“Be astonished and appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked and shrivel up with horror, says the Lord [at the behavior of the people]. For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:12-13 [AMP] -> me: Sorry folks, Jeremiah is going to be a tough book to go through. Jeremiah gets to be the bearer of the message of God to His people that they will suffer judgement for their behavior. ‘Forsake’ means to abandon, renounce, or give up on something. They have turned their back on the One who holds the ability to provide for all of the people’s needs; both material and spiritual. A provision that never can be lost…but they instead build cisterns (holes in the ground that would be lined with plaster) to hold water. The problem is that their human weakness has produced broken cisterns which will leak all of the water they try to fill the cisterns with -> futility. Our family has seen first hand the provision of God to provide every thing, spiritual, emotional, and material through His faithfulness this last year. YET, we must stay vigilant not to let complacency slip in. We must stay in pursuit of Him, in constant leaning into His grace and mercy. Relying on what only He can provide; anything else is abandonment and destined for failure.
“Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They 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?’” Jeremiah 2:5-6 -> me: As I was reading this passage over the last 2 days the main phrase that caught me was “Where is the Lord…?”. The people of Israel had turned their backs so completely that He was not Who they even thought about when things were going wrong. The perfect and holy God that loved them so much had been traded for ‘The Nothing’ and they therefore became nothing. This is so sad and scary that a people who saw a holy and perfect God deliver them out of Egypt just leaves Him by the wayside as they worshipped Canaanite gods. BUT, isn’t this just how I can become? I have the ability to get so wrapped up in my surroundings of life, career, and family life that days can pass and trouble can come and is the Lord the first One I turn to?? Sometimes…no…I try to solve the issue myself not even asking where God was in all of it. The point here is – I am so thankful for God’s Word where He shows me the ugly parts of myself through the audacity of the behavior His chosen people.
“Israel was holy to the Lord, the first-fruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 2:3 -> me: In the 2 verses preceding, God, through Jeremiah, talks about how He remembered Israel’s love for Him and willingness to follow God anywhere He led them; even into the desert (uncharted territory). Israel was the first set of chosen people God set aside for Himself…we, through Jesus are the second, grafted into the branch of Israel. Anyone who came up against Israel suffered disastrous consequences. As a child of the King being chosen by Him, following Him where ever He leads us, and loving Him to the point of wanting to learn everything we can about Him (like a groom for his bride to be) to get closer to Him Who chose us; I have nothing to fear…anything that rises up to attempt to harm me will be dealt a disastrous blow. As I read in chapter 1, these are God’s words about His chosen first-fruits, Israel – being that I have been grafted into the vine of Israel, I should expect the same words to apply to me. So the application is – Am I following God where ever He leads? Do I love Him like I love my wife, wanting to know Him and understand Him in every way?
“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:19 -> me: The words that jump out to me most are ‘I am with you….to deliver you’. God does not say Jeremiah wouldn’t go through pain, wouldn’t be laughed at, wouldn’t be ridiculed, wouldn’t grieve, or wouldn’t be shamed -> no, He said ‘I will deliver you – I am with you’. Today I felt the presence of the Lord as we prepared ourselves to receive Brooklyn back in our lives and look ahead to the challenges that come with re-bonding and getting back to a new normal. It will be frustrating, heartbreaking, exhilarating, and precious. Through it all God will be with us.
<<< This is not an instruction or final ruling!!!! These are just my thoughts after prayerful consideration and my searching of God’s word. Let this be the beginning of a conversation! 😊>>>
Hello wandering soul who has happened to find this post! 🙂
There have been some different views on how Christians should approach Shelter-In-Place mandates in various states who have locked down pretty hard. Our Life Group of Young Married Couples has also been discussing this topic a bit and through scripture reading and prayer I have put my thoughts down for them to read and am posting here as well.
Passages to read first – Leviticus 21:16-23 and Romans 8:18-23 (I have pasted the ESV versions of these texts at the bottom of this post if you want to just scroll down and read first).
One of the things I used to struggle with the most in my early Christian walk was-> why does God allow sickness, pestilence, birth defects/deformities, COVID-19, etc?
Short answer – Sin has caused all of the nastiness that our world endures.
- The results of that sin also affects the innocent.
- God still weaves His goodness, plan, and purposes through these effects of sin.
- Christians suffer from these same effects of sin on our world.
- The cyclical nature of life, death, and change will continue until the Lord Jesus returns.
So what conclusions have I drawn from these passages?
Our world is cursed by sin and our soul and spirit have been redeemed by the gift of the cross in Jesus Christ; however, our bodies are yet to be glorified with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 says that we will die with perishable bodies but be raised with imperishable bodies. Even the family lineage of Aaron would be the only line from which Priests of the tabernacle would come, yet that same blessed family within the chosen children of Israel would suffer from the same deformities, sickness, sores and the like as everyone else…and those stricken would be unable to serve as Priests to give sacrifices…they were not immune to the effects of sin on a fallen world.
In Truth, Grace, and Love (I believe all positions like this need to be framed by these three lenses):
TRUTH (speaking openly about how I feel): If I think that I am immune to the effects of the COVID-19 virus then I am not paying attention to the message of the bible. I do believe in the almighty power of God to heal anyone or protect someone from COVID=19; what I am saying is that I am NOT going to expect that I AM protected (from either getting it myself or spreading it to others). The spiritual realm supersedes physical boundaries and I do believe that there is still value in meeting over wonderful inventions like Zoom and care for one another over electronic means. I am also called to love on those around me, both saved and unsaved; so our family does venture out to bring things to people in need, bring blessings to those we love, and serve those less fortunate. I also believe that we can come closer together respecting the instructions from our local government by taking the proper precautions. I also believe a day will come when the government will overtly act to limit my worship of the Creator God, will persecute my evangelism, and will work to subvert my ability to shepherd; but that is not what is happening here. We are being asked to take precautions to prevent the widespread propagation of a virus that has a 10 to 14 day incubation time (one that is very hard to get in front of). I believe we are doing right by God and His word to obey these instructions yet doing our best to adhere to God’s call to support one another in love, accountability, and service. Many of the letters we have from Paul were written because he had the inability to be present with the church he was writing to because he was in a place that prevented his movement; yet he still communicated effectively.
