2369.) Jeremiah 31

May 31, 2018

Jer31 heart everlasting

Jeremiah 31   (NLT)

Hope for Restoration

Such words of endearment from God to his people!

“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. This is what the Lord says:

“Those who survive the coming destruction
    will find blessings even in the barren land,
    for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

This statement was spoken to Israel; but the love it describes is God’s love for every believer. “You must go back beyond your birth, beyond Calvary and Bethlehem, beyond the fall of man and the Garden of Eden, and as you stand looking out into the immensity of eternity, dare to believe that you were loved and chosen in Christ, the object of God’s most tender solicitude and pity.”

–F. B. Meyer

I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.
    You will again be happy
    and dance merrily with your tambourines.

J31 tambourine

Tambourines were used on joyful occasions (see Psalm 68:25), especially following a military victory. Dancing in ancient times was often a religious activity (see Psalm 149:3).  (The Archaeology Study Bible)

Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria
    and eat from your own gardens there.
The day will come when watchmen will shout
    from the hill country of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem
    to worship the Lord our God.’”

In ancient Israel a person always went “up” to Jerusalem, not only because its elevation was above the surrounding countryside but also because it was the royal city and the center of the nation’s religious life.  (The Archaeology Study Bible)

Now this is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Israel.
    Shout for the greatest of nations!
Shout out with praise and joy:
‘Save your people, O Lord,
    the remnant of Israel!’
For I will bring them from the north
    and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame,
    the expectant mothers and women in labor.
    A great company will return!
Tears of joy will stream down their faces,
    and I will lead them home with great care.
They will walk beside quiet streams
    and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.
For I am Israel’s father,
    and Ephraim is my oldest child.

10 “Listen to this message from the Lord,
    you nations of the world;
    proclaim it in distant coastlands:
The Lord, who scattered his people,
    will gather them and watch over them
    as a shepherd does his flock.
11 For the Lord has redeemed Israel
    from those too strong for them.

12 They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem.
    They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—
the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil,
    and the healthy flocks and herds.
Their life will be like a watered garden,
    and all their sorrows will be gone.
13 The young women will dance for joy,
    and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration.
I will turn their mourning into joy.
    I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
14 The priests will enjoy abundance,
    and my people will feast on my good gifts.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Rachel’s Sadness Turns to Joy

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A cry is heard in Ramah—
    deep anguish and bitter weeping.
Rachel weeps for her children,
    refusing to be comforted—
    for her children are gone.”

Here the Lord spoke through a poetic image, picturing Rachel (the mother of Benjamin and Joseph, ancestors of prominent tribes of Israel) weeping for her children. She does this from Ramah, near where she was buried (1 Samuel 10:2).

“Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, is pictured as weeping in despair over the exiled tribes. To her comes the comforting assurance that her children will be miraculously returned to her.”

–Arthur E. Cundall

The words are quoted in Matthew 2:18 concerning Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.   (The Reformation Bible)

16 But now this is what the Lord says:
“Do not weep any longer,
for I will reward you,” says the Lord.
“Your children will come back to you
from the distant land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,” says the Lord.
“Your children will come again to their own land.
18 I have heard Israel saying,
‘You disciplined me severely,
like a calf that needs training for the yoke.
Turn me again to you and restore me,
for you alone are the Lord my God.
19 I turned away from God,
but then I was sorry.
I kicked myself for my stupidity!
I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’

20 “Is not Israel still my son,
    my darling child?” says the Lord.
“I often have to punish him,
    but I still love him.
That’s why I long for him
    and surely will have mercy on him.


21 Set up road signs;
    put up guideposts.
Mark well the path
    by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel;
    return to your towns here.
22 How long will you wander,
    my wayward daughter?
For the Lord will cause something new to happen—
    Israel will embrace her God.”

23 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of Judah and its towns will again say, ‘The Lord bless you, O righteous home, O holy mountain!’ 24 Townspeople and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness. 25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”

Psalm 36:8   (ESV)

They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

26 At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.

27 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah. 28 In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the Lord, have spoken!

29 “The people will no longer quote this proverb:

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
    but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’

30 All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.

The idea here seems to be that many people in Jeremiah’s time assumed that God’s judgment against them was due not to their own sins but to the sins of their ancestors. Here the Lord clarifies the situation!

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.

