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August 8, 2015
Jeremiah's Letter to the Exiles
1 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
15 “Because you have said, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ 16 thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go out with you into exile: 17 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’ 20 Hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 21 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying a lie to you in my name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall strike them down before your eyes. 22 Because of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: “The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,” 23 because they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the Lord.’”
Shemaiah's False Prophecy
24 To Shemaiah of Nehelam you shall say: 25 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are in Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 ‘The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, to have charge in the house of the Lord over every madman who prophesies, to put him in the stocks and neck irons. 27 Now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who is prophesying to you? 28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, “Your exile will be long; build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their produce.”’”
29 Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 “Send to all the exiles, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah of Nehelam: Because Shemaiah had prophesied to you when I did not send him, and has made you trust in a lie, 32 therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants. He shall not have anyone living among this people, and he shall not see the good that I will do to my people, declares the Lord, for he has spoken rebellion against the Lord.’”
Jesus Delivered to Pilate
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[a] Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Jesus Is Mocked
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters),[b] and they called together the whole battalion.[c] 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour[d] when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.[e] 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
The Death of Jesus
33 And when the sixth hour[f] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.[g] 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he[h] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son[i] of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Jesus Is Buried
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.[j] And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph[k] bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
More than three thousand people were transported to Babylon (including King Jehoiachin) in the deportation of 597 B.C. (Jer. 52:28). Doubtless many of these people earnestly hoped for a speedy return to Jerusalem. Their longings made them easy prey for “prophets” who kept their hopes alive by promising them the sorts of things they wanted to hear. The prophet Ezekiel, himself an exile, repeatedly denounced these false prophets (as we shall see in the meditations for September). Back home in Jerusalem, Jeremiah heard of these developments and resolved to write a letter (Jer. 29), which was duly hand-delivered (29:1-3).
This letter begins with an exhortation to settle down, to seek the good of the city where the exiles are located (the largest settlement was close to Nippur, near the Kebar canal). “Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (29:7). This is linked to a warning not to be deceived by the false prophets. Jeremiah then sets out the destiny of three groups:
(1) Those already in captivity (29:10-14): God plans to restore them to Jerusalem after the seventy years of Babylon’s ascendancy. This is bound up with a transformation of heart: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you . . . and will bring you back from captivity” (29:12-14).
(2) Those still in Jerusalem (29:15-19): Far from being the means of the salvation of the exiles, they themselves will be punished. They are the “poor figs” (29:17; cf. chap. 24). Those who are not destroyed will be scattered into exile themselves (29:18). Location near the temple is inadequate protection. Regardless of their location and religious ritual, they will be destroyed, because “they have not listened to my words . . . words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets” (29:19). And then a warning for the recipients of the letter: “‘And you exiles have not listened either,’ declares the LORD” (29:19).
(3) The false prophets in Babylon (29:20-23): Two are specifically named: Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah. We know nothing more of them than what is written here. They are not to be confused with other Ahabs and Zedekiahs in Scripture. As is commonly the case, their false message about God went hand in hand with immorality in their lives. And God knows; he always knows (29:23).
Restoration for Israel and Judah
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. 3 For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”
4 These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:
5 “Thus says the Lord:
We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.
6 Ask now, and see,
can a man bear a child?
Why then do I see every man
with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?
Why has every face turned pale?
7 Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it.
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him.[a] 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you,
declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
12 “For thus says the Lord:
Your hurt is incurable,
and your wound is grievous.
13 There is none to uphold your cause,
no medicine for your wound,
no healing for you.
14 All your lovers have forgotten you;
they care nothing for you;
for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy,
the punishment of a merciless foe,
because your guilt is great,
because your sins are flagrant.
15 Why do you cry out over your hurt?
Your pain is incurable.
Because your guilt is great,
because your sins are flagrant,
I have done these things to you.
16 Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured,
and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity;
those who plunder you shall be plundered,
and all who prey on you I will make a prey.
