This Spring and Summer I have concentrated my Bible study time upon striving for a good cohesive and comprehensive grasp of the Old Testament portion of the Bible. Being that we live in the church age, I think the tendency in much of the church’s teaching and preaching is to focus more on the New Testament. The Old Testament is a goldmine that covers a lot of ground! It’s a lot of history. As someone who has been following Christ for some time now, I found this expedition back through the Old Testament to be a wonderful refresher course in just how rotten our human nature is, and a great reminder of just how good the good news of the Gospel in the New Testament really is. In a way, it’s been sort of like those marriage seminars where they teach that the best way to rekindle the romance in your marriage, is to look back and recall what it was about your spouse that made you fall in love with them to begin with.
The Prophet Jeremiah (source)
I just finished my study of the book of Jeremiah. And the most striking impression I came away with is the fact that our idea of success, not only the worlds idea, but the Christian’s idea, rarely- if- ever, lines up with what God considers success.
The book of Jeremiah is a great lesson in how God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. It reminds us the extent and fullness both His Holy and justified wrath, and of His unfathomable love to the end. It is a book for that time, and also more relevent today than ever before, for nations and individuals to heed.
Jeremiah comes on the Biblical scene around 627 BC when he is called by God to be the final warning voice to wayward Judah. Jeremiah 1:4-5 tells us that while Jeremiah was yet in the womb, God sanctified and called him to the prophetic ministry, and he was faithful to that call until his death sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. His ministry occurred approximately a hundred years after that of Isaiah. In all of his many years of pleading and warning, he was ignored, ridiculed, tormented, and finally killed. His record as a prophet would probably be judged, from a human standpoint, to be abysmal. After all, the scriptures do not indicate a single soul that was saved, nor of anyone at all who heeded or obeyed Jeremiah’s warnings from God. And yet Jeremiah wept over the apostacy and rebellion in Judah, wept for the tragedy that would befall, and never wavered or faltered in his message ’til the day that he died. (Tradition says he was stoned to death).
Today, the record of Jeremiah’s warnings have been continuously sounding for a couple thousand years, contained in the Holy Scriptures. Jeremiah’s success is not measured by God in terms of outcome, but of Jeremiah’s obedience and faithfulness to Him.
How successful are you and I, by God’s measure?
He has given us His Word to help ensure that success-in-Him. Biblical Prophecy, when you think about it, is pretty amazing. I mean, think of that one person in your life who invariably and consistently disappoints and hurts you. Can’t you pretty much always “predict” how they will behave under most given circumstances? Because you have learned their nature the hard way. Prophecy is merely an omniscient God, Who knows the nature of His children, telling you and me right out front, where we will go wrong, and giving us every opportunity to choose better. But do we? How often have you thought or said “if I only had the benefit of knowing then, what I know now, I would have done things differently”? If we study His Word, we can have that sort of advantage.
If you want the kind of success in life that really counts, listen to old Jeremiah and “ask for the old paths, and walk thee therein”. Jeremiah 6:16
I recommend Pastor and Mrs. Hestor’s wonderful and affordable program of study of Bible History for anyone who enjoys delving deeper in the scriptures. For more information on the study courses “Old Testament Bible History” and “New Testament Bible History” with workbooks and DVD lecture series, by Pastor H. Richard Hester, click HERE It is thorough, yet easy for the layman to understand, and available for individual (audited) study, as well as for college credit in a facilitated group setting.
Missionaries Richard and Kathleen Hester served the Lord in Lebanon from 1959-1976, at which time (during the Lebanon War) the Lord called them to serve in Sydney, Australia, where, as octogenarians and despite challenges of health, they still faithfully serve Him today.