John T. Willis

Saturday, May 21, 2011

An Overview of Hope Oracles in Jeremiah 30-33

Jeremiah 30-33 contain several hope oracles, designed to encourage the Jewish exiles in Babylon to trust in Yahweh and look forward to the day Yahweh will bring back his people from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judah. Even though the Book of Jeremiah never refers to the prophet Ezekiel, it is obvious that Ezekiel was among the people to whom Jeremiah sent this message. There are numerous similarities between the hopes of Jeremiah and the hopes of Ezekiel recorded in Ezekiel 33-48. Before dealing with each of these oracles, it may be helpful to observe several thoughts and concepts in these chapters.

1. The theme of Jeremiah 30-33 is clearly: "I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel and Judah"--Jeremiah 30:3, 18; 31:23; 32:44; 33:7, 11, 26. Jeremiah had already announced this theme in his letter to the Judean exiles with Jehoiachin in Jeremiah 29:14. As we deal with each oracle, we need to remember that the theme throughout is that Yahweh will restore the fortune of his people.

2. Every oracle is a hope oracle. However, many of these oracles begin with a picture of doom. This is very important because this rhetorical device puts in bold contrast the present situation of God's people and the future situation of God's people. God is about to CHANGE the entire situation of God's people in Babylonian exile.

3. Jeremiah 30-33 present SIX hopes of the people of God for the future. Here is a brief outline of these hopes:
a. God will overthrow Babylon and bring his faithful people of North Israel and Judah back to the land of Israel. 30:3, 8, 11 and several times.
b. God will heal the spiritual wound of God's people. 30:12-17.
c. God will raise up a descendant of David to be the earthly ruler under Yahweh, and descendants of the levitical priests. 30:9, 21; 33:14-26 and several times. Initially this was undoubtedly Zerubbabel and Joshua--see Haggai; Zechariah 1-6.
d. God will change the mourning and sorrow over the losses of Judah into dancing and joy. 31:13-22 and several times.
e. God will resinstate the marital covenant between Yahweh and his wives North Israel and Judah. 31:31-34; 32:36-41.
f. God will rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. 33:1-11.
Jeremiah 30-33 repeat these six hopes in various ways. There is much repetition of these ideas, but in various forms.

4. There are many themes in Jeremiah 30-33 which appear elsewhere in the Book of Jeremiah. Watch for these connections.

5. The New Testament quotes and refers to Jeremiah 30-33, and applies them to Jesus Christ and the church. When we arrive at the study of Jeremiah 31:15-22, we will address the question of HOW THE NEW TESTAMENT USES THE OLD TESTAMENT. The New Testament reveals HOW its composers, speakers, and writes use the Old Testament. This "side study" may be helpful.

6. For emphasis, Jeremiah is concerned with BOTH NORTH ISRAEL AND JUDAH, NOT Judah alone. God is concerned for ALL his people, not merely those in the south. The Bible opens eyes to rethinking the message of God.

Share YOUR dreams and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Friday, May 20, 2011


Our pulpit minister, Jonathan Storment, has just finished a series through the Book of Acts. The church at Highland is highly motivated by this series. Everyone should experience these deeply biblical, current lessons for God's people.

In a recent sermon, Jonathan discussed the shipwreck on the Mediterranean Sea and the landing at the island of Malta. While Paul was on Malta, a viper fastened itself on Paul's hand. The natives assumed Paul would die, but Paul shook off the viper, and later God healed the father of the leading man of the island, Publius, and many people on the island. Among other important truths, Jonathan pointed out:
1. Paul would never have been on Malta if he had not appealed to Caesar and experienced a shipwreck on the Mediterranean Sea. God brought Paul there in a surprising, marvelous way to influence ungodly people to turn to Jesus Christ.
2. God is superior to snakes, or any other creature, because God is the creator of all that is.
3. True people of God are daily willing to make risks in trust of God.
Following the biblical teaching of using symbolic acts, Jonathan had Joy Harsh to bring a snake before the whole church. This was a memorable experience. Many children came up to see and feel this snake. They will never remember this biblical account and Jonathan's message.

