2251.) Jeremiah 28

December 18, 2017

Jeremiah 28   (NLT)

Jeremiah Condemns Hananiah

Zedekiah was the puppet king put on the throne of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In this season Nebuchadnezzar was distracted by problems in other parts of his empire. Judah and some of the surrounding nations thought it was a smart time to rebel against what seemed to be a weakened king of Babylon. In Jeremiah 27, the prophet spoke to a gathering of representatives of those kingdoms, who came to Zedekiah to plot their strategy.

–David Guzik (and all comments in red)

One day in late summer of that same year—the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah—Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from Gibeon, addressed me publicly in the Temple while all the priests and people listened.

This prophet and son of a prophet didn’t like Jeremiah’s gloomy message to the gathered kings (Jeremiah 27:1-11). Jeremiah came to them wearing the yoke an animal would use, to show that they would remain subjected to Nebuchadnezzar and their dreams of successful revolt would be unfulfilled.

He said, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks. Within two years I will bring back all the Temple treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon. And I will bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the other captives that were taken to Babylon. I will surely break the yoke that the king of Babylon has put on your necks. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

False prophet Hananiah directly challenges Jeremiah’s message.  Instead of seventy years, he claims they will be gone no more than seven (four years have already passed, as per v. 1, and then about two more).

Jeremiah responded to Hananiah as they stood in front of all the priests and people at the Temple. He said, “Amen! May your prophecies come true! I hope the Lord does everything you say. I hope he does bring back from Babylon the treasures of this Temple and all the captives. But listen now to the solemn words I speak to you in the presence of all these people. The ancient prophets who preceded you and me spoke against many nations, always warning of war, disaster, and disease.

“Namely, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and others; all of whom denounced similar evils against a corrupt people.”

–Adam Clarke

So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the Lord.”

10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces.

Jer28 hananiah

11 And Hananiah said again to the crowd that had gathered, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Just as this yoke has been broken, within two years I will break the yoke of oppression from all the nations now subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’” With that, Jeremiah left the Temple area.

Now it is in God’s hands.  Either one or the other, Hananiah or Jeremiah, is speaking the true words of the Lord.

12 Soon after this confrontation with Hananiah, the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 13 “Go and tell Hananiah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron. 14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I have put a yoke of iron on the necks of all these nations, forcing them into slavery under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control.’”

The yokes of iron can be understood as God’s stricter discipline upon His people. If we resist God’s gentler discipline – yokes of wood– we may find ourselves under much more unpleasant yokes of iron. It is far better to surrender the better yoke of Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-30). 

15 Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. 16 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year because you have rebelled against the Lord.’”

17 Two months later the prophet Hananiah died.

A true prophet, of course, is one whose predictions come true. Here Jeremiah passes the test.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a song about yokes being broken!  And for us, it is a True Prophet who says so!  “I Am Free.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jeremiah wearing a yoke.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/91532-www-st-takla-org-bible-slides-jeremiah-1483.jpg
Hananiah takes the yoke.    http://gorepent.com/wp-content/uploads/posts24/jeremiah-hananiah.jpg
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2250.) Jeremiah 27

December 15, 2017

Jeremiah 27   (NLT)

Jeremiah Wears an Ox Yoke

Jeremiah gives Judah an object lesson from God.

This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah.

2 This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke, and fasten it on your neck with leather straps.

 A yoke was wood, tied with leather thongs, that went under and above the neck of a large animal so the beast could pull a plow.

Then send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who have come to see King Zedekiah in Jerusalem. Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose. Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control. All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up.

My servant: “It is a most condescending way to speak about the most powerful man on the face of the earth: ‘my servant Nebuchadnezzar.’ It is the kind of language an ancient king would used to describe one of his vassals.” (Ryken)

Shall serve him and his son and his son’s son: “And all nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezzar), and his son, (Evil-merodach, Jeremiah 52:31), and his son’s son (Belshazzar, Daniel 5:11). All which was literally fulfilled.” (Clarke)

–David Guzik

Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon. So you must submit to Babylon’s king and serve him; put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation that refuses to be his slave, says the Lord. I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until Babylon has conquered it.

“‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, “The king of Babylon will not conquer you.” 10 They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land.