This verse contains the only Old Testament use of the phrase “new covenant,” which (together with its use in the New Testament) has come down to us (via Latin) as “new testament,” the name that was later applied to the distinctively Christian part of the Biblical canon.  (The Archaeology Study Bible)

32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

J31 husband loves

Ephesians 5:25-27   (NIV)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis Kinlaw

PATHOS AND HOPE

The picture Jeremiah gives in his message to the people of Israel is remarkably realistic. He knew the human heart, and he told the people of God about the tragedy of trusting in the flesh. Jeremiah provided the groundwork for much of the New Testament teaching about grace. He also saw into the future. He was watching the old covenant of Moses come apart and the old legal relationship that bound the people of God together break into pieces, but Jeremiah realized that this was not the end. A new covenant would come, and it would be written not on tablets of stone but on the human heart. Then humanity would do the will of God, not because of an external force, but because they knew God and desired to do his will.

Jeremiah wrote a message of hope mixed with pathos—the hope of God’s new covenant and the desperate reality of human sin. When we meet God and live with him, we discover who we are in the light of who God is. God is the one who gives a realistic picture of human life. When he presents that realistic picture to the human heart and we accept it, an unshakable realism comes into our life and witness.

With that realism comes the assurance that God can turn the “ought” of his Law into delight as the psalmist declares (Ps. 1:2; 119:14-15; 47. 92). Jeremiah did not give up even when he wanted to because he knew that God would prevail and that he, through God’s grace, could prevail. The message is applicable to us too. His way can be our delight as well.

35 It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day
    and the moon and stars to light the night,
    and who stirs the sea into roaring waves.
His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    and this is what he says:
36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel
    as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“Just as the heavens cannot be measured
    and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored,
so I will not consider casting them away
    for the evil they have done.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

38 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when all Jerusalem will be rebuilt for me, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 A measuring line will be stretched out over the hill of Gareb and across to Goah. 40 And the entire area—including the graveyard and ash dump in the valley, and all the fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the Horse Gate—will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be captured or destroyed.”

_________________________

Music:

We can treasure verse 3 as God says:   “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”  Rest in the Lord and his love for you.

HERE  is Michael Joncas’ “I Have Loved You with an Everlasting Love.”

_________________________

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:
calligraphy by Michael Noyes.    http://www.michaelnoyes.com/images/products/product_120_copyright.png
tambourine.    http://img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a07/d5/71/make-praise-dance-instruments-800×800.jpg
Sing with joy.   https://anextraordinaryday.net/sing-for-joy-joy-day/
Psalm 25.   https://dailyverses.net/2016/5/6
roadmarks.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/05/e1/98/05e1986a6a41c58e080ca211f27afdb4.jpg
loving husband.  http://www.godvine.com/pics/diary/diary.jpg 
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2368.) Jeremiah 30

May 30, 2018

Jer30 17 waterfall

Jeremiah 30   (NLT)

Promises of Deliverance

Chapters 30-33 contain messages of hope and deliverance and are the bright spot of consolation in a book majoring on judgment.

–William MacDonald

“Think no more of Jeremiah as exclusively the weeping prophet; for the flashes of his delight make the night of his sorrow brilliant with an aurora of heavenly brilliance.” 

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Write down for the record everything I have said to you, Jeremiah. For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it again. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

This is the message the Lord gave concerning Israel and Judah. This is what the Lord says:

“I hear cries of fear;
    there is terror and no peace.
Now let me ask you a question:
    Do men give birth to babies?
Then why do they stand there, ashen-faced,
    hands pressed against their sides
    like a woman in labor?
In all history there has never been such a great day of terror.
    It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel.

The idea of the great day is often connected to the calamity that comes upon the earth in the very last days.

· The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out  (Zephaniah 1:14)
· For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?  (Revelation 6:17)
· Gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty  (Revelation 16:14) 

–David Guzik

    Yet in the end they will be saved!
For in that day,”
    says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
“I will break the yoke from their necks
    and snap their chains.
Foreigners will no longer be their masters.
    For my people will serve the Lord their God
and their king descended from David—
    the king I will raise up for them.

10 “So do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant;
    do not be dismayed, Israel,”
    says the Lord.
“For I will bring you home again from distant lands,
    and your children will return from their exile.
Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet,
    and no one will terrorize them.

God’s promise to Israel was that they would not become extinct as a people, either by death or assimilation. They would endure terrible affliction, yet survive.