This story reminds me of the story of the Israelites in the wilderness when they complained because they had no food or water. In response, Yahweh sent poisonous serpents or snakes among the people, and they died. They came to Moses, and begged him to pray to Yahweh. Moses did this, and Yahweh told Moses to make a serpent of bronze and put it one a pole. If the people would look on this pole, God would heal them. The Hebrew word in this story for both "serpent" or "snake" and "bronze" is nahash. Numbers 21:4-9.

From this time ca. 1250 BCE to the time of King Hezekiah of Judah ca. 700 BCE, the people of Israel made offerings to this brazen pole as an act of worship. Hezekiah finally broke this pole in pieces. On the basis of the Hebrew word nahash, the people called this pole Nehushtan. 2 Kings 18:4.

Remember that Satan is a biblical symbol of a serpent or a snake. Genesis 3:1-14. Throughout scripture, different biblical composers use a serpent or snake metaphorically in various ways. See for example, Genesis 49:17; Pslams 58:4; 140:3; Proverbs 23:32; 30:19; Isaiah 14:29; 27:1; 65:25; Jeremiah 46:22; Micah 7:17. The New Testament also refers to snakes for various reasons. See Matthew 7:7-11; 10:16
I hope YOU get to hear Jonathan Storment's sermons through the Book of Acts. The message given there will change YOUR heart and life.

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

John Willis

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jeremiah's Conflict with Shemaiah--Jeremiah's Letter to the Judean Exiles in Babylon--Jeremiah 29

The third conflict of Jeremiah is his conflict with Shemaiah, related in Jeremiah
29. This chapter contains Jeremiah's letter and two responses. Thus Jeremiah 29 falls into three paragraphs.

I. Jeremiah sends a letter to the Judean exiles under Jehoiachin, assuring them that Yahweh will bring back the faithful remnant of Judah to the land of Israel after seventy years. Jeremiah 29:1-23.
a. The composer of the Book of Jeremiah explains that Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to the Judean exiles in Babylon under king Jehoiachin, which occurred a little later than 598 or 597 BCE. Elasah and Gemariah carried this letter under the instruction of King Zedekiah of Judah. 29:1-3. [Note that the accounts of Jeremiah's conflicts in Jeremiah 26-28 date respectively from 609-605 BCE for chapter 26, and 594 BCE for chapters 27-28, as outlined in previous blogs].
b. Jeremiah's message to the exiles is as follows:
*Build houses, plant gardens, marry, and multiply in Babylon. 29:4-6.
*Seek the welfare of the Babylonians. Support and encourage and help the Babylonians where you are now living. Pray to the Lord in behalf of the Babylonians. In these ways, Yahweh will bless you. 29:7.
*Do not listen to or accept the messages of the false prophets of Judah living in Babylon, because their messages are lies. 29:8-9.
*You Judean exiles must live in Babylon for 70 years, as I have already announced [see 25:11-12]. I have great plans for you "to give you a future with hope." If you will follow my instructions, when you pray to me, I will hear you and answer your prayers if you seek me with ALL YOUR HEART. I will RESTORE YOUR FORTUNES and gather you from all the nations and bring you back to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. 29:10-14.
*At the same time, I will bring "sword, famine, and pestilence" on Zedekiah and the Judeans still living in Jerusalem and the land of Judah, who have decided to oppose and rebel against Yahweh's instructions and guidance, and reject the messages of Yahweh's "servants the prophets."I will make them like "rotten figs"--a reference to Jeremiah 24:1-10. 29:15-20.
*Now, specifically, Yahweh through Jeremiah announces that he will deliver the false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah into the hands of Nebuchadrezzar and the Babylonians and kill them as an example for all the people of Judah. Ahab and Zedekiah perpetrated outrage in Israsl, committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and spoken lying words in the name of Yahweh. 29:21-23.