17 For I will restore health to you,
and your wounds I will heal,
declares the Lord,
because they have called you an outcast:
‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’
18 “Thus says the Lord:
Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its mound,
and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.
20 Their children shall be as they were of old,
and their congregation shall be established before me,
and I will punish all who oppress them.
21 Their prince shall be one of themselves;
their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
for who would dare of himself to approach me?
declares the Lord.
22 And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.”
23 Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this.
The Lord Will Turn Mourning to Joy
1 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”
2 Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
3 the Lord appeared to him[b] from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
5 Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
6 For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”
7 For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9 With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”
15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country.
18 I have heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
19 For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was confounded,
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my darling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remember him still.
Therefore my heart[c] yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.
21 “Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went.
Return, O virgin Israel,
return to these your cities.
22 How long will you waver,
O faithless daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth:
a woman encircles a man.”
23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:
“‘The Lord bless you, O habitation of righteousness,
O holy hill!’
24 And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. 25 For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.
27 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:
“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.’
30 But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
The New Covenant
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
35 Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord of hosts is his name:
36 “If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”
37 Thus says the Lord:
“If the heavens above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the Lord.”
38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”
1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.][a]
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
9 [[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
The Great Commission
14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]
Jeremiah 30-31 interrupts the biographical material on Jeremiah with a group of utterances about the restoration of Israel and Judah. Sometimes both of the kingdoms are named (30:3); sometimes both are subsumed under “Jacob” (30:7) or “Israel” (30:10; 31:1). As in the prophecy of Isaiah, only the context determines whether “Israel” refers to the northern kingdom, already in exile for more than a century, or to all of “Jacob” (or, more precisely, that part that hears and returns to the land). The “incurable” wound and “injury beyond healing” that they have suffered is the result of their sin (30:12-14)—an invariable reality this side of the Fall. “‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” (30:17). Two high points:
(1) Jeremiah 31:15: Rachel, one of the matriarchs, whose tomb was near Ramah about five miles north of Jerusalem (1 Sam. 10:2-3; Josh. 18:25), is here pictured weeping for her “children” who were transported in 722 B.C. (when the northern tribes went into exile) and again in 587 (when what was left of the southern kingdom was transported, Jer. 40:1). Matthew 2:17-18 insists these words are “fulfilled” (typologically) when mothers weep again in the wake of the slaughter of the innocents connected with Jesus’ birth. For although the exiles returned to Jerusalem during the Persian period, the most magnificent features surrounding the end of the exile did not begin to unfold until the coming of the Messiah.
(2) Jeremiah 31:29ff.: This promise of a new covenant is extraordinarily penetrating. Because of the tribal, representative nature of the old covenant, the people had coined a proverb: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (31:29). Under the Mosaic covenant, special people— prophets, priests, kings, and a few other individuals—were especially endowed with the Spirit, and had the task of representing the people to God, and God to the people. “Know the Lord,” they exhorted them. And because of this tribal, representative structure, when the leaders fell into sin (“have eaten sour grapes”), the entire nation fell into corruption and suffered destruction (“the children’s teeth are set on edge”). But under the new covenant the proverb will no longer apply (31:30ff.). All those under the new covenant will know the Lord: God will put his law in their minds and write it on their hearts (31:33). There will no longer be mediating teachers, for all will know him (31:34); teachers will merely be part of the body, not mediators with an “inside” knowledge of God. And the forgiveness of sins will be absolute (31:34).
Identify where these themes are picked up in the New Testament.
Jeremiah Buys a Field During the Siege
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah. 3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it; 4 Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye. 5 And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the Lord. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed’?”
6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ 8 Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
9 “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. 12 And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13 I charged Baruch in their presence, saying, 14 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. 15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’
Jeremiah Prays for Understanding
16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, saying: 17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. 20 You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day. 21 You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror. 22 And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 And they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or walk in your law. They did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them. 24 Behold, the siege mounds have come up to the city to take it, and because of sword and famine and pestilence the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it. 25 Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.’”