11 For I am with you and will save you,”
    says the Lord.
“I will completely destroy the nations where I have scattered you,
    but I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you, but with justice;
    I cannot let you go unpunished.”

Jer30 range

Both Israel and Judah will be regathered at some future time. Jeremiah associated events of the near future and those of the distant future. Reading these prophecies is like looking at several mountain peaks in a range. From a distance they look as though they are next to each other, when actually they are miles apart. Jeremiah presents near and distant events as if they will all happen soon. He sees the exile, but he sees also the future day when Christ will reign forever. The reference to David is not to King David, but to his famous descendant, the Messiah (Luke 1:68).  (The Life Application Bible)

12 This is what the Lord says:
“Your injury is incurable—
    a terrible wound.
13 There is no one to help you
    or to bind up your injury.
    No medicine can heal you.
14 All your lovers—your allies—have left you
    and do not care about you anymore.

False gods and false friends never fail to fail.

I have wounded you cruelly,
    as though I were your enemy.
For your sins are many,
    and your guilt is great.
15 Why do you protest your punishment—
    this wound that has no cure?
I have had to punish you
    because your sins are many
    and your guilt is great.

God reminded them that the catastrophe came upon them from His own hand. They were not accidents or events of bad luck.

16 “But all who devour you will be devoured,
    and all your enemies will be sent into exile.
All who plunder you will be plundered,
    and all who attack you will be attacked.

Jer30 health17 I will give you back your health
    and heal your wounds,” says the Lord.
“For you are called an outcast—
    ‘Jerusalem for whom no one cares.’”

Psalm 6:2   (ESV)

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
   heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

18 This is what the Lord says:
“When I bring Israel home again from captivity
    and restore their fortunes,
Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins,
    and the palace reconstructed as before.
19 There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving,
    and I will multiply my people, not diminish them;
I will honor them, not despise them.
20     Their children will prosper as they did long ago.
I will establish them as a nation before me,
    and I will punish anyone who hurts them.
21 They will have their own ruler again,
    and he will come from their own people.
I will invite him to approach me,” says the Lord,
    “for who would dare to come unless invited?
22 You will be my people,
    and I will be your God.”

23 Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm,
    a driving wind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not diminish
    until it has finished all he has planned.
In the days to come
    you will understand all this.

_________________________

Music:

I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says the Lord.  HERE  is “Healing Is in Your Hands”  by Christy Nockels.

_________________________

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 30:17, waterfall.   http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/jeremiah30_17.jpg
Blue Ridge Mountains range.    http://www.highcountryimages.com/longrange/original/3948.jpg
I will restore you to health, flowers.    http://images.splitcoaststampers.com/data/gallery/500/2012/06/16/Jer_30_17_Restore_Health001_by_seamom.jpg

2367.) Jeremiah 22

May 29, 2018

Jer21 last kings chart

Jeremiah 22   (NLT)

A Message for Judah’s Kings

God’s accounting for the kings of Judah, showing their virtually unbroken failure.

This is what the Lord said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too. This is what the Lord says:

Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects. But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the Lord, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”

_________________________

Music:

God is clearly serious about justice, about helping these who are oppressed and broken, about caring for orphans and widows and foreigners. Are we taking that message seriously ourselves?  HERE  is Tim Hughes and “God of Justice.”

_________________________

A Message about the Palace

Now this is what the Lord says concerning Judah’s royal palace:

“I love you as much as fruitful Gilead
    and the green forests of Lebanon.
But I will turn you into a desert,
    with no one living within your walls.
I will call for wreckers,
    who will bring out their tools to dismantle you.
They will tear out all your fine cedar beams
    and throw them on the fire.

A sad picture of the destruction — Babylonian soldiers stealing the portable temple treasures, and smashing the carved paneling of the temple with their axes and hatchets.

Psalm 74:3-6   (NIV)

Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
    all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.
Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
    they set up their standards as signs.
They behaved like men wielding axes
    to cut through a thicket of trees.
They smashed all the carved paneling
    with their axes and hatchets.

“People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the Lord destroy such a great city?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the Lord their God by worshiping other gods.’”

Jer22 jerusalem_ruins

A Message about Jehoahaz

10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss.
    Instead, weep for the captive king being led away!
    For he will never return to see his native land again.

