2223.) Nahum 1

November 8, 2017

Nah1 v7

Nahum 1   (NIV)

A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

“The descriptions given by Nahum are exceedingly fine and vivid, and the book is deservedly classed among the finest productions of Old Testament literature.”

–C. H. H. Wright

NAHUM means “consolation” and “vengeance”; symbolizing the “consolation” in the book for God’s people, and the “vengeance” coming on their enemies. 

— Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown 

Nahum had a message of consolation to Judah since he foretold the doom of the Assyrians and the restoration of God’s people. His prophecy supplements the book of Jonah. In Jonah we see Ninevah’s repentance, but in Nahum the Ninevites have returned to their old ways and have incurred God’s wrath. This little book is also a classic rebuke of militarism. The Assyrians were ruthless with their enemies. Their inscriptions of military victories gloated over hanging the skins of their conquered enemies on the tents and walls.

–William MacDonald

The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
    and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
    he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
    and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
    and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
    the world and all who live in it.
Who can withstand his indignation?
    Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
    the rocks are shattered before him.

Nah1 v6

It was common practice for peoples in the ancient world to identify their deities with observable, awe-inspiring natural phenomena.

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
    but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

Nah1 Assyria map

After describing the character of God, the prophet addresses the Assyrians and tells them that God will destroy them. 

Whatever they plot against the Lord
    he will bring to an end;
    trouble will not come a second time.
10 They will be entangled among thorns
    and drunk from their wine;
    they will be consumed like dry stubble.
11 From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
    who plots evil against the Lord
    and devises wicked plans.

12 This is what the Lord says:

“Although they have allies and are numerous,
    they will be destroyed and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, Judah,
    I will afflict you no more.

Nah1 crocus_flowers_in_the_snow

Just as the weights of a grandfather clock, or the stabilizers in a ship, are necessary for them to work properly, so are troubles to the soul. The sweetest perfumes are obtained only through tremendous pressure, the fairest flowers grow on the most isolated and snowy peaks, the most beautiful gems are those that have suffered the longest at the jeweler’s wheel, and the most magnificent statues have endured the most blows from the chisel. All of these, however, are subject to God’s law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight.

–Streams in the Desert

13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
    and tear your shackles away.”

14 The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
    “You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the images and idols
    that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
    for you are vile.”

15 Look, there on the mountains,
    the feet of one who brings good news,
    who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
    and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
    they will be completely destroyed.

This verse describes the messenger who brings the good tidings of Assyria’s destruction and the resulting peace in Judah. Paul quotes similar words in Romans 10:15, but there they are used in a gospel context.

–William MacDonald

_________________________

Music:

God is our refuge, Joel says in verse 7, our safe place, our shelter in the time of storm.  HERE  is a stunning arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” sung by GLAD. GLAD is a progressive Christian rock band. They got together on the campus of West Chester State University, near Philadelphia, in the early 1970’s. Early on the predilection toward complex vocals with classical and jazz overtones began to distinguish the band. Enjoy!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Nahum 1:7.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/b3f1b-nahum2b1-7.jpg
Nahum 1:6.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/e9/0b/88/e90b88340f34b470c7bee3bb0845766d.jpg
map.    http://www.keyway.ca/gif/assyria.gif
crocus flowers in the snow.   http://www.pictorem.com/collection/900_2101964HighRes.jpg
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2222.) 2 Chronicles 35

November 7, 2017

At the end of every Passover Seder, Jews around the world say, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

2 Chronicles 35   (NLT)

Josiah Celebrates Passover

1 Then Josiah announced that the Passover of the Lord would be celebrated in Jerusalem, and so the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 Josiah also assigned the priests to their duties and encouraged them in their work at the Temple of the Lord. 3 He issued this order to the Levites, who were to teach all Israel and who had been set apart to serve the Lord: “Put the holy Ark in the Temple that was built by Solomon son of David, the king of Israel. You no longer need to carry it back and forth on your shoulders. Now spend your time serving the Lord your God and his people Israel. 4Report for duty according to the family divisions of your ancestors, following the directions of King David of Israel and the directions of his son Solomon.

Some scholars believe that Josiah was re-enacting the bringing of the ark to the Temple as part of Israel’s covenant renewal with the Lord; it was a symbolic gesture of re-dedication.

