Inexpressible

Jon Opgenorth

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-12 Born again to a living hope . . . (v. 3) Last February, I had the privilege of meeting with a group of believers from Iran. Seven received baptism. For all of them, our worship times provided the one time in the year when they could sing aloud their praises to Jesus. The joy in their smiles fueled my soul as I waded through the coming months of uncertainty that came with the COVID-19 crisis. Peter …

Who We Are

Jon Opgenorth

Read: 1 Peter 1:1-2 Elect exiles of the Dispersion . . . (v. 1) Writing from Rome three decades after Jesus rose, Peter told us who we are, how we got here, and where we are going. The first recipients of his letter were spread throughout modern-day Turkey. The times pulsated with anxious uncertainty as Nero’s reign of terror was about to be unleashed. In our own unprecedented times of pandemic and unrest, I pray this letter finds us eager …

No Guilt in Life, No Fear in Death

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Jeremiah 50:17-20 In those days and in that time . . . iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none. (v. 20) At the conclusion of Jeremiah, God declared that once the exile was completed, God’s condemnation would be spent. Once God’s judgment was complete, his instrument, Babylon, would be undone. God told his guilty people that his judgment would be final but not total. After the exile, there would still be a people. After God’s …

All Oppression Shall Cease

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Jeremiah 50:1-10 . . . let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant. (v. 5) God spent much of Jeremiah pronouncing judgment. He announced the instrument of his judgment: Babylon. Babylon was, for a time, serving God’s purposes. But at the end of Jeremiah, his instrument of judgment became the target of his judgment. Babylon was about to become “an utter desolation” (50:13). Why the apparent turn around? In his sovereignty, God used earthly agents to …

Surrender

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Jeremiah 38:14-18 If you will surrender . . . then your life shall be spared. (v. 17) Although I’ve never needed this advice, I read recently that one of the best ways to avoid a kidnapping is to fight back and make a lot of noise, in order to make it as difficult as possible to be taken. In short: don’t surrender. However, God told the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do the opposite. The Babylonian army had besieged the …

Prosperity and Peace

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Jeremiah 33:1-9 I will heal my people and let them enjoy abundant peace and security. (v. 6 NIV) Throughout the Old Testament, God promised one thing above all others: peace. The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, a term with sweeping, almost cosmic implications. Shalom, best understood, means “all things as they were meant to be.” During the exile, God’s people experienced the opposite of shalom. Jerusalem’s buildings were torn down and its streets filled with the casualties of …