John T. Willis

Saturday, July 09, 2011


On our land and house near Hamby, each day we enjoy watching two large jack rabbits coming near our house to eat grass and grain and drink water. They are a constant joy for our lives.

Rabbits or Bunnies are small animals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha. They appear in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit, cottontail, and Amami.

The male is called a "buck," and the female is called a "doe." A young rabbit is called a "kitten" or "kit." Rabbits live in meadows, woods, forests, grasslands, and wetlands. They live in groups, and the European rabbit lives in underground burrows or rabbit holes. A group of burrows is called a warren.

Rabbits are very playful. They run and frolic. They enjoy life.

In World War II, as a child, our family raised about 100 rabbits to eat the meat and make money from the pelts. Rabbits reproduce quickly and are very strong.

Rabbits are another gift of our God. God is amazing. His work is phenomenal. He created all his creatures to accomplish his purposes. I hope YOU honor a God like this.

Share YOUR experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Friday, July 08, 2011

Yahweh will punish Egypt and Rebellious Judeans; Yahweh warns Baruch--Jeremiah 43:8-45:5

Jeremiah 43:8-44:30 relate two oracles of Yahweh through Jeremiah, which occurred after Johanan and his comrades forced Jeremiah and Baruch to go to Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. So the time about these events is about 585 BCE or later. Then Jeremiah 45 relates an oracle of Yahweh through Jeremiah to Baruch in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (605 BCE). These chapters falls into three parts.

I. Yahweh will send the Babylonians to overthrow Egypt. Jeremiah 43:8-13.
a. Yahweh tells Jeremiah to perform a symbolic act before the Judeans in Tahpanhes, Egypt. Yahweh tells Jeremiah to take large stone in his hands and bury them in the clay pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh's palace in Tahpanhes, and let the Judeans see Jeremiah does this. 43:8-9.
b. Then Yahweh gives Jeremiah this message: Yahweh will bring Nebuchadrezzar II and his army to Tahpanhes and set his throne above these stones and spread his royal canopy over them. 43:10.
c. Yahweh declares that Nebuchadrezzar II and his army will destroy the land of Egypt by "pestilence, captivity, and the sword." [Remember that "famine, pestilence, and the sword" and three terms used for destruction in the Book of Jeremiah. See Jeremiah 15:2; 16:4; 18:21; 21:7, 9; 24:10; 27:8, 13; 28:8; 29:17; 32:36; 42:16-17]. 43:11.
d. Yahweh declares that Nebuchadrezzar II and his army will burn the idols and temples of Egypt, and the obelisks of Heliopolis. 43:12-13.

II. Yahweh through Jeremiah announces that Yahweh will punish the Judeans in Egypt because they still sin against Yahweh. Jeremiah 44:1-30.
a. Yahweh sends a message through Jeremiah for all the Judeans living in Egypt at Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis. Yahweh reminds the Judeans that Yahweh punished them severely through the Babylonians because they constantly turned to other gods and rebelled against Yahweh.44:1-6.
b. Yahweh declares that the Judeans in Egypt are still committing the same sins they committed before the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. Thus, Yahweh proclaims that he will punish the Judeans because of their hardheartedness. Yahweh will punish them by "sword, famine, and pestilence." See 44:13. Note 43:11. 44:7-14.
c. The Judeans respond to Jeremiah: "We are not going to listen to you." We used to worship the queen of heaven and we prospered. When we abandoned the queen of heaven, we experienced hunger, misfortunes, and several losses. Hence, we will return to the worship of the queen of heaven. 44:15-19.
d. Yahweh through Jeremiah rebukes the Judeans for their stubbornness. Yahweh "will watch over them for harm [Hebrew evil] and not for good." 44:27. Note the recurring word play on the verb "watch," which may refer to evil or good. See Jeremiah 1:11-12; 31:27. Just as Yahweh gave Zedekiah over to Nebuchadrezzar II in 587 BCE, now Yahweh will give Pharaoh Hophra over the Nebuchadrezzar II (44:30). 44:20-30.

III. Baruch complains because he is in pain, and Yahweh assures him that Yahweh will be with him. Jeremiah 45:1-5.
a. The event recorded in Jeremiah 45:1-5 occurred in the fourth year of Jehoiakim when Jeremiah wrote his words by dictation to Baruch. 45:1.
b. Baruch complained because Yahweh had added sorrow to Baruch's pain. 45:2-3.
c. Yahweh declares through Jeremiah that Baruch must not become arrogant. Rather, Yahweh will give him his life as a prize of war in every place where he may go. 45:4-5.

