Day 214: A Couple of Things to Remember

Jeremiah 52:12-23

Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, who stood before the king of Babylon, came into Jerusalem. He burned Yahweh’s house, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, he burned with fire. All the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the poorest of the people, and the rest of the people who were left in the city, and those who fell away, who defected to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vineyard keepers and farmers.

The Chaldeans broke the pillars of bronze that were in Yahweh’s house and the bases and the bronze sea that were in Yahweh’s house in pieces, and carried all of their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the basins, the spoons, and all the vessels of bronze with which they ministered. The captain of the guard took away the cups, the fire pans, the basins, the pots, the lamp stands, the spoons, and the bowls; that which was of gold, as gold, and that which was of silver, as silver.

They took the two pillars, the one sea, and the twelve bronze bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made for Yahweh’s house. The bronze of all these vessels was without weight. As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a line of twelve cubits encircled it; and its thickness was four fingers. It was hollow. A capital of bronze was on it; and the height of the one capital was five cubits, with network and pomegranates on the capital all around, all of bronze. The second pillar also had the same, with pomegranates. There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates were one hundred on the network all around.

It’s pretty obvious that the Chaldeans wanted the gold, silver and bronze more than they wanted the presence of the God of Israel to be near to them. That’s what I discern when I consider the fact that they broke the columns up into pieces. It says here that they took “that which was of gold, as gold, and that which was of silver, as silver.” It’s as if the gold and silver were more important than the God whose temple the gold and silver was used for.

There is an apparent difference between the numbers of pomegranates on the capitals on the columns between Jeremiah 52 and 2 Chronicles 4. Jeremiah says that there were only 100 pomegranates per network and Chronicles says that there were twice as many. I believe that the problem is solved when you consider the difference between “rows” and “networks” in the two passages. Jeremiah may have been referring to each row as a network, whereas Ezra may have been referring to two rows as a network. So, there would have been 200 in Ezra’s network and 100 in Jeremiah’s. This is actually a powerful confirmation of the perspectives of two witnesses. It’s unclear to me what Jeremiah meant by saying that there were 96 pomegranates on a side. That depends on how much you could see from any one side. I am not willing to worry about doing a computer model of the column to see how much could be seen, but I would imagine that someone in Jerusalem has. It may tell us more about the curvature of the column than anything else.

I see to things to remember from this. First, God is always more important than any earthly thing. Materialism is a serious form of idolatry, especially here in the United States. Remember what Jesus said:

Matthew 23:16-17

“Woe to you, you blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?

The second is to remember that the Bible claims to define the truth. Before we assume that there is a mistake in it, we must consider it as a standard, which means that we need to see if there is a way in which apparent differences actually fit together. In this case, it would make sense for there to be two separate perspectives of the same information from two witnesses. This may give us a better understanding of the facts when we put the two testimonies together. If you have watched or read a court case mystery before, you probably know what I’m talking about. Missing information is often the thing that causes us to make a poor assumption based on mere evidence.

Day 169: What Can We Learn from This?

Jeremiah 41:11-18

But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon. Now when all the people who were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were with him, then they were glad. So all the people who Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah turned about and came back, and went to Johanan the son of Kareah. But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the children of Ammon.

Then Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces who were with him took all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after he had killed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam—the men of war, with the women, the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought back from Gibeon. They departed and lived in Geruth Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor over the land.

Everything that happens, and everything God has written into His book, is done for a reason. One of the mysteries for me is attempting to discover what those reasons are. In this passage we are told that Johanan was able to go after Ishmael and recover the Jews and others he had kidnapped. That is great, but why did God want us to know all of this? Why did he put this strange set of events into the Bible for all of us to read?

One thing that this reminds me of is that anything can happen. Some important and life-changing events cannot be planned for. I have noticed that my world tries to convince me that my destiny is my choice, but it really isn’t. I think that the poorer we are the less we believe in the idea that we make our own destiny. Perhaps age helps too. The only way to successfully plan your own future is to trust in God and what He says about us. I think that this is probably the reason why God is telling us these things. As we study these events in Jeremiah, we will find that it leads to a faith issue. Does this remnant really believe in God’s word and what He says about them, or are they still trying to make their own way?

Our fears often expose our faith. After Johanan retrieved his people from Ishamael, he was too afraid to go back tho Mizpah. He was afraid that Ishmael’s assassination of Gedaliah had harmed his relationship with the Chaldeans. We are told here that he was staying near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt. It would appear that he was thinking that Egypt would protect them from Babylon. Do you see a problem with this? Where’s God in all of this? Could it be that this is one reason that God has these events in the Bible for us today? I think you will probably agree that it is as we go on.