Day 7: A God Forsaken Place

Lamentations 2:5-10 :

The Lord has become as an enemy.
He has swallowed up Israel.
He has swallowed up all her palaces.
He has destroyed his strongholds.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation in the daughter of Judah.

He has violently taken away his tabernacle,
as if it were a garden.
He has destroyed his place of assembly.
Yahweh has caused solemn assembly and Sabbath to be forgotten in Zion.
In the indignation of his anger, he has despised the king and the priest.

The Lord has cast off his altar.
He has abhorred his sanctuary.
He has given the walls of her palaces into the hand of the enemy.
They have made a noise in Yahweh’s house,
as in the day of a solemn assembly.

Yahweh has purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion.
He has stretched out the line.
He has not withdrawn his hand from destroying;
He has made the rampart and wall lament.
They languish together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground.
He has destroyed and broken her bars.
Her king and her princes are among the nations where the law is not.
Yes, her prophets find no vision from Yahweh.

The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground.
They keep silence.
They have cast up dust on their heads.
They have clothed themselves with sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.

One thing that the fall of Judah and Jerusalem shows us is what it is like to be forsaken by God. I’ve mentioned this before. It’s like experiencing a little bit of Hell. When God turns His back on you, you not only lose your access to God, as is expressed in the fact that Judah had no priests, but you also lose your government, which was expressed in the fact that Judah’s kings were taken into exile. Government may seem like a problem today, but let’s not forget that the absence of government is actually much worse. Government, even in its perverse form today, is still an extension of the hand of God. Even though justice is often poorly applied, it is still applied against many evil doers, even today. The same goes for religion. Because many are still allowed to live as Christians in peace, the 10 Commandments are still in operation among believers in the world. If God were to remove all government and all Christians, the world would experience the kind of Hell that Judah was experiencing here.

Another part of this horror was the fact that they stopped hearing the voice of God. His word was no longer being taught to the people. Proverbs reminds us of what this this is like. Let’s read that again:

Proverbs 20:20 :

Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in blackness of darkness.

It may not seem, like this proverb is talking about God’s word, but I believe that it is pretty clear. When you are cut off from your father and mother, you are cut off from the influence of God’s word in your life as a son or a daughter. The same thing happens when you are cut off from God. The worst thing that happens to you is that you lose your sense of direction. As rebellious human beings, we easily lose sight of the fact that God’s authority and God’s word are absolutely necessary for our well being. All God has to do is take those things away and it becomes painfully clear that we needed them all along.

Day 201: Five Swords and a Drought

Jeremiah 50:35-40

“A sword is on the Chaldeans,” says Yahweh,
“and on the inhabitants of Babylon,
on her princes,
and on her wise men.
A sword is on the boasters,
and they will become fools.
A sword is on her mighty men,
and they will be dismayed.
A sword is on their horses,
on their chariots,
and on all the mixed people who are in the middle of her;
and they will become as women.
A sword is on her treasures,
and they will be robbed.
A drought is on her waters,
and they will be dried up;
for it is a land of engraved images,
and they are mad over idols.
Therefore the wild animals of the desert
with the wolves will dwell there.
The ostriches will dwell therein.
It will be inhabited no more forever,
neither will it be lived in from generation to generation.
As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and its neighbor cities,” says Yahweh,
“so no man will dwell there,
neither will any son of man live therein.

Here we read that God used swords to bring Babylon down. In this prophesy, God applies His use of war as a punishment for their pride. He used it to bring down the ruling class and the intellectuals. He used it to bring down their war technology and their best fighting men. We are even informed that He used it against their “mixed peoples.” Perhaps, Babylon thought that “diversification” would protect them on the downside. Diversification doesn’t work when God is against you.

We also see here that God applies “a drought” as a result of their religious practices. God records here that the Babylonians were “mad over idols.” God cursed the city by predicting that it would one day remain uninhabited. When I looked at pictures of some of the remains of that old city, it appeared to me that there were still new buildings built around them. I don’t think that this prophesy has come true yet. When you look at the locations where Sodom and Gomorrah were, they really are desolate. It would appear to me that the ultimate end of Babylon is yet to come. Even so, ancient Babylon was taken over by the Medes and the Persians.

