Day 21: Bad Brothers

Lamentations 4:17-22 :

Our eyes still fail,
looking in vain for our help.
In our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save.

They hunt our steps,
so that we can’t go in our streets.
Our end is near.
Our days are fulfilled,
for our end has come.

Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the sky.
They chased us on the mountains.
They set an ambush for us in the wilderness.

The breath of our nostrils,
the anointed of Yahweh,
was taken in their pits;
of whom we said,
under his shadow we will live among the nations.

Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Edom,
who dwells in the land of Uz.
The cup will pass through to you also.
You will be drunken,
and will make yourself naked.

The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, daughter of Zion.
He will no more carry you away into captivity.
He will visit your iniquity, daughter of Edom.
He will uncover your sins.

As I considered this passage, I found it helpful to recall the history of Israel’s dealings with Edom. When we do that, it’s important to remember the founder of the nation. It was Jacob’s brother Esau that was it’s father. The land of Edom comes from the a twin brother of Israel. You would think that if you wanted help from a nation, it would only be natural to get that help from a group of very close relatives, but that’s not how it went.

When Moses was guiding the redeemed slaves of Israel through the desert, they actually asked the Edomites if they could simply pass through it without staying. Edom not only didn’t invite them to stay a while, they denied them the ability to pass through and even threatened them with harm if they tried.

Things obviously didn’t change over the years after Israel became a strong nation. Now, when they were brought low, Edom continued to keep their distance from Israel. I sense a bit of sarcasm from God here, if I’m reading it right. He says: “Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Edom… You will be drunken, and will make yourself naked.” What I read here is that not only was it their brother Israel’s time of judgment, but it was about to be Edom’s also.

We have some very comforting words at the end of this lamentation. God says: “The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, daughter of Zion. He will no more carry you away into captivity.” What a wonderful thing it is for any of us to hear that our time of judgment is over and that we will have peace with God. That’s why Christmastime so special. It’s when God announced His peace with mankind. What an amazing day that was when God Himself sent angels to tell the world that He was now ready to remove their iniquity.

Day 135: The New Covenant and a Restored Israel

Jeremiah 31:31-40

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which covenant of mine they broke, although I was a husband to them,” says Yahweh. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says Yahweh:
“I will put my law in their inward parts,
and I will write it in their heart.
I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
They will no longer each teach his neighbor,
and every man teach his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh;’
for they will all know me,
from their least to their greatest,” says Yahweh,
“for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.”
Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day,
and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night,
who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar—
Yahweh of Armies is his name, says:
“If these ordinances depart from before me,” says Yahweh,
“then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before me forever.”
Yahweh says: “If heaven above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” says Yahweh.

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that the city will be built to Yahweh from the tower of Hananel to the gate of the corner. The measuring line will go out further straight onward to the hill Gareb, and will turn toward Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields to the brook Kidron, to the corner of the horse gate toward the east, will be holy to Yahweh. It will not be plucked up or thrown down any more forever.”

One of the things that really exposed the Pharisees that persecuted Jesus was the fact that they disregarded this passage. God clearly told Israel, through Jeremiah, that He considered the Old Covenant given through Moses to have been broken. I believe that the fact that the Pharisees were trying to resurrect the broken covenant, exposed their motives to use that system to control their followers. At that time, the New Covenant was about to be instituted and they were not ready for it. Only those that John the Baptist prepared, were. So here we have God’s plan revealed. Right when things were about to get dark for Israel, and right when Jeremiah’s heart was filled with sorrow, God gives him a vision of the gospel.

God tells us that this New Covenant will change the hearts of the Israelis. This was the problem that God was exposing the whole time they attempted to follow the Law of Moses. No matter how hard they tried to follow rules, their hearts longed to disobey and would eventually make it impossible for them. It’s also interesting that the nature of the heart change will be that God will put the knowledge of His word into each individual. Finally, we read that sin will be completely forgiven. Jeremiah isn’t told exactly how this will be done yet, but that’s exactly what happened when Jesus came and died for us and then went to heaven to give us the Holy Spirit. We know this New Covenant as Gentile Christians, but this covenant is going to be unleashed on the physical nation of Israel in a big way in the future.

God’s intention to follow through with restoring Israel permanently is written in such a way that it’s impossible for us to deny without denying our own lives. Here it says that when the Sun, Moon and stars go out, then He would give up on Israel. Then He says if you can measure outer space and fully investigate the earth, then He would get rid of Israel. These words have specific application to us right now. They shame our culture on two fronts. First, God loves Israel so much that if they were not to survive, then the Sun and Moon might as well not be there and of course we wouldn’t be able to exist either. We are completely dependent on the operation of gravity and the heavenly bodies that the God who loves Israel put there. Also, If we think we are so knowledgeable about what God intends to do, why don’t we figure out how big the universe is first. Perhaps we should just fully understand the earth first. I sense sarcasm in God’s message that could be directed toward arrogant Gentiles. God will save Israel, and anyone who claims to believe in God, cannot logically disagree without doing damage to what they say they believe.