ABC Aug. 21-27

August 21 — Jeremiah 41-45 — Empty Promises (about 588 BC).  Johanan was a military hero, rescuing people captured by the murderous Ishmael (41:13-14), but he was not much of a spiritual leader.  Since Ishmael had killed the Babylonian-appointed governor and some Chaldean soldiers, Johanan was afraid of retaliation and was “intending to go to Egypt” (v. 17) with the remnant of Judah.  But first, they asked Jeremiah to seek God that He “may show us the way we should go, and the thing we should do” (42:3).  Then came their promise: “Whether it is good or bad, we will obey … that it may be well with us” (v. 6).  It sounds good, doesn’t it?  God gave them ten days to think about it (v. 7) before telling them they should stay in Judah to receive good treatment from the Chaldeans (v. 10) and not go to Egypt where they would die (vv. 15-16).  Then, Jeremiah reminded them not only of their promise that “we will do it” (v. 20) but also of their disobedient history: “you have not obeyed … in anything that he sent me to tell you” (v. 21).  As predicted, Johanan and others responded with, “You are telling a lie” (43:2) and they took all the people, including Jeremiah, to Egypt (vv. 5-7).  Some people today also promise to obey God but what they really mean is that they will obey if He tells them to do what they want to do.  Don’t promise what you don’t mean!

August 22 — Jeremiah 46-48 — Universal Judge (about 609 – 594 BC).  God is the judge not only of the people called by His name but He is the judge of all the people of the earth.  Here, three such foreign nations are featured.  Before the fall of Jerusalem, Egypt traveled north to attack the Babylonians, showing their pride by saying, “I will rise, I will cover the earth” (46:8).  God not only punished them with their defeat but Jeremiah predicted that Babylon would later travel down to Egypt to destroy them in their own place (v. 18).  It was God’s judgment: “the LORD thrust them down … [in] the time of their punishment” (vv. 15, 21).  The Philistines were also to be destroyed and it was to be God’s punishment: “the LORD is destroying the Philistines” (47:4).  The nation of Moab, east of the Dead Sea, is the next nation mentioned, and they would be punished, “because you trusted in your works and your treasures” (48:7) and “because he magnified himself against the LORD” (v. 26 also in v. 42).  God is just and He must punish sin.  Some of it will be felt on earth in this life; for the lost, some of it will be reserved for an eternal hell.

August 23 — Jeremiah 49-50 — Pride Before a Fall (about 594 – 586 BC).  In these chapters, six more nations are added to God’s punishing prophecies through Jeremiah.  The reason for their punishment was stated for three of them as having to do with pride.  The Ammonites were to be punished because of the “boast of your valleys” and that she “trusted in her treasures” (49:4).  Edom was said to be coming to an end because of “the pride of your heart” (49:16).  Also, for Babylon, it was because she “proudly defied the LORD” (50:29) that “The proud one shall stumble and fall” (v. 32).  That should remind us of the general principle expressed in Proverbs that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).  It applies to us as individual believers today as much as it did to ancient nations that opposed the people of God.  Babylon’s punishment included utter and perpetual abandonment of that city: “She shall never again have people, nor be inhabited for all generations” (Jer. 50:39).  In 1983 Saddam Hussein began an attempt to rebuild the city of Babylon by constructing a palace for himself.  This building, in which no one has ever lived, stands now as a monument to fruitless pride.

August 24 — Jeremiah 51-52 — The Fall of Babylon (about 586 BC).  About 50 years before Babylon fell to Cyrus of Persia, it was predicted through Jeremiah.  Cyrus became the leader of the Medo-Persian (or Achaemenid) Empire.  Jeremiah referred to them as “the kings of the Medes” (51:11, 28) and his prediction of a quick fall was later confirmed by Daniel.  God said through Jeremiah, “Let not the archer bend his bow” (v. 3), picturing Babylon’s defenders being caught by surprise.  “Prepare the ambushes” (v. 12) was apparently an instruction for Cyrus’ army.  Then the conclusion: “Suddenly Babylon has fallen” (v. 8).  The story of Daniel being called into a drunken feast by King Belshazzar to interpret mysterious handwriting on the wall concluded with, “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed” (Dan. 5:30).  Sudden!  Another ancient account says that Cyrus diverted the course of the Euphrates River that flowed through Babylon and his army entered the city through the emptied river bed without a fight.  God had told Jeremiah, “I will prepare them a feast and make them drunk … then they sleep a perpetual sleep” (51:39, 57).  The fingerprints of God are all over this historic event.

August 25 — Lamentations 1:1 – 3:36 — Waiting in Hope (about 586 BC).  A lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  This book of Lamentations was likely authored by Jeremiah who, although innocent, expressed the pain of having to share in enduring the punishing anger of God for the sins of Judah and Jerusalem.  God left him in Jerusalem to share His wrath against the people’s sins: “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath …” (3:1).  Jeremiah often felt abandoned by God, saying, “though I call out and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer” (v. 8).  Do you ever feel like that?  Perhaps you have gone through something that you don’t think you deserve.  Also, you might sometimes feel that God isn’t listening to your prayers.  Jeremiah even said, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope in the LORD” (v. 18).  But he remembered something that gave him hope: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (vv. 22-23).  God is our source of hope during depressing times and “The LORD is good to those who wait for him” (v. 25).

August 26 — Lamentations 3:37 – 5:22 — Acrostic Masterpiece (about 586 BC).  This book is not only a vivid description of the fall of Jerusalem under the punishment of God; it is also a literary masterpiece.  It consists of five chapter-long poems.  If you notice, all of them are 22 verses long except chapter 3, which has 66 verses.  What is special about the number 22?  There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  The first four chapters are acrostic poems, meaning that each verse of the chapter begins with successive letters of the alphabet.  Chapter 3 is constructed even more intricately with three verses in a row starting with the same letter of the alphabet, thus taking 66 verses to go from “A to Z.”  The eye-witness account of Jerusalem’s fall is obvious, e.g., painting the painful picture that the “hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children” for food (4:10) and, “Princes are hung up by their hands” (5:12).  The reasons for the punishment are also made clear: “We have transgressed and rebelled” (3:42) and “This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests” (4:13).  The judgment of God is a terrible thing but it will be even worse on the other side of the grave for those who persisted in rebelling against the Lord.

August 27 — Ezekiel 1-4 — Exiled Ezekiel (about 593 BC).  The book of the prophet Ezekiel is different in several ways: It is the fourth-largest book of the Old Testament.  It is one of the most carefully structured of the prophetic books.  It has a complex assortment of styles with visions and symbolism as well as the poetry of judgment and blessing.  Its prophecies are the most frequently dated of all the prophets and a vision table from the ESV Study Bible (modified chronologically) is shown below for your reference as you read through the whole book.  In these first four chapters, God labeled Ezekiel, “the son of man,” 12 of the 87 times that expression is used in this book.  Ezekiel was part of the first wave of exiles from Jerusalem to Babylon and his main audience was the other Jewish exiles (3:11).  Although God was punishing them for their rebellion against Him, He was still giving them the opportunity to come to Him.  Three times in these four chapters, God told Ezekiel to announce to the people, “thus says the Lord GOD …” (2:4; 3:11, 27), and three opportunities of choice are presented for them to “hear or refuse” (2:5, 3:11, 27).  The same offer is being made today: This is what God said. Will you accept it or reject it?  We are blessed when we believe and obey.

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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