There are some things that we can learn from this passage and apply today. One is that war is something that God can use. God doesn’t use war for selfish human conquest. He uses it as a way to “clean up the neighborhood.” If war were to be irradiated in our world, it would mean that evil would run riot. To completely remove war and war technology would be to follow a Satanic path against God. Satan would be able to do whatever He wants. As we have been reading, we would be avoiding the clear teaching of the Bible to not see that God is a God of justice and purity. He will not allow sin to continue and will bring justice when the time is right.

Day 184: When God’s Sword Comes Out

Jeremiah 47:1-7

Yahweh’s word that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh struck Gaza.
Yahweh says:
“Behold, waters rise up out of the north,
and will become an overflowing stream,
and will overflow the land and all that is therein,
the city and those who dwell therein.
The men will cry,
and all the inhabitants of the land will wail.
At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong ones,
at the rushing of his chariots,
at the rumbling of his wheels,
the fathers don’t look back for their children
because their hands are so feeble,
because of the day that comes to destroy all the Philistines,
to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains;
for Yahweh will destroy the Philistines,
the remnant of the isle of Caphtor.
Baldness has come on Gaza;
Ashkelon is brought to nothing.
You remnant of their valley,
how long will you cut yourself?

“ ‘You sword of Yahweh, how long will it be before you are quiet?
Put yourself back into your scabbard;
rest, and be still.’

“How can you be quiet,
since Yahweh has given you a command?
Against Ashkelon, and against the seashore,
there he has appointed it.”

Perhaps one of the reasons that Pharaoh was feeling so confident in his conquest of Babylon was that he had already fulfilled this prophesy. Here we read that God had decided to have Egypt conquer the Philistines, including Gaza, Caphtor and Ashkelon. God had decided to give Pharaoh that victory but it could have been that he thought that it was his own hand that won the battles.

When we read the past about the Philistines in the Bible, we learn that they were a rough people. They weren’t afraid to burn people they didn’t like in their own houses. They were the ones who fought using the giant Goliath and who captured Samson, but here we read that they were to become so weak that the men wouldn’t have the strength to go back and save their own children. It’s clear that the Philistines didn’t think they needed God either and were usually quite willing to attack Israel and enslave them if possible. For a portion of Israel’s past, the Philistines were the ones in charge.

It’s kind of strange to have a prophet talk to God’s sword and ask when it is going to stop, and tell it to go back into its sheath. Jeremiah also asks the sword how it can be quiet when God has commanded it to attack. Perhaps the battle went on and on until the Philistines were finally destroyed. If I were in the area, I might be asking the same thing. It’s not unusual for us to ask God when He is going to relieve us of our pain, but the problem we see here is that neither Egypt or the Philistines were willing to respect God’s word. When people look to their own understanding of things instead of trusting in God’s word, they can expect God’s sword to eventually come out and bring the justice they deserve.

Day 163: Justice in the End

Jeremiah 39:11-14

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon commanded Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard concerning Jeremiah, saying, “Take him and take care of him. Do him no harm; but do to him even as he tells you.”

So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, Nebushazban, Rabsaris, and Nergal Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the chief officers of the king of Babylon sent and took Jeremiah out of the court of the guard, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should bring him home. So he lived among the people.

In American business today, there is a special position that is occasionally granted to certain employees. This position is called: “Fellow.” I understand that this can mean different things depending on the business, but in the technology world, it has often meant that a person in this position tells the business what to do, not the other way around. I see a parallel with what happened to Jeremiah once he was taken “captive” by Nebuchadnezzar and this position as “Fellow.” Nebuchadnezzar commanded his men to not harm Jeremiah but, instead, “do to him even has he tells you.” So, Jeremiah was taken out of custody and allowed to live “among the people.”

It’s wonderful that God allowed Jeremiah to have such a high level of freedom once he was taken captive by Babylon and to you and I it seems only right, but what does this say to us in our lives today? What we witness here is a situation in which Jeremiah’s own people treated him worse than their enemies! Israel’s enemies had to “save” Jeremiah from his own people. Is it possible that we might mistreat people like this today? Could it be that we may be doing wrong to fellow Christians in a way non-believers wouldn’t? Now, I’m not saying that we should tolerate sin. It’s actually the other way around. Jeremiah wasn’t tolerating sin and because he didn’t, he was being mistreated by his fellow “believers.” Notice that this mistreatment was promoted by the leadership. It’s important for the common people to take action in spite of the bad leadership even if we become poor. If we don’t, we also know what the end will likely be.

