An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Proverbs 24:26
Jeremiah’s Message at the Temple Gate
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Stand in the gate of the house of the Lord and proclaim this word there and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah, who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.’ ”
3 The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel says, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in false words, chanting,
‘This is the temple of the Lord,
the temple of the Lord,
the temple of the Lord.’
5 For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your deeds, if you thoroughly execute justice between a man and his neighbor, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and do not walk after other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live here, in the land that I gave to your fathers from that time to forevermore.
8 You trust in lying words that cannot profit. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, 10 then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name and say, ‘We are delivered,’ that you may do all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? I myself have seen it, says the Lord.
12 But go now to my place which was in Shiloh, where I caused my name to dwell from the beginning, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 Now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not listen, and I called you, but you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house which is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15 I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, the whole offspring of Ephraim.”
Judah’s Idolatry Continues
16 “Therefore do not pray for these people. Do not lift up a cry or prayer for them or make intercession to me, for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of the sky and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. 19 Do they provoke me to anger? says the Lord. Do they not provoke themselves, to their own shame?
20 Therefore this is what the Lord God says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man, on animal, on the trees of the field, and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and will not be quenched.
21 The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel says: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves. 22 For I did not just speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, 23 but this I commanded them: Listen to my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. In everything, walk in the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.
24 But they did not listen or turn their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their wicked hearts, and went backward, and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but they stiffened their necks, and they acted worse than their fathers.
27 You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 You shall tell them, ‘This is the nation that has not listened to the voice of the Lord their God, nor received instruction. Truth has perished and is cut off from their mouth.’ 29 Cut off your hair and throw it away and take up a lamentation on the barren heights, for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.”
The Valley of the Slaughter
30 “For the people of Judah have done that which is evil in my sight, says the Lord. They have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.
32 Therefore the day is coming, says the Lord, that it will be called ‘Topheth’ nor more, or ‘The valley of the son of Hinnom’, but ‘The valley of Slaughter’, for they will bury in Topheth until there is no place to bury. 33 The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the animals of the earth. No one will frighten them away.
34 Then, from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem, I will remove the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land will become a waste.”
Judah’s Sin and Punishment
1 “At that time,” says the Lord, “they will bring the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of his officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. 2 They will spread them before the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky, which they have loved, which they have served, after which they have walked, which they have sought, and which they have worshiped. They will not be gathered or be buried. They will be like dung on the surface of the earth. 3 Death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant that remain of this evil family, that remain in all the places where I have driven them,” says Lord of Hosts.
4 “Moreover you shall tell them, ‘The Lord says:
“Do men fall and not rise up again?
Does one turn away and not return?
5 Why then have the people of Jerusalem fallen back
by continuous backsliding?
They cling to deceit.
They refuse to return.
6 I listened and heard,
but they did not say what is right.
No one repents of his wickedness,
asking, ‘What have I done?’
Everyone turns to his course,
like a horse that rushes headlong in the battle.
7 Yes, the stork in the sky knows the seasons.
The turtledove, the swallow, and the crane
observe the time of their migration,
but my people do not know the law of the Lord.
8 How do you say, ‘We are wise,
and the law of the Lord is with us?’
But the false pen of the scribes has made that a lie.
9 The wise men are disappointed.
They are dismayed and trapped.
They have rejected the word of the Lord.
What kind of wisdom is in them?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others
and their fields to those who will possess them.
For everyone from the least to the greatest is given to covetousness,
from prophet to priest everyone deals falsely.
11 They have superficially dressed the wounds
of the daughter of my people, saying,
‘Peace, peace.’ when there is no peace.
12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed.
They could not blush.
Therefore they will fall among those who fall.
In the time of their visitation
they will be cast down,” says the Lord.
13 I will utterly consume them, says the Lord.
No grapes will be on the vine,
no figs on the fig tree,
and the leaf will fade.
The things that I have given them
will pass away from them.”
The Response of the People
14 Why do we sit still?
Let us enter into the fortified cities,
and let us be silent there,
for the Lord our God has made us silent
and given us poisoned water to drink,
because we have sinned against the Lord.
15 We looked for peace, but no good came,
and for a time of healing,
but instead there was terror!
16 The snorting of his horses is heard from Dan.
The whole land trembles at the sound of the neighing steeds,
for they have come and have devoured the land and all that is in it,
the city and those who dwell therein.
17 “For I will send serpents,
poisonous vipers among you,
which will not be charmed,
and they will bite you,” says the Lord.
Jeremiah Weeps for His People
18 Oh that I could comfort myself against sorrow!
My heart is faint within me.
19 The voice of the daughter’s cry of my people
from a land that is very far off,
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
Is her King not within her?”
“Why have they provoked me to anger
with their engraved images,
and with foreign idols?”
20 “The harvest is past.
The summer has ended,
and we are not saved.”
21 For the pain of the daughter of my people,
I hurt. I mourn.
Dismay has taken hold of me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is the health of the daughter of my people not recovered?
Built up in Christ
1 For I desire to have you know how greatly I struggle for you and for those at Laodicea and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and gaining all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
4 Now I say this that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing and seeing your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
Alive in Christ
6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving.
8 Be careful that you do not let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him all the fullness of the deity dwells bodily, 10 and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 wiping out the handwriting in ordinances against us. He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. 15 Having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no one therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17 which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is Christ’s. 18 Let no one rob you of your prize by self-abasement and worshiping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding firmly to the head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God’s growth.
20 If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, 21 “Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch!” 22 (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, humility, and severity to the body, but have no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Hear My Teaching, My People
A contemplation by Asaph.
1 Hear my teaching, my people.
Turn your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable.
I will utter dark sayings of old,
3 which we have heard and known,
and our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
his strength, and his wondrous deeds that he has done.
5 For he established a covenant in Jacob,
and appointed a teaching in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers,
that they should make them known to their children,
6 that the generation to come might know,
the children who would be born,
who would arise and tell their children,
7 that they might set their hope in God,
and not forget God’s deeds,
but keep his commandments.
8 Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation that did not make their hearts loyal,
whose spirit was not steadfast with God.
9 The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,
turned back in the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to walk in his law.
11 They forgot the deeds he had done,
his wondrous deeds that he had shown them.
12 He did marvelous things in the sight of their fathers,
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He split the sea and caused them to pass through.
He made the waters stand like a wall.
14 In the daytime he also led them with a cloud
and all night with a light of fire.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink abundantly as out of the depths.
16 He brought streams also out of the rock
and caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 Yet they still went on to sin against him,
to rebel against the Most High in the desert.
18 They tested God in their heart
by demanding food according to their desire.
19 Yes, they spoke against God.
They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 He struck the rock,
so that waters gushed out
and streams overflowed.
Can he give bread also?
Will he provide meat for his people?”
21 Therefore the Lord heard and was angry.
A fire was kindled against Jacob.
Anger also went up against Israel,
22 because they did not believe in God,
and did not trust in his salvation.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven.
24 He rained down manna on them to eat
and gave them food from the sky.
25 Man ate the bread of angels.
He sent them food to the full.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the sky.
By his power he guided the south wind.
27 He also rained meat on them like the dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas.
28 He let them fall in the middle of their camp,
around their habitations.
29 So they ate and were well filled.
He gave them what they craved.
30 They did not turn from their cravings.
Their food was yet in their mouths,
31 when the anger of God went up against them,
killed some of their strongest
and struck down the finest young men of Israel.
26 An honest answer
is like a kiss on the lips.