December 27: Love Is Good News
Jeremiah 51:1–64; Romans 13:8–14:12; Proverbs 28:1–28
Love is good news for those seeking guidance. Love is the guide we need.
Many first-century Jewish Christians faced the question of what to do with the Law (the first five books of the Bible), by which they had lived previously. Now that they had Jesus, what would they do with their traditions? Paul’s answer is based on love: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another, for the one who loves someone else has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8). He goes on: “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are summed up in this statement: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not commit evil against a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:9–10). These are beautiful words, and I’m not saying that because they let me off the hook for keeping the law; they also answer the problem that the OT prophets addressed.
The prophet Jeremiah, commenting on the sin of Babylon, notes: “All humankind turns out to be stupid, without knowledge. Every goldsmith is put to shame by the divine image. For his cast image is a lie, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery. At the time of their punishment, they will perish. The portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the creator of everything, and the tribe of his inheritance. Yahweh of hosts is his name” (Jer 51:17–19).
Jeremiah’s words teach us that we are lost without Yahweh as our guide. Without Him, we will, like Babylon, seek things as dumb as golden images. Yahweh, in His great love for us, guides us to Himself. In Him, we see love; in Jesus, we see His loving image made visible. In Yahweh, we see the way we should go; in Jesus, we see the way back to Yahweh.
Are you seeking love or golden images? What law do you need to be free from? Are you fully living the good news?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up against Babel, and against the inhabitants that lift up their heart against me, a destroying wind, And will send unto Babel fanners that shall fan her, and shall empty her land, for in the day of trouble they shall be against her on every side. Also to the bender that bendeth his bow, and to him that lifteth himself up in his brigande, will I say, Spare not her young men, but destroy all her host. Thus the slain shall fall in tha land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets. For Israel hath been no widow, nor Judah from his God, from the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the holy one of Israel. Flee out of the midst of Babel, and deliver every man his soul: be not destroyed in her iniquity: for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance: he will render unto her a recompense. Babel hath been as a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken, the nations have drunken of her wine, therefore do the nations rage. Babel is suddenly fallen, and destroyed: howl for her, bring balm for her sore, if she may be healed. We would have cured Babel, but she could not be healed: forsake her, and let us go everyone into his own country: for her judgment is come up into heaven, and is lifted up to the clouds. The Lord hath brought forth our righteousness: come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. Make bright the arrows: gather the shields: the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the King of the Medes: for his purpose is against Babel to destroy it, because it is the vengeance of the Lord, and the vengeance of his Temple. Set up the standard upon the walls of Babel, make the watch strong: set up the watchmen: prepare the scouts: for the Lord hath both devised, and done that which he spake against the inhabitant of Babel. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, even the end of thy covetousness. The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars, and they shall cry and shout against thee. He hath made the earth by his power, and established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his discretion. He giveth by his voice the multitude of waters in the heaven, and he causeth the clouds to ascend from the ends of the earth, he turneth lightnings to rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Every man is a beast by his own knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his melting is but false, and thre is to breath therein. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the maker of all things, and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his Name. Thou art mine hammer, and weapons of war: for with thee will I break the nations, and with this will I destroy kingdoms, And by thee will I break horse and horseman, and by thee will I break the young man and the maid. I will also break by thee the shephed and his flock, and by thee will I break the husbandman and his yoke of oxen, and by thee will I break the dukes and princes. And I will render unt oBabel, and to all the inhabitants of the Chaldeans all their evil, that they have done in Zion, even in your sight, saith the Lord. Behold, I come unto thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest allthe earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. They shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations: but thou shalt be destroyed forever, saith the Lord. Set up a standard in the land: blow the trumpets among the nations: prepare the nations against her: call up the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz against her, appoint the prince against her, cause horses to come up as the rough caterpillars. Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the dukes thereof, and the princes thereof, and all the land of his dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for the device of the Lord shall be performed against Babel, to make the land of Babel waste without an inhabitant. The strong men of Babel have ceased to fight: they have remained in their holds: their strength hath faied, and they were like women: they have burnt her dwelling places, and her bars are broken. A post shall run to meet the post, and a messenger to meet the messenger, to show the King of Babel, that his city is taken on a side thereof, And that the passages are stopped, and the reeds burnt with fire, and the men of war troubled. For thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, The daughter of Babel is like a threshingfloor: the time of her thresing is come: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come. Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babel hath devoured me, and destroyed me: he hath made me an empty vessel: he swallowed me up like a dragon: and filled his belly with my delicates, and hath cast me out. The spoil of me, and that which was left of me, is brought unto Babel, shall the inhabitant of Zion say: and my blood unto the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I maintain thy cause, and take vengeance for thee, and I will dry up the sea, and dry up her springs. And Babel shall be as heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. They shall roar together like lions, and yell as the lion’s whelps. In their heat I will make them feasts, and I will make them drunken that they may rejoice, and sheep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord. I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, and like rams and goats. How is Sheshach taken! and how is the glory of the whole earth taken! how is Babel become an astonishment among the nations! The sea is come up upon Babel: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Her cities are desolate: the land is dry and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth the son of man pass thereby. I will also visit Bel in Babel, and I will bring out of his mouth, that which he hath swallowed up, and the nations shall run no more unto him, and the wall of Babel shall fall. My people, go out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce wrath of the Lord, Lest your heart even faint, and ye fear the tumor that shall be heard in the land: the rumor shall come this year, and after that in the other year shall come a rumor, and cruelty in the land, and ruler against ruler. Therefore behold, the days come, that I will visit the images of Babel, and the whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall rejoice for Babel, and the whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall rejoice for Babel: for the destroyers shall come unto her from the North, saith the Lord. As Babel caused the slain of Israel to fall, so by Babel the slain of all the earth did fall. Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the Lord afar off, and her Jerusalem come unto your mind. We are confounded because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces, for strangers are come into the Sanctuaries of the Lord’s house. Wherefore behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will visit her graven images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan. Though Babel should mount up to heaven, and though she should defend her strength on high, yet from me shall her destroyers come, saith the Lord. A sound of a cry cometh from Babel, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans. Because the Lord hath laid Babel waste, and destroyed from her the great voice, and her waves shall roar like great waters, and a sound was made by their noise: Because the destroyer is come upon her, even upon Babel, and her strong men are taken, their bows are broken: for the Lord God that recompenseth, shall surely recompense. And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her dukes, and her nobles, and her strong men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose Name is the Lord of hosts. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, The thick wall of Babel shall be broken, and her high gates shall be burnt with fire, and the people shall labor in vain, and the folk in the fire, for they shall be weary. The word which Jeremiah the Prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babel, in the fourth year of his reign, and this Seraiah was a peaceable Prince. So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babel, even all these things that are written agaisnt Babel. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest unto Babel, and shalt see and shalt read all these words, Then shalt thou say, O Lord, thou hast spoken against this place, to destroy it, that none should remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it should be desolate forever. And when thou hast made an end of reading this book, thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it in the midst of Euphrates, And shalt say, Thus shall Babel be drowned and shall not rise from the evil, that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 51:1–64
- Owe nothing to any man, but to love one another: for he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the Law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love doth not evil to his neighbor: therefore is love the fuilfilling of the Law. And that, considering the season, that it is now time that we should arise from sleep: for now is our salvation nearer, than when we believed it. The night is past, and the day is at hand, let us therefore cast away the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light, So that we walk honestly, as in the day: not in gluttony, and drunkenness, neither is chambering and wantonness, nor in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord JESUS CHRIST, and take no thought for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts of it. Him that is weak in the faith, receive unto you, but not for controversies of disputations. One believeth that he may eat of all things and another, which is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not: and let not him which eateth not, condemn him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that condemnest another man’s servant? he standeth or falleth to his own master: yea, he shall be established: for God is able to make him stand. This man esteemeth one day above another day, and another man counteth every day alike: let every man be fully persuaded in his mind. He that observeth the day, observeth it to the Lord: and he that observeth not the day, observeth it not to the Lord. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord: for he giveth God thanks: and he that eateth not, eateth not to the ord, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, neither doth any die to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord: or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For Christ therefore died and rose again, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the quick. But why dost thou condemn thy brother? or why dost thou despise thy brother? for we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, I live, saith the Lord, and every knee shall bow to me, and all tongues shall confess unto God. So then everyone of us shall give accounts of himself to God. Romans 13:8–14:12
- The wicked flee when none pusueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. For the righteous are bold as a lion. For the transgression of the land there are many princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge a realm likewise endureth long. A poor man, if he oppress the poor, is like a raging rain that leaveth no food. They that forsake the Law, praise the wicked: but they that keep the Law, set themselves agaisnt them. Wicked men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord, understand all things. Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that perverteth his ways, though he be rich. He that keepeth the Law, is a child of understanding: but he that feedeth the gluttons, shameth his father. He that increaseth his riches by usury and interest, gathereth them for him that will be merciful unto the poor. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be abominable. He that causeth the righteous to go astray by an evil way, shall fall into his own pit, and the upright shall inherit good things. The rich man is wise in his own conceit: but the poor that hath understanding, can try him. When righteous men rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked come up, the man is tried. He that hideth his sins, shall not prosper: but he that confesseth, and forsaketh them, shall have mercy. Blessed is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart, shall fall into evil. As a roaring lion, and an hungry bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people. A prince destitute of understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness, shall prolong his days. A man doeth violence against the blood of a person, shall flee unto the grave, and they shall not stay him. He that walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is froward in his ways, shall once fall. He that tilleth his land, shall be satisifed with bread, but he that followeth the idle, shall be filled with poverty. A faithful man shall abound in blessings, and he that maketh haste to be rich, shall not be innocent. To have respect of persons is not good: for that man will transgress for a piece of bread. A man with a wicked eye hasteth to riches, and knoweth not that poverty shall come upon him. He that rebuketh a man, shall find more favor at the length, than he that flattereth with his tongue. He that robbeth his father and mother, and saith, It is no transgression, is the companion of a man that destroyeth. He that is of a proud heart, stirreth up strife: but he that trusteth in the Lord, shall be fat. He that trusteth in ihs own heart, is a fool: but he that walketh in wisdom, shall be delivered. He that goeth unto the poor, shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes, shall have many curses. When the wicked rise up, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase. Proverbs 28:1–28