2260.) Jeremiah 51:36-64

December 29, 2017

"How the mighty have fallen!" Babylon and its Wonder of the World Hanging Gardens -- to be destroyed.

“How the mighty have fallen!” Babylon and its Wonder-of-the-World Hanging Gardens — to be destroyed.

Jeremiah 51:36-64   (NLT)

The Lord’s Vengeance on Babylon

36 This is what the Lord says to Jerusalem:

“I will be your lawyer to plead your case,
    and I will avenge you.
I will dry up her river,
    as well as her springs,
37 and Babylon will become a heap of ruins,
    haunted by jackals.
She will be an object of horror and contempt,
    a place where no one lives.
38 Her people will roar together like strong lions.
    They will growl like lion cubs.
39 And while they lie inflamed with all their wine,
    I will prepare a different kind of feast for them.

The conquest of Babylon came as her rulers enjoyed a drunken feast, as recorded in Daniel 5. According to Herodotus, ‘owing to the great size of the city the outskirts were captured without the people in the centre knowing anything about it: there was a festival going on, and they continued to dance and enjoy themselves, until they learned the news the hard way.’

I will make them drink until they fall asleep,
    and they will never wake up again,”
    says the Lord.

“As it was in the night the city was taken, many had retired to rest, and never awoke; slain in their beds.”

–Adam Clarke

40 “I will bring them down
    like lambs to the slaughter,
    like rams and goats to be sacrificed.

41 “How Babylon is fallen—
    great Babylon, praised throughout the earth!
Now she has become an object of horror
    among the nations.
42 The sea has risen over Babylon;
    she is covered by its crashing waves.
43 Her cities now lie in ruins;
    she is a dry wasteland
    where no one lives or even passes by.

Jeremiah used the sea as a figure of speech regarding land locked Babylon. She would be overwhelmed by the coming judgment of God, left a desolation and a land where no one dwells.

–David Guzik

44 And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon,
    and make him vomit up all he has eaten.
The nations will no longer come and worship him.
    The wall of Babylon has fallen!

J51 Babylon walls

Babylon was renown for its secure walls.  The ruins of ancient Babylon, 53 miles south of Baghdad in modern Iraq, encompass approximately 2,100 acres. Excavations have revealed the glory of the city constructed by Nebuchadnezzar II, particularly that of its fortification system. An inner city of around 1,140 acres was built up along both sides of the Euphrates River. This was surrounded by a wall 5.5 miles long, incorporating an inner wall 21 feet wide and an outer wall 12 feet wide, with a 24-foot space between them filled with earth—resulting in a total defense depth of 57 feet. Outside the outer wall was a moat, fed by the Euphrates, ranging in width from 60 to 250 feet. To the east of the city were two more double walls totaling 4.5 miles in length. To provide additional protection against invasion from the north, Nebuchadnezzar constructed an enormous wall 20 miles north of Babylon. It was 16 feet thick and extended from the Euphrates to the Tigris River, a distance of approximately 25 miles. Within the city Nebuchadnezzar’s magnificent palace occupied an area of about 50 acres. Along with this were over 50 temples, as well as numerous shrines and other buildings.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

A Message for the Exiles

45 “Come out, my people, flee from Babylon.
    Save yourselves! Run from the Lord’s fierce anger.
46 But do not panic; don’t be afraid
    when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces.
    For rumors will keep coming year by year.
Violence will erupt in the land
    as the leaders fight against each other.
47 For the time is surely coming
    when I will punish this great city and all her idols.
Her whole land will be disgraced,
    and her dead will lie in the streets.
48 Then the heavens and earth will rejoice,
    for out of the north will come destroying armies
    against Babylon,” says the Lord.
49 “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel
    and others throughout the world,
    so must her people be killed.

Jeremiah continues this prominent theme:  because of what Babylon did to Judah and Jerusalem, judgment would come upon them.

50 Get out, all you who have escaped the sword!
    Do not stand and watch—flee while you can!
Remember the Lord, though you are in a far-off land,
    and think about your home in Jerusalem.”

51 “We are ashamed,” the people say.
    “We are insulted and disgraced
because the Lord’s Temple
    has been defiled by foreigners.”

52 “Yes,” says the Lord, “but the time is coming
    when I will destroy Babylon’s idols.
The groans of her wounded people
    will be heard throughout the land.
53 Though Babylon reaches as high as the heavens
    and makes her fortifications incredibly strong,
I will still send enemies to plunder her.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

The Jewish captives were forewarned to leave the city before the attack and to return to Jerusalem as soon as possible.

