Reading #1 – Acts 18
Reading #2 – Psalms 122
Reading #3 – Songs 2
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 42
Reading #5 – Nehemiah 10
Nehemiah 10 – The New Covenant is signed and ratified. After the reading of the law and reflecting on the results of their disobedience, a vow or covenant was enacted and signed by the leaders, the governor, priests, and nobles (1-27). The document details the promises of the people to do only that which pleases the Lord G_d, to live according to Mosaic law, and to provide for the Temple. The problem with the document was, it was only as good as the content of the heart of the people. Documents like this, are created and later altered to abide by the desires and demands of the people. In the time of kings David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josia the nation united as one person to serve the Lord G_d and live by his commands. After these kings, the same nation followed the moral direction of the bad kings. So, it was the same people (Israel) and the same document but both changed over time to fit the circumstance. This vow echoed G_d’s covenant with Abraham and reaffirmed in the time of Moses so G_d never changed his mind.
Psalms 122 – Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem and any nation for that matter hinges on the word “obedience”. When we pray, we ask for the best for our nation but if we are not willing to do that which G_d commands by His law, stipulations, and commands, this prayer is worthless! When we pray for peace, we must be willing to do that which will bring about peace. The worldly version of this prayer also calls for “Peace” but it stipulates that you will do everything the world wants to make them happy which is a temporary condition. G_d’s version of peace, on the other hand, is not temporary and comes with no strings attached (Proverbs 10:22).
Songs 2 – A Love Like No Other. This love affair between the husband (Solomon) and the wife hinges on obedience. G_d doesn’t want us to have a “joy-filled marriage” just when we first get married, His version is for us to remain committed and obedient to each other to our dying breath. When we first get married, we see life differently because we are no longer alone and we are now complete. It appears, to me anyway, that this sonnet is surreal because it makes it seem like it was the garden of Eden but it wasn’t. When we come to the Lord, we have a testimony of what He did in our lives, and some stories get exaggerated giving the listener an illusion that seems bigger than life. Oh Lord, “Catch for us, the little foxes that spoil and ruin the vineyards of our love, while our vineyards are in bloom (15).
Jeremiah 42 – Warning against Going to Egypt. When the people came to Jeremiah asking him to plead their case before the Lord, an “implied contract” was enacted. They promised to do whatever the Lord would tell them to do (1-3). Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we fail to act per all the things that the LORD your G_d sends you to tell us. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to and honor the voice of the LORD our G_d to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our G_d” (5-6). Asking anything of the Lord means you agree to do what he commands even if it doesn’t fit your modicum of life. G_d’s original covenant with Moses speaks about the blessings of obedience and curses for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28). When the word came down from the Lord, it was simple “Stay in Jerusalem and do not be afraid of serving Babylon because Nebuchadnezzar is just a human being not a G_d. If you do this simple command you will be delivered, restored, and not be afraid (10-11). The flip side of the promise was the results of disobedience and fear (14-16). The LORD has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go into Egypt!” Know with certainty that I [Jeremiah] have warned you and testified to you this day that you have deceived yourselves; for you sent me to the LORD your G_d, saying, “Pray for us to the LORD our G_d; and whatever the LORD our G_d says, declare it to us and we will do it” (19-20). The Lord gave the people the choice and responsibility which path they wanted to go down.
Acts 18 – Paul at Corinth. Corinth is located is about 50 miles west of Athens. Corinth was known for its worship of multiple deities including Jewish worship to the Lord G_d. When Paul gets to Corinth, he meets two Jews Aquila and Priscilla who were forced out of Rome by the emperor’s decree. The focus of Paul’s messages were to prove in an open debate that Jesus is the Messiah of G_d (4). Although Paul’s ascertains were correct, they did not fit into the legalistic jew’s opinion of scripture. This sets the stage for a conflict that would have compelled Paul to pick up stakes and leave to keep the peace. One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid anymore, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city” (9-10). So in the face of adversity, Paul preached the word of the Lord to the people for 18 months (11). It was at this point that the silent hostilities spilled out disrupting the community (12). When Paul was hauled into court, the case was dismissed because it had to do with “religion”. But when Paul was about to reply, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some misdemeanor or serious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to put up with you; but since it is merely a question [of doctrine within your religion] about words and names and your law, see to it yourselves; I am unwilling to judge these matters” (14-15).