2385.) Jeremiah 44

June 22, 2018
Going west on I4 in Orlando, close to the attractions, is a beautiful Roman Catholic church named Mary, Queen of the Universe.

It’s not Queen of Heaven, but it’s close.  Going west on I4 in Orlando, close to the attractions, you will find a beautiful Roman Catholic basilica named Mary, Queen of the Universe. It is my most favorite church name! 🙂

Jeremiah 44   (NLT)

Judgment for Idolatry

This is the message Jeremiah received concerning the Judeans living in northern Egypt in the cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, and in southern Egypt as well: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: 

God began this word to these displaced and disobedient Jews by declaring two names. He remained the Lord of hosts, the God of powerful armies. He remained the God of Israel, even though at that time Israel did not even exist as its own kingdom. These things that did not appear to be were nevertheless real before God and in His plan.

–David Guzik

You saw the calamity I brought on Jerusalem and all the towns of Judah. They now lie deserted and in ruins. They provoked my anger with all their wickedness. They burned incense and worshiped other gods—gods that neither they nor you nor any of your ancestors had ever even known.

“Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, ‘Don’t do these horrible things that I hate so much.’

“‘Oh!’ says someone, ‘sin is a sweet thing.’ No, no; it is an abominable thing. ‘It is a delightful thing,’ says another. No, it is an abominable thing. ‘Oh, but it is a fashionable thing; you can see it in courts of kings, and princes, and the great men of the earth love it.’ Even though they do, it is an abominable thing. Though it should crawl up to a monarch’s throne, and spread its slime over crown jewels it would still be an abominable thing.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

But my people would not listen or turn back from their wicked ways. They kept on burning incense to these gods. And so my fury boiled over and fell like fire on the towns of Judah and into the streets of Jerusalem, and they are still a desolate ruin today.

The crucifix at the front of the sanctuary is stunning, with a cross of hanging glass rods and a body carved from wood.

The crucifix at the front of the sanctuary is stunning.

The crucifix at the front of the sanctuary is stunning, with a cross fashioned from hanging glass rods and a body carved from blond wood.

The cross is fashioned from hanging glass rods and the body is carved from blond wood.

“And now the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, asks you: Why are you destroying yourselves? For not one of you will survive—not a man, woman, or child among you who has come here from Judah, not even the babies in your arms. Why provoke my anger by burning incense to the idols you have made here in Egypt? You will only destroy yourselves and make yourselves an object of cursing and mockery for all the nations of the earth. Have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, and the sins you and your wives committed in Judah and Jerusalem? 10 To this very hour you have shown no remorse or reverence. No one has chosen to follow my word and the decrees I gave to you and your ancestors before you.

There is a sense of wonder in these words from God, as if God could not believe that His people would be so foolish to reject His word and rebel against His command with the devastation of recent judgment so near in their memory.

–David Guzik

11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to destroy every one of you! 12 I will take this remnant of Judah—those who were determined to come here and live in Egypt—and I will consume them. They will fall here in Egypt, killed by war and famine. All will die, from the least to the greatest. They will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. 13 I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by war, famine, and disease. 14 Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors. Even though they long to return home, only a handful will do so.”

Jeremiah reminded his countrymen that all their calamity came as a result of idolatry; yet they were still worshiping false gods in Egypt.  As a result, they would be utterly destroyed; none would return to Judah except a few refugees.

–William MacDonald

15 Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in northern Egypt and southern Egypt—answered Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! 17 We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven (the Babylonian idol Ishtar) just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! 18 But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine.”

“At the instinctive level, the fallen mind is always ready to assume that God is the adversary, whom we (like these characters) may blame for our past and distrust for our future.”

–Derek Kidner

19 “Besides,” the women added, “do you suppose that we were burning incense and pouring out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and making cakes marked with her image, without our husbands knowing it and helping us? Of course not!”

But the people refused to listen to Jeremiah, claiming that they prospered more when they served the queen of heaven. The men were involved in this false worship as well as the women.