Life in the time of Jeremiah was very difficult. But Yahweh sustained Jeremiah and his faithful followers faithfully. This is encouraging for us.

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

John Willis

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Water in Psalms--Part III

Additional metaphorical and spiritual truths about Yahweh and human beings appear in the Book of Psalms, continuing this study from two previous blogs.

6. Rain is a very important part of human life. Here in West Texas, right now we are experiencing the worst drought in 111 years in our history. According to the Bible, sometimes Yahweh intentionally withholds rain to punish sinful people or to discipline people in various situations.

Psalm 29 describes a typical rain in Israel. Rainstorms follow a fourfold pattern.
a. Yahweh begins by bringing clouds over the Mediterranean and the clouds mount until a rainstorm ensues. Here one may think of the story about the rainstorm after the three and half year drought in the days of Elijah--see 1 Kings 17:1-7; 18:1,
41-46. The psalmist declares:
"The voice of the Lord is OVER THE WATERS;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord OVER MIGHTY WATERS [the Mediterranean Sea].
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty." (Psalm 29:3-4).
Of course, "the voice of the Lord" in this psalms is thunder.
b. Yahweh moves into the Lebanon and anti-Lebanon mountains in Northern Israel as the thunderstorm threatens. The psalmist states:
"The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.;
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion [Mount Hermona--see Deuteronomy 3:9] like a young wild ox." Psalm 29:5-6).
c. The Lebanon and anti-Lebanon mountains divert the rainstorm southward along the Jordan River and the Jordan Valley down to the wilderness of Kadesh south of the Dead Sea. The psalmist observes:
"The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord causest he oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in the temple all say: 'Glory!'" (Psalm 29:7-9).
d. After the rainstorm, there is a calm. Water surrounds the entire country, but Yahweh is in control. The psalmist declares:
"The Lord sits enthroned OVER THE FLOOD [the flood after the rainstorm];
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!" (Psalm 29:10-11).
People in West Texas resonate about this picture. Often, after a terrifying storm, we experience a calm, a peace, a silence. This reminds us that although the storm was fearful, God is still in control.

Similar to Psalm 29, the composer of Psalm 65 paints a beautiful, powerful picture of rain. Note Psalm 65:9-13:
"You [Yahweh] visit the earth and WATER it,
you greatly enrich it;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You WATER its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy."
Here in West Texas, we are praying fervently that our God will send rain upon our land abundantly and our crops will flourish.

7. Several psalms allude to Yahweh's victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea described in Exodus 14:15-31.
Psalm 77:16-20 describes this event in this way:
"When THE WATERS saw you, O God,
when THE WATERS saw you, they were afraid;
THE VERY DEEP trembled.
the skies thundered;
your arrows [lightning] flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through THE SEA,
your path through THE MIGHTY WATERS;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron."

Psalm 106:9-11:
"He [Yahweh] rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry;
he led them through THE DEEP as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe,
and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.
THE WATERS covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left."

Psalm 114:1-6:
"When Israel went out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God's sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
THE SEA looked and fled;
JORDAN turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
Why is it, O SEA, that you flee?
O JORDAN, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?"

8. Some psalms refer to Yahweh's miracle that brought water out of a rock. The accounts are in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13.

Psalm 114:7-8:
"Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence ofthe God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into A POOL OF WATER,
a spring into A SPRING OF WATER."

Psalm 81:7:
"In distress you called, and I [Yahweh] rescued you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at THE WATERS OF MERIBAH."

See also Psalm 95:7b-11; Hebrews 3:7-11.

As YOU study the Psalms, watch for all the references to water, rain, thunder, lightning, and connected terms. This is an enriching, enlightening, uplifting experience.

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

John Willis

Monday, July 04, 2011

Johanan and His Comrades Carry Jeremiah and Baruch to Tahpanhes, Egypt by Force--Jeremiah 42:1-43:7

After Ishmael killed Gedaliah and fled to the Ammonites, Johanan and his comrades are fear that the Babylonians will kill him, so they carry his comrades and Jeremiah and Baruch to Tahpanhes, Egypt by force. This story appears in Jeremiah 42:1-43:7. Three distinct scenes occur in this portion of the Book of Jeremiah.

I. Johanan and his comrades ask Jeremiah to tell them what they should do. Jeremiah 42:1-6.
a. All the commanders of the forces, Johanan, Azariah, and the all the people go to Jeremiah and beg him to listen to their plea. 42:1-2.
b. Their plea is: "Let the Lord your God show us where we should go and what we should do." 42:3.
c. Jeremiah promises Johanan and his comrades that he will consult Yahweh to find out what Yahweh wants his people to do. 42:4.
d. Johanan and his comrades solemnly promise that they will do whatever Yahweh tells Jeremiah to tell them to do. 42:5-6.

