This week’s readings are very grim. You know that I always tell you to read the Bible for yourself; however, if you are sad, just skip this page and read about Daniel. There is little hope and no joy in the message of the weeping prophet, Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 1:1-3, 1:11-19 (1/21/13)
Prophets came from all walks of life, although many of the prophets don’t say what they did for a living. Isaiah was apparently a member of the nobility. Amos raised sheep. Some were members of prophet schools. Jeremiah was a priest. “Priest” was both an occupation and a family designation, because all priests were descended from Aaron. Jeremiah prophesied to the last few kings of Judah and continued to prophesy to the people during the Exile in Babylon.
The Old Testament is full of puns and word plays, especially in the prophets. Usually these are completely lost in translation, but the CEV does a pretty decent job of showing them to us in today’s reading. Jeremiah sees a vision of an almond tree, which is shawkade early
; God says he will shawkad be early
Just remember our rule: if you see this kind of comparison, and you are saying, “What?” it normally means that two words sound like each other in Hebrew. Jeremiah sees a vision of a pot spilling boiling water from north to south; God says he will pour out destruction from the north; this one has “from the north” twice in Hebrew, and so do most translations.
2 Kings 23:31 – 24:17 (1/22/13)
At the end of its life, Judah was a vassal state to warring powers. Unfortunately, it was a vassal state that also had poor internal leadership that avoided paying taxes to the overlord (Egypt or Babylon, depending on who was on top) and periodically rebelled.
Hint: If you are a weak and idolatrous nation to whom God is sending prophets, do not rebel against the world superpowers! This didn’t work out for Judah, which went through four kings in twenty-two years. The armies of Babylon besieged the city of Jerusalem for a couple of years. By the end of the siege, the people were starving. Judah was defeated, the Temple was looted, Jerusalem was burned, and the walls were demolished. There were some survivors, but all the leaders, upper classes, and skilled artisans were deported to Babylon. It is with good reason that Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet.”
Jeremiah 7:1-20 (1/23/13)
God hates all sin. It seems to me – I could be wrong – that the sin God hates the most is the worship of other gods by people who have promised to worship God alone. Furthermore, God is not fooled if we worship some other god 6½ days a week and then show up on Sunday morning claiming to worship God alone.
The most critical part of this passage is right at the beginning: “The LORD told me to stand by the gate of the temple and to tell the people who were going in….” The prophet is speaking to God’s people
2 Kings 24:18 – 25:12 (1/24/13)
First the kings of Judah put their people in danger by not following God, and then they made the situation even worse by not paying taxes to the foreign oppressors and by leading periodic rebellions. But the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, really takes the cake. After the siege has gone on long enough that the people are starving and the Babylonians have broken in, what does he do? Try to save the lives of people, by say, surrendering himself to Nebuchadnezzar? Oh, no – he and his soldiers abandoned the people and sneaked out of the city! The Babylonians caught up with them near Jericho, which is about 17 miles away. Zedekiah was captured, and the Babylonians killed his sons and tortured him. He and most of the few survivors of the siege were taken away into captivity.
Lamentations 5:1-22 (1/25/13)
There are three parts to a prophetic message:
1. You are doing wrong, and God is upset.
2. If you continue to do wrong, God will punish you.
3. If you turn back to God, God will take you back.
Jeremiah is the only prophet who considers the possibility that God will no longer take us back.
More of The Rest of the Story
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time
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