HooRay!! We made it through Jeremiah before the end of the year. Next stop Philippians. Mark summarized a bunch of the last chapters as it appeared that there was nothing new in those chapters. God warned the people not to go to Egypt, but they went anyway. Then we read 44:4-10 which described the remnant of the people who went to Egypt and remained faithful to God. They were told not to worship Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven who was a fertility god. But many of the people did worship her anyway. People thought things were better when they worshipped her. The came all of the judgments. We skipped most of them. We read 51:59 through chapter 52. It was interesting what happened to the various kings of Judah, namely Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. They ruled in the time of the Babylonian conquest. jehoiakim was an unprincipled opportunist vassal to Pharoh Necoh to whom he owed his throne, until Necoh was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar. He was then an enforced vassal to Nebuchadnezzar for 3 years along with the petty kings of Western Asia, then he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar when he thought he could, but was ultimately killed by Nebuchadnezzar and thrown outside the walls unburied. A nice reference to all of this is http://bibleencyclopedia.com/jehoiakim.htm .
One wonders what Babylonians thought about the God of the Israelites or if they were even aware of Him. Some of their reactions make you think that King Nebuchadnezzar was aware of God and respected Him. These passages describe the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Baruch is writing the story here and possibly he is putting words into the mouths of the Chaldeans in 40:2. How can we say that it is our God. How confusing does it get when culture changes as it is doing here at the time of Jeremiah. Or for that matter what is happening in our world today. This is the meaning of reading about these times in Jeremiah so we can better understand how God understands us and works with us in difficult as well as easy times.
Jeremiah talked about the Rechabites and their adherence to the commands of their ancestors who said they should not drink wine, nor grow any of the crops that are used to make wine, and they should live as nomads, that is in tents rather than have dwellings in cities. Here is some information about the Rechabites: This information comes from the Jewish Encyclopedia at the following link: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12616-rechabites The Rechabites are said to be the descendants of Hobab(Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses (Judges iv. 11) In Jeremiah 35, they are said to have been taken to the temple and offered some wine to drink, and they declined on the grounds that Jehonadab, son of Rechab, their ancestor, had commanded them not to drink wine or other strong dring, or to live in houses, or to sow seed, or to plant vineyards, and had enjoined them to dwell in tents all their days. Jeremiah used them as an example of people who kept to their principles and didn’t disavow them as the people had done to the word of God. So people this morning said why is it such a big deal to hold to the principles laid down by their grandfather? Well, it appears that their ancestry goes back to Jethro, the father of Moses. and in the Jewish Encyclopedia, it is stated that Jehonadab appears in II Kings 15:23 as the companion of King Jehu when he slaughtered the prophets of Baal. Jehonadab was apparently a champion of the worship of Yehwh as against that of Baal. God made a promise to the Rechabites that they “shall not want a man to stand before me forever” Jeremiah 35:19 is interpreted by some as meaning that they would become scribes and sit with the Sanhedrin. One rabbinical scholar said that God’s covenant with the Rechabites was superior to the covenant with David because David’s covenant was conditional while that of Rechabites was without reservation. They are sometimes thought to be the Nazarites of later times. In any event, they appear to be a group of Jews that aren’t thought about with the 12 tribes.
We read how Jeremiah had directed Baruch to write down his words and read them to the people. As one would guess, King Johiakim was not happy with these words and so he had Baruch’s scroll burned. So Jeremiah told Baruch to write the scroll again. Poor Baruch!! We talked a lot about translations and how different words can evoke different understandings. For example, the KJ version says that Jeremiah was hidden and therefore Baruch had to go, the Message says he was black balled by the king, so he couldn’t go. It carries a different connotation. What is the difference between a translation like the many that exist for example the Lutheran Bible, King James, The Message and an interpretation like Good News for Modern Man? Here is an article espousing the validity of translations http://www.greeklatinaudio.com/transinterp.htm It doesn’t do so much with translations. Here is a link to an article by the St. George Orthodox Church that discusses the Bible: its translation and its interpretation. Whereas the earlier article talked about translations being pretty good, this one talks about the differences between the various Bibles of Christians, Cahtolics, and Eastern Orthodox churches. It is interesting. http://stgeorgepa.net/about/what-is-the-orthodox-faith/faqs/the-bible-its-translation-and-its-interpretation/
Finally, we had a discussion about obedience and God is always asking for obedience. Bill asked which is more important, that we obey or what we obey. Is it more important that the Rechabites supposedly obeyed a somewhat moral principle not to drink alcoholic beverages or to follow the tenets of God as outlined in the Ten Commandments? [Bill, if I got that wrong please correct it in a comment.]