–William MacDonald

Babylon’s Complete Destruction

54 “Listen! Hear the cry of Babylon,
    the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians.
55 For the Lord is destroying Babylon.
    He will silence her loud voice.
Waves of enemies pound against her;
    the noise of battle rings through the city.
56 Destroying armies come against Babylon.
    Her mighty men are captured,
    and their weapons break in their hands.
For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment;
    he always repays in full.
57 I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
    along with her captains, officers, and warriors.
They will fall asleep
    and never wake up again!”
says the King, whose name is
    the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

58 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground,
    and her massive gates will be burned.
The builders from many lands have worked in vain,
    for their work will be destroyed by fire!”

Jeremiah’s Message Sent to Babylon

59 The prophet Jeremiah gave this message to Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, a staff officer, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah. This was during the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign.

Jeremiah gave a copy of the prophecy to Seriah because he did not go to Babylon himself. Jeremiah ended his days in Egypt. Jeremiah instructed Seriah to read this prophecy and then say a certain prayer after the words had been read, announcing the coming judgment upon Babylon.

60 Jeremiah had recorded on a scroll all the terrible disasters that would soon come upon Babylon—all the words written here. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read aloud everything on this scroll. 62 Then say, ‘Lord, you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that neither people nor animals will remain here. She will lie empty and abandoned forever.’ 63 When you have finished reading the scroll, tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. 64 Then say, ‘In this same way Babylon and her people will sink, never again to rise, because of the disasters I will bring upon her.’”

This final symbolic act reinforced the last word of Jeremiah, that Babylon would fall.  (The Reformation Bible)

This is the end of Jeremiah’s messages.

_________________________

Music:

A wonderful piece of Sacred Harp folk music:  “Babylon Is Fallen.”  I have a couple arrangements for you to enjoy.

HERE:  the disharmony evokes the ruin of the former order.

HERE:  a more traditional setting.

Hail the day so long expected,
Hail the year of full release.
Zion’s walls are now erected,
And her watchmen publish peace.
Through our Shiloh’s wide dominion,
Hear the trumpet loudly roar,
Babylon is fallen to rise no more.

All her merchants stand with wonder,
What is this that comes to pass:
Murm’ring like the distant thunder,
Crying, “Oh alas, alas.”
Swell the sound, ye kings and nobles,
Priest and people, rich and poor;
Babylon is fallen to rise no more.

Blow the trumpet in Mount Zion,
Christ shall come a second time;
Ruling with a rod of iron
All who now as foes combine.
Babel’s garments we’ve rejected,
And our fellowship is o’er,
Babylon is fallen to rise no more.

_________________________

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:
Hanging Gardens.    http://s2.thingpic.com/images/Sa/edepRdsEfP2x4Pe8kh6ikPYV.jpeg
Babylon’s walls.    http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/images/Middle%20East/factfile/Babylon_600BC_Painting.jpg
verse 56.   https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CfRqstTW4AEbKEZ.jpg
Jeremiah and Revelation.    http://bibleprophecyaswritten.com/images/720_Picture2.jpg
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2259.) Jeremiah 51:1-35

December 28, 2017


Jeremiah 51:1-35    (NLT)

The Lord’s Judgment on Babylon (continued)

This is what the Lord says:
“I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon
    and the people of Babylonia.
Foreigners will come and winnow her,
    blowing her away as chaff.
They will come from every side
    to rise against her in her day of trouble.

The “destroyer” of verse 1 will be an alliance of the Medes and the Persians. 

Isaiah 21:2   (CEV)

What a horrible vision
    was shown to me—
a vision of betrayal
    and destruction.
Tell Elam and Media
to surround
and attack
    the Babylonians.
The Lord has sworn to end
    the suffering they caused.

Don’t let the archers put on their armor
    or draw their bows.
Don’t spare even her best soldiers!
    Let her army be completely destroyed.
They will fall dead in the land of the Babylonians,
    slashed to death in her streets.
For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    has not abandoned Israel and Judah.
He is still their God,
    even though their land was filled with sin
    against the Holy One of Israel.”

Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves!
    Don’t get trapped in her punishment!
It is the Lord’s time for vengeance;
    he will repay her in full.
Babylon has been a gold cup in the Lord’s hands,
    a cup that made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank Babylon’s wine,
    and it drove them all mad.
But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen.
    Weep for her.
Give her medicine.
    Perhaps she can yet be healed.