“In a time of national crisis, religious fakers always flourish because many people want to hear only comforting messages, which may often be untrue.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

I will drive you out and send you far away to die. 11 But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

12 Then I repeated this same message to King Zedekiah of Judah. “If you want to live, submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people.

It sounds like a strange message — Serve the conquering king and live! It certainly puts King Zedekiah in an awkward position. Jeremiah calls on him to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar at a time when many of the other leaders wanted him to form an alliance and fight. It would be disgraceful for a king to surrender and he would look like a coward. This was a great opportunity for the false prophets, who kept saying that the Babylonians would not defeat the great city of Jerusalem and that God would never allow the magnificent, holy temple to be destroyed.  (The Life Application Bible)

13 Why do you insist on dying—you and your people? Why should you choose war, famine, and disease, which the Lord will bring against every nation that refuses to submit to Babylon’s king? 14 Do not listen to the false prophets who keep telling you, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ They are liars. 15 This is what the Lord says: ‘I have not sent these prophets! They are telling you lies in my name, so I will drive you from this land. You will all die—you and all these prophets, too.’”

16 Then I spoke to the priests and the people and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not listen to your prophets who claim that soon the gold articles taken from my Temple will be returned from Babylon. It is all a lie!

In the ancient world, conquering kings would take the images of the defeated people’s gods and put them in their own temples. Since there were no images of God, Nebuchadnezzar took the temple vessels instead.

17 Do not listen to them. Surrender to the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this whole city be destroyed? 18 If they really are prophets and speak the Lord’s messages, let them pray to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Let them pray that the articles remaining in the Lord’s Temple and in the king’s palace and in the palaces of Jerusalem will not be carried away to Babylon!’

19 “For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken about the pillars in front of the Temple, the great bronze basin called the Sea, the water carts, and all the other ceremonial articles. 20 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon left them here when he exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon, along with all the other nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. 21 Yes, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about the precious things still in the Temple and in the palace of Judah’s king: 22 ‘They will all be carried away to Babylon and will stay there until I send for them,’ says the Lord. ‘Then I will bring them back to Jerusalem again.’”

And they will be returned, in Ezra 7.

__________________________

Music:

Jer27 burden light

HERE   is the wonderful Robert Shaw Chorale with “His Yoke Is Easy” from Handel’s Messiah.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jeremiah wearing a yoke.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/wx-aVboAdaE/hqdefault.jpg
yoke.   http://www.smp.org/size/files/3ee73fe2ea5aae97fbe2b42a241309a0/51037-Jeremiah_27.jpg.960x.jpg
My yoke is easy.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/44497-matthew11_30.jpg

2249.) Jeremiah 29

December 14, 2017

Jer29 sprout plans

Jeremiah 29   (NLT)

A Letter to the Exiles

Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. This was after King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the court officials, the other officials of Judah, and all the craftsmen and artisans had been deported from Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 29 contains a letter from Jeremiah (writing as the Lord’s prophet) to the exiles in Babylon. It was especially directed to the leaders of the Jewish community there. By this time Babylon had already invaded Judah and Jerusalem twice (605 b.c. and 598 b.c.) and taken captives each time. There still remained a sizable population in Jerusalem and Judah, but they would also soon be conquered and carried away in forced exile.

–David Guzik

He sent the letter with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah when they went to Babylon as King Zedekiah’s ambassadors to Nebuchadnezzar.

This was the ancient equivalent of a diplomatic pouch, to ensure the letter’s safe arrival.

This is what Jeremiah’s letter said:

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

Amazing! They were commanded to pray for the prosperity of their captors! Doing so shows their acceptance of the Lord’s judgment upon them and opens the way for peace. The Lord’s blessing can come on any nation through the prayer and action of God’s people.

“Jeremiah had foretold the ultimate overthrow of Babylon with no uncertain sound. Of that issue there could be no doubt. But so long as it remained, and they were held there as captives by the will of God, let them secure peace for themselves, by seeking the peace of the city, and that by prayer.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

“Wherever you find yourself, seek the peace and comfort of those about you.”

–F. B. Meyer

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years.

“The exile did last seventy years. R.K. Harrison counts seventy years from the Babylonian victory at Carchemish in 605 b.c. to the return of the first exiles in 536 b.c.”