II. Jeremiah consults Yahweh, and Yahweh tells Jeremiah to tell Johanan and his comrades that they must stay in the land of Judah near Jerusalem or else they will die. Jeremiah 42:7-22.
a. After ten days, Yahweh comes to Jeremiah and tells Jeremiah Yahweh's message. 42:7.
b. Jeremiah goes to Johanan and his comrades and tells them that Yahweh's response is that Johanan and his comrades must remain in the land of Judah. If they will obey Yahweh's instruction, Yahweh will "build them up and not pull them down; he will plant them and not pluck them up." 42:8-10.
c. Yahweh through Jeremiah tells Johanan and his associates not to be afraid of the king of Babylon, because "Yahweh is with his people" to "save" and "rescue" from the Babylonians. 42:11-12.
d. But Yahweh declares through Jeremiah that if Johanan and his associates are disobedient against Yahweh's instruction and go to Egypt, "sword, famine, and pestilence" will come upon them and they will die. 42:13-17. [Remember that the expressions "sword, famine, and pestilence" are three ways Yahweh punished his sinful people in the days of Jeremiah--see Jeremiah 14:20; 15:2; 16:4; 18:21; 21:7,
9; 24:10; 27:8, 13; 28:8; 29:17; 32:36]. 42:13-17 [for "sword, famine, pestilence," 42:16-17].
e. Yahweh through Jeremiah declares that just as Yahweh's anger and wrath poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Yahweh's anger and wrath will pour out on Johanan and his comrades if they disobey Yahweh's instruction and go to Egypt. Yahweh will bring "sword, famine, and pestilence" on Johanan and his associates if they do not obey Yahweh. 42:18-22. [See the reference to "sword, famine, and pestilence" in 42:22].

III. Johanan and his comrades disobey Yahweh and carry Jeremiah and Baruch with them to Tahpanhes, Egypt. Jeremiah 43:1-7.
a. When Johanan and his associates hear Jeremiah's response, they accuse Jeremiah of lying because Baruch incited Jeremiah to say that the Judeans must remain in the land of Judah, and declare that Baruch gave this message to Jeremiah so the Babylonians will kill them or take them into Babylonian exile. 43:1-4.
b. In disobedience to Yahweh's instruction through Jeremiah, Johanan and his associates go with them along with Jeremiah and Baruch to Tahpanhes, Egypt. 43:5-7.

The people of God may consult a message from God through a godly person, and when that godly person declares God's message, they may conclude that this godly person is lying and do something different from what he declares. It is very easy for us to make up our own minds about our beliefs or traditions or practices, and refuse to listen to God's message through faithful teachers and preachers and thinkers. Let us try very hard to listen to and obey Yahweh's message.

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

John Willis

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Water in Psalms--Part II

Water in the Book of Psalms is a recurring metaphor. In the previous alternating blog, two ideas appeared. Here, we continue this study.

3. Loss of water in the human body or dehydration produces a physical problem. The author of Psalm 22 is suffering from some sort of illness, and as a result he is dehydrated. The key verses are 14-17:
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is DRIED UP like a potsherd,
and my tongue STICKS TO MY JAWS;
you lay me down in the dust of death.
For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hand and feet have shriveled;
I can count all my bones.
They share and gloat over me."

4. Yahweh is in control of the rivers, the lakes, the oceans, because he is creator and sustainer of all that is.
Psalm 33:6-7 declares:
"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered THE WATERS OF THE SEA as in a bottle;
he put THE DEEPS in storehouses."
This is very powerful language. The oceans are dangerous and fearful to all human beings, but Yahweh is always in control. He gathers the waters ofo the sea as in a bottle [and a bottle is small], and he puts the deeps in storehouses [like silos or warehouses]. God looks down from heaven on the earth, and sees all that is happening. This is a great assurance of God's presence.

Psalm 46:1-3:
"God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake IN THE HEART OF THE SEA;
though the mountains tremble with its tumult."
For us human beings, roaring and foaming waters on the sea are too powerful for us. But our God is always in control, and he sustains life on earth.

5. Drought, which is lack of water, is a constant threat for human beings on earth. Lack of water was a continual problem in biblical times.
The author of Psalm 63:1 says:
"O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land
God is the only reliable source of life and growth. Hence, we must continually turn to him daily to seek the LIVING WATER of life.

[To be continued]

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

John Willis