The people were not to mourn for Josiah, “the dead king,” who was killed at Megiddo and mourned by the people long after his death. Rather, they were to mourn for Jehoahaz/Shallum, who was carried off to Egypt in 609 B.C. by the Egyptian pharaoh Neco.  (The Archaeological Bible)

11 For this is what the Lord says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return. 12 He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”

A Message about Jehoiakim

13 And the Lord says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim,
    who builds his palace with forced labor.
He builds injustice into its walls,
    for he makes his neighbors work for nothing.
    He does not pay them for their labor.
14 He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace
    with huge rooms and many windows.
I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar
    and paint it a lovely red.’
15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
    says the Lord.
17 “But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty!
    You murder the innocent,
    oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”

Jehoiakim was guilty of all the evils Jeremiah condemns.

18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:

“The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another,
    ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
His subjects will not mourn for him, crying,
    ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19 He will be buried like a dead donkey—
    dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!

To be “buried like a dead donkey” meant effectively no burial at all — a great dishonor and disgrace.

20 Weep for your allies in Lebanon.
    Shout for them in Bashan.
Search for them in the regions east of the river.
    See, they are all destroyed.
    Not one is left to help you.
21 I warned you when you were prosperous,
    but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’
You have been that way since childhood—
    you simply will not obey me!
22 And now the wind will blow away your allies.
    All your friends will be taken away as captives.
    Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23 It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace
    paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon,
but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish—
    anguish like that of a woman in labor.

A Message for Jehoiachin

During his reign the first major deportations to Babylon occurred.

24 “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off. 25 I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army. 26 I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land. 27 You will never again return to the land you yearn for.

28 “Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar?
    Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29 O earth, earth, earth!
    Listen to this message from the Lord!

30 This is what the Lord says:
‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless.
    He is a failure,
for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David
    to rule over Judah.’

Jehoiachin had children (at least seven), but none of them reigned as king over Judah. Jehoiachin therefore was Judah’s last surviving Davidic king—until Jesus Christ.  (The Archaeological Bible)

_________________________

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:
last five kings chart.    http://www.calvaryfullerton.org/Bstudy/24%20Jer/2005/24Jer%2021-23_files/image001.gif
This is what the Lord says.   https://gregsloop.com/2018/03/07/judgment-is-coming/
Soldiers burning and robbing the temple.   http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/rebuilding-temple-1/
Jerusalem in ruins.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/443252788308819495/
O Earth!    https://wherepathsmeet.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/day-87-bible-reading/

2366.) Jeremiah 21

May 28, 2018

Jer21 5

Jeremiah 21   (NLT)

No Deliverance from Babylon

Chapters 21-24 narrate the end of the Davidic dynasty, making it clear that disaster and exile are God’s judgment on the sins of Judah’s kings and people.  Jeremiah denounces false prophets who lead the people astray, but also sounds a note of hope as God promises to gather a remnant of His people from captivity under the leadership of “a righteous Branch” from David’s house (Jeremiah 23:3-8).  The twin messages of judgment and future restoration are repeated in Jeremiah’s vision of two baskets of figs (chapter 24).  (The Reformation Bible)

Judah and Jerusalem did not fall in one decisive battle; it happened in stages.

· About 17 years before this Nebuchadnezzar first came to Jerusalem in the reign of King Jehoiakim and subjugated the city and took captives from the best and the brightest of Judah, such as Daniel (about 605 b.c.).
· About 10 years before this, Nebuchadnezzar came again in the reign of King Jehoiachin and carried away the treasures of Jerusalem taking more captives (such as Ezekiel), and he deposed King Jehoiachin (about 598 b.c.). He then put Zedekiah on the throne as a puppet king.
· By the time of Jeremiah 21 King Zedekiah’s reign was almost over; Nebuchadnezzar returned a third time to destroy the city of Jerusalem and carry away the remaining people of Judah (about 586 b.c.).

–David Guzik

The Lord spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him. They begged Jeremiah, “Please speak to the Lord for us and ask him to help us. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking Judah. Perhaps the Lord will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past. Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”

In about 588 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem because Zedekiah, the king of Judah and a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, had rebelled against Babylon. Zedekiah has been invited back to the Lord, and warned about judgment, so many times, to no avail! Now that things are so bad, he might think, maybe the Lord could help?

Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside your walls attacking you. In fact, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city. I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious! I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die. And after all that, says the Lord, I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their other enemies. He will slaughter them and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.’

The Lord proclaims his power in war, here horrifyingly turned against his people.

