My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ezekiel 4

Toy seiges and side-lying

God told Ezekiel to make a little model of Jerusalem, and make little models of seige works and to lay seige to his model. God then told him to lie on his side for 390 days, one day to bear the sin for each year of Israel's sin. Then he would lie 40 days on his other side, one day for each year of Judah's sin. During this time you will eat food cooked on poo. Dirty dirty poo, because Jerusalem would eat defiled food. Ezekiel protested, so God let him use cow poo, rather than man poo.

Jerusalem will run out of food

Key verse:
4. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side.

My thoughts:
Do you sometime wish you were one of the Biblical heroes? You'd be remembered and praised for eternity. But recognition like that must come at a cost. Ezekiel's cost is described here. It certainly isn't easy doing God's work, and this is truly extreme. It makes us feel inadequate for what we do to see change in this world.

I also like the picture of some crazy prophet making a little model battle against Jerusalem. That wouldn't be that bad.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ezekiel 3

Ezekiel's training

So Ezekiel ate the scroll, and it tasted sweet. God told him to speak to Israel - a people he wouldn't have to learn a new language for. Though if God has sent him to another nation, they probably would've listened.

The Spirit lifted Ezekiel up, and Ezekiel wept and was put down in Tel-Aviv and he sat with the exiles there for 7 days, overwhelmed. After 7 days, God told Ezekiel that it was his burden to speak what God told him. If he didn't, the continued sin would be on Ezekiel. If he did say God's word, it didn't matter if the sin was repented from or not, Ezekiel would be clean. God then sent Ezekiel into a plain, where Ezekiel met God and fell facedown. God told Ezekiel that he would be tied up in his house, unable to move or speak, but when it is God's will for him to move or speak, he would be able to.

Key verse:
18. When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.

My thoughts:
When I read this, I think about our burden to speak the gospel to people. The most important thing isn't actually how people respond, but the fact that we share the gospel. If we live our life without sharing the gospel then we ourselves could potentially be culpable for the fate of others.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ezekiel 2

Mmmm... Scrollicious

God told him to stand, so the Spirit lifted him up. God sent him to stubborn Israel. They may or may not listen, but Ezekiel will be a prophet to them. He was not to fear, and was told to eat a scroll of laments.

Key verse:
9. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

My thoughts:
It appears that by eating the scroll, Ezekiel is being given the words to speak to Israel, and they aren't happy words.

Most of the prophets have a very definite call from God, and Ezekiel is no exception.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ezekiel 1

Crazy animals

Ezekiel saw a vision in the exile. He saw a storm, and in the fire of the storm there were four bizarre living creature who went straight ahead. They had four faces and four wings each.

Each face was of a different animal, and they went wherever the Spirit went. Each creature had a magnificent wheel following them around. It was more like a wheel intersecting a wheel. Their spirit was in the wheels.

A voice came from above them, from a radiant man on a throne, and Ezekiel fell facedown.

Key verse:
28. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

My thoughts:
This is pretty darn trippy... It certainly reads like an eye-witness account.

There's much that could be said about the content of this vision, but there always seem to be common features of apocalyptic visions of heaven. For some reason I really like this chapter and it's descriptions. Maybe because it shows the mystery and awesomeness of God.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lamentations 5


Don't forget us God. We're like orphans. Water ain't free. We beg Assyria and Egypt for bread. We are bearing our father's sins. We are dying from hunger. Our women are raped and our leaders are hung. Our majesty is gone. Don't forget us, but restore us, unless your anger cannot cease.

Key verse:
21. Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old

My thoughts:
I wonder how often these passages got recalled during the holocaust. When I read these passages of hunger my mind fills with those images of the starving Jews in concentration camps.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lamentations 4

There's children getting diseases from monkeys. Yea... that's what I said...

Gold has become worthless, and our once golden sons are wasted. No-one cares to feed the children. No-one is rich. At least Sodom got to die quickly. Mothers are eating their children. Everyone thought Jerusalem was secure, but no. It's leaders sins have caused this, and now the leaders are rejected as unclean. God doesn't care. We've been hunted. We're supposed to be God's anointed! The surrounding nations may rejoice now, but their time will come too, and God won't be so forgiving with them.