26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? 28 Therefore, thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall capture it. 29 The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth. The children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the Lord. 31 This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
They Shall Be My People; I Will Be Their God
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”
The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked
1 Blessed is the man[a]
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
The Reign of the Lord's Anointed
1 Why do the nations rage[c]
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break[d] them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
At one level, Psalm 2 can be understood entirely within the framework of the life of a Davidic king—even of David himself. He has conquered the surrounding nations. If they rebel, they are plotting together “against the LORD and against his Anointed One” (2:2), i.e., his “messiah,” an expression that can refer to any anointed king of Israel, or to the ultimate Messiah. If they try to throw off the fet- ters of their obligations to Israel (2:3), they must reckon with God: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (2:4). He rebukes them in his anger, for he is the One who has installed his King on Zion (2:5-6).
Now the king himself speaks. He testifies to this same installation, i.e., to his own installation as king, using forms of speech common in the ancient Near East. At the king’s installation, he becomes the “son” of the god who extends primary sovereignty over that people. Yahweh himself uses that language: the king of Israel becomes God’s “son” at his installation, committed to seeking his “Father’s” glory and good, reflecting his character and will (2:7). God is so much in control of all nations that the Davidic king need only ask, and God will give him absolute sov- ereignty over the nations (2:8-9). The kings ought therefore to be wise, and warned (2:10). “Serve the LORD with fear. . . . Kiss the Son [i.e., the Davidic king], lest he be angry” (2:11-12).
But there are at least two elements that warn us against thinking the psalm’s meaning is exhausted in one of the ancient Davidic monarchs. First, early in the life of the Davidic dynasty David became a type or model of the ultimate “mes- siah” from this line, the ultimate “David.” One can easily find explicit references to this figure centuries later (e.g., Isa. 9; Ezek. 34). Typological reasoning might run like this: if the historical King David was God’s agent to rule over the nations that surrounded him, how much more will great David’s greater Son, the Davidic king par excellence, rule over the nations? Second, there are several hints in the psalm that suggest something more than an early Davidic king. He subdues the “kings of the earth” (2:2), which sounds pretty comprehensive (though it could mean “the kings of the land”); this “Son” is promised “the nations” and “the ends of the earth” as his possession—a lot harder to dismiss. The final blessing (2:12) sounds vaguely pompous for anyone other than the ultimate Messiah. Each of these expressions can be “explained” (or “explained away”): they might, for instance, be examples of hyperbolic language. But taken together, they do not so much point away from the historic David as point beyond him. Reflect on Acts 4:23-30.
The Lord Promises Peace
1 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: 2 “Thus says the Lord who made the earth,[a] the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: 3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. 4 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword: 5 They are coming in to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill them[b] with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil. 6 Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. 7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. 8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. 9 And this city[c] shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.
10 “Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:
“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
12 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. 13 In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord.
The Lord's Eternal Covenant with David
14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”
19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, 21 then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”
23 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 24 “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The Lord has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. 25 Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”
Save Me, O My God
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God. Selah[a]
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Answer Me When I Call
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
2 O men,[b] how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry,[c] and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
In the vision of restoration provided by Jeremiah 33, the last half of the chapter focuses on the restoration of the Davidic throne and related matters (Jer. 33:14-26). Some observations:
(1) Verses 15-16 largely repeat 23:5-6 (see meditation for July 27). The words are described as God’s “gracious promise” (33:14), i.e., the promise he made to Israel a little earlier through Jeremiah, and to which he again draws attention now that Jeremiah is imprisoned in the courtyard and the doom of the city is not long delayed. The destruction of the city is imminent, the exile of the people all but inevitable—and God wants both Jeremiah and the people to look beyond the impending disasters and contemplate his promises that await sure fulfillment. That is a substantial part of what it means to walk by faith.