II. Shemaiah sends a letter back to the priest Zephaniah at the Jerusalem temple, demanding that he rebuke Jeremiah strongly. Jeremiah 29:24-28.
a. Shemaiah reminds Zephaniah that Yahweh had made him priest instead of Jehoiada the priest "to control any madman who plays the prophet, and put him in the stocks and the collar." 29:24-26.
b. So Shemaiah confronts Zephaniah and asks him why he had not rebuked Jeremiah, who declared the Judean exiles would be in Babylon "a long time"=70 years. 29:27-28.

III. Zephaniah reports to Jeremiah the letter of Shemaiah. Yahweh declares through Jeremiah that Yahweh will destroy Shemaiah and his family because he is a false prophet. Jeremiah 29:29-32.
a. When Zephaniah receives Shemaiah's threatening letter, Zephaniah reads this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah. 29:29.
b. Yahweh comes to Jeremiah and tells Jeremiah to send another letter to the Judean exiles in Babylon, declaring that Shemaiah's letter was not from Yahweh. Therefore, Yahweh is going to punish Shemaiah and his descendants because Shemaiah "led the exiles to trust in a lie." 29:30-32.

Yahweh's messages through Jeremiah are certainly not ultimately messages of doom, but messages of hope. But Yahweh will give his people a future with hope in Yahweh's own time. God's people must be patient. It will take God 70 years to accomplish his promises. There is a powerful, relevant message for all of us today. God will ultimately prevail, but he may take many years, decades, centuries to carry out his plans. Let us trust in him daily.

Share YOUR thoughts and dreams to others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

A Soft Answer

As we continue our thoughts about the IMPORTANCE OF SPEECH, an individual's personality, words, tone of voice, and gestures communicates much good or bad to other people. A soft or kind or gentle word is very helpful to encourage, reassure, rethink, reconsider, arise above problems other people confront daily. A few biblical texts might be helpful along these lines.

Proverbs 15:1: "A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Every day, each person comes into contact with someone who is angry or a hothead. It is tempting to respond in like kind=to be angry in return. But a godly person must control his or her feelings and respond in love and respect. Speak softly, and that angry person will soon settle down and rethink his or her own attitude.

Colossians 4:6: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone."
All people carry heavy problems, issues, concerns each day. Let us try to be understanding and gracious about the feelings and concerns of others. Prayer is very helpful when confronted with difficult matters.

Proverbs 15:18: "Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife,
but those who are slow to anger calm contention."
Some people have short fuses. Someone has to step in and behave in a Christlike way. It is must better to calm a conflict than to fire back with a sharp tongue.

Ephesians 4:31-5:2: "Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wranging and slander together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us an gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
One will always be happy if he or she can control his or her feelings and words, and be kind to other people. This is very difficult. At the same time, it pays off. Try it today and tomorrow and through life. God is always present.

Share YOUR dreams and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jeremiah's Conflict with Hananiah: The Symbolic Act of the Yoke--Jeremiah 27-28

Jeremiah's second conflict recorded in Jeremiah 26-29 is his conflict with the prophet Hananiah. This conflict is related in Jeremiah 27-28. The stories recorded in Jeremiah 27-28 fall into five paragraphs.

I. Yahweh instructs Jeremiah to announce that Yahweh is sending Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to overthrow God's people in Judah and surrounding nations. Jeremiah 27:1-11.
a. The composer of the Book of Jeremiah dates the events recorded in Jeremiah 27-28 are in the fourth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, thus 594 BCE. 27:1; 28:1. [Note that the Hebrew text has "Jehoiakim," but this is undoubtedly incorrect, and the correct reading is "Zedekiah." See 27:3, 12; 28:1).
b. Yahweh instructs Jeremiah to put a yoke on his neck and send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Phoenicia, who have cometo Jerusalem as envoys to King Zedekiah of Judah. 27:2-3.
c. The message of Yahweh that Jeremiah is to declare to these kings is: Yahweh made the earth, and gives the earth to whomever Yahweh pleases. 27:4. See Psalms 115:3; 135:6.
d. Yahweh NOW has declared that he will give all the lands of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Phoenicia and Judah into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar II and the Babylonians until the Babylonians fall. 27:5-7.
e. If any nation does not serve Nebuchadnezzar and put its neck under the YOKE of the Babylonians, Yahweh will punish that nation "with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence." These nations must not listen to other prophets, for they are lying. If any nation brings its neck under the YOKE of Nebuchadnezzar, Yahweh will leave that nation on its own land. 27:8-11.