Key verse:
22. O Daughter of Zion, your punishment will end;
he will not prolong your exile.
But, O Daughter of Edom, he will punish your sin
and expose your wickedness.

My thoughts:
In the midst of Jerusalem's most shameful moment, they still can't help but have a go at their neighbours! Rivalry aye!

Living in the Jerusalem seige must've truly been horrible.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lamentations 3

Never-ending compassion

I know what suffering is. God has forced me into the darkness. He's fought against me and afflicted my body. I can't escape and he ignores my prayer. He's like an animal waiting to pounce. All my plans are gone. When I remember my hardship, I'm gutted.

But I have hope. God's love doesn't end, and his mercy is new every morning. He is good, and if you wait he will save you. He doesn't reject forever. He brings grief, but shows compassion. You can't deny someone their rights and expect God not to notice. You can't do anything unless God lets you. God brings good and bad. We can't complain if he punishes our sin.

Let's repent entirely. Let us accept that God has trampled us underfoot. I will cry until God notices.

I remember being thrown into the pit. It thought I was dead, but I called to God, and he saved me. You've seen my enemies, God. Repay them for their sins.

Key verses:
22-23. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

My thoughts:

It is important to know that God is loving and just and compassionate, even in to midst of sin and suffering.

The recalled experience of the pit could be referring to when Jeremiah was cast into the cistern, if the traditional connection is maintained.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lamentations 2

Our enemy

God has covered Jerusalem with his anger. He has shown no mercy. He has cut off her leaders, and has been ready to kill. He might as well be an enemy. He was determined to tear down his own altar, and his city's wall. No-one can do what they want to do, and I want to cry. Everyone is hungry. The prophets are no good. Your enemies mock you, and this is all part of God's plans. Everyone's just crying.

God! Why haven't you done this to anyone else? Every's just dying. No-one can escape.

Key verse:
20. Look, O Lord, and consider:
Whom have you ever treated like this?

My thoughts:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lamentations 1

Poor Jerusalem...

The city is deserted like a widow. She cries. Judah is in exile. The highways weep, because no-one travels them to go to Jerusalem's festivals. She is controlled by others and has lost her beauty. Jerusalem remembers her hey-day, but is mocked for her sin. She was filthy and didn't plan ahead. Her people look for food, and she wonders why no-one helps her. She knows God is against her.

No-one comforts her. She knows she betrayed God, and her friends betrayed her. She wants God to deal with her enemies wickedness too!

Key verse:
22. Let all their wickedness come before you;
deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my sins.

My thoughts:
I don't know too much about Lamentations. It's traditionally associated with Jeremiah, but modern scholarship doesn't put much weight behind this association. It's third chapter is most often quote, because the other four chapters are just full of depressing lamentation, but chapter three is all about hope (well, half of it). The entire book certainly isn't all about hope, but that's not what church-goers particularly want to hear.

If I remember rightly, chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 have 22 verses each, and chapter 3 (the middle chapter/hope chapter/climax) is a triple stanza of 66 verses. However, each verse is shorter in chapter three, so it turns out about the same. This is obviously deliberately structured.

Though admittedly the chapter divisions have nothing to do with the original script. Perhaps I have to look into that further...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jeremiah 52

Fall of Jerusalem... again...

Zedekiah ruled eleven years and was evil. Jerusalem was under seige for it's last two years, after which, Babylon broke through the walls. Judah's army fled, but Babylon chased them down, killed Zedekiah's sons before him and gouged out his eyes and led him by chains to Babylon, where he died.

The Babylonians broke all the good buildings including the temple, but left the poor to work the vineyards. The priests were captured too. 4,600 people were exiled.

After 37 years in exile, the new Babylonian king released Jehoiachin, the last Davidic king, and gave him an honoured seat at his table.

Key verse:
31. In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month.

My thoughts:
Jeremiah ends with hope, as the Davidic king is released.

4,600 seems a very low number to me. It appears that quite a significant Jewish community developed in Babylon, and I would've thought this number would've been higher. It does highlight how much of a remnant this is though. If you look through the deuteronomistic history, they leave the desert in Deuteronomy with close to 2 million people, and are finally exiled here at the end (Jeremiah is connected with the deuteronomistic history) with 4,600.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jeremiah 51

Babylonia II

Babylon will be destroyed. Judah will not be forsaken. Babylon is unhealable. God's purpose will be done, so attack Babylon! God made the freaken earth! Compared to him, us people are dumb. God is not like our idols. God is our everything.

