eternal-life

Joshua 8, Jeremiah 2

Today’s readings are Joshua 8 and Jeremiah 2.

This devotional is about Jeremiah 2:13.

This second chapter of Jeremiah began God’s complaint against his people. The immediate audience was the population of Jerusalem (v. 2a) and God recalled in glowing terms the exodus of all the tribes of Israel from Egypt (v. 2b-3). Starting with verse 4, God turned to the spiritual problems of his people; as usual, the main problem was idolatry.

Here in verse 13, God charged them with rejecting him and choosing their own way. He used an image related to water to visually describe his complaint. Forsaking him meant rejecting “the spring of living water” (v. 13c). This refers to the gift of spiritual life that comes from trusting God by faith. Jesus also used this image in his conversation with the woman at the well (Jn 4:14), promising that those who believed in him would never thirst again.

The other watery image here in Jeremiah 2:13 is in line d which says that they “...have dug their own cisterns.” These are holes in the ground that hold rain water. In the desert, where lakes and streams are rare and and springs of underground water are hard to find, these cisterns are quite useful. The rain water they retain can be used to irrigate crops and hydrate animals and, if necessary, provide drinking water for people. But rain water lacks the good taste and refreshing nature of spring water. You might drink it if you had to, but you would long for spring water and look hard for it.

God used this image to tell his people that he offered them an endless supply of life and refreshment but they chose the dirty water left over from rain and runoff. This water could not replenish itself; instead, once the cistern was dry (from use and evaporation), it would remain empty until the next rain--which may not come soon in a desert climate like Judah had. The spiritual image here is that God’s people traded the life God gives to those who believe his word for spiritual leftovers gathered by human ingenuity. This water offered some refreshment but it was also contaminated and limited in supply. Furthermore, the collection methods people used to get it were flawed; verse 13e calls them “...broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Other religions contain some truths that God’s word also teaches. They may teach morals and ethics that our faith also teaches. They may offer the hope of life after death and may even hold to one God instead of many. Human philosophy and psychology also offer truths that correspond to some of the teachings of God’s word. But even when these alternatives to biblical faith are right, they are at best severely limited, unclean and even contaminated and ultimately unable to satisfy with eternal life. Yet this is what we imbibe when we look to political solutions to human problems or to psychology or to other religions, even those that claim association with Jesus.

Consider the sources of information you consume. How much of it is the collected runoff of philosophy or spirituality verses the genuine spiritual life God gives us by grace? Drink deeply from God’s word and let it refresh and satisfy your soul; don’t settle for the dishwater swill of this world.

Exodus 2, Job 19, Psalm 50

Today’s readings are Exodus 2, Job 19, and Psalm 50.

This devotional is about Job 19.

It is sometimes argued that the Old Testament does not teach an after-life. Job 19:25-27 is a clear text that contradicts that argument. This chapter continued the documentation of Job’s arguments with his friends. Although they came to him expressing a desire to comfort him in his sufferings, they made assumptions about Job and his morality and condemned him as a sinner by applying their incorrect assumptions to their simplistic theology.

Job, in this chapter, complained painfully about the words of his friends. He found their words to be “torment” (v. 2a) and begged them for “pity” (v. 21). Although Job was perplexed that God would bring this kind of suffering in his life, his faith in God’s existence and in life after death did not waver. In verse 25a, he affirmed his faith in God’s existence: “I know that my redeemer lives.” He went on in the latter half of that verse to state his confidence that, someday, God would walk this earth.

But notice verse 26: “And after my skin has been destroyed....” What destroys a person’s skin? Death. After a person’s body dies, it is buried to decompose. God created us from the dust of the ground and the earth reclaims its dust after we die. So Job here is acknowledging that his physical body will decompose. But notice that he said, “AFTER my skin has been destroyed, yet.... I will see God” (v. 26b). Job believed that there was life after this life is over and that in that life after death he would experience God personally and directly.

Notice the phrase I omitted, however, from verse 26b: “...yet IN MY FLESH I will see God.” This phrase shows that Job understood not only that he would meet God after death but that there would be a bodily resurrection that he, Job, would experience personally.

This is our hope as well. In Christ’s resurrection, we have been raised spiritually to walk a new life. But the curse of physical death is still upon us until the final resurrection. While we may fear the process of death, the pain and sadness that it causes, there is no reason to fear death itself. Because of Christ, we may have confidence that we will see God personally, in the flesh, at the final resurrection. That meeting will be a loving reunion between our Father and his children or a moment of final judgment for those who have rejected God and his word and his Son in this life. Put your hope in God, therefore, if you haven’t already. He will bring you through the process of death and safely into his kingdom for eternity.

No doubt about it.

Exodus 38, John 17, Proverbs 14, Philippians 1

Happy resurrection Sunday! If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Exodus 38, John 17, Proverbs 14, Philippians 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read John 17.

In the next chapter Jesus was arrested and the events that led to his crucifixion and resurrection began. When it came to preaching, healing (except for Malchus’ ear), and discipling the apostles, Christ’s work is finished. This is the finality Jesus felt when he prayed here in John 17:4: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” Though the crucifixion and resurrection were also an essential part of his mission, those would be done to him rather than by him, so his active work is done. Now his request is that God would glorify him so that he may glorify God (v. 1b). The specific way which he would do this is explained in verse 2: “that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” Notice that the authority Jesus has is over all people (v. 2a) but eternal life only goes to those given him by the Father (v. 2b), namely those God has chosen. And what is this eternal life? Well, it’s less about a life that never ends than it is about knowing God who is eternal: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Anyone who is interested in the gospel as a free ticket to heaven but without any desire to know and follow God is not a believer. The work of salvation is primarily about reconciling us to God and beginning a relationship of worship and obedience to him as Lord. This is real life and the fact that it is eternal is a side effect of it being given by God. Everything God does is eternal so the life that we receive that causes us to know and follow him is also eternal. 

Easter Sunday always fills the chairs in our church; it is like this in almost every church in America. Many of these people are going to church out of tradition but would you pray with me that the Lord would send us some whom he is drawing to himself? Would you pray that they would find eternal life today in our church or at least begin attending our church so that they can start to understand God and all that he offers us by grace?

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.