20 Then Jeremiah said to all of them, men and women alike, who had given him that answer, 21 “Do you think the Lord did not know that you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It was because the Lord could no longer bear all the disgusting things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without inhabitants—as it is today. 23 All these terrible things happened to you because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the Lord. You have refused to obey him and have not followed his instructions, his decrees, and his laws.”

24 Then Jeremiah said to them all, including the women, “Listen to this message from the Lord, all you citizens of Judah who live in Egypt. 25 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You and your wives have said, “We will keep our promises to burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven,” and you have proved by your actions that you meant it. So go ahead and carry out your promises and vows to her!’

I have worshiped here several times, along with 2000 others. The presiding priest welcomes visitors not by which state or which country they are from, but which continent!

I have worshiped here several times, along with some 2000 others. The presiding priest welcomes visitors not by which state or which country they are from, but which continent!

26 “But listen to this message from the Lord, all you Judeans now living in Egypt: ‘I have sworn by my great name,’ says the Lord, ‘that my name will no longer be spoken by any of the Judeans in the land of Egypt. None of you may invoke my name or use this oath: “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” 27 For I will watch over you to bring you disaster and not good. Everyone from Judah who is now living in Egypt will suffer war and famine until all of you are dead. 28 Only a small number will escape death and return to Judah from Egypt. Then all those who came to Egypt will find out whose words are true—mine or theirs!

29 “‘And this is the proof I give you,’ says the Lord, ‘that all I have threatened will happen to you and that I will punish you here.’ 30 This is what the Lord says: ‘I will turn Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I turned King Zedekiah of Judah over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’”

This was probably Jeremiah’s last recorded prophecy. He ended as he started: faithful to God, trusting in God’s faithfulness. “He had seen his nation decline from a relatively strong independent state to the point of near extinction, and little fruit seemed to have been borne by his ministry. Yet, in these final words, his utter faith in an omnipotent God, and his perception of fundamental truths, are as clear as ever.”

–Arthur E. Cundall

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Music:

In keeping with the pictures, HERE  is Schubert’s “Ave Maria”  sung by Andrea Bocelli.

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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:
Mary, Queen of the Universe, view from I4.    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/c7/99/20/front-view.jpg
church crucifix.    http://www.zimmcomm.biz/images/path/mary-shrine-path.jpg
crucifix close-up.   http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/03/8c/c2/17/crucifixo-de-cristal.jpg
church pews.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Mary,_Queen_of_the_Universe#/media/File:Maryqueenoftheuniverseshrine.JPG
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2384.) Jeremiah 43

June 21, 2018

Jeremiah 43   (NLT)

Jeremiah Taken to Egypt

When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from the Lord their God to all the people, Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The Lord our God hasn’t forbidden us to go to Egypt! Baruch son of Neriah has convinced you to say this, because he wants us to stay here and be killed by the Babylonians or be carried off into exile.”

They say, God would have said what we wanted him to say. You are lying to us and you are against us.

“How strange it is that ungodly men always think the Word of God is against them, whereas they are set against it!”

–F. B. Meyer

So Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders and all the people refused to obey the Lord’s command to stay in Judah. Johanan and the other leaders took with them all the people who had returned from the nearby countries to which they had fled. In the crowd were men, women, and children, the king’s daughters, and all those whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had left with Gedaliah. The prophet Jeremiah and Baruch were also included. The people refused to obey the voice of the Lord and went to Egypt, going as far as the city of Tahpanhes.

And so, following their own plans, they go to Egypt. They even  drag Jeremiah along with them.

“It must have been for him one of the most tragic events of his life, since it dashed for ever all hopes he may have had to end his days in his homeland, where Yahweh had promised one day to restore the national life of his people.”