“Tell all the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Take your choice of life or death! Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! 10 For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’

Judgment on Judah’s Kings

11 “Say to the royal family of Judah, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord! 12 This is what the Lord says to the dynasty of David:

“‘Give justice each morning to the people you judge!
    Help those who have been robbed;
    rescue them from their oppressors.

Isaiah 30:18   (NIV)

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

Otherwise, my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
    because of all your sins.
13 I will personally fight against the people in Jerusalem,
    that mighty fortress—
the people who boast, “No one can touch us here.
    No one can break in here.”
14 And I myself will punish you for your sinfulness,
    says the Lord.
I will light a fire in your forests
    that will burn up everything around you.’”

_________________________

Music:

The kings on the throne of Judah proved to be faithless, unfair, sinful.  But we have a Father-King on the throne in Heaven who can be utterly depended upon to be just and true and pure.  HERE  is Selah and “Before the Throne of God Above.”

_________________________

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:
as in verse 5:  “a strong hand.”   https://dribbble.com/shots/212858-Jeremiah-21-5
justice matters.    http://blog.andreamontgomery.com/2013/06/because-justice-matters/

2365.) Jeremiah 39

May 25, 2018

J39 Jerusalem falls

Jeremiah 39   (NLT)

The Fall of Jerusalem

“The Fall of Jerusalem was so important that Scripture relates it four times – here, in Jeremiah 52, in 2 Kings 25, and in 2 Chronicles 36.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar came with his army to besiege Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar used the common method of attack in those days of securely walled cities — a siege. A besieged city was surrounded, preventing all business and trade from entering or leaving the city, and eventually starving the population into surrender – or the defenses of the city gave way and the surrounding army poured into the weakened city.

–David Guzik

Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the Babylonians broke through the wall, and the city fell.

This was 586 B.C.

All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers.

In a modern setting, this sitting in the gates of the city was similar to an enemy conquering Washington D.C. and then sitting in the Oval Office.

When King Zedekiah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.

But the Babylonian troops chased the king and caught him on the plains of Jericho. They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. He made Zedekiah watch as they slaughtered his sons and all the nobles of Judah. Then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.

This fulfilled the mysterious promise God made through Ezekiel regarding Zedekiah shortly before the fall of Jerusalem: I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there.  (Ezekiel 12:13)

“But to make the sight of his slaughtered sons the poor wretch’s last sight, was a refinement of gratuitous delight in torturing.”

–Alexander Maclaren

Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the palace, and tore down the walls of the city. Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, sent to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city as well as those who had defected to him. 10 But Nebuzaradan left a few of the poorest people in Judah, and he assigned them vineyards and fields to care for.

It happened just as God said.

Jeremiah Remains in Judah

11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. 12 “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well, and give him anything he wants.” 13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard; Nebushazban, a chief officer; Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser; and the other officers of Babylon’s king 14 sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who took him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people.

Jeremiah had to wonder what would become of him when the Babylonians eventually conquered Jerusalem. God cared for His faithful servant, keeping him safe and in favor with Nebuchadnezzar and his captains. Now an old man, Jeremiah was released from prison and allowed to live among the people once again.

15 The Lord had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison: 16 “Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction, 17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much. 18 Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

Remember Ebed-melech — the court official who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern, even protecting him in the process with soft rags where the ropes might rub him.  God shows kindness to him.  Amy Carmichael reminds us that “The God who knew the heart of His servant Ebed-melech knows our heart too.  And He assures us and reassures us.”

_________________________

Music:

As I look back over my life, I see that even in the hard times, the Lord has always been faithful and I have always had enough, and more than enough. The best response to a difficult situation, I have learned, is always to praise God for who He is and what He is doing, even if it is utterly beyond my understanding. So you can imagine that this chapter strikes a chord with me, and that this song is a favorite of mine.  HERE  is “Praise You in This Storm”  by Casting Crowns.

_________________________

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:
Jerusalem falls.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/nebuchadnezzar.jpg
Middle Gate map.   http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/26-middle-gate.html
Isaiah 43:1-2.   https://twitter.com/godqoutes07

2364.) 2 Kings 25

May 24, 2018

“The Deportation to Babylon” by Eric de Saussure, 1968.

2 Kings 25   (NIV)

The Fall of Jerusalem

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

1 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 2 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

A siege wall around the city prevented food and supplies from entering the city; eventually the population was starved out.

3 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city.