J51 balm_of_gilead

The word for “medicine” is “balm.” Balm was an odoriferous resin perhaps obtained in Gilead and exported from the region now known as Palestine.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

We would have helped her if we could,
    but nothing can save her now.
Let her go; abandon her.
    Return now to your own land.
For her punishment reaches to the heavens;
    it is so great it cannot be measured.
10 The Lord has vindicated us.
    Come, let us announce in Jerusalem
    everything the Lord our God has done.

“By punishing Babylon God has justified the remnant, so that they can emerge from captivity to new life in the homeland.”

–Everett F. Harrison

11 Sharpen the arrows!

    Lift up the shields!
For the Lord has inspired the kings of the Medes
    to march against Babylon and destroy her.
This is his vengeance against those
    who desecrated his Temple.
12 Raise the battle flag against Babylon!
    Reinforce the guard and station the watchmen.
Prepare an ambush,
    for the Lord will fulfill all his plans against Babylon.
13 You are a city by a great river,

The Euphrates flows through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Photo by Cory Smith.

The Euphrates flows through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, emptying into the Persian Gulf. Photo by Cory Smith.

Babylon was renown for its magnificent system of irrigation canals, fed by the Euphrates River.  (The Reformation Bible)

    a great center of commerce,
but your end has come.
    The thread of your life is cut.
14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has taken this vow
    and has sworn to it by his own name:
“Your cities will be filled with enemies,
    like fields swarming with locusts,
    and they will shout in triumph over you.”

A Hymn of Praise to the Lord

15 The Lord made the earth by his power,
    and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
    he stretched out the heavens.

God Created Heavens and Earth

Genesis 1:1  (NIV)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

16 When he speaks in the thunder,
    the heavens are filled with water.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
    He sends the lightning with the rain
    and releases the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 135:7   (NIV)

He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain

    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

_________________________

Music:

God is always to be praised for his wonderful works, especially the marvels of his creation!  HERE  is “All Creatures of our God and King”  sung by David Crowder.

_________________________

17 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge!
    The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make,
for their carefully shaped works are a fraud.
    These idols have no breath or power.
18 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!
    On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.
19 But the God of Israel is no idol!
    He is the Creator of everything that exists,
including his people, his own special possession.
    The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!

God’s greatness is contrasted with the worthlessness of idols.

Babylon’s Great Punishment

20 “You are my battle-ax and sword,”
    says the Lord.
“With you I will shatter nations
    and destroy many kingdoms.
21 With you I will shatter armies—
    destroying the horse and rider,
    the chariot and charioteer.
22 With you I will shatter men and women,
    old people and children,
    young men and maidens.
23 With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks,
    farmers and oxen,
    captains and officers.

J51 babylonian-empire-606-536-bc

God uses Babylon as an iron fist to punish the nations which have risen up against Him.

24 “I will repay Babylon
    and the people of Babylonia
for all the wrong they have done
    to my people in Jerusalem,” says the Lord.

25 “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth!
    I am your enemy,” says the Lord.
“I will raise my fist against you,
    to knock you down from the heights.
When I am finished,
    you will be nothing but a heap of burnt rubble.
26 You will be desolate forever.
    Even your stones will never again be used for building.
You will be completely wiped out,”
    says the Lord.

Then Babylon will experience the vengeance of the Lord.

27 Raise a signal flag to the nations.
    Sound the battle cry!
Mobilize them all against Babylon.
    Prepare them to fight against her!
Bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
    Appoint a commander,
    and bring a multitude of horses like swarming locusts!
28 Bring against her the armies of the nations—
    led by the kings of the Medes
    and all their captains and officers.

29 The earth trembles and writhes in pain,
    for everything the Lord has planned against Babylon stands unchanged.

Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant.

30     Her mightiest warriors no longer fight.
They stay in their barracks, their courage gone.
    They have become like women.
The invaders have burned the houses
    and broken down the city gates.
31 The news is passed from one runner to the next
    as the messengers hurry to tell the king
    that his city has been captured.
32 All the escape routes are blocked.
    The marshes have been set aflame,
    and the army is in a panic.

