JEREMIAH lived in the last years of the Jewish kingdom, when the nation was growing increasingly godless and wicked. Judah was under threat from the empire of Babylon. Many Jews at the time wanted to seek the aid of the king of Egypt, but Jeremiah told them to submit to the king of Babylon instead, because this was in God’s purpose. He foretold the overthrow of Judah and surrounding nations. For preaching such a message, Jeremiah was cast into a muddy dungeon and left to die (38:6), but he was saved by a friend. The 70 Years Captivity Jeremiah prophesied a period of captivity for Judah: And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,
CONVERSION is a word that Christians often use. The root meaning of the word is ‘to turn around’. Conversion is about a change of direction. Very often in the Bible the Christian life is described as a journey, following a certain course. We read of ‘walking in the spirit’; ‘running the race’; ‘finishing the course’; ‘pressing forward towards the goal’. Always going forward in a certain direction. Two Ways When Jesus was teaching he directed his hearers’ attention to the fact that there are two ways in which people can walk, two roads along which they can travel, two directions they can choose. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who
RULES are essential. They show us what’s right and what’s wrong, they show us the boundaries of good behaviour, they make it possible for us to live together. Imagine a school without rules—it would be dominated by the few students who could thump the hardest, and nobody would learn much. Imagine roads without rules—nobody would be safe. Without rules, society could not function. There are rules in the Bible, as you’d expect. For example ‘You shall not murder’ and ‘You shall not steal’. These are two of the Ten Commandments, the fundamental rules which God gave to His people Israel as a basis for their society (you can read them all in Exodus 20). They’re part of the system of laws called the Law of Moses, which is contained in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There’s an odd thing about the Law of Moses, which sets it
JOHN CHAPTER 6 contains the account of one of Jesus’ most amazing miracles. On the shore of the Sea of Galilee he fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, using only five loaves of bread and two small fish. The miracle was so impressive that the people were fired with adulation, and the situation could have taken a turn which Jesus did not want. “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he departed again to the mountain by himself alone” (John 6:15). It must have been a temptation for him to ride the wave of his popularity and use it for his self-gratification. He resisted the temptation and dealt with it, then retreated to be by himself where he could pray to his Father in heaven. His solitary prayers gave him strength, and later that night we see
WHEN WE study the New Testament (the second part of the Bible which deals with the life of Jesus and the activities of the early church), it’s useful to determine the date at which each of the documents in it was written. This is an involved study, but it leads to a very clear picture of how the letters in the New Testament were written and what was going on at the time that each was written. The study of the chronology of the New Testament involves comparing details in the letters with events in the book of Acts, and other historical events whose date can be established from archaeology or reference to ancient documents outside the Bible. The result is that we can be confident of the date of almost all of the letters to within a single year, and many of them to within a couple of months.
ANDY WAS standing in the street with a placard saying “We’re watching for Christ’s return”. Many people passed by, some making sarcastic comments: “Where’s he coming from?” “Why? Does he owe you money?” They didn’t want to engage in conversation. However, Andy would have been happy to explain had they stopped to talk. He was saddened that people could be so scathing about Jesus Christ. He reflected on the irony of the money joke. Jesus owes us nothing, but we owe him everything: he died an excruciating death to save us from destruction (Ephesians 1:7). The Bible tells believers that they have been ‘purchased’ with Jesus’ own blood (Acts 20:28). There never has been a greater gift and nor can there ever be. The Reality of Christ’s Return The Bible tells us that Jesus is in heaven now, with complete power and authority (1 Peter 3:21–22), but one day he