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 196: Prophesies of the Return of Israel

Jeremiah 50:1-7

The word that Yahweh spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet.
“Declare among the nations and publish,
and set up a standard;
publish, and don’t conceal;
say, ‘Babylon has been taken,
Bel is disappointed,
Merodach is dismayed!
Her images are disappointed.
Her idols are dismayed.’
For a nation comes up out of the north against her,
which will make her land desolate,
and no one will dwell in it.
They have fled.
They are gone,
both man and animal.

“In those days, and in that time,” says Yahweh,
“the children of Israel will come,
they and the children of Judah together;
they will go on their way weeping,
and will seek Yahweh their God.
They will inquire concerning Zion with their faces turned toward it,
saying, ‘Come, and join yourselves to Yahweh in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten.’
My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have caused them to go astray.
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill.
They have forgotten their resting place.
All who found them have devoured them.
Their adversaries said, ‘We are not guilty,
because they have sinned against Yahweh,
the habitation of righteousness,
even Yahweh, the hope of their fathers.’

When I read prophesies about the destruction of Babylon in the Bible, it is very difficult for me to determine what part of history they are referring to. In a political and spiritual sense, Babylon is still not destroyed. The land where the ancient city once was, is desolate today, however. I am told that in recent times, Saddam Hussein attempted to rebuild the city of Babylon, but I was also told that he chose not to build it in exactly the same location, but it is obvious that even Hussein’s attempt to rebuild it failed. Here in Jeremiah, the prophesy appears to be connected with the Jews chance to leave Babylon. We know from other prophesies that this started with Cyrus. He was an emperor that ruled after Babylon was taken over by the Persians. As I mentioned before, it was a miracle of God that Cyrus was named in Isaiah’s prophesy as the one who would be used by God to cause Israel to return to the land.

This passage is less obvious, however, because of the words that come next. It’s almost as if Jeremiah’s prophesy blends thousands of years of the future into a single passage. When I read things like this, I have to admit that I get pretty confused, but at a high level, the message is comforting. It shows us that God had a plan that He was willing to share with Israel, that they would someday return to their land. This passage also reveals the hearts of those who would return. It says that “they will go on their way weeping, and will seek Yahweh their God.” That’s something that did happen when the Jews rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, but perhaps Jeremiah is talking about what will happen in a more pure way after the Messiah is received by Israel. That hasn’t happened yet, so this passage may be talking about things that are still in the future.

Day 153: It’s Usually Better the Second Time

Jeremiah 36:27-32

Then Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah, after the king had burned the scroll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, “Take again another scroll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. Concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Yahweh says: “You have burned this scroll, saying, “Why have you written therein, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cause to cease from there man and animal?’ ” ’ Therefore Yahweh says concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: “He will have no one to sit on David’s throne. His dead body will be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. I will punish him, his offspring, and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them, but they didn’t listen.” ’ ”

Then Jeremiah took another scroll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.

I believe that there is a very real possibility that Satan thought that he had won at this point. It appeared that he actually got God to curse the line of the Messiah. God had promised that there would always be a king on David’s throne, but here, God actually declares that Jehoiakim will never have a descendent on the throne. This actually became a very serious issue. How was God going to save Israel now?

There’s another issue that causes difficulties in the New Testament. Have you ever noticed that the genealogies for Jesus are different in Matthew and in Luke? It has been determined that the one in Matthew follows the genealogy of Joseph and the one in Luke follows Mary’s genealogy. Did you also notice that one of Joseph’s ancestors is none other than Jeconiah which was Jehoiakim’s son? Well, God walked around the problem with ease. He caused Mary, who was also a blood relative of David, to conceive without the help of Joseph and then had Joseph adopt Jesus. God left the genealogies in His word for us to figure out later. So Jesus was a blood relative of David and a rightful heir to the throne of Israel through Joseph! As you can see, God is in the details.

God also walked around the problem that Jehoiakim produced by burning God’s word. He simply had Jeremiah do it again, only this time, Jehoiakim was cursed and “many similar words were added” to the new book. The new edition was an expanded edition! As a side note, I discovered this principle as a software engineer. There were times when we had to re-make a software system and I don’t remember a time when the second system wasn’t an improvement on the first. God has a way of doing that through us. We don’t need to worry when it seems that all hope is lost. When God is in charge, it just means that something better is about to happen.

Day 6: The Witness

John 1:6-9 : There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

It’s good to note that the “John” in this passage is not the one who is writing. This is talking about the one known as “John the Baptist.” He was the a prophet just like the Old Testament prophets that God sent. His special purpose was to point the way to Jesus and John talks quite a bit more about it later.

The John who writes makes it clear that John the Baptist, was not “the light.” In other words, John the Baptist should not be confused with Jesus. John was not the light, he was just a man. It’s very important for all of us to remember that we are not the light either. We are just people. If we want to “shine” we need first to come to Jesus and then rely on His power as believers every day.

It’s worth noting that God likes to send people to “testify” about Jesus. As Christians we have been given a similar duty. Jesus sent all of us, much like God sent John.

We also read that the light of Jesus was meant for everyone. It really is a great thing to think about because up to this point, Judaism was only for Jews and those who were willing to become Jews. I think that many assumed that the Messiah would only be for the Jews. God had a plan for the whole world to see the light and this is truly one of the most surprising and wonderful aspects of this new light. It was certainly good news to those of us who were Gentiles.

John covers all of these things in more detail later.