(2) On the whole, Jeremiah does not disclose as much about the coming of the Messiah as does Isaiah—or, more accurately put, what he discloses is more diffuse and less focused. Nevertheless he depicts the coming one as the good shepherd (23:4; 31:10), the righteous Branch (23:5; 33:15), and as David the king, the Lord’s servant (30:9; 33:21, 26).
(3) The certainty of God’s covenant with David is tied to the certainty of God’s covenant with the day and the night (33:19-21)—in other words, to the utter reliability of God to maintain his ordered universe. The stability of the Davidic monarchy is not likened to the morning mist that passes away, but to the daily cycle, whose regularity depends on the faithfulness and reliability of a powerful, providential God. Although all that will be seen of the Davidic dynasty for a while will be a poor stump, yet God himself will make “a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line” (33:15).
(4) Slightly more surprising, and certainly rarer among the prophets, is the promise that the Levites will not fail to have a man stand before God and offer the prescribed sacrifices (33:18, 21). This may refer to the postexilic years when the temple was rebuilt and the Levitical sacrifices were reconstituted. But this same Jeremiah has also foreseen a new covenant, an announcement that makes the Mosaic covenant obsolete in principle (Heb. 8:13). Indeed, four centuries before Jeremiah, David foresaw the rise of a Melchizedekian priesthood (Ps. 110) that anticipated the end of the Levitical system and a change in the Law (Heb. 7:11- 12). From a canonical perspective, perhaps the ultimate typological fulfillment of this passage is in the kingdom of “priests” arising from the work of the great David (1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6).
Zedekiah to Die in Babylon
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities: 2 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 3 You shall not escape from his hand but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face. And you shall go to Babylon.’ 4 Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you: ‘You shall not die by the sword. 5 You shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so people shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!”’ For I have spoken the word, declares the Lord.”
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, 7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, Lachish and Azekah, for these were the only fortified cities of Judah that remained.
8 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, 9 that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother. 10 And they obeyed, all the officials and all the people who had entered into the covenant that everyone would set free his slave, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again. They obeyed and set them free. 11 But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves. 12 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 13 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, 14 ‘At the end of seven years each of you must set free the fellow Hebrew who has been sold to you and has served you six years; you must set him free from your service.’ But your fathers did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. 15 You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, 16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.
17 “Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like[a] the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— 19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. 20 And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. 21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. 22 Behold, I will command, declares the Lord, and will bring them back to this city. And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.”
Lead Me in Your Righteousness
To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.
1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch.
4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.
O Lord, Deliver My Life
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith.[b] A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
4 Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
Both individuals and larger communities sometimes vow, under the pressure of desperation, to reform themselves and devote themselves to pleasing God. When the pressure abates, they rescind their promises and return to their self-centered sin. Their fickleness becomes transparent. The judgment or disaster threatening them does not really teach them the ways of righteousness or instruct them to turn from sin. They simply want relief, and if a vow before the Lord can achieve it, why, then they will vow. But that does not mean they really try to keep their vows.
That is the sort of pathetic drama that unfolds in Jeremiah 34. Nebuchadnezzar is at the gates of Jerusalem (34:1). Motivated by sheer desperation, King Zedekiah leads the people in a covenant that proclaims freedom for all slaves (34:8). The Mosaic covenant had in principle greatly ameliorated slave conditions by limiting servitude to six years (34:14; Ex. 21:2; Deut. 15:1, 12). A stream of prophets— Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah—excoriated the covenant people for their callousness, for their mercenary defiance of God’s Law, especially in the matter of slavery. And now Zedekiah leads the Jerusalemites in this major reform.
From other sources (see meditation for August 9) we know that news reached the armed forces of Babylon to the effect that an Egyptian army was advancing to relieve Jerusalem. So far as we know, this report was untrue. Nevertheless the Babylonian army withdrew to face this new threat from the south. To the citizens of Jerusalem, this must have seemed like almost miraculous relief. Stupidly, sinfully, wickedly, the former slave-owners “changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again” (34:11). Their real hearts are thus completely exposed.
