Day 207: Valuing the Wrong Things

Jeremiah 51:27-33

“Set up a standard in the land!
Blow the trumpet among the nations!
Prepare the nations against her!
Call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz!
Appoint a marshal against her!
Cause the horses to come up as the swarming locusts!
Prepare against her the nations,
the kings of the Medes, its governors, and all its deputies, and all the land of their dominion!
The land trembles and is in pain;
for the purposes of Yahweh against Babylon stand,
to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without inhabitant.
The mighty men of Babylon have stopped fighting,
they remain in their strongholds.
Their might has failed.
They have become as women.
Her dwelling places are set on fire.
Her bars are broken.
One runner will run to meet another,
and one messenger to meet another,
to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken on every quarter.
So the passages are seized.
They have burned the reeds with fire.
The men of war are frightened.”

For Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel says:
“The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time when it is trodden.
Yet a little while, and the time of harvest comes for her.”

An amazing and unique thing about the Jews is that they got to read the news before it happened! They were privileged to know that some time after God gave them over to Babylon, Babylon would also be destroyed. They even knew how wide spread it would be and that it would involve the Medes. If God desires, we will eventually be reading the book of Daniel. We will get a little bit of an inside look into this history as it unfolds, but for now we are reading about what Israel was supposed to know beforehand.

I have been observing that many important things in our world are treated as if they are not important at all. As I consider some of those things, I’m actually astonished at myself and others. It’s pretty clear that we have either deceived ourselves about how things really are, or that someone else has helped produce that deception. As Christians we know the causes if we are studying our Bibles. In Jeremiah’s time, He was being mistreated by his own people. Instead of hanging on every word he spoke, they were locking him in jail and throwing him in a well. Jeremiah actually knew the future. Had they listened, they could have avoided the severe events that were going to change their lives forever. Somehow they were deceived into thinking that Jeremiah’s words weren’t that important. I see the same thing with how the Bible is being treated in Europe, Canada and the United States today.

There are a lot of English Bibles available. Not only are they in print, they are available for free on multiple web sites on the Internet. You can even listen to the Bible read to you for free. The western world is saturated with Bibles, yet it is pretty clear that most of the people in these cultures are not very interested in actually reading it. At the same time, there are people who don’t know how to read and others who don’t have a printed Bible available to them. They don’t have enough money to have the Internet. These people are longing for the same English Bibles that the western world is ignoring. Some of them would be happy to have a little piece of the English Bible available to them. Others don’t even have the Bible in a language that they understand at all. It’s important for us to remember the truth and snap out of the deception that keeps us from seeing the value of the words of God. They tell us about our future. If we don’t pay attention, the future will still come, but we may not be ready.

Day 204: A Culture that Refused to be Healed

Jeremiah 51:9-14

“We would have healed Babylon,
but she is not healed.
Forsake her,
and let’s each go into his own country;
for her judgment reaches to heaven,
and is lifted up even to the skies.
‘Yahweh has produced our righteousness.
Come, and let’s declare in Zion the work of Yahweh our God.’

“Make the arrows sharp!
Hold the shields firmly!
Yahweh has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes,
because his purpose is against Babylon, to destroy it;
for it is the vengeance of Yahweh,
the vengeance of his temple.
Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon!
Make the watch strong!
Set the watchmen,
and prepare the ambushes;
for Yahweh has both purposed and done
that which he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
You who dwell on many waters, abundant in treasures,
your end has come, the measure of your covetousness.
Yahweh of Armies has sworn by himself, saying,
‘Surely I will fill you with men,
as with locusts,
and they will lift up a shout against you.’

In this part of the prophesy against Babylon, God makes it clear that the Medes are to be the ones He will use to bring down Babylon. History tells us that this is exactly what happened, once again demonstrating that the Bible holds the very words of the God who cannot lie. That’s one of the most amazing things about the Bible. It is perched precariously on its claim of perfection. If it could ever be demonstrated that the Bible contained an error, the whole thing would have to be thrown out. With all of the enemies of the Bible, not a single error has been discovered. There are many who claim to have found an error, but every single one of those has been demonstrated to be an error in the human making the interpretation. This book is something to be feared. If the Bible predicts the destruction of a city or a nation, then it will be destroyed exactly as it predicts.

The first paragraph in this passage is very surprising to me. It appears to be saying that if Babylon had been willing, the Jews would have brought healing to it. In context, God appears to be telling us that Babylon chose to reject the teaching of men like Daniel. Then, the prophesy appears to be quoting the Jews as saying that they are returning to Israel. It also says that God produced their righteousness. I don’t think that I should make too much of the wording of this translation. Other translations, like the ISV say: “The Lord will vindicate us.” That’s quite a different idea than I get from the words in this translation, but isn’t it true that when people are against the truth about what we say, that it feels very dark and oppressive to us? There are many things in our cultures today that oppose the truth about what Jesus says to us through the Bible. We feel the pressure of those around us. If we could heal them, we would, but many of them refuse to be healed. Just like the Jews in those days, we also know that in the end, God will show everyone that we were right and the culture was wrong.