–J. A. Thompson

Then at Tahpanhes, the Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “While the people of Judah are watching, take some large rocks and bury them under the pavement stones at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace here in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to the people of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, here to Egypt. I will set his throne over these stones that I have hidden. He will spread his royal canopy over them. 11 And when he comes, he will destroy the land of Egypt. He will bring death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and war to those destined for war. 12 He will set fire to the temples of Egypt’s gods; he will burn the temples and carry the idols away as plunder. He will pick clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks fleas from his cloak. And he himself will leave unharmed. 13 He will break down the sacred pillars standing in the temple of the sun in Egypt, and he will burn down the temples of Egypt’s gods.’”

Jeremiah assures them that Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt and bring disaster with him both for them and for the Egyptians.

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Music:

Jeremiah goes to Egypt in chapter 43 and after chapter 44 we hear nothing more about him. It is assumed he died in Egypt; tradition has it he was stoned to death by his own people.

HERE  is music composed for the 1978 movie Death on the Nile, based on a book by Agatha Christie.  (Fun movie, with an all-star cast, great scenes of several cultural highlights of Egypt, and Academy Award-winning costumes!)

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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:
Tour Egypt.    https://allevents.in/qesm%20al%20wahat%20ad%20dakhlah/tour-of-egypt-14-days-february-2018/1770570313201694

2383.) Jeremiah 42

June 20, 2018

J42 follow

Jeremiah 42   (NLT)

Warning to Stay in Judah

Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.”

After the brutal massacre at Mizpah (Jeremiah 41), the leaders and citizens of those left in the land were anxious and asked Jeremiah for a word from the Lord.

They say, so it seems, Lord, lead our steps.  Guide our way.

“All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

They say, We will follow the Lord our God.

Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah.

The prophetic word took time to come to Jeremiah. It wasn’t an immediate thing to be called upon whenever he pleased. It had to come in God’s timing. Ten days must have seemed a very long time to the leaders!

So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’

Jeremiah tells them to stay in the land and God would show them mercy.

13 “But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’

But if unbelief drives them to Egypt, they will not find safety there.

Deuteronomy 17:16   (NIV)

The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”

The Lord’s word continues to be against seeking refuge in Egypt. The issue, as ever, is false trust and the delusion of safety in human power and calculation.  (The Reformation Bible)

18 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’

19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The Lord has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”

Now the hypocrisy of their prayer is clear. They say, No way!  That is not what we want to do.  We do not want to stay here at the mercy of the Babylonians.

God said to stay but it seems that the people were already determined to flee to Egypt. Jeremiah told them flatly they would meet disaster there.

“Modern Christians often do the same thing:  they ask God for guidance—and they often request counsel from parents, Sunday School teachers, elders, pastors, and others—yet their mind is already made up to do what they want. Unfortunately, such ‘seeking counsel’ is all window dressing.”

–William MacDonald

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Music:

Let’s not say we want God’s direction and then go our own way.  HERE  is “I Will Follow”  by Chris Tomlin.

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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:
I have decided.     https://www.quotemaster.org/How+To+Follow+Jesus#&gid=1&pid=9

2382.) Jeremiah 41

June 19, 2018

J41 Murder

Jeremiah 41   (NLT)

The Murder of Gedaliah

But in midautumn, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, who was a member of the royal family and had been one of the king’s high officials, went to Mizpah with ten men to meet Gedaliah. While they were eating together, Ishmael and his ten men suddenly jumped up, drew their swords, and killed Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor. Ishmael also killed all the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah.

Hospitality was one of the most highly regarded virtues of the ancient world. Ancient custom with respect to hospitality normally meant that a host tried to protect a guest from harm. Gedaliah likely assumed that his guests in turn would not harm him, much less kill him.  (The Archaeological Bible)

“Gedaliah’s death was a tragedy. For years afterward, the Jews held a fast to lament the day of his passing.”

–Philip Graham Ryken

**Death count: Gedaliah plus the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers.

The next day, before anyone had heard about Gedaliah’s murder, eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria to worship at the Temple of the Lord. They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves, and had brought along grain offerings and frankincense.

