Tag Archives: Jerusalem

He Restores

I have been studying Jeremiah this month. One of the most quoted verses in Jeremiah is Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Many times this verse is not used in the proper context. As you read the verses around it, you read of a people who is in exile. This does not sound like something desirable. The promise for a hope and future is made to the people in captivity. It was a promise to those who spent seventy years under the rule of others. It was a promise to bring back the people.

After the seventy years were up, just as promised, God delivered his people out of captivity. The people of God were able to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple and the city walls. God restored His people. Just in the same way, He is able to restore all that is broken. That includes you and I. For just as the earth and all it contains, you and I are broken. Praise God, He promises to restore us.

Though this verse speaks about a people long ago, God also promises us hope and a future (Hebrews 10:23). He also listens to our prayers (Psalm 77:1, 1 John 5:14). His Word also says when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Today, remember what the Psalmist wrote: “Trust in Him at all times… pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (62:8 NIV). Let Him continue to restore you by fixing your eyes on Him and following His leading.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’” – Jeremiah 29:10-14 [NIV]

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Top of Your Lungs

When you yell at the top of your lungs, people pay attention. It is loud. It is usually uninhibited. When I think of someone screaming at the top of their lungs, I consider two things: screaming in delight after receiving some great news or screaming in fear when in danger. These moments are typically moments we do not forget.

When all of Judah and Jerusalem followed Jehoshaphat’s actions, worshiping God together, the Bible says that the Levites were on their feet praising God. How did they praise Him? They praised God “at the top of their lungs.”

This reminds me of my car rides when I have the windows down and I am in the middle of uninhibited worship. I am praising God. I have one hand off the steering wheel raised (which is a no no). I get loud but I don’t care. Once I was even yelled at by a young boy to quiet down. But I kept praising Him for He alone deserves honor and glory and praise. Today I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. Praise God at the top of your lungs. Aren’t you delighted by Him? Let us jump to our feet and shout! Thank you Lord! Praise you Lord!

“Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!”

-2 Chronicles 20:18-19 [MSG]

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Who Are You Counting On?

I often hear people say things like “You can’t trust anyone” or “I help everyone but no one is there when I need help.” In Isaiah 36, the question is asked, “Who are you counting on?” That is such an important question. I ask you today, who are you counting on?

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was threatening Jerusalem. A message from the king’s chief of staff was sent to King Hezekiah asking who he was counting on and to make an attempt to get an alliance to be formed. Instead, King Hezekiah understood the great alliance he had—he called out to the Lord for help. The Lord promised victory and not only did an angel kill the Assyrians at night, but the king met his end at the hands of his very own sons.

People will always fail you. There is no one in your life that can always be there for you and never let you down. People are finite, imperfect, and limited. God never forsakes. God can do the impossible. God loves no matter what you have done. He forgives. He pours out His grace. He fills you up with His Spirit and never leaves your side. So who are you counting on?

“Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me?” – Isaiah 36:5 [NLT]

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Watch the Lord’s Victory

In 2 Chronicles, it says that the people would “not even need to fight.” They were to “stand still and watch the LORD’s victory.” Sometimes we do not like to “stand still.” Most people are okay with watching television, but when it comes to our own lives, we think we have to do something. We have to do something to fix everything. Look around and you’ll see the evidence.

In this verse the people are told to take their positions. They were to be ready. But they were not going to have to do anything. They would be watching the Lord as He did great things. They simply had to watch with eyes open and see the victory.

For every situation in life, it is not always going to be the same. You will not always need to be fighting and keeping busy toward the goal. There are times when God will have you slow down for a moment so He can show you His great power and control. When you are to stand still, be sure to stand still. Open your eyes and see what the Lord has done.

“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!” – 2 Chronicles 20:17 [NLT]

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Two Gold Calves

Remember the gold calves that were created? Jeroboam made two gold calves and said it was “too much trouble” for them to go to Jerusalem to worship. The gold calves he said were to represent “the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” He wanted the people to believe they could worship these two gold calves rather than travel to Jerusalem and worship the one true God. It was a shorter trip.

But the gold calves were not about God at all. If you read the text, he was not making these two gold calves to save them a longer trip to worship in Jerusalem. The king was fearful about both his position and his life. God was not first in his life—he was first. He feared that if the people would go to Jerusalem to worship they would return to King Rehoboam and they would eventually kill him as well.

There are moments in our lives when we make gold calves. We have a great excuse for them—and our reasoning makes it sound legitimate. But often, if we evaluate things closer, if we strip down the pieces, we find that there is something else at the surface. Today, look at your own life. Are there any gold calves lying around?

“So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’” – 1 Kings 12:28 [NLT]

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Bronze Shields

“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.” – 1 Kings 14:25-27 [NIV]

We read that “Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (v. 21). Then the passage mentions high places, sacred stones, Asherah poles, and even male shrine prostitutes. The people were engaged in horrible, sinful acts. The people were committing idolatry.  Then the judgment for their actions followed. The king of Egypt attacked and the treasures were taken. The gold shields that Solomon had made were carried away, and Solomon’s son has them replaced with bronze shields.

When we look at this replacement of the shields, it reminds me of something that a criminal does, replacing something real with something fake to pretend that the fake item is the real thing. At the end of the day, the deception is deception and can never be truth. Even if the shields were replaced, it was easy to see that they were not the original gold shields. Solomon made those gold shields when he was doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The shields were just one of many things that pointed to the splendor of Israel when following the Lord.

Today let this be a reminder of what truth is and what is not considered the truth. Let us remember that we have the option of having a true, real relationship with God. We can attempt to fake it by having a Bible on our bookshelf or attending church on Sunday, but there is no replacement for the real thing.