–Philip Graham Ryken

But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 

God’s plan for all of us is infinitely  bigger than we have ever dreamed. We have limited vision, and we look at our own resources and plan accordingly. We should lift our eyes to God and ask for his plan for our life. We will always build smaller than God wants to build. God desires to take us, to go as far as he can possibly go with us, and to exhaust all the resources that are in us in order to make us a blessing to the world. Many of us would have been more faithful to God and would have risked a little more if we had dreamed how good God was going to be to us. Do not determine what God wants to do in your life by what you can see. Let him decide that.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

15 You claim that the Lord has raised up prophets for you in Babylon. 16 But this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all those still living here in Jerusalem—your relatives who were not exiled to Babylon. 17 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. 18 Yes, I will pursue them with war, famine, and disease, and I will scatter them around the world. In every nation where I send them, I will make them an object of damnation, horror, contempt, and mockery. 19 For they refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the Lord.

20 Therefore, listen to this message from the Lord, all you captives there in Babylon. 21 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about your prophets—Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah—who are telling you lies in my name: “I will turn them over to Nebuchadnezzar for execution before your eyes. 22 Their terrible fate will become proverbial, so that the Judean exiles will curse someone by saying, ‘May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned alive!’

Jer29 burning

The Babylonians used fire as a method of execution — remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Apparently Ahab and Zedekiah were among the prophets who lied to the people of God, telling them of Nebuchadnezzar’s weakness and the soon restoration of the Jews to Judah. Not only were they wrong generally, they were wrong regarding themselves personally, and would soon be executed by the king they said was fading in power and influence.

23 For these men have done terrible things among my people. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have lied in my name, saying things I did not command. I am a witness to this. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

A Message for Shemaiah

Shemaiah wanted Zephaniah to do everything he could to oppose and discredit Jeremiah, denying his message that they would be in exile for a long time and should make the best of it. But God vindicates Jeremiah and confirms his message. 

24 The Lord sent this message to Shemaiah the Nehelamite in Babylon: 25 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: You wrote a letter on your own authority to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, and you sent copies to the other priests and people in Jerusalem. You wrote to Zephaniah,

26 “The Lord has appointed you to replace Jehoiada as the priest in charge of the house of the Lord. You are responsible to put into stocks and neck irons any crazy man who claims to be a prophet. 27 So why have you done nothing to stop Jeremiah from Anathoth, who pretends to be a prophet among you? 28 Jeremiah sent a letter here to Babylon, predicting that our captivity will be a long one. He said, ‘Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce.’”

29 But when Zephaniah the priest received Shemaiah’s letter, he took it to Jeremiah and read it to him. 30 Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 31 “Send an open letter to all the exiles in Babylon. Tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Since he has prophesied to you when I did not send him and has tricked you into believing his lies, 32 I will punish him and his family. None of his descendants will see the good things I will do for my people, for he has incited you to rebel against me. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

_________________________

Music:

What a comfort to know that God holds the future and he means it for our good.  HERE  is David Meece, a Christian Music Hall of Fame-er, with “God Holds the Future” (and shades of the BeeGees!)

You haven’t rested for days
And you’re so wrapped up in worry
That you can’t even think
You’ve done the best you can do
But the answer still evades you
To the problems that you face

Chorus:
God holds the future — He’s got a plan
There’s no need to worry, ’cause it’s all in His hand
So if you are struggling, with what you should do
God holds the future for you.

He’ll lead you if you just ask
But you’ve got to trust His wisdom
And believe in His word
He sees what you cannot see
And He knows and wants the best for you
So it’s time that you learned.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
verse 11 with plant growing in the dirt.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/18c3a-1.jpg
Matthew 5:44.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/7a/aa/51/7aaa5196a9d961d6aec3fb7213fac9d2.jpg
verse 11 with sunrise.   https://www.missionariesofprayer.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/jeremiah-29-11.png
You will seek me and find me.   http://therescuedletters.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Jeremiah-29-13-www.therescuedletters.com_-1024×512.jpg

2248.) Jeremiah 24

December 13, 2017

Jer24 good and bad figs

Jeremiah 24   (NLT)

Jehoiachin was carried into exile in 597 B.C.  Officials, craftsmen, and artisans were also deported, with only the poorest and weakest people being left behind in Judah.  (The Archaeology Bible)

Good and Bad Figs

After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon along with the officials of Judah and all the craftsmen and artisans, the Lord gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat.

Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.”

Then the Lord gave me this message: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians. I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them.

Judgment upon a nation or community means that all suffer, even those who may be individually innocent of the sins that brought God’s judgment. What God said to Jeremiah through the two baskets of figs means that even when all suffer under a national judgment, God still knows the difference between those caught up in the judgment and those who brought down the judgment.

–David Guzik

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.

Jer24 7Another New Covenant promise!

“But the bad figs,” the Lord said, “represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. I will make them an object of horror and a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. They will be disgraced and mocked, taunted and cursed, wherever I scatter them. 10 And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors.”

2091014-031

I love fresh and dried figs, but especially fresh. Newly picked from the tree and warm from the sun fresh!

“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.” 

–Elizabeth David

“No greater thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”

–Epictetus

_________________________

Music:

It is my choice, which kind of fig I am. And my choice comes in circumstances a hundred times each day, to be a good fig, obedient to Christ.  HERE  is a song of commitment, one that I have sung privately to the Lord countless times. “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mack Wilberg directing.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
good and bad figs.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images12/Baskets-of-good-and-bad-figs,-Jeremiah-24,-tb092506048-bibleplaces.jpg
Jeremiah 24:7.    http://wallpaper4god.com/wallpapers/jeremiah-247_813_1680x1050.jpg
three figs.    http://lahainagrill.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/istock_000011333027medium_fresh-fig.jpg

2247.) Jeremiah 52

December 12, 2017
"The Walls of Jerusalem" by Israeli artist Dan Livni

“The Walls of Jerusalem” by Israeli artist Dan Livni

Jeremiah 52   (NLT)

The Fall of Jerusalem

The final chapter of Jeremiah is an appendix describing the fall of Jerusalem and reminding the reader that Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled. Despite its message of divine judgment for sin, the Book of Jeremiah ends (like 2 Kings) on a hopeful note by calling attention to the mercy shown to King Jehoiachin of Judah while in Babylonian exile.  (The Reformation Bible)

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah.

This is not Jeremiah the prophet, who was from Anathoth (Jeremiah 1:1).

But Zedekiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. These things happened because of the Lord’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile.

Read it and weep . . .

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. So on January 15, during the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his entire army against Jerusalem. They surrounded the city and built siege ramps against its walls. Jerusalem was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah’s reign.

By July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the famine in the city had become very severe, and the last of the food was entirely gone. Then a section of the city wall was broken down, and all the soldiers fled. Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonians, they waited for nightfall. Then they slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.

But the Babylonian troops chased King Zedekiah and caught him on the plains of Jericho, for his men had all deserted him and scattered. They took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 10 He made Zedekiah watch as they slaughtered his sons and all the other officials of Judah. 11 Then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. Zedekiah remained there in prison until the day of his death.

“Nabuchodonosor Has Zedekiah’s Children Killed before his Eyes” by Francois Xavier Fabre, 1766-1837.

The Temple Destroyed

12 On August 17 of that year, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. 13 He burned down the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings in the city. 14 Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. 15 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, then took as exiles some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. 16 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind in Judah to care for the vineyards and fields.

17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars in front of the Lord’s Temple, the bronze water carts, and the great bronze basin called the Sea, and they carried all the bronze away to Babylon. 18 They also took all the ash buckets, shovels, lamp snuffers, basins, dishes, and all the other bronze articles used for making sacrifices at the Temple. 19 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, also took the small bowls, incense burners, basins, pots, lampstands, dishes, bowls used for liquid offerings, and all the other articles made of pure gold or silver.

J52 TempleBurning

Psalm 74:3-8 (New Living Translation)

Walk through the awful ruins of the city;
see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary.

There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries;
there they set up their battle standards.
They swung their axes
like woodcutters in a forest.
With axes and picks,
they smashed the carved paneling.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground.
They defiled the place that bears your name.
Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!”
So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.

20 The weight of the bronze from the two pillars, the Sea with the twelve bronze oxen beneath it, and the water carts was too great to be measured. These things had been made for the Lord’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick. 22 The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 1⁄2 feet high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 on the network around the top.

