Day 209: The Danger of a Worldly Focus

Jeremiah 51:41-48

“How Sheshach is taken!
How the praise of the whole earth is seized!
How Babylon has become a desolation among the nations!
The sea has come up on Babylon.
She is covered with the multitude of its waves.
Her cities have become a desolation,
a dry land, and a desert,
a land in which no man dwells.
No son of man passes by it.
I will execute judgment on Bel in Babylon,
and I will bring out of his mouth that which he has swallowed up.
The nations will not flow any more to him.
Yes, the wall of Babylon will fall.

“My people, go away from the middle of her,
and each of you save yourselves from Yahweh’s fierce anger.
Don’t let your heart faint.
Don’t fear for the news that will be heard in the land.
For news will come one year,
and after that in another year news will come,
and violence in the land,
ruler against ruler.
Therefore behold, the days come that I will execute judgment on the engraved images of Babylon;
and her whole land will be confounded.
All her slain will fall in the middle of her.
Then the heavens and the earth,
and all that is therein,
will sing for joy over Babylon;
for the destroyers will come to her from the north,” says Yahweh.

An important thing for Christians to remember is that God calls us to focus on heavenly things and not on earthly things. Heavenly things are eternal, but earthly things are only temporary. I believe that this passage shows us that focusing on earthly things is also quite stressful on us as human beings. It’s like building your house in a place where a freeway is about to be built. Your house will be destroyed at some point in the future. Your trust in it would be poorly placed and at some point your stress is going to be more than you can handle. The reason I bring this up is because this passage tells us that Babylon became “the praise of the whole earth.” Everyone was talking about it. They thought that it was a strong foundation. Had you asked 9 out of 10 economists, they probably would have recommended investing in its economy.

From a heavenly perspective, Babylon was in serious trouble. Those who listened to the prophets of God would have had a heavenly perspective and would have known that Babylon was going to be completely destroyed. The stress for the believer was that they would have to get away from Babylon so as to not be destroyed with her. Jeremiah tells us why Babylon was so insecure. God was upset at “Bel” and about “the engraved images of Babylon.” Bel was a false god in Babylon. I understand that this is where the word: Belzebub originates. It appears that God recognized the worship of Bel as the force that swallowed up the nations. God was going to reverse that. God also intended to kill the people for following their idols.

In the end, the heavens and the earth would sing over Babylon’s destruction. This is very interesting to me because it reminds me that a world majority can follow after something that harms all of heaven and earth! A majority is not a protection at all. That’s what happens when we focus on this world instead of on heaven. Passages like these remind us that a majority belief held by corrupt human beings can actually be a warning sign. We need to listen to God’s prophets in the Bible so that we are ready for the horrible destruction to come.

Day 152: Tyranny and the Fear of God

Jeremiah 36:19-26

Then the princes said to Baruch, “You and Jeremiah go hide. Don’t let anyone know where you are.”

They went in to the king into the court, but they had laid up the scroll in the room of Elishama the scribe. Then they told all the words in the hearing of the king. So the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the room of Elishama the scribe. Jehudi read it in the hearing of the king, and in the hearing of all the princes who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, and there was a fire in the brazier burning before him. When Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. The king and his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, and didn’t tear their garments. Moreover Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. The king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet; but Yahweh hid them.

There’s a lot about these verses that are troubling because of how similar they are to things that I see happening in the United States and in the world today. Here we see that the king and his men took written words of God and attempted to destroy them, while the people and their princes respected God’s word and were afraid. It appears that evil men had taken hold of the highest positions of government, leaving the vast majority under their wicked domination. There were even princes of the people who feared God, yet the top levels of the government boldly opposed Him. It’s pretty obvious that these evil leaders had come to the conclusion that God didn’t have any real power to do anything against them. What I see is that evil usually has to force its will by taking over human governments. It appears that the common man and most leaders are able to fear God after hearing His word, but the most wicked are not moved. When those most wicked men take over the government at the highest level, the righteous men often have to hide, and that’s what Baruch and Jeremiah did.

There are some good things here. The fact that God gave Jeremiah and Baruch a chance to hide is one of them. Another good thing is that there were princes who did fear God. They must have known, however, that the king and his men didn’t because they told Baruch and Jeremiah to hide before they even went to the king. Could it be that the princes were aware of evil but were too afraid to oppose the king all this time? It’s interesting to me that so many common men and even leaders were able to fear God even during this time of God’s judgment. The Bible is clear that even in the very last days, this same kind of thing will happen. Even though the anti-christ will take power, he will kill huge numbers of believers during the great tribulation and many Israelis will go into hiding. Some will be protected by God in such a way that they won’t even have to hide. It would appear that the majority of the people were willing to fear God at this point. That causes me to think that a democratic form of government would have worked better in this situation. Even so, leaders would have to respect that form of government in order for it to work and when a tyrant takes over, they may claim to be democratic but actually work against it.

Day 62: God Takes Jeremiah’s Side

Jeremiah 12:5-13

“If you have run with the footmen,
and they have wearied you,
then how can you contend with horses?
Though in a land of peace you are secure,
yet how will you do in the pride of the Jordan?
For even your brothers, and the house of your father,
even they have dealt treacherously with you!
Even they have cried aloud after you!
Don’t believe them,
though they speak beautiful words to you.

“I have forsaken my house.
I have cast off my heritage.
I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me as a lion in the forest.
She has uttered her voice against me.
Therefore I have hated her.
Is my heritage to me as a speckled bird of prey?
Are the birds of prey against her all around?
Go, assemble all the animals of the field.
Bring them to devour.
Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard.
They have trodden my portion under foot.
They have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
They have made it a desolation.
It mourns to me, being desolate.
The whole land is made desolate,
because no one cares.
Destroyers have come on all the bare heights in the wilderness;
for the sword of Yahweh devours from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land.
No flesh has peace.
They have sown wheat,
and have reaped thorns.
They have exhausted themselves,
and profit nothing.
You will be ashamed of your fruits,
because of Yahweh’s fierce anger.”

It obviously doesn’t matter whether or not you are a majority if God decides to be on your side. It’s fascinating to me but it appears that what we have here is God agreeing with the horrible position the Jeremiah finds himself in. He appears to be saying that if you are being overpowered by common soldiers, how will you be able to deal with the more advanced weapons when they are leveled against you? He appears to be talking about Jeremiah’s family compared to those in Judah who weren’t in his family. Even Jeremiah’s own family was against him but they were talking to him as if they were being nice. This really made God angry and He goes on describing the great horror that He was going to bring on them and all of Judah.

I believe that God wants us to realize that when we suffer, He really suffers with us. When we represent him and we are persecuted, God is also being persecuted. He takes it personally and the difference is, He has all the power to do something about it. God is not aloof when it comes to our suffering. He is participating and here we read He even comments about it. He may use it as a reason for His acts of wrath against those who do evil. We see this in Jesus’ words to Saul when he was blinded on the road to Damascus.

Acts 9:4-6

He fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

He said, “Who are you, Lord?”

The Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise up, and enter into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Remember, Saul was persecuting Christians. He wasn’t persecuting Jesus directly, but Jesus took it personally. It appears to me that God did the same thing with Jeremiah, and it just made things worse for Judah. They made God more willing to bring wrath on them by how they treated the prophets. We can be sure that when we feel pain, God does too. When we are sad, so is He. He may even be making comments about it like He did here to Jeremiah. When that happens, it doesn’t matter if you are the only one doing right on the earth. Only those on God’s side are going to win.