Daily devotional by Larry Stockstill
When God makes a covenant, He means eternal business. In biblical times, a covenant was sealed between two parties by their cutting an animal in half and walking between the pieces in a figure-eight movement. Israel had entered into that kind of covenant with God, yet failed to keep it. God was forced to respond with these words:
"Because you have refused the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows" (Jeremiah 34:18).
It is human nature to make and then break covenants. God, however, cannot break a covenant. He promised Jeremiah that if he could break God's "covenant with the day and the night so that they do not come on their usual schedule, only then will my covenant with David, my servant, be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne" (Jeremiah 33:20-21). The chances of David not having an heir as king on Israel's throne are less than the chances of the sun not shining anymore! That's how faithful God is!
With a God who is that unchangeable and faithful, we must also be true to Him-the faithful God who keeps His covenant forever.
Promise of Restoration
33 While Jeremiah was still confined
6 “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal
10 “This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.”
“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
12 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate
15 “‘In those days and at that time
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
17 For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail
19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah:20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day
23 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah:24 “Have you not noticed that these people are saying, ‘The Lord has rejected the two kingdoms
Warning to Zedekiah
34 While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples
4 “‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword;
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,7 while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachish
Freedom for Slaves
8 The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people
12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah:13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors
17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you,
21 “I will deliver Zedekiah
Promises of Peace and Prosperity
33 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message:2 “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord:3 Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.4 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy.5 You expect to fight the Babylonians,
6 “Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace.7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns.8 I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion.9 Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.
10 “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more11 the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing,
‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
for the Lord is good.
His faithful love endures forever!’
For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord.
12 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: This land—though it is now desolate and has no people and animals—will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks.13 Once again shepherds will count their flocks in the towns of the hill country, the foothills of Judah,
14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.
15 “In those days and at that time
I will raise up a righteous descendant
He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
16 In that day Judah will be saved,
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this will be its name:
‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’
17 For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever.18 And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.”
19 Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord:20 “This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other,21 only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me.22 And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.”
23 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,24 “Have you noticed what people are saying?—‘The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’ They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation.25 But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky.26 I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”
A Warning for Zedekiah
34 King Nebuchadnezzar
4 “‘But listen to this promise from the Lord, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the Lord says: You will not be killed in war5 but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the Lord.’”
6 So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah.7 At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.
Freedom for Hebrew Slaves
8 This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves.9 He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage.10 The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command,11 but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.
12 So the Lord gave them this message through Jeremiah:13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt.14 I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me.15 Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name.16 But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.
17 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth.18 Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows.19 Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath.20 I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.
21 “I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while,22 I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.”
33 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
2 Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name;
3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
4 For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword;
5 They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.
6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.
8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.
9 And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
10 Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast,
11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.
12 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down.
13 In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord.
14 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.
17 For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
19 And the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, saying,
20 Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;
21 Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.
22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.
23 Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying,
24 Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them.
25 Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;
26 Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.
34 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying,
2 Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire:
3 And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon.
4 Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah; Thus saith the Lord of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword:
5 But thou shalt die in peace: and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn odours for thee; and they will lament thee, saying, Ah lord! for I have pronounced the word, saith the Lord.
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem,
7 When the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah.
8 This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them;
9 That every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, being an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free; that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother.
10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.
11 But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids.
12 Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
13 Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying,
14 At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear.
15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:
16 But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.
17 Therefore thus saith the Lord; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
18 And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof,
19 The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf;
20 I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth.
21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which are gone up from you.
22 Behold, I will command, saith the Lord, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.
1 Timothy 4:1-16
4 The Spirit
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,
11 Command and teach these things.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save
Warnings against False Teachers
4 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.
3 They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.5 For we know it is made acceptable
A Good Servant of Christ Jesus
6 If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters,
11 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
4 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
11 These things command and teach.
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
In Hebrew texts 89:1-52 is numbered 89:2-53.
Title: Probably a literary or musical term of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing
through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”
5 The heavens
your faithfulness too, in the assembly
6 For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
he is more awesome than all who surround him.
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab
you founded the world and all that is in it.
12 You created the north and the south;
13 Your arm is endowed with power;
your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.
Hebrew maskil. This may be a literary or musical term. of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.
2 Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
3 The Lord said, “I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant.
I have sworn this oath to him:
4 ‘I will establish your descendants as kings forever;
they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’” Interlude
5 All heaven will praise your great wonders, Lord;
myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness.
6 For who in all of heaven can compare with the Lord?
What mightiest angel is anything like the Lord?
7 The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God.
He is far more awesome than all who surround his throne.
8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies!
Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord?
You are entirely faithful.
9 You rule the oceans.
You subdue their storm-tossed waves.
10 You crushed the great sea monster.
You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours;
everything in the world is yours—you created it all.
12 You created north and south.
Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon praise your name.
13 Powerful is your arm!
Strong is your hand!
Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength.
89 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.
5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?
7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.
8 O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?
9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.
10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.
11 The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.
12 The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.
13 Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.
23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain
is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.
24 Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
23 As surely as a north wind brings rain,
so a gossiping tongue causes anger!
24 It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic
than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
23 The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
24 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.