24 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took with him as prisoners Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the priest of the second rank, and the three chief gatekeepers. 25 And from among the people still hiding in the city, he took an officer who had been in charge of the Judean army; seven of the king’s personal advisers; the army commander’s chief secretary, who was in charge of recruitment; and sixty other citizens. 26 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took them all to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them all put to death. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land.

28 The number of captives taken to Babylon in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was 3,023. 29 Then in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year he took 832 more. 30 In Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year he sent Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who took 745 more—a total of 4,600 captives in all.

These verses record three deportations during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign:  (1) those taken in 597 B.C. (this number probably included only adult males, since the figures in 2 Kings 24 are significantly higher); (2) those deported, rather than killed, when Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C.; and (3) those exiled in 581 B.C.—perhaps as punishment for Gedaliah’s assassination (Jeremiah 41:1-3).  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

Hope for Israel’s Royal Line

31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. He was kind to Jehoiachin and released him from prison on March 31 of that year. 32 He spoke kindly to Jehoiachin and gave him a higher place than all the other exiled kings in Babylon. 33 He supplied Jehoiachin with new clothes to replace his prison garb and allowed him to dine in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 34 So the Babylonian king gave him a regular food allowance as long as he lived. This continued until the day of his death.

And thus, a prophetic book steeped in judgment and tears, ends on a kindly note.

–William MacDonald

(Because we are going through the Old Testament in a semi-chronological order, this last chapter of Jeremiah will not be our last chapter of his book.  Jeremiah was put together with only a loose connection to timely order!)

_________________________

Music:

It must have seemed like the end of the world to these people. Sometimes it almost feels like that in my life — perhaps in yours, too. Then we make our choice:  to have faith in God, regardless of our circumstances.   HERE  is Plumb and “Need You Now.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Livni.    http://www.oilpaintingsgallery.com/ProdImages/The-Walls-of-Jerusalem.jpg
Fabre.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Fran%C3%A7ois-Xavier_Fabre_-_Nabuchodonosor_Has_Zedekiah%27s_Children_Killed_before_his_Eyes.jpg
Temple burning.    http://graceelgin.org/images/Eze_TempleDestroyed.jpg
line of deportation.   http://gorepent.com/wp-content/uploads/posts24/capture-jews.jpg

2246.) Jeremiah 37

December 11, 2017

J37 prison

Jeremiah 37   (NLT)

Zedekiah Calls for Jeremiah

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem . . .

Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah. He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.

Specifically, Jeremiah told them that the Babylonians would completely conquer Judah and Jerusalem and resistance was futile. They would be better off surrendering to the Babylonians and submitting to God’s correction.

 Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.” 

They intentionally ignore the word of God and yet expect God’s blessing.

Jeremiah had not yet been imprisoned, so he could come and go among the people as he pleased.

At this time the army of Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt appeared at the southern border of Judah. When the Babylonian army heard about it, they withdrew from their siege of Jerusalem.

Egypt and Babylon were in contention for the region. Many in Judah were looking to Egypt for support; the Babylonians would have withdrawn to counter the Egyptian advance.  (The Reformation Bible)

Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The king of Judah sent you to ask me what is going to happen. Tell him, ‘Pharaoh’s army is about to return to Egypt, though he came here to help you. Then the Babylonians will come back and capture this city and burn it to the ground.’

“This is what the Lord says: Do not fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians are gone for good. They aren’t! 10 Even if you were to destroy the entire Babylonian army, leaving only a handful of wounded survivors, they would still stagger from their tents and burn this city to the ground!”

J37 jeremiah-king

It is an unpopular message . . .

Jeremiah Is Imprisoned

11 When the Babylonian army left Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s approaching army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city on his way to the territory of Benjamin, to claim his share of the property among his relatives there. 13 But as he was walking through the Benjamin Gate, a sentry arrested him and said, “You are defecting to the Babylonians!” The sentry making the arrest was Irijah son of Shelemiah, grandson of Hananiah.

14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah protested. “I had no intention of doing any such thing.” But Irijah wouldn’t listen, and he took Jeremiah before the officials. 15 They were furious with Jeremiah and had him flogged and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary. Jonathan’s house had been converted into a prison. 16 Jeremiah was put into a dungeon cell, where he remained for many days.

