was not very spiritual.

Judah was an unfaithful wife who had not maintained her “honeymoon love” (vv. 2 , 32; Rev. 2:4). The people were a wasted harvest devoured by the enemy (v. 3). They forgot what God did for them and turned to false gods (vv. 4–8). It was like exchanging a pure artesian well for a dirty, leaky cistern (vv. 9–13).

They were stubborn animals that hated the yoke (v. 20) and a degenerate vine that bore no fruit (v. 21; Isa. 5). Their sins were so deep that they could not be washed away (v. 22). Like wild animals in heat (vv. 23–25), they lusted after sin; yet they denied that they had sinned (vv. 33–36)!

The last picture is that of prisoners of war, marching away with their hands on their heads (v. 37). What the people thought was freedom turned out to be slavery.

–With the Word


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Isaiah 65

Today’s reading…

Isaiah 65:1–25 (ESV)

1I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.

2I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;

3a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks;

4who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig’s flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;

5who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.

6Behold, it is written before me: “I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their lap

7both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they made offerings on the mountains and insulted me on the hills, I will measure into their lap payment for their former deeds.”

8Thus says the Lord: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and they say, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,’ so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.

9I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and from Judah possessors of my mountains; my chosen shall possess it, and my servants shall dwell there.

10Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me.

11But you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny,

12I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”

13Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, my servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame;

14behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart and shall wail for breaking of spirit.

15You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord God will put you to death, but his servants he will call by another name,

16so that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes.

17“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

18But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.

19I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.

20No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

21They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them.

24Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.

25The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.

Thoughts…

The rebels (1–7). 

God pleaded with His people to turn from their sins and come back to Him, but they refused. They acted so pious and yet were guilty of many sins: worshiping idols, following occult practices, violating dietary laws, and blaspheming God. But if the Jews rejected God’s call, the Gentiles responded in their stead (Rom. 10:20–21; Matt. 21:43).
 

The remnant (8–16). 

God always has His faithful remnant, like a few grapes after the harvest (Deut. 24:21); and He uses them as the nucleus of a new beginning. The rebels will be judged, but the remnant (“My servants”) will be blessed.
 

The regeneration (17–25)

. That is what Jesus called the kingdom God has prepared for His people (Matt. 19:28). The blessings named are in contrast to the judgments listed in Deuteronomy 28:15ff. It will be a time of joy and fulfillment when the blessing of the Lord flows without interference from man.

–With the Word

 

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Isaiah 61

Today’s reading…

Isaiah 61:1–11 (ESV)

1The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;

3to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

4They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

5Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;

6but you shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.

7Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.

8For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

9Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.

10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

Thoughts…

Release (1–3). 

Jesus took these verses as His text when He preached in Nazareth (Luke 4:16ff.) and announced that He was ushering in the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25). It is a time of releasing the slaves, canceling all debts, and making a new beginning. Today, those who trust Christ begin to enjoy their Jubilee; those who reject Him face judgment.

Renewal (4–6). 

The land of Judah was in ruins after the Babylonian captivity, but God would help the people repair and rebuild. The whole nation would become priests of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:5, 9) and servants of God.

Rejoicing (7–11).

 Instead of shame, there would be rejoicing and everlasting joy. It would be like going from a funeral to a wedding (Luke 5:27–39) and from a desert to a beautiful garden!

Have you entered your Jubilee?

–With the Word


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Isaiah 59

Today’s reading…

Isaiah 59:1–21 (ESV)

1Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

2but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

3For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.

4No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.

5They hatch adders’ eggs; they weave the spider’s web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.

6Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands.

7Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways.

8The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.

9Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

10We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.

11We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.

12For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:

13transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

14Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.

15Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.

16He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.

17He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

18According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment.

19So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives.

20“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

21“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Thoughts…

The images in this chapter teach important spiritual truths.

Hands (1–3)God’s hand is unable to work when our hands are defiled with sin. Our prayers accomplish nothing (Ps. 66:18), and His power is absent from our lives and ministries.
 

Poison (4–5). A lie is not just a sound in the air or a sentence on paper. It has a life of its own and gives birth to all kinds of trouble. Try to live on lies, and they will poison you. When lies finally “hatch,” they will bite you and may kill you (James 1:13–16).

Spiders’ webs (6–8). Trying to hide behind lies and hypocritical religious works is like clothing yourself with a spider’s web. The sins described here were committed by religious people. No wonder God withheld His blessings! Is He doing that today?

Traffic jam (9–15). It is dark. The pedestrians on the streets are blind and are acting like beasts. Truth has fallen in the street and progress has ceased. The “traffic officers” (justice and righteousness) are standing far off because the people will not let them exercise authority.

Manhunt (16–21). God searched for one person to intercede for His people, but He found none, so He did the work Himself. Are you an intercessor? Are you concerned about the “traffic jam” that hinders God’s work and robs God of glory?  

–With the Word


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Isaiah 58

Today’s reading…

Isaiah 58:1–14 (ESV)

1

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

2

Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.

3

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.

4

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

5

Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?

6

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

7

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

8

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

9

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10

if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

11

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

12

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

14

then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Thoughts…

When you strive to be a spiritual person, you fight the constant battle of “ritual versus reality.” It is much easier to go through the external activities of religion than it is to love God from your heart and let that love touch the lives of others. It is a matter not of either/or but of both/and: worshiping God from the heart and serving others in love. James stated, “Faith without works is dead” (2:20).

The orthodox faith was popular in Judah at that time, and people enjoyed learning the Word and even participating in fasts (vv. 2–3). But when the services were over, the worshipers went back to exploiting people and pleasing themselves.

What a difference it makes when we repent and return to the Lord (vv. 8–12)! We have light instead of darkness, healing instead of disease, righteousness instead of defilement, glory instead of disgrace; and life becomes a watered garden, not a dismal swamp.

–With the Word


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Isaiah 55

Today’s reading…

Isaiah 55:1–13 (ESV)

1

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

2

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

3

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

4

Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.

5

Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

6

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;

7

let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Thoughts…

Again, the prophet depicts the changes God makes in the lives of those who turn from their sins and trust the Savior.

From substitutes to reality (1–2). 

The lost sinner is bankrupt because he spends all he has for what cannot satisfy. When you hear God’s Word and obey, you start to enjoy the water of life and the bread of life, found in Jesus Christ (John 4; 6).

From death to life (3–5). 

Compare verse 3 with John 5:24. Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant God made with David (2 Sam. 7; Acts 13:34). When you trust Him, you share in His life and His victories.

From guilt to pardon (6–7).

 When the sinner repents and turns to Christ by faith, God shows mercy and grants pardon. But do not delay (Prov. 1:20–33)!

From fear to certainty (8–11).

 God’s ways are beyond man’s comprehension, but you can be sure He is accomplishing His purposes in His times. Like the rain and snow that seem to be wasted, God’s Word accomplishes His will on the earth.

From wilderness to paradise (12–13)

. Sin turns the garden into a desert (Isa. 5:3–6; 32:12–15), but grace transforms the desert into a joyful and fruitful garden. Abundant satisfaction, pardon, and joy are available to all who accept God’s gracious invitation.

–With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. 🙂


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