Comfortable Prophecies

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 27.16-17
16 Then I said to the priests and all these people, “This is what the Lord says: Do not listen to the prophets who say, ‘Very soon now the articles from the Lord’s house will be brought back from Babylon.’ They are prophesying lies to you. 17 Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this city become a ruin?

Matthew 13.1-2
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Reflection: Comfortable Prophecies
By John Tillman

People are harder to love than objects.

Objects make more predictable and controllable gods than the true and living One. Perhaps that is why we easily become attached to physical objects, places, and things and sometimes forget the God those things are intended to point us toward. 

The people of Jerusalem were very attached to the physical implements of their worship in the Temple. It was a shock to them when Nebuchadnezzar took away many articles from the Temple along with the previous king, Jehoiachin. Their patterns of worship were disrupted. 

This shock, however, did not cause the people to return to proper worship of God. Instead, it pushed them further into denial and brought forth false prophets who would tell the people exactly what they wanted to hear.

“The articles of the Temple will return!”
“The suffering will be over soon.”
“Normalcy will resume.”

These lies made very comfortable prophecies. Near irresistible. It is difficult to point a judgmental finger at the residents of Jerusalem for falling for these false prophets. The current suffering we are enduring is nothing anywhere near the scale that they were enduring. Even though our suffering is less severe than theirs, don’t we also feel the pull to grasp onto any far-fetched hope of an end and a return to normalcy?

Jeremiah’s prophecies are uncomfortable. People considered them unpatriotic. Jeremiah had a reputation for gloom as if his writings and prophecies contained no messages of hope or offers of forgiveness for the people. Yet, Jeremiah frequently and beautifully describes God’s longing to bless the people and save them from further destruction. But they are unwilling to do what God asks. They are unwilling to submit. They are unwilling to be humbled or to acknowledge the sins that led them to this point. They are unwilling to live under the consequences of their sins.

O God, help us not to worship normalcy, but to seek your presence in this unique time.
May we find our comfort in you rather than in things we demand that you restore to us.
May we not long for the missing “instruments” of worship more than we long for you, the object of our worship.
O God, help us not be misled by false prophets offering comfort instead of truth.
Give us discernment and faith.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Our iniquities you have set before you, and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
When you are angry, all our days are gone; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath? Who rightly fears your indignation:
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. — Psalm 90.8-12

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 27 (Listen – 3:52)
Mark 13 (Listen – 4:32)

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 28 (Listen – 3:05) Mark 14 (Listen – 8:37)
Jeremiah 29 (Listen – 5:44) Mark 15 (Listen – 5:16)

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post helped you understand the gospel?https://forms.gle/DsYWbj45y9fCDLzi7

Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
Judah treasured the Temple’s importance but not its inhabitant. They treasured the regalia, not the relationship.

Setting a New Standard

Mark 10.15-17
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Reflection: Setting a New Standard
By John Tillman

Many scholars believe that Jesus cleansed the temple of buyers and sellers repeatedly—every time he visited Jerusalem. The slight variance of accounts in scripture imply this. This interpretation also fits with the way that Jesus consistently attacked the cultural religious institutions that were slanted to benefit the powerful, the rich, and the politically connected. This included redefining his society’s concept of marriage.

In yesterday’s reading, Jesus stated views on marriage more strict than the most conservative religious sects of his day. Jesus reset the standard from “Moses allowed” to “God made.” In doing so, he stripped the power from husbands to dissolve their marriages for any reason.

Jesus made a distinction between what Moses allowed and what God desired. He described the law about divorce, which Moses wrote, as a concession to the hard-heartedness of people who were too selfish and unloving to live according to God’s original design. This teaching on marriage was so extreme that his own disciples despaired of marrying due to the harshness of his teaching, saying, “If this is the situation…it is better not to marry.

Jesus both affirms the deep, spiritual purpose of marriage as God’s original design for humanity, while rejecting the culture that had twisted marriage into a power play.

No matter what culture’s moving needle says is moral, what matters to Jesus is God’s design. In this Jesus continues to demand greater righteousness than that can be attained under the law. The gospel is that he also provides that righteousness

We are no less selfish and no more loving today than the people to whom Moses gave the law. We too are stiff-necked and hard-hearted. Sin wreaks havoc in more than just marriages. Our economy is driven by coveting. Our industries profit from lust and market accordingly. The laws of our governments show that concessions must be made for our brokenness, our lusts, our lack of wisdom, our rejection of self-control, our addiction to violence, and our never-ending covetousness.

In our brokenness, we need not despair at Christ’s harshest teachings. Jesus rejected the morally compromised thinking of his culture, while at the same time welcoming into his fellowship those in clear violation of what he taught.

May we humbly welcome all whom Christ calls. Whosoever they are. Whatsoever their sin. . .
May we humbly welcome all that Christ offers: critique and correction, leading ultimately to communion.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
When my mind became embittered, I was sorely wounded in my heart.
I was stupid and had no understanding; I was like a brute beast in your presence.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive me with glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And having you I desire nothing upon earth. — Psalm 21-25

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 41 (Listen – 7:30) 
Mark 11 (Listen – 3:59)

This Weekend’s Readings
Genesis 42 (Listen – 5:08), Mark 12 (Listen – 6:10)
Genesis 43 (Listen – 5:02), Mark 13 (Listen – 4:32)

Read more about It’s In The Bible
We need to read our culture—not just live in it— seeking guidance to understand what is considered acceptable to the world, but is not acceptable to God.

Read more about In Praise of Christ’s Righteousness
We cannot save ourselves. Praise God.
God specifically tells Ezekiel that not even the greatest, most righteous men he might trust in would be able to save the nation.

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