17 Later King Zedekiah secretly requested that Jeremiah come to the palace, where the king asked him, “Do you have any messages from the Lord?”

“Yes, I do!” said Jeremiah. “You will be defeated by the king of Babylon.”

It is an unpopular message but Jeremiah keeps on giving it . . .

18 Then Jeremiah asked the king, “What crime have I committed? What have I done against you, your attendants, or the people that I should be imprisoned like this? 19 Where are your prophets now who told you the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land? 20 Listen, my lord the king, I beg you. Don’t send me back to the dungeon in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for I will die there.”

It is an unpopular message, but Jeremiah keeps on giving it, and the king cannot deny the truth of it.

21 So King Zedekiah commanded that Jeremiah not be returned to the dungeon. Instead, he was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. The king also commanded that Jeremiah be given a loaf of fresh bread every day as long as there was any left in the city. So Jeremiah was put in the palace prison.

There was a small blessing for Zedekiah in his kindness to Jeremiah. “For this courtesy of his to the prophet, God granted him a natural death, and an honourable burial in Babylon.”

–John Trapp

Thy Word, O Lord, like gentle dews,
Falls soft on hearts that pine;
Lord, to Thy garden ne’er refuse
This heavenly balm of Thine.
Watered by Thee, let every tree
Then blossom to Thy praise,
By grace of Thine bear fruit divine
Through all the coming days.

Thy Word is like a flaming sword,
A wedge that cleaveth stone;
Keen as a fire, so burns Thy Word,
And pierceth flesh and bone;
Let it go forth o’er all the earth
To cleanse our hearts within,
To show Thy power in Satan’s hour,
And break the night of sin.

Thy Word, a wondrous guiding star,
On pilgrim hearts doth rise,
Leads those to God who dwell afar,
And makes the simple wise.
Let not its light e’er sink in night,
But in each spirit shine,
That none may miss Heaven’s final bliss,
Led by Thy light divine.

_________________________

Music:

Verse 17 has a poignant question that many people ask today: as the NIV puts it —  “Is there any word from the Lord?” Yes, there is! Genesis through Revelation! How many times we think we need something new from the Lord, when we would do well to go back to the Word we have  and listen attentively with the help of the Holy Spirit!  HERE  is The Scottish Festival Singers and “Lord, Thy Word Abideth.”

1 Lord, thy word abideth,
and our footsteps guideth;
who its truth believeth
light and joy receiveth.

2 When our foes are near us,
then thy word doth cheer us,
word of consolation,
message of salvation.

3 When the storms are o’er us,
and dark clouds before us,
then its light directeth,
and our way protecteth.

4 Who can tell the pleasure,
who recount the treasure
by thy word imparted
to the simple-hearted?

5 Word of mercy, giving
succour to the living;
word of life, supplying
comfort to the dying.

6 O that we discerning
its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear thee,
evermore be near thee!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jeremiah in prison (Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett).   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Book_of_Jeremiah_Chapter_37-2_%28Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media%29.jpg
Jeremiah and the king.    http://navigatornate.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/jeremiah-king.jpg
Psalm 119:89-90.   https://i.pinimg.com/236x/d9/ff/fd/d9fffd36c5b59d2108acabfcc3551843–psalm–psalms.jpg

2245.) Daniel 2

December 8, 2017

Dan2 prophecy_statue

Daniel 2   (NRSV)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. So the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had such a dream that my spirit is troubled by the desire to understand it.”

The Chaldeans said to the king (in Aramaic), “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the interpretation.”

From Daniel 2:4 to 7:28, the Biblical text is in Aramaic — not Hebrew. This is the only section of the Bible written in Aramaic, the language of the Babylonian Empire.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

The king answered the Chaldeans, “This is a public decree: if you do not tell me both the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you do tell me the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”

They answered a second time, “Let the king first tell his servants the dream, then we can give its interpretation.”

The king answered, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see I have firmly decreed: if you do not tell me the dream, there is but one verdict for you. You have agreed to speak lying and misleading words to me until things take a turn. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”

Nebuchadnezzar formulated a test to see whether the advisers to the court had access to hidden knowledge, as they claimed. If they could not tell him the dream, then he would have no confidence in their interpretation.  (The Reformation Bible)

10 The Chaldeans answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can reveal what the king demands! In fact no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king is asking is too difficult, and no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.”

