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31 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 8 — Jeremiah 11 and 12

Study 8 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 11 and 12
These chapters fall into three sections: 11:1-17, Judah’s stubborn idolatry and breaking of the covenant; 11:18 – 12:6, a complaint of the prophet because of plots against his life and God’s answer to his questionings; and 12:7-17, which seems to refer to the attacks of surrounding peoples (see 2 Ki. 24:1. 2), and closes with a remarkable promise to these nations on condition of their turning from idols to worship the Lord.
1.     What were the constituent elements of ‘this covenant’ (11:2)? What was God’s part and what the people’s Cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1.
2.     What did Jeremiah do with his perplexities, and what answer did he receive? Can we come with his confidence? Note 12: 5 and 6 in particular.  What does this answer of God imply? Cf. Heb. 12:3,4.
3.     Jeremiah is often described as a Christ-like figure.  As you read the book chapter by chapter, note the similarities. With 11:21 and 12:6 cf. Mk. 3:21; Lk. 4:24, 29; 21:16.
1.     11:15. See note on 7:22, 23.
2.     12:13. ‘They i.e., the people of Judah.

30 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 7 — Jeremiah 9:23 – 10:25

Study 7 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 9:23 – 10:25
1.     9:23, 24.  What is better than wisdom, power and wealth? Cf. also 1 Cor.1:26-31; Phil. 3:8-11. What do you set most store by in the normal course of life?
2.     Set down, on the one hand, the characteristics here mentioned of the idols of the heathen, and on the other, the character of the living God.
3.     What are the implications of 10:23, 24? Have you learnt to live by them?  See 30:11 and cf. Pr. 3:5-7, 11, 12.
1.     9:25, 26. All these nations practiced circumcision, and Judah, despise the fact that her circumcision was ordained to mark a unique relationship with God, takes her place here between Egypt and Edom because her spiritually uncircumcised state (cf. 4:4; Rom. 2:28, 29) has rendered her physical circumcision no more meaningful than theirs.
2.     10:11. Probably originally a reader’s marginal comment, in response the denunciation of idols.
3.     10:17. ‘Bundle’: a few hastily gathered possessions for immediate fight.
4.     10:21. ‘Shepherds’: see 2:8 and mg.; 3:15.

29 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Jeremiah 8:4 – 9:22

Study 6 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 8:4 – 9:22
Further exposure of the moral and spiritual plight of the people, and descriptions of the coming judgment. Jeremiah’s heart is almost broken.
  1.     What specific charges does God level against His people in these chapters? Are there any traces of these faults in your own life?
  2.     Consider the evidence this passage gives of the effects of sin upon a nation’s morale and prosperity.  See, e.g., 8:14, 15:20; 9:5, 6.
3.     Compare 8:11 with Jeremiah’s anguish. What modern counterparts to the former must we beware of? Are we ready to sorrow for others like Jeremiah, and to keep on pleading with them as he did? See 25:3
1.     8:4-7. The sin of Judah runs counter to the pattern of nature.  Cf. Is. 1:3.
2.     8:20. Probably a proverbial saying expressing the thought that it is too late.

28 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Jeremiah 7:1 – 8:3

Study 5 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 7:1 – 8:3
It is thought by many that this is the address given by Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as described in 26:1-9.
1.     How does this passage show the uselessness of outward worship when separated from the daily practice of godliness? What was lacking in the people of Jerusalem? Are your worship and your life all of a piece?  Cf. Mt. 5:23, 24.
2.     In what ways may we in our day act in a spirit similar to that rebuked in 7: 10? What is involved in a Christina’s being ‘delivered’ or ‘saved’? Cf. Col. 1:13; Tit. 2:14; Mt. 7:21-23
3.     How does this section illustrate our Lord’s warning in Lk. 8:18?
1.     7:4, 8. Confidence in the Temple itself as a protection was a delusion. Cf. 1 Sa. 4:3-11
2.     7:10b. ‘Thinking you are now quite safe -safe to go on with all these abominable practices’
3.     7:12. Shiloh was probably destroyed around the time of the disaster recorded in 1 Sa. 4.
4.     7:18. ‘The queen of heaven’: probably Ashtoreth, a goddess widely worshipped in the Semitic world.
5.     7:22, 23. Such a categorical statement (‘not this…but that…’) is a Hebrew idiom to express where the real emphasis falls.  The essence of the covenant made at the exodus was, on Israel’s side obedience (11:6, 7). God did not commission sacrifice for its own sake—or for His own sake—but to be the expression and embodiment of heart-devotion and ethical obedience. Cf. 6:19, 20; 11:15; 1 sa. 15:22;  Is. 1:10-17. Where these were absent, mere external ritual was worse than nothing. Hence in 7:21 the people are bidden to eat the meat of the burnt offerings, which were wholly offered to God, as well as their proper portions of the other sacrifices.  Emptied of all spiritual significance, it was now merely meat, and might as well be eaten. But in the worship of a purified people, sacrifices would again have their rightful place.  See 17:24-26; 33:18.
6.     7:32. ‘The valley of the son of Hinmon’: a valley on the south side of Jerusalem, where the city refuse was cast.  The day will come, says the prophet, when the slain will be so many that they will have to be buried even in this unclean pot.

