Day 203: Not Forsaken

Jeremiah 51:1-8

Yahweh says:
“Behold, I will raise up against Babylon,
and against those who dwell in Lebkamai, a destroying wind.
I will send to Babylon strangers, who will winnow her.
They will empty her land;
for in the day of trouble they will be against her all around.
Against him who bends, let the archer bend his bow,
also against him who lifts himself up in his coat of mail.
Don’t spare her young men!
Utterly destroy all her army!
They will fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
and thrust through in her streets.
For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God,
by Yahweh of Armies;
though their land is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.

“Flee out of the middle of Babylon!
Everyone save his own life!
Don’t be cut off in her iniquity,
for it is the time of Yahweh’s vengeance.
He will render to her a recompense.
Babylon has been a golden cup in Yahweh’s hand,
who made all the earth drunk.
The nations have drunk of her wine;
therefore the nations have gone mad.
Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed!
Wail for her!
Take balm for her pain.
Perhaps she may be healed.

When I read this passage, I remember the words that Jesus said:

Matthew 7:2

For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.

In this prophesy, God tells us that Babylon was to receive arrows just as they gave them out. They were also to receive battle against those who wear coats of mail, have their young men cut down, and be attacked by people from far away. God was going to give back to them what they gave to His people Israel, but the most amazing thing I read here is what God said after that.

God said: “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, by Yahweh of Armies; though their land is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.” This may be the most clear and obvious passage that directly opposes replacement theology. That’s the belief that the Church replaces Israel and has now obtained all of her promises. The typical argument that I hear is that the Church has been given Israel’s promises because Israel was unfaithful to God. That argument is directly refuted here. God doesn’t give to Israel according to her deeds. God’s promise to be faithful to Israel does not depend on Israel’s performance. The reason that I bring this up over and over again, is because this is a Gospel issue. If God’s faithfulness depended on man’s performance, then salvation is based on man. The true and only Gospel teaches us that it is not by man’s performance at all, but by God’s faithfulness alone that we are saved.

The last few verses here should sound pretty familiar. That’s because something very similar is written again in the last book of the Bible. Many prophesies in the Bible have an immediate application as well as a future one. A surprising fact about the Bible is that Babylon is one of the biggest subjects. For a city that doesn’t even exist today, that’s kind of peculiar. Obviously, the old city of Babylon was destroyed many years ago, but what that nation started in the world is still alive and well. Babylon loved idols and was proud against God and it was eventually destroyed. It stands as a symbol of what is about to happen to all who have followed her ways.

Day 130: Survival in the Wilderness

Jeremiah 31:1-6

“At that time,” says Yahweh, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”

Yahweh says, “The people who survive the sword found favor in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.”

Yahweh appeared of old to me, saying,
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.
I will build you again,
and you will be built, O virgin of Israel.
You will again be adorned with your tambourines,
and will go out in the dances of those who make merry.
Again you will plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria.
The planters will plant,
and will enjoy its fruit.
For there will be a day that the watchmen on the hills of Ephraim cry,
‘Arise! Let’s go up to Zion to Yahweh our God.’ ”

This writing is still very mysterious to me but I see a correlation to parts of the Bible that are much less mysterious. If I am right about the previous passage’s relating to the “Day of the Lord,” then this passage is merely a continuation of the discussion about the Israelis living at that time.

It does fit that this is talking about the same things. We read more detail about that time in the book of Revelation. In that book, God reveals that there will come a time in which a part of Israel will hide from the terror of a wicked world leader. At first they think he’s good, but they suddenly discover that he is the worst of the worst.

Revelation 12:13-14

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

As you can see this passage uses symbolic language and if God allows us to make it all the way to Revelation, I intend to discuss it more, but for now, it’s important to know that the dragon is understood to be Satan and the woman the Israelis. At that time, these Israelis will run away “into the wilderness to her place.” So, God has planned a place to protect the Israelis from this evil in the wilderness and they will survive.

It’s also good to understand the part at the end of our passage, that talks about people from Ephriam and Samaria, delighted to go up to Zion. People living back at the time of Jeremiah and even up to now, know that this is not something that one would expect. If you remember back to what we read in the history of Israel, the nation split into two parts. The northern part set up its capitol in Samaria and that was the place where people from that part of the country were told to worship God instead of Jerusalem. The woman at the well in the book of John actually mentions this issue. Here we read that the people from Samaria will again long to go to Jerusalem to worship which is quite a departure. A day is coming when Israel will be united again and will have one king who will rule from Jerusalem. Israel will be at peace and will live happily ever after, but only after a false king attempts to rule there first.

Day 129: In the Latter Days You Will Understand

Jeremiah 30:18-24

Yahweh says:
“Behold, I will reverse the captivity of Jacob’s tents,
and have compassion on his dwelling places.
The city will be built on its own hill,
and the palace will be inhabited in its own place.
Thanksgiving will proceed out of them
with the voice of those who make merry.
I will multiply them,
and they will not be few;
I will also glorify them,
and they will not be small.
Their children also will be as before,
and their congregation will be established before me.
I will punish all who oppress them.
Their prince will be one of them,
and their ruler will proceed from among them.
I will cause him to draw near,
and he will approach me;
for who is he who has had boldness to approach me?” says Yahweh.
“You shall be my people,
and I will be your God.
Behold, Yahweh’s storm, his wrath, has gone out,
a sweeping storm:
it will burst on the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of Yahweh will not return until he has accomplished,
and until he has performed the intentions of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it.”

At the time that I make this, Israel is its own country and is in its own land, yet, I can’t say that it is ruled by a prince who has the boldness to approach God Himself. It’s clear to me that this passage is, once again, talking about the very last days when Jesus Himself rules in Israel. The Bible makes it clear all over, including Daniel, Jesus’ words about the end in Matthew and Luke, and in the book of Revelation, that a time of great distress will come at the very end. This is the time when Jesus will have vengeance on a world that has rejected God and Him as their savior. It’s the time of God’s “fierce anger.” It’s difficult to find a time in the Bible that is discussed more than this one. God doesn’t want people to go through this time and has given us all a way to escape it if we will believe Him.

The book of Revelation is especially clear about this time in history. In it we read that God will first build up the people who have rejected Him and then, suddenly, unleash His wrath against them all. In the process, Jesus will kill all of His enemies and free the group of His people, Israel, that believe in Him and are in hiding. The book of Revelation is very clear that there will be a world war against Israel at one point. Jesus will destroy an enormous army and their leader and usher in world peace, making Israel the world capitol. As we read back in Isaiah, Israelis will be shipped at the expense of the other nations, back to Israel to live and serve in this now great country.

I like how this passage tells us that we will understand it “in the latter days.” It’s difficult to imagine a day when God’s way is the only way that anyone wants to go. Rebellion against God is the rule of our time, but in that day we will understand.