12 Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed.

Though he was a despot, Nebuchadnezzar knew that false religion is worse than useless. He knew that it was a curse, and he had no use for wise men that could not bring him wisdom from God.

13 The decree was issued, and the wise men were about to be executed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, to execute them. 14 Then Daniel responded with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; 15 he asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 So Daniel went in and requested that the king give him time and he would tell the king the interpretation.

God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

17 Then Daniel went to his home and informed his companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions with the rest of the wise men of Babylon might not perish.

Dan2 praying

The battle was won when Daniel prayed with his friends.

19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

20 Daniel said:
“Blessed be the name of God from age to age,
    for wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons,
    deposes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my ancestors,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and power,
    and have now revealed to me what we asked of you,
    for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.”

Daniel Interprets the Dream

24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will give the king the interpretation.”

25 Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king and said to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who can tell the king the interpretation.”

26 The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to tell me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?”

27 Daniel answered the king, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or diviners can show to the king the mystery that the king is asking, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has disclosed to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen at the end of days.

Just as Joseph had done in Egypt (Genesis 40:8; 41:16), so also Daniel attributes his knowledge of the dream to God. Daniel’s God revealed to this young man what astrology, magic, and the occult could not discover.   (The Reformation Bible)

Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed were these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed, came thoughts of what would be hereafter, and the revealer of mysteries disclosed to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me because of any wisdom that I have more than any other living being, but in order that the interpretation may be known to the king and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.

31 “You were looking, O king, and lo! there was a great statue. This statue was huge, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked on, a stone was cut out, not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

There is a progressive decrease in the value of the materials in the image from the head to the feet. 

Daniel first accurately reported the content of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. This gave Daniel credibility when explaining what the dream meant: the interpretation.

36 “This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation.

Gold, silver, bronze, iron — The four kingdoms have been widely understood since Josephus (1st century A.D.) to be the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.  (The Reformation Bible)

37 You, O king, the king of kings—to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory, 38 into whose hand he has given human beings, wherever they live, the wild animals of the field, and the birds of the air, and whom he has established as ruler over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these. 41 As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. 42 As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,

Isaiah 9:7   (NRSV)

His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Revelation 11:15   (NRSV)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
    and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever.”

nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever; 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from the mountain not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has informed the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation trustworthy.”

You can find all sorts of explanations for what is meant by the iron and clay portion of the image:  Was it the Holy Roman Empire? Is it Europe? Which nations are represented by the ten toes of the statue? Where does the Rapture fit in? The Anti-Christ? BREXIT? Etc. Sorting out these interpretations is way beyond me, so I leave that research to you, if you are so inclined.

Daniel and His Friends Promoted

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshiped Daniel, and commanded that a grain offering and incense be offered to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery!” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.

O God of every nation,
of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us
and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us,
and heal our strife-torn world.

From search for wealth and power
and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower
destruction through the night,
from pride of race and nation
and blindness to your way,
deliver every nation,
eternal God, we pray!

Lord, strengthen all who labor
that we may find release
from fear of rattling saber,
from dread of war’s increase.
When hope and courage falter,
Lord, let your voice be heard;
with faith that none can alter,
your servants undergird.

Keep bright in us the vision
of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
when truth and justice reign,
and Christ shall rule victorious
o’er all the world’s domain.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “God of All Nations”  by the Newsboys.  Lord, be glorified, as every nation lifts You high!

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
statue from the king’s dream.   http://www.thefinalcall.org/prophecies/prophecy_statue.jpg
men praying together.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/dan2-praying.jpg
Daniel interprets the dream.    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c1/78/2b/c1782bd824c05fbdbd5b252dcbd3f7bc.jpg
God can.    http://image.spreadshirt.com/image-server/v1/designs/3532746,width=178,height=178/God-Can.png
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.    http://www.bwmministries.com/CommentariesContinued/NebuchadnezzarsDream1003.jpg
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.   https://falseprophetsexposed.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/ca151be4977d6ad7929e5f911892963d.jpg