Notice that for many years, the way that God felt about things was invisible. It appeared that Jeremiah was wrong and the people of Israel were right. In the end, however, God revealed that Jeremiah was right and that the destitute in the land were being mistreated. God promoted the destitute and Jeremiah and destroyed everyone else. We can often get the wrong idea about what is right by making the wrong assumption about when the end is. The end of the matter was not during the reign of king Zedekiah. The end of the matter was after Nebuchadnezzar brought judgment. Even this is not the very end as we read back in the history books. God intended to bring Israel back after their hearts were softened.

Day 155: Mob Justice

Jeremiah 37:11-15

When the army of the Chaldeans had withdrawn from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, then Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to receive his portion there, in the middle of the people. When he was in Benjamin’s gate, a captain of the guard was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”

Then Jeremiah said, “That is false! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.”

But he didn’t listen to him; so Irijah seized Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. The princes were angry with Jeremiah, and struck him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe; for they had made that the prison.

It’s pretty obvious that this passage is relevant today. They had mobs back in Jeremiah’s day but they were nothing like the ones we have today. With the presence of world-wide social media, an accusation can turn into condemnation in a matter of seconds. I happen to live in an area in the United States in which this has happened multiple times in the last 20 years. In Jeremiah’s case, he was merely leaving town at a time when he could do business outside of the city. This appears to have been the business of acquiring the land that God told him to purchase. While he was doing that, he was falsely accused of attempting to defect to Babylon. Instead of being given a proper trial, they simply kidnapped him, beat him and locked him in jail.

There’s a lot of things for us to learn from these events. First of all, doing God’s will doesn’t always mean that you won’t be opposed or stay out of trouble. In this case, Jeremiah was completely obedient to God, yet he ended up being accused, beat and thrown in jail! Was this a sign that he was outside of God’s will? Absolutely not, but isn’t that what we think sometimes? We need to remember events like these when we go through trouble. We especially need to remember them when we are tempted to accuse other Christians of sin when things don’t go well for them. The Bible clearly illustrates the fact that good people often suffer persecution and it should be very obvious that this continues in our cultures today. Let’s remember what Jesus told us:

Luke 6:22-23

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude and mock you, and throw out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.

Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven, for their fathers did the same thing to the prophets.

Another important thing to pay attention to is that government officials and police have a very serious responsibility to follow the law and to not jump to conclusions based on appearances. Israeli law clearly stated that no one was to be accused without a proper trial, yet that’s exactly what happened to Jeremiah here. Ancient Israeli law actually forms the bases for our laws for trials today. Israel had these very laws already but they abandoned them in their own fear and passion. Any of us in positions of authority have the ability to do this whether we are managers, parents or older siblings. Let’s learn from this and stand up for justice. Let’s allow God to show us the facts before we jump to conclusions. Let’s also remember that social media is often used to slander people. This is a sin that actually keeps people from heaven. As I have mentioned before it’s right up there with all the other big ones like murder and sexual sins. Christians should have nothing to do with social media slander but should be a force of righteousness that moves people toward the proper methods of justice.

Day 134: The Reversal of the Captivity of Judah

Jeremiah 31:23-30

Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Yet again they will use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I reverse their captivity: ‘Yahweh bless you, habitation of righteousness, mountain of holiness.’ Judah and all its cities will dwell therein together, the farmers, and those who go about with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.”

On this I awakened, and saw; and my sleep was sweet to me.

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of animal. It will happen that, like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to overthrow and to destroy and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” says Yahweh. “In those days they will say no more,
“ ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
But everyone will die for his own iniquity. Every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.