27 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Jeremiah 5 and 6

Study 4  From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 5 and 6
Further indictments of Judah (5:1-5 -all classes are alike corrupt), warnings of coming judgment, and depictions of the invasion and its effects.
   1.     Make a list of the main sins charged against  the people.  Are we in danger  of any of these sins? Note especially Judah’s response to God’s word and messengers.
   2.     Was judgment inevitable? Was God not willing to pardon? What are we taught here about the ‘kindness and severity of God’s (Rom. 11:22)?  Cf. Rom. 4:4, 5.
1.     6:1. Tekoa and Beth-Haccheram were a few miles south of Jerusalem. The ‘signal’ (i.e., a beacon; cf. Jdg. 20:38) would alert the south, or perhaps guide the refugees from Jerusalem.
2.     6:3. ‘Shepherds with their flocks’ here means kings and their armies.
3.     6:16. ‘By the roads’: i.e., Judah must return to the cross-roads to regain the right path.  Cf. 18:15.
4.     6:27-30. Jeremiah’s work is described as that of a tester of silver.  But, no pure silver results from the process of refining. Cf. 9:7.

26 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 3 — Jeremiah 3:6 – 4:31

Study 3 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 3:6 – 4:31
1.     3: 6-20.  What is he offence of Judah? And what aggravated it in the eyes of God? What forms does this sin take today? Cf. Jas. 4:4; 1 Jn. 5:20, 21. What does God offer, and on what conditions?
2.     Trace the process of restoration as outlined in 3:21 – 4:4. What is meant by such phrases as ‘Break up your fallow ground’ and ‘Circumcise yourself to the Lord’? Cf. 9:26; Dt. 10:16; Rom. 2:28, 29.
3.     4:5-31. A vivid picture of the approach of an invader from the north.  What place does he have in the purposes of God?
1.     3:8. An allusion to the conquest of northern Israel in 721 BC by the Assyrians.
2.     3:10. See Note on 3:4.
3.     3:14. ‘Master: in the sense of ‘husband’. Cf. verses 19, 20 for similar mixing of metaphors from the family.

25 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Jeremiah 2: 1 – 3:5

Study 2  From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 2: 1 – 3:5
A review of Israel’s backslidings from the beginning.
1.      According to this section, what are the components of backsliding? Compare Israel’s beginnings with her later condition. Is any of this story true of you? Cf. Gal. 5:7.
2.     2:12, 13. ‘Living’ water means fresh water from an ever-flowing spring.  Cf. 6:7; Jn. 4:13, 14.  What do the ‘fountain of living waters and the ‘broken cisterns’ stand for in spiritual experience? Do you take as serious a view of backsliding as God does?
3.     What evil results does Jeremiah say have already followed from the nation’s forgetfulness of God?
1.      2:10, ‘Kedar’ was a tribe east of Jordan. The verse means ‘search from east to west…’
2.     2:16. ‘Memphis’ and ‘Tahpanhes’: cities of Egypt.
3.     2:25. ‘Do not run thy foot bare, and thy throat dry in the eager pursuit of strange God (Driver).
4.     3:4. An allusion probably to the feigned penitence of many at the time of Josiah’s reform.  Cf. 3:10; 2 Ch. 34:33.

24 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Jeremiah 1

Study 1 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 1
1.      Verses 4-10 and 17-19.  What did God require from Jeremiah, and what did He promise him?  How can this apply to us?
2.     What is the divine interpretation of the two visions which Jeremiah saw?
3.     What aspects of God’s character and activity are activity are brought before us in this chapter? Cf. Eph. 1:4.
1.      Verse 5.  ‘Knew’: in the sense of ‘regarded’, almost equivalent to ‘chose’. ‘I consecrated you’:  set you apart for Myself.  For ‘prophet’, see verse 9.
2.     Verse 11. ‘A rod’: probably meaning a straight shoot just beginning to blossom.  The word for almond tree is from the same root as the word ‘watching over’ in verse 12 (see mg.) Moffat translates ‘wake-tree’, The almond was so called because it was the first to awake after the sleep of winter.
3.     Verse 13. The boiling pot is ready to pour out its fiery contents southwards.
4.     Verse 15. ‘His throne ‘ : i., e., of judgment.

