Monthly Archives: July 2013

07/16/13 Jeremiah 3-4:4 (15)

Today, we started on Jeremiah 3, where Jeremiah uses a metaphor that compares Israel, the northern 10 tribes to a prostitute and warns the kingdom of Judah that it is going down the same path.

A question that Pastor John addressed were about the northern and southern kingdoms. The following is a list by land apportionments: 1. Reuben, 2. Judah, 3. Issachar, 4. Zebulun, 5. Dan, 6. Naphtali, 7. Gad, 8. Asher, 9 Benjamin, 10. Ephraim (son of Joseph), 11. Manasseh (son of Joseph). Neither Simeon or Levi received territorial allotments, but had scattered cities within tribal portions. (Genesis 49:5-7) The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom were Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, and Manasseh. The Northern Kingdom was referred to as Israel and had been conquered by Assyria in 547 BCE led by Sennacherib, during the reign of King Hezakiah in the Kingdom of Judah. At that time, Hezakiah strengthened the defenses of Jerusalem to keep the Assyrians from conquering them as well despite the fact that the Assyrians laid siege to Jerusalem.   The Southern Kingdom consisted of Judah and Benjamin and Levi which had not received a land commitment but were the tribe of priests and were scattered in both kingdoms, but were mostly attributed to and present in the Southern Kingdom.

Why did God forsake Israel and “Cause” the Assyrians to conquer them? So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.

The Southern Kingdom, or Kingdom of Judah was occupied by Babylon and they pillaged Jerusalem and took 10,000 of the best and brightest Jews back to Babylon. This was done by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar. This was not done because the Jews rebelled against Babylon, but rather Israel rebelled against God. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 422 BCE.

Jeremiah was called to speak to the people in Israel who had forsaken God and worshipped many other Gods such as Baal, yet God in his mercy still extended his loving hand to his “unfaithful bride.” Some have said of Jeremiah’s writings that they were looking forward to the arrival of the messiah, Jesus. Some mentions of circumcision of the heart seem to refer to more of a virtual presence rather than a physical sign on the body. There are other similar references. The Old Testament was in many ways an attempt to get on God’s good side and then the people would receive the blessings that God could bestow on them. The Lutheran Study Bible talks about Luther’s understanding of Jeremiah and called the epistle of James, the epistle of straw because of its emphasis on works and Luther knew that didn’t work for him. A question was asked in terms of God causing the Assyrians and the Babylonians to conquer the Jews of that day of there were people who said that the holocaust was caused by God and if so, what were the Jews of that era doing that would cause God to such a horrific thing? I think there are certainly limits to this kind of thinking and the holocaust is not something caused by God!!!

07/09/12 Jeremiah 1-2 (18)

We finished reading Galatians last week, so decided to go to Jeremiah this week. It is a long book, so it will take us awhile to read it. He started his work in about 626 BCE The web site
provides the following information about Jeremiah. He was the son of the prophet and high priest Hilkiah and born in Anatoth in Benjamin’s area. He started his prophecy during the time of Prophet Zephaniah and Prophetess Huidah in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah.

At this time, the northern kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians. His first mission was to go to the exiled 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom and encourage them and try to get them to come back to their native land. King Josiah’s death was a real tragedy for Jeremiah because he was the last pious king of Judah. And Jeremiah knew that with his passing, it would only be a matter of time before the land of Judah would lose its independence. Indeed, after Josiah’s death the people soon reverted to idolatry and he was shocked at the new relapse of the people and strove to keep them from the tide of spiritual depravity which threatened to undermine the high moral standards they had had with their belief in God when Josiah was king.

King Josiah began a religious reform in Judah at about 622 BC. “Never had there been a reform so sweeping in its aims and so consistent in execution!”[34] Josiah was free to cut off all tribute to Assyria and even extend his power to the north, into the former territory of Israel, because after the death of Ashurbanipal (in 627 BC), the already weakened Assyrian empire began to disintegrate. Also in 627 B.C. Jeremiah received his call to be a prophet and thus with others spurred Josiah’s reforms on. “By asserting that the nation was under judgment and would know the wrath of Yahweh if she did not repent, the prophets help to prepare the ground for reform.”[35]

The people of Israel had even gone as far as building high altars to Baal in order to burn their children in fire as offerings.[27] This nation had deviated so far from God that they had broken the covenant, causing God to withdraw his blessings. Jeremiah was guided by God to proclaim that the nation of Israel would be faced with famine, be plundered and taken captive by foreigners who would exile them to a foreign land.[28][29] wikibedia

After the death of Josiah, Jehoahaz was placed on the throne but the Egyptians took him in exile after only 3 months. The Egyptians made Jehoiakim king; he allowed the swift deterioration of Josiah’s reforms and vexed Jeremiah. He wasted the kingdom’s resources on a new palace. In 605 BC, the Egyptians were routed by the Babylonians at Carcamesh and thereby the Assyrian Empire vanished. The Babylonians moved into the Philistine plain the next year and devastated Ashkelon as well as causing great anxiety in Jerusalem. Jeremiah took advantage of the situation to preach his “Temple Sermon” (ch. 26). “His preaching was not merely an attack on the state, it was a call to individual men to decide for the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of Jehoiakim. And his own life was an illustration of the immense cost of that decision.”[36]

Jeremiah’s message was the primacy of God to the people.  “Thus saith the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord Who exercises mercy, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

For My people have committed two evils. They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water… “Therefore… will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of gladness and the voice of joy, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall become a desert.”

07-02-2013 Galations 5-6 (11)

Today we finished Galatians. Next time we decided we will start Jeremiah. Some discussion transpired about some other books, such as Job, which we decided we should hold until Bob returned. A suggestion was made to look at C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, but we decided that this should be a Bible study, not a book study. Paul was addressing specific problems with the congregation in Galatia. Some people had come after Paul had started this church and said to the people, that the only way they could have salvation was to be circumcised and this could also save them from persecution. This also leads them to want to do faith kinds of tasks just to be sure they are being saved. Paul said no, all you need is faith in Jesus Christ. Paul also said that you need to stand up for your faith and if that means persecution, so be it. He is, I think, also saying that you have to take risks in the faith. Trust in Jesus not all these man made kind of ideas. You have to go out on the limb with Jesus.

It is interesting to read the sins of the flesh and there is quite a list, but then to add to that list as Jason suggested in his sermon on Sunday as well in our session this morning. It is easy to add to the list and it makes you think about what Paul was saying to the Galatians and what he would say to us today. Bill raised an interesting question about who wouldn’t be welcome to Zion as a member. We are not very selective in lots of ways. It is difficult to screen people when Jesus through Paul makes such an open ended offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. And then the gifts of the spirit are difficult not to accept. They are love, joy, peace, etc.