Inevitably, the Babylonian forces discover there is no threat from Egypt, and the siege closes in again. There is no hope of relief this time. Who will believe any of their acts of “repentance” now? God declares, “But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again” (34:16). They have not “proclaimed freedom” to their “fellow countrymen” (34:17). So the only “freedom” they themselves will experience is the freedom to fall by sword, plague, and famine (34:17).
What hope is there for people who put on a show of “repentance” calculated to earn some mercy, but who return like a dog to its vomit and like a pig to its muck (2 Pet. 2:20-22)?
The Obedience of the Rechabites
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2 “Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink.” 3 So I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites. 4 I brought them to the house of the Lord into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. 5 Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, “Drink wine.” 6 But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. 7 You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.’ 8 We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9 and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard or field or seed, 10 but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 11 But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Syrians.’ So we are living in Jerusalem.”
12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the Lord. 14 The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father's command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. 15 I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. 16 The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. 17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.”
18 But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.”
In You Do I Take Refuge
A Shiggaion[a] of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.
1 O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend[b] with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.
8 The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,[c]
O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.
12 If a man[d] does not repent, God[e] will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.
17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
How Majestic Is Your Name
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith.[f] A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[g]
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8 is a priceless jewel that celebrates the glory and goodness of God disclosed in creation. With a wonderful brevity, David provides a heady mixture of awe and barely restrained joy. Without overlooking the evil in the world (8:2), he focuses on elements of the created order that reflect God’s majesty. Even the heavens are inadequate to the task (8:1b), yet God has ordained that his praise should be on the lips of children and infants (8:2). “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (8:1, 9); appropriately, the psalm begins and ends with God himself.
In large part, the psalm focuses on the place of human beings in this God-constructed, God-centered universe. The central rhetorical question is, “[W]hat is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Variations of this question carry different overtones, depending on the context. The question may beg for respite (Job 7:17), hide in shame in the face of human sin (Job 25:6), or undermine human arrogance (Ps. 144:3-4). In the context of Psalm 8, the question expresses stunned awe as the psalmist glimpses the surpassing greatness of the universe and reflects on human smallness and massive significance: astonishingly, God is “mindful” of “man,” which means much more than that he “remembers” us (as if Omniscience could forget!). Rather, the word has overtones of compassion, as the parallel line shows: he cares for us. What is glorious is the relationship. Indeed, here is one of these human beings addressing this great and majestic God personally: “that you are mindful . . . that you care.” One commentator reminds us that the appropriate inference Isaiah draws from the glory of God’s ordered heavens is not his remoteness but his “eye for detail” (Isa. 40:26ff.). The universe was not designed to be vast and meaningless, but to be a vast home for God’s people (Isa. 45:18; 51:16). Indeed, the vision of Psalm 8 harks back to the creation account (Gen. 1—2). This creature, this small being, this God-blessed human, is designed to serve as God’s co-regent over the entire created order of this planet (8:6-8).
Two further reflections: First, this account of human beings is vastly removed from contemporary visions that picture us as the accidental byproducts of cosmogony, neither significant nor intrinsically good or evil. Second, the Epistle to the Hebrews, reflecting on Psalm 8, recognizes how far short we human beings fall from our purpose in creation, and finds hope in the fact that we see Jesus as the prototypical Man of the consummated order still to come (Heb. 2:5-13).
Jehoiakim Burns Jeremiah's Scroll
1 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord that he had spoken to him. 5 And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, “I am banned from going to the house of the Lord, 6 so you are to go, and on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the Lord's house you shall read the words of the Lord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah who come out of their cities. 7 It may be that their plea for mercy will come before the Lord, and that every one will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” 8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did all that Jeremiah the prophet ordered him about reading from the scroll the words of the Lord in the Lord's house.
9 In the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord. 10 Then, in the hearing of all the people, Baruch read the words of Jeremiah from the scroll, in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the Lord's house.