Messenger upon messenger tells of Babylon's destruction. They will be repaid for their violence. God will look after Judah and Babylon's gods will be shamed. Don't fear, the world will rejoice at Babylon's fall.

Jeremiah sent an official to annouce these words in Babylon

Key verse:
64. The words of Jeremiah end here.

My thoughts:
They certainly do.

It's somewhat fitting that after an entire book of Jeremiah's prophecies of Judah being handed to Babylon, Jeremiah clarifies that Babylon isn't exactly in God's good books, and cannot get away with destroying God's people.

Otherwise a boring and repetitive dumb chapter. :D

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Jeremiah 50


Babylon and her gods will be ashamed. She'll be attacked from the north, and Judah will seek God and form an eternal covenant. God's people have been lost, but now they can flee Babylon. God is rising a northern alliance against Babylon. This is because God is angry. Show her no mercy.

Assyria and Babylon have shamed Israel, but they will be shamed. Israel will be restored and be innocent. They will destroy who God tells them to destroy. Completely destroy Babylon!

I am against the arrogant, says God. Israel is weak, but their God is strong. Babylon is cursed. Her king fears his fate. The whole world will hear Babylon's cry.

Key verse:
41. Look! An army is coming from the north;
a great nation and many kings
are being stirred up from the ends of the earth.

My thoughts:
I believe Babylon is destroyed by the Persians, and the Persians by Alexander the Great. Babylon may've been God's instrument against Israel, but God was still against Babylon, as is clearly shown here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jeremiah 49

The nations

Is Israel so useless that they their cities are full of Ammonites? Your days are numbered, Ammon. God will be against you and you'll be destroyed.

Edom isn't wise anymore. They have to hide from God, but God will take their hiding places away. But the widows and orphans will be fine. Enough people suffer undeservedly, so you will certainly suffer, because you deserve it. You will become disgusting and terrorised. No-one can stop God. Edom will fall like a giant.

Damascus is weak and will be destroyed.

Kedar and Hazor will be attacked by Babylon, plundered and destroyed.

Elam's strength will go and they will be exiled. God will set his throne there, and will later restore Elam.

Key verse:
18. As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown,
along with their neighboring towns,"
says the Lord,
"so no one will live there;
no man will dwell in it.

My thoughts:
Gutted to be these nations.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jeremiah 48


Moab's cities will be destroyed, and Moab won't be praised anymore. Run for your lives! She'll be destroyed. No-one will escape and she'll be desolate. Those who don't do God's killing will be cursed. Moab is like a dreg of wine, so insignificant that no-one has yet bothered to pour her out, but she will be now. It's coming quickly, so get ready to mourn.

Moab has no leaders and is a joke. Let her wallow in her own drunken vomit. You used to be so proud over Israel, but you have fallen so low. There will be no more offerings from Moab.

Jeremiah mourns for Moab. There is no joy anymore. But her destruction is because she went against God. They can't even flee. But God will restore Moab.

Key verse:
47. "Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
in days to come,"
declares the Lord.
Here ends the judgment on Moab.

My thoughts:
Gosh! What a long and repetitive chapter!

Poor Moab... I love the one-line redemption, after the 46 verse curse!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jeremiah 47


The north will overflow all, and you will hear the sound of their war-horses. The Philistines will be destroyed forever finally! Gaza will cry, hoping for God to stop killing.

Key verse:
4. For the day has come
to destroy all the Philistines
and to cut off all survivors

My thoughts:
The Philistines were a real threat and problem for Israel from when they entered Canaan through to the early kings. However, since then, they had diminished in importance and only a remnant of their power remained.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jeremiah 46


Jeremiah began prophesying about the nations, starting with Egypt.

Egypt, get ready for battle. They are terrified. Egypt rises up like the Nile. But Egypt's conquest is really God's. It is a sacrifice made to him.

You're about to be attacked, Egypt. You will stumble and be attacked. You will be humiliated. Egypt and her gods will be punished.

Israel will be disciplined, but not destroyed.

Key verse:
22. Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent
as the enemy advances in force;
they will come against her with axes,
like men who cut down trees.