The marshes [surrounding Babylon] were set on fire to destroy the reeds in order to prevent fugitives from hiding among them.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

I, who come from rural Iowa and flat fields of corn and soybeans, have learned to love the marshes of the low country on the southeastern coast of the United States. It is our joy to have a home on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The one hundred miles of Georgia’s coast has approximately one-half million acres of salt marshland, each marsh ranging from 4 to 8 miles wide. The wind moves through the marsh grasses, reminding me of Iowa grain fields. The peacefulness of the marsh, and its colors and sounds, are quite restful and beautiful. I invite you to come and visit us — see for yourself!

33 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    the God of Israel, says:
“Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor,
    about to be trampled.
In just a little while
    her harvest will begin.”

34 “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has eaten and crushed us
    and drained us of strength.
He has swallowed us like a great monster
    and filled his belly with our riches.
    He has thrown us out of our own country.
35 Make Babylon suffer as she made us suffer,”
    say the people of Zion.
“Make the people of Babylonia pay for spilling our blood,”
    says Jerusalem.

_________________________

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 51:20.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/3a130-thou2bart2bmy2bbattle2baxe2band2bweapons2bof2bwar.png
balm of Gilead.    http://www.williameamon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/balm_of_gilead.jpg
Euphrates River.   http://www.onewater.org/uploads/story_images/CorySmith_Euphrates_Iraq.jpg
the heavens and the earth.    http://angelstarspeaks.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/gods-heavens.jpg
my fighting axe.   http://eocharles.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/jeremiah-5120.jpg
map of Babylonian Empire.    http://sharinhislove.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/babylonian-empire-606-536-bc.jpg
marsh.    http://www.explorestsimonsisland.com/images/beaches/marsh.jpg

2258.) Jeremiah 50:21-46

December 27, 2017
The Lord of Heaven's Armies!

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies!

Jeremiah 50:21-46   (NLT)

The Lord’s Judgment on Babylon

21 “Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim
    and against the people of Pekod.
Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them,
    as I have commanded you,” says the Lord.
22 “Let the battle cry be heard in the land,
    a shout of great destruction.
23 Babylon, the mightiest hammer in all the earth,
    lies broken and shattered.
    Babylon is desolate among the nations!
24 Listen, Babylon, for I have set a trap for you.
    You are caught, for you have fought against the Lord.
25 The Lord has opened his armory
    and brought out weapons to vent his fury.
The terror that falls upon the Babylonians
    will be the work of the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
26 Yes, come against her from distant lands.
    Break open her granaries.
Crush her walls and houses into heaps of rubble.
    Destroy her completely, and leave nothing!

J50 cyrus-the-great
In 539 B.C., Babylon was conquered by Cyrus, leader of the Medo-Persian alliance. Herodotus says that the army of Cyrus diverted the Euphrates River and then marched up the  riverbed under the city walls. Babylon fell without a fight — a political change, but not a physical destruction. The Persian attack seems to have caught the city completely by surprise. Afterwards, the city of Babylon began to slowly decay. Xerxes plundered it. Alexander the Great thought to restore it, but the cost proved prohibitive. The city soon thereafter fell into ruins and was re-taken by the desert. Babylon was never to be revived.

–Mark Mayberry

27 Destroy even her young bulls—
    it will be terrible for them, too!
Slaughter them all!
    For Babylon’s day of reckoning has come.
28 Listen to the people who have escaped from Babylon,
    as they tell in Jerusalem
how the Lord our God has taken vengeance
    against those who destroyed his Temple.

"The Desctruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar" by William Brassey Hole

“The Destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar” by William Brassey Hole

The burning of the temple was the definitive destruction of Jerusalem. The Lord ties His vengeance on Babylon specifically to that. 
(The Reformation Bible)

29 “Send out a call for archers to come to Babylon.
    Surround the city so none can escape.
Do to her as she has done to others,
    for she has defied the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
30 Her young men will fall in the streets and die.
    Her soldiers will all be killed,”
    says the Lord.

31 “See, I am your enemy, you arrogant people,”
    says the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“Your day of reckoning has arrived—
    the day when I will punish you.
32 O land of arrogance, you will stumble and fall,
    and no one will raise you up.
For I will light a fire in the cities of Babylon
    that will burn up everything around them.”

THE DAY IS COMING . . . when all opposition to the Lord will end.

33 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“The people of Israel and Judah have been wronged.
    Their captors hold them and refuse to let them go.
34 But the one who redeems them is strong.
    His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
He will defend them
    and give them rest again in Israel.

THE DAY IS COMING . . . when the Lord will redeem His people.

But for the people of Babylon
    there will be no rest!