11 When Micaiah the son of Gemariah, son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, 12 he went down to the king's house, into the secretary's chamber, and all the officials were sitting there: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the officials. 13 And Micaiah told them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the scroll in the hearing of the people. 14 Then all the officials sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, son of Shelemiah, son of Cushi, to say to Baruch, “Take in your hand the scroll that you read in the hearing of the people, and come.” So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. 15 And they said to him, “Sit down and read it.” So Baruch read it to them. 16 When they heard all the words, they turned one to another in fear. And they said to Baruch, “We must report all these words to the king.” 17 Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?” 18 Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, while I wrote them with ink on the scroll.” 19 Then the officials said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are.”
20 So they went into the court to the king, having put the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the secretary, and they reported all the words to the king. 21 Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary. And Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. 22 It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. 23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. 24 Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. 25 Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son and Seraiah the son of Azriel and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the secretary and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them.
27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah's dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28 “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. 29 And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the Lord, You have burned this scroll, saying, “Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it man and beast?” 30 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. 31 And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the people of Judah all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, but they would not hear.’”
32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.
Message to Baruch
45 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ 4 Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. 5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.”
I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before[c] your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.
7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O Lord!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion.[d] Selah
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
These two chapters, Jeremiah 36, 45, provide valuable insights into two realms: the relationship between Jeremiah and Baruch, and how Jeremiah’s prophecies came to be written down.
(1) Baruch, son of Neriah (36:4) and brother of Seraiah, who was a staff officer serving King Zedekiah (51:59), first appears in this book in chapter 32, where he serves as a legal witness. It now transpires that Baruch was Zedekiah’s amanuensis (his scribe, more or less his secretary).
(2) Clearly at some point Baruch thought that being attached to a prophet like Jeremiah would contribute to his advancement. He is deeply disappointed to find things not working out that way (Jer. 45). The import of the messages he has been transcribing sinks into his own soul, and he is terribly depressed. Jeremiah responds in two ways. (a) He rebukes the young man for thinking so narrowly of his own future when the entire nation is going down. That is a rebuke that many in the individualistic West need to hear. (b) He provides him with some assurance: despite the catastrophe about to fall on the city, Baruch will survive.
(3) We are not always provided precise information as to how the revelation God gave to particular prophets reached the written form we have in the Bible. Here the information is wonderfully specific. God himself instructs Jeremiah to write the words down, and Jeremiah carefully dictates them to Baruch, who transcribes them. Since this was the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign (36:1), it was 605/604 B.C., the year of the Battle of Carchemish when Babylon replaced Egypt as the regional power.
(4) It appears that, at least at first, the written form of Jeremiah’s prophecies carried more weight with the authorities than the oral form for which Jeremiah was incarcerated (36:8-19). Even today a public medium—newspapers, radio, television—is more likely to be believed than mere word of mouth from a friend. The tragedy is that when the king hears the words read to him, he responds with cynical defiance, cutting up the scroll section by section and throwing it into the fire. His action provides an ugly foil to the response of King Josiah when the rediscovered law scroll was read to him (2 Kings 22:11). Worse yet, if what he is destroying really is the scroll of God’s words, how utterly stupid to think that God’s words can be overthrown and destroyed so easily. Is God’s memory so short that he cannot remember what he has said? Can he not raise up human servants who will transcribe the material afresh and even include fresh revelation (36:27- 32)? So too with all the efforts across history to destroy the Scriptures: is God so impotent that he cannot defend his words and destroy those who mock them?
Praise God for the sacrifice of Christ and the redemption offered to us by the cross. Ask God to purify our motives and hearts. Pray we as a faith family would not be motivated by greed, ambition, or false religious motives in our relationships with others or our relationship with God. Praise God for His steadfast love. Pray for us to value Jesus rightly and give Him great glory in the world. Ask God to bring many to the reality of His saving grace and freedom from the grip of sin. Praise God for His sovereign plan, His lordship over all events in history, and His promise to redeem His people. Pray we would be found faithful and God would make us steadfast in His service.