II. In obedience to Yahweh's instructions, Jeremiah goes to King Zedekiah of Judah and declares Yahweh's message to Zedekiah in behalf of the people. Jeremiah
27:12-15. This message is very repetitive of Yahweh's message to Jeremiah in 27:6-11.

III. Again, in obedience to Yahweh's instructions, Jeremiah goes to the priests and all the people of God and declares Yahweh's message. Jeremiah 27:16-22.
a. This message is essentially the same as that proclaimed in 27:6-11. 27:16-17.
b. Jeremiah places emphasis on what will happen to the vessels in the Jerusalem temple which had not already been taken into Babylon. The false prophets declare that these vessels with remain. Jeremiah declares that the Babylonians will seize them and carry them into exile. 27:18-22.

IV. The prophet Hananiah breaks the wooden yoke on Jeremiah's neck, declaring Yahweh will break the yoke of Babylon on Judah. Jeremiah 28:1-11.
a. In the same year that Jeremiah appeared wearing a wooden yoke, declaring Yahweh has brought the Babylonians into the land of Canaan to overthrow the people of God and carry them into captivity, the prophet Hananiah appears in the Jerusalem temple and declares Yahweh has declared that he will break the yoke of the king of Babylon and will bring Jehoiachin and the other Judeans in Babylon back to Jerusalem and Judah. 28:1-4.
b. Jeremiah responds, saying in mockery: "Amen! May the Lord do so!" 28:5-7.
c. Then Jeremiah declares that former prophets of Yahweh declared "war, famine, and pestilence" against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who declares peace will be considered a true prophet if this really happens. 28:8-9.
d. The prophet Hananiah responds by taking the wooden yoke from the neck of Jeremiah and breaking it, declaring that Yahweh will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years. Jeremiah quietly walks away.

V. A few weeks later, Jeremiah appears at the Jerusalem temple to confront Hananiah and tell him that Yahweh will put an iron yoke on the neck of Judah under Babylon. Jeremiah 28:12-17.
a. Yahweh comes to Jeremiah and tells him to tell Hananiah that Yahweh has put an iron yoke on Judah and the surrounding nations. 28:12-14.
b. Jeremiah confronts Hananiah, declaring that Hananiah has delivered a lying message. Therefore, Hananiah will die within a year. Two months later, Hananiah dies. 28:15-17.

Note: Jeremiah's message was very effective because he used A SYMBOLIC ACT to arouse the curiosity of the people and appropriately declare Yahweh's message. He appeared in public at the church building [the Jerusalem temple] wearing a yoke on his neck. We often assume preaching is or should be a presentation of mere words. NOT SO, Biblically!!! There is much drama, symbolic acts or signs, gestures, art work, music, etc., necessary or essential to communicate God's message. We need preachers who will follow this biblical example of preaching, so that God's message will be powerful and effective.

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

John Willis


As we continue our thoughts on the significance of SPEECH, at the very top of the list is the importance of SILENCE. Of course, it is often very appropriate to speak in various situations about various circumstances. At the same time, OFTEN the most important action to pursue is SILENCE. Here are a few thoughts. I would deeply appreciate YOUR thoughts about this important aspect of SPEECH.

1. God is our Creator, Lord, Sustainer, Help, and Guide. We are his creatures, the recipients of God's blessings and gifts, people who need to learn from God daily. Thus, our major role is to LISTEN--to HEAR--to BE SILENT before God so we can hear his voice.
Habakkuk 2:20 declares:
"The Lord is in his holy temple;
It is so easy for us human beings to keep busy and talk, talk, talk, when we need to be calm, settle down, and listen to God--be silent before him.