These cities were important religious centers in the former northern kingdom that fell in 722 B.C. These men are a remnant of Israel’s population who had made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great feasts. Their personal appearance reflects their mourning for the fall of Jerusalem. They were bringing bloodless offerings, since the altar of the temple had been destroyed. Even though the temple itself was in ruins, the site was still considered holy.  (The Reformation Bible)

Ishmael left Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he reached them, he said, “Oh, come and see what has happened to Gedaliah!”

But as soon as they were all inside the town, Ishmael and his men killed all but ten of them and threw their bodies into a cistern.

“This chapter is full of horrible atrocities. Blow on blow befell the already decimated remnant of Jews.”

–F. B. Meyer

**Death count: Gedaliah plus the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers plus 70 Israelites.

The other ten had talked Ishmael into letting them go by promising to bring him their stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey that they had hidden away. The cistern where Ishmael dumped the bodies of the men he murdered was the large one dug by King Asa when he fortified Mizpah to protect himself against King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with corpses.

10 Then Ishmael made captives of the king’s daughters and the other people who had been left under Gedaliah’s care in Mizpah by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard. Taking them with him, he started back toward the land of Ammon.

11 But when Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders heard about Ishmael’s crimes, 12 they took all their men and set out to stop him. They caught up with him at the large pool near Gibeon. 13 The people Ishmael had captured shouted for joy when they saw Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders. 14 And all the captives from Mizpah escaped and began to help Johanan.

“Ishmael finds how delusive is a victory that wins no hearts, as his whole captive company delightedly deserts him.”

–Derek Kidner

15 Meanwhile, Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan into the land of Ammon.

**Death count: Gedaliah plus the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers plus 70 Israelites plus two of Ishmael’s men.

16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders took all the people they had rescued in Gibeon—the soldiers, women, children, and court officials whom Ishmael had captured after he killed Gedaliah. 17 They took them all to the village of Geruth-kimham near Bethlehem, where they prepared to leave for Egypt. 18 They were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they heard that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king.

This terrible account is included to show how chaotic and unsafe conditions were in Judah and the region after the fall of the Kingdom of Judah. Many felt they were safer in Egypt than remaining in that lawless land.

–David Guzik

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Music:

There are classic country music songs which tell the stories of murders!  Johnny Cash and “Folsom Prison Blues” — “I shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die” — does it get more cold-blooded than that?  “Papa Loved Mama” by Garth Brooks — “Mama’s in the graveyard and Papa’s in the pen.”  And of course, “Frankie and Johnny” — “He was her man, but he was doin’ her wrong.”  But for a good laugh when thinking about murder (?!), there’s nothing better than the Dixie Chicks and “Goodbye Earl.”  HERE  it is for your listening pleasure!

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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:
murder.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c8/Murder_title.jpg

2373.) Jeremiah 40

June 6, 2018

J40 Babylonian Empire mapJeremiah 40   (NLT)

Jeremiah Remains in Judah

The Lord gave a message to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the other captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being sent to exile in Babylon.

The captain of the guard called for Jeremiah and said, “The Lord your God has brought this disaster on this land, just as he said he would. For these people have sinned against the Lord and disobeyed him. That is why it happened.

The Babylonian Nebuzaradan believed the word of God more than Yahweh’s covenant people did.

But I am going to take off your chains and let you go. If you want to come with me to Babylon, you are welcome. I will see that you are well cared for. But if you don’t want to come, you may stay here. The whole land is before you—go wherever you like. If you decide to stay, then return to Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan. He has been appointed governor of Judah by the king of Babylon. Stay there with the people he rules. But it’s up to you; go wherever you like.”

Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, gave Jeremiah some food and money and let him go. So Jeremiah returned to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah, and he lived in Judah with the few who were still left in the land.

The Lord takes care of his prophet through the kindness of the Babylonian captain of the guard! And Jeremiah chose to live among his people because he loved them. “Jeremiah was not a vindictive man, nor did he feel the slightest elation at the downfall of his adversaries. They were his people, he loved them, and he wept bitterly for them, as the book of Lamentations shows.”