5 “Then stand in the sanctuary at the place appointed for your family division and help the families assigned to you as they bring their offerings to the Temple. 6 Slaughter the Passover lambs, purify yourselves, and prepare to help those who come. Follow all the directions that the Lord gave through Moses.”

One of the main features of the Passover was the sacrifice of a lamb for each household (Exodus 13:43-49). This meant a significant amount of work for the priests.

7 Then Josiah provided 30,000 lambs and young goats for the people’s Passover offerings, along with 3,000 cattle, all from the king’s own flocks and herds. 8 The king’s officials also made willing contributions to the people, priests, and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the administrators of God’s Temple, gave the priests 2,600 lambs and young goats and 300 cattle as Passover offerings. 9 The Levite leaders—Conaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, as well as Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad—gave 5,000 lambs and young goats and 500 cattle to the Levites for their Passover offerings.

10 When everything was ready for the Passover celebration, the priests and the Levites took their places, organized by their divisions, as the king had commanded. 11 The Levites then slaughtered the Passover lambs and presented the blood to the priests, who sprinkled the blood on the altar while the Levites prepared the animals. 12 They divided the burnt offerings among the people by their family groups, so they could offer them to the Lord as prescribed in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. 13 Then they roasted the Passover lambs as prescribed; and they boiled the holy offerings in pots, kettles, and pans, and brought them out quickly so the people could eat them.

14 Afterward the Levites prepared Passover offerings for themselves and for the priests—the descendants of Aaron—because the priests had been busy from morning till night offering the burnt offerings and the fat portions. The Levites took responsibility for all these preparations.

“St. Benedict and his monks eating in the refectory” by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi (1477-1549)

The clergy have worked hard all day, serving others. At last it is their turn to eat. As my mother would often pray, “We thank you for work to do, and strength with which to do it.”

_________________________

Music:

Which reminds me of another feast — God prepares food and drink for us who have been out trying to do the “good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

HERE  Matt Redman sings “Remembrance (Communion Song).”

_________________________

15 The musicians, descendants of Asaph, were in their assigned places, following the commands that had been given by David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, the king’s seer. The gatekeepers guarded the gates and did not need to leave their posts of duty, for their Passover offerings were prepared for them by their fellow Levites.

16 The entire ceremony for the Lord’s Passover was completed that day. All the burnt offerings were sacrificed on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had commanded. 17 All the Israelites present in Jerusalem celebrated Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 18 Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. 19 This Passover celebration took place in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.

Here is a huge gathering of the population in Jerusalem. It requires an effort of the imagination for us in the modern western world to picture such a scene, through if we have seen, even on film or television, an Islamic haj, we shall be on the right lines. Jerusalem in Josiah’s day was not a large city. The convergence upon it for the entire population of Judah, for the purposes of worship centred on the Temple, must have taken possession of it. Local people braced themselves for the influx, and perhaps prepared to cater for it. Then they began to arrive, family after extended family, tired from journeys of which some at least had been long especially in view of the conditions under which people travelled, though it is clear that food was going to be no problem in view of the rich provision by king, princes, and priests for the feast itself. People no doubt provided for themselves, picnic fashion, until the main event got under way.

The problems posed in such a situation, however, paled into insignificance beside the grandeur and evocative power of it all. Here the Israelite began to see, or saw again, what it was to be Israel. The peasant who worked his own piece of land for most of the year to keep his little family alive knew that he was of the greater family of God, a son of Abraham, belonging to the chosen people that now pressed upon the House that marked the presence among them of the One who had given them their land and who underwrote their whole existence. The thought and conversation of each were dominated by Passover.

That which characterizes the people of God essentially is their knowledge of his past faithfulness to them, and their hope that that knowledge is a guarantee of future security, understood by the Christian in terms of eternity. The worship and open acknowledgment of him as a people together functions today as it did in ancient Israel—though the outer form of both people and worship is necessarily different—to create and sustain that self-understanding.

–J. G. McConville

Josiah Dies in Battle

“The Death of King Josiah at Megiddo” by William Brassey Hole (1846-1917)

20 After Josiah had finished restoring the Temple, King Neco of Egypt led his army up from Egypt to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and Josiah and his army marched out to fight him.

This was part of the geopolitical struggle between the declining Assyrian Empire and the emerging Babylonian Empire. The Assyrians made an alliance with the Egyptians to protect against the growing power of the Babylonians. One must wonder why Josiah was so committed to supporting the Assyrians . . . even when the King of Egypt tells him not to!