My thoughts:
Hmm... I dunno if the first part of this chapter is talking Egypt up or not. It confuses me.

I'm less than a month behind! w00t!

It just dawned on me that sometimes Malachi has 3 chapter, and sometimes the 3rd chapter is split in two. So now I'm not sure if there are 1189 chapters in the Bible anymore... Hmmm...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jeremiah 45


Back in the day, Baruch was concerned about his life, and Jeremiah told him not to have high ambitions. God was destroying, but Baruch would escape with his life.

Key verse:
5. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.

My thoughts:
Short chapter

Ok, after a long continuous chronological narrative, we now jump back decades before the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah is not chronological.

I don't know what to make of the key verse.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jeremiah 44

The End of Egypt

Jeremiah prophesied to the remnant, and told them that Judah was in ruins because they had followed other gods. As the remnant they should follow idols and other gods if they want to continue to exist. The remnant who went to Egypt will be destroyed.

The people protested, wanting to worship the goddess. They believed that their suffering was due to the cessation of their offerings to the goddess. Jeremiah saw that they were determined and prophesied that God had cut himself off from them, and was now against them. God's sign for this was that the Pharoah would be defeated by Babylon.

Key verse:
17. We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm.

My thoughts:
It's actually quite rare for the Jews in the Bible to openly declare that they didn't want God anymore. Normally they'd secretly know that they should worship Yahweh, but struggled to do it in practice. In this case, where they openly confess their contempt towards Yahweh, Yahweh sets himself clearly against them.

The fact that Egypt was to be conquered would be a big call for the time. The people would have been intelligent to be confident of Egypt's security, because it appears to me that before this point, Egypt had never ever been seriously externally conquered since the states started around 3000BCE. Though Egypt had diminished in power since the second millenium BCE, no other power had arisen to defeat them yet. Jeremiah's prophecy was bold.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jeremiah 43


Then the people accused Jeremiah of lying, and being a puppet for Baruch and for Babylon. So they went deep into Egypt.

At God's Word, Jeremiah followed them and buried large stones it the clay there. He prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would have his throne over those stones. He will come and kill and destroy, and break down all of Egypt's gods.

Key verse:
10. I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them.

My thoughts:
By moving to 'safe' Egypt, Johanan was actually following the violent front line of Nebuchadnezzar's expansion force. Being ruled under Babylon's Empire was considerably more safe than being conquered by them. Because Johanan disobeyed God, he suffered conquest twice.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Jeremiah 42

Egypt is a bad land

Then they went to Jeremiah, and asked him to pray to see where they should go. The people promised to do whatever God said.

Ten days later, Jeremiah heard God and told them that if they stay in Judah, where it seems dangerous, they will prosper. If they go to Egypt, where it seems safe, they will find all the suffering they were trying to flee. Jeremiah knew that they wouldn't listen, and cursed them for promising that they would.

Key verse:
19. O remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, 'Do not go to Egypt.'

My thoughts:
We often look at Biblical prophets and wonder how they heard from God so much, yet we struggle. But how often have you waited ten days for God to speak?

Remember that sometimes God's Word goes against our logic. We can determine the most sensible route, but the most sensible is not always the best. We must trust God for that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jeremiah 41

Johanan! He's a hero!

But Ishmael and ten men killed Gedaliah and many Jews and Babylonians. Ishmael even tricked 80 pilgrims coming to Jerusalem and killed 70 of them. 10 got away because of bribery. All the people Ishmael killed were put into a mass grave. Ishmael ruled with an iron fist until one of Gedaliah's advisors, Johanan, formed an army and fought against him. Ishmael managed to get away though.

Then Johanan took all the people with him towards Egypt, for fear of the Babylonians.

Key verse:
9. Now the cistern where he threw all the bodies of the men he had killed along with Gedaliah was the one King Asa had made as part of his defense against Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with the dead.

My thoughts:
Ishmael's exploits have some eerie echoes of the holocaust, as does the book of Esther.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the only place in the Bible where this history is recorded. I don't know if there are any further pieces of evidence extra-biblically.

I'm not quite sure why Johanan is scared of the Babylons. Ishmael was Babylon's enemy...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Jeremiah 40


When the commander set Jeremiah free, he told him that Jerusalem had been taken as God had said. He gave Jeremiah a choice of where to go, and gave him wealthy people to stay with wherever he went. Jeremiah stayed with Gedaliah, who was made governor in Judah.