–Arthur E. Cundall

Gedaliah Governs in Judah

The leaders of the Judean guerrilla bands in the countryside heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor over the poor people who were left behind in Judah—the men, women, and children who hadn’t been exiled to Babylon. So they went to see Gedaliah at Mizpah. These included: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah son of the Maacathite, and all their men.

Gedaliah vowed to them that the Babylonians meant them no harm. “Don’t be afraid to serve them. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and all will go well for you,” he promised.

Gedaliah assures the officers and their men that truly, their best and wisest action was to surrender to God’s judgment through the Babylonians and make the most of the life they had.

10 “As for me, I will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to meet with us. Settle in the towns you have taken, and live off the land. Harvest the grapes and summer fruits and olives, and store them away.”

At the moment of judgment, we are given a glimpse of future blessing in the land.  (The Reformation Bible)

11 When the Judeans in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the other nearby countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few people in Judah and that Gedaliah was the governor, 12 they began to return to Judah from the places to which they had fled. They stopped at Mizpah to meet with Gedaliah and then went into the Judean countryside to gather a great harvest of grapes and other crops.

So the Jews who did not go to Babylon remain in Judea with a sense of a new normal.

A Plot against Gedaliah

13 Soon after this, Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 14 They said to him, “Did you know that Baalis, king of Ammon, has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to assassinate you?” But Gedaliah refused to believe them.

15 Later Johanan had a private conference with Gedaliah and volunteered to kill Ishmael secretly. “Why should we let him come and murder you?” Johanan asked. “What will happen then to the Judeans who have returned? Why should the few of us who are still left be scattered and lost?”

16 But Gedaliah said to Johanan, “I forbid you to do any such thing, for you are lying about Ishmael.”

Unfortunately, Gedaliah is wrong . . . (cue ominous music)

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Music:

I think what it must have been like for Jeremiah and the others — their king deported, their temple burned, the walls of Jerusalem knocked down, Babylonians in charge. How helpless and lost many may have felt! What kind of future was possible for them now? Fortunately, God is still on his throne and his word still stands true.  HERE  is an Isaac Watts hymn to encourage us all:  “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.”

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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:
map of Babylonian Empire.    http://www.keyway.ca/gif/babylon.gif
grapes and olives.    https://tavolamediterranea.com/2018/03/03/mediterranean-triad-grapes-grains-olives-barley-porridge/

2372.) Jeremiah 38

June 5, 2018

J38 cistern
Jeremiah 38   (NLT)

Jeremiah in a Cistern

Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah had been telling the people. He had been saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’ The Lord also says: ‘The city of Jerusalem will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’”

“Those clamouring princes were unquestionably the politicians who had influenced the king against the word of the prophet; and had advocated resistance to Babylon when Jeremiah had persistently declared its futility.”

–J. Campbell Morgan

So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!”

King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like. I can’t stop you.”

“He was, of course, a puppet king, set up by Nebuchadrezzar after the exile of Jehoiachin and possibly not accepted by everyone in the nation as the true king.”

–J. A. Thompson

“Zedekiah seems to have been an alumnus of the same school of politics that Pontius Pilate later attended.”

–Philip Graham Ryken

So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family. There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud at the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it.

This was likely a deep pit with only a small opening in the top. Whether it was empty from water shortage or disuse is not clear. They may have hoped Jeremiah would die there.  (The Reformation Bible)

But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, an important court official, heard that Jeremiah was in the cistern. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate, so Ebed-melech rushed from the palace to speak with him. “My lord the king,” he said, “these men have done a very evil thing in putting Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern. He will soon die of hunger, for almost all the bread in the city is gone.”

“A stranger, but (as that good Samaritan in the Gospel) more merciful than any of the Jewish nation, who gloried in their privileges.”

–John Trapp

10 So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”

11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to a room in the palace beneath the treasury, where he found some old rags and discarded clothing. He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope. 12 Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes.”

