EARLY AND OFTEN

I am almost to the end of reading the Tree of Life Version (TLV) as the main Bible in my daily reading for 2017. It may be the end of 2017 and time for a new Bible, but I will always use this version when I want to see a word or passage side-by side with another version. I love the TLV. It is a Bible translated by the Messianic Jewish Bible Society and it has opened my eyes, mind and heart to a new way of seeing Scripture. I love the Hebrew language and they often use Hebrew words instead of  English words. The Hebrew language is beautiful and powerful.

Another thing I love about the TLV is that they translate a word or phrase consistently the same throughout the text depending on the context in which the word or phrase is used. When used consistently, you notice when a word or phrase is repeated. Noticing repetition in Scripture is a key Bible Study tool. Repetition can show importance, significance, or emotion. Repetition emphasizes, and it is the best teacher. When God says something more than once, it is in our best interest to listen!

So, as I was reading the Book of Jeremiah recently, I noticed three words consistently used together. I didn’t specifically notice or pay a lot of attention to the words “early and often” until about the third time I saw them (Jeremiah 25:3.) I went back and marked Jeremiah 7:13 and 11:7. I marked my Bible every time I saw this phrase. It is used eight times in Jeremiah in the TLV!  But what really caught my attention are the words that followed them.

“but you did not listen;  Listen to my voice;  but you have not listened;  But you would not hear;,  you have not obeyed; Oh, do not do this loathsome thing that I hate”.

In every one of these verses it is God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to the Southern Kingdom of Judah just before the exile to Babylon and the fall of Jerusalem into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar. God was warning them of the fate that was about to happen if they did not repent of their wicked ways.

God loved the people of Judah. He loved them so much that he warned them early and often. He wanted so much for them to turn to Him so that he could relent from what was going to happen. He even loved them enough to punish them to get their attention so that they would turn to Him.

God is patient, God is kind, God is love. God is full of grace and mercy, but He is not a pushover. God warns us over and over. He warns us early and often! We need to pay attention to what our hearts hear, listen to the Holy Spirit and obey what He says. He just might be warning us of something in our life that needs changed.  He might be making us aware of a situation, or a prayer that needs prayed. He just might be showing us the signs of the times so that we will be ready when Jesus returns or calls us home.

God loves us!

Our amazing and loving God does not pull the rug out from under anyone saying “Surprise!, I guess you shouldn’t have done that! Or “You should have acted this way or that” and then punishes without warning. His Word tells us over and over how to live successful and prosperous lives, full of the Righteousness of Christ, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. He shows us how to live in authority, power and boldness. He shows us the way to eternal life with Him.

But, He also warns us early and often of the things that will hurt us and things that will separate us from Him forever. He has been doing this for about 2,000 years if you start with the words of Jesus. There will be no surprises, but it will come, and it will come quickly.

Heed the warning. Answer the call.

Jeremiah 7:13

I spoke to you early and often, but you did not listen, and I called you but you did not answer.

Jeremiah 11:7

For I earnestly forewarned your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt until this day, forewarning early and often, saying ‘Listen to My voice!’ Yet they would not obey or incline their ear, but each one walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart.

OTHER REFERENCES

Jeremiah 25:3-4; 26:15; 29:19; 32;33; 35:14-15; 44:4