At this desperate point for Judah at the siege of Jerusalem, King Zedekiah made a last-chance effort to escape the grip of the nearly-completely successful siege, planning a secret break through the city walls and the siege lines of the Babylonians, using a diversionary tactic.

They fled toward the Arabah, 5 but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, 6 and he was captured.

Date palms near Jericho.

Jericho. “It seems ironic that here, at the very spot where Israel first set foot on the Promised Land, the last of the Davidic kings was captured and his monarchy shattered. Here, where Israel experienced her first victory as the walls of Jericho fell before unarmed men who trusted God, was the scene of her last defeat.”
–Russell H. Dilday

He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

So the final thing he saw — was the killing of his sons.

Blinding prisoners was unusual, since most prisoners would be put to work. But blinding the king had a highly symbolic significance–obviously he could not lead the people now–as well as a dispiriting emotional impact on the deportees.

8 On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD,

“The Talmud declares that when the Babylonians entered the temple, they held a two-day feast there to desecrate it; then, on the third day, they set fire to the building. The Talmud adds that the fire burned throughout that day and the next.”
–Russell H. Dilday

the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.

Psalm 74:3-8 (NLT)

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.

10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

The walls of Jerusalem–the physical security of the city–were now destroyed. Jerusalem was no longer a place of safety and security. The walls would remain a ruin until they were rebuilt by the returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah.

11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

13 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver.

“The Chaldees destroy the brazen Sea” by James Tissot, 1900 (Jewish Museum, New York)

16 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. 17 Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.

Jerusalem was left desolate, completely plundered under the judgment of God.

18 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.

_________________________

Music:

“Away from her land.” Yet — this is not the end of the story! We rejoice that some Jews will return to Judah, and particularly to Bethlehem in Judah, because not even a total military defeat and deportation to far-off lands will be able to thwart God’s plan of salvation and the coming of Jesus!

HERE  is the “Nunc Dimittis” from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

“Lord, now Thou lettest Thy servant depart,
According to Thy word, in peace.
For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
Thou has prepared before the face of all people,
A Light to illuminate the Gentiles
And the glory of Thy people Israel.”

_________________________

22 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. 23 When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. 24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”

Reasonable and pragmatic advice, to humble one’s self and to submit to the judgment of God brought through the Babylonians . . . 

25 In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. 26 At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.

. . . which was considered treason by others . . .

Jehoiachin Released

27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

The End of 2 Kings

Give us this day our daily bread.

from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” — 2 Kings 25:30


Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want.

Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy.

This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
de Saussure.    https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/490-2-kings-25/
date palms.    http://sites.google.com/site/pilgrimstojerusalem/_/rsrc/1226464477774/Home/historical-background/Date_palms.jpg
the destruction of Jerusalem.    http://clintthoughts.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/jerusalem_destruction.jpg
Tissot.     https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Tissot_The_Chaldees_Destroy_the_Brazen_Sea.jpg
loaf of bread.    http://www.omaha.com/inspiredliving/baking-our-daily-bread/article_8850b254-0d44-11e6-bb9c-1bce384aa23d.html

2363.) Ezekiel 32

May 23, 2018

“And they will haul you up in my dragnet.”

Ezekiel 32   (ESV)

A Lament over Pharaoh and Egypt

Pharaoh and his kingdom were mighty forces in the world, second only to Babylon – and Babylon had only recently subdued Egypt at the battle of Carchemish in 605 bc. Egypt was still a great force with the ability to influence and trouble other nations.

In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:

“You consider yourself a lion of the nations,
    but you are like a dragon in the seas;
you burst forth in your rivers,
    trouble the waters with your feet,
    and foul their rivers.

“Pharaoh thrashed about in the water and made a big scene, but all he did was muddy the waters and create problems by disobeying the Lord.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

Thus says the Lord God:
    I will throw my net over you
    with a host of many peoples,
    and they will haul you up in my dragnet.
And I will cast you on the ground;
    on the open field I will fling you,
and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
    and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.

“Here we have Pharaoh’s regard for himself as a lion, whereas he is no more than a crocodile stirring up filth. So God will haul him out and throw him on land to be eaten by birds and beasts.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
    and fill the valleys with your carcass.
I will drench the land even to the mountains
    with your flowing blood,
    and the ravines will be full of you.
When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens
    and make their stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
    and the moon shall not give its light.
All the bright lights of heaven
    will I make dark over you,
    and put darkness on your land,
declares the Lord God.

by fashioneyes (Hishom)

This promise of darkness reminds us of the ninth of the plagues that came upon Egypt in Moses’ day, darkness for three days over the whole land (Exodus 10:21-29). God had judged Egypt before and would do it again. God had exalted Himself over the idols of Egypt then and would do it again.