J50 Ishtar Gate
The Ishtar Gate, now housed in the Berlin Museum.

When Cyrus entered the city of Babylon through the Ishtar Gates, it is said, the city’s inhabitants laid branches in his path. Cyrus proved a tolerant conqueror:  he ordered his troops to show respect for the city’s temples and religious customs.

35 “The sword of destruction will strike the Babylonians,”
    says the Lord.
“It will strike the people of Babylon—
    her officials and wise men, too.
36 The sword will strike her wise counselors,
    and they will become fools.
The sword will strike her mightiest warriors,
    and panic will seize them.
37 The sword will strike her horses and chariots
    and her allies from other lands,
    and they will all become like women.
The sword will strike her treasures,
    and they all will be plundered.
38 The sword will even strike her water supply,
    causing it to dry up.
And why? Because the whole land is filled with idols,
    and the people are madly in love with them.

39 “Soon Babylon will be inhabited by desert animals and hyenas.
    It will be a home for owls.
Never again will people live there;
    it will lie desolate forever.
40 I will destroy it as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah
    and their neighboring towns,” says the Lord.
“No one will live there;
    no one will inhabit it.

J50 ruins of Babylon
Ruins of the ancient city of Babylonia in the foreground with one of Saddam Hussein’s many palaces in the background.

41 “Look! A great army is coming from the north.
    A great nation and many kings
    are rising against you from far-off lands.
42 They are armed with bows and spears.
    They are cruel and show no mercy.
As they ride forward on horses,
    they sound like a roaring sea.
They are coming in battle formation,
    planning to destroy you, Babylon.
43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about the enemy,
    and he is weak with fright.
Pangs of anguish have gripped him,
    like those of a woman in labor.

44 “I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan,
    leaping on the sheep in the pasture.
I will chase Babylon from its land,
    and I will appoint the leader of my choice.
For who is like me, and who can challenge me?
    What ruler can oppose my will?”

Psalm 2:1-6   (ESV)

Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

45 Listen to the Lord’s plans against Babylon
    and the land of the Babylonians.
Even the little children will be dragged off like sheep,
    and their homes will be destroyed.
46 The earth will shake with the shout, “Babylon has been taken!”
    and its cry of despair will be heard around the world.

_________________________

Music:

In the book of Jeremiah, God is called “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” over 70 times. That phrase brought to mind another powerful phrase and Chris Tomlin’s song, “God of Angel Armies.”  HERE  it is for your encouragement and confidence!

And let me also say (to all the world) a thank you to David, for being such a gracious and loving husband to me for 14 years as of today! Happy anniversary, sweetheart!

_________________________

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:
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/j50-heavens-armies.jpg
Cyrus the Great.    http://www.humanrights.com/sites/default/files/cyrus-the-great.jpg
Hole.    http://www.orientalism-in-art.org/The-destruction-of-Jerusalem-by-nebuzar-adan-large.html
Ishtar Gate.    http://iloapp.waalmdiplomacy.org/blog/journal?ShowFile&image=1253004523.jpg
ruins.    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/fe/25/94/fe25942abe87a4a5de5b41c6ba3f5491–ancient-ruins-the-ruins.jpg

2257.) Jeremiah 50:1-20

December 26, 2017
Lions symbolize both Assyria and Babylon. The Assyrians destroyed Israel (the northern kingdom) first (722/721 B.C.), and the Babylonians sacked Judah (the southern kingdom) last (586 B.C.).

Lions symbolize both Assyria and Babylon. The Assyrians destroyed Israel (the northern kingdom) in 722/721 B.C., and then the Babylonians sacked Judah (the southern kingdom) in 586 B.C. See verse 17.

Jeremiah 50:1-20   (NLT)

A Message about Babylon

“It is to be observed that there is no gleam of hope for Babylon; that power, for some time material, and persistently spiritual, which was conceived in an attempt to make man great by frustrating Divine purpose. Her doom is irremediable in Old and New Testaments.” 

–G. Campbell Morgan

The Lord gave Jeremiah the prophet this message concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians.

Babylon is mentioned 164 times in Jeremiah, more than in the rest of God’s Word combined.