GRACE: I think that people’s opinions on this topic are like the one covered in Romans 14:13-19. Christians will have different views on the same topic and neither are inherently good or bad – but they may be deeply felt. I appreciate these differences (that do not stand against the teaching of Jesus) and hope that we can give grace to one another in our different views. What I want to encourage is for us to talk openly about how we feel, just as I am doing here. Please hear me in that this is not a heretical or show stopping issue and I hope that we can continue an open dialog in our pursuit to be Christlike and build on our theology while staying together in community and growth in our spiritual lives.
LOVE: I love each of you so much and I need you in my life. I feel a deep sense of protection for each one of your families; especially those of you who have compromised loved ones that you must interact with on a regular basis. Our brotherly/sisterly love rises above this virus and our situations – expressing love for one another in service, accountability, peace, and encouragement is part of what God has always had in His ultimate plan of redemption and rescue of His chosen. I am so thankful to my Lord and Savior in bringing us together through Canyon Hills and I expectantly look to a future where these ‘Shelter In Place’ orders are lifted. Until then, I hope to opportunistically and responsibly meet together to share in closeness and community. I believe that meeting together over Zoom is still fulfilling Matthew 18:20. Love is an aspect of the heart and mind that, again, breach physical boundaries. When I hear your heart and see your face, I am together with you. I am so thankful for each and every one of you!
Scriptures noted above:
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:50-53
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”” Jeremiah 1:11-12 -> me: Whenever I read the Old Testament the biggest thing I take away is the character of God. Here is a tender moment of God encouraging Jeremiah in the moments just after appointing him to speak His words to the nations. 1) God gives Jeremiah praise for seeing what He intended him to see. 2) God reassures Jeremiah that He is vigilant and watchful over him. 3) He confirms again that He is the One Who will be speaking when Jeremiah speaks. The word used for Almond in Hebrew means ‘to wake up’ or ‘to watch’. Had to look this one up because I couldn’t see what God would mean by what He said just from Jeremiah observing an Almond branch. 🙂
“Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”” Jeremiah 1:6-8 -> me: As you can probably tell, today I have started the book of Jeremiah. In verse 5, preceding this verse, we get what God has done in regards to Jeremiah – “I formed you; I knew you; I set you apart; I appointed you”. As a born again Christian, I have a role to do on this earth, which God knew before I was born. Like Jeremiah, I find myself questioning sometimes what God, through His Word, through His Holy Spirit, or through other Brothers and Sisters in Christ, is telling me to do…that I am I not good enough, not smart enough, not wise enough, etc. Here God essentially says ‘shame on you, don’t say “I am only a child” when I am the One Who has called you! Go, say, and do whatever I command of you. I will protect you. Do not be afraid of those over whom I rule.’ Although I am not called as a prophet; I am called as a child of His to go about and do the work of His Kingdom. I need to do this in humility, but without fear or doubt.
“And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 -> me: Every day I am blown away by God’s faithfulness to provide — YOUR EVERY NEED! Need for clothes, need for comfort, need for wisdom, need for patience, need for humility, need for companionship…should I go on. Our family is blessed to be financially secure with income during this time but we have had other needs; God sized needs…and He has faithfully delivered when we have laid these petitions before Him. God has been blessing us with faith building answers that just yesterday seemed impossible. We are a living testimony to the goodness of God in our lives and His ultimate desire to show us His care and love for us. This does not always come when you want it, but He supplies you with something else to help you through the hard time. Our God is an awesome God!
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” Philippians 4:8-9[AMP] -> me: Well, I didn’t get very far today…I went from verse 7 to verse 8 and dwelt…I usually post with the ESV but the Amplified version is so thorough and I think reveals more of what Paul was meaning in these sentences. Following on the heels of yesterday this is a reaffirmation that the way I keep joy in my heart and rejoice, is by keeping this list of things on my mind and at the forefront of my thoughts. I have really tried to bring thankfulness into my prayer life by spending time acknowledging what God has done; even just the day before. Keeping my mind fixed on these things will help me see more of what God is doing in my day to day; it is a reinforcing circular dependency that can keep my spirits up and be the strength my family needs right now. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my quiet times have landed me here in Philippians this weekend.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 -> me: What a great word for the last several days! This is a set of verses to LIVE during this time…and any time for that matter. ‘Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS’ – What have I to fear from this world when there is nothing it can take from me that is more precious than what the Lord gives and has waiting for me. ‘Let your reasonableness be known’ – Strive for this impression…”You know that guy Ben, yeah, that’s the one…you notice how he never seems to get rattled or surprised by what life throws at him?” How do I become perceived this way? I approach everything with requests to God, with thankfulness in my heart; and then, the unexplainable peace of God will guard my mind in Christ Jesus, His Son. Here I sit on Good Friday, not thinking about COVID, no; I am thinking about my Lord and Savior giving His life to save mine…and the HOPE I now have knowing He will then conquer death on Sunday morning, paving the way for my eternal life with Him. Nothing else can compete with that.