21But King Neco sent messengers to Josiah with this message:

“What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”

22 But Josiah refused to listen to Neco, to whom God had indeed spoken, and he would not turn back. Instead, he disguised himself and led his army into battle on the plain of Megiddo. 23 But the enemy archers hit King Josiah with their arrows and wounded him. He cried out to his men, “Take me from the battle, for I am badly wounded!”

24 So they lifted Josiah out of his chariot and placed him in another chariot. Then they brought him back to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried there in the royal cemetery. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. 25 The prophet Jeremiah composed funeral songs for Josiah, and to this day choirs still sing these sad songs about his death. These songs of sorrow have become a tradition and are recorded in The Book of Laments.

On account of this verse, the book of Lamentations in the Bible has traditionally been ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah.

26 The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign and his acts of devotion (carried out according to what was written in the Law of the Lord), 27 from beginning to end—all are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

Now the last “good king” is dead. Nothing will stop the coming catastrophe.

_________________________

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:
Next year in Jerusalem.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/jerusalemgraphic.jpg
Passover lamb.   http://www.rapture5770-5775.com/PASSOVER%20LAMB.jpg
Bazzi.    http://cbertel.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/st-benedict-eating-with-his-monks.jpg?w=450&h=590
Hole.    http://www.orientalism-in-art.org/The-death-of-king-Josiah-at-Megiddo.html
Lamentations.   http://chinochurchofchrist.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Lamentations-jpeg-title.jpg

2221.) 2 Kings 23

November 6, 2017

King Josiah finds he has major cleaning to do, ridding the kingdom of all signs of idolatry.

2 Kings 23   (NIV)

Josiah Renews the Covenant

1 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.

Josiah knew judgment was coming but still he wanted to do the right thing. So he himself read the law to his subjects. (This is one of the videos I want to see when I get to Heaven — “Josiah Reading the Torah to the People”!)

Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

Nearly all the rest of this chapter details what Josiah did to eliminate idolatry in the land. As you read, notice the extent of the worship of false gods. Notice the many gods and goddesses, priests, places, buildings, support activities — here, there, everywhere — idol worship was deeply ingrained in the kingdom. It takes significant effort on Josiah’s part to root out all the many tentacles of idolatry.

4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. 6 He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.

Jewish graves in Atlanta, Georgia.

This was not meant to desecrate the graves. Rather, the ashes were desecrated by being flung on dead things. In just a few verses, we will read of bones being burned on altars to defile the altars. The dead bodies/bones make whatever they touch unclean.

7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the LORD, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.

8 Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the gateway at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which was on the left of the city gate. 9 Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests.

10 He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek. 11 He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melek. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.

12 He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the LORD. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. 13 The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon. 14 Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.

After getting rid of some of King Solomon’s contributions to idolatry, Josiah even takes his reforms up to Bethel in the former Northern Kingdom.

15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.

16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.

17 The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?”

The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”

18 “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.

This is the remarkable fulfillment of a prophecy made hundreds of years earlier. The words of this anonymous prophet are recorded in 1 Kings 13:1-2: Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you. Josiah was careful to honor the gravestone of this anonymous prophet.

19 Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the LORD’s anger. 20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

21 The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem.

A Passover trivia tidbit for you:

For years Coca Cola has been made with high fructose corn syrup, a low cost sugar substitute made with (surprise!) corn. Corn is a leavening agent which means it must be cut out of the Jewish diet for Passover. So, to serve the Jewish population in large cities in the United States, the Coca Cola company opens a special production line, supervised by a rabbi, to make a kosher Coke alternative with real sugar instead of corn syrup. Passover Coke (bright yellow cap with Hebrew writing) is hard to find but flies off the shelf wherever it’s sold, since many people remember the flavor as the “old” (they would say tastier) Coke.

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Sola scriptura regards the Bible as the only final authority in matters of faith and practice. To quote Martin Luther — “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel, can do so.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the incomparable Phil Keaggy and “True Believers,” to encourage us to “stand on every word You say.” Josiah was faithful, but, as this chapter continues, guess what will happen . . .

Phil is a seven-time recipient of the GMA Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, and was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. He has frequently been listed as one of the world’s top-3 “fingerstyle” as well as “fingerpicking” guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine readers’ polls.

