Day 194: Things We Know and Things We Don’t

Jeremiah 49:28-33

Of Kedar, and of the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon struck, Yahweh says:
“Arise, go up to Kedar,
and destroy the children of the east.
They will take their tents and their flocks.
they will carry away for themselves their curtains,
all their vessels, and their camels;
and they will cry to them, ‘Terror on every side!’
Wander far off!
Dwell in the depths, you inhabitants of Hazor,” says Yahweh;
“for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has taken counsel against you,
and has conceived a purpose against you.
Arise! Go up to a nation that is at ease,
that dwells without care,” says Yahweh;
“that has neither gates nor bars,
that dwells alone.
Their camels will be a booty,
and the multitude of their livestock a plunder.
I will scatter to all winds those who have the corners of their beards cut off;
and I will bring their calamity from every side of them,”
says Yahweh.
Hazor will be a dwelling place of jackals,
a desolation forever.
No man will dwell there,
neither will any son of man live therein.”

Kedar was the second son of Ishmael, so we know that this prophesy was concerning some of Abraham’s children. These people were well known for their tents. My understanding is that there are some pretty nice tents in the middle east today as well, complete with electricity and appliances. Evidently, even back in the days of Babylon, the people of Kedar took tent dwelling to a higher level. It appears, however, that these children of Abraham decided, for the most part, to go away from the faith of Abraham.

This passage mentions scattering “those who have the corners of their beards cut off.” That seems like a pretty strange thing for God to bring up in regard to His judgment of a people. To make it even stranger, the King James doesn’t say that at all. Other translations seem to think it has to do with cutting bangs. This is one of those areas of the Bible that I will have to call a mystery. We don’t have to understand everything in the Bible. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that God planned for it to be that way. We are His children and we may not be able to understand everything He says right now. We may have to get older. Some things may not even be there for us during our time. Whatever it means, it’s pretty clear that the people of Kedar knew. God knew how they had been disobedient to Him and that they also deserved His wrath.

God is aware of the times that we live in as well. We may not live in a tent, but we may have a little house or live in a condo. God wants us to acknowledge Him and give Him glory for all He has created. God also wants us to live according to the conscience that He has put within us in our time. If we don’t do these things, we will be judged too. These things are perfectly clear in the Bible and that is what we are responsible for.

Day 193: Conquered but not Destroyed

Jeremiah 49:23-27

Of Damascus:
“Hamath and Arpad are confounded,
for they have heard evil news.
They have melted away.
There is sorrow on the sea.
It can’t be quiet.
Damascus has grown feeble,
she turns herself to flee,
and trembling has seized her.
Anguish and sorrows have taken hold of her,
as of a woman in travail.
How is the city of praise not forsaken,
the city of my joy?
Therefore her young men will fall in her streets,
and all the men of war will be brought to silence in that day,”
says Yahweh of Armies.
“I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus,
and it will devour the palaces of Ben Hadad.”

Damascus is one of the oldest populated cities in the world today. We have been reading about God’s judgment against many nations and cities at the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Here we read that the city of Damascus was also to be defeated, but it doesn’t appear that the prophesy is telling us that Damascus was to be completely destroyed. After Nebuchadnezzar took over the area, he decided not to destroy this city. For some reason, God decided to allow this one to continue to stand.

God has predicted the complete destruction of Damascus through other prophets, but this was not the right time. Since all of these other civilizations were wiped out, it would have been easy to assume that Damascus would have been wiped out too. It reminds us that our ideas of what will or should happen are not accurate at all without first consulting God’s word.

This is a very timely and relevant message for our cultures today. We are tempted to think that God’s word should be considered based on scientific evidence. Some believe that if the evidence appears to disagree with God’s word, then God’s word should be reinterpreted to fit the evidence, but the fact that Damascus stands today, reminds us that God’s word decided what the evidence would be, not the other way around. If the evidence appears to go against the Bible, then the evidence is the thing that should be doubted. Most likely, we are interpreting it incorrectly. It is possible to incorrectly read the Bible, but when the Bible is clear, then man’s ideas should be doubted rather than God’s word.

Day 126: Carefully Considering God’s Word about Israel

Jeremiah 30:1-3

The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says, ‘Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book. For, behold, the days come,’ says Yahweh, ‘that I will reverse the captivity of my people Israel and Judah,’ says Yahweh. ‘I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they will possess it.’ ”

I know that something is seriously wrong in our world when so many people who claim to be believers think that God is no longer involved with Israel as a nation. God repeats the fact that He intends to “reverse the captivity” of His people so many times, it actually get’s kind of monotonous. Once again, God says in this passage: “I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they will possess it.” How much more clearly does it need to be stated?

I’m going to guess that most Christians, were like me. They simply never read Jeremiah. Or, like me, they may have read it very quickly and didn’t really study it. When we look back over the history of Israel, we see that they actually returned to the land more than once, and we also read in the words of the prophets that they will be returning again in the future. It’s OK for us to argue that the current return of Israel may not be the final one, but it isn’t OK to argue that God is done with Israel. You’d have to really ignore or subjectively symbolize many passages in the Bible and once you do that, you could make the Bible say pretty much anything. You’d also create a problem. You’d have to consider the possibility that salvation from Hell is only symbolic and perhaps even for someone else other than you. Could Jesus’ words to Christians have been only symbolic?

In this passage, God told Jeremiah to write these words because Israel and Judah would return and posses their land. It’s pretty obvious that Jeremiah and all those who would go into captivity would not expect these words to be merely symbolic. I do believe that how God treats Israel is symbolic of how He treats Christians today, but that doesn’t help those who believe that God has rejected the nation of Israel. If God were to throw away Israel after promising them their land like this, wouldn’t that mean that God will also do the same to Christians symbolically?