Day 206: The Portion of Jacob

Jeremiah 51:20-26

“You are my battle ax and weapons of war.
With you I will break the nations into pieces.
With you I will destroy kingdoms.
With you I will break in pieces
the horse and his rider.
With you I will break in pieces
the chariot and him who rides therein.
With you I will break in pieces
man and woman.
With you I will break in pieces
the old man and the youth.
With you I will break in pieces
the young man and the virgin.
With you I will break in pieces
the shepherd and his flock.
With you I will break in pieces
the farmer and his yoke.
With you I will break in pieces
governors and deputies.

“I will render to Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight,” says Yahweh.
“Behold, I am against you, destroying mountain,” says Yahweh,
“which destroys all the earth.
I will stretch out my hand on you,
roll you down from the rocks,
and will make you a burned mountain.
They won’t take a cornerstone from you,
nor a stone for foundations;
but you will be desolate forever,” says Yahweh.

I’m not completely sure about this, but my best estimation is that the first section of this passage is talking about Jesus. I considered the possibility that God was talking about how He used Babylon to crush the nations of the world, but in this part of Jeremiah’s prophesy, Babylon is also being destroyed. The key to my interpretation comes from the previous verses. In those verses, God began to talk about “The portion of Jacob” who “formed all things… Yahweh of Armies is his name.” The final book of the Bible tells us that Jesus will be the one who will “destroy kingdoms.” So I believe it’s pretty clear that this passage is where Jeremiah tells us about the coming Messiah that was to save Israel and destroy the nations that oppose her.

Then we read that Babylon will be completely destroyed and uninhabited. As I mentioned before, I don’t believe that this prophesy has happened yet. Some of it appears to have taken place, but I don’t see that the “desolate forever” part has happened yet.

This gives me an opportunity to talk about the hope that many Jews have concerning their Messiah today. The orthodox messianic Jews that I have heard about don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah at all. They are still waiting for the day that their Messiah comes and destroys Israel’s enemies. In a sense, they are actually still waiting for Jesus even though He came once already. I believe that they are correct to expect Our Messiah to come and destroy the nations, just as Jeremiah appears to be talking about here. The problem is that they have failed to recognize His first coming. God’s word actually tells us that Jesus is both the lion and the lamb. He came as a lamb first, but the lion is coming and He will set the politics of this world strait, just as the Jews expect.

Day 113: The Shepherd Becomes a Lion

Jeremiah 25:30-38

“Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and tell them,
“ ‘Yahweh will roar from on high,
and utter his voice from his holy habitation.
He will mightily roar against his fold.
He will give a shout, as those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
A noise will come even to the end of the earth;
for Yahweh has a controversy with the nations.
He will enter into judgment with all flesh.
As for the wicked, he will give them to the sword,” ’ says Yahweh.”

Yahweh of Armies says,
“Behold, evil will go out from nation to nation,
and a great storm will be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth.”
The slain of Yahweh will be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They won’t be lamented. They won’t be gathered or buried. They will be dung on the surface of the ground.
Wail, you shepherds, and cry.
Wallow in dust, you leader of the flock;
for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions have fully come,
and you will fall like fine pottery.
The shepherds will have no way to flee.
The leader of the flock will have no escape.
A voice of the cry of the shepherds,
and the wailing of the leader of the flock,
for Yahweh destroys their pasture.
The peaceful folds are brought to silence
because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.
He has left his covert, as the lion;
for their land has become an astonishment because of the fierceness of the oppression,
and because of his fierce anger.

When you become a fat, satisfied and rebellious sheep, it’s pretty easy to forget that if it were not for your shepherd, you wouldn’t survive long. One of the horrible things about our human nature, is that we can’t handle security and prosperity, that’s one thing we see when we look at a passage like this.

Israel had been given everything they had from God. They didn’t even build the cities that they aquired. God had protected them from the very beginning using supernatural means. They would not have even existed had God not taken them out of Egypt and then continued to protect them up to this point, but instead of being thankful and submissive to God, they became rebellious and challenged God. God had been a good shepherd to them up to this point, but their sin caused Him to make a change.

Jeremiah tells us that God had become angry and was about to roar like a lion at His own flock. I can’t think of anything more frightening than for a shepherd to become a lion. That sounds like something out of a nightmare, but that’s what the sins of Israel caused God to do. God cannot support sin and He was about to demonstrate that fact. Notice that God even says that “the leader of the flock will have no escape.” The people and the leader that God had put over them were going to be punished as if they were sheep being eaten by a lion.

So what are we to do about our problem as humans? Although it isn’t obvious in this passage, hope was on the way. God wasn’t merely delighting in the fact that humans are unable to do anything right. God was making it clear that we have a severe internal problem. We can’t prosper because we can’t stop sinning even under the best of conditions. When Jesus came, God brought our solution. He was able to change our ability to handle prosperity by removing the rebellion from our hearts. That doesn’t mean that we don’t continue fight it in our flesh, but God removed the root of the problem by causing us to be born again. Our Good Shepherd will never turn on us like a lion ever again.