–David Guzik

“I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries that you have not known. 10 I will make many peoples appalled at you, and the hair of their kings shall bristle with horror because of you, when I brandish my sword before them. They shall tremble every moment, every one for his own life, on the day of your downfall.

“The effect of this downfall would be widespread, bringing desolation to his own land, supplying booty to other lands, and making men everywhere tremble in the presence of the judgment of Jehovah.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

11 “For thus says the Lord God: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you. 12 I will cause your multitude to fall by the swords of mighty ones, all of them most ruthless of nations.

“They shall bring to ruin the pride of Egypt,
    and all its multitude shall perish.
13 I will destroy all its beasts
    from beside many waters;
and no foot of man shall trouble them anymore,
    nor shall the hoofs of beasts trouble them.
14 Then I will make their waters clear,
    and cause their rivers to run like oil,
declares the Lord God.
15 When I make the land of Egypt desolate,
    and when the land is desolate of all that fills it,
when I strike down all who dwell in it,
    then they will know that I am the Lord.

“Break her strength, rob her treasures, sack her cities, captivate her people, and make the kingdom tributary, and so stain all her glory.”

–Matthew Poole

16 This is a lamentation that shall be chanted; the daughters of the nations shall chant it; over Egypt, and over all her multitude, shall they chant it, declares the Lord God.”

17 In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and send them down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the world below, to those who have gone down to the pit:

19 ‘Whom do you surpass in beauty?
    Go down and be laid to rest with the uncircumcised.’

“How little does it signify, whether a mummy be well embalmed, wrapped round with rich stuff, and beautifully painted on the outside, or not. Go down into the tombs, examine the niches, and see whether one dead carcass be preferable to another.”

–Adam Clarke

20 They shall fall amid those who are slain by the sword. Egypt is delivered to the sword; drag her away, and all her multitudes. 21 The mighty chiefs shall speak of them, with their helpers, out of the midst of Sheol: ‘They have come down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.’

22 Assyria is there, and all her company, its graves all around it, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, 23 whose graves are set in the uttermost parts of the pit; and her company is all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living.

24 Elam is there, and all her multitude around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised into the world below, who spread their terror in the land of the living; and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. 25 They have made her a bed among the slain with all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for terror of them was spread in the land of the living, and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are placed among the slain.

26 Meshech-Tubal is there, and all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for they spread their terror in the land of the living. 27 And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living. 28 But as for you, you shall be broken and lie among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword.

29 Edom is there, her kings and all her princes, who for all their might are laid with those who are killed by the sword; they lie with the uncircumcised, with those who go down to the pit.

30 The princes of the north are there, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who have gone down in shame with the slain, for all the terror that they caused by their might; they lie uncircumcised with those who are slain by the sword, and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.

“Each empire, with its ruler, imagines that it has found the secret of immortality, but one follows another to death.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

31 “When Pharaoh sees them, he will be comforted for all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, declares the Lord God.32 For I spread terror in the land of the living; and he shall be laid to rest among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord God.”

“This is the only consolation Pharaoh can find. He is in the company of every kind of fallen greatness.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

_________________________

Music:

Sometimes it doesn’t bear thinking — all the lives lost in wars over the centuries. So many sons and husbands! So many innocents! So much disruption and destruction! I think of the line from the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory” that goes — “Cure your children’s warring madness.”

HERE  is a touching piece from Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer of the Classical period:  “Mass No.10 in C major Hob.XXII, 9, ‘Paukenmesse’ [Mass in the Time of War] : VI Agnus Dei.” The periodic drumbeats on the tympani create a driving sense of battlefield as the choir pleads for the sins of the world to be taken away.

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Dragon in the dragnet.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/78/05/55/780555bef75c3790e7ba119e892a8f14.jpg
darkness over the pyramids.   https://fashioneyes.deviantart.com/art/Egyptian-pyramids-120954120
Nesperennub’s beautiful coffin which survived the ravage of time.    https://www.flickr.com/photos/alvinology/9386703350/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Robert Bolt quote.   https://izquotes.com/quote/20377