2. When Elijah fled from Jezebel after he had killed the 850 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:40; 19:1-10), he came to Mount Horeb=Mount Sinai. The Bible says:
"Now there was a GREAT WIND, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, BUT THE LORD WAS NOT IN THE WIND; and after the wind an EARTHQUAKE, BUT THE LORD WAS NOT IN THE EARTHQUAKE; and after the earthquake a FIRE, BUT THE lORD WAS NOT IN THE FIRE, and after the fire A SHEER SILENCE." (1 Kings 19:11-12).
There is great power in SILENCE. God is often silent, and we fervently want him to say or do something. But in his deep, abiding silence, he changes our lives.

3. Carlyle wrote: "Silence is more eloquent than words." And a German proverb says: "Speech is silver; silence is golden." La Bruyere said: "It is a great misfortune neither to have enough wit to talk well nor enough judgment to be silent." Syrus reflected: "I regret often that I have spoken; never that I have been silent."

4. Proverbs 13:3 says:
"Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives;
those who open wide their lips come to ruin."

5. In my early years, I felt that God's people were compelled to DEBATE with people who differ with people who have different understandings, interpretations, beliefs. It did not take me very long to realize that all of us human beings are imperfect, short-sighted, limited in many ways. NOW, I honor and respect beliefs and views different from my own. Through time, I have often changed my view by listening to the views of other people and re-thinking through each issue. GROWTH demands CHANGE in understanding, attitude, way of life. Hence, I will NEVER DEBATE with anyone about any issue!!! I am VERY HAPPY to engage in serious study ABOUT ANYTHING as along as EVERYONE SPEAKING honors and respects everyone else in the discussion.

6. It is tragic that through past decades and centuries, so-called Christian leaders, churches, and religious groups have taken on themselves the RESPONSIBILITY to DEBATE those who differ with them and berate and criticize and blackball those who differ. This is UNGODLIKE, UNCHRISTIAN to the core. The godlike stance is to be courteous, loving, understanding, silent. These words from the word of God are very helpful.
Proverbs 26:20-22:
"For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is not whisperer, quarreling ceases.
As charcoal is to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body."
Jesus sets the example for this behavior. Note Matthew 27:12-14:
"But when he [Jesus] was accused by the chief priests and elders, HE DID NOT ANSWER. Then Pilate said to him, 'Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?' BUT HE GAVE HIM NO ANSWER, NOT EVEN A SINGLE CHARGE, so that the governor was greatly amazed."
Let us follow Jesus's example. SILENCE is very often the best action.

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

John Willis

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jeremiah's Conflict with Judah's Princes, Priests, Prophets and People--Jeremiah 26:1-24

Jeremiah 26-29 form a coherent unity of three conflicts of Jeremiah, dating from different times during his lifetime. The first conflict is between Jeremiah and the princes, priests, prophets and people of Judah, recorded in Jeremiah 26. This paragraph falls into three parts.

I. All Judah opposes Jeremiah, but are divided over his sentence. Jeremiah 26:1-16.
a. Jeremiah 26:1 dates this paragraph "at the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah," which would be between 609 and 605 BCE. Jeremiah 27:1; 28:1 show that "at the beginning of" does not necessarily mean THE VERY FIRST YEAR of the reign of a king, but may include the first three or four years of that king's reign. 26:1.
b. 26:2-6 is an "outline" of Jeremiah's sermon proclaimed in more detail in Jeremiah 7:1-15. Hence, the date of Jeremiah 7:1-15 is between 609 and 605 BCE. This sermon declares that Yahweh is about to punish his sinful people if they do not repent. God's people had rejected God's law and God's prophets for many centuries. Their way of life had become a habit of sin and rebellion. Thus, Yahweh announces that he will punish Judah and Jerusalem, including the Jerusalem temple, just as Yahweh had punished North Israel, including Shiloh and the Shiloh temple--see
1 Samuel 4:12-22; Jeremiah 7:12-15. 26:2-6.
c. The princes, priests, prophets, and people of Judah attack Jeremiah when they hear Jeremiah's message, and declare: "You shall die!" "This may deserves the sentence of death because he has prophesied against this city=Jerusalem, the city of God." 26:7-11.
d. Jeremiah responds by going to the princes and people of Judah, declaring that Yahweh sent Jeremiah to prophesy against the Jerusalem temple and the city of Jerusalem because of their sins. Yahweh through Jeremiah summons God's people to amend their ways and doings and obey Yahweh. If they will do this, Yahweh will change his mind and deliver them. 26:12-13.
e. Then Jeremiah declares he is willing to do whatever his people say. The princes and people go to the priests and prophets of Judah, declaring that even though they differ with Jeremiah's message, Jeremiah "does not deserve the sentence of death." 26:14-16.