We spent sometime talking about false prophets and how one discovered who was a false prophet and who was believable. We also spent some time talking about the kings and what happened when they returned from captivity. Jeremiah really ranges all over the map. It appears his message keeps going from the terrible things that will happen to people in captivity and the promise that awaits them when they return. Of course, none of the people who were taken to Babylon will return. It will be there descendents and the story needs to be told to them so that they will be strong in their captivity and continue to believe in Jehovah.
King Reference in Jeremiah Duration Bible History Comment
Ch. 1; 3; 22; 25-
27; 35-37; 45-46
2 Kings 22:1-23:30
2 Chronicles 34-35 Best King of Judah; started at 8 yrs old; cleansed Judah of idols and pagan centers; renewed Laws of Moses .
Ignored Jeremiah and waged war with Egypt.
3 months 2 Kings 23:30-34
2 Chronicles 36:1-4
Carried off by Egypt
Jehoaiakim Ch. 1; 22; 24-28;
35-37; 45-46; 52
11 years 2 Kings 23:36-24:6
2 Chronicles 36:5-8 Opposed Jeremiah; aligned Judah with Babylon to resist Egypt
Jehoiachin Ch. 52 3 months 2 Kings 24:6-17; 25:27-30
2 Chronicles 36:8-10 Surrendered to Babylon and was taken to Babylon with Ezekiel
Ch. 1; 21; 24; 27-29; 32;34-39; 44; 49; 51; 52
2 Kings 24:17-25:7
2 Chronicles 26:11-20 A weak king; ignored Jeremiah’s advice to remain loyal to Babylon and joined
an alliance against the empire; Babylon
overran Jerusalem and burned Solomon’s temple, the palace, other
buildings and destroyed the wall around Jerusalem .
We read what appears to be the summary of Jeremiah’s prophecy to Judah which included them being conquered and the best and brightest being carried off into Babylon (604-506 BCE) by King Nebuchadnezzar and then the prophecy of God to make a covenant with the remnant who would return both from Israel (who had been conquered and carried off to Assyria in 732 BCE) and Judah. Some might say that the Samaritans might have been the Northern Kingdom people. The Assyrians were defeated by the Babylonians with the decisive battle coming in 605 BCE at Carchemish. The Assyrians had their capitol in Ninevah until it was overrun by the Babylonians in 612 BCE, and then they moved it to Harran in present day Turkey. When the Babylonians defeated them there in 608 BCE, the Assyrians moved their capitol to Carchemish. Egypt was allied with Assyria and marched to their aid against the Babylonians. In 609 BCE, the Egyptian army of Pharoh Necho II was delayed at Megiddo (in Israel) by the forces of King Josiah of Judah. Josiah was killed and his army defeated. The Egyptians were further delayed at Riblah, and Necho arrived at Carchemish too late. Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had surprised the Assyrians and and captured Carchemish. He then turned on the Egyptians and thoroughly defeated them in a bloody battle and the combined Egyptian and Assyrian forces were devastated. This took place in 605 BCE. (this account is from the link: http://www.padfield.com/2008/carchemish.html ) Jeremiah 46:2 and 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 describes this as well. Here are some maps describing the conquests of Judah and Israel..
We read chapter 31 today, a remarkable change from what we have been reading before, although things started to change in chapter 30. There is much included here that people suggest is a prophecy of the coming of Jesus and the changes that he brings to the world. Where before Jeremiah had been delivering prophecies about how angry God was with the people, all of a sudden, he is telling how God is going to make a new covenant with them and promises them land and a new spirit. He talks a lot about Ephraim and seems to see him as a rallying cry. Ephraim was a son of Josephs. He says the watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim and say Arise, and let us go to Zion to the Lord our God. This new covenant shall be one where the law is written in the hearts of men and I will be their God and they will be my people. It will be an innate knowledge of each of the people that they are the people of God. One version has God saying they will live by love not by law, because the law is written in their hearts not something they have to learn about. this sounds a little pollyannish after Jeremiah had been so upset about the people. This is of course the prophetic announcement of Christ the messiah who would come to the people.
Matthew Henry in his commentary says “He that scattered Israel, knows where to find them. It is comfortable to observe the goodness of the Lord in the gifts of providence. But our souls are never valuable as gardens, unless watered with the dews of God’s Spirit and grace. A precious promise follows, which will not have full accomplishment except in the heavenly Zion. Let them be satisfied of God’s loving-kindness, and they will be satisfied with it, and desire no more to make them happy. Rachel is represented as rising from her grave, and refusing to be comforted, supposing her offspring rooted out. The murder of the children at Bethlehem, by Herod, Matthew 2:16-18, in some degree fulfilled this prediction, but could not be its full meaning. If we have hope in the end, concerning an eternal inheritance, for ourselves and those belonging to us, all temporal afflictions may be borne, and will be for our good.” I don’t know about this.
Some asked about the map of the tribes of Israel. Here is a version of it.
This whole chapter is about the significance of the land for the Jews. It has been the case since Abraham, Noah, and even Adam. There has always been a covenant that promised land in exchange for obedience. That could be one of the reasons that it was so catastrophic when the Jews were made slaves or carried away from their land. V9 has the promise of the return of the Davidic kingdom. Those were the glory days and rescue would come from the outside. It could also explain why Christ’s coming would be a letdown for the people who were expecting someone to come and restore land to them. It might be helpful here to see what was happening in the days of Jeremiah in the rest of the word. Here is a chart that shows where in time we were. Look for King Nebuchadnezzar.
We read about Jeremiah telling the people they had to submit to their captors. Chuck wondered if that was why there was so little resistance to the Nazis in WWII. It was a strange time for the Jews and there was a high premium for shrewdness among the Jews.
We read from chapter 29 today. It like much of Jeremiah is somewhat strange. There were two main themes today. One was the concept that Jeremiah spoke from God saying that the exiles taken into Babylon were going to be the favored people of God when they return and the remnant who had remained would be afflicted by pestilence and other woes. This remnant who had remained must have continued their evil ways. They were being led by their priests whom Jeremiah labeled as false prophets. This then was the second theme of how to identify false prophets. Starting with verse 24 through 30, Jeremiah labels Shemaiah, the priest a false prophet. It is a somewhat strange piece which could have been clarified if some pronouns had been replaced by the names. It seems that a letter has been sent to Shemaiah talking about the false prophets and saying words to the effect of since Jeremiah has been telling the exiles to get comfortable in their exile, that he should be labeled a false prophet and put in stocks and chains. Zephaniah is reading the letter to Shemaiah about being a false prophet to Jeremiah and this seems strange if Jeremiah wrote the letter in the first place.
It also is interesting that God who has picked a remnant of his people before would choose the people who were taken into exile as His chosen people at this point. I guess that the people who stayed behind had continued in the practices that they had been condemned to being conquered by Babylon in the first place. But with all the pressures of being in exile in a foreign land how these exiles could be the ones to believe in God seems strange. The interpretation clarifies the passages 24-30 in a nice way. It says “This is the message to Shemaiah that you sent letters to all the people in Jerusalem and to the priest Zephaniah that God has put you in charge of God’s temple and made you responsible for locking up any crazy fellow off the streets who takes it in his head to be a prophet.” Then Jeremiah says in effect why haven’t you put me in stocks if you are sent from God and I am saying something different from your preaching. So Zephaniah read the above letter and Jeremiah says that God sent him to tell people that Shemaiah is preaching lies to you. God didn’t send him. God will punish Shemaiah and his whole family, they will end up with nothing because he has preached rebellion against God. Again note that if you are for God, you will do well, if not you will suffer and have nothing.
Today we read more of Jeremiah. Pastor Mark suggested sections of Chapter 20, 21, and 22. We read about his dealings with Pashur who heard about what Jeremiah was saying and put him in stocks. Jeremiah said that Pashur would from that time be known as ‘Terror on every side.’ Then he talked about the coming conquest of them by King Nebuchadnezzar. He essentially said that God would enable the king of the Babylonians to conquer the king of Judah and carry off the best of the people to work in captivity.
Here is the territory of the Babylonian empire from 606-536 BC.
Nebuchadnezzar constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and he destroyed the first temple in Jerusalem. He is featured in the book of Daniel and mentioned in other books. Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom and the son of the god Marduk. To find out more about Nubuchadnezzar, here is a link in Wikopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadnezzar_II