November 22 - 1 Peter 5, Jeremiah 39-40 and Psalm 138

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The Flock of God

1 Peter 5 I, who am an elder myself, appeal to the church elders among you. I am a witness of Christ's sufferings, and I will share in the glory that will be revealed. I appeal to you 2to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. 3Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.
5In the same way you younger people must submit yourselves to your elders. And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, "God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble." 6Humble yourselves, then, under God's mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. 7Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.
8Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9Be firm in your faith and resist him, because you know that other believers in all the world are going through the same kind of sufferings. 10But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share his eternal glory in union with Christ, will himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation. 11To him be the power forever! Amen.

Final Greetings

12I write you this brief letter with the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful Christian. I want to encourage you and give my testimony that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
13Your sister church in Babylon, also chosen by God, sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14Greet one another with the kiss of Christian love.
May peace be with all of you who belong to Christ.


The Fall of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 39 In the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia came with his whole army and attacked Jerusalem. 2On the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year as king, the city walls were broken through.
( 3 When Jerusalem was captured, all the high officials of the king of Babylonia came and took their places at the Middle Gate, including Nergal Sharezer, Samgar Nebo, Sarsechim, and another Nergal Sharezer. )
4When King Zedekiah and all his soldiers saw what was happening, they tried to escape from the city during the night. They left by way of the royal garden, went through the gateway connecting the two walls, and escaped in the direction of the Jordan Valley. 5But the Babylonian army pursued them and captured Zedekiah in the plains near Jericho. Then they took him to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was in the city of Riblah in the territory of Hamath, and there Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. 6At Riblah he put Zedekiah's sons to death while Zedekiah was looking on, and he also had the officials of Judah executed. 7After that, he had Zedekiah's eyes put out and had him placed in chains to be taken to Babylonia. 8Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned down the royal palace and the houses of the people and tore down the walls of Jerusalem. 9Finally Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, took away as prisoners to Babylonia the people who were left in the city, together with those who had deserted to him. 10He left in the land of Judah some of the poorest people, who owned no property, and he gave them vineyards and fields.

Jeremiah's Release

11But King Nebuchadnezzar commanded Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, to give the following order: 12"Go and find Jeremiah and take good care of him. Do not harm him, but do for him whatever he wants." 13So Nebuzaradan, together with the high officials Nebushazban and Nergal Sharezer and all the other officers of the king of Babylonia, 14had me brought from the palace courtyard. They put me under the care of Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who was to see that I got home safely. And so I stayed there among the people.

Hope for Ebedmelech

15While I was still imprisoned in the palace courtyard, the LORD told me 16to tell Ebedmelech the Ethiopian that the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, "Just as I said I would, I am going to bring upon this city destruction and not prosperity. And when this happens, you will be there to see it. 17But I, the LORD, will protect you, and you will not be handed over to the people you are afraid of. 18I will keep you safe, and you will not be put to death. You will escape with your life because you have put your trust in me. I, the LORD, have spoken."

Jeremiah Stays with Gedaliah

Jeremiah 40 The LORD spoke to me after Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, had set me free at Ramah. I had been taken there in chains, along with all the other people from Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken away as prisoners to Babylonia.
2The commanding officer took me aside and said, "The LORD your God threatened this land with destruction, 3and now he has done what he said he would. All this happened because your people sinned against the LORD and disobeyed him. 4Now, I am taking the chains off your wrists and setting you free. If you want to go to Babylonia with me, you may do so, and I will take care of you. But if you don't want to go, you don't have to. You have the whole country to choose from, and you may go wherever you wish."
5When I did not answer, Nebuzaradan said, "Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylonia has made governor of the towns of Judah. You may stay with him and live among the people, or you may go anywhere you think you should." Then he gave me a present and some food to take with me, and let me go on my way. 6I went to stay with Gedaliah in Mizpah and lived among the people who were left in the land.

Gedaliah, Governor of Judah
(2 Kings 25.22-24)

7Some of the Judean officers and soldiers had not surrendered. They heard that the king of Babylonia had made Gedaliah governor of the land and had placed him in charge of all those who had not been taken away to Babylonia--the poorest people in the land. 8So Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jezaniah from Maacah went with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 9Gedaliah said to them, "I give you my word that there is no need for you to be afraid to surrender to the Babylonians. Settle in this land, serve the king of Babylonia, and all will go well with you. 10I myself will stay in Mizpah and be your representative when the Babylonians come here. But you can gather and store up wine, fruit, and olive oil, and live in the villages you occupy." 11Meanwhile, all the Israelites who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries, heard that the king of Babylonia had allowed some Israelites to stay on in Judah and that he had made Gedaliah their governor. 12So they left the places where they had been scattered, and returned to Judah. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and there they gathered in large amounts of wine and fruit.

Gedaliah Is Murdered
(2 Kings 25.25, 26)

13After this, Johanan and the leaders of the soldiers who had not surrendered came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14and said to him, "Don't you know that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael to murder you?" But Gedaliah did not believe it. 15Then Johanan said privately to him, "Let me go and kill Ishmael, and no one will know who did it. Why should he be allowed to murder you? That would cause all the Jews who have gathered around you to be scattered, and it would bring disaster on all the people who are left in Judah."
16But Gedaliah answered, "Don't do it! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true!"


A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Psalm 138 I thank you, LORD, with all my heart;
I sing praise to you before the gods.
2I face your holy Temple,
bow down, and praise your name
because of your constant love and faithfulness,
because you have shown that your name and your commands are supreme.
3You answered me when I called to you;
with your strength you strengthened me.

4All the kings in the world will praise you, LORD,
because they have heard your promises.
5They will sing about what you have done
and about your great glory.
6Even though you are so high above,
you care for the lowly,
and the proud cannot hide from you.

7When I am surrounded by troubles,
you keep me safe.
You oppose my angry enemies
and save me by your power.
8You will do everything you have promised;
LORD, your love is eternal.
Complete the work that you have begun.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.


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