II. The Precedent of Micah. Jeremiah 26:17-19.
The elders of Judah, speaking in behalf of the princes and people of Judah, rehearse the precent of the prophet Micah, who preached in Judah between ca. 730-700 BCE. Micah declares that Yahweh will destroy the Jerusalem temple and the city of Jerusalem. Micah 3:9-12. But King Hezekiah heeded Micah's message, and Hezekiah and the people of Judah repented. Accordingly, Yahweh "changed his mind" and delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians under King Sennacherib. 2 Kings 19:8-37. Logically, the elders of Judah conclude that we must not put Jeremiah to death.

III. The Precedent of Uriah. Jeremiah 26:20-24.
a. The text relates another situation concerning the prophet Uriah from Kiriath-jearim. Uriah announced the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. King Jehoiakim sought to kill him, and Uriah fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim sent a group of soldiers to bring Uriah back, and then killed Uriah. This contains a precedent to kill Jeremiah for proclaiming the same message. 26:20-23.
b. At the last moment, a very influential individual in Judah named Ahikam, son of Shaphan, spoke up and persuaded the people of Judah not to put Jeremiah to death. 26:24.

Just one courageous, faithful person of integrity can change the hearts and lives of many people. Hence, the people of Judah listened to the view of Ahikam.

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

John Willis

Monday, May 16, 2011

Invisible Personalities and Realities

In a recent blog, we discussed the story of Elisha and his servant at Dothan, recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Remember that Elisha's servant could not see the horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha and the enemies of Israel, the Arameans= Syrians. 2 Kings 6:17. Obviously, these "horses and chariots" were the angelic horses and chariots that God sent to protect Elisha and his servant and the people of Dothan. The most important personalities and realities in life are invisible to the human eye. It would be impossible to make a complete list of invisible personalities and realities. Here are only a few.

1. Angels. Usually we human beings do not see angels visibly. Occasionally they do appear, but usually they are invisible. The Bible is full of references to the work and influences of angels among human beings on earth. A very few examples are: Genesis 18:1-8, 22; 19:1-23; 28:10-17; Exodus 14:19; Judges 6:11-24; Psalm 91:11-12; Matthew 1:20-25; Luke 2:8-20; 15:8-10; Acts 12:6-11; Galatians 1:6-9.

2. Satan=The Devil. We human beings have never seen Satan=the Devil. But it is obvious that the devil is very alive. The Bible often mentions Satan=the Devil. Here are only a few examples: 1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1-2; Zechariah 3:1-10; Matthew
4:1-11; Romans 16:20; 1 Peter 5:8-9.

3. God the Father. No one has ever seen God as he really is. Exodus 33:17-23; Judges 13:19-23; John 1:18; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:13-16.

4. Demons. Paul openly declares:
"Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12.
The Bible frequently refers to demons who disrupt the hearts and lives of human beings. Jesus often confronted demons. See for example, Matthew 8:28-9:1; 12:22-32, 43-45; 17:14-21; Acts 19:11-20.

5. Fear, Anxiety, Disappointment, Pessimism, Depression. Many negative realities exist in our heart. Fear, anxiety, disappointment, pessimism, depression, and similar such realities are invisible. But they are real.

6. Love, patience, hope, trust, joy, peace, self-control. Many positive realities exist in our heart. These realities are real, but they are invisible.