This week we are praying for the ministry of WorkFaith Birmingham, a Christ-centered 501(c)3 workforce preparation and life-development ministry focused on helping adults in transition or who are chronically unemployed. WFB works to provide an avenue to bring the whole Body of Christ alongside adults needing skill development to get a job and keep a job, and to develop Christian values to maintain work. We are praying for them as they reset their volunteer ministry to be even more successful in the future. We are also praying for Bethel Baptist Church, Collegeville and Thomas Wilder, Pastor.
Day 1: Pray for the 110 graduates of the program as they move into full-time employment. Ask God to continue to grow a Biblical worldview in them, deepen their relationships with Christ, and get connected to a local church.
Day 2: Pray for God to raise up an army of volunteers to help adults move forward in life through work and faith.
Day 3: Pray for additional partnerships to grow with other ministries and organizations in Birmingham so that they can benefit from the successful program.
Day 4: Pray for the over 80% of graduates who have kept a job for over a year, that they will be able to move forward now into a career that provides sustainable wages for them and their families.
Day 5: Pray for wisdom for the board as they seek to give overall guidance to the ministry and help raise resources. Pray God will send the right board members to help lead and guide the ministry and that He will provide the financial resources for the ministry to continue to impact our city.
Day 6: Pray for those graduates that are still seeking employment to be diligent in their search and not be discouraged. Last year 88% found employment. Pray for God to provide additional employers willing to hire graduates from WFB.
This week we are praying for the five Brook Hills Mid-Termers who we will send out this week to serve around the world in places like North Africa, Southeast Asia, Germany, West Africa, and Haiti. For more information and ways to pray visit the missionary map on our new website – brookhills.org. This week we are also praying for our Short-Term Team serving in the Middle East.
Day 1: Praise God for continuing to call out individuals and families from Brook Hills to serve Mid-Term. Pray for God to use each of our Mid-Termers to bring Him great glory and strengthen the local church around the world.
Day 2: Kristin H. is going to serve in Southeast Asia for five months. Pray for God to unify Kristin and her teammate so they can serve the long-term workers and be effective in sharing the gospel together.
Day 3: Sarah R. will be serving two years in Cote D’Ivoire. Praise God for her gift of administration and for giving her the opportunity to use that gift to serve the local church and local field workers for effective ministry. Pray for many to know Christ in Cote D’Ivoire.
Day 4: Tyler B. will be working among refugees in Germany for two years. Pray for God to give Tyler many opportunities to be in the homes of these refugees and to boldly share the gospel with those he is serving.
Day 5: Kristi K. will be serving for one year in North Africa as a teacher. Pray for Kristi to have many opportunities to encourage her students and show them Christ as she serves them.
Day 6: Deanna N. will be teaching for ten months in Haiti at a school for Long-term workers. Pray for God to sustain Deanna as she adjusts to the challenges of living in Haiti, and for God to use her to encourage and strengthen the work being done there.
God is able
He will never fail
He is Almighty God
Greater than all we seek
Greater than all we ask
He has done great things
Lifted up He defeated the grave
Raised to life our God is able
In His Name we overcome
For the Lord our God is able
God is with us
God is on our side
He will make a way
Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things
God is with us
He will go before
He will never leave us
He will never leave us
God is for us
He has open arms
He will never fail us
He will never fail us
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
I find my strength I found my hope
I find my help in Christ alone
When fear assails when darkness falls
I found my peace in Christ alone
I give my life I give my all
I sing my song to Christ alone
The King of Kings the Lord of Lords
All heaven sings to Christ alone
To Christ alone
To Christ alone
The myst’ry of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me
Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus thank You
The Father's wrath completely satisfied
Jesus thank You
Once Your enemy now seated at Your table
Jesus thank You
By Your perfect sacrifice I've been brought near
Your enemy You've made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end
Lover of my soul I want to live for You