‘A mix of the expected and unexpected’ – that’s a good way to summarize the opening half of Jeremiah thirty-eight. You’d expect to see the princes of Judah continue to pursue their persecution of Jeremiah – no surprises there. You’d expect to see King Zedekiah cooperate with them, at least if there was enough pressure to do so. What you wouldn’t expect is for Ebed Melech to be the lowercase “h” hero of the story; not only because you don’t know him prior to this point but even more so because of who he is. And you wouldn’t expect Zedekiah to cooperate with his rescue efforts after he had just signed off on Jeremiah’s imprisonment. It’s a good reminder that although God’s dealings in providence are not relentlessly unexpected, neither are they relentlessly expected. With that said, let’s look at the passage before us, expecting to see the unexpected.
Tag: Gospel (Page 1 of 2)
Have you ever had someone tell someone else that you said something you never actually said? If so, you’ve probably found that your level of appropriate frustration was greater or smaller depending on how serious the misrepresentation was. But regardless, most of us (if not all of us) do not like the idea of somebody putting words in our mouth that were never actually there. And if you find that irritating you are catching a tiny glimpse of how God feels when fallen man does that very thing to Him. It’s one of the reasons why not many ought to be teachers (Jas. 3:1). It is a high and hefty responsibility to divide God’s word accurately (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15) and refrain from giving a message that God never gave (cf. Jer. 23:21b). But the latter was just the kind of thing that Hananiah was doing.
‘At least it can’t get any worse’ is an expression usually stated by some fictional character who is on the precipice of finding out that he or she was mistaken – it can indeed get worse. And if you thought chapter seven described how Judah’s obscene religion brought them to the bottom of the barrel of judicially-imposed indignity, well, the opening verses of Jeremiah chapter eight correct that assessment by depicting greater indignity still.
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13)
Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mk. 3:24); and likewise, we can infer that a local church divided against itself cannot stand either. Apparently this was one of the primary reasons for which Paul wrote to the church at Corinth – to exhort them that there be no divisions among them (1:10b; 3:3-4; 11:18). Therefore, Paul’s first bit of gracious, Christ-centered pleading came in the tenth verse of the opening chapter. The address was serious – he exhorted them by the “name of our Lord Jesus Christ”; and yet, he was tender – he called them “brethren.”
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (1 Corinthians 1:14-17)
Before Paul began an extended discourse about Christ crucified being the wisdom of God and the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18-2:5), he first gave, what we might call, an interesting bit of thanksgiving. Having already given God thanks for the way His grace was at work in the Corinthian church (vs.4-9), he then thanked God that he hadn’t baptized any of the Corinthians except Crispus (vs.14c), the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth who “believed on the Lord with all his household” (Acts. 18:8b), Gaius (1 Cor. 1:14c), the Corinthian believer who hosted Paul while he wrote the epistle to Rome (Rom. 16:23), and “the household of Stephanas” (1 Cor. 1:16b). It’s not every day you hear someone give thanks for who they haven’t baptized. But Paul’s thanksgiving was not without a good explanation.