The most important personalities and realities in life are invisible. Our God is invisible. He is obviously a daily personality in life. His wisdom, his power, his love, sustains us daily.

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

John Willis

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Cup the Wine of God's Wrath--Jeremiah 25:1-38

Yahweh through Jeremiah frequently announced that Yahweh is about to punish his sinful people. Jeremiah 25 contains TWO such announcements: (1) The Foe from the North is about to descend upon Judah: 25:1-14; (2) Yahweh will force all nations to drink the cup of the wine of his wrath, and the first nation who will drink it is Judah (25:15-38). This blog contains a brief discussion of each of these announcements.

I. Yahweh is about to bring "the Foe from the North" to punish his sinful people Judah. Jeremiah 25:1-14.
a. The composer dates 25:1-14, and possibly the entire chapter, in 605 BCE, that is, the fourth year of Jehoiakim of Judah and the first year of Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon. In this same year, the Babylonians took a small group of young Judean lads into captivity to teach the language and culture of Babylon. These included Daniel, Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego. See Daniel 1:1-7. 25:1-2.
b. For 23 year, Yahweh had announced the coming of the Foe from the North through the prophet Jeremiah, i. e., 627 BCE. See Jeremiah 1:1-10. Yahweh's people refused to listen to Yahweh's message to bring them to repentance. They forsook Yahweh and went after other gods, especially the Baals. 25:3-7. Hence, Yahweh's announcement of the punish of God's people is not a recent attitude or behavior.
c. Because God's people refused to listen to Yahweh's message, Yahweh declares he is "going to send for all the tribes of the NORTH, i. e., Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, Yahweh's SERVANT, to bring the Babylonians against Yahweh's sinful people and utterly destroy them and carry them into captivity. 25:8-10.
d. Yahweh declares that the Judeans "shall serve the king of Babylon 70 years. This is from 605 BCE to 536 BCE. 25:11.
e. Then Yahweh announces that after these 70 years, Yahweh will overthrow Babylon. This happened when Cyrus king of Persia overthrew Babylon in 539 BCE, and then sent the Jews back to Jerusalem and Judah in 536 BCE. 25:12-14.

II. Judah and all nations will drink the wine of the wrath of Yahweh. Jeremiah 25:15-38.
a. First Yahweh gives the cup of the wine of Yahweh's wrath to Jeremiah, and tells Jeremiah to make all nations drink of this wine. This symbolizes Yahweh's SWORD. 25:15-16.
b. Yahweh through Jeremiah briefly sketches the "history" of God's work from Judah in 587 BCE to the fall of Babylon in 539 BCE. God will punish Judah--25:17-18; Egypt--25:19; Uz, Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Phoenicia, Arabia, Elam--25:20-26b; and finally Sheshach, which is a cryptogram or athnach for Babylon--25:16c.
c. Then, Yahweh uses five figures to symbolize the fall of Jerusalem and the following Babylonian exile.
1. Drunkenness. Judah will drink the cup of the wine of Yahweh's wrath. 25:27-28.
2. Sword. Yahweh will bring his sword in the hand of the sword of Nebuchadrezzar II and the Babylonians to kill and carry into exile the Judeans.
25:29, 31, 33.
3. Lion. Yahweh is like a lion which pounces on his prey Judah. 25:30, 38.
4. Tempest. Yahweh will send a "tempest," a terrible wind, a sirocco, to destroy his people. 25:32.
5. Destruction of Judah's "shepherds." Yahweh will overthrow and destroy the wicked "shepherds" of God's people. These shepherds are the wicked kings of Judah and their leaders. Dominant, controlling, oppressive leaders often discourage and degrade God's people Yahweh will punish such leaders in due time. 25:34-37.

Yahweh does not punish sinful people immediately or capriciously or in a brief period of time. Yahweh attempts to bring people to repentance often and in various ways. But IF people insist on persisting in rebellion and sin against God, there is a time when Yahweh will punish his sinful people. This message is as relevant today as every.

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John Willis