Just don’t know where, where to begin
When earthly kings surrender to this world of sin.
To walk the walk, talk the talk, truth is
Heaven on earth is one stairway
That can’t be bought.
The price is paid, we believe that our God reigns,

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

You’ve had enough, all you can take
When your river of tears
Runs into an ocean of heartbreak.
He’ll be your moon when your sun goes down,
Fire for you if ice is all that’s on your ground.
When your music has died,
And silence is the sound,

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

So if you need to call on a friend,
He’s there for you right until the very end,
His love is alive forever and amen.

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

_________________________

26 Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger. 27 So the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.’”

28 As for the other events of Josiah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria.

Assyria was in decline and Babylonia was ascending. Assyria turned to Egypt for help against the Babylonians. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt was marching up to Assyria, through Judah. Josiah tried to stop him . . .

King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo.

“Josiah killed by the Egyptians” by Frank E. Wright

30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.

Jehoahaz King of Judah

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done. 33 Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

Pharaoh Necho in this chapter is known in history as Necho II.  This bronze statue of him is in the Brooklyn Museum.

So now Judah is effectively a tribute state to Egypt.

34 Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died. 35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Necho the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments.

Jehoiakim King of Judah

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. 37 And he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
cleaning supplies.    http://nowsourcing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/spring-cleaning.jpg
tentacles.    http://cdn.isciencetimes.com/data/images/full/2014/05/15/6504-octopus.jpg
Jewish graves.    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/00/1a/ec/45/jewish-graves.jpg
Josiah destroying the altars.   https://freemethodistpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/josiah_.jpg
kosher Coke.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/koshercoke.jpg
sola scriptura.   https://redeeminggod.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sola-Scriptura.jpg
Wright.     http://www.gci.org/files/images/b7/_0317152610_035.jpg
Necho, Pharaoh of Egypt.    http://www.touregypt.net/images/touregypt/necho1.jpg

2220.) 2 Kings 22

November 3, 2017

Torah scroll: the book of the Law. What was presented to Josiah may have been the entire Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy).

2 Kings 22   (NIV)

The Book of the Law Found

Let’s set the stage.

We are at the very end of the history of the kingdom of Judah. Her most wicked king, a man named Manasseh, had reigned for 55 years. During his time on the throne, he took the nation into the very depths of depravity. It seems he coldly calculated how to break each of God’s commands. He filled Jerusalem and the temple with pagan idols and altars and he filled the city with innocent blood. The king and the people were so utterly corrupt that God said they had far exceeded the perversions of the Canaanites who lived there before them, and who had been judged for their wickedness. The scale of justice had been irreparably tipped to judgment and it would only be a matter of time till the Babylonians came and destroyed the nation, her capital, the temple, and carry away the people into exile.

After Manasseh died, his son Amon reigned for a short time, being assassinated in a royal coup. Then his son Josiah became King. He was only 8 when his reign began but from the beginning, he had a heart to serve God. Once his grip on the throne became secure, he moved to undo the perversions of his grandfather and father. In the 18th year of his reign, he gave orders that the temple was to be repaired. Years of abuse and neglect had resulted in much damage and Josiah was diligent to make sure the house of God was restored. So he sent a delegation of royal officials to the high priest with orders for workers to begin repairs.

1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest

According to Jeremiah 1:1-2, the Prophet Jeremiah was the son of this priest Hilkiah.  Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah.

and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”

Josiah orders both necessary funding and necessary management for the project.

Shaphan was the head of the delegation of officials who went to the temple with Josiah’s order. They stayed for a short time to make sure the work had begun so they could return with a full report to the king. But it wasn’t long after the repairs had started that Hilkiah, the high priest, came to Shaphan with an urgent message. The Book of the Law  had been discovered, either by one of the priests or one of the workmen. He turned it over to Shaphan, who immediately opened the scroll and began to read. He returned to Josiah with news that the repairs were well underway, and that the long lost Book of the Law had been found. Then he read it to the king.

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

Hearing the Word of God

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
–Martin Luther, from The Small Catechism

Luke 11:27-28 (English Standard Version)

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”
–Soren Kierkgaard

I prayed for faith and thought that some day it would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith didn’t seem to come. One day I read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I had up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. Now I opened my Bible and began to study and faith has been growing ever since.
–D.L. Moody

Colossians 3:16 (Contemporary English Version)

Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

God whispers to us in our health and prosperity, but, being hard of hearing, we fail to hear God’s voice in both. It’s then that God turns up the amplifier by means of suffering. Then his voice booms.
–C. S. Lewis

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Music:

HERE  is “Word of God, Speak”  by MercyMe.