Then when Jeremiah was ready, 13 they pulled him out. So Jeremiah was returned to the courtyard of the guard—the palace prison—where he remained.

J38 ebedmelech

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

The dungeon where Jeremiah was kept was one of those horrible pits that were used in olden times as prisons. The king only told Ebed-melech to take thirty men and pull Jeremiah out of the dungeon with ropes, before he died. But that kind man, whose name means “Servant of the King,” took the trouble to go and fetch pieces of cast-off clothes and old soft rags. He told Jeremiah to put them under his armpits to keep the ropes from hurting him as they pulled him out.

In Matthew 25:40 we read what the King of Kings must have said to Servant of the King, Ebed-melech.  Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.

Think of it, every little thoughtful kindness we do for someone in need, our Lord notices. He takes it as service done to Him. Let us serve Him by serving others, however humbly, today.

Zedekiah Questions Jeremiah

14 One day King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the third entrance of the Lord’s Temple. “I want to ask you something,” the king said. “And don’t try to hide the truth.”

15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.”

16 So King Zedekiah secretly promised him, “As surely as the Lord our Creator lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to the men who want you dead.”

17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. 18 But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.’”

“All he had to do was trust the prophet, to lift his head high, take up the flag of truce, walk past the princes and out to the Chaldean armies. This simple act of contrition would have saved the city.” 

19 “But I am afraid to surrender,” the king said, “for the Babylonians may hand me over to the Judeans who have defected to them. And who knows what they will do to me!”

Such weakness of character for a king! He knew the right thing to do, but was afraid to do it.

20 Jeremiah replied, “You won’t be handed over to them if you choose to obey the Lord. Your life will be spared, and all will go well for you. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: 22 All the women left in your palace will be brought out and given to the officers of the Babylonian army.

The loss of a harem was a humiliating consequence for a king defeated in war.  (The Reformation Bible)

Then the women will taunt you, saying,

‘What fine friends you have!
    They have betrayed and misled you.
When your feet sank in the mud,
    they left you to your fate!’

23 All your wives and children will be led out to the Babylonians, and you will not escape. You will be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.”

24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t tell anyone you told me this, or you will die! 25 My officials may hear that I spoke to you, and they may say, ‘Tell us what you and the king were talking about. If you don’t tell us, we will kill you.’ 26 If this happens, just tell them you begged me not to send you back to Jonathan’s dungeon, for fear you would die there.”

27 Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the king’s officials came to Jeremiah and asked him why the king had called for him. But Jeremiah followed the king’s instructions, and they left without finding out the truth. No one had overheard the conversation between Jeremiah and the king. 28 And Jeremiah remained a prisoner in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured.

Jeremiah went back to the prison; Zedekiah went to the palace. It would turn out better for the prophet than for the king. “Zedekiah returned to the palace to suffer the anguish of knowing what was right to do but lacking the courage to do it.” (Thompson)

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Music:

Yes, the Lord has won the final victory but, like Jeremiah in prison, we sometimes may feel overwhelmed by some of the difficulties in our life. People who are unkind and misdirected seem to be in control of our circumstances. Even so, let us not lose faith, but let us hold on to grace. Our God will supply all our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus!  HERE  is Tenth Avenue North and “Losing.”

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Jeremiah in the cistern (Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett).   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/Book_of_Jeremiah_Chapter_38-2_%28Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media%29.jpg
Jeremiah is rescued.    http://alaskabibleteacher.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/ebedmelech.jpg
You can’t handle the truth.  http://plantsvszombies.wikia.com/wiki/File:You-cant-handle-the-truth-meme-generator-you-want-the-truth-you-can-t-handle-the-truth-9789dd.jpg

2371.) Jeremiah 33

June 4, 2018

Jer33 call to me
Jeremiah 33   (NLT)

Promises of Peace and Prosperity

While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard,

As in the previous chapter, this word came to Jeremiah during the terrible final siege of the Babylonians against Jerusalem in the last years of King Zedekiah’s reign. Zedekiah put Jeremiah in the royal prison for preaching in the name of the Lord that the Babylonians would succeed (Jeremiah 32:1-5).