–William MacDonald

The prophecy against Babylon is the climax of the book. The previous prophecies have served Jeremiah’s purpose of showing that Babylon would prevail over “all the nations” (27:7) for a period. Babylon has appeared up to this point as the instrument of God’s wrath. Finally, however (as in 25:17-26), “the word of the Lord” is uttered against Babylon itself, to show that its own time of judgment must come.   (The Reformation Bible)

This is what the Lord says:

“Tell the whole world,
    and keep nothing back.
Raise a signal flag
    to tell everyone that Babylon will fall!
Her images and idols will be shattered.
    Her gods Bel and Marduk will be utterly disgraced.

J50 Marduk_and_pet
Marduk was the chief deity of the Babylonian Empire during the period of Jewish exile in Babylon (sixth-fifth centuries B.C.E.). It was Marduk whom Cyrus the Great of Persia credited with the inspiration to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of Yahweh.  Marduk’s association with the solar system’s largest planet led indirectly to its being named Jupiter, after the Roman god who occupied Marduk’s place in the pantheon. — wikipedia

For a nation will attack her from the north
    and bring such destruction that no one will live there again.
Everything will be gone;
    both people and animals will flee.

Hope for Israel and Judah

“In those coming days,”
    says the Lord,
“the people of Israel will return home
    together with the people of Judah.
They will come weeping
    and seeking the Lord their God.

THE DAY IS COMING . . . when people ask for Zion because they are seeking the Lord.

They will ask the way to Jerusalem
    and will start back home again.
They will bind themselves to the Lord
    with an eternal covenant that will never be forgotten.

They would come back to God on His terms, the terms of His covenant. These are promises associated with the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

This reminds the believer that our relationship with God is based on something with great foundation – on perpetual covenant. Hebrews 8:7-13 is a powerful description of this great covenant. God’s goodness and care is given to us on the basis of covenant.

–David Guzik

“I rejoice in those old Scotch books about the covenant: covenant truth was so inwrought into the Scotch heart that Scottish peasants as well as divines talked about it perpetually. You remember the good old cottager’s grace over her porridge. I cannot repeat it in pure Doric, but it ran like this:- ‘Lord, I thank thee for the porridge, I thank thee for an appetite for the porridge, but I thank thee most of all that I have a covenant right to the porridge.’ Only think of that, a covenant right to the porridge.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“My people have been lost sheep.
    Their shepherds have led them astray
    and turned them loose in the mountains.
They have lost their way
    and can’t remember how to get back to the sheepfold.
All who found them devoured them.
    Their enemies said,
‘We did nothing wrong in attacking them,
    for they sinned against the Lord,
their true place of rest,
    and the hope of their ancestors.’

“But now, flee from Babylon!
    Leave the land of the Babylonians.
Like male goats at the head of the flock,
    lead my people home again.
For I am raising up an army
    of great nations from the north.
They will join forces to attack Babylon,
    and she will be captured.

“The army of Cyrus was composed of Medes, Persians, Armenians, Caducians, Sacae, &c. Though all these did not come from the north; yet they were arranged under the Medes, who did come from the north, in reference to Babylon.”

–Adam Clarke

The enemies’ arrows will go straight to the mark;
    they will not miss!
10 Babylonia will be looted
    until the attackers are glutted with loot.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

Babylon’s Sure Fall

11 “You rejoice and are glad,
    you who plundered my chosen people.
You frisk about like a calf in a meadow
    and neigh like a stallion.
12 But your homeland will be overwhelmed
    with shame and disgrace.
You will become the least of nations—
    a wilderness, a dry and desolate land.
13 Because of the Lord’s anger,
    Babylon will become a deserted wasteland.
All who pass by will be horrified
    and will gasp at the destruction they see there.

THE DAY IS COMING . . . when evil will be exposed for what it is.

14 “Yes, prepare to attack Babylon,
    all you surrounding nations.
Let your archers shoot at her; spare no arrows.
    For she has sinned against the Lord.
15 Shout war cries against her from every side.
    Look! She surrenders!
    Her walls have fallen.

“It has troubled some scholars that chapters 50-51 predict the violent destruction of Babylon, whereas its defeat by Cyrus in 539 b.c. took place without a battle and with no damage to the city. But with other predictive prophecies, if a fulfillment does not occur in one period, it is to be sought for in another and future one.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

In truth, this interpretive challenge is a strong testimony to the authenticity of Jeremiah’s prophecy. “Those critical scholars who reject the possibility of such a foretelling of the future, and who would put these chapters after Babylonia’s fall in 539 b.c., face an insurmountable problem. If these words were written after the event, they would surely correspond more accurately with the events themselves.”

–Arthur E. Cundall

It is the Lord’s vengeance,
    so take vengeance on her.
    Do to her as she has done to others!