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What Shaphan had was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the books Moses had written. They recorded the origin of Israel and their early history. They told of God’s great power in delivering them from Egypt and bringing them in to the land of promise. But they also spoke of God’s law. They declared great blessings on obedience and terrible judgment on rebellion. As Josiah listened to Shaphan read the horrific curses on disobedience, his heart had to begin to lurch with fear. All he had to do was look around Jerusalem and Judah to see the evidences of nearly 75 years of the worst evil imaginable. There was idolatry everywhere; pagan altars filled the temple grounds and streets of the city, and the accursed high places his great grandfather Hezekiah had dismantled had been rebuilt by Manasseh. Everywhere he looked was evil.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.

People tore their clothes only under cases of extreme grief, as when they lost a close loved one. Because the king was the person of highest rank, he was not supposed to tear his clothes unless it was a case of ultra extreme grief. When Josiah rent his royal robes, it was a sign of profound emotion. He knew Judah was in a dangerous predicament. He knew the blasphemies of the previous kings and the people were more than enough to result in the complete annihilation of the nation. So he quickly sent another delegation to find out if the judgment proclaimed in the Law was soon in coming and if there was any way to divert it before it was too late

John 16:8-11 (Amplified Bible)

And when He [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment:

About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me];

About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer;

About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him.

12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

Huldah was a godly woman known to speak for God. The king’s delegation went to her with Josiah’s request, but her message was not very encouraging. The scales of justice had been tipped to judgment;  it was too late to turn aside God’s wrath. All that had been foretold in the Book of the Law would come to pass and Judah’s rebellion would be punished. The only word of comfort was that because Josiah had shown such remarkable repentance and sorrow before God for the sins of his fathers and people, the judgment would not come till after he was gone.

14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.

“Huldah: Treasure the Word” by Elspeth Young

15 She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”

For Josiah — mercy precedes judgment.

So they took her answer back to the king.

Even though Huldah said that judgment would come, Josiah determined to do what was right in his own day. Chapter 23 will tell us of the marvelous and sweeping reforms he made to Jerusalem, the temple, the priesthood, and the entire nation.

But what is striking about this passage is the revelation that the Book of the Law had been lost, of all places, in the house of the Lord! Their Bible, the books of Moses, the record of God’s covenant with His people, His commandments, His counsel, the record of His love, power, and truth, had been missing for generations. Yet the priests still went about their religious duties, the offerings and sacrifices were still made, the rituals were dutifully performed, the horns were blown, the lamps were lit—the show went on. But no one knew why or what for!

One of the most important roles of the ministry of the priest was the task of teaching. Not only were they to officiate at the temple, they were also supposed to instruct the people out of the law. It was part of their solemn charge to not only represent the people to God, but to represent God to the people. And the primary way to do that was to read from and instruct them in the law.

They were to tell the people of their godly heritage. They were to remind them of God’s love and power demonstrated in their history. They were to carefully show them the way of life through obedience to the covenant He made with them at Sinai. They had the wonderful privilege of bringing people into a relationship with God by showing them God’s revelation of Himself. But they had neglected this most vital part of their ministry. They neglected the teaching of the Word of God and turned to something else, something easier—temple service.

And eventually, the Bible was lost in the house of God.

–all commentary in red from Calvary Chapel notes, Oxnard, CA

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Torah scroll.    http://www.torahscroll.com/myimages/UsedFullSizeWhite3.jpg
hearing.     http://www.freedomscope.com/Images/hearing_impaired.jpg
Josiah tearing his clothes.   https://assetsnffrgf-a.akamaihd.net/assets/m/402014288/univ/art/402014288_univ_lsr_xl.jpg
Young.    http://alyoung.com/Art_Gallery/Elspeth_Young/Women_in_Scripture/Huldah.jpg

2219.) Psalm 119:49-64

November 2, 2017

Psalm 119:49-64   (NIV)

Just for a bit of variety — we will be looking at sections of Psalm 119 while we are also reading through Jeremiah.