Gedaliah told the people to serve the king and things would be fine. Then all the Jews who had been living outside of Judah came back to live in Judah. Some people tried to let Gedaliah that some kings of the surrounding nations wanted to kill him, but he didn't listen. One guy offered to kill another guy Ishmael, but Gedaliah didn't believe the allegations against Ishmael.

Key verse:
12. they all came back to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, from all the countries where they had been scattered. And they harvested an abundance of wine and summer fruit.

My thoughts:
You don't often hear about what happened in Judah during the exile. It wasn't uninhabited, and when the people came back from exile, they were very much rejoining Jews who were already there.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jeremiah 39

The fall of Jerusalem

In King Zedekiah's ninth year, Nebuchadnezzar laid seige on Jerusalem. Two years later, they broke through the wall. Zedekiah fled with his sons and some men, but Babylon pursued, killed his sons before his eyes, and then plucked out Zedekiah's eyes and led him by chains back to Babylon.

They burnt Jerusalem and broke its buildings. The people were exiled, but the poor were left.

Jeremiah had been promised that he would be spared, and he was. He was set free and allowed to remain in Judah at Nebuchadnezzar's instruction.

Key verse:
1. This is how Jerusalem was taken: In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it.

My thoughts:
This is a mournful chapter, but in the context of Jeremiah it is the culmination of Jeremiah's prophecies and it is the validation of his prophecies.

Don't forget that Jeremiah is not chronological.

Whenever I'm reading about Jerusalem falling, I always have Psalm 137 in the back of my head. It gives you a glimpse of the unending sorrow these people went through in this time.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jeremiah 38


Some people wanted to kill Jems for discouraging the Jewish people soldiers, and the king let them. So they threw him into a cistern so that he sunk into the mud. When the king heard of this horrible treatment, he sent men to get Jems out.

The king asked Jems for honesty, but Jems knew that the king really just wanted to hear good news. But the king promised that he wouldn't overreact. So Jems told him that his only hope was to surrender. The king was worried, but Jems reassured him that this was God's word. The other option was to have the city burnt down. Jems kept the conversation secret. He stayed in his decent prison until Jerusalem fell and was not beaten again.

Key verse:
20. Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.

My thoughts:
To follow God sometimes requires humiliation, and many do not follow God because they have too much pride. They are too interested in running their own lives that they don't let God lead it. Here Jeremiah is asking the king to become a shameful deserter. He is asking him to drop all of the hope and big words and compelling speeches, and just surrender. Most people think it is noble to continue to fight for something, even in the face of defeat, but that is not God's plan here. He says, "Give up. Don't be a hero. You'll only fail." Gutted.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jeremiah 37


No-one listened to Jems, but one day the king wanted to pray with him.

Now, Babylon had fled because Egypt had come to Judah's defence, but Jems told the king that Babylon would come back and take Jerusalem.

Jems left on business, but a guard accused him of deserting to the Babylonians. So Jems was imprisoned and beaten. The king came to him, and Jems prophesied the same thing, and at Jems' request, the king gave Jems decent prison conditions.

Key verse:
8. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.

My thoughts:
Jeremiah's prophesies basically have one point. Babylon will pwn you.

The kings and Jeremiah seem to have a constant love-hate relationship. Fair nuff.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Jeremiah 36

The burnt scroll

God told Jems to write all his stuff on a scroll, so he got Baruch to do it, and got Baruch to go and preach it in the temple because Jems couldn't enter.

When they heard it, the officials were intrigued. They got Baruch to take it to the king, and found out that he had gotten it from Jeremiah. Upon discovering this, they told Baruch and Jems to hide.

The king had the scroll burnt as it was read to him, despite his officials' advice, and ordered Jems and Baruch arrested, but they were hidden.

So Jems got Baruch to rewrite the scroll, and proclaimed the punishment on the king for his sin.

Key verse:
16. When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear and said to Baruch, "We must report all these words to the king."

My thoughts:
I find this passage interesting because it possibly narrates some of the earliest composition of Jeremiah.

You can also see the prominence of Baruch in this chapter aswell.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Jeremiah 35


Some Jewish nomads had taken refuge in Jerusalem. They didn't drink wine because their ancestor had commanded them not to.