THE DAY IS COMING . . . when God will deal with all injustice.

16 Take from Babylon all those who plant crops;
    send all the harvesters away.
Because of the sword of the enemy,
    everyone will run away and rush back to their own lands.

Hope for God’s People

17 “The Israelites are like sheep
    that have been scattered by lions.

Earlier in this prophecy Jeremiah spoke of Israel as lost sheep (verse 6). Now he sees them as sheep scattered by the mighty lions of Assyria and Babylon.

First the king of Assyria ate them up.
    Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon cracked their bones.”
18 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    the God of Israel, says:
“Now I will punish the king of Babylon and his land,
    just as I punished the king of Assyria.

Ninevah, the proud Assyrian capital, fell in 612 B.C., and Assyria herself was conquered by a coalition of Medes and Babylonians in 609.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

19 And I will bring Israel home again to its own land,
    to feed in the fields of Carmel and Bashan,
and to be satisfied once more
    in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead.

These are the most fertile parts of Israel, known for their lush pasturelands.   (The Reformation Bible)

20 In those days,” says the Lord,
    “no sin will be found in Israel or in Judah,
    for I will forgive the remnant I preserve.

THE DAY IS COMING . . . when God’s people will be guiltless and sinless.

_________________________

Music:

The false gods Bel and Marduk will be utterly disgraced. But Jesus, the Lamb of God, is worthy of all our praise forever and ever!  HERE  is Bob Fitts and “You Are My All in All.”

_________________________

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:
lion.    http://theterramarproject.org/thedailycatch/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/africa-lion-in-grasss-725730-1024×772.jpeg
Marduk and pet.    http://nlife.ca/sermons/OTbooks/Isaiah/Isaiah46/Marduk_and_pet.jpg
a covenant with God.    http://www.essex1.com/people/paul/a-covenant-with-god.jpg
fall of Babylon.   http://slideplayer.com/slide/6835150/23/images/17/The+Fall+of+Babylon+Babylon+fell+to+Cyrus+the+Great+of+Persia+in+539+BC..jpg
Good Shepherd.   https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/331596/_Daily_Images/2017/04-10-quote.jpg

2256.) Colossians for Christmas

December 25, 2017

The supremacy, the pre-eminence, the lordship of Christ!

Colossians 1:15-23 (NIV)

On Christmas Day, let us remember just who this wonderful Child in the manger really is, and why he came. 

The Supremacy of the Son of God

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

This is such a magnificent passage I am giving it to you again, this time in the J. B. Phillips translation:

Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation.

And now he is the head of the body which is composed of all Christian people. Life from nothing began through him, and life from the dead began through him, and he is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all. It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through him God planned to reconcile in his own person, as it were, everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross.

And you yourselves, who were strangers to God, and, in fact, through the evil things you had done, his spiritual enemies, he has now reconciled through the death of his body on the cross, so that he might welcome you to his presence clean and pure, without blame or reproach. This reconciliation assumes, of course, that you maintain a firm position in the faith, and do not allow yourselves to be shifted away from the hope of the Gospel.

Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.
The Cross on Golgotha
Will never save thy soul;
The Cross in thine own heart
Alone can make thee whole.

Oh, Cross of Christ, I take thee
Into this heart of mine,
That I to my own self may die
And rise to Thy life divine. 

_________________________

Music:

Jesus is the image of the invisible God — He is the head of the church — He is the one who saves us from our sins — He is the one we praise and thank and honor and glorify! One of my favorite Christmas carols is the traditional version of “What Child Is This,” which speaks to both the manger and the cross.  HERE  it is.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Supremacy.    https://wheelsms.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/colossians-series-logo.jpg
Colossians 1:17.    http://www.oneaccordministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/a-17.jpg
manger and cross.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/5c/d4/78/5cd47883ed53e8089ce1dff130a638b4.jpg

2255.) Luke 2:1-20

December 22, 2017

“The Nativity” by Federico Fiori Barocci, 1597 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

"Arrival at Bethlehem" by Johannes Swanepoel, 1995.

“Arrival at Bethlehem” by Johannes Swanepoel, 1995.

6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is an old, lovely, child-like carol — “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?”

And  HERE  is something newer — “Labor of Love,” sung by Point of Grace.

_________________________

luke2-visible-image

Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT)

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

_________________________

Music:

From Handel’s MessiahHERE  is “Glory to God.”