the Lord gave him this second message: “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: 3 Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

RAISING OUR EXPECTATIONS

Too often we settle for much less than what God wants to do through us. We read in Jeremiah 32:27 — “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?” and we answer, “No, Lord.” Yet, when we face difficult situations we begin to qualify our belief in God and lower our expectations of what God will do. It is one thing to believe God could perform a miracle in the Bible, or a thousand years ago, or even in the life of a friend; it is quite another matter to wholeheartedly believe God can do anything He chooses to do in our lives!

When almighty God speaks to us, what we do next proves what we believe about Him, regardless of what we say. God revealed to Moses His plan to orchestrate the greatest exodus in human history, and He wanted to use Moses to accomplish it. Moses responded by arguing with God! Moses was overwhelmed by what he heard and began to make excuses for why he could not participate in God’s activity. Moses would have readily acknowledged his belief in God’s power, he simply did not believe God could do His miraculous work through his life. Moses’ argument with God limited his ministry for the rest of his life (Exodus 4:13-16).

Do you sense there may be far more that God wants to do through your life than what you have been experiencing? Ask God to show you what it is, then be prepared to respond in faith and obedience to what He tells you.

And from Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ):

“Prayer intercession provides the power and foundation for everything else that is done, for the Lord God says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). Here are some specific things to pray for:

*Pray by name for the salvation of family members and acquaintances (2 Peter 3:9)
*Pray blessing for family members, churches, ministries, etc. (1 Chron.4:10, 17:27)
*Pray blessings for those who persecute you or treat you badly (Luke 6:28)
*Pray for the government and our leaders (1 Tim. 2: 1-4)
*Pray for national and international revival and righteousness (Prov. 14:34)

For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy. You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.

“Cleansing removes guilt, pollution, defilement, morally. Pardon brings the offender back into relationship of favour and fellowship. God never pardons polluted souls; He first cleanses them. Pardon, apart from the communication of purity, would perpetuate pollution, and so violate the moral order beyond remedy.”

–J. Campbell Morgan

10 “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing,

‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    for the Lord is good.
    His faithful love endures forever!’

For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord.

CB063092

These circumstances, joyful as a wedding, will be brought about by the new covenant.

12 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: This land—though it is now desolate and has no people and animals—will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks. 13 Once again shepherds will count their flocks in the towns of the hill country, the foothills of Judah, the Negev, the land of Benjamin, the vicinity of Jerusalem, and all the towns of Judah. I, the Lord, have spoken!

14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

These promises of restoration – fulfilled in part under Ezra and Nehemiah, fulfilled in whole with the completion of the new covenant – these promises were a remarkable contrast to the present state of destruction in Judah and Jerusalem. God repeats them for assurance and emphasis.

15 “In those days and at that time
    I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line.
    He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
16 In that day Judah will be saved,
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this will be its name:
    ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’

17 For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever. 18 And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.”

A promise that Christ will come!

19 Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 20 “This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, 21 only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me. 22 And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.”

J33 abraham-stars

These promises for the messianic kingdom also fulfill the promises given to Abraham in Genesis.

“Monarchy and priesthood were the two bases of the OT theocracy. When these appeared to be most in danger of extinction in Jeremiah’s day, we find their continuance couched in sure and irrevocable terms.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

23 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 24 “Have you noticed what people are saying?—‘The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’ They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation. 25 But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. 26 I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a piano arrangement of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” played by Chris Rice.

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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:
Call to me drawing.    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m24vjjdC1i1r27e1ho1_400.png
wedding.    http://www.norwegiandating.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/WEDDING-VIDEO2.jpg
The Lord Our Righteousness.   https://images.knowing-jesus.com/i/jeremiah-33-16-the-lord-our-righteousness-red-4405
Abraham and the stars.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/4-abraham-stars.jpg