John T. Willis

Friday, February 25, 2011

God will Restore Israel and the Nations--Jeremiah 16:14-21

After declaring that God is about to punish his sinful people (Jeremiah 16:1-13), Yahweh now announces that he will indeed punish the wicked, BUT after that he will restore the penitent and all nations that repent and come to Yahweh. Jeremiah 16:14-21. This little paragraph falls into three parts.

I. Yahweh announces that he will restore the penitent Jewish exiles in Babylon. Jeremiah 16:14-15.
a. In the past, Yahweh brought his people out of the land of Egypt in the days of Moses. See Exodus 11-15. Now, in a similar way, Yahweh will bring his people "out of the land of the north," that is, Babylon (see Jeremiah 25:8-9). 16:14-15a.
b. Then, Yahweh will bring the penitent Jewish exiles in Babylon back to their own land of Canaan or Israel that Yahweh originally gave to their ancestors. See Genesis 13:14-18; Joshua 21:43-45. 16:15b.

II. Yahweh announces that he will punish the hard-hearted among his people. Jeremiah 16:16-18.
a. Yahweh declares that he will send fishermen and hunters to find every person who continues to sin against Yahweh. 16:16.
b. Yahweh assures all human beings that they are not hidden or concealed from him. 16:17. See Hebrews 4:13.
c. The wicked have "polluted" Yahweh's chosen land of Canaan, and thus Yahweh will "doubly repay" their iniquities and their sins. 16:18.

III. Jeremiah proclaims that Yahweh will bring the nations from the ends of the earth to teach the people of God who God is. Jeremiah 16:19-21.
a. Jeremiah glorifies Yahweh as Jeremiah's "strength, stronghold and refuge." 16:19a-b.
b. Jeremiah declares that the nations shall come from the ends of the earth, and shall say: the ancestors of Israel have adopted and served and worshipped foreign gods and idols. 16:19c-20.
c. In this way, Yahweh will teach his sinful people and the nations his power and might. 16:21.

Our God is a universal God, not a God "cooped up" in Israel or anywhere else on earth. God uses all nations to carry out his purposes, not just his chosen people. All need to recognize and accept this truth. God is our creator, sustainer, lord, king, and missionary.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beth-el and Beth-aven

There are many wordplays throughout the Bible. Biblical composers frequently use wordplays to communicate the great truths of God. Two related examples of this are Beth-el and Beth-aven. In Hebrew, beth means "house." One well-known example of this is Beth-lehem, "house of bread."

"Beth-el" means "house of God." This is a worship place, a sanctuary. Genesis
28:10-22 supplies the background and significance of this term. Jacob is on his way from Beer-sheba in south Israel to Haran to the northeast of Israel on the Euphrates River to flee from his brother Esau. Jacob comes to Luz, where he becomes very weary and goes to sleep on a rock. There he experiences the famous story of his dream of angels ascending and descending on a ladder to heaven. After the dream, the Bible says in Genesis 28:17-19:

"And he [Jacob] was afraid, and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than THE HOUSE OF GOD, and this is the gate of heaven.' So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Beth-el, butt he name of the city was Luz at the first."

Beth-el continued to be an important place of worship throughout the Old Testament. Jeroboam I set up a golden calf at Dan and a golden calf at Beth-el. 1 Kings
12:28-30. After that, prophets refer to Beth-el several times: see for example, Amos 3:14; 4:4-5; 5:4-5; Hosea 10:15; 12:2.

In several Old Testament texts, prophets denounce the sinfulness of ungodly practices at Beth-el. They use Beth-el in a derogatory way, using the term Beth-aven, "house of iniquity." Joshua 7:2; 18:12-13; Hosea 4:15; 5:8; 10:5.

This is like changing the son of Saul from Ish-baal, "son of Baal," to Ish-bosheth, "son of shame."

Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis