2 Timothy 3:14-17
Last week we talked about a problem we have in listening to God the first time around, and about the blessings we lose as a result.
Today, we are going to look to the future, and the unending blessings that are reserved for the true believers.
For a starting point on our journey today, however, let's go back some 2,600 years ago and listen to a promise of God given through Jeremiah, 31:27-40.
As we read and listen to these words of Jeremiah, consider what days he is referring to.
27. "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast.
28. "And it will come about that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant," declares the Lord.
We know that Jeremiah couldn't have been referring to the time of restoration after Babylon, for Israel was again destroyed.
Furthermore, the Israelites were still sacrificing and eating animals, so the time when the Lord will sow the house of Israel with both the seeds of man and beast is a time when humans and animals will live together in peace.
He must be talking about some future day.
And that day could be close at hand, for Israel has once again been restored as a nation.
But there is more to this prophecy.
29. "In those days they will not say again,
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children's teeth are set on edge.'
30. "But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
In other words, the evil that one generation does will not pass on to the next.
The people will no longer be considered collectively, but as individuals.
This is the message of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.
31. "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32. not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.
33. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Isn't this the new covenant brought by Jesus?
But how does God write this new covenant upon our hearts?
34. "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
There is only one way this can happen, and that is if everyone who is in the holy city is born again.
Thus, God must be referring to the New Jerusalem, the New Earth Jerusalem.
That which is to come; that which is spiritual.
Or, is there a hope, a promise, that this time of living in perfect peace could come to this physical earth, too?
Let's go on.
35. Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day,
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
The Lord of hosts is His name:
36. "If this fixed order departs
From before Me," declares the Lord,
"Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease
From being a nation before Me forever."
37. Thus says the Lord,
"If the heavens above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
For all that they have done," declares the Lord.
Jeremiah is trying to get the people to understand that God's promises (or at least some of them) are beyond the understanding of humans.
We are simply to trust in them, for we cannot reason them out.
But to truly trust in the promises of God is to act upon them and to live in them; it's a call of encouragement, that we would do everything in our power to have God's heavenly will manifested here on earth.
38. "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
39. "And the measuring line shall go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah.
40. "And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, or overthrown anymore forever."
We are still waiting for that day; for, as we know, today we are still living in our warring madness.
Nation is still rising up against nation, and people are still preparing for war.
And, we are still making war on the animals.
If we believe in God and in His promises, then we should have the hope of this promise within us, for a day is coming when we shall have a true and lasting peace in all of God's holy mountain.
Is the word of God in each of us, as it is in the psalmist (Psalm 119:97-104)?
It should be, if we are truly born again.
As we hear his words, each of us should consider our own self and what is upon our own heart and soul:
97. O how I love Thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Is this talking about you?
It should be.
For there is a law upon which all of this meditation rests, and it should be continually before us.
98. Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
Is this the way you feel?
We should, for this key commandment is far from the hearts and souls of Godís enemies and of your enemies.
99. I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Thy testimonies are my meditation.
I am one of your teachers.
Do you have a greater insight into the matters of God than all of the things that I have taught you?
You should, if you have this greatest of all commandments upon your hearts and souls.
100. I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Thy precepts.
Do we have a greater insight than those who went before us, even those people of the Bible?
We should, for even Jesus told us that we should be able to do greater works than He did when he lived as a man upon this earth (John 14:12).
101. I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Thy word.
102. I have not turned aside from Thine ordinances,
For Thou Thyself hast taught me.
Again I ask, is this talking about you?
It should be, for God has offered each of us the power to live this way.
For if we live in this great commandment and in this power, we will naturally do all that the psalmist is speaking of in his praise.
103. How sweet are Thy words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104. From Thy precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
What is the great commandment that brings all this to pass?
Is it not love?
Is this not unconditional love?
If we are filled to overflowing with God's love, a love that is so great that it extends to every human, and animal, and to the world around us, won't we just naturally do what God desires of us?
And won't we understand all that God has been trying to make us understand, even to this very day?
And if we have this love within us, won't we have a mind like Jesus Christ's?
Of course we will, for this is also a promise of God.
The gift and power of the Holy Spirit is given to us as part of our rebirth, just as it was to all of the disciples of Christ, following His Ascension.
Note the encouraging words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, for Paul knew that the world was not yet ready, as a whole, to accept the whole word of God, any more than it is today.
These words are meant for each of us, as well:
14. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them;
15. and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
And these and even more sacred writings are right before us today.
16. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17. that the man [and woman] of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
If you don't feel this way, then perhaps the Holy Spirit is trying to convict you to study His word until you become adequately equipped.
1. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2. preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Some of you have been training to do this, and others of you are reluctant to exercise your faith enough to put this charge into practice.
Do so before it's too late.
And remember, that the way we live our lives every moment of every day can we a greater witness of God and his promises than any spoken or written word.
3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires;
4. and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.
5. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Each of us has a ministry, just as Timothy did; we are to fulfill it.
And if you can't think of a specific task to do, then I'll give you one.
Go forth and fill the world with unconditional love and compassion.
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