23 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 0 — Introduction of Jeremiah

Study 0 From the Book of Jeremiah is: The Introduction of the book of Jeremiah
Anathoth, the home of Jeremiah, was a small town some three miles north-east of Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s father was a priest, possibly a descendant of Abiathar (cf. 1 Ki. 2: 26), and the family owned some property in Anathoth (32:8). Jeremiah’s fellow-townsmen were among those who turned against him and sough to slay him (11:21).
Born probably towards the end of the reign of Manasseh, Jeremiah lived through the reigns of Josiah (thirty-one years), Jehoahaz (three months, Jehoiakim (eleven years), Jehoiahim (three months), and Zedekiah (eleven years). His prophetic ministry lasted for forty years, from his call in 626 BC, the thirteenth year of Josiah, to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC (1:2, 3). Of the five kings Josiah alone was loyal to the Lord. Jehoiakim was hostile to Jeremiah, and Zedekiah, though personally friendly, was weak and unstable. Under these two kings Jeremiah endured much physical suffering at the hands of his enemies. His life, however was preserved, and after the fall of Jerusalem he was permitted to stay with the remnant in the land, and was carried with them into Egypt (43:4-7).
In the earlier years of his ministry, though his outward lot was easier, Jeremiah suffered great mental conflict, revealed in a series of soliloquies in which he struggles to accept the burden of his prophetic calling and message. He saw more and more clearly that the nation was thoroughly corrupt, and that judgment was at hand. The false prophets’, who cried ‘Peace, Peace’, were misleading the people (14:13, 14). The inevitability of disaster filled Jeremiah’s heart with dismay and sorrow. It seemed as if God were annulling His covenant and casting off His people, and if that were to happen, what hope was left?  God, however, revealed to Jeremiah that He still had a purpose of good beyond the judgment, and that He could and would make a new covenant of a different kind, in which He would give His people a new heart and put His fear in their inmost being: and the hope of this glorious future sustained him as he watched the dying agonies of his nation, and suffered with them.  As a result of all this, ‘Jeremiah’s personality in the most sharply etched of any of the Old Testament prophets, and part of the distinctiveness of the book lies just here.
Jeremiah was appointed a prophet not only to Judah, but to the nations (1:5, 10) and he kept an ever-watchful eye on the movements of neighbouring peoples. In Josiah’s reign the power of Assyria was waning, and both Egypt and Babylon sought to take advantage of this for their own ends.  Three events especially affected the kingdom of Judah, and had a profound influence upon Jeremiah’s life and outlook. The first was the capture of Nineveh and of the Assyrian Empire by Babylon (612-609 BC), the second, the battle of Megiddo, when King Josiah was slain (608 Bc), and the third, the battle of Carchemish, when Pharaoh-Necho of Egypt and Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon met face to face in a trial of strength and the Babylonian armies won (605 BC) from that time Jeremiah was assured that Babylon was to reign supreme for many years, and that Judah would be wise to yield submission. In fearlessly proclaiming this he seemed in the eyes of many a traitor to his own nation, and aroused great opposition and enmity against himself; but his devotion to God and to his fellow-countrymen stand out clearly on every page, though  from time to time he breaks out into passionate cries for vengeance upon his persecutors.
The prophecies are not all in chronological order.  In some, mention is made of the king in whose reign they were uttered, but in others the date must be judged from the contents. The following may be taken as a rough guide:
The reign of Josiah: 1-6.
The reign of Jehoiakim: 7-20, 22, 25, 26, 30, 31, 35, 34, 45.
The reign of Zedekiah: 21, 23, 24, 27-29, 32-34, 37-39.