You can imagine that Jeremiah had trouble sleeping. God had given him a horrible glimpse into the future; one that involved the annihilation of his people. God had also allowed him to be hated by his own people including being disowned by his own family members. He even had people who wanted to kill him, but it appears that the thing that really kept him up at night was the fact that God’s wonderful plan for Jerusalem and His people Israel was stopping. So, what we have in this chapter is God making it extremely clear that God’s plan for Jerusalem and for Israel was not coming to a complete end. In fact, God intended to make things much better. Here we read that this revelation made it into the heart of Jermiah because he wrote here: “On this I awakened, and saw; and my sleep was sweet to me.” God told Jeremiah that He intended to “reverse” the captivity of Judah. God even refers to himself as: “the God of Israel.” It wouldn’t make sense for God to refer to Himself as the God of those He rejects. Jeremiah was obviously very concerned about God’s people and God’s land and perhaps even panicked when he heard of God’s intention to destroy them. God made sure to help His prophet through these thoughts so that his mind would be at ease. This same God helps us in our times of distress too.

The next section of this passage tells us that the future kingdom of Israel will be governed differently. The current kingdom allowed the children of those who sinned to suffer for their father’s errors. This is clearly not God’s intention and I believe that this is caused by poor government leaders. The reason I make this assertion is because I believe that God is referring to the future messianic kingdom of Israel here. One of the amazing things about the reign of Jesus on earth will be the difference in the speed and precision of justice. The Bible tells us that Jesus will rule with a rod of iron. He won’t be a passive leader at all. The Bible indicates that sinners will get caught immediately under Jesus’ rule. This won’t allow children to be affected by their parent’s sin anymore. There won’t be time for them to learn how to sin from their parents before the parents are publicly exposed and shamed. This may not be what people are expecting of Jesus in His leadership role, but I don’t see how it could mean anything else at this point. I don’t believe that there will be “death row.” People will probably die the day after they murder someone else and children will be given good fathers in their place. It’s hard to imagine Jesus ruling in our time isn’t it? But we should spend some time considering it because Jesus will eventually rule over this sinful world. I may not be right about what this is referring to, but I do know that Jesus will return and rule over this earth for 1000 years and we will see justice like we have never seen before.

Day 111: Refusing to Listen to God

Jeremiah 25:7-14

“Yet you have not listened to me,” says Yahweh; “that you may provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own hurt.”

Therefore Yahweh of Armies says: “Because you have not heard my words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,” says Yahweh, “and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations around. I will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and a hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp. This whole land will be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

“It will happen, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,” says Yahweh, “for their iniquity. I will make the land of the Chaldeans desolate forever. I will bring on that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings will make bondservants of them, even of them. I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.”

The reason that I am so serious about going through the Bible like this, is because I can’t think of anything more important to people today. The reason that our world is suffering so much, is because people are continuing to avoid God’s word. It should not be a surprise to me that people will avoid my blog and Daily Bible Radio too because that’s what people tend to do to God’s word, but the reason I do it anyway is because the consequences are so high and this passage talks about that.

When we refuse to listen to the Bible, it’s a sign that there’s something else that we would rather have. We don’t want the Bible to tell us that we can’t have something we deeply desire, so we would rather provoke God to anger than to give up our sin. God makes it clear that it will be to our own hurt if we continue to live this way.

Then what we have are two examples of nations that refused to listen to God’s word. First, we have Israel. Because Israel stubbornly refused to listen to God, their cities were going to be deserted and become a national example of what happens when people decide to ignore God. Then we have the example of “the land of the Chaldeans.” Because Babylon also refused to follow God’s word, they would become “desolate forever.” It doesn’t matter if you are God’s favorite, like Israel was, or you are a nation of the world, God’s word cannot be avoided. I believe that this implies that the opposite is also true. Whether you are Israel, or another nation of the world, following God’s word will make your nation great.

We also have a very interesting detail about God’s world-wide control over all authority on earth. Notice that God says: “I will send to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon…” God took full responsibility for the actions of this foreign government official. There is a great deal more we learn about how God dealt with this man in the book of Daniel, but here we clearly see that God was in charge of Him. He even called this Gentile leader: “my servant”. It could be that Nebuchadnezzar became a follower of the God of Israel, but we also know that God claims to be over all kings on earth. Whether a king believes in Him or not, God is the one in charge of their actions because He is the highest authority and is the one who gives that authority to the nations. When those nations avoid His word, it eventually leads to their end.