_________________________

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

from Monday Moments, by Dr. Michael A. Halleen:

Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened . . . (Luke 2:15)

Here are seven things to include for a joyful journey to Christmas . . .

  • People. Attend services and other events that celebrate the day, even if you are far from home.  This trip is best taken in the company of others.
  • Tradition. What “makes” Christmas for you?  Handel’s Messiah?  A special ornament on the tree?  For many, it’s the food.  (I can’t imagine Christmas Eve without meatballs, rice pudding and lingonberries.)  Some tell stories, some re-enact the stable scene.  Honor your traditions—hold on to them.  They add warmth to the journey.
  • Music. Turn off the television and put on some of the great music of the season.  We’re on a road meant to be filled with singing.  Let your voice be added to the chorus.
  • Generosity. Obey any impulse to be generous, even to those who are not expecting generosity from you.  “When in doubt, shell it out,” one of my crazy uncles used to say, and he was right.  Tip freely.  Christmas is a time for liberality.  It makes the way to Bethlehem easier for others and more enjoyable for you.
  • Healing. Take the opportunity to restore a lost personal relationship, to mend a broken friendship.  Take the initiative without worrying about who was right or wrong in whatever it was that divided you.  Get past it, and forgive.  Best to travel light on this road, without the baggage of unresolved conflict.
  • Discipline. Keep your wits about you.  Do everything in moderation, the Bible says, like eating, for example—or drinking, or driving.  We can overextend ourselves in a hundred ways at this time of year, thinking other people’s joy somehow depends on us.  In fact, we simply add hazards—for ourselves and others—on what’s meant to be a journey of peace and joy.
  • Smiles. Erase the frown from your brow for the season.  Think about what children see when they look into your face and consciously make it a smile.  Determine that only kind words will come out of your mouth—no criticism, no complaints.  Decide to let more love into your life—love for God, for God’s children, for life itself.  You’ll be blessed, as will the others you meet along the way to Christmas.

Let’s go to Bethlehem !

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

“Adoration of the Child” by Gerrit van Honthorst, 1620 (Uffizi, Florence, Italy)

17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Acts 4:20 (NLT)

“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

The shepherds told their news. Who are you telling about Jesus?

19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Barocci.  http://www.wga.hu/art/b/barocci/nativity.jpg
Swanepoel.   https://www.artmajeur.com/medias/mini/a/r/artistjohannes/artwork/5865193_2_Arrival_at_Bethlehem_2008.jpg
Jesus the visible image.    http://www.jesusismyredpill.com/Colossians%201%2015-20.jpg
angels and shepherds.    http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Jesus%27%20Childhood/images/the_angels%27_song_and_the_shepherds%27_visit.jpg
Honthorst.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f7/Gerard_van_Honthorst_-_Adoration_of_the_Child_-_WGA11655.jpg/1024px-Gerard_van_Honthorst_-_Adoration_of_the_Child_-_WGA11655.jpg

2254.) Luke 1:26-38

December 21, 2017
"Annunciation," by Sandro Botticelli

“The Cestello Annunciation,” by Sandro Botticelli, 1489 (Uffizzi, Florence)

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

“The Annunciation: The Flower of God” by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1862.

The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came

Basque carol, paraphrased by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
With wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame:
“All hail to thee, O lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee;
Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk through-out the world will ever say:
“Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”

38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

My daily prayer:

Luke 1:38 (King James Version)

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

“Head of the Virgin for Annunciation” by Pierre-Paul Prod’hun, 1811 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

Annunciation
By Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished, 
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.

       Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.

       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.

         God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

                  ____________________

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?

         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.

More often
those moments
      when roads of light and storm
      open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                 God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

                  ____________________

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,

  only asked

a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

                     Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of,

when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,

                                Spirit,

                                          suspended,

                                                            waiting.

                  ____________________

She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’

Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’

She did not submit with gritted teeth,

                                                       raging, coerced.

Bravest of all humans,

                                  consent illumined her.

The room filled with its light,

the lily glowed in it,

                               and the iridescent wings.

Consent,

              courage unparalleled,

opened her utterly.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is my favorite rendition of “Mary, did you know?” sung by the incomparable Voctave and featuring Mark Lowry.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Botticelli.   http://www.jackygallery.com/images/ANNUNCIATION-1.jpg
Burne-Jones.  http://www.abcgallery.com/B/burne-jones/burnejones10.html
Prud’hon.   http://www.abcgallery.com/D/david/prudon4.html