Posts tagged ‘Jewish’

January 12, 2012

The Weeping Prophet

by pastortimfowler

I am finishing reading the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and it has to be one of the toughest reads I have had in a while. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because his message was constantly rejected by his people. He was abused and imprisoned and called a liar to his face over and over for speaking the word of God. To try to imagine his pain and frustration is impossible and at times for me, a pastor, disturbing.
I have been in the ministry long enough to have been in churches where people would not listen to the truth. Even if you opened the Bible in front of them and read with them the truth of the word, they refused to see it. During those times it was painful and sorrowful but mostly if was angering. I can remember times when I even raised my voice in frustration, right in front of the one I was talking too. But to say that I can empathize with Jeremiah would be a stretch.
I am not saying that I didn’t learn from this or that I wouldn’t read it again, but I had to dig deep to see the positive in it all. So what did I get from it?
Well to start with, God is a very patient God. The people of Israel were in a very rebellious time in their history and had turned to idolatry. The message that God was sending them via Jeremiah was consistent with what they had always heard, so there was no reason for them to doubt that God was speaking truth through Jeremiah. But over and over when they heard from the prophet they rejected the warnings. God remained patient and offered chance after chance to change.
I also learned, well it was reinforced, that God means what He says and does what He says. When God says to turn from a sinful act, he is serious. God hates sin because it separates us from Him and He loves us. He would much rather bless us than to chastise us, but as the Bible says, whom the Lord loves, He chastises. The goal of chastisement is always to correct a behavior. If the behavior is not corrected there are always consequences. When God says that there are consequences, you can count on it. It is not His fault that humans are hard-headed, or should I say, hard-hearted.
Lastly, what I saw was the fact that He will always leave a remnant to rebuild with. The Old Testament can be difficult to reconcile for the casual observer. God was dealing with an earthly people who were promised eternity on earth and is not the church, who is promised eternity in Heaven. Jesus had not yet been sacrificed for our sin and therefore the physical punishments were often drastic and seemed harsh. But remember this, there was not a lack of hearing from God. There was not a lack of knowledge of the consequences that people would face for their disobedience.
The Jewish people were required to memorize the law before age 13 and in order to become an adult, they had to show that they had done so. This includes the part of the law that says “if you do this, this is the punishment”. And, they had seen God carry out these judgments for centuries. Think of it like this. We all have rules to follow in our homes. My parent told me that if I lied to them, I would get a whipping. So, when I lied, I got what they told me I would get. I did not, or should I say, I do not think that they were cruel, but I know that it was them being truthful and loving in their attempt to correct my inappropriate behavior.
God loves us more than we can imagine. We don’t fully understand Him and often believe that we know more than God, so we are quick to look at God as harsh or even unloving. But that is not true. When we respond with repentance, God blesses with restored fellowship and rewards. That is always His goal with us.
His love is so great that He allows His Son, Jesus, to be our sacrifice for our sins. From the beginning, God has told us that our sin will be rewarded with death. But with our asking for forgiveness, He waves the death penalty, (the eternal one) and gives us eternal life with Him in heaven. He is willing to do this for us and our only part is to have faith to believe Him. This means believe it all, not just the parts we like. Sometimes God sends us a message that we don’t like or don’t want to hear. We must trust Him as much then as we do with the promise of the blessings that we like.
So, Jeremiah relayed the message of repent or face judgement. The people chose to rebel and received the judgement that was promised. But, there was a group who decided to trust God, and as we all know, Israel is still here, just like God promised. They will never perish from the earth. As Christians, we are promised to never perish from God’s heavenly and spiritual world. Our obedience is still required and His blessings are as awesome as ever.
I am blessed to know that there are some who still believe and obey God and I am fortunate to not be a weeping prophet of modern times.

March 22, 2011

Do we get it?

by pastortimfowler

Jesus often told people “You just don’t get it”. That is a loose translation of what He really said. I would have to impress you with my knowledge of Greek and Aramaic to give you the perfect translation and then we wouldn’t have the benefit of my translation of things and I would have to think of something else to blog about. Anyway, when Jesus would say that, he was often talking about people who tried to make God’s teachings harder to understand than they needed to.
God is not the type to beat around the bush, unless it’s the bush that is burning…get it? Burning bush? When he created man He said quite plainly, “Don’t eat from that tree.” He didn’t mean if it looked good or seemed good, He simply meant DON’T.
He told Noah to build an arc because he was going to flood the world and He did. Noah was smart enough to build the size arc that God said to and that is a good thing or else he and his family would have been wiped out. Noah got it. He told Moses to strike a rock one time and water would come out for the people to drink. God meant one time because he says what He means. Moses got mad at the people and because they didn’t get it, and he hit the rock more than once and God punished Moses for not listening. Moses didn’t get it.
God told Joshua to march around the city of Jericho and then the wall would fall down. Joshua got his men together and did what God said, just as he said it and guess what? The walls fell. Joshua got it.
Over and over there are examples of God speaking in plain language and people reaping the rewards of obedience or the consequences of disobedience. The Old Testament is full of great and not so great acts of faith and that is what Jesus was up against while He walked the earth. The Religious leaders of His day were experts in quoting what the Old Testament said. They could quote the Bible better than anyone of their day and yet over and over Jesus told them, “You just don’t get it”. In fact, the majority of the Jewish people did not get it. They had been told for thousands of years that Jesus was coming, and now He stood before them and yet few had sense enough to know who He was. They didn’t get it.
So Jesus took a few folks that wanted to get it and began teaching them what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. He challenged them to look at greatness as one who served rather than one who was being served. He told them that laying down their lives for a friend was the greatest act of love and they did not get it, at least right then.
After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He told the disciples to go everywhere and tell people the good news that forgiveness was available and eternal life was real. It wasn’t until then that those guys got it.
Jesus promised great rewards for those who get it. I just wonder if He was to come into our churches on Sunday if He would think that we get it. I wonder if He was to meet us out at our jobs or schools or homes during the week if He would have to say to us, “You just don’t get it.”
One thing that I do get is that God don’t play around when it comes to what He tells us to do. I get it when He says that we are to love others but where I struggle is that He said to love them like I love myself. I really love me and I will have to really try harder if I am going to “get it”. I get it when He says to love my wife, but I struggle to love her like He loves the church. I will have to try harder to “get it.” I get it when He said that He will give us life that never ends, but I will have to try harder to “get it” when my life is inconvenienced and I get frustrated at those who I think don’t get it. Why? Because the whole purpose of His life was to give it as a sacrifice for my sins so that when it comes to eternal life, I get it.
The last thing we need to hear from Jesus when we stand before Him and he asks us if we told others about Him and His love is , “you just don’t get it”.
It is not a suggestion to share Jesus with others, it is what God tells us to do. Get it?