22 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 28 — Matthew 18:1-35

Study 28 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 18:1-35
We are stopping here to go to the book of Jeremiah. We will return to the book of Matthew later.
1.      Verses 1-14.  Consider Christ’s teaching on children (see also 19:13-15).  What are the qualities of the childlike spirit suggested in verses 3, 4? How should the Christian act towards children or those young in faith?
2.     What do verses 15-20 teach us about the way of reconciliation? What do we also learn here concerning the nature and the ministry of the local church, and concerning the practical value of acting together with others?
3.     How does the parable in verses 23-35 answer Peter’s question in verse 21?  What other lessons does it teach?
Note. Verse 18, 19.  There is a play on words in Greek in verse 18. ‘Petros’ means ‘stone’; ‘Petra means ‘rock’.  Note that Christ did not say, ‘On thee I will build my church.’ Peter had just made the classic confession of faith in Christ. Equally in verses 22, 23 he can be seen as an agent of Satan.  The power of the keys, i.e., of ‘loosing’ and ‘binding’, is one of great authority; but it is that of a steward rather than a door-keeper.  The keys are the keys of knowledge (cf. Lk. 11:52) which Christ entrusts to those who preach the gospel, and thus ‘open the kingdom of heaven to all believers’.

21 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 27 — Matthew 17:14-27

Study 27 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 17:14-27
1.      Verses 14-20. What were the reasons for the powerlessness of the disciples? What does Christ tell is the one indispensable secret of success?
2.     Verses 24:27. What practical lesson is enshrined in the story of the Temple tax? What does it teach about the Christian’s responsibility towards his fellow-men? Cf. 1 Cor. 10:31-33; Rom. 13:6, 7.

20 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 26 — Matthew 16:21 – 17:13

Study 26 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 16:21 – 17:13
      1.      16:21 indicates Christ’s clear awareness of the cross ahead.  The word ‘must’ expresses a sense of inward necessity.  What does this reveal about the character of Christ’s death?
      2.     What are the terms of discipleship (verse 24)? What incentive does Christ put forward in verses 25-28 to encourage His disciple to pay the cost?  What did Peter particularly need to learn (verse 22, 23)?
3.     In the story of the transfiguration (17:1-13), can you see its purpose (a) for Christ Himself, and (b) for His disciples?
Notes 16:28. The reference here to ‘the Son of man coming in his kingdom’ would seem to be not to His second advent but to His post-resurrection Triumph and exaltation to the throne. 

19 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 25 — Matthew 16:1-20

Study 25 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 16:1-20 
      1.      Christ condemns, in verses 1-4, the Jews’ inability to read ‘the signs of the times’.  What does He mean by this? How were the disciples similarly guilty? See verses 5-12.  What response should such signs produce?
     2.     Verses 13-20.  This incident at Caesarea Philippi is clearly the ‘hinge-point’ of the Gospel narrative.  From now on Christ withdraws from the crowds, and concentrates on teaching the disciples. Why is the question about His Person so crucial? Cf. 1 Jn. 4:2, 3; 5:1a, 5.
3.     Note the three things which our Lord says to Peter in verses 17-19. With verse 17, cf. 1 Cor. 12:3; with verse 18, cf. 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:4-6; and with verse 19, cf. 18:18; Jn. 20:23

18 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 24 — Matthew 15:21-39

Study 24 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 15:21-39
      1.      Verses 21-28. Why did our Lord treat the Canaanite woman in this way? Do you see the purpose behind it? Cf. Lk. 11:8; 18:1; 1 Peter 1:7. Contrast Mt. 8:23, 26; 15:28, 30, 31.
      2.     In all the miracles in this passage Christ seems to be dealing with Gentiles.  Note the phrase ‘the God of Israel’ in verse 31. This seems to be contrary to the principle of verse 24. What was our Lord thus beginning to reveal concerning the full purpose of His mission?  Cf. Mt. 24:14; 28:19; Rom. 1:16 (the last nine words)
Note. Verse 37. The word for ‘basket’ here is spluris, the large Gentile basket, contrasted with the Jewish kophinos in 14:20.  The same accuracy of distinction is found in 16:9, 10.

17 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 23 — Matthew 15: 1-20

Study 23 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 15: 1-20
      1.      For what reasons does Christ condemn the religious outlook of the Pharisees? How may we be in danger of similar failure?
      2.     These verses emphasize the importance of man’s heart. Cf. 5:8, 28; 12:34; 18:35. What is meant here by the word ‘heart’? Cf. 18. Is. 10:7, av and RV. How then can a man’s actions be put right?
3.     What are the three groups of people to whom Christ speaks in these verses?  Do you notice any difference in His manner of teaching them?  Has this any implication for Christian teaching today?

16 March, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 22 — Matthew 14: 13-36

Study 22 From the Book of Matthew is: Matthew 14: 13-36
      1.      Consider the miracles of these verses as parables in action. What particularly do you learn from the response and failure of the disciples? For what qualities, do we need to pray if we are to be found faithful?
      2.     From the same stories consider the light cast upon the Person of Christ.  What characteristics are unmistakably revealed?