God told Jems to take them into the temple and to give them wine to drink, but they protested when presented with wine. So God said, "You obey your own laws, but Judah has reject mine! Therefore Judah will have disaster, but these nomads will be my servants for keeping to their father's law."

Key verse:
14. Jonadab son of Recab ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather's command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.

My thoughts:
These nomads aren't bad in this passage. Their obedience is simply used as a comparison to Judah's disobedience.

I encourage you to drink wine.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jeremiah 34


Jems told the king that Jerusalem was about to fall. He wouldn't escape, but the king would die peacefully. At that time only Lachish, Azekah and Jerusalem had not fallen to Nebuchadnezzar.

Now, the king had freed all the Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem, but some people took their slaves back. Jems told them that setting their slaves free was good and right before God, and those who had taken them back had sinned. For this, God will give them the 'freedom' to die painfully. They broke the covenant so they will be like the covenantal sacrifice. Even the king and cities will be handed over.

Key verse:
17. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you, declares the Lord -'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague and famine.

My thoughts:
This is pretty smartass; to give them the freedom to die! Prior to their sin in this chapter, the king does a rare good thing and reinstates the Mosaic law of setting slaves free. It's nice to know that abolitionist movements existed in God's communities well before the 1700s! (Though I just read that the British - that is the "covenant people" - don't really have much of a history of slavery in England at all!)

I also find interesting how this passage names the three cities which Babylon had not yet taken. I always wondered if Judah had basically been reduced just to Jerusalem for it's final years before the exile, but it seems that there were still a few cities, though I don't know how long before the exile this passage is supposed to be set.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Jeremiah 33

The daytime... of the night

While Jems was still under watch, he told people that God could tell them great things if they called to him. God will kill the people of Judah for their sin, but then heal her. They will be cleansed. Jerusalem won't be empty, and people will sing thanks once again.

God will rise up a King who will do what is right and good. There will always be a Davidic king on the throne, and always a priest giving offerings. Breaking this covenant will be as hard as breaking God's covenant with the day and the night. If day and night cease, then so will this covernant. God has not rejected his two nations, just as he hasn't rejected day and night.

Key verse:
17. David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel

My thoughts:
I would contend that Jesus fulfils both the eternal priestly and the eternal royal roles in relation to this passage.

I quite like the image of God's covenant with nature to be as it is. Despite all of Israel's shortcomings, God's first covenant with his creation will not cease. He is not an unfaithful God.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Jeremiah 32

Faith field

Now Jems was stuck in the palace in Jerusalem because the King had put him here because he prophesied against him. God told Jems that his cousin would come and ask him to buy his field, so Jems bought the field, but gave the deed to Baruch and told him to bury it in a jar, because God was going to bring the Jews back to Jerusalem.

Then Jems prayed - "God, you rock, and brought us out of Egypt, then exiled us for our sin. Our final city is about to fall, yet you told me to buy this land."

God replied - "Yea, Israel has screwed up, and they're getting punished for it. But nothing is too hard for me, so I'm going to bring them back here one day and have an everlasting covenant with them. Trade will happen here again!

Key verse:
40. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.

My thoughts:
It's interesting that the term 'Jews' is used here, as this word didn't really become relevant until after the exile. It perhaps points to a later date of authorship for this passage.

Baruch is an interesting character who becomes important in early Jewish thought. The extra-canonical books contains works bearing his name.

This in this chapter is a good example of a physical expression of faith. Jems bought a field on God's word that the Jews would return to the land. A foolish thing to do if God's word was wrong, but Jems had faith in God's word.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Jeremiah 31

The New Testament

God will build Judah again, and they will prosper again, so sing to God. God'll bring them back and look after them. God will redeem you. Everyone will be happy.

God has great compassion on Ephraim, who has repented. People won't die for other's sins, but only for their own. God will make a new and different covenant and the law will be written on their hearts. God will not reject Israel. The city will be rebuilt.

Key verses:
31-32. The time is coming," declares the Lord,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers

My thoughts:
The mention of a new covenant is highly significant to Christians. Christians maintain that this covenant is, of course, the new covenant made through Jesus; a new way of doing things.

This is a cool chapter for God's restoring power.