“Surely it is significant that this intricate, finely crafted, single-minded love poem—the longest in the Bible—is not about marriage or children or food or drink or mountains or sunsets or rivers or oceans, but about the Bible itself. . . . Psalm 119 is the explosion of praise made possible by an orthodox and evangelical doctrine of Scripture.” 
~Kevin DeYoung

The particular stanzas here follow very similar themes:

Zayin (verses 49-56) could be summarized,

“Remember me, Lord, as I remember you and your word”

 Heth (verses 57-64) could be summarized,

 “I am keeping my promise, Lord, please keep your promise.”

~Peter Wallace

ז Zayin

49 Remember your word to your servant,
    for you have given me hope.

50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
    Your promise preserves my life.

51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
    but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
    and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
    who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
    wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
    that I may keep your law.

At night especially our sorrows press painfully upon the mind. The remembrance of the Lord’s “name” — i:e., His manifestation of Himself in acts as His people’s Deliverer–is at such seasons most consolatory. Of the time that others give to sleep, I gladly take a part to comfort myself with the remembrance of thy glorious name.

~commentary on Psalm 119 by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

56 This has been my practice:
    I obey your precepts.

ח Heth

57 You are my portion, Lord;
    I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.


59 I have considered my ways
    and have turned my steps to your statutes.

60 I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
    I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
    for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
    to all who follow your precepts.

The proverb says that “A man is known by the company he keeps.” We do well to choose friends who call us to live on the higher plane — more lovingly, more gracefully, more faithfully, more patiently, more joyfully. On the other hand, Jesus was known as “a friend of sinners.”But Jesus didn’t just hang out with drunks and loose women for the sake of a good party! Perhaps it is more accurate to say that sinners were drawn to Jesus, that Jesus gladly spent time with sinners who were open to his teaching, that Jesus forgave repentant sinners, and that Jesus embraced sinners who believed in him. Sinners like us can be known by the company we keep, especially if that company is our Savior, Jesus!

64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

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Music:

Verse 59  in three translations:

 I have considered my conduct,
and I promise to follow your instructions. (Good News)

I thought about my ways
and turned my feet toward your instruction. (CJB)

I thought very carefully about my life,
    and I decided to follow your rules.   (ERV)

They all are saying we should “direct our feet” and “turn” and “promise to follow” God’s Word. Here is Rich Mullins singing his “Step by Step.” I think it is a catchy number, so we could sing it all day long, thus directing our feet and turning our hearts to follow the Lord. Click  HERE  to listen and join in!

Sometimes the night was beautiful 
Sometimes the sky was so far away 
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close 
You could touch it but your heart would break 
Sometimes the morning came too soon 
Sometimes the day could be so hot 
There was so much work left to do 
But so much You’d already done

Oh God, You are my God 
And I will ever praise You 
Oh God, You are my God 
And I will ever praise You 
I will seek You in the morning 
And I will learn to walk in Your ways 
And step by step You’ll lead me 
And I will follow You all of my days

Sometimes I think of Abraham 
How one star he saw had been lit for me 
He was a stranger in this land 
And I am that, no less than he 
And on this road to righteousness 
Sometimes the climb can be so steep 
I may falter in my steps 
But never beyond Your reach

And I will follow You all of my days 
And I will follow You all of my days 
And step by step You’ll lead me 
And I will follow You all of my days 
And I will follow You all of my days 
And I will follow You all of my days

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New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:
I have thought about my life.    https://darlenecollazo.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/psalm-119-59.jpg
verse 50.    http://ourdailyblossom.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/101211-590×393.jpg
I thought on my ways.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/b8144-ps2b119-592bturned2bmy2bfeet.jpg

2218.) Jeremiah 20

November 1, 2017

Jer20 in mine heart

Jeremiah 20   (NLT)

Jeremiah and Pashhur

Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the Lord, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple.

Jer20 stocks

The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the Lord has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”

Jeremiah is not cowed in the least! As soon as he is out of the stocks, he says again, even more personally to the priest, exactly what got him in trouble in the first place!

Jeremiah’s Complaint

O Lord, you misled me,
    and I allowed myself to be misled.
You are stronger than I am,
    and you overpowered me.

My heart goes out to Jeremiah. He is strong on the outside, but questioning on the inside. Living in faith in difficult circumstances — God never says it will be easy. But in his questions and doubts, he goes to the Lord, and there is where he finds comfort and strength to continue. We are so fortunate to have all of Holy Scripture, as well as hymnals and devotionals and more spiritual teaching than we could ever listen to and more helpful books than we could ever read! “Come to Me when you are burdened,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest” — rest for your souls. Do not let your questions fester in your soul; do as Jeremiah did and take them directly to God.

Now I am mocked every day;
    everyone laughs at me.
When I speak, the words burst out.
    “Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the Lord
    have made me a household joke.

Jer20 burning fire
But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
    or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
    It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
    I can’t do it!

Now this is a strong prayer to pray for church leaders! “Lord, let your word burn like a fire in our pastor’s, youth leader’s, Sunday School teacher’s heart! Let it be that he or she cannot hold it in, but must preach and teach it!” Then add from verse 11 below, “And stand beside him or her like a great warrior, to defend your name and your servant!”

10 I have heard the many rumors about me.
    They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.”
They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.”
    Even my old friends are watching me,
    waiting for a fatal slip.
“He will trap himself,” they say,
    “and then we will get our revenge on him.”

Jer20 warrior

11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior.
    Before him my persecutors will stumble.
    They cannot defeat me.
They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated.
    Their dishonor will never be forgotten.

12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
you test those who are righteous,
    and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them,
    for I have committed my cause to you.
13 Sing to the Lord!
    Praise the Lord!
For though I was poor and needy,
    he rescued me from my oppressors.

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Music:

Are you already hearing Johnny Cash singing “Burning Ring of Fire”?  HERE  it is!

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14 Yet I curse the day I was born!
    May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15 I curse the messenger who told my father,
    “Good news—you have a son!”
16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old
    that the Lord overthrew without mercy.
Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17     because he did not kill me at birth.
Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb,
    that her body had been my grave!
18 Why was I ever born?
    My entire life has been filled
    with trouble, sorrow, and shame.

Many of God’s witnesses, in Biblical times and beyond, have experienced these dark nights of the soul. Jonah (who also had God’s Word burning in his heart) understood:

Jonah 2 (NLT)

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.  He said,

“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,
    and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
    and Lord, you heard me!
You threw me into the ocean depths,
    and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
    I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
    Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’

“I sank beneath the waves,
    and the waters closed over me.
    Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
    I was imprisoned in the earth,
    whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
    snatched me from the jaws of death!
As my life was slipping away,
    I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
    in your holy Temple.
Those who worship false gods
    turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
    and I will fulfill all my vows.
    For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

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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:
in mine heart.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/jer20-in-mine-heart.jpg
in stocks.    http://www.bible-history.com/ibh/images/fullsized/in_the_stocks.jpg
like a burning fire.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/f30fa-jeremiah-20v-9.jpg
great warrior.    http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/images/2012/08/jeremiah-20-11.jpg?s=full
Dark night.   https://www.cordeo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DarkNight2.jpg

2217.) Jeremiah 19

October 31, 2017
"Jeremiah 19 The Broken Flask" by Sue Flanagan

“Jeremiah 19 The Broken Flask” by Sue Flanagan

Jeremiah 19   (NLT)

Jeremiah’s Shattered Jar

–from an ancient version of How to Win Friends and Influence People!

This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you. Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message. Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!

It is not hard to imagine how annoying such a message would become.

“‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! So beware, for the time is coming, says the Lord, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.

We know how much people appreciate being told they are wrong.

“‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals. I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there. I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’

In fact, when Jerusalem’s food supplies ran out during the Babylonian siege in 586 B.C., cannibalism resulted (see Lamentations 2:20 and 4:10).

10 As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought. 11 Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them. 12 This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the Lord. I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth. 13 Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”

A visual, a prop, an action. All to make the message more clear, more pointed.

14 Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the Lord. He said to the people there, 15 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”

“False gods never fail to fail.”

–Christopher Wright

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Music:

Time for us to stop and worship our God, the Creator and Redeemer and Sustainer of the world, our help in time of trouble, our everlasting hope and salvation.  We sing our praises to no false god; we do not forsake the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  HERE  is a young classic hymn, “In Christ Alone,” by Keith Getty (music) and Stuart Townend (Lyrics); sung by Kristyn Getty. The song was published in 2001. I love this hymn and am learning it by heart to keep my faith on the tip of my tongue!

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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:
Flanagan.   http://jesuslovesyoutoday.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Jeremiah_19.223123014_std.jpg
pieces of pottery.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/N7XQmcdZmSc/hqdefault.jpg